Mennonite community given no consideration in bridge closure report
Your resolve: be more engaged in your community. A resolution you can keep with help from us.
To the Editor, I WAS DISAPPOINTED IN the editorial and article regarding the Peel Street bridge in Winterbourne (Observer, Dec. 27/18). In the editorial you sacrificed the bridge on the altar of economics and dismissed the historic and aesthetic aspects of the structure. Unfortunately you seem to have ignored a very significant factor in the functionality of this bridge. You have made the same error of omission as council and the consulting engineers did and made no attempt to examine the importance of this bridge to our local Mennonite community.
Woolwich “makes a lot of hay” from its Mennonite communities. They are the main draw of the farmers’ market. They drive a large part of the economies of Elmira and St. Jacobs. They bring millions of dollars annually to Woolwich in tourism dollars. Their farms and businesses drive a good proportion of the entire township. Yet despite all this, the Mennonite community has been virtually forgotten in the discussion around the fate of the bridge.
Consider the following points arising from the latest presentation by the consulting engineers on the bridge’s fate: • No data collected as far as my research has uncovered regarding buggy and bicycle use of the bridge; • Alternate routes casually thrown out that might make a 10-minute difference in a car but make between 70 and 80 minutes for every round trip in a buggy; • No accommodation made in the consultation to allow input from the Mennonite community. Virtually all of the material is available only online and only the second public meeting at which the “preferred option” was presented was held locally; • In the evaluation table generated by the consulting engineers under the major headings of social and cultural effects there is zero mention of the Mennonite population, despite the fact that the significance of aboriginal artifacts was considered; From the appearance of the presentation materials, the consulting engineers, were never instructed by Woolwich Township to give any consideration to the Mennonite community.
If my analysis of this process is at all accurate then this entire exercise has been a sham, carefully orchestrated to produce an outcome that is based solely on dollars and a slap in the face of my Mennonite neighbours.