The past and future of infrastructure
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Aug 01, 2013  |  Vote 0    0

The past and future of infrastructure

St. Marys Journal Argus

Sometimes we look hopefully to the future; sometimes we reflect fondly upon the past. But in between, there’s always the present.

There’s going to be pressure for St. Marys Town Council to honour the past, as it awaits the recommendations of an Environmental Assessment into future options for vehicular crossings over Trout Creek. Many residents will want to see the Water Street steel truss bridge maintained, perhaps even repaired for use.

Such an expense, no matter where the final estimate ends up, will dwarf the cost of repairing and/or upgrading two other almost-iconic pieces of St. Marys infrastructure — the steps along the Elgin Street road allowance beside the Knox Apartments; and the high diving board at the Quarry.

It was concerns over liability — fully justified concerns, in this overly litigious day and age — that forced the closure of the bridge and high dive, as well as the consideration by Town Council to have the steps removed. And it is concerns over preserving this town’s heritage that have fuelled opposition to all three changes.

The future in St. Marys, in Ontario, in Canada, however, is promising to be much less about preserving infrastructure designed with an early 20th century demographic in mind. Instead, it will be about preserving the ability of a very different demographic to continue living the way they did when they were younger, or enhancing the opportunities for people who haven’t, in the past, been able to experience life fully.

That side of things was explored at Town Council on Tuesday, July 23, when Marg McLean, executive director of Community Living St. Marys and Area, appeared to express her dismay that the Pyramid Centre pool reduced its hours over the summer. McLean suggested that was a mistake, given that the town only recently installed a specialized lift making the pool much more accessible for those in wheelchairs.

Looming on the horizon are the final deadlines of the Ontario government’s Accessibility for All legislation, which will eventually dictate that all public buildings can be fully utilized by everyone, regardless of mobility.

The irregularly-spaced Knox Apartments steps; the wooden pedestrian platform on the Water Street Bridge; the steep ladder up to the high dive platform — none of these are, realistically, in keeping with Accessibility for All. And it will cost a lot to upgrade any one of them— money which, in the present (as opposed to the fondly-remember past or the hopeful future) isn’t always in abundant supply.

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