Today is a historic day for Kingston.
All three levels of government and every staff member in each of our three offices and the corresponding federal and provincial ministry offices – have ALL worked SO HARD to get to today's historic moment.
Last June we were gathered in Memorial Hall as the Minister of Transportation and I announced the province’s commitment of up to $60 million for the third crossing, later the same week, city council also voted to support the city’s one third portion– and today, we are so grateful to have the final piece of the puzzle.
I am so proud of the collaborative effort behind this project. I want to thank our MP, Mark Gerretsen, for his dedication – and all the work that he has done behind the scenes to make today possible. We are so grateful to him and the Government of Canada for supporting this historic infrastructure project.
I’d also like to thank Mayor Paterson for his commitment and leadership on this project. Almost immediately after he was elected – in fact, before he was elected – he went to work on this file. We held numerous meetings in Kingston and Toronto, and we had numerous phone calls, texts and emails in between.
This day represents a milestone for our city and serves to benefit Kingston in more ways than one. The new bridge will provide alternate routes for commuters, decrease traffic congestion along the Lasalle Causeway, support local businesses, and provide additional access to the east end of the city for emergency vehicles. The new bridge will also provide future opportunities for pedestrians, cyclists and other forms of active transportation with a multi-use trail.
Bridges are about connectivity, they’re about travel, efficiency and safety. This bridge for me, and for so many in this community, is about vision. It is about a vision for the future where we live in efficient spaces, and lead productive, safe and active lives.
Often people say, ‘build it and they will come’. But just last weekend, Bryan, Mark and myself all attended the opening of Tiny Hopper’s Early Years Centre on Highway 15. A brand new state of the art daycare facility, in a brand new plaza, surrounded by new suburbs. So, in this case, ‘they’ are already there!
The growth in Kingston’s east end is burgeoning and there is no indication it is stopping any time soon. Urban planning and infrastructure development requires being ahead of the curve. It requires the work of all levels of government. You need to lay the framework and plan for what is to come in the future.
You need to listen to the community, hold countless consultations, answer hundreds and perhaps thousands of letters. You need to develop and draw plans, and the expert engineering team led by Mark Van Buren, did exactly that and based their design on that community feedback. To build suburbs you need sewers, power lines, road plans, thoughtfulness on egress and entry to every single passage way, but outside of, and before that, you need to be able to get there efficiently.
I commend the Government of Canada for their infrastructure investments across this country and of course most particularly in this city.
I commend the city and their planning team for their vision, for their methodical and inclusive approach to this project, one which will change the google map footprint of our little corner of the world forever. This bridge represents a passionate story about our community – and one which began some 50 years ago.
I am excited for the weeks, months and years ahead as we make headway on this project and I am looking forward to the day when we can all see these plans become a reality.
This final piece of the puzzle, and this day, will be remembered by this community for the rest of time.
Thank you, Merci, Meegwetch.
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