City of Guelph moving ahead with Emma Street to Earl Street foot and bike bridge

Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks satisfied with environmental assessment and additional project requirements

Guelph, Ont., July 27, 2023 – A recommendation of the Guelph Trail Master Plan, the Emma Street to Earl Street bridge will provide pedestrians and cyclists with a safe connection over the Speed River, especially as construction on the Speedvale Avenue Bridge looms.

In August 2022, the City submitted an updated and final project file for the Emma to Earl bridge environmental assessment (EA) as requested by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP). During the 30-day public review period, an objection to the project was filed and the MECP provided it’s decision on the EA and the objection June 30. The MECP dismissed the objection to the project and its decision document indicates that

  • the City made reasonable efforts to engage and consult with the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council through the Haudenosaunee Development Institute;
  • the City resolved the concerns with the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and the Six Nations of the Grand River–The Six Nations Elected Council, receiving confirmation that both Nations are comfortable with the project; and
  • the City has demonstrated that the project is planned andwill be developed in accordance with the provisions of the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment.

With the MECP’s decision, City staff can now finalize the design of this important active transportation link which is expected to be built in 2025.

“The Emma to Earl bridge is a critical connection for people travelling by bike and on foot, particularly while the Speedvale Bridge is upgraded in 2026, and without which people would need to detour at least two kilometres to cross the Speed River,” explains Reg Russwurm, the City’s manager of Design and Construction, adding, “Improving active transportation connections in Guelph is an important investment in sustainable transportation, and vital to the City’s commitment to Race To Zero, especially as we prepare to support the Province’s mandated population growth targets.”

Next steps

Later this fall, after wildlife breeding seasons are done and birds have migrated south, workers will be in the Speed River ravine sweeping and cutting vegetation as needed to prepare for geotechnical work scheduled to begin in September. More details about this work will be shared closer to the start date.

Speedvale Avenue improvements

The Emma to Earl active transportation bridge is part of the work the City is doing to prepare for ongoing Speedvale Avenue improvements. As an essential corridor for local residential and commercial traffic, goods movement for local businesses and railway access in Guelph, the City is redesigning and rebuilding Speedvale Avenue in phases over a number of years. One of those improvements is a new bridge where Speedvale crosses the Speed River. A study of the bridge’s structural integrity indicates that load restrictions would likely need to be imposed in about five years. As a result, City staff have been monitoring the bridge’s condition and plan to replace it in 2026. The MECP’s decision is timely, as it allows the Emma to Earl active transportation bridge to be built before the Speedvale Bridge for replacement.


Speedvale Avenue corridor improvements
Emma to Earl active transportation bridge project

Media Contact

Reg Russwurm, Manager, Design and Construction
Engineering and Transportation Services
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 2765
[email protected]