Chief William Commanda Bridge winter use
The Chief William Commanda Bridge is closed for the 2023-2024 winter season.
The bridge was not designed for winter pedestrian or cycling use. Typical plowing, salting and grit could damage the steel structure and timber decking. Removal of the snow would have negative impacts on any community efforts to groom the surface of the bridge for winter sports.
The City continues to explore opportunities that will allow the bridge to be used safely during winter months as a recreational facility. The City does not undertake the grooming of winter trails but does partner with community groups that have expertise in this area.
For safety reasons, we ask that residents stay off the bridge while grooming opportunities for winter use are explored.
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In fall 2021, the City began construction on the Chief William Commanda Bridge multi-use pathway and rehabilitation project. The project consists of the construction of a multi-use pathway (MUP) on the existing inactive and retained Chief William Commanda Bridge and the rehabilitation of the substructure of the bridge such as pier work and stone masonry repairs/repointing on abutments. The MUP will connect to the City of Ottawa’s Trillium Pathway to the south and the NCC Voyageurs’ Pathway in Gatineau to the north.
The construction of this new multi-use pathway will improve active transportation between Ottawa and Gatineau and will serve as an interprovincial link for cycling commuters, recreational users, and visitors.
Photo 1: Project limits
The City of Ottawa completed an Environmental Assessment (EA) study in early 2021 and design for a multi-use pathway on the Chief William Commanda Bridge and rehabilitation work, as approved by Council on December 9, 2020.
The scope of work will include:
- The construction of a new timber deck on top of the existing rail track ties
- Installation of steel cable railing system
- New lighting through the pathway corridor
- The construction of three new multi-use path segments linking the south approach of the bridge to the City of Ottawa’s Trillium Pathway, linking the north and south bridge structures across Lemieux Island, and linking the north approach to the NCC Voyageurs’ Pathway in Gatineau
- Installation of new park benches
- Rehabilitation of bridge’s superstructure and substructure components to ensure safety and accessibility for all users
Photo 2: Project rendering
Environmental Assessment (EA) Study notice of completion
The study has been undertaken in accordance with the requirements of a Schedule B project as outlined in the Municipal Class EA (2000), as amended in 2007, 2011 and 2015. As required by the Class EA process, public, agency and Indigenous consultation was undertaken. An on-line Public Information Event was held on February 22, 2021 for stakeholders to provide input on the project. The EA Study recommended the addition of an interim multi-use pathway to the existing Chief William Commanda Bridge Deck.
The EA report has been completed to document the planning process undertaken to date. The EA report was made available for public review for a period of 30 days, starting April 6, 2021.
COVID-19 is an unprecedented situation and the City of Ottawa is committed to protecting people and the community. In an effort to make the EA report more readily available, the report is available below.
The complete report, including the appendices are available (under the name Prince of Wales Bridge) at the City’s Central Library located at 120 Metcalfe Street, Ottawa ON K1P 5M2 or by contacting Lei Gong, Project Manager.
History of the Chief William Commanda Bridge
The Chief William Commanda Bridge is an existing, inactive railway bridge, that crosses the Ottawa River between the City of Ottawa (Ontario) and the City of Gatineau (Québec) on the O-Train Trillium Line.
The Chief William Commanda Bridge was constructed in 1879 and the superstructure was reconstructed in 1926. The bridge is formed by two structures (north and south) separated by an island – comprised of six spans in the south structure and seven spans in the north structure. The clear width of the structure is approximately 5 m carrying one track only. The total crossing length is 989 meters.
The City of Ottawa purchased the railway bridge from Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) in 2005 for a future, longer-term transit crossing. The Chief William Commanda Bridge is being retained as a future rail transit bridge in the City’s Three-Year Rail Network Plan as filed with the Canadian Transportation Agency. In 2013, the Bridge was identified as a future “Major Pathway” in the City’s Transportation Master Plan and is identified in the Ottawa Cycling Plan Affordable Cycling Project List.
While the Chief William Commanda Bridge is currently closed to public use, the City continues to maintain the structure and perform periodic inspections and evaluations to assess the condition and ensure its integrity.
On July 7, 2021, Ottawa City Council approved the name change of the former Prince of Wales Bridge to the Chief William Commanda Bridge to honour William Commanda who served as Chief of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation from 1951 to 1970. Chief William Commanda was an Algonquin elder, a spiritual leader, a promoter of environmental stewardship, a great bridge builder between nations, and was awarded the Order of Canada in 2008 for his dedication and outstanding service to his people.
Design and Environmental Assessment: winter 2020/2021
Final Design: summer 2021
Construction: The construction includes two parts:
- Phase 1 - The multi-use pathway is now open.
- Phase 2 – Substructure rehabilitation to be completed by fall 2024.
- Completion: late 2024
Lemieux Island has been closed to the public until the completion of the project which is expected by the end of 2024. During this time, Onigam Street leading to Lemieux Island will remain closed to public access.
Impacts to Lemieux Island green space during construction
Reminder: Access to Lemieux Island green space remains closed until project completion.
The approved funds for the environmental assessment and design were approximately $540,000.
The total estimated project budget (for both the multi-use pathway and the substructure rehabilitation work) is $23.9 million, with approximately $15 million from the City of Ottawa and approximately $8.6 million through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) Public Transit Infrastructure Stream (PTIS funding) and $270,000 through the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund (PTIF funding).
The City of Ottawa has a proactive communication approach to dealing with construction projects and potential impacts to the public. As part of the City’s construction project process, various opportunities to share information will be used, including updates on ottawa.ca, e-newsletter and Public Service Announcements.
An online public information session was held between February 22 and March 8, 2021 to present and seek additional input on the EA study and design.
Accessibility is an important consideration for the City of Ottawa. The City makes every effort to provide access through and around construction sites. If you require a disability-related accommodation, please contact the project team listed below. Accessible formats and communication supports are available, upon request.
The City of Ottawa is committed to safety in and around project sites. The project team continues to work closely with the industry and to comply with recommendations provided by municipal, provincial and federal health officials, as well as the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development.
For any emergency outside normal working hours, please call the City at 3-1-1.
For construction related questions or concerns, please contact the Contractor Representative or the Contract Administrator.
For general project information, please contact the City’s Project Manager.
City Project Manager
Lei Gong, PhD, P.Eng.
Design and Construction - Municipal
100 Constellation Drive, Ottawa, ON, K2G 6J8
Tel.: 613-580-2424 ext. 22738
Matthew Raymond, B.Eng.
Aecon Construction Ontario East
William Rob McKay
Project update (November 2023)
Two concrete pour activities were successfully completed on Tuesday, September 26 and Wednesday, October 4. With a temporary detour across Lemieux Island in place, workers were able to use specialized equipment to bring small loads of concrete mixture across the southern bridge deck and pour the batches of concrete down directional chutes to the pier below. A special underwater concrete process, called Tremie concrete pouring, is being used to install concrete-filled jackets around the piers as part of the bridge structural reinforcement process.
Over the course of the next few weeks, the contractor will work to complete the remaining additional concrete pouring activities for the piers on the south bridge span.
Once the south span pouring is completed, the contractor will be off the site for the winter construction shutdown until such time that work can resume in summer 2024.
Bridge safety reminders
Residents are encouraged to remember these tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable crossing of the Chief William Commanda Bridge by all users:
- Be safe. Different pathway users travel at different speeds. Travel at speeds that allow you to react in time for whatever might arise.
- Watch for workers. Construction continues on some portions of the bridge structure as the contractor continues on the pier and masonry repairs. Watch for construction signage and keep away from active work zones.
- Be cautious. Keep right, pass left. Use your bell or call out when passing. No matter which way you’re going on a shared path, keep to the right.
- Do not block the path. Keep things moving in both directions, and make sure that there’s room for others to pass. Pedestrians must walk no more than two abreast, and cyclists must ride in single file. When stopping for photos or to enjoy the view, please move as far to the right, by the railing, as possible.
- Do not climb. The railing is there to protect you. Please do not climb on the railing or bridge structure.
- Be visible in the dark. Lights and reflectors on pedestrians, bikes and pets allow other users to see where you are, especially at night or when visibility is poor. Wear reflective clothing.
- Leash your pet. Keep pets on a short leash and clean up after them. Remember that neither the animal nor the leash should block the path.
Although there is still ongoing work on the pier and the substructure, our dedicated team of engineers has given their approval to open the multi-use pathway. While using the bridge, please be mindful of the construction areas, and kindly follow all signs to ensure your safety.
As we progress with the complete rehabilitation project, we anticipate some temporary disruptions to bridge access over the next year. The City of Ottawa will communicate these disruptions in advance to ensure the impact to users is known ahead of time.
Before setting out on your journey, make sure you have updated information about the pathway and visit the City’s interactive traffic map to confirm the pathway is open for use.
Online engagement opportunity (February 18 to March 8, 2021)
The City of Ottawa continues to take precautionary steps to protect members of the public. As an alternative to hosting in-person public information sessions, information is being posted to Ottawa.ca. The City remains committed to keeping the public informed of projects occurring in your neighbourhood.
The City of Ottawa invites you to review and provide comments on the Prince of Wales Bridge Interim Multi-Use Pathway by March 8, 2021.
For further information about this project and/or to submit comments on the project, please contact the City project manager.