FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Aug. 31, 2022
QUEEN’S PARK – Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Bobbi Ann Brady questioned the Minister of Transportation on when the re-construction of the Caledonia Argyle Street will begin.
In Question Period today, Brady pointed out the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) identified in 2001 that the bridge was in a state of deterioration. Last March, the ministry – without explanation – reported the construction would be delayed yet another year.
“The approvals have been in place for many years, and yet the July 1st parade in Caledonia took an alternative route to avoid the bridge due to safety concerns,” Brady said. “The people of Caledonia—of Haldimand County—want to know what’s holding up the reconstruction of the Argyle Street Bridge?”
Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney acknowledged the construction was overdue and said she wanted to ensure the government had done its due diligence before proceeding. She said consultation with First Nations, preservation of Toll House and archeological assessments were some of the “early work” on the project and were going to take place starting this fall.
In her follow-up, Brady spoke about the expropriation of Toll House on the north side of the bridge, adding Lorrie Harcourt was removed from her home two years ago yet construction hasn’t begun. She also pointed out there have been load restrictions in place for three years. Brady again asked what the hold-up was.
“I fear a national headline if the ministry does not get to work,” Brady said. “The community has been waiting for over 20 years. The people of Caledonia are waiting for any government, perhaps this government, to make them a priority.”
Saying the bridge design is complete, Mulroney said the ministry is getting final approvals for construction to proceed.
For more information, contact MPP Bobbi Ann Brady at [email protected] or 519-428-0446
ONTARIO LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
Aug. 31, 2022
Ms. Bobbi Ann Brady: My question is to the Minister of Transportation. Last March, the ministry, without explanation, reported the long-overdue replacement of Caledonia’s Argyle Street Bridge would be delayed another year. During an inspection in 2001, it was determined the bridge was in a state of deterioration. Keep in mind the current bridge was completed in 1927. It’s now over 20 years overdue and one and a half years since notice of delay by this government.
The approvals have been in place for many years, and yet the July 1st parade in Caledonia took an alternative route to avoid the bridge due to safety concerns. The people of Caledonia—of Haldimand county—want to know what’s holding up the reconstruction of the Argyle Street Bridge?
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: I thank the member opposite for the question. I want to assure her that completing the replacement of the Argyle Street Bridge is a priority for our government. As she correctly pointed out, this is a century-old bridge and its restoration is long overdue. Unfortunately, the Liberals had over a decade to take action and address this issue, but instead, they did nothing.
Mr. Speaker, as I’m sure the member opposite can appreciate, our government is doing its due diligence to ensure that we get this right before putting shovels in the ground. This includes consulting with First Nations communities that are potentially impacted by this project and, as well, conducting early work projects to conserve the Toll House and potential archaeological resources before the bridge replacement begins. This early work is slated to begin this fall. Our government is making great progress to get shovels in the ground for this project. It is a priority for our government, and we will get it done.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The supplementary question.
Ms. Bobbi Ann Brady: Argyle Street is the main thoroughfare of Caledonia and the bridge serves both local and commercial vehicles. In 2019, the ministry set up stoplights at the bridge after the load posting was reduced to eight tonnes. These lights helped clear traffic in the event firetrucks must make a pass. In August 2020, MTO boarded up the famous Toll House occupied by Lorrie Harcourt. The ministry claimed it needed to expropriate the property on the north side of the Grand River so reconstruction could begin. The ministry kicked this woman out of her home, and yet nothing is happening.
I fear a national headline if the ministry does not get to work. The community has been waiting for over 20 years. The people of Caledonia are waiting for any government, perhaps this government, to make them a priority. We all want to know what is holding up the reconstruction of the Argyle Street Bridge.
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: I want to be clear: The Ministry of Transportation only acquires properties that are absolutely necessary for the construction of a project. We are committed to treating all affected property owners fairly. Expropriation is a backstop measure only. As the work on this project continues, we have taken interim measures to protect the safety of the travelling public that use the bridge. This includes implementing, as the member pointed out, further load restrictions for vehicles and completing temporary repair work that is necessary to maintain the serviceability of the bridge. Mr. Speaker, we have been making great progress. The detailed design of the Argyle Street replacement is already complete and now we’re in the process of obtaining the final approvals to proceed to construction. We will not take any shortcuts when it comes to getting critical infrastructure built.