Open letter to Kathleen Wynne about the Enerdu project

Enerdul applaud our elected officials at last evening’s committee-of -the –whole meeting for voting to direct staff to write the by-law which would put a 1 year moratorium on development while a Heritage Assessment / Study is being carried out in the town. This by-law will be voted on at the next full council meeting.

Any thought that the Enerdu project can be separated from the heritage discussion is naïve. They cannot be separated; in fact it is my opinion that this issue reflects events that happen across the globe every day, as large corporations create massive projects that destroy local habitats and economies. Thankfully, there are so many citizens now seeing what is happening and are speaking up. For this reason I have written Kathleen Wynne ( again) about our local cause and urged her to listen to Stuart McLean’s poetic review of our heritage town. I urge you too to listen and speak up before it is too late.

Dear Ms. Wynne

I voted for you and am counting on your progressive ideas to give vision and shape to the many issues that define the present – locally, provincially and internationally. The purpose of this email is to raise my objection to the proposed Enerdu dam on the Mississippi River in Almonte. In July 2013 Stuart McLean visited our town and perhaps his 5 minute story, which aired on Vinyl Cafe in October 2013, tells more about why the heritage character of our town is worth preserving than I can express below.

To listen to his words: http://podcast.cbc.ca/mp3/podcasts/vinylcafe_20131019_17052.mp3

Proponents of this project state that Almonte has a history of being industrialized, and that this dam will just carry on this tradition. I beg to differ. It depends on where in history you focus the lens. Indigenous peoples used the Mississippi as a transportation route for thousands of years, and undoubtedly depended on the region for food and habitat. From the mid-to-late 19th century until the 1940’s, woolen mills flourished here by sourcing the water power. However, with the economies of global industrialization, the mills fell out of use and into disrepair. Retail and other dependent businesses went into decline and the business area became a lonely place.

The vision of a few local residents, working with the beauty of the old mills and the waterscape, has brought the town back to life. The restoration of mills to beautiful residences has brought newcomers who now call Almonte home. New shops, restaurants, art studios and hi tech businesses, set in the historic buildings, have reversed the town’s fortunes. Tourists have replaced textiles. The economy has changed with the times and so has Almonte. But so much of this new fortune surrounds the beauty of the river and the history of its surroundings. To place a large modern concrete block right in its centre would lay waste to all that has been done.

It would be inappropriate for your government to allow such a backward development in the downtown, which at present is being assessed for it heritage significance. It is our heritage look and feel that is driving the down’s economic resurgence. A hydro plant will destroy that.

Quebec City was falling into disrepair until a visionary brought it to the attention of UNESCO. What a mistake it would have been to allow that city to follow a typical urban industrialized model. Almonte is small, but a gem, and one that should not be tarnished with a hydro project in its centre.

respectfully

Julie Pacaud Yeaman