by Brent Eades

The first phase of Riverwalk was largely completed by 2010 and has been a much-valued addition to our community.

Phase Two is drawing nearer as the Town works with the Riverwalk Advisory Committee to finalize plans for an extensive network of new trails throughout Almonte.

The catalyst for Phase Two was an offer by Mike Dupuis to allow public access to the Pinehurst gatehouse property, which features a bridge and earthen dam and is a scenic spot indeed.

Mr. Dupuis also took the lead in cleaning up a stretch of the CPR trail between Main and Carss Streets and surfacing it with stone dust, and did the same for the Worker’s Walk between Union Street and the CPR tracks.

Another incentive was the conversion of the old CPR route into the Ottawa Valley Recreation Trail.

Dam and bridge at Pinehurst

With its spine running along the CPR route from Ann Street to Carss Street, Phase Two would extend about three km, compared to the 500 m length of the current Riverwalk:

Mill workers on the staircase, circa 1940.

It would feature a scenic trail skirting the river along Coleman Island, together with a Workers’ Walk and a new Workers’ Staircase over the bank between Union Street and the former Rosamond Mill. Short trails would provide access from Country Street and the Fairgrounds.

The trails would be complementary, with lovely river views and points of heritage interest. They could be linked in various ways to form interconnected and interesting walks. It’s an exciting plan.

So what are the next steps to making this plan a reality?

Most of the Coleman Island trail will be on Town land, so no property purchases would be required. An easement is needed for the Pinehurst portion, and public information sessions are planned for residents wanting to know about the overall project. More design work is also needed on the Workers’ Staircase.

Most critical is fundraising. The estimated project cost is $310,000:

Coleman Island Trail & Bank St Walk ~$210,000
Startup ~ $ 20,000
Hardscape (path, sidewalk, stone) ~ $ 64,000
Furniture ~ $ 78,000
Timber Lookouts ~ $ 20,000
Electrical ~ $ 15,000
Softscape (landscaping, trees) ~ $ 16,000
Mill Workers’ Staircase ~$ 100,000
Total ~$310,000

Funds will be raised through cash and in-kind donations, memorial benches and trees, and grants and taxes.

Phase One was funded in part through significant public donations — about $63,000 — which confirmed community support for the project. This support, plus matching Town contributions, helped ensure a key federal grant.

The Town hopes to see this same level of public support for Phase Two, and it again will be matching all donations (and issuing tax receipts to donors.)

It’s important that a detailed design is completed now for the Workers’ Staircase and Walk, so that the Town can provide accurate cost estimates for the grant applications. Urgently needed is $6,000 in donations towards this final design, to which the Town will add a matching $6,000.

Councillor Alex Gillis has stepped up with a $1,000 contribution to prime the pump:

Councillor Alex Gillis, Chair of the Riverwalk Advisory Committee, presents a personal cheque for $1,000 to Diane Smithson, CAO, after the May 26 RAC meeting, with members Nancy Scott, Michael Rikley-Lancaster and Eric Schultz in attendance.

If you want to support this exciting project here’s how to do it:

Donations for the Riverwalk can be made payable to the Municipality of Mississippi Mills and can be mailed to the Mississippi Mills Municipal Offices, PO Box 400, Almonte ON K0A 1A0 or can be dropped off in person at the Municipal Offices located at 3131 Old Perth Road, Almonte ON  K0A 1A0.  

Parties making donations of $20 or more will receive an income tax receipt. The donor needs to include the name that the income tax receipt should be made payable to, and the address to mail the receipt to. 

When making a donation, clearly indicate that it’s for the Riverwalk.