We as fellow residents of the community of Almonte wish to express our concerns about the impact that the proposed Enerdu hydro project will have on the economic and cultural life of Almonte.
Almonte is graced with a beautiful downtown core, and in the last number of years there has been a big push from local residents and business people to make the downtown more beautiful and dynamic. This clearly is not escaping the eyes of tourists and travel writers from all over, because now Almonte is frequently hailed as a wonderful destination to visit, shop, dine and generally enjoy the atmosphere of beauty, charm and friendliness. Many who come to visit choose to move here to make this experience a permanent part of their lives. This is something we should not take for granted. There just are not enough places like this left.
The heritage buildings in Almonte, have been, and continue to be beautifully re-purposed, and this has made a significant change to business and the general aesthetics of the town. But, as we all know, it is the Mississippi River, which brought settlers here, and which flows directly through the heart of the town, that is the significant asset. Not only is the water which cascades over the uniquely sculpted limestone riverbed a delight to the senses, these waters are also home to a myriad of aquatic animals, fish, and fowl . Families of otters are occasionally seen playing in the river. As well, the river continues to serve as a natural summertime water playground that locals have enjoyed for decades.
We feel that the proposed Enerdu hydro project, may drastically change, and possibly destroy, these natural features. On May 27, there will be a public meeting to hear the report from the Architectural firm, hired by Enerdu, as ordered by the Ontario Ministry of Environment, to examine the Cultural ramifications of the proposed new power house and dam. We urge all citizens to attend and inform themselves about the future of our river in the downtown core.
Here are points to consider:
- No matter what design and facing material is planned for of the new hydro building, its size will be out of scale with its surroundings and the new power plant will extend further into the river at its narrowest point, by just over 30%.
- Hydro zones are dangerous, and Federal laws apparently require chain link fencing, colourful float–barriers, and signage to warn people of the potential danger.
- A section of the natural limestone riverbed, which creates the unique look of the Mississippi as it cascades through the downtown, will have to be dredged to allow for the much larger base required to support the new mechanical weir.
- Downtown, the river will not be able to be used recreationally; no boating, swimming or fishing.
- Construction for this project, in the heart of downtown, will create a great deal of noise and dust, and will take one, if not two summers, to complete. A number of downtown businesses may not be able to survive the losses that will occur from reduced visitor traffic.
- The Almonte River Walk is something that local residents, and visitors alike, love. Its function will seemingly disappear. It is hard to imagine that a walk along the river to look at warning signs, fencing, a huge new hydro plant, and the natural beauty of the falls compromised, will be attractive to anyone. Another point to consider is the huge volunteer effort that went into the creation of Riverwalk. To undermine the purpose of that effort would send a very negative message to a community that relies heavily on volunteerism.
Let us inform ourselves of the facts and let our elected officials know how we think and feel. Please come to the public meeting on May 27, 2014 at 7:00 pm at the New Town Hall Council Chambers located at 3131 Old Perth Road, Almonte.
Sincerely … Residents who care
Bruce Cockburn, OC