January 23, 2020

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Footbridge clearers take matters into their own hands

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Brad Hignell and another resident shovelled the ice from a pedestrian bridge that crosses Omand’s Creek after the City of Winnipeg closed it to pedestrians.</p></p>

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Brad Hignell and another resident shovelled the ice from a pedestrian bridge that crosses Omand’s Creek after the City of Winnipeg closed it to pedestrians.

The pedestrian bridge over Omand's Creek in Wolseley has been cleared of ice and reopened by a pair of self-appointed public works engineers, without the city's approval.

The City of Winnipeg had recently blocked off the footbridge, a key link in the active-transportation system that links Wolseley to River Heights and Assiniboine Park, citing hazardous ice after an unusual late fall flood. The bridge was due to remain closed until late spring.

But on Sunday, the bright orange signage and safety fencing at both ends of the bridge had been removed. Neighbourhood resident Brad Hignell contacted the Free Press to say he and a friend had cleared the bridge on Saturday morning.

"We met down there with a couple of picks and bars and shovels and a bucket of gravel, and it took us about three hours to chip away the ice and throw it over the edge, and to spread a bit of gravel so it wasn't slippery," said Hignell.

The pair also removed the city's signage and fencing and piled it nearby, he added.

Is Hignell worried about conflict with the city?

The footbridge over Omand's Creek in a Wolseley park was cleared of ice on the weekend. The city had said it would remain closed until the spring because its workers couldn't clear the ice. So some citizens took matter into their own hands and removed the hazardous ice themselves. Solomon Israel / Winnipeg Free Press</p>

The footbridge over Omand's Creek in a Wolseley park was cleared of ice on the weekend. The city had said it would remain closed until the spring because its workers couldn't clear the ice. So some citizens took matter into their own hands and removed the hazardous ice themselves. Solomon Israel / Winnipeg Free Press

"That's a hill I'm willing to die on," he said.

"It's just asinine bureaucracy. The two of us fixed the problem in three hours, the city took a week and couldn't solve it. Both of us have been to school for engineering, and think that the bridge is probably in good shape physically and whatnot. It's a concrete pedestrian bridge, I don't think it's damaged or unsafe from having a bit of ice on it."

Hignell continued: "So I think that they were just too lazy and too cheap to fix the problem properly, and I'm left wondering why my taxes keep going up and why I'm not getting very good service for them."

A City of Winnipeg spokesperson confirmed the city wasn't involved in clearing the bridge at Omand's Creek.

"While we understand the community’s frustration, we want to stress the importance of respecting all city closures, signage and barricades," wrote the spokesperson on Sunday.

"As we do not know the means, methods or tools used to clear the bridge and pathways, we will be attending to inspect the structural integrity of the bridge and safety of the adjacent area."

solomon.israel@freepress.mb.ca  

@sol_israel

Solomon Israel

Solomon Israel
Reporter

Solomon Israel is a full-time reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press and for two years, the lead writer for Free Press cannabis news site, The Leaf News. He continues to provide coverage of the cannabis beat while covering business in the city and province.

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History

Updated on Sunday, December 15, 2019 at 4:33 PM CST: Adds details

December 16, 2019 at 6:01 AM: Adds photo

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