EDITOR’S NOTE: Scott J. Newton of Mississippi River Power Corporation sent the following reply to George Yaremchuk’s question about plans to improve Metcalfe Park. Scott notes that future improvements will be dependent on budget, need and feasibility.
Do readers have other suggestions for the park? Please share your views in the Comment section below.
The plan is very much a work-in-progress. We’ve got a whole park plan done, but are only moving ahead with Phase 1 which involves only a few items. These are:
1) Repairing the gabion basket and wooden retaining wall along the shoreline. This is in a serious state of disrepair and is a danger to the public in its current state. It will be replaced with new gabion baskets, topped with large armour stone (similar to beside the Old Town Hall).
2) Paving the parking lot and boat launch. Since we took over the maintenance of the park, we’ve had a never-ending battle with repairing large ruts in the boat launch caused by the stream of water running down it every time we get a heavy rain. The parking lot is a mess and cars park in all directions, taking up too many spots… and often parking on the grass. The gravel from the lot gets pushed further and further into the grass every year. This will clean up the whole area and make the boat launch easier to use.
3) Relocate the GeoHeritage display. Originally set up in 2009 in the centre semi-circle in the park in 2009, the display is now in a pile on one edge of that semi-circle. The Town had to move them when they did their upgrade of the bay pumping station in 2011. Since that area had many pipes, storage tanks buried beneath it, having to move the rocks to dig it up again is almost a certainty. The Metcalfe Park GeoHeritage Committee did not want to see the rocks moved again as damage was done to some of the specimens when they were moved by the Town. They came up with the idea of moving the display to the west side of the park. MRPC agreed that would be a good location, and presented to plan to Council and the Beautification Committee. All agreed with the design.
The upgrades/repairs were necessary. We met with a number of groups in designing the aforementioned elements, including the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority, Mississippi Mills Council, the Beautification Committee, the Metcalfe Park GeoHeritage Committee, and local landscapers and architects.
The next phases of the park reconstruction will involve some enhancements for users of the park. We intend to seek public input on these (not sure in what format yet). Ideas that are presently in the mix include:
a) a small dock to make launching canoes, kayaks, boats easier
b) a bandstand, large gazebo (see Stewart Park – Perth, Centennial Park – Whitby)
c) upper lookout area (in the area just down from the concrete steps at the Almonte Street bridge) at the top of the Lower Falls
d) more gardens, trees
e) splash pad was discussed but this location was deemed to be a bad fit (use of the park seems to more for picnicing families, relaxing, etc. Also the proximity to busy road and steep bank to river.)
We’ve already made the park more usable for the public, by renovating the aged washroom building and adding more picnic tables. Our generating station has also been a surprisingly huge draw. We get a tremendous amount of requests for tours (school groups, cub scouts, families and industry types looking to see what we built). We also do many impromptu tours as there always seems to be someone wandering around the building in the summer… we usually get and emphatic “YES” when we ask if they’d like to take a peak inside. We hope to be able to continue fixing up/upgrading the park to make it a gem for Mississippi Mills.
Scott J. Newton, General Manager
Mississippi River Power Corp.