What's up next?
The historic mill pond is a prominent feature of the Alton Mill site and is highly visible from the main street of the village. However the creation of the pond by damming Shaw’s Creek created negative consequences for fish habitat (warming the water and blocking spawning routes). Siltation of the pond is detracting from its visual and recreational utility and work is required on the dam and retaining walls.
It is proposed to create a public/private partnership to rehabilitate the dam and pond with the aim of improving the fish habitat and making the pond a stellar recreational amenity for the general public. A working group known as the Alton Millpond Rehabilitation Committee has initiated an environmental assessment to evaluate options and plan the ultimate project. For more information on the committee and the progress it is making, or to help in the Committee's fundraising efforts, go to its website .
MICRO-HYDRO POWER GENERATION
The existence of the millpond and dam creates a rare opportunity for micro-hydro generation. The historic turbine/power take-off and hydro-electric system is not able to be re-used in a cost-effective or energy-efficient manner.
Alton Mill has teamed up with members of the Power Up Renewable Energy Co-operative (PURE), a Dufferin County-based non-profit organization whose mission is to promote green energy, to help plan a micro-hydro system. PURE has concluded that there is potential to create sufficient electricity from the site to either operate the building or offer the energy for sale to the public electrical grid as a revenue stream for the project. PURE is participating in the Millpond Rehabiliation Committee to help assess hydro power as one aspect of the proposed pond rehabilitation project.
RESTAURANT AND EVENT CENTRE
The village of Alton is currently serviced by private septic systems. The Alton Mill's system has limited capacity and it is currently permitted to have only a paper service café with limited seating. The Region of Peel is planning to install a central municipal sewage treatment system to serve the village. Once this is completed, the Alton Mill will be able to dramatically expand its food-service offerings.
The long-term plans call for converting the space now housing the Paul Morin Gallery and the Alton School of Art into a full restaurant. Diners will have great views of the pond via the sliding glass doors from the main space and from a patio overlooking the waterfall. The Livery will be rehabilitated at that time to provide additional floor space for the art uses displaced by the restaurant.
The sewage system will also enable a larger event facility to be created out of the stone walls of the Annex. An addition will be built on the north and west sides to house lobby and service areas, and a new roof installed spanning the existing stone walls with glass above. The beautifully restored Annex walls will define a 4,000 sq. ft. event space available for art shows, conferences, banquets and weddings.