Think Of The Bridge As Money Saved

Looking over the no-railing edge of the Prince of Wales Bridge. It’s obvious this city-owned property is unsafe.

Even the fiscally challenged mandarins at Ottawa City Hall should be able to recognize that refurishing for $40 million a bridge that costs $1 billion to build is a spectacularly good deal.

It’s a deal the City of Ottawa simply can’t refuse. So the main effort in this discussion about the Prince of Wales Bridge is not whether it is safe or not, but rather how to use an unused asset to its full potential.

In the short term, it’s obvious from the video here that the bridge in its current form is unsafe. So the city should do what it can to make the span as secure as possible. It might not stop all over-eager youngsters from walking on it, but it could halt a few brave and foolish hearts. It will also keep Transport Canada happy and could mitigate damages in a possible lawsuit if someone gets hurt on the bridge.

But this is a stop-gap measure.

The real way to make the bridge safe is to turn it into a transit, cycling and pedestrian route. Don’t think of it as $40 million spent, but almost $1 billion saved.

Mayor Jim Watson has a good relationship with Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin, has a seat at the table at the National Capital Commission and has been spending much time cosying up to local powerful MPs and cabinet ministers. That puts His Worship in the perfect position to make something of the bridge. Perhaps if all the levels of government involved chip in a bit, the span could be fully used for much less than $40 million out of city pockets.

Watson can turn the bridge controversy into an opportunity if he plays his cards right.

We know the mayor is a good politician. The bridge is a test to see if he can be a good leader.

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