Three Rivers Council has voted 7-5 to move forward with calling tenders that could see a foot bridge span the Montague River.
The project is estimated to cost close to $1 million with outside funding of more than $700,000 coming from federal funds and the remainder coming out of the Montague Reserve Fund.
Councillors John MacFarlane, Wayne Spin, Gerard Holland, Ronnie Nicholson, Cameron MacLean, David McGrath, and Deputy Mayor Debbie Johnston voted in favour of calling the tenders.
Councillors Jane King, Cindy MacLean, Alan Munro, Cody Jenkins and Isaac MacIntyre were opposed.
“It was approved already and it doesn’t affect Three Rivers funding,” Councillor MacFarlane said. “It will be a catalyst to attract tourists.”
Coun Holland said the funding may be coming from the reserve fund, but it is Three Rivers Council that is now in charge of that fund.
“In and of itself I am not a big fan of the bridge, however I do think we have to move it forward, send it to tender, work on a Plan B for this money and it might become available for this project or another,” Coun Holland said.
Coun Nicholson agreed to a point.
“The easiest thing would be to kill it, but I am going to support the motion,” Coun Nicholson said, noting this motion doesn’t stipulate a bridge will be built at all costs.
“If it comes in over tender that is another discussion altogether,” Deputy Mayor Debbie Johnston said.
Councillor Jenkins said while $300,000 plus might be set aside in the reserve fund a bigger cost will come with maintenance.
“We should secure the infrastructure we have now to set Three Rivers up for success,” he said.
Coun Cameron MacLean said the waterfront came from long-term vision and that needs to continue.
“Right now we have the funding for the bridge,” he said.
Councilor Cindy MacLean said the decision is too rushed.
Resident Tommy MacLeod spoke in favour of the bridge during the public comments portion of the meeting.
“With the MOS (Memorandum of Settlement) we shouldn’t even be discussing it,” Mr MacLeod said.
Resident Rick Gibbs said he believes the bridge is an important piece of infrastructure that needs to be built.