I am the owner of a commercial property in downtown Elora and am writing as such.
It was disappointing to read the letter from Bob Jackson and Ian Rankine in your Nov 10th edition entitled “Bridge Budgets.” It contains inaccuracies that mislead the reader into believing that the Victoria Street Bridge project is to further the goals of the private Pearle Hospitality development.
Both of the letter writers have written The Advertiser often, defending the preservation of Elora’s built heritage, yet their latest letter calls for the Township to not replace what was the first permanent bridge in town. Additionally, they are against using any funding (MacDonald Trust or Township funds) to finance the project, yet they launched a trivial appeal to the Provincial Government in an attempt to block construction of the bridge that the Township had to respond to… at a cost to the Centre Wellington tax payer of $30,000!
The Elora Business Improvement Area (BIA) began lobbying Mayor George Pinkney for the repair or replacement of the bridge in January, 2003 – long before anyone in Elora knew of a company called “Landmark” or “Pearle hospitality.” Such is the importance to its members that merchants even set up a “tin can fund” to beg anyone and everyone for spare change in order to help offset any costs associated with doing the work. Almost 15 long years later we are finally blessed with a rare combination of an enlightened, pro-business Township Council and a generous financial gift to help us build this bridge.
The Elora Business Improvement Area consists of a total of 97 merchants, restaurants, pubs and services that employ hundreds of locals. They operate out of a vibrant, heritage downtown core that is a unique combination of mixed use retail/residential. The owners of the buildings in which these businesses operate are tax payers too, paying commercial rates.
The long and the short of it is that the proposed Victoria Street Bridge is for EVERYONE. Wellington County will soon be demolishing the Badley (Metcalfe Street) Bridge and the project is estimated to last the best part of an entire year! The businesses and residents of downtown Elora need a direct link between the enhanced parking on the south side of the river and the commercial core on the north. There is no way, when the Badley Bridge is demolished, that the north side of the river can accommodate all the traffic that comes to Elora each season. Residents living in the commercial core must not park on the street between November and April. There is severely limited off street parking north of the river. What are these people to do? The Victoria Street bridge will allow the bulk of the parking to remain south of the river (where people are used to finding it) and convert it to foot traffic to reach the north side.
The replacement of the Victoria Street Bridge will, as it did from 1842-2003, provide & ensure continued economic prosperity to downtown Elora (which is good for all of Centre Wellington), deliver a safe, enjoyable and beautiful way to admire the Grand, and further link one community that is divided by a river.
This is a legacy project not for the benefit of one, but for those of us lucky enough to be alive now and who will follow in our footsteps.
If you haven’t seen the proposal for the bridge I encourage you to visit the Township’s web site or review the sign posted in the Elora Green Space. It’s beautiful!