CANSO – If you drive through the community of Canso, you will likely never lay eyes on Robert Bond’s house, even though he lives on Main Street. Or you might say the entrance to his driveway lives on Main Street, but the house is approximately 500 feet off the road and requires crossing a brook to gain access.
Bond, recently retired, lives in his childhood home and has crossed that brook, travelling over a wooden bridge, thousands of times. Time and traffic have taken a toll on the structure that Bond reckons was built some 55 years ago.
He told The Journal last week that there have been repairs on the bridge over the years, but this past year he knew it would soon need to be replaced.
“The stringers [loaded longitudinal beams] that were running across the bridge, they were getting bad; at any point, you could have drove across and went in the brook,” said Bond.
Due to the poor condition of the bridge, Bond and his wife were in peril, if an emergency should arise. No ambulance or fire truck could cross the bridge in an emergency “because it [emergency vehicle] was probably too heavy for the bridge,” he explained.
This safety issue came to the attention of Steven Myatt of Striker Construction.
“There was a little controversy through the EMO (Emergency Management Office) about the unsafe bridge, so we took it into our own hands; between East Coast Hydraulics, Striker Construction, and Verhagen Demolition,” he said.
“It was a group effort. It was kind of my idea; we had a meeting one night at the fire department and realized that we weren’t allowed to go across the bridge, if there was a fire, so it was a hazardous thing. I took it in my own hands to proceed with the project.”
Before the offer of a new bridge was made, Bond said he’d been looking into repairing it.
“I was looking at different options. I guess I’ll just have to replace it with wood like what is already there. When Steven mentioned that [the volunteer replacement], I jumped on to it and said ‘Sure, I’ll take a new bridge.’… I appreciated that a lot.”
Myatt told Bond, much to his surprise, that the bridge would be free; no cost for labour or materials.
The new bridge will make a big difference in Bond’s life and he said, “probably to whoever else takes over [the homestead].”
Myatt said of the volunteer effort, “I’ve known him [Bond] for years … He’d never ask for anything. We took it on ourselves to help him out.”
Over three days, the three construction firms worked to remove the old bridge and install a new steel bridge in Bond’s driveway, completing the job on July 12.
Bond said of the construction, “They had got the materials and Feltmate’s – East Coast Hydraulics – they welded up the material and they brought it in and put it in the driveway; Steven and his crew Earl Myatt and Laurie Keefe and Alex MacKenzie.”
“East Coast Hydraulics donated their labour and their welder for welding the bridge. I donated time and the machinery and the labour and a dump truck and some gravel. Verhagen donated some steel for the bridge … [It was] a three-day project from start to finish,” Myatt said.
When asked why he and the assembled volunteers took on this project, when contractors and materials were in short supply and high demand, Myatt added, “We are all extremely busy but when it comes to safety, I think we shouldn’t worry about the almighty dollar. It’s all about the safety.”