With the help of residents, the Guelph Hiking Trail Club is hoping to cross another bridge project off their list.
The GHTC is working with the City of Guelph to install a bridge in Crane Park, located near Dovercliffe Road. The bridge, called Crane Park bridge, will connect the park's off-leash area with city property and will be the club's 50th Anniversary Legacy Project upon completion.
GHTC president, John Fisher, said the club has raised over $40,000 for the project and needs about $20,000 more.
"Our hope is that this (bridge), in the future, will actually go through the city property here, and actually go through the GRCA property, and hit Niska Road and then join up with this and create another loop," said Fisher, standing near the construction site.
In fall 2021, the GHTC was approached by a community resident living near Crane Park about building the bridge. This project comes after the completion of the Gosling Bridge, which the GHTC collaborated on with the Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation, Guelph Victors, Guelph Cycling Club and the Guelph Off Road Biking Association.
Fisher explains the resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, has been trying to get the bridge built since 2015. While they weren't successful, Fisher said the resident was able to provide seed money for the project as a gift to the community.
"Basically, it's because we know how to navigate the system," Fisher said on why they were chosen. "There's an awful lot involved in terms of getting the permits, working with the GRCA, working with the city, and a whole bunch of stuff, and it's quite a lot of stuff unless you're familiar with the city, and you know what buttons to push, basically, to make things happen," said Fisher, "and we have experience in that, and we know how to do that, right? We know how to make things happen."
The GHTC took on the project as it felt the bridge would help enhance local trail networks and support access to recreational opportunities and open spaces in Guelph.
"Anything that has a link to the river systems, or a potential link to the river system, either now or in the future, it just makes a whole bunch of sense for our energy," said Fisher, "When you go down here and look you across the river, there is a bench there, well that is actually our Speed River trail on the other side."
After getting all the approvals in May 2022, abutments were built in August and will be finished this weekend. Now with the abutments installed, Fisher said he can see the finish line.
"Now it's just the going ahead and building the bridge," said Fisher, adding the bridge could attract more residents to explore the park.
"I can see the people on the bridge. I see them on Gosling (bridge) all the time, looking up and down."
Fisher said the Crane Park Bridge is a 'perfect example' of a community led, city supported project that was envisioned in the city's trails master plan approved by council in 2021.
"I want to commend the city because they have been extremely supportive of this project and have expressed interest in continuing their support."
To contribute to the Crane Park Bridge, residents can go to guelphhiking.com.