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Lights display, site work planned for historic Flour Mill silos

Flour Mill community stewards are banding together to create a permanent lights display on the historic silos
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Key figures in the proposed installation of a lights display on the Flour Mill solos are seen at the historic structure earlier this week. From left is Flour Mill Community Action Network chair Claude Charbonneau, historian Jeannine Larcher-Lalande, Flour Mill Business Improvement Area vice-chair Daniel Boucher, Ward 12 Coun. Jocelyne Landry-Altmann and Flour Mill Business Improvement Area project lead Jean-François Démoré.

Community stewards in the Flour Mill neighbourhood have banded together in support of its namesake historic flour mill silos.

Although the area’s flour mill had a short operating life upon its 1911 opening and subsequent demolition, the silos remained, serving as a unique local landmark. 

“I grew up with them, so they’re very dear to my heart,” lifelong resident and local historian Jeannine Larcher-Lalonde told Sudbury.com earlier this week while touring the property alongside others interested in not only preserving but drawing greater attention to the site. 

“It’s the namesake of this area, and without it, we’d be where?”

Past councils have discussed demolishing the massive silos, which loom over Notre Dame Avenue, but she said the community has consistently pushed back in support of the landmark. 

Larcher-Lalonde is a longtime supporter of the silos and created a video for their 100th anniversary in 2011 titled “An Imaginary Trip by Streetcar,” which was projected on a screen.

In advance of the silos’ 111th anniversary next year, those behind the Flour Mill Community Action Network and Flour Mill Business Improvement Area are striving for something even bigger and more permanent.

The 111th year isn’t arbitrary, Ward 12 Coun. Jocelyne Landry-Altmann said, noting it includes the number one, which represents independence and motivation, as well as “new beginnings and the ability to let go and move forward toward success. Combined, the numbers are doubly significant, harkening spiritual awakening and inspiration.”

With the help of Science North, the community stewards plan on installing coloured lights that can project onto all four sides of the silos year-round. 

The display would be accompanied by other site work to improve the property, which Flour Mill Business Improvement Area project lead Jean-François Démoré said has fallen into disrepair. 

Other site work would include fencing repairs, trimming of trees, removal and scaling of loose concrete and more.

“This group is coming together to bring government, trying to tie in federal funds, local businesses and the community to come in and improve this landmark,” he said, adding that his organization is committed to leading by example and investing in the project.

“We see this as one of our signature ... items we want to sponsor.”

The Flour Mill Business Improvement Area is committed to improving Notre Dame and parallel roads on either side, he said — an area that notably includes the silos, which is among the more recognizable structures in the neighbourhood. 

Beaming with enthusiasm for the neighbourhood, Démoré considers the Flour Mill a gem within Greater Sudbury that carries great potential.

Similarly, he said the silos can be much more than what they currently are and serve as a stronger attraction in the neighbourhood.

In the coming months, the Flour Mill community stewardship groups will be seeking the funds necessary to make their shared dream a reality.

During the Aug. 17 Greater Sudbury city council meeting, the city’s elected officials voted in favour of a resolution for staff to prepare a business case for the project for 2022 budget deliberations. 

In the associated report from city administration, it’s noted the silos have seen limited maintenance in recent decades and would require various site work.

On that front, Landry-Altmann noted that a mural was initially planned for the silos, but the structure was in such disrepair that it was deemed unsafe to have artists work on the structure. 

Looking forward, Landry-Altmann said that she’s eager to see what comes of the community’s aspirations for the historic structure. 

“We’ve been talking about lighting for a very long time, and now we’re here,” she said. 

“We think seasonally lighting the silos would be fun -- light them up for Christmas, green and red, and Easter, purple and yellow and etc. … Have fun with them as opposed to sitting there and doing nothing.”

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.