The Municipality is moving ahead with redesign of the parkette at the corner of Main Street West and Mill Street in the Village. The project is being funded by the Main Street Revitalization Initiative grant from the Association of the Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) that the Municipality received in May, 2018. The $40,558 grant is part of $26 million that the province committed to supporting small businesses by helping municipalities implement Community Improvement Plans and/or encouraging strategic public investments in municipal and other public infrastructure within main street areas.
The decision to invest in the parkette near the blockhouse was made through the recommendation of the Main Street Revitalization Ad Hoc
Committee, which suggested that it would be the best way to spend the funds, based on the criteria laid out by AMO.
Although the project was approved by council in September last year, there have been several delays in the implementation of the project. There wasn’t enough time last year to design and carry out the work before the end of the construction season on October 31. Pushing the work to the Spring was also an issue, because the grant had a deadline of March 31, 2020. Thankfully, with the help of Steve Clark’s office, staff were successful in acquiring an extension to October 31, 2021. This was especially helpful because COVID-19 caused further delays.
However, at the last council meeting, CAO Robertson gave a very positive update to council, advising them that the project is set to get underway in mid-October. The Municipality engaged with two local businesses for the design and construction of the new parkette. Owen Sparey, of Your Garden Gurus, designed the layout, and Jonah Robinson will be carrying out the work. The total cost of the design and implementation of the hard landscaping is $41,819.70.
CAO Robertson hopes the new parkette will serve as a welcoming entryway to the Village and the Blockhouse Park. It is currently a very closed off area, but, with the new design, it will become a more open, town-square-type space that will serve as a gathering place for local events and a meeting place for visitors to the Village. The design includes four irregular-shaped armour stone slabs that will be placed at each corner of the square to serve as seating/ presentation platforms to be used by the Mayor, other visiting dignitaries, or for events like the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony in the Village.
The current map and trash receptacles will be moved closer to the higher-pedestrian area at the north-west corner of the intersection of Main Street West and Mills Street, to improve exposure and convenience. There will also be flower beds lined with stone to match the heritage feel of the Village, planted with hardy, native species to withstand the climate while providing a broad array of colour throughout the seasons.
The planting beds and armour stone seating areas have been oriented to be able to accommodate a modestly-sized “Merrickville” sign that, if approved by council, will serve as a focal point for the square. The Municipality is currently working with TD Graham & Associates on the design of the sign, and specifics, including cost, will be brought back to council this Fall.
According to Jonah, construction is set to start the week after Thanksgiving, and it should take about 2-3 weeks to complete. All the materials are being sourced locally, with the natural stone coming from Tackaberry & Sons Construction Co. Ltd., and the man-made pavers and curbs coming from Hoffman Materials Inc. “We try and source as much locally as possible,” Jonah says. Owen really enjoyed working on the project, and is looking forward to seeing it all come together. “It’s a gateway to why Merrickville exists,” he says, referring to the parkette’s strategic place on the Rideau Canal. “I can’t wait to see it happen.”
CAO Robertson is also looking forward to seeing the project materialize. “It’s a small space, but I am really excited about it,” he says. “I think it’s going to become a place that is much more usable, and much more memorable for people.”