Manitoba·Photos

Aging Arlington Bridge should be turned into lively community hub, Winnipegger says

A bridge in the North End has been deemed unsafe for drivers, and one Winnipeg woman says her vision of a multi-use cycling corridor and outdoor community space would inject new life into the aging structure and surrounding area.

Cece McIntosh says old structure 'a diamond in the rough,' should be repurposed for community events

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      A bridge in the North End has been deemed unsafe for drivers, and one Winnipeg woman says her vision of a multi-use cycling corridor and outdoor community space would inject new life into the aging structure and surrounding area.

      "It's like a diamond in the rough," Cece McIntosh said. "We were up on the bridge yesterday and everybody that walked past was like, 'Hello, how are you?' I can't say enough about it."

      The Arlington Bridge is slated to close by 2020 after inspectors concluded it has met its expiration date for heavy vehicle traffic.
      Conceptual artwork produced by Cece McIntosh envisions a repurposed Arlington Bridge that would be used as a cycling and pedestrian path. Her vision for the bridge includes a monument honouring missing and murdered women. (Cece McIntosh)

      McIntosh wants to see the city repurpose the bridge and turn into a cycling and pedestrian path.

      She said it would be a shame for the community to lose the adjoining walkway and miss out on an opportunity to revitalize the area.

      "My daughter and [everyone] her age, they bike, they walk, they want to move to Vancouver for that reason," McIntosh said. "They want to move to Toronto, they want to move to the city that cares and they are already leaving the city in droves. I want our city to be that."

      One way of keeping young people from leaving the community would be to turn the bridge into a place where people can meet for coffee and even host events, McIntosh said. That idea squares with Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman's expressed desire to improve pedestrian-friendly and rapid transit infrastructure in the city, McIntosh said.
      McIntosh says the bridge could be used for community events. The bridge offers a view of the North End, Downtown and West End and would also be suitable for things like wedding photos, according to McIntosh. (Cece McIntosh)

      "If you can imagine this concrete monster bridge they want to put through, they will be expropriating houses. Once that land is developed for a bridge, then there goes any other use for it," McIntosh said.

      There are examples of bridges in the city that lend credibility to McIntosh's idea. A pedestrian bridge behind the Bridge Drive-In ice cream shop on Jubilee Avenue sees loads of foot-traffic during the spring and summer months. It's a point of congregation McIntosh hopes the city considers duplicating on Arlington Street.
      The bridge is slated to be decommissioned by 2020. McIntosh said it would be a shame if the City of Winnipeg missed out on an opportunity to inject new life into the neighbourhood. (Cece McIntosh)

      "This would be the perfect spot; it connects two neighbourhoods. This could really put us on the map," McIntosh said.

      "I love my kids. I want a future for them. My generation has the responsibility to do that for them. I don't want to burden them with a billion dollar bridge that won't be necessary."
      'People use the [Bridge Drive-In] and they walk across the bridge that's there. This would be the perfect spot. It connects two neighbourhoods. This could really put us on the map,' Cece McIntosh says. (Cece McIntosh)

      With files from CBC's Courtney Rutherford