The riverfront circa 1915
The riverfront circa 1915

by Brent Eades

Some members of Town Council seem to be having second thoughts about their decision last June to potentially have sections of downtown Almonte and the riverfront designated as a provincial Heritage Conservation District.

At a meeting on June 25, Council voted – unanimously – in favour of a motion calling for the Town to “develop and publish an RFP (Request for Proposal) to study the development of a Heritage Conservation District in the central downtown area of Almonte.” Based on feedback received here at the Millstone, ratepayers strongly support this goal.

On October 1 staff delivered a resolution to Council explaining the details of the RFP, and this too was passed. Bids were then received and assessed.

At last night’s meeting Councillor John Edwards – who had tabled the original motion – asked the Town to approve the awarding of the contract to the winning bidder. The motion called for an investment of $27,160 for the first phase of the study, with an additional $16,235 to be spent depending on the outcome of that first phase.

Councillor Edwards was understandably surprised, then, when the tone of remarks by other members – notably Mayor Levi – made it clear that his motion was in danger of being voted down. Since a no-vote would effectively have dropped the motion – and the Heritage District study – from Council’s agenda for the remainder of its term (October 2014), Edwards asked for it to be deferred until the next meeting on December 10. This was agreed.

This apparent reversal on so crucial an issue to our town’s future and reputation is perplexing to say the least. A heritage designation could protect the essential character and appeal of the community for decades to come, while drawing many more visitors and revenues.

I strongly urge everyone who cares about the preservation and protection  of Almonte’s unique and beautiful heritage to turn out at Town Hall on December 10 to let Council know where we stand on this issue. More information to follow here in the Millstone.

I also welcome your comments below.