VICTORIA MAYOR DEAN FORTIN ON JOHNSON STREET BRIDGE: ‘The longer we wait to act the more expensive the project gets’


A clear choice will have to be made, doing nothing is not an option


In less than two months, Victoria City Council will decide whether to replace or rehabilitate the Johnson Street Bridge.

That decision will determine how much money will need to be borrowed, and shape the question on the ballot for the November referendum.

Two things are clear.

No matter which choice is made, it will cost many millions of dollars.

And doing nothing is not an option, because the engineers who have been part of this project say that we risk having to close the bridge completely.

We have already seen that delaying the project has cost implications – the longer we wait to act the more expensive the project gets.

We need to act, and as a community, we need to work together to determine the best course of action.

There are pros and cons to both replacing and rehabilitating the bridge – which means our community has some tough choices ahead.

Over the next six weeks we, as a community, will explore these two options in depth, and then make the decision.

The bridge has been a topic of passionate debate in our community for the past year.

This a positive thing.

It is a big project with a big price tag, and Victorians have said they want to be involved in determining the future of this vital transportation link.

Residents have also said that they need more information on both options for the bridge – replacement and rehabilitation.

The recent Ipsos-Reid survey of Victoria residents and businesses provided insight to how Victorians feel about this project.

We learned that cost is a major concern, value for money is critical and improved amenities, like safer bike and pedestrian crossings, are important.

In February, Council committed to providing a clear picture of both options and the cost of each, the economic impact of bridge closures on our downtown and an engineering peer review to ensure our technical analysis and costs projections are sound.

That information is now available and Council will do all that it can to put it in your hands.

Council has committed to an extensive plan to consult with the public and provide information, with the goal of offering several venues for people to get information, ask questions and provide feedback.

We will organize a series of open houses at City Hall, and be present at local markets and festivals.

We will send a direct mail piece to each household that details both options, and includes an opportunity to mail your feedback to City Hall.

We will organize bridge tours, an opportunity for residents to sign up and tour the bridge with our engineers, ask questions and get a sense of what each option means “on the ground.”

We will use our website as a hub for information.

We will update this site regularly with information and opportunities to get more involved.

We will also use social media as another way to reach all members of our community, including the City’s Facebook page.

Finally, we will undertake another representative survey of Victoria residents in late July, after the community has had time to review all the information on both replacement and rehabilitation options for the bridge, to determine which option the community prefers and why.

The Johnson Street Bridge is a key piece of infrastructure, and we need to ensure it remains safe for all who use it.

I strongly encourage each Victoria resident to take the time to get informed, ask questions and provide feedback.

The next few months will be busy, but it will be worth it.

The goal for every one of us should be to have a safe and accessible link that will serve this city for the next 100 years.

More information about the bridge options is on the city’s website,


Dean Fortin is the mayor of Victoria


CCC BLOG repost:

Victoria Times Colonist:

Bridge decision is vital to city’s future

Friday, July 2, 2010

Page A13



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