Riverwalk extension entering final phase

There has been much progress on the Riverwalk Extension project, which now is entering its final phase.  The highlight will be a new steel staircase in the former mill-workers’ staircase location on Coleman Island.  The target for completing the staircase is spring 2020. Fundraising to date has been quite encouraging, with substantial community support.

Lanark County’s Ottawa Valley Recreation Trail (OVRT), including the CPR railway trestle, the dam work done by the Mississippi River Power Corporation (MRPC), together with the ongoing Coleman Island Trail/staircase project and the existing Riverwalk, are all complementary and will provide a marvelous trail loop of about 3 km, offering wonderful river views and historic highlights.

Cost estimates cut by 50%

Happily, the original cost estimates for the entire project have been reduced by 50%, to about $150,000, as a result of design adjustments and the valuable work done by the MRPC and Lanark County that has greatly aided the project.

The main cost element for the project is the steel staircase. There are also other costs of about $50,000 for the replacement of the mill-workers’ sidewalk (leading off Union Street just North of Thomas Street), completion of the stone-dust path, direction and interpretive signage, benches, receptacles, etc.

The MRPC has completed its Black Bridge dam work, and the bridge deck has been replaced by the bridge owner, Mike Dupuis.  Also, the MRPC, together with Mike Dupuis, will complete the remainder of the earthen dam work in the fall, including the construction of a back retaining wall and fence. This work on the earthen dam requires that the trail be closed, essentially, until completion. There will be an official MRPC opening in the fall 2019.


The earthen dam ends at the embankment below the OVRT, where the final essential missing element of the trail loop, the steel staircase, will be constructed; the upper staircase will connect to the mill-workers’ walk.

Staircase design simplified

The Riverwalk Working Group reviewed the first detailed engineering design, along with a contractor cost estimate for the staircase, and concluded that a more cost-effective design was required. The revised staircase design (shown below) was received from HP Engineering in June 2019.

The new design is less complicated, should be less costly, and will be the version to go to tender.  Notably, it now features a main concrete upper landing and only two individual main columns, each located at an intermediate landing.

The design, which should be well received by the public when constructed, is acceptable to Lanark County and to the MRPC and the extension project meets accessibility requirements.

While the overall cost of the project is about $150,000, approximately $100,000 is for the staircase, which is a key part of the Riverwalk extension-loop.

Fundraising priorities

Fundraising for the staircase and $8,000 for the mill-workers’ sidewalk are priorities – the remainder can be phased-in later. Notably, memorial benches would be a valuable way to help the project.

Individual donations have been quite generous, reaching a remarkable $31,413 by August 2, 2019.  Fundraising events have also been very successful, providing $6,448 so far. This donor and event fundraising support is extremely important and is an indicator of strong community support for the project.

The fundraising events have included a Christmas Variety Show, a Trivia Night, the Sean McCann Concert, and a Paddling Film Festival coordinated by Mill Street Books and Vamos Outdoors.

As well, the recent House and Garden Tour, held on July 27, 2019, was a huge success and should see the total for fundraising events rise to over $11,000.  In addition, there has been a $12,000 grant from Lanark County.  The Mississippi Valley Textile Museum has helped greatly with the grant application and the organization of the House and Garden T

Donations for the Riverwalk extension must be made payable to the Municipality of Mississippi Mills and can be mailed to the Mississippi Mills Municipal Offices, P.O. Box 400, Almonte, ON, K0A 1A0, or can be dropped off, in person, at the Municipal Offices located at 3131 Old Perth Road, or at the Recreation and Culture Department, located at the Almonte Old Town Hall, 14 Bridge Street. Anyone making donations of $20 or more will receive an income tax receipt.  Donors need to include the name that the income tax receipt should be made payable to and the mailing address for the receipt. When making a donation, clearly indicate that it’s for the Riverwalk.
Town is matching donation income

Significantly, Mississippi Mills is matching net income from donations and fundraising events.

Donors of $100 and over will be recognized publicly at the upper landing, of the staircase, while those who contribute $1,000 and above will receive special recognition, also at the upper landing.  All donors of $20 and over will receive a tax receipt.

The total funds available as of August 2, 2019 were about $80,000 after design and other expenses.  This should rise to about $90,000 after the proceeds from the House & Garden Tour, including matching, are received.  This is an amazing jump of $60,000 from the $30,000 recorded in the fundraising letter of August 8, 2018.

While fundraising totals are close to the amount required to go to tender, with Council approval, about $20,000 is still needed from donations, events, and grants.  This will provide about $110,000 for the priority mill-workers’ staircase and sidewalk items.

At this juncture, the Municipality and the Riverwalk Working Group are close to our revenue goal and need only a final ‘sprint’ to go to tender.

Continued individual donations to Mississippi Mills for the Riverwalk and support for fundraising events, along with grants, should allow us to go to tender in December, 2019.

Upcoming fundraisers

Future fundraising events at the Almonte Old Town Hall will include another Paddling Film Festival Night on October 27, 2019, a second Music Trivia Night on November 7, 2019 and a Concert featuring Buntline on November 23, 2019.

So mark your calendars and come out and support this exciting addition to our Riverwalk.