Enhancing areas of recreation, relaxation and culture

Florenceville-Bristol announced a funding agreement with the Regional Development Corporation (RDC) on Sept. 26 to continue the multi-phase revitalization of Riverside Park and the Shogomoc Railway site.

As part of the plan, the town and RDC announced the receipt of $268,115 towards the $668,115 project through RDC's Rural Economy Fund.

Florenceville-Bristol's Tourism and Business Manager Bobbie O'Donnell explained in the joint release that the town would cover the balance of the project cost to complete phase one of Riverside Park and Shogomoc Site Revitalization.

Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister and Carleton-Victoria MLA Margaret Johnson described the revitalization of Riverside Park and Shogomoc as important to building a vibrant and sustainable town.

"Residents and visitors will be able to enjoy this beautiful green space, and our government is pleased to support this important project," she said.

Phase one of the project would see a public washroom facility built, including a drinking fountain, bike racks and an entry plaza at Riverside Park.

The Shogomoc site would get an improved public boat launch road and parking lot, a floating dock, pruning and signage.

Florenceville-Bristol Mayor Karl Curtis welcomed the announcement, coming on the heels of an ACOA funding announcement for the same facilities last week.

"The revitalization of these spaces will offer residents and tourists the comfort and ability to be more outdoor-active, socially engaged and culturally exposed to the environment and heritage of the properties," he said. "It is imperative there are areas for play, recreation, relaxation, and a variety of cultural events within a community, and this site is a natural selection."

Curtis said town officials are confident the project will deliver employment opportunities and commercial benefits beyond construction.

For example, he cited "enduring employment associated with the growth of existing and new tourism offerings, such as accommodations, food and beverage providers and equipment rentals for outdoor enthusiasts like cyclists and paddlers."

On Sept. 20, the town announced ACOA funding of $30,000 towards the town's $60,000 project to purchase kayaks, canoes, bicycles and safety equipment like life jackets and bike helmets to allow visitors to take advance of the St. John River and proposed nine-kilometre community trail.

O'Donnell explained that upon funding approval from Infrastructure Canada, the multi-use pathway, which the town calls MUP, would be a combination of new and existing active non-motorized transportation trails connecting one part of the town to the other.

She said that in addition to the hiking and biking trails along the riverbank, future plans call for a signature lookout and viewing decks offering fantastic river views.

"The site will also see the addition of timber framed picnic shelters, a fire sphere, which replicates a wood burning fireplace as a feature piece, potentially an event barn.

O'Donnell said the number of phases required would depend on funding and budget availability.

She said preliminary work for phase one is underway with the hope for completion in the summer of 2023.

O'Donnell believes the revitalization project will generate private-sector business interest hoping to take advantage of opportunities to provide products, services and experiences that align with Florenceville-Bristol's brand as French Fry Capital of the World.

"We are actively seeking and accepting expressions of interest from tourism sector operators for the facilities at the Shogomoc Site," she said.

Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, River Valley Sun