Mississippi Riverfront Enhancement Strategy

Wendy on the Mississippi Riverfront Enhancement Strategy Our Town slogan Meet Me on the Mississippi highlights one of the true jewels and defining features of Carleton Place-our waterfront and surrounding recreational areas. In my view, however, we are not maximizing our use of these wonderful waterfront and park areas. Much more could and should be done to ensure that they contribute our quality of life to the fullest extent possible. I have a vision to make these recreational areas more accessible and better utilized by our citizens, to make them the envy of other towns in our region, to be a matter of our civic pride and to encourage tourists to come to Carleton Place to share in our quality of life, and to strengthen the links between our recreational areas and our downtown businesses. To that end, during my next four years as Mayor, I will call for a taskforce of citizens and Town employees to develop a Mississippi Riverfront Enhancement Strategy that will have an important impact our quality of life and give Carleton Place a positive legacy for years to come. From that strategy we will create, with your help and support, something that our future generations of citizens can experience and appreciate. I will make Meet Me on the Mississippi a slogan that means something and we can all be proud of. I have a long list of initiatives that I want to examine and implement. Many of us have been disappointed by the number of times that our beach water has been deemed unsafe for swimming – one feels sorry for those disappointed young faces. The Town currently follows the Provincial standard of beach water testing once a week. As a practical matter, this means that we get the water test results 5 to 6 days after the samples are submitted. It also means that the data that we use to allow or prevent people from swimming are almost 1 week old and may not reflect the current state of the water. We could be allowed to swim when it is unsafe, or prevented when the water is safe. Effective next summer, I want to initiate a program where the beach water will be tested on a daily basis and the results available the next day. This will give us to better protect our beach users, particularly our children. By the next beach season I want to do something fix the serious problem of goose feces on our beach and our paths in Riverside Park. Seeing geese and ducks paddle up and down our river is one of the small joys of being on our waterfront. The reality, however, is that “goose poop “is a very serious health hazard and we have far too much of it, particularly on the beach. It is the responsibility of the Town to do its utmost to protect the health of its citizens and to eliminate health hazards. I have already discussed with town staff (possibly with the help of outside technical consultants) to develop cost-effective and humane recommendations to prevent goose poop on our beach and riverfront walking trails. Starting next year, I will move to begin implementing these recommendations to eliminate this health hazard to protect our children and other waterfront and park users. Keeping with a beach theme, the “Blue Flag “certification program for beaches is an internationally recognized standard of excellence that is awarded to beaches that meet strict criteria for water quality, environmental education , environmental management and safety and services . Blue Flags are flying on only 17 beaches in Canada. I want our beach to be number 18 and I will start the Blue Flag application process this winter. Dealing with stormwater management issues particularly at Centennial Beach where the stormwater flows into the river above stream of Centennial Beach and at Anthony Curro Park where stagnant water is causing odour and algae problems are issues that needsS study and action in the short term. There is much that more that can be done to make our waterfront a more attractive place for our citizens and the envy of neighbouring towns. I want to put more picnic benches in our beach area and in Riverside Park as well as some in-ground BBQs to be used by people to have family gatherings in these areas. I want to see some historical plaques along the waterfront reflecting the colourful history of our river. I will investigate the feasibility of having a canoe and pedal boat rental facility along the river, thereby allowing people the pleasure of actually being on the water. Perhaps this could be run by one of our community groups on a revenue sharing basis, much like a bingo. An improved, more user friendly waterfront would be a significant tourism magnet for our town and encourage out-of-towners to use these facilities and our downtown businesses. I want to address the issue of the Findlay Foundry property. This is prime waterfront real estate and is an underutilized eye-sore. In our Development Permit Bylaw, we have identified four strategic properties, all brownfields, and three of which that are located on the river, as being prime locations to support mixed residential/commercial development. Being close to the downtown core, they will, when developed, support the downtown businesses. To that end, the Town will waive all development charges on these properties as an incentive to develop them and assist with the costs of possible environmental clean-up. Our nature trails are some of the hidden gems of our town. During my next term I work to expand and these facilities, particularly in A. Roy Brown Park. I would like to propose the installation of a natural playground in this new park. Guided nature walks, and sites for photographic opportunities are certainly possibilities here. Those citizens who have been in Carleton Place for some time will remember the Mississippi River Days (Daze) festival in the downtown core. I will explore with the BIA to see if we can re-create this event and perhaps expand it to include our year-long events. My Vision, which I will begin to implement during my next term, will expand the use of our waterfront and nature areas. They will be made safer and healthier places that will greatly add to quality of life in our home town. People will want to visit Carleton Place or move here to take part of these exceptional facilities that we will have within our town limits. I see these initiatives and improvements as a magnet for tourists who want to come to town to enjoy our waterfront and other recreational offerings. As more of these visitors come to Carleton Place, they will gravitate to our downtown core for shopping and dining with a positive economic effect on our businesses.