After the City of Winnipeg closed the bridge over Omand’s Creek in December 2019 due to weather conditions, a pair of Wolseley residents took matters into their own hands and cleared it themselves — much to the city’s chagrin.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) says it did some digging into the controversy and found that the city’s time and resources would have been better spent simply clearing the bridge.
Instead, the CTF found the city had lengthy internal discussions about the state of the bridge. Also, local residents reported moving signs and a snow fence to get across the bridge, only for them to be re-installed by city crews the next day.
Federal director Aaron Wudrick told 680 CJOB it’s clear the community felt it was important to have the bridge open and that sometimes municipal governments just get in their own way.
“It’s a bit of a funny story,” he said. “It just goes to show you that sometimes common sense can prevail.
“Governments mean well. We expect them to do good things, but sometimes they get caught up in red tape instead of fixing the obvious problem at hand.”
The heavily used footbridge was originally closed because it had been covered in ice due to water from fall flooding that had frozen. It was expected to be closed until spring, but local residents were simply moving the city’s signs out of the way and continuing to use the bridge.
Eventually, two local men decided to tackle the project themselves and cleared the ice in an afternoon.
The city pushed back against that action, saying the risk of taking machinery down the pathways to properly clear them outweighed reopening the area to winter foot traffic and adding that safety was the main priority.
Wudrick, however, said the city was more focused on making statements and putting up signs than taking on a job that two citizens easily completed in a couple of hours.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation said it found city staff spent more time emailing each other about the state of the bridge and the effort it might take to clear it than the time it actually took the residents to clear the bridge themselves.
“What we discovered was basically the city spent a lot more time being concerned with how to message that regular people had cleared the bridge, rather than actually clearing the bridge themselves,” he said.
“It’s just one of those classic cases… a lot of people who expect their government to do what seem to be pretty simple things, when they don’t do them and then regular people step in to fix them, it sort of begs the question: what was the government doing in the first place?”
A city spokesperson told 680 CJOB the situation required extra time to inspect the bridge due to the potential for damage to its structure.
“Unfortunately, we were unable to inspect until the ice was cleared. We were unable to clear the bridge by hand, as picks and shovels posed too much risk to the structure of the bridge spindle,” said public works spokesperson Julie Dooley.
“The other option was to machine-clear; however, the risk of taking machinery down the pathways outweighed the benefits. Ultimately, we were faced with two interdependent issues that were logistically difficult and neither safe nor easy to resolve.”
Dooley said when the two men removed the ice themselves, they unintentionally created a dangerous situation.
“They left the thick, jagged and uneven ice remaining on the pathways. This created an incredibly hazardous situation for those using the citizen-cleared bridge and forced us into action.
“Crews ultimately did clear the pathways with bobcats; however the operation was risky and was only undertaken in an attempt to mitigate the risk of injury on the embankments.”
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
View original article here Source