Today, Mayor Jim Watson hosted a ground-breaking event to mark the official start of construction on the Chief William Commanda Bridge, to create an interprovincial multi-use pathway between the Ottawa and Gatineau shores of the Kichi Sipi Ottawa River. The scope of construction includes structural repairs to the bridge and deck modifications to create the pathway.

Built in 1880 as a railway link, the bridge was last in service in 2001. The City of Ottawa purchased the bridge from Canadian Pacific Railway in 2005 for a future light rail corridor. As a multi-use pathway, it will improve active transportation between Ottawa and Gatineau and serve as a year-round outdoor link for commuting and recreation, including walking, running, rollerblading, cycling, and cross-country skiing.

The project includes rehabilitating the bridge’s major structural components to ensure safety and accessibility for all users. It also involves building a new timber deck on top of the existing track, to maintain the steel rails for future rail transit use. A steel cable railing system and high efficiency LED lighting will be installed, plus 12 new benches for rest areas. In addition, the work includes construction of path segments linking the south end of the bridge to Ottawa’s Trillium Pathway (which connects to the O-Train’s Bayview Station) and the north end to the National Capital Commission’s Voyageurs’ Pathway in Gatineau.

The multi-use pathway is scheduled to open next fall, although additional rehabilitation work to the piers and the pathway connecting to Lemieux Island will continue until the summer of 2024.

The City is in partnership with the federal government for the $22.6 million budget of the project, with the City investing $14 million and the federal government contributing $8.6 million. 

The City is allocating two per cent (approximately $188,000) of the pathway construction budget to commission Algonquin art for the site.

In July, City Council approved the name Chief William Commanda Bridge to honour William Commanda who served as Chief of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation from 1951 to 1970. Chief Commanda was an Algonquin Elder, spiritual leader, promoter of environmental stewardship and a great bridge builder between nations.