Plan to direct bridge-building funds to playground nixed

A request to redirect funds intended for a Scarborough pedestrian bridge to playground equipment instead was turned down at an April 5 city budget meeting.

The proposal was made by Coun. Glenn De Baeremaeker when it was revealed the 2003 plans to build the 25-metre bridge had gone nowhere.

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The bridge was intended to connect a condo building to the Scarborough RT at the Scarborough Town Centre.

Almost six years ago, the developer, Monarch Equinox Condominium Ltd., provided a letter of credit for approximately $850,000. The company also proposed an additional $600,000 for maintenance and connection fees.

The budget committee disagreed with De Baeremaeker and sent the matter back to the Scarborough Community Council for a final decision. It also recommended the developer’s funds not be redirected.

But some area residents approve of De Baeremaeker’s request.

“I don’t see why a bridge needs to be built,” said Kayla Williams, a resident of a condo near where the bridge was to be built. “Any building close to the RT is only minutes away.

“It’s not that big of deal for residents to walk an extra couple of minutes to access the mall or RT.”

City officials say the developer and the TTC blame one another for the delay and the spiralling costs of building the bridge, which have increased to an estimated $1.7 million.

That’s too much for Kris-Andre Smith, a Scarborough resident of almost 20 years.

“If the condo had enough traffic and enough people using it, it might be okay,” he said. “But … $1.7 million is definitely not worth it for a few minutes of convenience.”

De Baeremaeker told the meeting the developer is willing to give the city $850,000 in exchange for not proceeding with the initial bridge plans. That money, he said, could be directed to a number of areas, including the Cliffcrest Community Centre, the Scarborough Walk of Fame, and the Thompson Park Tennis Club.

Smith agreed the funds should go back into the community he grew up in, specifically to help young people.

“I think Scarborough is making a good effort to have the youth occupied but there’s still more that can be done,” he said.