By Thomas Goyer
A mix of old and new is the goal behind Bala Falls bridge designs presented to Muskoka Lakes council during the June 16 meeting.
In a presentation made by Emma Wilkinson on behalf of Tatham consultants the look of the current bridge was preserved with several necessary changes.
The addition of a sidewalk steel barrier that separates the walkway on the bridge from the road was not received with open arms by council. The current bridge does not have a barrier, but new building codes mandate that a barrier must be present.
Director of Public Works Ken Becking informed council of the need to build the bridge to current code.
“All bridges have to be designed and built to the standards at the time the design takes place,” said Becking.
Council had previously discussed and agreed that an effort should be made to preserve the look of the current bridge into the new sketches as much as possible.
As it stands, the new bridge is likely to continue being a one-way bridge, but will not adversely affect traffic in the downtown area, according to Becking.
Councillor Glenn Zavitz said that he has already heard a lot of public feedback prior to the council meeting. “The people that I’ve spoken to, and I’ve spoken to many, and received many emails, people are loving 1B,” he said.
Another feature that attracted attention was a potential bump out lookout area, which juts out from the bridge to give walkers a better view of the river below. Councillor Ruth-Ellen Nishikawa said that because of low water flow, the bridge is no longer a desirable lookout and does not need the bump out.
In response to Councillor Nishikawa, Councillor Frank Jaglowitz agreed that a lookout is not necessary if the bridge does not provide a scenic view.
“My goal in this is to replace it at the lowest cost possible, keeping the original look as much as possible,” said Jaglowitz.
Sensing the lack of unison amongst the council, Mayor Phil Harding recommended putting off a potential vote to a later date, which was not specified during the meeting.
Becking suggested that further public feedback would help council to make the best decision on the design.
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