Vandals run amok in WMC
It was a less-than-happy start to the New Year at the Woolwich Memorial Centre, which suffered damages of $100,000 when vandals broke into the Elmira facility in the wee hours of January 1.
Trophy cases, glass panels, computer monitors, telephones, and office windows were smashed with fire extinguishers. Both pools were drained to clear shards of glass from the upstairs fitness centre window. Damage was also incurred to the doors of the youth centre, and to the glass panels at both hockey arenas.
The building had no alarm system, so the crime was not discovered until the morning.
Two youths arrested for WMC vandalism spree
Just two days after the Woolwich Memorial Centre was vandalized in the early hours of January 1, police arrested two young males from Elmira and Kitchener in connection to the crime.
The youths, both age 13, were charged with break and enter, theft under $5,000, mischief over $5,000, and possession of stolen property by detectives from the General Investigations Division. Under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, they can’t be identified.
The suspects were arrested separately on the morning and afternoon of January 3, and held in custody at a police facility with their parents present.
Passing of a longtime community booster
Longtime Woolwich Township employee Richard Rank died of a heart attack while at work last January 3. He was 57. Rank was an active volunteer and a visible community member, particularly among sports groups.
Cleanup continues from pre-Christmas ice storm
An ice storm that caused widespread power outages just before Christmas left a trail of downed trees and other damage that had township work crews working well into the New Year. The storm, which affected much of southwestern Ontario, left thousands of residents without power, causing Woolwich Township to declare a state of emergency.
The pre-Christmas crush was the region’s second major ice storm of 2014 (the first struck April 12).
At peak, close to 7,000 homes in Woolwich were without power, with a large concentration in Elmira/ Floradale. Conestogo and Bloomingdale were out longest, with some houses out for as long as 36 hours.
Lack of security system prompts township review
With the WMC almost back to its pre-vandalized state, the question turned to how a $23-million facility didn’t have an alarm system. The township launched a review, but officials were reluctant to outline the sequence of events that led to a system being omitted when the building opened in 2009, or detail why there was no action subsequently.
Nor were they eager to point a finger at those involved in the decision to forgo a security system.
The focus since the New Year’s break-in and vandalism spree that caused some $100,000 in damage has been on the restoration, not finding blame, officials said, refusing to hold themselves accountable.
A temporary alarm system was installed in the aftermath.
Order of Canada for local man
A Conestogo man received the Order of Canada for bringing environmental issues into engineering projects.
When Stephen Carpenter founded Enermodal Engineering in 1981, there was virtually no “green movement” to enter into. In the decades since, his company’s work designing green buildings has been regarded as ahead of the curve.
Carpenter was named a Member of the Order of Canada “for his visionary leadership in the development and stewardship of Canada’s green building industry.” For the retired engineer, his career rose parallel with Canada’s own environmental consciousness.
Few questions as Woolwich budget process starts rolling
Woolwich councillors moved quickly at the township’s special budget sessions, approving a range of new expenditures. The go-ahead included yet another expansion to the staffing ranks in the form of two full-time positions to replace a contract position (junior bylaw enforcement officer) in the clerk’s department and a part-time job (chief fire prevention officer) in the fire department.
The bylaw officer bumps the current $50,000 expenditure to $75,000. The fire department now adds another full-time job to the tune of $86,000 from the current budget allocation of $47,000.
Woolwich adopts new logo featuring kissing bridge
A stylized image of the West Montrose covered bridge is the new logo for Woolwich Township, the winning entry in a competition to replace the corporate crest.
The design, chosen from the 29 submitted by 13 different entrants, was recommended to councillors, who quickly approved the selection. The design was picked by a volunteer panel that included graphic designers, marketing specialists, artists and businesspeople.
Elmira resident Steve Brooks received $1,000 for his successful entry.
Weather puts dent in budget
Coming out of its most expensive year ever for snow-clearing, the township got no reprieve as 2014 got underway.
Woolwich spent $939,000 clearing snow in 2013, some $300,000 more than what was in the budget. The 2014 budget approved by council set aside $620,000, which would be in keeping with the five-year average for plowing and salting roads.
New staff position added as council approves engineering and planning budget
Another $94,000 in staff spending, this time for the addition of an engineering technologist, came from Woolwich’s capital budget, rather than the operating side directly linked to the tax levy.
The position was added as part of the $4.5-million budget for engineering and planning services approved by councillors meeting in a special session January 16. A lack of staff resources means a considerable amount of work, from bridge repairs to traffic studies, is going undone or being pushed back, said director of engineering and planning Dan Kennaley.
Wellesley slams region’s decision to close transfer station
Wellesley councillors expressed their disappointment and frustration at the planned closure of the township’s waste transfer station.
In an effort to reduce a tax increase from the 2014 budget, Waterloo Region council hoped to save as much as $302,000 by closing rural waste transfer stations in Woolwich, Wellesley, North Dumfries and Wilmot townships. While a waste transfer station was to be available in Elmira two days a week, Wellesley residents would have to take waste directly to the Waterloo Waste Management Site at 925 Erb St. W. The final calculated savings, close to $128,000, were deemed “peanuts” by Coun. Paul Hergott.
Mill Street reconstruction heads list of capital projects for 2014
More than $5 million in engineering work headed a list of capital spending in 2014 under a $7-million budget approved by Woolwich council.
Leading the way at $1.7 million was a plan to reconstruct Mill Street in Elmira and another $1.5 million to repair bridges and culverts. The latter group includes two Floradale Road bridges and repairs to culverts on Bisch Street and Florapine Road. As well, another $202,000 was earmarked for unscheduled repairs to a culvert on Durst Road.
OMB decision clears way for development in Breslau
Two subdivisions proposed for Breslau that had been in limbo had a chance to get back on track following a decision by the Ontario Municipal Board.
The provincial agency sided with Thomasfield Homes and Empire Communities, dismissing a bid by other developers that would have swept the subdivision plans into a convoluted legal challenge of the Region of Waterloo’s new official plan. Instead, the projects can go ahead under the framework of the existing Regional Official Policies Plan (ROPP), still in force pending the outcome of the legal wrangling.
The decision cleared the way for the next phase in the development of both projects in the village. It allowed the township and region to amend the existing ROPP to lift the cap that limits growth in Breslau to 1,250 units, a number that has almost been maxed out by recent development in the village, including Empire Communities’ Riverland subdivision.
St. Clement school to remain open
The St. Clement Catholic School community breathed a sigh of relief as trustees from the Waterloo Region Catholic School Board decided not to pursue closing the school.
The trustees were granted permission from Ontario’s Ministry of Education to consider the option as part of its accommodation review committee (ARC), which seeks to cut costs in the system. The site may require $4 million in repairs over the next five years, with trustees pondering suggestions that closing the school and busing students to Wellesley Public School may be more efficient.
But parents made their concerns known, and were joined by Kitchener- Conestoga MPP Michael Harris, who wrote an open letter to the trustees asking them to reconsider.
Restructuring sees departure of St. Clements chief
Over his 28 years with the St. Clements fire station, Dennis Ertel was a fixture of the community. As the year got underway, he was wrapping up an eight-year tenure as district chief, part of a restructuring plan that eliminated six jobs from the fire service. While Ertel wasn’t retiring from public service, his departure marks the end of an era.
After paying his dues as a firefighter, Ertel worked his way up the ladder. In 1991 he became a captain, and then an assistant district chief in 2005, and finally district chief in 2006.
Wellesley building fees up 2%
Wellesley building permit fees increased by about two per cent in 2014 following a decision by township councillors.
The adjustments were necessary in order to fund the building department through the permit fees, said chief building official Rik Louwagie.
Jacks take it to seven before falling to Norwich
In a series that was decided on home ice, the Wellesley Applejacks simply had the odds stacked against them: the opposing Merchants had the advantage of playing four of seven in Norwich.
The seesaw battle and the Jack’s first season in the Midwestern Junior C League came to an end in the seventh and deciding game, a 6-2 loss.
The series was a whirlwind nine days for the team, kicking off February 7 in Norwich and ending there on February 16. The grind of the first round included three games in as many days to decide a winner.
Four men face charges following fatal shooting in Wilmot Township
A man was found dead by police outside of a Wilmot Township residence on February 24. Reports of gunshots on the Erb’s Road West property, west of Sandhills Road brought emergency services to the scene at approximately 9 p.m. where the body of 41-year-old Kitchener resident Henry Alexander Jarsch was found.
Crawford Edgar Lamka, 26, of Wilmot Township was charged with second degree murder and two counts of attempted murder. He appeared in the Ontario Court of Justice on February 24. Claude Ouellette, 52, of Kitchener was charged with accessory after the fact in relation to the homicide.
As well, Denis Michael Gagnon and Scott Anthony White, both 37-year-old Kitchener residents, suffered non-life-threatening gunshot injuries believed to be related to the incident on Erb’s Road. They were transported to hospital for treatment then released into police custody and are also currently facing robbery charges.
Police believe the case may have involved a home invasion in which the tables were turned on the would-be robbers. The suspects involved are known to police, who said it was not a “random incident.”
1.5% raises for staff, councillors in Wellesley
Wellesley councillors February 25 approved a 1.5 per cent cost of living increase covering all full-time and part-time staff, including firefighters, and councillors themselves.
The motion was retroactive to January 1. The combined cost of non-union staff ($19,016.20) and council ($895.22) was an extra $19,911.42 for 2014.
Fire destroys Woolwich house dating back to the 1860s
It took 40 firefighters, 32,000 gallons of water and more than eight hours to extinguish a blaze on March 3 that consumed a 19th century home between Conestogo and Maryhill.
The house, located at 1364 Durant Rd., was being used as a rental property. Neither the owners nor the tenant were present at the time of the fire. The cause of the fire was attributed to deteriorated electrical wiring.
Firefighters from Conestogo and Maryhill stations, supported by Breslau and St. Jacobs, responded to the alarm at 12:01 p.m., but it took until 6 p.m. to get the situation under control. The house’s metal roof posed a challenge for firefighters, as did the extreme cold weather (bottoming out at -17°C).
Damage was estimated at $330,000 to the property and contents.
Competition Bureau orders sale of No Frills store
Elmira’s No Frills store was put on the chopping block. The chain’s 232 Arthur St. S. location was one of three No Frills stores in Canada that Loblaws Companies Ltd. was instructed to divest after its acquisition of the Shoppers Drug Mart Corporation in March.
The $12.4 billion purchase, approved by the federal Competition Bureau, saw the company forced to close either Shoppers or No Frills outlets in communities that had both. Fourteen Shoppers locations were to be sold across Canada, but only three No Frills.
Woolwich reaches deal with Humane Society
Finding themselves back where they started, Woolwich councillors approved the original deal worked out between township staff and the Kitchener-Waterloo Humane Society.
Woolwich opted to pay the organization $15,000 in 2014 for animal shelter services, the price increasing by 1.5 per cent annually in the five-year agreement.
The new contract provided for a flat fee for sheltering up to 250 animals per year. It replaced a deal that dated back to 1966, one that both parties agreed needed to be updated, with KWHS maintaining the old fees don’t come close to covering costs.
Kings bow out of playoffs in the seventh game
The Elmira Sugar Kings bade farewell to their fans on March 23 after losing to the Waterloo Siskins in the second round of the GOJHL playoffs. The Kings battled the Siskins to seven games in the semi-finals, falling 3-1 in the last match.
In control of the series, with their fate in their own hands, the Sugar Kings were unable to finish off the down-but-not-out Waterloo Siskins. Elmira’s second-round foes came back from a 3-1 series deficit to force a game-seven showdown at the WMC that didn’t go the way the host team wanted it to.
They started their second-round series with a loss. Then they hit their stride with three consecutive wins. All they needed was one more win to make it to the finals, but instead, the Kings suffered three losses to the Siskins – dashing their hopes of continuing the battle for the Sutherland Cup.
After handily defeating the Brampton Bombers in the first round of the GOJHL playoffs, the Kings certainly faced a greater challenge heading into the semi-finals.
The sun shines on a growing list of government workers
Woolwich and Wellesley townships contributed nine members to a list of almost 3,600 people in the region who earned more than $100,000 on the public payroll in 2013. The province demands that the report – known as the sunshine list – be published by March 31 for the previous year’s figures.
Across the province, the list – which includes doctors, nurses, teachers, police and firefighters in addition to civil servants – grew by 11 per cent to 97,796 names, up from 88,412 in 2012.
Weather has impact on 50th outing of the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival
People who showed up early on April 5 probably appreciated the WMC for its warmth. The morning’s subzero temperatures and light snow attributed to attendance that was down from recent years – somewhere in the 55,000-60,000 range, compared to the approximately 70,000 who turned up in 2013.
OMB rules against Hunsberger pit
Conestogo residents had plenty to celebrate as the Ontario Municipal Board quashed plans for a gravel pit on land near the Golf Course Road subdivision.
With its decision, the OMB denied Hunder Developments’ bid to move the project forward over the objections of Woolwich Township. The company had 30 days from the date of the decision, April 14, to launch an appeal, which it did not do.
The township determined the proposal did not conform with its official plan (OP). It first rejected the applicant’s bid for an OP amendment in 2011, prompting the property owners to launch an appeal to the OMB. A number of meetings and prehearings followed, culminating in a lengthy hearing in the fall of 2013.
Woolwich OKs tax rate bylaw
Making it official on April 22, Woolwich council approved the tax-rate bylaw for 2014.
The township adjusted the tax rate to lift $8,562,010 from residents’ wallets to cover the levy portion of the spending planned for this year. Special levies were applied to businesses operating in the Elmira Business Improvement Area (BIA), grabbing another $30,000, while residents of Elmira shelled out a collective $208,327.14 for the contentious sidewalk snow-clearing services.
Hanging it up after 37 years with the Kings
Gary Schaefer, trainer for the Elmira Sugar Kings for 37 years, received an emotional retirement tribute from players and staff at the team’s awards banquet April 27. Schaefer, who stepped down because of weakness in his knees, was a fixture of the team across four arenas, and speakers remembered “Schaef” as a reliable presence during decades of growth and change.
Schaefer’s career included three Sutherland Cups and an OHA Trainer of the Year award. The team calculated Schaefer’s participation in 1,472 regular season games, 355 playoff games, and approximately 1,600 practices since 1977.
Mayor Kelterborn won’t seek re-election
After indicating for months that this term in office would be his last, Wellesley Mayor Ross Kelterborn made his retirement official April 29. The announcement brings to a close 30 years on township council, including three mayoral elections that Kelterborn won handily. He planned to finish out his term, with an election set for October 27.
Body of New Hamburg 5-year-old boy found in Nith River
The body of a five-year-old New Hamburg boy who went missing in December was found in the Nith River May 6.
Over the noon hour, a private search group of two people, including an off-duty Waterloo Regional Police officer, observed the body of a child in the river near the community of Haysville. The coroner’s office joined the process, confirming the body was that of Robbie Reiner who was reported missing by his family on December 26 and was believed to have fallen through the ice on the river.
Elmira egg processor cleared for expansion
An Elmira egg processor got the green light May 6 for expansion plans that will add another 25 jobs to the operation.
Woolwich council’s approval of Global Egg’s zone change application cleared the way for the company to build an addition linking two neighbouring properties at 109 and 115 Bonnie Cr. That would join the two structures, effectively turning the existing 22,600 and 5,200-square-foot buildings into one 38,000-sq.-ft. facility.
Jacks to have a new head coach
Rob Way, head coach of the Wellesley Applejacks , announced plans to step aside after one year at the helm, with Paul Wilkinson succeeding him for the 2014-15 season.
Way, who served as assistant coach for the 2012- 2013 season, took over from Kevin Fitzpatrick, who coached on-and-off for 18 years. Fitzpatrick became general manager.
Illegal dumping feared due to transfer station changes
More roadside dumping will be the norm in the township as Waterloo Region scales back and eventually closes the Elmira transfer station, Woolwich officials predicted May 13.
There was already some anecdotal evidence that’s the case, as the Elmira drop-off point has been reduced to opening just two days a month, down from five days a week. Councillors predicted many residents accustomed to bringing loads of waste to the Howard Avenue location would arrive only to find the place closed. Faced with the option of taking the load home or over to the landfill site on Erb Street in Waterloo, some people might just take advantage of the many small, quiet roads along the way.
St. Jacobs woman celebrates 100 years
Edith Carr, a resident of St. Jacobs Place retirement facility, celebrated her 100th birthday. Carr was born May 21, 1914, and lived her early life on a farm in the small community of Dashwood, Ontario.
Woolwich approves pair of extraction wells
Hoping to speed up the process, chemical producer Chemtura Canada asked to install new wells in its treatment system removing contaminants from the groundwater under Elmira.
Meeting May 27, Woolwich councillors agreed to a pair of new extraction wells and associated monitoring wells and boreholes on township property. The company says the wells will help it meet the 2028 deadline set by the Ministry of the Environment for completing the cleanup process.
Chemtura has been using a pump-and-treat process to remove a pair of toxins – NDMA (nitrosodimethylamine) and chlorobenzene – from the former drinking water aquifers underneath the town. Discovery in 1989 of the carcinogenic NDMA precipitated the water crisis in Elmira, leading to the construction of a pipeline from Waterloo, which supplies the town with water to this day.
Wellesley needs more parkland
Experts are calling for the Township of Wellesley to acquire new parkland to address a 6.6 hectare shortfall.
Steve Langlois of Monteith Brown Planning Consultants (MBPC) delivered the first draft of the community parks, recreation and culture strategic master plan during the May 27 Wellesley council meeting. The document, commissioned by council last year, serves “to guide the enhancement of leisure opportunities for current and future residents,” the report says.
New GM named for Applejacks
It was a changing of the guard for the Wellesley Applejacks as another long-time administrative staffer announced his retirement.
Kevin Fitzpatrick stepped down as general manager of the Junior C team, and Bill Grebinski, an assistant coach for the last two years, took over the position. Fitzpatrick remained onboard for the 2014-15 season as director of hockey operations in a mentoring role.
The news came weeks after the announcement that Paul Wilkinson would succeed Rob Way as head coach for the upcoming season.
WCS makes it official
Woolwich Community Services staff, builders and township officials gathered at 5 Memorial Ave. in Elmira on June 3 for the groundbreaking ceremony for the organization’s future home.
EDSS celebrates 75 years
Organizers of the Elmira District Secondary School 75th reunion were pleased when all the dust settled after the weekend. From June 6 to 8, thousands of EDSS alumni congregated to celebrate the school’s 75th birthday.
The weekend’s events included a roundtable with Malcolm Gladwell, Bruce Headlam and Roger and Terry Martin, drama productions by current students, an arts presentation, dinner and dance reception as well as a church service.
EMSF dishes out some $36K
Dreary weather didn’t keep the syrup from flowing, or the money from coming in for the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival, which was good news for the assorted groups that benefit from the profits. The disbursements for 2014 amounted to $36,000, handed out June 11 by EMSF chair Ken Jessop. A total of 25 groups received grants from the committee.
Local MPP retains seat, Liberals get majority
Kitchener-Conestoga remained Tory as the province got a majority Liberal government on June 12.
Polling on June 12 was tight between Michael Harris (17,390 votes) and Liberal candidate Wayne Wright (15,896), with a margin of just 3.13 per cent (1,521 votes) between them. James Villeneuve of the NDP finished third with 21.09 per cent of the vote (10,059), while the Green’s David Weber picked up just under seven per cent (3,319).
Championship round for Wellesley golfer
For the second time in his golfing career, Wellesley’s Rob Cowan was the Golf Association of Ontario (GAO) “Champion of Champions.”
The title is awarded to the winner of the GAO club championship tournament, which features the top amateur golfers from clubs across the province. This year, the event teed off at the Peterborough Golf and Country Club on June 12.
A new home for the market
Work on a new home for the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market got underway in June, with the building expected to be ready for business the following spring.
At 34,000 square feet, the new building is to be about 40 per cent larger than the original levelled in a September, 2013 fire. Owner Mercedes Corp. also plans to retain the 15,600- sq.ft. “harvest barn” built just months after the blaze.
The company announced plans for the new structure, which will reflect the old one. The new building will employ heavy wooden beams similar to the original structure – its appearance is intended to pay tribute to the agricultural roots of Waterloo Region, and St. Jacobs in particular, the company says.
The old building was 24,000 sq. ft., much of it on the mezzanine. The new structure will be 34,000 sq. ft., most of it on the main floor. There will be about 20 per cent more space for vendors. Visitors will find wider aisles (13 feet versus 10), more seating and generous heights when the new place is ready.
Woolwich plans to hike fees levied on new homes
The privilege of building a new home in Woolwich jumped an additional $1,700, as the township hiked its development charges by 35 per cent.
The fees are used to cover future municipal expenditures related to growth, with the developers – ultimately the buyers, of course – paying for the cost of each new addition to the building stock.
For fully serviced single-family homes in Woolwich’s urban areas, the new charges considered by councillors June 17 saw levies rise to $6,712 from $4,986. In Breslau, due to servicing arrangements with the City of Kitchener, the increase hit $8,432.
Municipal services cleared for Breslau core
The planned reconstruction of Woolwich Street saw 25 properties in old Breslau connected to municipal water and sewer at an initial cost of $11,200 apiece.
Unlike past attempts to extend services, the township this time around garnered the support of more than half the property owners. That was likely due to a much-lower cost to residents than in previous proposals – a 2010 attempt, for instance, called for each benefitting property owner to pay $92,000 for the extension of water and sewer lines.
Despite objections voiced at a June 24 meeting, councillors approved the plan, pointing to the benefits at a lower cost.
Private operator an option for retaining transfer station
Given the option, Elmira-based Plein Disposal would step in to keep a waste drop-off operating in the community if Waterloo Region does go ahead with plans to close rural transfer stations in March 2015.
Speaking at a public meeting June 24, owner Adolph Plein said his firm would be open to discussing opportunities with the region, with the goal of keeping a community service in place.
Simply shuttering the Howard Avenue facility, already reduced to every other Saturday from the longstanding five days a week, is not a real option, he argued, addressing director of waste management Jon Arsenault, who attended the meeting at Woolwich council to explain the rationale for closing the stations.
No grocer for St. Clements
Sobeys has no plans for another grocery store in St. Clements when the Foodland closes its doors on June 26.
“It was no longer viable to operate,” said Sobeys spokesperson Sarah Stover of the St. Clements location, adding the company doesn’t know what will become of the building, which is not owned by the grocer.
There are no plans to re-enter the market – “not at this time.”
Back in the fold
Bryan Larkin, who spent the past two years as head of the Guelph department, was named the new chief of police in Waterloo Region.
Larkin started his policing career as a constable with the Waterloo Regional Police Service and rose to the rank of divisional commander. His service also included time as executive officer to the chief of police.
Larkin returned to the region having served most recently with the Guelph Police Service: two years as chief and one year as deputy chief.
The appointment of a new chief followed the retirement of Matthew Torigian earlier in the year.
No Frills sold to Metro Inc.
Despite objections from many Elmira residents and local officials, the No Frills at 232 Arthur St. S. was sold to Quebec-based Metro Inc. to be converted to a Food Basics.
The store was one of three locations in Canada that Loblaws Companies Ltd. was forced to sell following the acquisition of the Shoppers Drug Mart Corporation.
In response to the $12.4 billion takeover, the federal Competition Bureau mandated the closure of either No Frills or Shoppers stores in communities that have both, fearing the company would hold a monopoly on the food and drug markets in small towns. Fourteen Shoppers locations will be sold across Canada, but only three No Frills.
A local petition garnered some 2,800 signatures calling on the Competition Bureau to overturn its decision.
Speed reduced in school zones
The speed limit was reduced around four rural schools in Woolwich, a safety measure that came into effect in the fall.
Portions of Scotch Line, Jigs Hollow, Martin Creek and Spitzig roads saw speed reduced to 60 km/h, with school zone signs posted accordingly. The move approved August 5 by Woolwich council applied to the New Jerusalem, Winterbourne and East Heidelberg parochial schools, along with Woodland Christian High School.
The changes came as a result of a review of traffic and speed counts adjacent to the schools, following up on similar reductions made in 2013 on Three Bridges Road.
Riding to notable acclaim
Long recognized as a champion for Ontario’s horseracing industry and a driving force behind the Grand River Raceway, Dr. Ted Clarke was made a member of the Canadian Horseracing Hall of Fame.
Inducted in the builder category among the class of 2014, the former veterinarian and racehorse owner, and current general manager of the Grand River Raceway was honoured during the Hall of Fame Gala at the Mississauga Convention Centre August 6.
Wellesley U16 squad captures fastball title
With dominant pitching and a deep lineup, the Wellesley Wildcats captured the first-ever Under-16 Boys Canadian Fastball Championship in Fredericton, New Brunswick on August 10.
Video cameras part of new WMC security system
The township opted to spend $60,000, most of it on video surveillance, to equip the Woolwich Memorial Centre with a security system.
The building was vandalized last New Year’s Eve when young offenders broke in undetected. Damage topped $100,000. While there were conduits for a security system as part of the $23-million building opened in 2009, a security system was never installed.
Reversing course August 12, councillors approved a plan that would see extensive monitoring put in place. Along with a range of motion sensors and glass-break detectors, the system includes video cameras and recording devices. That surveillance equipment made up two-thirds of the $60,000 price tag, which came in $10,000 over the township’s budget for the project.
Mitch Klie named captain of Sugar Kings
With just over a week before training camp opened on August 23, the Elmira Sugar Kings announced that the club’s new captain would be forward Mitch Klie.
“I think it is a good choice, we had a lot of talk about it with Paul Jennings, myself and the coaching staff, and we leave it up to the coaches and I think they made a great choice,” said Keith Stewart, director of hockey operations.
Jacks name Reid Denstedt as new captain
Veteran Wellesley Applejacks player Reid Denstedt took over the team as captain in his fourth and final year playing for the Junior C team. He inherited the title from Brett MacDonald, who aged-out of the league.
General manager Bill Grebinski says Denstedt is a local talent who has been a proven leader for the Jacks.
CPAC calls out province on failure to deal with contaminants
The Ministry of the Environment is failing the people of Elmira, charged the community’s environmental watchdog group. The Chemtura Public Advisory Committee (CPAC) said the province isn’t doing enough to deal with a multitude of chemical contaminants buried underground and leaching into groundwater.
In a presentation to councillors September 2, CPAC chair Dan Holt said a variety of toxins in and around the Chemtura chemical plant remain a threat to the environment, 25 years after the water crisis in Elmira.
Wellesley rejects keeping of horses in settlement areas
Agreeing with the concerns of anxious neighbours, Wellesley council turned down a request to allow horses to be kept in Linwood.
Township planners had recommended council approve a zoning bylaw amendment to permit Ervin Albrecht at 5209 Ament Line to keep two horses on his property in the settlement area. The animals serve as his primary means of transportation.
But the proposal was rejected 4-1, with Mayor Ross Kelterborn the lone member in favour at a September 2 meeting.
Police asked to investigate Cowan’s expense claims
A police investigation was launched after a review found Woolwich Mayor Todd Cowan submitted expense claims resulting in a double reimbursement of more than $2,700.
Expenses related to conferences, mileage and meals charged on the mayor’s township credit card were also filed with the Region of Waterloo. Both municipalities took steps to prevent a doubling up of expense claims in the future.
A review began in July when a citizen got Cowan’s expense records from the region at the end of June, submitted a request under freedom of information legislation for the mayor’s township expenses and then supplied the township with the region’s records. An internal review by both municipalities was followed by an external investigation led by municipal law expert John Mascarin of the firm of Aird & Berlis LLP.
Cowan paid back a total of $2,770.68 in August, calling the issue a mistake based on his own poor accounting.
At a special meeting September 8, Woolwich council voted to ask police to investigate the mayor’s expenses.
Fair ambassador crowned
Ashley Jeffries, 17, was selected as Wellesley-North Easthope Fall Fair ambassador. The Wellesley resident stood out from an exceptional field of six young women to take the 2014 ambassador crown at the Wellesley arena September 9.
Officials turn sod at skate park
Skate Elmira broke ground September 11 on a new skateboard facility in Elmira’s Bristow Park, with construction getting underway the following week.
Expense review widens, legal costs grow
The investigation into Todd Cowan’s expense claims grew a little wider with the referral to police of mileage claims related to the mayor’s attendance of Grand River Conservation Authority meetings.
The GRCA expenses having been sent to the township, a staff review found $465 in mileage claims that may have been double-billed, as was the case with some $2,700 in expenses paid by Woolwich but also reimbursed to Cowan by the Region of Waterloo. The review looked at mileage claims submitted to the township that coincided with GRCA meetings. Staff categorized mileage expenses in “likely,” “possible” and “not likely,” identifying $465.52 in suspect claims.
Meeting September 16, council voted to send the latest findings to Waterloo Regional Police.
Also at the meeting, chief administrative officer David Brenneman revealed the price tag for the legal review to be $25,000, split evenly between the township and region.
Wellesley picks its Idol
With a strong, smooth voice and seemingly effortless skill on the keyboard, Ben Cottrill was selected the 2014 Wellesley Idol.
After blowing away a packed crowd during the competition’s final round on September 27 at the Wellesley Apple Butter and Cheese Festival with renditions of Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me Babe” and Bill Wither’s “Ain’t No Sunshine,” the 16-year-old Elmira District Secondary School won the judges’ favour.
Heidelberg gas bar gets nod
Dismissing objections from concerned neighbours, Wellesley council has cleared the way for a new gas station in Heidelberg.
Meeting September 30, councillors approved the zoning bylaw amendments needed for the project to move ahead at 3015 Lobsinger Line.
Woolwich council approves new expense policy, credit card controls
Hot on the heels of an investigation into Mayor Todd Cowan’s expense claims, Woolwich Township put in place new policies for council expenses and use of corporate credit cards.
Councillors meeting October 7 approved the new policies.
Among other guidelines, the rules governing expenses clearly disallow as ineligible expensing: Items for personal use, expenses unrelated to the Township of Woolwich, and expenses incurred by a third party, for example expenses paid or requested by a group or individual other than an elected official. Credit card use is to be strictly defined and backed up with documentation.
Woolwich backs call for action on Chemtura contaminants
Fed up with foot-dragging on the part of Ministry of the Environment, Woolwich demanded quick action to tackle contamination on the Chemtura site in Elmira.
The province has for years failed to do anything about polluted soil and water around the chemical plant, with toxins registering hundreds and even thousands of times higher than maximum risk levels, said the Chemtura Public Advisory Committee (CPAC).
On October 14, the group got the backing of a council resolution calling for a comprehensive analysis of the site’s pollutants within 60 days, with an action plan formulated within the following three months of the investigation.
Sandy Shantz voted new Woolwich mayor
Woolwich council got a new look, drawing somewhat on previous incarnations.
Sandy Shantz, a councillor from 2006-2010, handily won election as the township’s new mayor, taking two-thirds of the 6,680 votes cast. Her tally of 4,431 votes (66.3 per cent) October 27 outstripped Doug Hergott’s 887 (13.3 per cent) and Ward 3 councillor Bonnie Bryant’s 851 (12.7 per cent). The incumbent, Todd Cowan, trailed the pack with 511 votes (7.7 per cent).
In Ward 1, the six-way race for two seats saw something of a youth movement, with 27-year-old newcomer Scott Hahn capturing the most votes with 1,313. Fellow neophyte Patrick Merlihan, 41, was the choice of 1,300 voters.
Running for the first time, Dan Holt garnered 1,036 votes, while Sebastian Siebel-Achenbach took 917. Incumbent Allan Poffenroth finished fourth with 968 of the ballots cast, while former councillor Ruby Weber had 840.
Ward 3 saw four candidates vying for two seats. First-timer Larry Shantz took 1,166 votes and former multi-term councillor Murray Martin had 958 to earn a return to council. Conestogo resident Lisa MacDonald was the choice of 871 voters, while West Montrose’s Lynne Hare got 658 votes.
Ward 2’s Mark Bauman was returned by acclamation.
Voter turnout across the township was 37.4 per cent as 6,722 residents cast a ballot from among a total of 17,978 who were eligible. That was up slightly from 36 per cent in 2010, but much higher than the 27 per cent in the election before that (2006).
Joe Nowak elected mayor in Wellesley
Wellesley council was set to see three new faces around the table after voters elected Joe Nowak as mayor, along with Peter van der Maas for Ward 3 and Carl Smit for Ward 4. Incumbents Shelley Wagner (Ward 1) and Herb Neher (Ward 2) were re-elected October 27.
Nowak defeated councillors Jim Olender and Paul Hergott for the position, with 1,301 votes, a 56.7 per cent majority. Olender secured 516 votes (22.5 per cent), with Hergott bringing in 478 (20.9 per cent). They both served two terms as councillor.
Only 29 per cent of eligible Wellesley Township voters bothered to cast a ballot, the first contested election since 2006. In the last municipal election in 2010 all of the Wellesley candidates were acclaimed.
Seiling returns as regional chair
Facing a legitimate challenge for the first time in years, Ken Seiling ended election night with a clear win, his 63,885 votes outstripping Waterloo businessman Jay Aissa’s 25,615.
Rounding out the field, Moira-Sharon Magee won 4,877 votes, Robert F. Milligan 4,708, John (Johann) Wolf 3,918, Paul A. Myles 2,993 and Oscar (Oz) Cole-Arnal 2,154.
The win gave Seiling his tenth term at the helm of Region of Waterloo council.
New trustees in the mix
Scott McMillan became the new trustee for Woolwich/Wellesley on the Waterloo Region District School Board, defeating David Paisley in the race for the spot vacated by Paisley’s father, Harold.
At the Waterloo Catholic District School Board, one incumbent representing Waterloo/Wellesley/Woolwich, Frank Johnson, was returned, while newcomer Melanie Van Alphen unseated Janek Jagiellowicz.
Losing weekend sees new coach for Jacks
The Wellesley Applejacks, mired in a losing streak, got a new head coach after Paul Wilkinson resigned. The most recent losses had dropped the team’s record to 3-9, second-last in the Midwestern Junior C League.
General manager Bill Grebinski said Wilkinson resigned for personal reasons. The team hired Tim Robb from Waterloo to take his place.
Elmira plant gets $700K grant
Looking to expand their product offering, Martin’s Family Fruit Farm got a shot in the arm from the federal government.
Kitchener-Conestoga MP Harold Albrecht stopped by Martin’s Elmira processing facility November 1 to announce a $713,000 matching grant to help the company adapt equipment – currently used for Martin’s apple chip line – for the production of vegetable chips.
Collision leads to arrest of suspects in Woolwich pharmacy break-in
An early morning break-in and theft in Elmira on November 4 ended in a car accident and a slew of charges for two London men.
William Kechego, 33, and Peter Keenan-Dyck, 31 appeared in Kitchener court the same day on allegations of stealing $5,000 in drugs from the Woolwich Total Health Pharmacy on Church Street in Elmira.
More charges followed after police found a shotgun, ammunition, break-and-enter tools and other controlled substances in the vehicle when they crashed the stolen Honda Pilot in Kitchener.
Woolwich wants transfer station sold to private operator
The waste transfer station in Elmira should be sold to a private operator, Woolwich council agreed November 18.
Moreover, the township wants the Region of Waterloo to keep the site open until a deal is finalized and control handed over to a new owner.
As it stands, service has been scaled back dramatically and the region plans to shutter the well-used facility at the end of next March.
Keeping the service going during any transition is paramount in making it economically viable for a private operator, township chief administrative officer David Brenneman told councillors.
Maryhill landmark marks 160 years
The Commercial Tavern in Maryhill marked its 160th anniversary the weekend of November 20, a momentous occasion for a small-town country bar that changed hands numerous times over the years.
Built in 1854 by Louis Frank and operated by him until his son-in-law Charles Halter took over. The hotel had a saddlery, a dry-goods store, a shoe store, a bank, and a doctor’s office. It’s had a variety of uses and owners in the intervening years.
Honoured for WWII service
From Juno Beach, through France, Belgium and Holland, Elmira’s Raymond Pond fought for Canada as a gunner in the 19th Canadian Army Field Regiment during the Second World War.
Some 70 years later, Pond, 94, was awarded the rank of Knight of the National Order of the Legion of Honour, the most prestigious distinction bestowed by the government of France.
Elmira road, WMC room to be named for Richard Rank
Woolwich councillors meeting November 25 to name a referee room at the WMC and a future road after long-time employee and community booster Richard Rank.
Rank died of a heart attack while at work last January 3. He was 57.
One of the referee rooms at the Woolwich Memorial Centre will be called the Richard Rank Referee’s Room in recognition of his contributions. A road in the next phase of the Birdland subdivision in Elmira will be named Richard Rank Road in recognition of his contribution as a long-serving township employee.
Hachborn named to Canadian Business Hall of Fame
Home Hardware co-founder Walter Hachborn will add yet another feather to his cap next spring when the St. Jacobs native is inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame.
Hachborn is already a member of the Order of Canada, the recipient of the Distinguished Canadian Retailer Award and an honourary doctor of laws.
Wellesley backs large increase in building fees
After nearly 15 years of stagnant development charge rates, the cost of building new homes is set to rise in Wellesley Township.
Councillors meeting December 16 rejected a staff proposal to phase in significant increases to residential development charges, instead passing a bylaw to apply all at once the maximum fees allowed by the province.
While council was unanimous in its support of raising rates more than 500 per cent – to $7,666 from $1,296 for single- and semi-detached units – councillors were split on whether or not to phase-in the increases, ultimately opting to raise fees in one fell swoop.