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Beauty and the bridge

Crossing the river to Osborne Village truly is a walk (or ride) to remember

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My favourite place in Winnipeg is the newly reconstructed Osborne Bridge, thanks to the public art project entitled From Here Until Now by local Osborne Village residents and artists Eduardo Aquino and Karen Shanski.

Our new Osborne Bridge is like no other. It is a thought-provoking piece of art, tying together form and function, celebrating unique neighbourhood features — a bridge between two communities. I am convinced it will become a stimulating attraction for tourists and a joy for local residents and all Winnipeggers to experience in their daily travels, especially as pedestrians.

As part of the Winnipeg Arts Council’s Public Art Program, the bridge was planned based on a collaborative community-based design strategy. This means it is rooted in the ideas and contributions of the people who live here as well as the minds of the artists and the technical skills of the engineers.

It is quite incredible to me that we had artists on the technical team working side by side with the engineers designing the project right from the very beginning.

How cool is that?

The art is not a piece of sculpture attached to a bridge, but rather it is an integral part of the bridge itself.

You may not yet have discovered that the sidewalks of the new bridge represent the physical map or street grid of Osborne Village by using contrasting concrete tones and stainless steel trimming.

It will take some of us longer than others to figure out which streets are represented and where we are as we walk across the patterns — which makes it all the more interesting.

The bridge handrails have text inscribed in the aluminum pickets with LED lighting. The words harken to our history, geography, and village/community values and experiences.

Two illuminated gateway zones at both bridge entrances celebrate four important architectural treasures of the neighbourhood: the Legislature, the Granite Curling Club, the Roslyn Apartment Building, and the Evergreen Towers.

As you go between the two neighbourhoods on either side of the bridge (Osborne Village and the Broadway Neighbourhood) you experience reflections of our story as a community, both past and present.

When the bridge opened and I read the words on the rails and walked along the street-grid sidewalk, I got goosebumps! It was like a living poem that speaks to our experience.

It is particularly beautiful at night when you can see the lights.

Walking across the Osborne Bridge (or driving, biking or travelling the river by skates or boat) is a whole new journey now. People will find their own meaning and experience in the art. I suppose not everyone may appreciate it, but I predict that for a lot of us, this new bridge will become an integral part of what makes us love our home and feel proud of our city.

What this artful Osborne Bridge does for me, and what I suspect it will do for many people, is to make the daily commute, walk, or trip through our city one of joy, beauty and reflection.

 

Jenny Gerbasi has been a member of city council since 1998 representing the Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry ward. Before politics, Jenny was a community health nurse with the Victorian Order of Nurses and is a mother of three. She is a strong advocate for public art, public transit, active transportation, accessibility, heritage buildings, ethics in government and neighbourhood planning.

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