By Eric Bourque
“Out with the old, in with the new.”
That was the motto chosen for the Indian Sluice Bridge celebrations, which continued Saturday afternoon with the grand opening of the new bridge connecting the Yarmouth County villages of Sluice Point and Surette’s Island.
The new two-lane bridge replaces a one-lane structure that opened more than a century ago.
Guy Surette, a member of the bridge celebrations committee and the municipal councillor for the area served by the bridge, described the new bridge as a “dream come true for all the residents.”
He was one of several speakers who addressed a large crowd on a brilliant and warm afternoon.
Earl Muise, a member of the bridge celebrations group and spokesman for the local bridge replacement committee, said the new bridge “has been a long time coming, but what a beautiful structure it is.”
He expressed thanks on behalf of local residents to Dexter Construction, the project contractor, saying the company’s bridge workers “have always been so kind and appreciative of our communities.”
Argyle Warden Aldric d’Entremont, another of the day’s speakers, said the new bridge is a “source of great pride,” not just for the villages in the immediate vicinity of the bridge, but to the whole municipality.
He offered congratulations to the community, particularly to those who spent years pushing for a new bridge.
“I’m sure there were days when it would have been easy to give up, but you didn’t,” he said. “You kept going until the job was done. The islands (Surette's and Morris islands) have their bridge, but the community built it.”
Argyle-Barrington MLA Chris d’Entremont also cited the work of those involved in the bridge project and he mentioned too the efforts of West Nova MP Greg Kerr.
Like other speakers, d’Entremont said the local bridge committee members and others kept pushing the need for a new bridge and kept a close eye on the old one.
“I tell you, there wasn’t a piece of rust that fell off that bridge that we didn’t know about,” he said.
Saturday afternoon’s grand opening included blessing ceremonies – one by Father Maurice LeBlanc, the priest for the two local Roman Catholic parishes, and another led by Leland Surette, aboriginal spiritual leader.
The speeches, blessings and ribbon cutting were followed by a parade across the new bridge from the Sluice Point side to Surette’s Island, where there was food, activities for children and more. Later in the day, the celebrations were to include a fireworks display.
Construction of the new bridge began a year-and-a-half ago, Dexter Construction having been awarded the $13.5-million contract in the fall of 2012. The old bridge, which opened in 1909, is to be removed.