Recently I read an excellent Millstone article written by a young single mother who grew up in Almonte, moved away and then came back to raise her son. It made me happy to note that the place we chose to retire isn’t just a senior citizen’s home. However, Almonte does have its attractions for the oldsters and we take advantage of them as much as we can.
It has long been known as The Friendly Town – even says so on its water tower.
Of course, with the municipal election campaign coming to an end tomorrow the Town of Mississippi Mills (Almonte’s part of it) doesn’t seem as friendly as it has in the past. The outgoing council came under a lot of criticism and we have a new slate of candidates who want to sweep the old councilors and mayor out the door. The incumbent mayor is not running again. Some of the debate has been quite nasty. The issues?
- High taxes, money not spent wisely on infrastructure. The new candidates think they can fix this. We’ll see.
- Traffic in Almonte. One mayoral candidate wants to get rid of bike lanes, allow lots of street parking.
- The Ottawa Valley Rail Trail. This was formerly a CP Rail line. It runs right through Almonte over that bridge above. The rural folks want to drive ATVs everywhere on the Trail. A lot of Almonte townies want to restrict the Trail to bikes and pedestrians in urban areas. You know how the anti-bike lane guy feels. There doesn’t appear to be any way the ATV jockeys can safely bypass Almonte if they don’t use the Rail Trail. I’m not sure I want to be in the middle of the bridge with a convoy of ATVs bearing down on me.
- Enerdu power project. There was a lot of debate about letting a private developer use an old industrial site on the river to triple the size of his hydropower plant. He had to rip up the riverbed and build a big powerhouse right downtown to do so. In the end, the town was forced by the Province to allow it. This left a lot of negativity over the previous council, but in the final analysis they were powerless to do anything. The town doesn’t get a dime in taxes from this new plant. There was a lot of Fear Uncertainty & Doubt about how this project would turn out, and I was one of the naysayers (not that it ever mattered.) However aside from a bit more of an industrial strength look to the riverscape downtown, it could have been a lot worse.
I leave you to be the judge. We have the bulky new powerhouse in the river, but they fixed up the old flour mill behind it so it looks a lot better. Win some, lose some.
- There were other issues like making Almonte’s downtown a Heritage district, but I think both sides agree this was an OK idea.
I think I’ll end here for now and pick up the narrative later when the election results are revealed. To be continued…