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Ramara community divided as construction on Trent Severn bridge remains unclear

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In the small community of Bolsover, Ont., residents have grown from frustrated to angry over construction on a bridge that has been halted for nearly four years.

The Boundary Road Swing Bridge, located on the Trent Severn waterway between Kirkfield and Lake Simcoe, was a one-lane wooden deck swing bridge. It was identified for replacement by Parks Canada more than four years ago.

A repair project began in 2020 but stopped in 2021 and has remained that way since.

"I want Parks Canada to re-tender this bridge, choose an appropriate contractor with the ability to complete the project on budget and on time, and get the bridge back for us," said Doug Ogilvie, a Bolsover resident.

The original company hired to do the work could not complete the project. People who live in the area say it has caused great grief for residents, not to mention safety concerns.

"Emergency services are suffering because of this. Ambulances come to the other side, fire trucks come to the other side, and find out there is a detour. You have to go all the way around," Ogilvie said.

In a statement to CTV News, Parks Canada said the initial contractor faced numerous issues, resulting in the contract being terminated in September 2021.

"Following a re-tender of the project during the summer of 2022, the response from the industry was limited, and only one bid met the technical criteria established in the solicitation," Parks Canada said. "Unfortunately, this one compliant bid price submission exceeded available project funding and was much higher than any recent, comparable swing bridge replacement projects that had been undertaken on the Trent-Severn Waterway or Rideau Canal. As a result, the tender process was considered unproductive."

Parks Canada added that there has been "little contractor interest" in undertaking the project ever since.

Robert Armour, a resident of the area, said that's not good enough.

"We want our bridge back. We used to go across this bridge to go to the other side of the waterway in two minutes," Armour said. "There are still people that have their mail on the other side giving us our bridge back."

Armour said if the bridge isn't rebuilt, he and several residents would like a pedestrian access bridge put in place.

Parks Canada said it is currently considering its options for the project and will communicate updates to the public as the process unfolds.

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