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(Posted 8:30 a.m., July 23)
Symbol of Orléans' agriculture past to become focal point of new park
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Orléans Ward Coun. Bob Monette addresses the audience during the official ceremony transferring ownership of the Vinette silo on St-Joseph Blvd. to the City of Ottawa. The silo will become the focal point of a small park celebrating Orléans' agriculture heritage. Fred Sherwin/Photo

Most people drive by 3227 St-Joseph Blvd. without even knowing that behind the nondescript bungalow is one of the last symbols of Orléans' agriculture past.

The Vinette silo has stood on the site for the better part of the last 70 years. Standing seven metres tall and made out of concrete with a copper roof, the silo was once the focal point of the last functioning farm in Orléans, first owned by Éliodore Vinette and Almaïs Wolfe, and then handed down through three generations.

In recent times, part of the old farm was sold to Phoenix Homes which is developing the land east of the Centrum Town Centre. Since they owned the land it was standing on, Phoenix also owned the silo.

In 2011, the silo was placed on the city's heritage registry at the insistence of the local community led by the Societé franco-ontarienne du patrimoine et de l'histoire d'Orléans which wanted to preserve the silo for future generations.

The move set into motion a series of discussions as to what should be done with the silo. When it was deemed to expensive to buy it back from Phoenix Homes, and to expensive to move it, the city proposed a land swap. Phoenix Homes would get a quarter acre of land at the northwest corner of St-Joseph and Tenth Line Road and the city would get the silo and the land immediately surrounding it.

Phoenix Homes also agreed to repair the silo and develop the park, which is planned to have maple trees, shrubs and a series of display panels showing Orléans' agriculture past.

The deal worked out to be revenue neutral, which means there is no real capital cost to taxpayers. However, the city will have to pay to maintain the building and the park at a cost of about $15,000 a year.

Three generations of Vinettes were on hand at the official land swap ceremony on Tuesday including brothers Robert and Roger and their cousin Germaine Vinette, whose fathers built the silo after the Second World War. All three men are thrilled that the family landmark will become the focal point of a new park.

The effort to register the silo as an historic site was spearheaded by SFOPHO and Orléans Coun. Bob Monette.

SFOPHO president Nicole Fortier said the silo is historically important because of the significance agriculture played in the establishment of the original police village of Orléans, and more specifically the role the earliest pioneers played, most of whom were francophones.

"It's important to protect the silo because it is one of the last landmarks of our early history and to preserve it on the site were it has stood since it was built and use it as a focal point for a small park is fantastic," says Fortier.

Monette is hoping work on the park can begin next spring as Phoenix Homes continues to build out the area.

"It's coming here next year. It will be the first park for agricultural purposes in Ottawa," says Monette.

Four generations of Vinettes gather for a family photo in front of the Vinette silo which will become the focal point of a new park in the Centrum Town Centre. Fred Sherwin/Photo

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

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