The Mill Pond Dam project in Knowlton has officially been given the green light by the provincial government. The project has been in the works for almost a decade, having first been proposed by town council in 2013.
The current dam will be torn down completely and replaced in hopes of bringing the water level of the dam back to what it was in its early beginnings. Work will begin at the beginning of August and is expected to be finished by December. It is the first step in the Town of Brome Lake’s major revitalization project of Knowlton’s downtown core.
“When I was elected in 2013, with our first council, our strategic plan for five years from 2015 to 2020, one of our priorities was, of course, to replace the dam,” said Richard Burcombe, mayor of the Town of Brome Lake. “We started the procedures. Through the government we made it a high continent dam instead of a low one so that we could put the water back like it was in the good old days.”
Finally giving out the contract to a local company in 2019, the town was ready to get the project started in 2020, but it ended up facing multiple setbacks from various provincial government departments. Burcombe said that the situation resulted in some frustration.
“In 2019, we were ready to go for 2020, and then the government stated that they wanted a report of all the species living in there for the Minister de la faune so that was another setback,” Burcombe explained. “(…) Finally last December, they promised us that we would get it.”
The work is estimated at $3 million and will be funded by tax payer dollars. Work is expected to begin on August 8.
“There may be a small increase, maybe up to 5%, but that happens. We can’t prevent that. (…) There is no grant available like there is for work done on the water works system or for roads, but we have the reserve,” mentioned Burcombe. “We had already put money aside for a certain amount of it and the rest of it will be over a long-term loan, for which the borrowing by-law was approved."
The project is expected to be done by the end of December 2022.
“The dam is going to be torn out completely and replaced with a new one. There will be a different look to the dam. If you look at it from Lakeside Road, the walls on the right and left will go into the pond and the dam across,” explained Burcombe. “If there is a major rainfall and it comes up quick, the water can go over all the three sides and down Coldbrook, the river there. Aesthetically, it’s going to look better than it does now.”
The Mill Pond Dam project is the first step in the town’s major revitalization plan of Knowlton’s downtown core, which includes expanding Pettes Memorial Library and making changes to Coldbrook Park.
“We can’t do anything until the dam is done because that is where the working site will be is right in the park. They will be ruining a certain amount of grass there, but that was in the works so it’s fine. We will redo it all when they are gone in the spring of 2023,” noted Burcombe.
Listen to the full interview below: