Mississippi Mills briefs: Almonte’s Row Ontario librarian of the year, 535 residential units, Community grants

Special to WC Online

ALMONTE – Held as part of the Ontario Library Association Super Conference 2024 in Toronto, Mississippi Mills Public Library’s (MMPL) Christine Row received the W.J. Robertson Medallion for Public Librarian of the Year.

The prestigious honour awards public librarians who demonstrate outstanding leadership and contributions to the library profession.

“I am so proud of the library,” Almonte Ward Coun. Mary Lou Souter said during the Feb. 6 Mississippi Mills council meeting, a former MMPL board chair and board member for over 20 years. “Christine, you have taken it from a good reference and borrowing library that 15 years ago was the model of a 19th Century library, into the 21st Century where the library is a community hub that covers every aspect of people’s social, cultural and educational lives. Thank you.”

“The reality is, there is nothing I do that I do alone,” Row said. “I am surrounded by amazing women at the library who are very enthusiastic and brilliant in coming up with ideas on how to improve service. And we have a board who trusts us, so that is a really great recipe for the innovative spirit that we have at the library.”

At the same gala, MMPL earned the Angus Mowat Award of Excellence for leading the Lanark County Libraries’ Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program for youth. The third recognition came with MMPL receiving their latest Provincial Certificate of Accreditation, one of only 36 libraries in Ontario to receive this significant achievement.  

The MMPL operates branches in both Almonte and Pakenham.

“The Pakenham library is also well used and certainly vibrant,” said Pakenham Ward Coun. Denzil Ferguson. “There has been very, very significant change and it’s well respected in the village. It’s just a pleasure to have you, Christine, with what you have brought to it.”

A public meeting was held for the plan of Subdivision, Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw Amendment applications for Mill Valley Estates. The proposed development, to be located along the northeast side of Old Almonte Road/Paterson Street, is to include up to 535 residential units, a mix of single-detached dwellings and townhomes, including back-to-back townhomes. A business park is also planned in a future phase. The matter will come before a future Council meeting for further discussion.   

Council formally appointed Melanie Knight as director of Development Services and Engineering, as part of an overall staffing proposal for the department. Melanie has been with the municipality since September 2021 when she was hired as Senior Planner. She has served as acting director of Development Services & Engineering since September 2023. In addition, a casual manager of engineering position will be created, with the reallocation of $40,000 from the professional service fees budget to fund the position.

The 2024 Mississippi Mills Municipal Grants were approved by council. This year, council will distribute $42,550 to community organizations, after increasing 2023 funding by 26 per cent. 

$40,000 in community grants

Mississippi Mills will distribute more than $40,000 to community groups and organizations in 2024 through the Municipal Grants program.

Council approved the 2024 allotments during their Feb.  6 meeting in the amount of $42,550. In the 2024 budget, council increased funding for the annual grant program by $8,137.70 (26 per cent) over 2023. 

“Community organizations and volunteer groups contribute in such a significant way to the quality of life and well-being of our community,” Mayor Christa Lowry said. “In recognition of the essential role they play and financial struggles many groups are facing, council was pleased to increase the funding for this year’s program. These grants also align with Council’s Strategic Priority – Welcoming and Inclusive, Active and Healthy Community. It’s inspiring to see our community champions leverage these small grants into events and projects that have such a lasting impact on our community.The value their contributions provide to Mississippi Mills is immeasurable.”

The successful 2024 grant recipients include:

  • A Meal for All– $3,000 to continue offering free community breakfast events.
  • Almonte Fair– $5,000 for cost of operating the fair and fairground maintenance.
  • Almonte in Concert– $3,000 toward costs of operating concert series.
  • Mississippi Mills Bicycle Month– $2,100 for development of new trail/route and promotional materials.
  • Black History Month– $3,750 for awareness events and activities.
  • Almonte Celtfest– $3,500 toward festival costs.
  • Almonte Fish and Game Club– $2,500 for the maintenance of Blakeney Park.
  • Almonte Legion Pipe Band– $1,500 for training and equipment.
  • Almonte Readers & Writers Inc. – $3,700 toward events promoting literary arts.
  • Mississippi Lakes Association– $750 for association activities.
  • Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust– $1,500 to assist with operation of Festival of the Wild Child.
  • Neighbourhood Tomato Community Gardens– $1,200 for improvements and maintenance to community gardens.
  • North Lanark Highland Games– $3,500 toward festival costs.
  • Pakenham Frost Festival– $2,000 toward festival costs.
  • Puppets Up! International Puppet Festival– $3,500 toward festival costs.
  • YESTERYEAR, The Vintage Variety Show– $2,000 to create new event.

“While the requests exceeded the budgeted funds, the staff worked hard to ensure that the available funding was allocated fairly, in accordance with the grant guidelines in order to make the best possible impact,” Tiffany MacLaren said. “These grants greatly enrich our community and allow groups and organizations to offer events and projects that support Mississippi Mills in the areas of arts and culture, recreation, environment and sustainability, and health and well-being.”

Applications for the 2025 intake of the Mississippi Mills Municipal Grants program will open this fall.

Council accepted the final report for the Water and Wastewater Service Delivery Review and directed staff to enter into negotiations with the Ontario Clean Water Agency to update the service agreement for operations and maintenance of the water and wastewater treatment facilities to a cost plus agreement. The review also includes the development of a business plan for water and wastewater services.

Two bylaws were approved by council related to long term borrowing. The first, authorizes borrowing of $1 million for 2023 paving projects; and the second authorizes borrowing $2.9 million toward the cost of the Almonte Downtown Core construction.

Committee of the Whole also heard the following items, which will be brought forward for approval at a future council meeting:

Quarterly reports were received for the Drinking Water Quality Management StandardChildren’s Services and Roads and Public Works.

The 2023 Freedom of Information Summary Report was presented. In 2023, the municipality received five general records requests, and 1 which was carried over from 2022.

The draft Asset Retirement Obligation Policy. To comply with Public Sector Accounting Standard 3280, the municipality is required to identify and quantify asset retirement obligations.

A report on the evaluation of Aquatic Reimbursement Pilot Program, with the staff recommendation to continue the program in 2024, for which $25,000 was budgeted.

A Notice of Motion was received from Coun. Denzil Ferguson, recommending a Council Remuneration Bylaw Review, to ensure Mississippi Mills Council per diem rates are amended to be in line with Lanark County Council rates.

Upcoming meetings
  • Hybrid Council Meeting – Tuesday, Feb. 20, 6 p.m. Committee of the Whole meeting to follow council.
  • Hybrid Council Meeting – Tuesday, March 5, 6 p.m. Committee of the Whole meeting to follow council. 
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