Take out bridge piers, Cornwall tells bridge corp.

In this April 2016, file photo, from the Federal Bridge Corporation, construction takes place at the north channel bridge. City council will decide Monday to tell the FBC whether it wants to see the three in-water piers (in the red circle) stay or be cut down to just above the water line. (Federal Bridge Corporation via Newswatch Group, File)

CORNWALL – City council is sending a message to the Federal Bridge Corporation (FBC) – go ahead and take down the three St. Lawrence River piers from the old north channel bridge.

Council voted Monday night to send that message to the FBC, which had an original plan to cut down the three in-water piers to 2 meters (6.5 feet) above the water line.

Even while the in-waters wil be gone, there will still be one left for posterity on the north shore near the toll booths.

“They (FBC) were taking them out so why are we asking to take them out again?” Coun. Andre Rivette asked. “We don’t want anything to do with it. We are getting ourselves into something we don’t have to. Why are we getting into something we don’t need and taking on a liability.”

Rivette said the piers are around 55 years old and some are not structurally safe.

“I don’t even know why we would want to leave them up,” Coun. Claude McIntosh added in supporting Rivette’s motion. “Get rid of them, take them down. They’re an eyesore.”

Coun. Bernadette Clement believes the last walk across the high-level bridge and the “strong memories” are why the city is still talking about them. Clement said she “wouldn’t support them staying the way they are now” but suggested “some other compelling story could be told” with the piers.

Coun. Elaine MacDonald agreed, suggesting other possibilities like the murals on the Gardiner Expressway bridge supports in Toronto could be a possiblity.

Infrastructure GM John St. Marseille said the FBC is “planning and proceeding” but did not have any time frame on when it would undertake the removal.

St. Marseille estimated it would cost $5-6 million for the federal government to take the piers down. He said there is “no intention” for the city to take ownership of any of the structures.

Coun. Denis Carr said council would be “foolish” if it didn’t invite a Federal Bridge Corporation to come to council to explain its plans with all the pillars, though no formal council request was made.

While council voted to send the message to the FBC, Coun. Maurice Dupelle concluded by saying staff should not be wasting time with an administrative report on something that it can’t control. Also, there was no council presentation prompting the report.

“I feel that, as a councillor, that administration already has lots of work to do and lots to reports to bring back to council and to start initiating one that’s not even waiting on a response from council,” Dupelle said.