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Murky depths beckon footbridge again

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The footbridge across Omand’s Creek is almost guaranteed to dip beneath the water again this year, requiring people to detour north to a Portage Avenue crossing.

The inconvenience may seem trivial to Manitobans facing a worsening 2013 flood outlook, and Wolseley residents don’t seen too concerned about it.

Daniel McIntyre Coun. Harvey Smith says his constituents have stayed quiet about the soggy Omand Park bridge since it last grabbed headlines in 2010, in spite of losing it for most of the summer in 2011.

"People have adjusted to the fact that it’s flooded every year. The fact is they’ve sort of accepted that," he said.

When a bigger footbridge to replace the current, perennially flooded one spanning the creek was proposed in 2010 residents rejected it in force.

Wolseley Residents Association president Cynthia Neudoerffer recalls a public meeting on the matter attracting about 500 people, "one of the most well-attended community meetings we’ve ever seen," she said.

Neudoerffer says residents were nearly unanimous in opposition to the city’s proposed replacement bridge – a 75-metre long, four-metre wide span from Raglan Road to the top of an Omand Park hill commonly used for tobogganing.

"A number of people wanted it just left as it was because the current bridge is really non-intrusive and they liked that," Neudoerffer said.

"You get the experience of walking through the creek because you’re very close to the creek. They didn’t want to give up that experience…a month’s inconvenience was not enough to give it up."

Neudoerffer said "everybody grumbles" when the bridge connecting Wolseley to St. James and River Heights goes underwater, but they’d rather have the inconvenience than a new bridge changing the park’s aesthetics.

Still, Smith predicts another summer without the bridge might try people’s patience.
"Normally the flooding only lasts a few weeks, but this year you’ll have a hell of a time…I’m sure I’m going to hear from them. People treasure that park."

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