City celebrates official opening of the Chief William Commanda Bridge

Mayor Mark Sutcliffe and guests walk together along the south bridge towards Lemieux island.

On Sept. 9, 2023, Mayor Mark Sutcliffe was joined by the Honourable Greg Fergus, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the President of the Treasury Board and Member of Parliament for Hull-Aylmer, Grand Chief Savanna McGregor, Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council, Councillor Frankie Cote, Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg Chief Greg Sarazin, Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation, Elder Claudette Commanda, Chancellor of the University of Ottawa and Algonquin Anishinaabe from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation, and members of the Commanda family to celebrate the official opening of the Chief William Commanda Bridge which opened to the public on Friday, August 4. 

The celebration included a performance from the Eagle River Drum Group, followed by a traditional smudging ceremony and opening prayer performed by Elder Peter Decontie, Sacred Fire Keeper, Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, and concluded with a group walk across the bridge.

Linking the shores of Ottawa and Gatineau, the Chief William Commanda Bridge serves as a means of connecting communities through a network of safe and accessible pathways on both sides of the river. It is also a powerful symbol that reminds us that we are living on unceded Indigenous territory, that Anishinabe Algonquin people continue to be stewards of this land, and the important collaboration that must continue on the path towards reconciliation. 

Project background

  • The City began construction on the Chief William Commanda Bridge multi-use pathway and rehabilitation project in fall 2021.
  • The project consists of the construction of a multi-use pathway (MUP) across the existing, out-of-service 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 total estimated project budget (for both the MUP and the substructure rehabilitation work) is $23.9 million, with approximately $15 million from the City of Ottawa and approximately $8.9 million from the Government of Canada through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) Public Transit Infrastructure Stream (PTIS).
  • The MUP connects 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 MUP will improve active transportation between Ottawa and Gatineau and will serve as an interprovincial link for cycling commuters, recreational users, and pedestrians.

Upcoming work and impacts

  • The City prioritized opening the new multi-use pathway for public use in advance of the completion of the full bridge structural rehabilitation planned for late 2024.
  • There will be some critical operations such as concrete work on the structure which will require short-term pathway closures and detours to complete the work from atop the bridge. The City will provide more information regarding any upcoming impact to pedestrians and cyclists in advance of the planned works.

Chief William Commanda

  • In July 2021, Ottawa 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.
  • Commanda was an Algonquin Elder, spiritual leader, promoter of environmental stewardship and a great bridge builder between nations. In his life, he worked as a guide, a trapper and woodsman, and was a skilled craftsman and artisan who excelled at constructing birch bark canoes. In 2008, Chief Commanda was awarded the Order of Canada for his dedication and outstanding service to his people.

Quotes

“I am delighted to mark the official opening of the Chief William Commanda Bridge, a multi-use pathway that will now act as a vital active transportation route for residents, commuters, and visitors alike. The Chief William Commanda bridge will stand as a lasting testament, ensuring that future generations never forget the significant journey we are making towards reconciliation.”

Mayor Mark Sutcliffe, City of Ottawa

“The ability to move easily between Ottawa and Gatineau is very important to residents in our nation’s capital. This is especially true for active transportation users who have to share the road with cars. The Government of Canada is pleased to have supported the Chief William Commanda Bridge. It is a safe, accessible and environmentally friendly option for pedestrians, cyclists, skateboarders and users of mobility aids to travel across the Ottawa River and beyond.”

The Honourable Greg Fergus, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the President of the Treasury Board and Member of Parliament for Hull-Aylmer

“The Chief William Commanda Bridge is a pathway bridging people together from each side of the Ottawa River. A pathway of well-being through cycling, walking and enjoying the beauty of nature. My grandfather worked tirelessly all his life to bring all peoples together through Algonquin knowledge, strength and reverence for Mother Earth.  Naming a bridge after him is fitting because he was truly a builder – builder of canoes, builder of knowledge and a builder of peace.”

Elder Claudette Commanda, Chancellor of the University of Ottawa and Algonquin Anishinaabe from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation

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