Faces On The Flora Footbridge…First Impressions Of OOE, Glebe Residents

Dignitaries on hand for the official opening included from left: John Fraser, MP; Yasir Naqvi and his son, Ravi; Mayor Jim Watson; Hon. Catherine McKenna, MP; former Prime Minister Joe Clarke; Councillor Shawn Menard; and Joel Harden, MLA. Photo by John Dance

By Peter Croal

Much is said today about our addiction to smartphones and travelling through life with our heads bowed down, eyes glued to the glowing screen. While technology is supposed to be connecting people, there is an uneasy belief that we are growing ever further apart and becoming more isolated.

Once in a while, however, something truly wonderful happens that demonstrates how much we still yearn for connection and contributing to the community. That something wonderful happened on June 27th when the Flora Footbridge was officially opened with much anticipation and celebration.

To acknowledge this event and explore how Ottawa residents reacted to their first trip across the bridge, The Mainstreeter interviewed people crossing the bridge in the early morning of June 29th. Interestingly, no one seemed to be blindly walking while looking at their phones. Most everyone had smiles on their faces; they were animated and talking with friends and passersby. There were much curiosity and conversation about the intriguing surface of the bridge and its design.

When people got to the centre of the bridge many could be heard remarking: “What a fabulous/fantastic/great view!” And they are right! The view is stunning and offers a perspective on the Rideau Canal and Ottawa that is refreshing. Doubtless, many will find this spot a place for interesting photography.

There was a theme that emerged many times during the interviews. The new footbridge was a “community connection” that fostered “community cohesion”. To all, their first walk or bike ride on the new bridge quickly demonstrated that the Glebe and Old Ottawa East had just become a lot closer.

We may still need to look at our phones from time to time, but when we are on the Flora Footbridge, our thoughts and gaze can be focused on beauty, connection and community, even if for a short while.

Here’s how residents enjoyed their maiden journey:

Louis Comerton “Wonderful addition to the neighbourhood”
Photo by Peter Croal

Louis Comerton thinks the bridge is “terrific” and emphasizes that the structure is a “wonderful addition to the neighbourhood”. He really likes that it will dramatically improve his running routes through Ottawa. It is money very well spent and he appreciates that the bridge was built under budget and opened 2 months early.

Robb Barnes “Will improve community connection and reduce travel time”
Photo by Peter Croal

Robb Barnes feels Flora is fabulous for pedestrians and cyclists. He thought that the bridge will improve “connection” and “community cohesion” between neighbourhoods on both sides of the canal. Robb and his family do not own a car so the bridge will greatly improve all the little shopping trips he takes to the Glebe and reduce the amount of time for travel. He would love to see more infrastructure like this and sends a big vote of thanks to all the politicians and community groups that were instrumental in getting the bridge built.

Margaret Gillingham “An important project well done”
Photo by Peter Croal

For her part, Margaret Gillingham absolutely “loves” the bridge since it will improve her ability to shop and socialize. She very much enjoys going to the Green Door on Main Street so the bridge will shorten the time it takes for her to get to one of her favourite restaurants! Margaret believes it was an important project “well done”.

Dawn Hoffman “Head over heels about the new bridge”
Photo by Peter Croal

Dawn Hoffman is head over heels about the new bridge. She is very excited to have such a beautiful new asset in her neighbourhood. She really likes that the bridge will cut down on the time needed to pick up her kids across the Canal.

Donna Dean, and Tess “A big help in connecting bike paths”
Photo by Peter Croal

Donna Dean, pictured below with her dog Tess, feels the bridge is “amazing”. She noted that it was packed with people so early in the morning. “Flora” will make it a lot easier to bike to her daughter’s home, and it will really help in connecting bike paths. She feels that the lights on the bridge are too bright at night and could be turned down just a bit.

Bruce Crisp and Mary Bond “Will increase safety for pedestrians and cyclists”
Photo by Peter Croal

Bruce Crisp and Mary Bond are “absolutely thrilled” the bridge is now open. They said it is already a “great” asset to Ottawa. It will significantly shorten the time needed to get to the Glebe and will increase safety for pedestrians and cyclists. Bruce and Mary send a big vote of thanks to David Chernushenko for all his hard work in getting the bridge built, as well as to all the construction workers who got the bridge built so quickly.

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Filed in: Community Groups, Culture, Environment, Features, Front Page, News

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