Infrastructure, recently converted into a multipurpose track for active transportationwith the arrival of winter it is no longer available to residents of Gatineau and Ottawa.
“It’s really a security issue. The challenge we have with this infrastructure is that we can’t maintain it like we normally do for others,” says Director of Public Works for the City of Ottawa, Alain Gonthier.
The latter explains that the municipality cannot sprinkle abrasives on the surface of the bridge in order not to pollute the water of the Ottawa River. The only other way to remove the ice would be to scrape it with heavy machinery which would damage the bridge.
“What we expected during the bridge work was that it would be open all winter for use in all four seasons,” complained Kitchissippi Councilman Jeff Leiper. Several people in my neighborhood use a nearby winter track that is groomed for cross-country skiing, fat bike (bicycle with oversized tires), snowshoeing and walking. We had every reason to believe that this would extend to the bridge when it opened.”
A cross-country ski trail?
There is currently not enough snow on the Chef-William-Commanda Bridge to make a cross-country ski trail, according to Mr. Gonthier. However, this could change during the cold season, as flakes accumulate on the ground.
“Our main priority is always the safety of the residents. We don’t want people to go on deck and suffer catastrophic injuries. If there’s a way to clear the snow without it being dangerous, obviously we’ll look at it,” says Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe.
The renovation of the Chef-William-Commanda Bridge, a $22 million project, connects the Voyageurs Trail on the Quebec side with the Trillium Trail on the Ontario side exclusively through active mobility, such as bicyclists and pedestrians. The old Prince of Wales Bridge has not been used since 2005.