Ottawa

Barrier installed on Gatineau entrance to Prince of Wales Bridge

Access to the Gatineau, Que., side of the Prince of Wales Bridge is now blocked by an imposing barricade, one week after the death of a swimmer who jumped into the Ottawa River and failed to resurface.

Call for modernizing bridge increase following swimmer’s death

A recently installed metal barrier is seen on the Gatineau, Que., side of the Prince of Wales Bridge on June 26, 2021. Earlier this month, a 26-year-old man drowned after jumping off the Ottawa side of the decommissioned rail bridge. (Alexander Behne/Radio-Canada)

Access to the Gatineau, Que., side of the Prince of Wales Bridge is now blocked by an imposing barricade, one week after a swimmer drowned after jumping off the bridge into the Ottawa River.

A fence had already been installed at Ottawa's side of the bridge.

The City of Ottawa owns the old railway bridge, which is closed to the public and connects the two cities.

"It is a bridge that is of a certain age [and is] not as safe and not necessarily built for pedestrians," Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury told Radio-Canada in a French-language interview Saturday. 

"We have seen the consequences of all this with deaths, unfortunately, in recent years."

A fence had previously been installed on Ottawa's side of the Prince of Wales Bridge. Calls have been growing to modernize the bridge following the recent death of a swimmer. (Radio-Canada)

A 26-year-old London, Ont., man jumped into the water from the Prince of Wales Bridge last Sunday but didn't resurface. His body was recovered by search crews later that evening.

A 14-year-old boy also died after he jumped into the water last summer.

Many are calling for the bridge to be made accessible for public transport, allowing pedestrians and cyclists to traverse it safely.

"Let's do it and do it quickly because then people will be able to [use it]." said Florence Lehmann from Bike Ottawa. "There will be no ban. There will be barriers to protect people, to prevent them from jumping."

Fleury believes recent events highlight the importance of modernizing the bridge. 

"Of course we want to give access to pedestrians and cyclists, but this must be done with updates, with investments, because for the moment [...] there is not even a platform to walk on," he said.

"It's dangerous."

With files from Radio-Canada's Emmanuelle Poisson

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