Revamping central Knowlton slowly but surely

Rumours and wishful thinking often accompany important and ongoing projects. The future of central Knowlton – its Coeur villageois – is one of those. Concrete steps have been undertaken by the town. Here is how the project has grown since it was first presented to the public in May of last year.

The Library building and Coldbrook Park are at the core of the project. The town has already purchased two buildings in that area; the blue building at 30 Lakeside and the former Mill Pond Plaza at 264 Knowlton Rd. for a total land area, including the Pettes Library and Coldbrook Park, of more than two acres. In time, this is where a general information center on ducks, (Centre d’interprétation du Canard) and the public market will settle.

For its part, the Pettes Memorial Library needs more space in the present building to carry out its activities and include public meeting areas.

In an interview with Tempo, Louise Morin, TBL councillor for economic development, explained that “we have to look how these two projects can tie in together. It may mean an addition to the library or revamping the available space. We won’t know before we have expert proposals.” And when will that happen? In 2018, during Town Hall renovations, the 30 Lakeside building will serve to house town employees.The former Mill Pond Plaza may be demolished in the spring. No reconstruction will happen during that time.

“Then there is the Blackwood Dam that has to be included. Council has yet to decide what kind of new structure will be considered. A decision should be announced in the coming months on the dam,” said Morin.

It is hard to put a price tag on a project in its early stages. More concrete plans have to be drawn, consultations have to take place before coming to a final plan and its approval. “In 2018, there will be no demolition before feasibility studies are done. Then we will look at how much it will cost and where the money will come from. The costs will be substantial,” concedes Morin. We will look at all possible sources of financing including the town’s funds, the Pacte rural, federal and provincial subsidies, Foundation money, private donations, etc.” No ceiling has been set but the project will need external funds to be carried out.

So far the town has spent $845,000 plus taxes to acquire the two commercial buildings. TBL’s budget set aside $75,000 this year for various studies and evaluation.

Coming back to the timeline, “we hope to have the project well under way if not completed in the present mandate of Council,” said Morin, adding “if it happens sooner all the better.”

As Councillor Morin said last May, when she presented the plan to the public, the measure of its success will depend on “whether we can achieve this at a reasonable cost, in a timely fashion and that the citizens are pleased with the outcome.”