Footbridge forges forward – Name revealed for pedestrian footbridge

City approves Passerella Flora Footbridge as the name for new link between Old Ottawa East and The Glebe 

Blackburn Hamlet residents Micah and father Jacob Zwiers rose early to see the completion of the footbridge’s span in mid-July. Photo by John Dance

Blackburn Hamlet residents Micah and father Jacob Zwiers rose early to see the completion of the footbridge’s span in mid-July. Photo by John Dance

by John Dance  

So it now has a name and connects the two sides.

Over the last two months, City Council unanimously approved “Passerelle Flora Footbridge” as the name for the new Rideau Canal link at Clegg Street and Fifth Avenue, and the steel structure spanning the Canal was put in place.

On July 13, a small crowd gathered early in the morning to see the central steel girder raised and then bolted into place. Like all of the other girders and the V-piers, it fit perfectly. Among the onlookers were four of the steel fabricators from North Bay’s G&P Welding and Ironworks, the company that had created the structural pieces.

Work continues to progress as planned and is on budget, says Shelley McDonald, manager of the City’s Asset Management department. There have been no significant construction issues or surprises.

Given the considerable progress, residents have enquired if the bridge will be opened before next summer, as currently scheduled. In her response to the Mainstreeter, McDonald explained: “It is a very complex and intricate project. Following the installation of the structural steel, the concrete deck on the girders will be formed and poured. This will include a curb and the setting of the many anchor bolts for the railing system. The railings require a lengthy fabrication and installation process which will carry the project into spring 2019.”

Other work includes completion of the earthwork for the eastern switchback and the ramp on the Glebe side. The Lily Pond will also be reconfigured, followed by extensive landscaping on both sides of the Canal.

“The multi-use pathway on the Glebe side of the bridge will remain the same until the project is completed,” says McDonald. “The detour on the east side onto Echo Drive, with the signalized crossing of Colonel By Drive at Herridge, will need to be put back into service. This will be done when the bridge deck is poured and when the final painting of the bridge girders on the east is complete.”

Remarkably, three unconnected people suggested Flora MacDonald as the basis for the name for the new footbridge. Of the many suggestions put forward, “Flora” stood out for the naming committee members, including two members from each of Old Ottawa East, Old Ottawa South and the Glebe.

“Flora would be surprised, humbled and delighted to have this honour, and I feel the same way because it is so fitting, not only because of her personal love of the Canal and the Glebe area, but her life was given to serve the people,” says Elizabeth Davies, long-time friend and neighbour of MacDonald.

Flora MacDonald

“Her goal was to promote peace and connections amongst peoples and nations. I feel that this Flora Footbridge is appropriately named, since it connects the two sides of the city, encouraging an easy connection of peoples from the west and east neighbourhoods, says Davies.” “What better experience than to walk over the Flora footbridge, away from the rush of traffic for a moment, take a breath and look around at our special Canal. That is what Flora would do.”

These sentiments were echoed by Linda Grearson, MacDonald’s niece who told the Mainstreeter, “Flora received numerous awards both in Canada and internationally, but I am convinced that this footbridge named in her honour would be the one that would have made her the happiest. For over 40 years at her apartment on Third Avenue, she overlooked the canal and the city she loved. She delighted in recounting how she would put on her speed skates and head off to work on Parliament Hill!”

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