Mayor Ed MacAulay

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A standing vote on Monday evening has halted the Montague Pedestrian Bridge project.

At the Town of Three Rivers Committee of Council meeting Monday night in Georgetown councillors were divided in a vote on moving a request for decision on the walking bridge design tender ahead to next month’s council meeting.

The request was defeated in a 6-5 vote. Councillors Gerard Holland, Alan Munro, Cindy MacLean, Wayne Spin, Cody Jenkins and Jane King voted against the motion.

Deputy Mayor Debbie Johnston, Councillors Ronnie Nicholson, John MacFarlane, David McGrath and Cameron MacLean voted in favour.

“I’ve tried to support this. In the last number of months of COVID-19 the finances of both the province and the federal government have been hit significantly and for the life of me I can’t see this as a wise project to be doing at this time,” said Councillor Holland.

Other councillors voiced their nonsupport of the project as well, leading Mayor Ed MacAulay to believe there was not a consensus to move the request forward. This in turn led to the standing vote.

Deputy Mayor Debbie Johnston has said she supports the project since it was initially discussed in the former Town of Montague council.

She said major projects often receive push back.

“We wouldn’t have a marina in Montague if we hadn’t pushed forward with that,” said Deputy Mayor Johnston.

She added that similar opposition was voiced for the Montague Art Trail.

“If we can’t even move forward with accepting funding this time, are we really going to turn around and ask them if we can do something else with it?”

The project was budgeted on the five year capital plan for Three Rivers at $1,048,225. The budgeted cost had $735,243 of funding from the Investing in Canadian Infrastructure Program, a joint funding program from the province and federal government.

The remainder of the cost was due to be paid through the reserve funds, an HST rebate and the Municipal Capital Expenditure Grant.

Mayor Ed MacAulay noted that shutting the project down could have ripple effects.

“I think it’s really important that we look at all the information before we make a decision to kill something that’s going to have an effect on future funding. We have to consider that,” said Mayor MacAulay said before the voting took place.

Three residents voiced their concerns and opposition to the project prior to the vote.

The bridge is a legacy project Three Rivers inherited from the former Town of Montague through the Memorandum of Settlement.

The request was for a tender on design services for the bridge submitted by Coles Associates of Charlottetown at approximately $34,900.

The submission from Coles was the only one Three Rivers received for the request for proposal.

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