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Winnipeg councillor proposes Arlington Bridge be renamed 'Reconciliation Way'
A century-old bridge is getting ready for a major facelift, and before that happens it may also get a new name.
“It’s very symbolic for me, and for the north. There’s this huge connection from the north end of the city where it connects to the south end,” said Point Douglas councillor Vivian Santos.
Santos is putting forward a motion in hopes of renaming the Arlington Bridge Reconciliation Way.
Before being elected this past fall, Santos worked for the ward’s previous councillor, Mike Pagtakhan. She said together they collaborated on reconciliation-based projects, and wanted to continue that work.
“When I was out campaigning, the people that I’ve met in the community, they all asked me this question, ‘What are you going to do?’ And so this is my step towards reconciliation,” said Santos.
The Arlington Bridge was completed in 1912, built to connect two neighbourhoods separated by the CP Rail Yards.
President of the Aboriginal Council of Winnipeg Damon Johnston said renaming the bridge would go far beyond a name change.
“[It] becomes a constant reminder of maybe a shared goal that we have as Canadians. So when you and I drive down Reconciliation Way, we’ll think, maybe we’ll think a little bit about it,” said Johnston.
He’s also hoping this will spark conversations between all groups.
“This is a long road, and I’m a positive person,” said Johnston. “I believe we can get there. I believe in other Canadians.”
While Santos was only elected in October, she said she’s been thinking about this for a year and it’s the first motion she wanted to bring forward.
“Reconciliation. What a better word to use to, you know, we bridge the gap between the north and south, and we’re bridging the gap between our communities,” said Santos.
The motion will be brought forward to the Lord Selkirk-West Kildonan Community Committee on Tuesday. Santos said she’s in talks with members of the Indigenous community to potentially include artwork, or have a naming ceremony if council decides to move forward with it.
As for the replacement of the bridge, the City of Winnipeg said a preliminary design in nearing completion and will be presented to council for consideration at some point this year. Currently, it said the bridge replacement is estimated to cost $300 million.
According to the city’s website, the new bridge is slated for completion in 2023 although specific timing for construction of a new bridge is yet to be determined.