Manitoba

Clearing ice off Omand's Creek footbridge didn't clear safety concerns, city says

A group of Winnipeggers who cleared ice off of a footbridge in Wolseley — without the city's permission — did not remove safety risks, according to a spokesperson for the public works department.

Engineers deemed the bridge to be safe Monday morning, city spokesperson said

The bridge was due to remain closed until late spring, but a couple of nearby residents took matters into their own hands last weekend. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

A group of Winnipeggers who cleared ice off of a footbridge in Wolseley — without the city's permission — did not remove safety risks, according to a spokesperson for the public works department.

The City of Winnipeg had recently blocked off the footbridge over Omand's Creek — a key link in the active-transportation system that connects Wolseley to River Heights and Assiniboine Park — because of hazardous ice buildup resulting from a late fall flood.

The bridge was due to remain closed until late spring, but a couple of nearby residents took matters into their own hands last weekend.

"What the residents did at the Omand's Creek footbridge, though well-intentioned, did not mitigate the public safety risk that existed at this location as it went beyond simply clearing ice off the bridge surface," a city spokesperson said in an email Monday.

"Opening and closing bridge structures can only be done by professional engineers; the residents who ultimately cleared and reopened the bridge had no way of knowing whether the structure was sound."

The ice on the bridge may have impacted its structural integrity, but the city was unable to inspect the bridge until the ice went away, the spokesperson said.

A City of Winnipeg employee clears ice off of the pathway leading to the bridge at Omand Park. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

The city cited the ice on the pathway was two layers thick and uneven and the trail was incredibly steep and unstable; the ice also left a sharp drop-off leading onto the bridge.

"The risk of taking machinery down these pathways to adequately clear them and lay enough sand to create traction outweighed opening the area to foot and bike traffic through the winter," the spokesperson wrote.

The bridge was deemed safe Monday morning by city engineers, but the surrounding area was not safe. Crews will attempt to clear some of the ice on the path, they added.

With files from Leif Larsen

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