Spending $300,000 of the town’s money on a walking bridge across the Montague River remains a contentious issue among Three Rivers councillors and the public.
“Needs should come over wants,” said resident Shane MacDonald in a presentation at Committee of Council Monday night.
“How did this bridge to nowhere get placed on such a high priority in the eyes of the council when all over Three Rivers there is need for serious infrastructure upgrades?
“Such a large investment for the town should be given public opinion," he said.
Three Rivers Mayor Ed MacAulay said the walking bridge, as well as several other projects from both Montague and Georgetown, is a carry over from pre-amalgamation.
“The intent as we move forward is to put emphasis on things we’ve identified we need, but what we’ve landed with was the MOS (Memorandum of Settlement)," Mayor MacAulay explained.
In 2018, a MOS was signed by the councils of the incorporated communities involved in the Three Rivers amalgamation process.
“(Montague Council) had mediation and part of what came forward was this project,” Mayor MacAulay said.
Mr MacDonald said it is time to leave the carry overs behind.
“The best thing that could happen is the MOS gets thrown out the door and we move forward as a new community,” Mr MacDonald said.
The dozen or so residents at the meeting showed their approval to this suggestion with applause.
Councillor Debbie Johnston defended the bridge project noting some of the Montague Reserve money has already been spent on new sidewalks on Queens Road.
Erin Lamb operates a B&B in Three Rivers.
She said there needs to be more things to do on the waterfront, not more beautification.
“I don’t think it will add more tourism dollars to the community,” Ms Lamb said.
Resident Merrill Scott said he believes the money would be wasted on a bridge and suggested the town look at putting the money away until a better project comes along.
The estimated cost of the bridge is a little over $900,000 with $300,000 coming from Three Rivers.
The next step for council is to put the project out to tender. However, several councillors' opinions are divided.
“I don’t think we are doing our due diligence,” Councillor Cameron MacLean said.
“Maybe this is the best thing that could ever happen, but I want us to get back to the point where we as councillors can say we are making the right decision, not necessarily the most popular decision,” Councillor Gerard Holland said.
“I’m for any development for any part of the marina,” Councillor John MacFarlane said.
Further discussions on the bridge were tabled until the next council meeting in order to find out whether or not the funding stream allocated for the project could be set aside or used in any other way if tenders for the project are too high.