Enerdu: The Flume and the Bubble Bath
There has been a lot of talk recently about the world changing construction happening at the Flour Mill and upstream from the Flume. Anyone that reads this and is totally confused about what I am talking about you may not be from Almonte or you have only lived here for a short time. Hopefully this will educate you a little and maybe even help you to see things from a lifelong resident’s perspective.
As a boy growing up in Almonte summers were spent hanging out at the pool room corner, playing in Spring Bush, running the streets or back roads, and swimming at the Beach, Flume or Bubble Bath. Blakeney or Rock Bottom were options if it wasn’t too hot getting to either one. The Flume and Bubble Bath usually were restricted to teenagers due to the fast flowing and deep water. Your friends had your back and everybody looked out for each other. Something growing up in a small town taught you.
June brought warmer weather no school and hours of leisure before jobs made up summer vacation. Late April and May rain kept the water in the Mississippi high enough to allow a few brave, crazy, souls to jump from the tracks or First pier into the Bubble Bath. A strong push off the smooth rock bottom sent you frantically paddling legs and arms flailing hoping to propel you to safety into the natural eddy along the “break” wall beside the rapids. Very few had to be rescued before they headed downstream to the Power House. No one ever went over The Falls at Back Bridge.
When the hot weather of late June, July and August lowered the water the level a relaxing “cold tub”, could be taken in the Bath Tub just upstream from the Bubble Bath falls behind the Fire Hall. Diving off the tracks into the Flume and endless games of tag continued in the afternoons and after ball or soccer games in the warm summer evenings. We co-existed with the hundreds of freight trains that whistled us off the tracks and the waving Engineers and passengers on the Canadian heading to some place West or East marveling at our diving or “can opener” skills just as they passed the Flume.
Change rooms were on top of the piers usually on the Front Bridge side. Too many Pigeons on the West side. Last man in a game of tag, “the loser” was it when everybody else retrieved rocks from bottom before being touched. Not an easy task in 12 to 15 feet of water. A dive from a pier or of the tracks got you down to bottom quicker.
So times are changing again. Kids have been kicked off the tracks. No more swimming. Tracks and trains are gone with the distant train whistle. Engineer’s sounding “1 Long 1 Short 2 Longs” approaching every crossing, a skilled maneuver when fitting them all (3 crossings) in before the Engineer cleared downtown at Church Street. The Floor Mill has been converted from pigeon haven to beautiful apartments and clean energy producing power plant. Expansion is underway to provide more clean energy. The mighty Mississippi is under siege, only for a short time. It will be put back into shape and things will return to the new normal with an award worthy NEW and vibrant water front addition.
The contractor owner developer Enerdu/ Jeff Cavanagh should be commended for staying the course, enduring an endless barrage of opposition and mean spirited public ridicule, bringing this to fruition. Cavanagh Construction has been providing job security to thousands of employee’s and businesses in this area since I was born 60 years ago. Sports teams, charities especially Cancer and numerous other public endeavours and countless charities can thank Cavanagh Construction, Tom and Kay Cavanagh, now Jeff and Laurie their children for stepping up for these various causes. Next time you pass someone on Mill Street in Almonte say Hello and ask if they know anybody that works for Cavanagh has a relative that works for Cavanagh or if they have seen Cavanagh’s logo at a local event or charity function. Chances are they will say hello back or maybe Giday, and their answer will surprise you. If not, well you said Hello, a small gesture in keeping this The Friendly Town.
Life Long Resident Almonte Ontario
Why I am in favour of the Enerdu project
By Tracy Stimpson
I have always been in favour of the Enerdu Project and here is why. Let’s start off with the big question everyone asks when discussing this project, “What’s in it for me, us, the town”? I personally think that is a very selfish question. I don’t understand why something has to be gained but luckily there are several positives from this project.
1. The town gets a brand new state of the art weir for FREE to replace the pieces of plywood that are currently used each year and look awful. This automatic weir can be adjusted quickly and safely to any level. There is talk regarding the tree die off upstream due to the high water levels. That is not Enerdu’s fault, they are following provincial guidelines. If, at a later date, the water levels need to be decreased at certain times of the year, this automatic weir will be able to do this very quickly.
2. The issue with frazil ice shutting down both the town plant and Enerdu will be improved. This will be done by removing material just before the weir making the water a little deeper. The process will help prevent frazil ice from forming. Once complete, water will cover this area. It will be like nothing changed except the fact that the town will be able to make more money each year on hydro generation.
3. It’s true that hydro plants don’t pay any property tax but the provincial government basically pays the property tax on their behalf. The project called Ontario Power Dam Special Payment Program has been in place for several years. Last year the payment was nearly $12,000 to Mississippi Mills. There has been talk of changes to this program but the Ontario Government will always ensure money is paid. Many towns rely on this payment. If they remove it, they will probably revert back to the power plants paying property tax. So the town will receive some type of payment for years to come.
4. The town will get a beautiful new building. Everyone must agree that the part of the plant that currently generates power on this site looks like a concrete bunker. Enerdu has worked with a group from the town and all involved state that the building is something we will all be proud of. Yes, the new building will be bigger but it will not stick out any further than the current uncared for piece of land that is already there. If it has mirrored glass like the rumors I have heard, it may make the river look even wider.
I don’t want to get into all of the environmental issues that have been raised as a result of this project as it is way too confrontational. All I will say is that Enerdu has fully complied with all governmental requirements. The Provincial and Federal Governments have many experts that have looked at this project very closely and continue to monitor it while construction proceeds. There is no proof that this project will in any way damage the ecology of the area.
And finally a word on Cavanagh Construction. The Cavanagh’s have been very good to this town. They have donated much to the town and employ many of our citizens. They have been willing to work with the town during several stages of this project. I have even heard that they will shut down construction on Friday, August 5th as not to disrupt the Puppets Up festival.
I believe there are a lot of tangible benefits to this project that have been glossed over by those against it. Just wanted to put my 2 cents in. Thank you for your time.