Wallace Ave. Footbridge

Wallace Ave. Bridge: Photo by Vic Gedris, April 16 2010.Wallace Ave. Bridge: Photo by Vic Gedris, April 16 2010.

Please use this forum for discussions related to the Wallace Ave. Footbridge.

There's a collection of historical photos of this bridge here.

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They butchered the east end stairs

What good is the Historical designation when developer was allowed to butcher it like this:

from urbantoronto.ca (Clickable link)

What a shame!

Wallace footbridge to be damaged/destroyed.

Not only are we losing trees along the Railpath but the Wallace Ave. footbridge is going to be significantly changed to accommodate the new development going in on the old Glidden site. There was zero consultation with the community on that but plenty with the developer.

Secret Society

The public consultation has been non-existant. No meeting notices, no chance for area residents to participate, no publication of design options or Minutes from private meetings with developers. This is a lousy arrangement.

Bridge will not be destroyed

After some initial upset members of Friends of Railpath, and residents of Wallace met with the developer and with the City planner last year to develop a solution that would not effect the historical aspects of the bridge and would not effect Railpath. The only part that is being changed is the east stairs (not original) are being reconfigured (and re-used). The historical preservation was important as this is one of the last bridges of its kind in Canada but also safety at night was considered too.

Once again I cannot say I was pleased that the city Planning Department makes choices that effect us without talking to us but I do thank the developer who is paying for the change and the additional lighting and design for coming out to meet us in person.

A historical note, many believe that the east stairs originally went north south like the west stairs but in fact the east stairs were always were they are today.

Footbridge destroyed / altered?

What does this mean - can you give more information - or direct us to something official that is referring to this? This would be a neighbourhood tragedy - by it's age - would it not be protected as a heritage landmark - isn't it close to a 100+ years old?

A local landmark

The bridge as we now know it, at least the east portion of it, perhaps more, will be destroyed to accommodate the new development. I emailed our councilor Ana Bailao back in the spring when I heard of this and asked if she could re-assure the community the bridge would not be touched. She did not respond. I suspect she knows the majority of residents will not be pleased so she snuck this one in under the radar. This is from a councilor who campaigned on "consultation consultation consultation" and "let the community decide".
The bridge was restored at great expense and effort (paid for with public money) in the 90's. Now that's going to be undone to satisfy the want of 1 developer. Must be nice to move into a community and change things around. I thought the residents had a say.
Ana showed plans to a select group of people in the summer but the issue was not (and should have been) whether or not the bridge would be touched but what design plan was more "popular". This also lends credibility to the concerns brought up during the election that Ana was too cozy with developers. Very disappointing on many levels.
Say goodbye to views like this: http://tiff.net/filmsandschedules/tiff/2012/storieswetell

I'm going to chain myself to the bridge

On the day of destruction - there should be a protest and an action of civil disobedience. This is a landmark - and it should not be touched for all the reasons mentioned above!

Public Meeting was my impression

If anybody is responsible for alterations to the bridge it is the City Planning department (currently under Sara Phipps) who have wanted to expand the roads along the rail corridor since the mid 1970's. The developer of the property on Wallace, Fred Guth, did not want to put any street in at all in the first place. He was instructed that he did by City. So in fairness he is not directly responsible for putting a street through to Perth. It is this new street that would mean that the stairs on the bridge would have to be reconfigured for safety. The development has changed its parking access configurations twice based on public feedback from residents to the north at public meetings.

The planning department did make this change known at a public meeting about the site design but did not present any drawings or solicit any feedback so people basically were in the dark. I, on behalf of Friends of Railpath complained about this process and expressed concern that Railpath would be adversely effected. I told quite a few people in the area about this and also consulted with Eric Jokinen who did the 1996 report on restoring the bridge for the Architectural Conservatory of Ontario. He was kind enough to send me a copy of that report which clearly stated that the east stairs could not be saved but that the rest of the bridge could and should be for historical reasons.

A few of Friends of Railpath met with the City Planner and the developer and the councillor to find out what IF ANY changes were going to happen and how they would effect Railpath, something that we obviously know a lot about and have been working to expand and improve. We were shown very rough ideas about how the bridge stairs could be changed to accommodate the new street and we discovered that there was the possibility of making the public space at Wallace Railpath bigger. We gave our opinion on which idea we thought worked best with Railpath and made some suggestions for safety and lighting. It remains our wish that the bridge stay as it is but should there be changes we wanted to make sure that Railpath was not screwed up. The last thing I said to the Councilor and Sara Phipps from Planning as our site inspection finished was to take our suggestions into account and when a more detailed technical plan emerged to present it to the community for feedback. We have yet to hear anything back about this.

Although the ideas we were shown were very rough it is important to inform that what we saw showed that the original bridge will not be changed or moved. It is the replacement stairs that will be reused in a new way to land closer to Railpath after cutting under the existing bridge. And as I understand it no taxpayer money will be used to do this.

Back last July I emailed info and documents about all this to many people in the area including some of the posters and I also talked with people I know on Wallace and people I was seeing on another area committee. Frankly there was not much concern about it and I suspect that without having a plan to look at and react to it will remain that way. I still fully expect to see a meeting happen where people can be consulted and heard. Again, my position is to leave the bridge stairs where they are.

This Planning Departments lack of consultation thing is a real problem. I make note that in terms of Castlepoint there was tons of consultation, tons of meetings where the developers changed things based on community wants, and even with the community backing the project, and the Councilor backing the project Sara Phipps still said no. If one is interested in people making decisions for a whole community then one not look further than Planning. I suggest that people call the Councilor and Planning and ask when the meeting will be.

re: Bridge

I can appreciate the desire to preserve old architecture but is this bridge really worth saving? What is its significance (i.e. historical, architectural) besides the fact that it has been there a long time?


THE BRIDGE IS NOT BEING TORN DOWN. Doesnt anybody read previous posts? And there will be a public meeting to comment on the new stairs layout (It hasn't happened yet as there are still some site plan issues being resolved.)

As per a question raised in another post: From the 1996 report about the bridge and it's significance. (the report later recommended the replacement of the east stairs which was done.)


Use of steel

Steel began to be used in bridge construction from 1885 onwards, replacing timber and
wrought iron as the favoured construction material. This pedestrian bridge is presumably
a fairly early example of steel construction (if one assumes steel has been used for over
110 years in Ontario).

Use of riveting

Early metal bridges were often bolted together and relied on pin connections for their
assembly. Late nineteenth century field riveting techniques were primitive and there was
seldom any guarantee of quality control. At the turn of the twentieth century portable
pneumatic tools revolutionized field riveting permitting consistency and hence securely
riveted spans. This span could also be considered as an early example of riveting.

Rarity of pedestrian bridges

Pedestrian access across rail lines is usually achieved either at grade (street level), below
grade (underpass) or above grade (usually associated with a road bridge). Purpose-built
pedestrian bridges, and this is somewhat conjectural not knowing the precise numbers,
are probably rather rare. These spans would certainly appear to be an early example of a
rare type of structure.

For these reasons, the Wallace Avenue Footbridge is worthy of designation and
protection under the Ontario Heritage Act." (Which it was.)

Bridge protection

You're right Scott the bridge should be protected. Thanks for your advocacy on this issue. I find the handling of this by the developer / Ana B. and the city all quite insulting and underhanded. I'd like to see some documentation regarding who is going to pay for it. I find it pretty hard to believe a developer is going to pay for something the city wants, if in act that's the case and I've seen no evidence that it is.
And where is our councilor on all this? Ducking questions and looking at plans that were being drafted before anyone knew what was going to happen. That in itself reveals her allegiance and disregard for her own pledge of "consultation". Any meetings on this are just going to be window dressing - the councilor / city / developer have made up their minds about the fate of the bridge.

It's the most efficient way

It's the most efficient way for many residents to access transit, groceries, pharmacies, etc. There is no other crossing of the train tracks on the West end of the neighbourhood between Bloor and Perth.

The bridge is not being torn

The bridge is not being torn down! The stairs on the east side are being changed direction so that a new street can connect to Wallace. The stairs are not even original. So why is everyone so upset? It wont change the railpath or your ability to use the bridge.
If we as a neighbourhood get our proverbial panties in a bunch about all these little things, then city hall wont listen when we really do have real concerns.

In Paris, France...

A lot of bridges have locks on them signifying the love between two people.
Yes, we ARE NOT losing the bridge and one way to add significance to it is to walk with a loved one up there with pad lock and key, "lock your love together on the bridge forever and throw away the key" probably on to a passing train so you can never find the key again and your love can never be broken.

it adds a nice touch to the bridge. Personally, I just love looking out the window, staring at the people crossing the bridge. It's really quite peaceful.

A few points of clarification on the bridge

1. Love locks actually originated in Serbia, in eastern Europe, on its Most Ljubavi bridge (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_padlocks)

2. The bridge is listed on the Inventory of Heritage Properties, and further details about its built heritage can be found here: http://app.toronto.ca/HeritagePreservation/details.do?folderRsn=2437314&...

3. As many have noted, the bridge is not being torn down. Having spoken with staff in the developer's office about a related matter, my understanding is that the component of the bridge that is going to be affected; a) will have a temporary staircase so as to not impede on access and b) is not an original part of the bridge, and is not included in the Listing.