Volume 12 Week 5

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Orléans Ward
Bob Monette

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(Posted 9 a.m., Oct. 12)
Local MPP calls on community to mobilize against interprovincial bridge
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Ottawa-Orléans MPP Phil McNeely is doing his level best to prevent an interprovincial bridge from being built in Orléans, but he can't do it by himself, at least that was the message he delivered at a public meeting Thursday night.

Speaking to an audience of about 100 people, McNeely made a case against a bridge and in favour of fast-tracking light rail to Trim Road.

"The bridge will increase traffic and negate the improvements that are currently being made to the split and the Queensway. If we canceled the bridge it would free up $250 million which would go a long way to extending the light rail," said McNeely.

When questioned about his government's ongoing support for the Interprovincial Crossings Environment Assessment by Innes Ward Coun. Rainer Bloess and Conservative nominee-elect Andrew Lyster, McNeely admitted Orléans has been taking "a pounding" from all three levels of government, but that he would continue lobbying his Liberal government colleagues against a bridge.

"I've never been shy to speak to the Premier, or (Infrastructure Minister) Bob Chiarelli, or Madeleine Meilleur. I've been making my opinion heard for a long time to the point where I don't Bob Chiarelli likes me very much," said McNeely before challenging his adversaries to join with him in trying to block a bridge.

"I want to work with you in trying to stop this thing, (but) the community needs to get organized and not just sit back,"

As for the next step, McNeely hinted that the Greater Orléans Economic Develop.m.ent Council, under former Orleans Chamber of Commerce executive director Larry Ring, might take the lead on mobilizing a grassroots campaign against a bridge.

"I think this is something the GOEDC could take on. Larry has expressed an interest in doing something, but it will take concerned residents working with the local business community to really make an impact," said McNeely.

The Interprovincial Crossings study group is supposed to release a preferred corridor for a bridge by the end of November, but it's looking more and more like the announcement could be delayed until the spring to allow for the completion of several smaller studies dealing with traffic, air quality and the potential economic impact of a bridge.

(This story was made possible thanks to their generous support of our local business partners.)

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