If an historic wooden bridge on the former Guelph reformatory lands is to be saved from demolition, the city must act now, says the president of Guelph Hiking Trail Club (GHTC), which manages trails on either side of the Eramosa River crossing.
In a letter to council, John Fisher calls on city officials to convince their provincial counterparts the trestle bridge built in the early 1900s is worth preserving and urges the city to pursue its purchase from the province.
“Fair market value should be about $1,” he wrote. “The purchase will remove the liability from (Infrastructure Ontario) IO which is their primary mandate and concern.”
Fisher’s letter is on the agenda for Tuesday evening’s council planning session, during which proposed boundaries for a Heritage Conservation District study will be discussed and potentially approved for the former reformatory lands.
The GHTC president is also slated to speak to the issue.
City staff recommends the bridge be included in the study, which is a precursor to seeking formal designation and protection under the Ontario Heritage Act.
Earlier this month a spokesperson for IO, which manages provincially-owned properties, confirmed the process needed in order to demolish the former spur rail line bridge has begun.
In calling for the bridge to be saved, Fisher points to the city’s vision statement for river systems, adopted by council in 1993, which he claims obligates city staff to “treasure and protect” rivers and river corridors in recognition of their vital role to life in the city.
The bridge is on the city’s municipal heritage registry, listed under the reformatory’s address of 785 York Rd.