Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday, February 21, 2014
Tories want to dump Lift Bridge
The federal government wants to off-load the half-century-old Burlington Canal Lift Bridge onto the cities of Hamilton and Burlington.
But outraged local politicians say cash-strapped cities can’t afford to take on responsibility for more aging infrastructure — especially a bridge that controls commercial ship traffic and acts as a critical emergency detour for the QEW.
“It’s a real jaw-dropper,” said Councillor Chad Collins, who has been pushing the federal government to add a safe, multi-use pathway to the bridge that connects the Hamilton and Burlington sections of the beach strip.
“There is no financial reason — and no capability — for us to take on something like that,” he said, pointing to the city’s estimated $200-million infrastructure deficit.
His cross-bridge colleague in Burlington, Rick Craven, was even more blunt in his dismissal of the idea.
“For them to abandon their responsibilities and dump on the municipalities, that is not acceptable … they are not going to get away with it,” said the Ward 1 councillor.
Craven called the bridge an “absolutely critical piece of infrastructure” because of its twin service to 10,000 vehicles and 6,500 vessels each year.
The bridge serves local motorists and the HSR, but also acts as an emergency route for the QEW when the skyway bridge is blocked. The lift bridge also rises and falls about 4,000 times a year to allow vessels into Hamilton Harbour.
Council received a letter Wednesday from Diane Finley, the minister of public works and government services, responding to the request for a safe trail across the bridge. Finley wrote the ministry has been “directed to divest of the bridge” and, therefore, can’t spend money on non-essential improvements. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)