Guelph City Council: Terminate Emma-Earl Bridge Environmental Assessment

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Your neighbours support sustainable transportation infrastructure where it meets the mobility needs of the most people at the lowest cost but not where it will exacerbate issues related to public safety, our environment and city finances. We are calling on the the City of Guelph to terminate the Emma-Earl Bridge (EEB) Environmental Assessment (EA) and refocus its efforts on Speedvale Avenue and the existing Trans-Canada Trail (TCT) for these reasons:

Project Need: The need for the EEB has not been established given current city policing, infrastructure, housing, health and financial challenges. 

EA Scope: The scope is too narrow as it only focuses on the bridge spanning the river. The EA process should be extended to Speedvale, Dufferin and Marlborough to include sidewalk and road/hydro realignment. 

Planning & Demand: Council and staff used the EEB as “a bone” thrown to cyclists to get their support for the Speedvale road design in 2015 – which contradicted the city’s own cycling policy. The rationale for the EEB is also based on an outdated 2005 Trails Master Plan (TMP) -- which did not identify the EEB as a priority -- along with the outdated 2007 Local Growth Management Plan.  The 2017 TMP should be completed in conjunction with the city-wide Transportation Master Plan before moving forward with EEB as there is no hard data to indicate that cycling and walking will increase amongst the majority of Ward 2 residents who have access to an automobile.

Cycling, Pedestrian and Neighourhood Safety: The current level of assaults, vandalism (Molotov Cocktails) and drug activity on TCT could increase since it isn't being patrolled regularly by bike police - of which there are only 4 across the city. 36 wheeler trucks exiting the Armtec plant by EEB and driving along Earl Street will lead to more accidents.

Environment: This part of the river is a turtle nesting ground and is heavily used by a range of water animals including beaver, muskrat, minks, herons, kingfishers and at least 6 kinds of ducks (mallards, common mergansers, hooded mergansers, buffleheads, goldeneyes, redheads).  This wildlife could be extirpated due to EEB construction and their habitat forever altered. Mature trees along the banks of the river would also be cut down to make way for the EEB.

Garbage: The nearby Norwich, Speedvale and Riverside Park bridges are used as dumping grounds for garbage of all types, including needles. The EEB would bring more of the same, further compounding the environmental disruption for wildlife (both locally and downstream).

Financial: The preferred single-span bridge capital cost is $1.8 million but could be as high as $5 million when lighting, guarded sidewalks, road/hydro realignment, possible expropriation, policing and other operating costs are included. These scarce dollars should be invested in Speedvale bike lanes and crosswalk (extending from west side of bridge to Marlborough), increased police surveillance, river enhancement/clean-up and lighting on TCT.

Consultation: There has been a lack of communication between city staff and impacted neighbourhoods (other than two 2-hour PIC meetings, the second being held 6 months later than originally scheduled).  Those who attended the first meeting in October 2016 were not notified of the June 2017 meeting. Meeting format (with 25 separate display boards) is purposely designed to limit citizen interaction. City advertisements included incorrect phone numbers and requests to access public comments has been refused by staff until after EA documentation has been filed – which could be months away.

It is time to reconsider this decision as the EEB is not necessary for the affected neighbourhoods or the city at large – for all the safety, planning, environmental and financial reasons stated above.

Please sign our petition and/or email eeb@transportfutures.ca with your comments.  Thanks very much!



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