There’s hope yet for those who want to protect the Middlebrook bridge from demolition.
Centre Wellington Coun. Lisa MacDonald is bringing forward a motion to rescind a previous council decision to dismantle the bridge and instead convert it to a pedestrian span.
The motion will be considered by Centre Wellington Council at a July 31 meeting.
Stephanie Lines-Toohill and Mark Walker have been at the centre of efforts to save the Middlebrook bridge, or at least to maintain a bridge in some capacity over the river at its location on the boundary between Woolwich and Centre Wellington townships.
The group cites the bridge’s heritage, as well as its function as a safe connector route over the Grand River for hikers and cyclists as reasons for maintaining a crossing of the Grand at this location.
The Save Middlebrook Bridge group made a presentation to Centre Wellington council in May, bringing their concerns to the new council elected last fall.
Lines-Toohill and Walker say they felt the presentation went well and that councillors listened to them, adding they also wrote to the new Woolwich Township council. They hope both councils will become actively engaged in the discussion about the bridge and work toward finding funding alternatives to make up the difference between estimated costs to dismantle the bridge and to build a crossing for active transportation (hiking and cycling).
“I have a personal connection to this bridge that has provided not only a practical and safe point of crossing whilst cycling alone or with friends, but also as a beautiful structure in a serene setting that is truly such a good place for the soul,” said Walker.
“One significant reason for working on this for me extends to the next generation and beyond. We need to leave places and spaces that enhance mental and physical health for generations to come, while remembering and preserving our heritage.”
Lines-Toohill concurred. “Middlebrook Bridge is one of the special places my friends, family and wider community go to when they need to reconnect to nature and recharge in the beautiful landscape, trails and wildlife that surrounds you there,” she said.
“It connects people to a sense of place and belonging. People have been crossing here since 1840. I like to go alone and watch the seasons of the river flow or freeze underneath my feet. Often others are there doing the same; quietly sitting, fishing, reading, wading in the shallows, crossing or cycling over the glorious trusses with friends and appreciating the unspoiled wonder and history of it all. Community grows here.”
The bridge is currently slated to be demolished in 2028.