March 29, 2018

Town gets $1.5 million for Hillsburgh bridge project

The Town of Erin has received a $1.5 million provincial grant that will cover more than half the cost of rebuilding the Station Street bridge in Hillsburgh.
The total cost of the project, which includes rehabilitation of the millpond dam, is estimated at $2.5 million. Design work will be completed this year, with tendering expected in the fall and the start of construction in the spring of 2019.
“The significant repairs being done to the structure will be of added value to the town as we continue to grow,” said Mayor Allan Alls.
Wellington County owns the water control structure in the 
Hillsburgh millpond dam, while the Town of Erin owns
 the earthen berm that supports Station Street.

Gooderham and Worts built the dam that created the 
Hillsburgh millpond in the early 1850s, with a new mill that 
shipped grain to what is now Toronto’s Distillery District. 
The Station Street bridge was built in 1917.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs approved the grant through the top-up component of the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF). The town applied for $1,576,988 in July last year, but the grant was not approved until the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change gave the project the green light.
“The OCIF grant is great win for the Town,” said CAO Nathan Hyde. Erin has been turned down for OCIF grants in recent years. The program provides long-term funding for small, rural and northern communities to develop and renew their infrastructure. 
The project was the subject of an environmental assessment that recommended preserving the millpond. Town council and Wellington County backed the EA result, but it was challenged by Credit Valley Conservation and others who preferred either decommissioning the pond, or creating a smaller, off-line pond. 
Town council was prepared to go ahead with the project without a grant, and had arranged $2.5 million in debt financing. Mayor Alls said he expects that debt will still be used to cover the balance of the cost.
He said the town might be able to reduce the cost of the project if sections of the dam’s foundation can be re-used. Construction will have to be timed to avoid disruption of trout hatching.
The bridge was built in 1917 and was first identified in 1971 as being in need of replacement. Although the dam had repairs and reinforcement after an outlet pipe failed in 2011, forcing temporary closure of the road, the province is insisting that the risk of failure be brought up to modern standards.