MTO not con­sid­er­ing bridge net­ting

The Standard (St. Catharines) - - Local - AL­LAN BEN­NER Al­lan.Ben­ner@ni­a­ 905-225-1629 | @aben­ner1

As the Ni­a­gara Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion Coali­tion con­sid­ers ways of ad­dress­ing con­cerns about re­cent sui­cides, in­clud­ing two re­cent deaths at the Bur­goyne Bridge, the Min­istry of Trans­porta­tion is not con­sid­er­ing adding sui­cide pre­ven­tion bar­ri­ers to bridges along provin­cial high­ways.

In an e-mail, Ben Snair — the man­ager of leg­isla­tive af­fairs and MPP li­ai­son for Trans­porta­tion Min­is­ter John Yak­abuski — said the min­istry “takes safety of the trav­el­ling pub­lic very se­ri­ously.”

How­ever, he added, there are more than 1,200 provin­cial bridges in the min­istry’s Cen­tral Re­gion area alone, and the min­istry “works hard to en­hance the safety of our in­fras­truc­ture.”

Al­though the Ni­a­gara Re­gion is re­spon­si­ble for the Bur­goyne Bridge which car­ries traf­fic over a provin­cial high­way, and is con­sid­er­ing adding sui­cide pre­ven­tion net­ting among a range of sui­cide pre­ven­tion strate­gies, Snair said the min­istry is not fol­low­ing suit.

How­ever, he said the provin­cial gov­ern­ment is in­stead mak­ing men­tal health a pri­or­ity, by in­vest­ing $3.8 bil­lion in men­tal health, ad­dic­tions and hous­ing sup­ports in the next decade – “the big­gest provin­cial com­mit­ment to men­tal health in Cana­dian his­tory.”

Mean­while, Ni­a­gara Health ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent Linda Boich said se­nior mem­bers of the health sys­tem’s men­tal health­care team are plan­ning to par­tic­i­pate in a meet­ing next Wednesday of the Ni­a­gara Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion Coali­tion, “to sup­port­ing and con­tribut­ing to the dis­cus­sion about sui­cide pre­ven­tion.”

“We know the com­mu­nity is hurt­ing and that many peo­ple are jus­ti­fi­ably con­cerned about the num­ber of sui­cides and at­tempted sui­cides in our re­gion,” she said in a state­ment, Fri­day. “We share these con­cerns.”

Boich also called the coali­tion’s de­ci­sion to im­me­di­ately in­stall signs that of­fers men­tal health cri­sis sup­port in­for­ma­tion “a pos­i­tive step for­ward.”

“Any­thing that will in­ter­rupt a pat­tern of thought, like a sign, is help­ful.”

A vigil at the bridge called Stand Up For Men­tal Health In On­tario is planned for Sun­day at 7 p.m.

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