City process for Niska Road project holds up in court

Guelph, Ont., January 8, 2019–A decision by the Superior Court of Justice on Monday supports the integrity of the City of Guelph’s process for the Niska Road and bridge construction project.

The City was challenged by a judicial review application that claimed the City’s process for its decision to replace the one-lane Niska Road bridge with a two-lane bridge was in contravention of the Planning Act. Despite the time and added financial resources required to address the legal matter, the project itself remains on schedule and on budget. The City expects to open the new bridge by late summer.

“We’re very pleased with the Court’s decision,” says Kealy Dedman, city engineer. “We’ve been confident in the thoroughness of our process which has been validated to be lawful and fitting. The engineers and transportation experts who have worked on this file for over six years consistently made recommendations based on their professional expertise that took into account community sentiment, environmental safeguards, and public safety.”

The City conducted traffic studies as part of its Environmental Assessment, built traffic calming measures into the roadway, and liaised with Wellington County and Guelph-Eramosa Township, despite a challenge that this was not the case.

“Our goal has been, and will continue to be, to build the bridge as efficiently as possible to allow safe travel along Niska Road,” notes Dedman.

The City and the Applicant have not yet agreed upon the City’s costs for these legal proceedings.

Background

On April 11, 2013, the City issued a notice of study commencement for a municipal Class Environmental Assessments (EA) for improvements to Niska Road from Ptarmigan Drive to the City limits including replacement of the existing Bailey bridge over the Speed River.

The Niska Road study required a Schedule B Class EA; however, the City voluntarily increased the assessment level to a Schedule C to ensure the concerns of the local community were heard and thoroughly studied. After filing the EA with the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, the City later responded to requests for a higher level of assessment, and the Minister decided no higher level of assessment was needed.

In 2013 an external engineering consultant conducted an assessment of the Bailey bridge and indicated it was failing. Over the next few years, the City was able to prolong the life of the bridge by replacing the deck boards in 2015. By February 2017 the condition of the bridge posed too big a risk to allow it to remain operational. The bridge was closed on February 28 and just over a year later, the bridge was removed by the Canadian Armed Forces as part of a training exercise.

The original bridge crossing the Speed River collapsed in 1974. That bridge was replaced by the Bailey bridge, loaned from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, as a temporary solution.

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Media Contact

Kealy Dedman, General Manager
Engineering and Transportation Services
519-822-1260 extension 2248
kealy.dedman@guelph.ca