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Council pans piers

By Nick Seebruch

Published on July 10, 2017

The view of the old bridge piers from the Cornwall side (Nick Seebruch/ TC Media).

CORNWALL, Ontario -  At the July 10 meeting of Cornwall City Council, council voted 8 to 3 to remove the remaining piers of the Seaway International Bridge from the water.

The piers are the last remnants of the Seaway International Bridge that was once an iconic image of Cornwall. The Piers are owned by the Federal Bridge Corporation.

Councillors Carilyne Hébert, Elaine MacDonald and Bernadette Clement voted against endorsing the removal of the piers.

One pier, Pier S3, on the bank of the North shore will be staying where it is.

The piers are at least 55-years-old and Councillors such as Andre Rivette raised concerns about their stability.

"Mayor, why do we take on this liability," he asked. "We have the email from the CEO of the Bridge Corporation very clearly that they're coming out, so why are we doing this again? Why are we getting into something we don't need."

The Piers will not be removed completely, under the Bridge Corporation's plans they will simply be reduced to below water level.

Through the course of the conversation, General Manager of Municipal Works and Infrastructure John St. Marseile said that the City did not have any intention of taking responsibility for the pillars whether they were taken out or not.

Due to this, some councillors such as David Murphy pointed out that it did not really matter what the City decided to do with them because the federal government could just do what they wanted anyway.

In fact, the Federal Bridge Corporation had not yet even inquired about the City's opinion on this issue.

"Then why are we looking for something to do," Murphy asked.

St. Marseille explained that the cost to remove them would be in the millions of dollars and that the federal government currently had no timeline to remove them.

Councillor Bernadette Clement was open to hearing what the community and the Federal Bridge Corporation had planned for them.

"There may still be interest in doing something with them," she said. "I wouldn't be in favour of them staying the way they are now."

Cornwall's Little Historian Sara Lauzon said on her Facebook page that she was in favour of seing the piers remain.

"First of all, the piers aren't hurting anyone or anything by staying where they are," she wrote. "I drove over the new bridge for teh first time yesterday, and driving by the old pillars was an incredible nostalgic feeling."