Sandy Casselman
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

EMBRUN – Residents and tourists visiting the township of Russell this summer will have additional seating options in the form of Community Parklets, one at 1125 Concession Street in Russell and one at the corner of Blais Street and Notre Dame Street in Embrun.

Township politicians approved the locations during the June 7 council meeting, while the decision to purchase the two parklets was made during the previous council meeting in May. The decision was made in a 3-2 vote with councillors Mike Tarnowski and André Brisson voting against the purchase from Xpertek. The cost of the two structures is roughly $30,528 and they are expected to last roughly 10 years if they are stored during the winter months.

“How do we measure the success of this project,” Coun. Mike Tarnowski asked, noting that the Parklets’ Program is a pilot project.

Economic development director Dominique Tremblay said staff will collect feedback from the community. She said success ultimately comes down to whether the parklets benefit local businesses by drawing in more people. She added that the pilot project is a proactive measure to bring more visitors to the township’s villages where they can buy local food and shop at local stores.

“The purpose of the pilot project is to advertise the project and the possibilities that exist to businesses on the main street, so that they can take advantage of this program in the summer of 2022,” economic development officer Vanessa Carrière said in her report.

Tremblay said her team met with the owner of the Russell location and he has approved the township’s use of the property for the next year at no charge. The Embrun location is also free as it is municipally owned. Xpertek is expected to have the parklets constructed by early August and, depending on the weather, they will be in place until Nov. 1.

If the pilot project is successful, staff will recommend council officially adopt the program by passing a bylaw. Interested businesses will then be able to submit a request to buy and install a parklet of their own. The township will order the parklets and ensure the structures are placed in acceptable locations.