74% of downtown Almonte businesses oppose Enerdu

by Rick Scholes

Enerdu-6The businesses in the downtown core of Almonte depend on a combination of local and visitor traffic. There can be no question that the scenic attributes of Mill Street, the Mississippi River, the water falls, the heritage structures, and the Riverwalk attract visitors, along with the shops and services. (They are also what attracted many residents to move here.) These businesses may be affected by a major project such as Enerdu, involving road closures, heavy equipment traffic, blasting and/or hoe ramming, and other construction noise. The effects may be felt long after project completion if the scenic attributes of the river, the cascading waterfalls, and the railway bridge are negatively altered or destroyed.

A survey of core businesses was recently undertaken, asking a single, clear question with a yes/no answer:

“Do you oppose the currently proposed Enerdu power facility expansion?”

Respondents were given the choice of responding “yes”, “no”, or “abstain”. The question was posed to business owners or co-owners – one answer per business. In a few cases, where appropriate, the local manager responded on the owners behalf.

There are a total of 76 businesses in the core region defined as Mill Street, Little Bridge Street, and Bridge Street between Mill Street and Queen Street. A list is provided below. Government operations, banks, and utilities were not included in the survey; The Beer Store, The Bank of Montreal, Canada Post, Ottawa River Power, LCBO, and Almonte Library.

Over 50 businesses were polled in person. The remainder were contacted by phone or email, with assistance from Rona Fraser and Jill McCubbin. Polling was conducted from January 22nd to February 2nd, 2015. A total of 69 businesses answered the survey question, a response rate of 91%. Seven businesses were unavailable.

The results were:

  • 51 “yes” votes opposing Enerdu (74% of respondents)
  • 1 “no” vote (1% of respondents)
  • 17 “abstain” (25% of respondents)

The most common reason given for voting yes was that the project would not benefit the town in any way. Some respondents were also concerned about additional flood risk, Appleton wetland death, and loss of a community resource. Though there is some difference of opinion within the community on the merits of this project, it is clear from this survey that the business owners in downtown Almonte overwhelmingly oppose Enerdu. The vote preferences of the seven unavailable businesses would not significantly change this conclusion. This survey data has been provided in a report to all Mississippi Mills town councillors and the mayor.

List of the 76 businesses included in the survey:

  • Don’s Meat Market
  • Mill Street Books
  • Almonte Natural Foods
  • Atradius
  • The Hub
  • Gale Real Estate
  • Heritage Salon
  • Sivarulrasa Gallery
  • Keepsakes
  • Friesen Studio
  • Subway Restaurant
  • Jo Danaher
  • The Robin’s Nest
  • Soul Scents
  • Pêches et Poivre
  • Couples Corner
  • E. Wheeler Law
  • Textile Traditions
  • Finest Values & Savings
  • Avenir
  • Chestnut Tools
  • Edward Jones Investments
  • E. Swarbrick Law
  • Alliance Bank Note
  • Foodies Fine Foods
  • Apple Hill Furniture
  • Market 2World
  • Superior Restaurant
  • Coady’s Car Care
  • Blackbird
  • Almonte Pizzeria
  • Lachapelle Antiques
  • Nine Lives Antiques
  • Café Postino
  • Larry Gaines Architect
  • Palms
  • Almonte Antique Market
  • Risk Logic
  • The Dressing Room
  • Lola Dot
  • Quilting Quarters
  • Baker Bob’s
  • BH Photography
  • Cortelli Pizzeria
  • Crush MarketPlace
  • Tin Barn Market
  • Absolute Physiotherapy
  • Hello Yellow
  • Acanthus
  • Doree’s Habit
  • Canadian Café
  • Remax
  • Rising Sun Yoga
  • Kentfield Kids
  • Almonte Riverside Inn
  • Head to Toe
  • Gillagallou Bird
  • Barley Mow
  • Menzies House B&B
  • JB Arts
  • Tony Mihok Gallery
  • The General
  • Kehla Jewellery Design
  • Silver Poodle
  • Colby McGeachy, PC
  • White Owl Antiques
  • Ed Nicholson
  • Mill St. Crepe Company
  • Waterfall Delights
  • Freedom Financial
  • Sprout Occupational Th.
  • Heirloom Café/Bistro
  • My Upholstery Shop
  • Vamos Outdoors
  • Millrace Studio