Arguing connectivity is key to the success of the David Foster Harbour Pathway, Victoria councillors rejected on Thursday a staff recommendation to defer construction of the Heron Cove footbridge.
Instead, councillors agreed with earlier plans that will see both the $2.8-million bridge at Heron Cove and the $1.7-million bridge at Raymur Point built this year.
The bridges are part of a $27-million plan to complete the five-kilometre David Foster Harbour Pathway from Ogden Point to Rock Bay.
The pedestrian bridge would be three metres wide and 39 metres long, with terraced timber sundecks at one end and stairs to the rocky beach.
City staff had suggested moving ahead with the Raymur Point bridge, but said there were higher-priority pathway elements such as development of the Johnson Street Bridge pedestrian underpass along with improvements at the Belleville Street terminal and Ship Point that should be developed before the bridge at Heron Cove. The deferral would have meant the loss of about $400,000 in grant money.
Coun. Geoff Young said the Heron Cove bridge is a “central element” of the project.
“It’s what will revolutionize, change the whole nature of it,” Young said, adding improvements at Belleville Street or Ship Point were not essential.
“The bridge will shorten the pathway, will make it far more visible and attractive and will increase the use [of the pathway] enormously,” Young said.
Coun. Ben Isitt said it made no sense not to build the bridges when the external money was available.
“If we want to not do this bridge then let’s just say we don’t want to do it and abandon it. But if it is a priority for council … why the heck wouldn’t we do it with federal funds?” Isitt said.
Staff believe that there will be sufficient funds to design the Johnson Street Bridge underpass.