City taking steps to protest demolition of heritage bridge in Mississauga

 

Mississauga city council is formally showcasing its displeasure with the province's decision to demolish a 1934 bridge that many argue has historical significance

Last week, council unanimously passed a resolution strongly objecting to the proposed demolition of the existing Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) heritage bridge that spans the Credit River just east of Mississauga Road.

The resolution comes after the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) announced that it will be demolishing and replacing the existing Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) Credit River Bridge rather than rehabilitating it as originally planned. 

The demolition is part of a plan to bring overall improvements to the QEW from west of Hurontario Street to west of Mississauga Road. 

The decision to demolish the bridge was announced on Nov. 7.

"Council was informed by the Ministry of Transportation without notice or consultation with the community, they have changed course on the Credit River bridge project. Instead of rehabilitating one Mississauga's unique heritage features, the plan is now to demolish and rebuild from scratch. This bridge is an important part of our City's history and we must preserve and protect it," said Mayor Bonnie Crombie in a statement.

"I have sent a letter to Premier [Doug] Ford to ensure the province is aware of our serious concerns. We want to work with them to find a solution that preserves this important piece of our City's history. You can't put a price on heritage."

According to the city, the bridge is currently listed on the city's heritage register for architectural reasons and because it is part of cultural heritage landscape. It is also identified as a Provincial Heritage Property of Significance and included on the Ontario Heritage Bridge listing. 

The bridge is 840 feet long and was originally constructed in 1934 and expanded in 1960. It is owned by the province. 

While the decision to demolish the bridge was made recently, the province has been making big plans for that portion of Mississauga for some time. 

In 2013, MTO completed a study and decided to construct a new QEW Credit River Bridge directly to the north of the existing bridge for westbound traffic. At the time, it said it planned to rehabilitate the existing QEW Credit River Bridge for eastbound traffic but now says that rehabilitation is no longer on the table (although the plan to build an additional bridge is still proceeding as planned). 

Other proposed improvements in the 2013 plan include the reconfiguration of the Mississauga Road interchange (including the replacement of the Mississauga Road overpass), widening and rehabilitating the existing QEW and supporting facilities and features, including landscaping, utilities, drainage, stormwater management and culverts, illumination, noise walls, and an Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS). 

As for why the province made the decision to rebuild rather than rehabilitate, the ministry says the province chose to take an "alternative approach to life cycle asset management" to maximize the transference of design/construction risks to the private sector. 

"As chair of Mississauga's Heritage Advisory Committee, I am extremely disappointed at the direction the Ontario Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure Ontario are taking in wanting to now demolish the QEW/Credit River bridge. It's like saying, we know you're old, we know you need work, but you're going to take too much time, effort and money to fix so it's easier if we just throw you away and start all over again. That's shameful and it's very frustrating," said Ward 11 Councillor George Carlson and Chair of Mississauga's Heritage of Advisory Committee, in a statement. 

"This bridge has been identified as deserving of heritage preservation, why that is being ignored is baffling to me. There's a reason we have heritage inventories - to preserve and protect our history. Once something like this bridge is gone, it's gone forever - we can never get it back. That's why we need to take a strong stance and ensure that we're doing absolutely everything we can to preserve it."

In order to demolish the existing bridge, Lisa MacLeod, the Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, must provide consent. If consent is granted by the minister, the city is requesting that an application for the demolition be submitted for review by the Heritage Advisory Committee.

The city says no application has been submitted at this time.

Cover photo courtesy of TOPCA

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