Brockville Railway Tunnel Committee discusses next steps

Photo via City of Brockville

At their regular meeting on the morning of Thursday, Jul. 11, 2024, the  City of Brockville Railway Tunnel Committee heard from City Staff, who provided updates on the tunnel’s operational status and long-term volunteering and safety solutions.

Present at the meeting were committee members Doug Grant, Lynne Houldsworth, Jack Kenny, Brian Porter, George A. Smith, and Louise Severson. Various staff members also attended, including Kelly Brintnell (Tourism Development Coordinator), Chad Davis (Supervisor of Parks & Cemetery Services), Sheena Earl (City Clerk), Lynn Murray (Deputy City Clerk), and Phil Wood (Director of Operations).

Upon opening the meeting, Chair Brian Porter shared that 2024 marks the eighth year since the tunnel was officially opened to the public as a tourist destination.

Before getting into the tunnel’s operations, the committee divulged that they are facing challenges in attracting new volunteers. They noted they have seen a general decline in volunteer numbers across City boards. With that being said, new and interested volunteers can apply online year-round, however, vacancies are only posted annually.

While on the same topic, Councillor Severson suggested pursuing collaboration and initiatives with Brockville Tourism to attract new volunteers. Those who would like to learn more can visit https://brockville.com/news/board-and-committee-recruitment/ .

Director of Operations Phil Wood then delivered various updates on the tunnel’s operations, explaining that light repairs are immediately necessary as the current lights are out of warranty.

Chad Davis, Supervisor of Parks & Cemetery Services, mentioned that a new light and music show for 2024 is in progress, with setup costs by Ford Electric estimated at $2700. Davis also stated that City staff are in the process of hiring and training staff to create light shows in-house.

In terms of the landscaping surrounding the tunnel, Wood noted that the North Gorge landscaping is proposed in the Capital Budget. This includes the removal of the walnut tree situated at the north entrance, which has been deemed hazardous. 

While on the discussion of possible hazards, committee member Jack Kenny suggested addressing the uneven walkway at the north end for pedestrian safety. Additional concerns were raised about pedestrian safety in terms of the crossing from Tunnel Avenue to Pearl Street East. In response, Wood mentioned previous recommendations to upgrade five crossings on King Street which would be added to the Operations budget.

A motion was made by Councillor Severson and seconded by member George Smith to prioritize the street crossing between Tunnel Avenue and Victoria Avenue across from Pearl Street East in the list of crossovers under review. This motion was carried.

The committee also discussed clearing brush at the north end, but Davis explained that the brush should remain in place to deter homeless encampments from forming.

In regards to marketing, the committee confirmed that the Tourism Department’s management of the tunnel website is currently under review, and newly updated brochures have been printed and will be placed at the tunnel entrance to be handed out to guests on arrival.

Finally, Phil Wood provided a brief update on modifying the connection between the Tunnel and the Brock Trail. Woods informed members that some surveying and land clearing have prepared and completed a business case. The business case is consisting of the following two phases:

  1. Construct the drainage system with a budget of $400,000.
  2. Build the trail with a budget of $500,000

This plan will be presented to Council this evening.


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