From The Recorder | July 28, 2017,
As workers were preparing it for its grand opening in two weeks, Brockville’s railway tunnel was ready for its close-up.
A film crew working for the Great Waterway tourism organization swung through Brockville Thursday, hitting the Aquatarium, the historic and newly-restored railway tunnel and Fulford Place.
With some help from Brockville councillor David LeSueur, chairman of the Brockville Railway Tunnel Committee, and David Bouwers, of Ford Electric, the crew got a glimpse of the tunnel and its dazzling new light show.
“This tunnel is incredible,” said Melissa Eapen, a Kingston small businessperson and one of two people visiting sites across Eastern Ontario for the Great Waterway shoot.
The official opening of the railway tunnel project’s first phase will happen during the Rails to Trails festival, slated for August 10 to 13 in Armagh S. Price Park.
The long-awaited tunnel restoration started nearly a year ago with masonry repair over the winter months.
Workers put in the electrical infrastructure in the spring, followed by the installation of a new rock base with drainage, a new concrete pathway and the installation of the lighting system along each side of the walkway.
Video cameras, a sound system, emergency buttons, WiFi and cell phone service have all been installed in the tunnel for safety.
As of Thursday evening, concrete remained to be poured at the southern entrance area.
Workers with G. Tackaberry and Sons Construction are also expected to make the area outside the north end of the tunnel walkable, an in-kind donation from that firm, said LeSueur.
The Great Waterway, the regional tourism organization extending from Trenton to the Quebec border, and north to Kemptville and Smiths Falls, has hired Kingston-based Make Hay Media to create what director Braden Dragomir called an “experiential tourism campaign.”
“The basis of the campaign is taking two people across Eastern Ontario to be able to show tourists from around the world what an experience here would be,” added Dragomir.
“Ultimately, the goal is to show off all the unique assets that Eastern Ontario has that you’re going to have a hard time finding anywhere else in the world.”
The campaign is taking two people, Eapen and Toronto-based actor Scott Cavalheiro, across Eastern Ontario over 32 days to record their reactions to various sites.
The final result is expected to be a short video, with some supplementals, for the Great Waterway’s 2018-19 campaign, said Dragomir.
“It’s been awesome,” said Eapen, director of business development at Improbable Escapes, a Kingston escape room business.
“It’s been great being able to explore the region.”
Cavalheiro appreciates the chance to venture beyond Toronto. “Sometimes if you live in a city you become ignorant to what is surrounding,” he said. “To me, this is an eye-opening experience.”
Dragomir, meanwhile, was impressed with the tunnel, lit by More than 700 “Color Kinetics dynamic LED” light fixtures containing 2,800 individually-controllable colour nodes, as a shooting location.
“They’re great because they don’t flicker at all,” said Dragomir. “Lower-end LEDs often have a nasty flicker and that affects our ability to film.”
As the tunnel committee prepares to open this new attraction to the general public, members are also looking ahead to the project’s second phase, which involves redevelopment of the former Grand Trunk Railway/CN property west of the north-end gorge, a stretch of land the city now owns. That phase includes bus and car parking areas, public restrooms, a tour train arrivals and departures area and a tour train ticket office.
It could also include a replica railway roundhouse building that would provide a “multi-purpose community space” for events and an indoor farmers’ market in the cold months, a city report adds.
The city has so far committed $300,000 toward the tunnel project.
When that second phase happens will depend on a number of factors, including fundraising and the will of city council.
The committee has set aside August 12, the day of the official opening, for the release of the second phase concept, said LeSueur.
“People can take it home with them and fill it out and tweak it, so it’s kind of like a second public meeting,” said LeSueur.