Mississippi Mills prepares for growth, prosperity in 2024

Mayor Christa Lowry
Mayor Christa Lowry. Photo credit: Submitted.
Posted on: January 24, 2024

Downtown Almonte completion one the highlights of last year


The completion of Downtown Almonte, the celebration of the municipality’s bicentennial, and action on Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) are some of the highlights in Mississippi Mills in 2023.

We caught up with Mayor Christa Lowry to see what is on her agenda for 2024, as well as to have a look at the top accomplishments in the municipality for 2023.

We asked: What are you most proud of accomplishing in 2023?

1. Completion of Downtown Almonte Project

BACKGROUND: After two construction seasons, the municipality cut the ribbon to officially unveil its revitalized downtown in the fall. 

“The downtown revitalization project was one of the biggest capital projects in recent history. council and I were very pleased that not only was it completed on time, but below budget,” Lowry said. 

The result is new water/sewer infrastructure to ensure continued delivery of clean, safe drinking water, and improvements to the storm sewers and drainage systems. In total, it amounts to 500 metres of new watermain, 400 metres of new sanitary sewers and 300 metres of new storm sewers.

The downtown also has new sidewalks, increased accessibility features, traffic calming measures, heightened pedestrian safety and fresh landscaping that included a total of 1,700 tonnes of asphalt was placed throughout the downtown; over 3,100 square metres of new concrete sidewalks; 1,800 new plants, and 48 new trees (replacing the previous 14 in the downtown core).

Lowry said they received a Tourism Fund grant, administered by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, and they were able to add 11 benches, receptacles, and bike racks throughout the main street. 

“The municipality was also the recipient of a Canada Community Revitalization Fund grant to the tune of $750,000, which also lessens the impact on the taxpayer and water and sewer service rate payers,” she said.

From design through construction, municipal staff put an extraordinary amount of effort into this project, the mayor noted.  

“The team at Thomas Cavanagh Construction Limited worked very hard and brought a professional attitude to the job every day,” she said. 

“The biggest acknowledgement is reserved for our downtown business community for their incredible patience and perseverance. Coming out of the pandemic and into a major construction project was not easy, but they weathered the construction and celebration each milestone right along with us.”

2. Bicentennial

BACKGROUND: Mississippi Mills marked its Bicentennial in 2023 with dozens of events taking place in each corner of the municipality all year round.  The Bicentennial was a celebration, and also a display of the municipality’s character, history “and all those things that make us really proud as a community,” Lowry said. “After months and months of staying home and being apart, the Bicentennial celebrations throughout 2023 were a positive way for the community to rediscover our history and heritage together.”

They challenged every resident to get involved, volunteer or try something new, and the community embraced every opportunity.  From farm tours to musicals, the RCMP Musical Ride, the harvest dinner and dance, the Millworker’s re-enactment, to an extraordinary Light Up the Night, nearly every single event had incredible attendance with many sold out.  

“One of the most meaningful aspects of our Bicentennial was the opportunities to respectfully honour and learn more about our region’s earliest inhabitants, the Algonquin Anishinaabe Nation,” Lowry said. 

“A special community project called ‘The Seven Gifts’ was a highlight of our Bicentennial Year, created by Indigenous and non-Indigenous People working together.”

The project was led by Mississippi Mills All My Relations and community partners.  It is a unique and meaningful artistic installation that provides a sacred place for learning and reflection. 

3. Action on Intimate Partner Violence

BACKGROUND: As a member of Lanark County Council, Lowry said she was so proud to be part of the first community to declare intimate partner violence (IPV) an epidemic in December 2022, (Recommendation #1 of 86 from the June 2022 Inquest into the 2015 murders of Anastasia Kuzyk, Nathalie Warmerdam and Carol Culleton, in neighbouring Renfrew County). To date, nearly 90 municipalities representing over 70 per cent of the population of Ontario have followed our lead, including Mississippi Mills in January 2023.”

Lowry said it was her honour to use her position as 1st Vice Chair of ROMA – the rural arm of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario – to demand change and action on gender-based violence.  

“At every opportunity last year, I have pushed for AMO to take on the issue of IPV and hold the province to account. Sometimes it works to be a mosquito in the tent: In August, AMO secured a multi-ministerial delegation to discuss a municipal-provincial collaboration to address IPV and gender-based violence.”

As one of the four municipal officials invited to present, Lowry said she shared local stories at that table to ensure the rural realities of IPV were part of the discussion. On the eve of that delegation, the AMO Board themselves – representing almost every single community across the province of Ontario – declared IPV an epidemic, signalling that they too commit to being an active part of the solution. 

“This has opened the door to further discussions with ministerial staff, and experts who are in the work every day. Strides have been made, but much more must be done. I will proudly continue to play my small part in finding solutions. Real action and change require all orders of government, policing, social services, and many other organizations to come to the table together.”


Here are Lowry’s top three agenda items for the new year.

1. MM2048 – planning for growth

BACKGOUND: Mississippi Mills is undertaking a large project called MM2048 that involves virtually every service and department.  

“We’re looking at everything from roads to childcare to water and wastewater to recreation to festivals and events to economic development to quality of life and everything in between, all at the same time,” she explained. “The project is about setting a course for our community well into the future in response to the growth we will continue to see in Mississippi Mills.” 

An initial Public Information Centre was held in April 2023 with broad engagement by the community.  

“Our next Public Information Centre will be held on January 18, 2024 from 2 to 8 p.m. at the John Levi Community Centre in Almonte. This second PIC is an important part of the municipality’s ongoing Master Plan projects and Planning Studies. This event is joint public consultation for: the Transportation Master Plan, Water & Wastewater Master Servicing Plan, Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw Amendments relating to Bill 23, and the Private Road Study.”

2: Economic Development Strategy – planning for prosperity 

BACKGROUND: Through strategic planning, council identified Economic Development as a key priority this term and will create an Economic Development Strategic Plan for the municipality that will set the community’s economic vision and create a tangible plan for our economic future as the municipality continues to grow. 

“Led by our municipal team, a successful plan and implementation of that plan will come from collaboration with our stakeholders and partners, including business and industry, education, other orders of government, community organizations and residents,” Lowry explained. 

“Background work and engagement with stakeholders and partners take place in 2024. Together we will establish our municipality’s economic development goals and develop the framework for accomplishing those goals. The plan will show a strong path forward towards economic sustainability in Mississippi Mills and achieving the community’s economic aspirations as we grow.”

3: Housing First Project with Carebridge – including everyone as we grow

BACKGROUND: Given the Housing Crisis that is being experienced across the country, Mississippi Mills approved a “Housing First” pilot project and established a Memorandum of Understanding with Carebridge Community Support to development affordable housing at 34 Victoria St. in Almonte. Since then, council has approved funding to assist with professional services for the project and Cadho, a non-profit real estate developer, has been engaged to provide project management support.  

“In most lower tier communities, projects such as this are usually left to the upper tier who hold responsibility for housing,” Lowry said. “Mississippi Mills council has taken a pro-active approach to ensure our community includes everyone as we grow, by shifting policies, removing barriers to affordable housing, allocating land and resources, and taking a strong and active position of advocacy for this project.  Discussions continue to take place with both the provincial and federal governments to encourage funding and support.”

Lowry noted that council is cautiously optimistic that funding opportunities through the CMHC, provincial government, Lanark County and other funding sources may begin to align this year “which would allow us to build these much-needed homes.”

Hometown News
Author: Hometown News