Riverwalk Coleman Island extension featuring restored Mill Workers’ Staircase: “We Can Make It Happen!’’
Mississippi Mills press release
An old friend is returning to Almonte. Anyone who grew up in Almonte before the 1970s, or who worked at the No. 1 Rosamond Woollen Mill, will remember the staircase that ran from Union Street to “The Island.” Many residents remember playing there as children or using it as a shortcut to the high school or to work at the Mill.
Now, with the next phase of Almonte’s scenic Riverwalk being planned, the staircase will again be a highlight of Coleman Island.
The first phase of the Riverwalk was largely completed by 2010 and has proven to be a treasure for the community and visitors alike. Fortunately, we now have an exciting opportunity to complete a second-phase expansion of the Riverwalk, which will extend the Riverwalk onto Coleman Island and feature the replacement of the former Mill Workers’ Staircase with a wonderful new 9.5-metre steel staircase.
The Coleman Island Riverwalk Extension is ready to be contracted, provided the required funds are raised, and this is the subject of the rest of this article. The project needs a collective funding effort so “We can make it happen!”
The extension, which complements other trails, is indicated on the map below as the Coleman Island Trail (CIT) (green line). It will be a scenic path that follows the Mississippi River from Wellington St., crossing the bridge at the end of Carleton St. and the MRPC earthen dam to the location of the new staircase. It will extend across the old CPR line, now the Ottawa Valley Recreation Trail (OVRT) (orange), and down the Bank St. sidewalk, formerly called the workers’ walk, to Union St. The OVRT is an ongoing Lanark County project, which will be a trail following the former railway trestle over the Mississippi and the CPR line from Ann St. to Carss St. Adding the CIT complements the OVRT and the existing Riverwalk (blue), and will enhance the walking experience in old Almonte, offering a valuable heritage and recreational asset.
Progress on Project
Progress over the past year has been steady, and the Riverwalk Coleman Island extension is now contract-ready:
- The Conceptual Design (see below) was presented at the Open House on August 21, 2017, at the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum. Numerous positive comments were received about the project’s designation under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act, the low-cost active transportation it provides and, generally, that it is an excellent project. Some concerns, especially, regarding the Wellington St. and Union St. gateways, have been addressed.
- The detailed engineering design for the proposed new staircase has been completed, and the cost is estimated at $100,000. It will be constructed of structural steel with concrete footings and will have an upper landing adjacent to the Ottawa Valley Recreation Trail (OVRT) and two intermediate landings. All landings have seating and offer panoramic views. The upper landing can also be accessed via the old workers’ sidewalk from Union St., while the bottom step begins at the MRPC’s earthen dam.
- The necessary geo-technical work for the placement of the footings has been completed.
- The scheduled work by the Mississippi River Power Company (MRPC) at the
bridge and earthen dam end of Coleman Island has been confirmed.
- The related OVRT (CPR) work has been clarified.
- Students from the Algonquin College Museum Studies Program researched the
history of the area and produced interpretive historical designs for plaques to be
placed along the CIT.
- The project has been supported by the Municipality’s Accessibility Committee.
Project Cost and Funding
The estimated cost for the Coleman Island Trail is now $180,000, including $100,000 for the new staircase and $80,000 for the footpath, sidewalk, site furnishings, etc. The estimated project cost has been reduced as a happy result of MRPC and OVRT work, and because of adjustments made after the Open House.
Fundraising began in July 2017, and community support has been encouraging. So far, donations have reached about $15,000, which has been matched by the Municipality. This has allowed for: the completion of the conceptual design, hosting a public open house, and obtaining an engineering design for the staircase. Now, as we prepare to rebuild the staircase, additional financial help is needed to proceed.
Simply put, the project is at a pivotal and very exciting stage. The staircase is now ready for tender and could be constructed by May 2019, given funding. Since the project currently has funding of about $30,000, another $70,000 is needed. This will require a further $35,000 in donations and $35,000 in matching funds from the Municipality.
The Riverwalk Advisory Committee asks for your support in completing this exciting addition to our scenic Riverwalk and, especially, in restoring the Mill Workers’ Staircase. With your help, “We can make it happen.” The extended trail, with the heritage note added by the staircase, will be a lasting and iconic legacy for our community.
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.
Donations over $100 will be recognized at the staircase upper landing.
If you have any questions, please contact Tiffany MacLaren, Community Economic & Cultural Coordinator, 613-256-1077, ext. 22, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coleman Island Concept Drawing