Squeakier wheels for a new Argyle Street Bridge

By MPP Bobbi Ann Brady

A few weeks ago, Ontario’s Minister of Transportation arrived unannounced in Norfolk County. Had I known about the visit, I would have suggested on his way back to Toronto he drive across Caledonia’s Argyle Street Bridge and witness first-hand its dilapidated state. And maybe he did and that’s why it was shut down for an inspection last week. Of course, I’m being facetious. But believe me, being facetious certainly doesn’t downplay the urgency of getting the bridge reconstructed. 

This recent inspection has Haldimand County residents riled up to get something done and to that effect, my office has launched a petition.

Since I took office in 2022, I’ve stood four times in the Ontario Legislature to question two transportation ministers. Knowing how important this issue was to the people of Haldimand County, I used my very first question in the Legislature to talk about the reconstruction of the Argyle Street Bridge—that was in August 2022. Each time I asked the question, there was no response in terms of start date of reconstruction, just platitudes, assurances that the bridge is safe with lighter loads and monitors, and finally, classic channel changing to their commitment to keeping Ontario moving.

I should qualify that if I were a Progressive Conservative government member, I would be forbidden from asking about the bridge. Fortunately, I can ask these tough questions, and I will continue to ask until the bridge is reconstructed.

What’s more, in over 20 years, I’m the only person who has stood to ask the minister of transportation when reconstruction will commence for this 1927-built bridge that already had its expiry date. During those 20-plus years, we’ve had PC and Liberal governments refusing to reconstruct the bridge. And pathetically, from 2018 to 2022, the inaction continued with Premier Doug Ford’s PC government, and continues today.

Rest assured I will keep asking about the bridge and anything else we need to keep Haldimand-Norfolk safe, mobile, and prosperous.

 But back to the inspection and report: I’ve been informed that the inspection allowed for static load testing of the bridge to establish whether the bridge can continue to safely carry emergency vehicles and inspection equipment. The full closure of the bridge was necessary to perform tests with different weight levels and to make comprehensive visual assessments—that’s according to the Ministry of Transportation (MTO), don’t shoot the messenger.

The ministry was to work closely with Haldimand County, OPP, and all other stakeholders to minimize disruptions and ensure the safety of the public, workers, and ensure the passage of emergency vehicles as required. However, we all saw the Facebook posts of traffic lined up on the bypass. And understandably people were unhappy.

 As I write this column, I’m awaiting confirmation from MTO as to when I’ll get the report results. I will share with you the results of the inspection as soon as I get them. Meanwhile, I will continue pressuring the government to get off their hands and get this done. 

If you would like a copy of the petition, please contact my office at [email protected]. Perhaps together, our louder voice or squeakier wheels can get the government to listen and get this critical bridge rebuilt. 

Bobbi Ann Brady is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk