Council decides on $3M High Level Bridge suicide barrier
The city is moving ahead with a $3 million suicide prevention barrier on the High Level Bridge.
Councillors on the community services committee decided Monday on a revised version of the barrier with stainless steel mesh and horizontal tension cable barriers.
Administration has been directed to prepare a revised version of the design to present to council during its budget deliberations this fall.
Councillors made the decision after hearing from Arthur Roberts, whose 15-year-old son Harrison died after jumping from the bridge in January.
Roberts said that no one in family had any idea that Harrison was suffering from mental health issues. He believes that his son might have kept walking across the bridge if a barrier was there.
“I blame the High Level Bridge, which I can barely look at, for helping speed his demise," Roberts said.
Roberts urged councillors to spend money on the barrier and show that Edmonton is an intelligent, progressive city.
“It’s about a caring city," he said. "Are we as a city spending taxpayers money in a caring way, do we care about all of our people, no matter what their background is?”
Councillors looked at four options, which ranged in cost from $1.2 million for a nine-foot chain link fence to $7.4 million for a stainless steel tension barrier. The first two options which use chain link fencing were ruled out.
The option they chose would be difficult to climb and wouldn't affect sight lines.
"I think Option 2 that we looked at will fit nicely into the bridge," Mayor Don Iveson said. "I think it's a reasonable balance and so it's just not about cost. It's also about aesthetics."
Telephones linking to a distress line are being installed on the bridge but will not be operational until October.