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SBCC asks community to come together to make Riverside Park dream a reality in Spencerville

Left to right: South Nation Conservation Authority Team Lead Michelle Cavanagh, SBCC member Sherri Leblanc, EC Mayor Patrick Sayeau, EC Councilor Michael Barrett, SBCC Treasurer Mary Moore, and SBCC President Joanne Lovegrove. Journal photo/Evans

Two local organizations are working in conjunction with the Township of Edwardsburgh-Cardinal to see Spencerville's Riverside Park become a dream realized, and are asking the community to help. The Spencerville Mill Foundation and Spencerville Business & Community Connections (SBCC), with the cooperation of the South Nation Conservation Authority and financial backing of the Township of Edwardsburgh-Cardinal, have entered 'Big Plans for a Small Space' in the 'This Place Matters' crowdfunding competition hosted by the National Trust for Canada.

Riverside Park is a new vision for transforming the unkempt space beside the South Nation River into a vibrant green place for locals and visitors. The site, which is owed by the township, lies directly in front of the historic Spencerville Mill and Spencerville Mill Park. Encouraged by EC Mayor Pat Sayeau, the Township will provide $20,000 for infrastructure improvements to the road and parking area.

"I've been attending most of the SBCC meetings since they were formed, and I have to say I'm so proud of the way they have come together as a voice for what they see as a future for the community. They're constantly looking for new volunteers and ideas, and it's so refreshing to see the voice of the community coming forward. The township council is eager to get on board with this project and have agreed to put $20,000 towards curbing in the park. I invite the whole community to get on board and vote, donate, and help make this plan a reality," said Mayor Sayeau.

The project plan, designed by Mary Moore of Cedar Lane Studio, was unveiled and presented to community members at an informational event at the Spencerville Mill June 28. The proposed plan includes gardens, benches, picnic tables, wheel chair accessible pathways, bike racks, recycling bins, a pergola for sun shelter, historical panels, and an information kiosk with a map of village businesses and points of interest.

"Imagine an inviting park space and welcoming centre as you enter our historic village," said Mill Foundation spokesperson Sheila Fawcett. "Donations will help preserve a treasured heritage site and contribute to a prosperous future for the community." She also points out that many people traveling Highway 416 between Ottawa and Highway 401 stop in Spencerville for fuel and a stretch. The Riverside Park will be an inviting place for such travelers to relax and refresh while nearby businesses will also benefit. Residents, cyclists, young people and artists who frequent the area will enjoy the improved amenities.

"I was blown away as soon as I saw the plans for this project brought before the township by the SBCC. This is really going to welcome people to our village and showcase the essence of what we have to offer here in Spencerville. It's a beautiful place here with the Mill and South Nation River, and this park will really tie it all together. It's very exciting for the community, and the fact that it's volunteer-driven is a beautiful thing. I'm proud of Spencerville and this is just one more example of this community rallying together to achieve something great," said Ward 3 Councillor Michael Barrett, who was on hand showing his support at the event.

The National Trust for Canada This Place Matters crowdfunding platform is dedicated to helping Canadians save places that matter to them. This involves an online competition with other projects in the Central region (Ontario and Quebec) for donations and votes by the closing date of July 17, 2017. Spencerville's goal is to raise $17,000 along with the most votes for the new park. If successful, the project will receive $15,000 in prize money from the National Trust which will fund a second stage of the project. Local residents are encouraged to register an account and vote once every 24 hours. Every dollar donated towards the project also counts as a vote towards the competition tally.

Speaking on behalf of the SBCC, project partner and businesswoman JoAnne Moulton, one of the owners of the flourishing new Joe's SpencerCity Bar & Grill, underlines that "a vibrant community attracts visitors and new residents, thereby supporting local businesses and creating some exciting business opportunities that foster economic growth for the whole community."

The Spencerville Mill dates back to Peleg Spencer, who made his way north in 1881, from the St. Lawrence River through wilderness and stopped at the Big Creek, later called the South Nation River. There he saw the potential to build a wooden dam and saw mill to serve the needs of settlers in the backwoods of Edwardsburgh Township. The original saw mill evolved into a stone grist mill which operated from 1864 until 1972. Today, the Spencerville Mill, the last remaining Mill on the South Nation River, serves as a museum and cultural landmark.

To register, vote, and donate to the Spencerville Riverside Park project, register at: https://thisplacematters.ca

The proposed Riverside Park. Journal photo/Evans

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