by John Muston
Since my family and I arrived in Almonte nearly 30 yrs ago we have seen the town grow and flourish in almost unimaginable ways. The downtown has been revitalized, old mill buildings have been repurposed to beautiful condominiums.
This growth has been achieved organically, not through extensive legislative procedures, but through engagement with property owners the town planning staffs and procedures, and the Heritage Committee, which provides further oversight of on-going heritage protection. The current process represents all that is good about development, providing as it does a win/win environment for government and residents.
Through education in the broadest sense, property owners are now much more sensitive to the needs for preservation and sympathetic renovation of their properties. Consequently Almonte now reflects a vibrant community where property owners can give full rein to their construction and renovation aspirations. The town is colourful and cheerful reflecting life as it has evolved and continues to change.
As a result, of this organic cooperation, art galleries, restaurants and a range of interesting shops and properties can be found all along Mill Street. Almonte receives regular write ups in the Ottawa Citizen, the Ottawa Magazine and Edible Ottawa to name a few of the print organizations tracking the town. The town also features on the Expedia.ca site “Ten small charming towns in Canada you need to visit”. The town is a destination!
With success like this why would there be a need to change anything? The old adage “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” would seem to apply. It has been argued that creation of an HCD will help the town compete with the growing number of outlet malls in Kanata. It can also be argued that we are not in that market. Almonte and outlet malls serve two distinct markets, and it could be shown that the malls bring people out of the city, and that much closer to Almonte.
None of this really matters though. We have a beautiful town growing and glowing with the results of successfully planned development. Let’s keep it like that.