CHUCK KUEPFER, Staff Reporter
BridgeKeepers has expressed its dissatisfaction with Waterloo Region for its lack of care and repair of the historic West Montrose bridge.
The covered bridge, the only one of its kind in Ontario and a drawing card for tourists to the area, was closed to vehicular traffic on Sept. 20 to fix a cracked structural beam.
The region reopened the bridge to pedestrian traffic in mid-November; however, it remains closed to vehicles and horse and buggies.
"There is no indication if the bridge will ever be open again to buggies and cars," stated local resident and BridgeKeepers spokesperson Tony Dowling. "The region has been reactive, not proactive, in looking after the bridge."
One of the group's primary concerns is for local horse and buggy traffic, which has to detour onto busy Line 86 — and cross a bridge that has no shoulders.
"That's a very dangerous alternative," stated Dowling, who noted winter conditions exacerbate those concerns. "They need to find a way to get those buggies off of the highway and back through the covered bridge right away."
According to Bridgekeepers, the region plans to hold a public information meeting to gather feedback on plans to reopen the bridge; however, that meeting is not planned until early in the new year.
CAROL SING RELOCATED
The plight of the bridge has also prompted the annual Kiwanis Carol Sing to be moved to another venue.
It will stay take place with the backdrop of the Kissing Bridge, though in the form of the Bridgekeeper's 50-foot parade float, a replica of the bridge that will be decorated and lit for the carol sing.
The event, slated for Monday, Dec. 10 at 7 p.m., is being held at the West Montrose United Church.
It's the second time the carol sing, which started in the late '80s, has not taken place in the bridge due to structural repairs.
Donations of non-perishable food items or cash for the Kiwanis Christmas Goodwill Food Drive from those who attend would be appreciated.
Carolers are asked to dress appropriately. Song sheets, as well as hot cider and cookies, will be provided.
In case of inclement weather, the event will held inside the church.
For more information, contact Dowling at 519-669-8911.