Waaban Crossing opens to public

Kingston wrapped up its largest ever infrastructure project on Tuesday, as the newest bridge over the Cataraqui River officially opened after a ceremonial ribbon cutting.

The Waaban Crossing has been talked about for half a century, with the city finally breaking ground on the project nearly three years ago to the day.

The 1.2 kilometre bridge connects Gore Road to John Counter Boulevard, and includes a multi purpose path on one side, including parallel bike lanes.

Kingston’s Mayor and a number of city councillors were on hand along with MP Mark Gerretsen and MPP Ted Hsu to mark the historic day.

The project had a budget of $180 million dollars approved by city council in 2018, the cost shared between the city, province, and feds.

The city confirmed in November that the bridge would be opened on time and on budget, and Mayor Paterson said the ability to do so was tested – especially with added complications caused by the pandemic.

He said he’s happy to see the bridge open on time, and it was vital to do so before the LaSalle Causeway connecting the east end to downtown Kingston closes for repairs next year.

“I think that that’s critical,” Paterson said.

“We have thousands of people on the east end and we have thousands of people in the rest of the city that come to the east end to work… the bridge is perfectly timed, it couldn’t have come at a better time and I’m delighted to be able to celebrate that it’s here.”

Tuesday’s ribbon cutting included the first pedestrian, scooter, and vehicle crossing of the new bridge, with the rights to do so auctioned off as a fundraiser for the United Way Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington – raising more than $6,300.

While not of the bridge’s opening itself, the opening event did not go without protest.

With Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark on hand for the ceremony, a group took the opportunity to meet the ceremony as it began at Kingston East Community Centre to protest Bill 23 and support city council’s objection to the controversial bill.

Shortly after Tuesday’s ceremony, barricades were removed and the Waaban Crossing became open to the public.