The public of Bala has made its choice.
After public consultation Muskoka Lakes Council was informed on Wednesday that residents had weighed in on the various bridge designs for the new Bala Falls bridge.
Design number two was the runaway favourite, receiving 36 percent of the overall vote. No other option received more than 17 percent.
With the public feedback council has authorized municipal staff to move forward with an environmental assessment and a detailed design to be brought before council for final approval.
The initial cost of the project is $1.8 million before other costs are included. When asked by Councillor Frank Jaglowitz on what the total project cost might be, Director of Public Works Ken Becking estimated that it may be a total of between $2.1 and $2.2 million.
Councillor Glenn Zavitz expressed a wish for council to consider adding more of a Muskoka look and feel to the new design. He proposed possibly having stonework on each entrance to the bridge and adding a lookout feature. In the initial costing adding a lookout point midway through the bridge would cost an extra $172,000. Putting a lockout on the shore at either end of the bridge was proposed to avoid that extra cost. Becking said that the stonework proposed by Councillor Zavitz could very easily be incorporated.
Councillor Ruth-Ellen Nishikawa voiced opposition with council reopening the design.
“I don’t want to necessarily open up other possibilities to start spending more money, because we, in some ways are not sticking to the heritage requirements,” said Nishikawa. She went on to say, “I don’t think that I would like to start touching this bridge in any way that we’re going to move away from that heritage aspect. I’d be happy to move forward with what the recommendation was at this time and not opening up further conversations.”
Mayor Harding said that once staff has priced out the project and performed a design tender the design could be brought back to council to finalize the design.
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