Some Fisherman’s Wharf residents are worried a proposed concrete pedestrian bridge at Heron Cove will do more to damage nature than to bring people close to it.
The three-metre-wide, 39-metre-long bridge is part of a $27-million plan to complete the David Foster Harbour Pathway from Ogden Point to Rock Bay. The low-profile pedestrian bridge is to be built with terraced timber sundecks at one end and stairs to the rocky beach.
A second 49-metre bridge at Raymur Point is also in the works.
But some Fisherman’s Wharf residents worry the bridge will damage an environmentally sensitive area that is just beginning to recover.
“The whole thing is about the missed opportunity about utilizing this as a quiet space, an observational space, an educational outlet,” said resident David Leff, who speaks for some residents on the issue.
Leff said Heron Cove was under huge stress for years, but is starting to recover with the installation of silt filters and an end to old practices of scraping and painting boats in the cove.
“There’s an opportunity here for a showcase not just for environmental recovery, but for all of the flora and fauna, the bird-migration reserve area,” Leff said.
“But instead, their plans are to be putting a big concrete walkway bridge across and to tear down the rockery and put decking and concrete stairs down to the tidal flats in order to allow people to be one with nature.
“They’re just sort of mixed up as to being one with nature and destroying nature in the midst of it.”
Instead of proceeding with the bridge, the city should continue to invest in habitat restoration, Leff said. If a bridge has to proceed, it should be built without disturbance to the cove. The terraced timber sundecks and concrete stairs should be eliminated from the plans, and the rock area should be left as natural animal habitat, he said.
Acting Mayor Pam Madoff said city staff and Coun. Margaret Lucas, liaison to James Bay, have been meeting with the residents, and efforts have been made to refine the bridge design based on their feedback.
Madoff has been told all necessary steps are being taken to mitigate environmental concerns. Designs and feedback will be coming back before council for a decision.
Completion of the walkway project is a council priority, Madoff said.
“I was a bit surprised when I first heard that there were some concerns about it coming from Fishermen’s Wharf. Because that’s certainly been in the plans for a long time,” Madoff said.