2019 Year In Review

JANUARY Local women leverage their financial strength in numbers They say many hands make light work, and putting that theory to the test is a new community initiative being organized in the Township of Woolwich. The 100 Woolwich Women Who Care are coming together to pool the combined resources of w

Last updated on May 03, 23

Posted on Jan 02, 20

25 min read


Local women leverage their financial strength in numbers
They say many hands make light work, and putting that theory to the test is a new community initiative being organized in the Township of Woolwich. The 100 Woolwich Women Who Care are coming together to pool the combined resources of women across the community to support local initiatives.
The group got up and running ahead of an inaugural meeting the following month.

Sugar Kings abruptly fire head coach
It’s not usual to see teams make tweaks and revisions to their rosters late in the season in search of the game-winning combination. But, the Elmira Sugar Kings seemed to signal a much more drastic shakeup on the bench with the removal of head coach Trent Brown.
With just under 20 games left in the season, the decision came as a surprise to Brown, who had been on the team’s coaching staff since 2013.

Wellesley opts into province’s new framework for cannabis retail stores
While Wellesley is unlikely to see any pot dispensaries in the foreseeable future, the township opted into the province’s new plan for retail cannabis shops.
The decision by Wellesley council was part of a region-wide strategy to deal with the legalization of recreational marijuana and the new Cannabis Licence Act.

Allen D. Martin succumbs to lengthy illness
A teacher, writer, raconteur  – and someone who always had a joke at the ready – Allen D. Martin came to be known by many people in the area. It was no surprise, then, that there were plenty of stories as part of the outpouring that followed his death Jan. 9 at the age of 75.
A man with a wealth of talents and a determination to share them all, Martin’s indefatigable zest for life would be steadily tempered by the relentless onset of the neurodegenerative Parkinson’s Disease. Diagnosed at age 50, Martin would continue to fight the exacting illness for the rest his life.

Woolwich opts into cannabis plan
Joining other municipalities in the region, Woolwich opted in to the province’s marijuana plan, allowing the option of retail cannabis sales in the township.
Meeting Jan. 15, councillors determined the benefits of having some control over the process outweigh the potential downside.

Woolwich reacts to Bill 66
Following the lead of other local municipalities, Woolwich council  rejected provisions of the province’s Bill 66. Mostly.
The omnibus bill, known as the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, has been decried by community and environmental groups as a way to circumvent years and decades of protections for clean water and land-use planning. Specifically, section 10 of the bill would effectively permit individual municipalities to exempt development projects from the Clean Water Act and the Places to Growth policy, removing the need for public consultation and oversight to boot.

Seiling an advisor to the province
What started as Doug Ford’s attempt to block former PC leader Patrick Brown’s bid to head Peel Region expanded into a formal review in nine upper-tier jurisdictions in Ontario, an effort that will include input from former Waterloo Region chair Ken Seiling.
The Elmira resident, who retired in 2018 after some 40 years in local politics, was named one of two advisors who are to provide advice/recommendations back to the province this summer. Joining Seiling was Michael Fenn, a former Ontario deputy minister, the previous municipal chief administrator in several Ontario cities, and founding CEO of Metrolinx.

Wellesley Township expands community improvement grants to Linwood core
Wellesley expanded its community improvement grant program to a third community in the township. Councillors gave the go ahead for the township’s financial incentives program to be rolled out in the Linwood core this year, while adding another $20,000 in funding for the venture.

Woolwich hikes water rates again
Flush with cash or not, Woolwich residents were tapped to pay more every time they push down the lever in the bathroom, as the township hiked wastewater rates by 6.1 per cent. Refilling the tank also cost more, though the water rates increased by a much smaller 0.5 per cent.
In approving the budgets for water and wastewater at a meeting Jan. 17, councillors backed a plan to boost the water rate slightly to $1.73 per cubic metre from $1.72, a 0.51 per cent increase even though the region has increased its bulk water rate by 2.9 per cent.

Wellesley councillors take a united stance against the prospect of amalgamation
If amalgamation is on the agenda as part of the Doug Ford’s ersatz review of regional government, provincial officials would have plenty to think about had they sat in on a Wellesley council meeting. The local buzz has been overwhelmingly negative.

Jacks end the regular season with a string of wins
The Wellesley Applejacks wrapped up their regular season on a high note, extinguishing the New Hamburg Firebirds and Burford Bulldogs.
The Jacks finished the season with a record of 27-8-2-3, their 59 points good enough for third place in the Provincial Junior Hockey League’s South Doherty Division.
The team opened the playoffs Feb. 2 at home against the sixth-place Ayr Centennials.


Elmira curling competition puts a name to Team Ontario
Following competition on the ice at the Woolwich Memorial Centre, Homan and McDonald claimed the women’s Ontario Scotties Tournament of Hearts championship and men’s Ontario Tankard, respectively, earning the right to represent Ontario at upcoming national events.

Police investigate troubling graffiti at Wellesley PS
Police investigated the spray-painting of threatening graffiti on a portable at Wellesley Public School. A swastika, profanity and racial slurs accompanied the threat spray painted on multiple areas of the school including windows, doors, bricks, and both playgrounds.
Waterloo Regional Police were contacted immediately following the discovery on Feb. 4, and school staff began the process of covering up the content with garbage bags and more spray paint.

Ice jam causes spring-like flooding
Residents of West Montrose got a rude awakening when large boulders of ice and cold river water washed up onto their properties. Ice jams forming in the early hours of Feb. 5 forced the Grand River to spill over its banks, flooding local roadways and causing water damage to some properties. No major issues were reported, however, and much of the ice debris was washed away when waters began to recede again.
Freezing temperatures in January meant there was a fair bit of ice on the river when temperatures spiked past 10 degrees, accompanied by rain.

Wellesley approves 2.8% tax hike in passing new budget
Wellesley residents saw a tax increase of 2.8 per cent for 2019, as council formally adopted the budget on Feb. 5.
The increase amounted to an extra $37 per year, based for an average home with an assessed value of $336,000.

Wellesley to increase rec. fees by 2.8%
A flat 2.8 per cent increase for most recreational services and doubled cancellation charges for hall rentals were amongst the fee increases approved by Wellesley council.
Reviewing the township’s fee schedule, which lists the costs of services provided by the township to the general public, councillors gave the go ahead for the suite of cost-recovery increases.

Fire levels home in Wellesley
Damage was pegged at $500,000 after a fire levelled a Wellesley home Feb. 15. There were no injuries, however, as no one was home at the time. Firefighters from all three Wellesley Township stations responded to the property at the intersection of Greenwood Hill Road and Weimar Line.
The property was being rented by a family of six: two adults and four young children, all under the age of seven, who lost almost everything they had in the fire.

$1.3-million for new St. Clements fire station
The Township of Wellesley gave the go-ahead to a brand new fire station in St. Clements – and a $1.3 million bill to boot. Approving the project Feb. 19, councillors supported the plan to replace the current structure through a combination of reserve funding from the township’s coffers and a $400,000 debenture, payable over the next ten years.

Rehabilitation for Glasgow Street bridge
At least one of Woolwich’s old steel bridges lived to continue carrying traffic. The Glasgow Street span in Conestogo avoided the fate of two other structures recently put on the chopping block.
An engineering report recommended spending $700,000 to rehabilitate the Glasgow Street bridge, keeping it open to vehicles for another decade or two. Once it passes its useful lifespan, it should be kept for heritage value rather than demolished, the study suggested.
Some 70 people came through the public consultation session held Feb. 20 at the township hall in Elmira.

Whiteouts wreak havoc on township roads
The region was hit by some of the most severe weather of the winter as a mixture of intense snow fall and wind gusts topping 93 km/h Feb. 25 caused whiteout conditions, road closures and collisions across southern Ontario.
Poor visibility was an issue especially on rural roadways in both Woolwich and Wellesley townships due to drifting snow.
Those attempting the drive out of Elmira, for instance, had to find an alternative to Arthur Street, which was blocked off at the request of regional police for more than 12 hours after several vehicles became stranded along the roadway.

Kings wrap up season, advance to playoffs
The Sugar Kings ended the regular season on a less than stellar note over the weekend, but were able rebound with a decisive win in their first game of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League playoffs.
The losses to end the season saw the Kings finish in fifth place in the Midwestern Conference with a record of 26-15-2-4 for 58 points, three points behind Kitchener, which earned home-ice advantage to start the season.


Woolwich taxes to rise 3.39%
Some minor changes aside, Woolwich councillors ended the budget process Mar. 5 pretty much where it started, with most of them satisfied with a quick once-over.
Township residents saw a 3.39% tax rate increase this year. Based on the average Woolwich residential assessment ($379,266), that increased an additional $28.97 on the township portion of their property tax bills.

Lancers claim hockey title
The EDSS boys clinched the regional hockey championship for the first time in decades.
Playing at the Central Western Ontario Secondary School Association (CWOSSA) championships Mar. 4-5 in Fergus, the Lancers brought home the title with four straight wins.
The perfect performance earned Elmira its first regional win in boys’ hockey since the 1960s, and sets EDSS up as the fourth-seeded team out of 16 at the provincials.

Kings eliminated by Kitchener in first round
The Elmira Sugar Kings season came to an end Mar. 7 via a 4-0 shutout in game seven of the first-round series against the Kitchener Dutchmen.

Division champs, Jacks try for conference title
The Wellesley Applejacks were crowned the South Doherty Division champions for the first time in the team’s history, after an electrifying finale in Tavistock saw the home team fall scoreless.
Playing the Tavistock Braves in game five of the best-of-seven series on Mar. 13, the Jacks needed just one goal to put the game to bed, earning the Wellesley team its first invitation to the Schmalz Cup, Junior C championships.

Woolwich spared from flooding after thaw
Woolwich Township truly weathered the storm in regards to flooding in the region, coming out of the ordeal relatively unscathed despite rain and a sudden spike in temperatures. Other areas in the Grand River watershed were hit a little harder.
The Grand River Conservation Authority issued a series of flood warnings beginning Mar. 13. Local areas included the Grand River in West Montrose and the Conestogo River in St. Jacobs, peaking in warning zone 1 Mar. 14.
Locally, only the surface-level bridge on Three Bridges Road in St. Jacobs needed to be shut down due to excess water and ice.

Townships to receive new provincial funds
Woolwich and Wellesley were among the municipalities receiving a one-time funding grant provided by the province to help modernize and improve services. Woolwich was earmarked for $725,000, Wellesley $676,050 and the neighbouring Township of Wilmot benefitted by $725,000.
Some $200 million was doled out to 405 municipalities across the province.

Lancers take silver at provincial hockey championship
The EDSS boys brought home the silver from the provincial championships in Barrie, a fitting conclusion to an exceptionally strong season for the hockey team.
Battling through some of the best secondary school teams in the province, the Elmira squad made it to the championship finals on Mar. 22, where they were ultimately knocked out in a 5-2 decision against Toronto’s Neil McNeil High School.

Sunshine list jumps to 16 in Woolwich and Wellesley townships
Woolwich and Wellesley townships contributed 16 members to a list of people on the public dime who earned more than $100,000 in 2018, up from just seven the year before.
Across the province, the list – which includes doctors, nurses, teachers, police and firefighters in addition to civil servants – hit 151,197, up 14.8 per cent from 131,741 in 2017.

Jacks fall in Schmalz Cup quarter-finals
After climbing to new heights this year, claiming the top spot in the PJHL’s South Doherty Division, the Wellesley Applejacks advanced to the Junior C league quarter-finals for the first time in franchise history. Ahead was the coveted Junior C trophy, the Schmalz Cup. However, the Applejacks’ winning ways were finally dashed by their challengers, the Grimsby Peach Kings, in game six of the best-of-seven series.

Shutdown of road hockey game prompts Elmira rally
Dozens of kids and their parents turned Elmira’s Porchlight Drive into a road hockey venue Mar. 31, making it the site of a protest in favour of that classic Canadian pastime. The impromptu rally followed an incident the previous week in which police shut down a game of road hockey, enforcing a Woolwich Township bylaw prohibiting such activities on a public street.

Twin Centre Stars crowned Midget CC Ontario champions
Wellesley Township hockey fans had plenty to celebrate as the Twin Centre Stars midget team were crowned the Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA) champions.
Locked in a fierce series against the Highland Storm of Haliburton in the final leg of the Midget CC division, the boys of Wellesley narrowly managed to recover from a three-game deficit to take the series, and the championship title.


EDSS students join in province-wide school walkout
Hundreds of students from Elmira District Secondary School staged a walkout of classrooms Apr. 4 as part of province-wide demonstrations against the Ford government’s proposed changes to education.
Taking to the streets of Elmira an hour before the end of school, the EDSS students voiced their opposition to the changes, which would see average classroom sizes increased in Ontario high schools from 22 to 28 students per teacher, as well as cuts to student loan programs.

Support for family after fire
Neighbours and the wider community have rallied around a Linwood family left scrambling after a fire destroyed their home Apr. 4. Residents almost immediately began collecting clothing and other items in the wake of the fire, also launching online funding efforts that quickly surpassed their goals.
The Isabella Street house suffered damage in excess of $500,000. The Myers family was uninjured, the adults having left for work and the kids already at school when the fire broke out.

Sudden loss at Floradale PS
Floradale PS principal Andrew Beddoe passed away suddenly on Apr. 5 at the age of 54.
Beddoe had been Floradale PS’ principal since December 1, 2017, having served at several schools in the Waterloo Region District School Board. His stints included serving as vice-principal at Wellesley, Forest Glen, and Silverheights public schools, a consultant at Learning Services, and teacher at Queensmount and Margaret Avenue public schools.

An extra-sweet sap festival
From Church Street down the length of the Arthur Street mall, and across to the Woolwich Memorial Centre, Lions Hall and EDSS, the town of Elmira was packed with visitors from all over attending the maple syrup festival on Apr. 6. Balmy spring weather over the weekend was the chief reason for what proved to be a massive attendance as the festival celebrated its 55th anniversary.
Organizers reported an exceptionally strong turnout at this year’s festival, perhaps hitting 80,000, up significantly from 55,000 the previous year.

GRCA scramble to rework budget in light of immediate provincial cuts
Provincial cuts forced the Grand River Conservation Authority to adjust its financial forecast.
The “natural hazard” transfer payment from the province was cut almost in half  following the release of the Ford government’s first budget. The new allocation was about $450,000 instead of almost twice that amount, as originally expected.

$10 million for Conestoga Meats
Breslau’s Conestoga Meat Packers was the recipient of federal largesse after a visit from the minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.
Speaking at the pork-producing facility on Apr. 25, Marie-Claude Bibeau announced a federal contribution of up to $10 million to the cooperative, part of a broader initiative to support Canadian agriculture in global markets.

Ted Clarke passes at 71
Dr. Ted Clarke, a long-time veterinarian in the community and booster of harness racing, died Apr. 27 at St. Mary’s Hospital. He was 71.
Clarke was instrumental in reversing the fortunes of the Elmira Raceway and the Woolwich Agricultural Society, but is also credited with boosting the finances of other small racetracks in the province. He helped establish the Ontario Teletheatre Network in 1994, essentially bringing racing and gaming offsite to bring in patrons to raceways even if there was no live racing on any given night.

Blaze destroys barn on farm near St. Clements
It was all hands on deck when all three Wellesley fire stations, Waterloo Regional Police and a Woolwich Fire Department tanker were called to a major barn fire on Lobsinger Line Apr. 29.
The call came in from a dairy farm west of St. Clements. Emergency personnel arrived to find the structure completely engulfed in flames. The family was home when the fire started. Some 450 animals perished in the blaze. The family lost 250 piglets, 170 pigs and 30 cows. Fire crews did manage to save about 19 cows, and other animals on the property including horses, were unharmed.


Finding solace in guilty verdict
A guilty verdict brought closure to the family of an Elmira woman murdered almost six years previously.
Michael Ball, 27, was convicted May 5 in a St. Catharines courtroom of the first-degree murder of Erin Howlett. He faced at least 25 years in jail after a jury found him responsible for the June 27, 2013 killing – driven by jealousy, he choked the 28-year-old woman and disposed of her body in a duffel bag that was later found in the Grand River in Kitchener.

Woolwich nixes amalgamation, backs two tiers
Feedback from the public decidedly opposed to any hint of amalgamation in Waterloo Region, Woolwich councillors quickly moved May 7 to register their own disapproval of that prospect.
In a special public-input session, township residents and representatives alike had a message for the province and its review of regional government: hands off. Sure, there may be some efficiencies to be found, but the underlying structure of regional government here – an upper-tier region and seven lower-tier municipalities – works generally well, they argued.

Wellesley says no to prospect of amalgamation
There’s no appetite for amalgamation in Wellesley, township councillors heard at a special meeting to discuss the province’s review of regional government.
Residents out May 7 expressed concerns about the potential loss of community and responsiveness if the township gets rolled into a single government along with the other six lower-tier municipalities in the region. Critics have suggested that’s the end game for the Doug Ford’s review of some 82 municipalities, another round of amalgamations like those foisted on Ontarians the last time the Conservatives were in charge at Queen’s Park.

Wellesley approves Queen’s Bush Rd. park
The township moved ahead in the development of a new park in Wellesley village at the corner of Queen’s Bush and Hutchison roads.
A project long in the works since the township first identified the need for more parkland in 2014, councillors gave it the go-ahead on May 14, approving the first phase of development.
Phase one will see the creation of a 1.6-km trail system in the west end of the 40-acre property, as well as an unpaved parking lot, and a driveway entrance off Queen’s Bush Road just west of the Wellesley fire station. The work was estimated to ring in at $124,000.

EMSF raises record amount of funds
The Elmira Maple Syrup Festival committee distributed $65,000 to 30 charities and community groups on May 15, the largest amount it had ever handed out. The funds were generated thanks to a large turnout, placed at some 80,000, at the 55th annual festival, held Apr. 6.

WRDSB says no layoffs expected
The Waterloo Region District School Board said it did not expect it will lay off teachers despite a drop in provincial funding for the new school year. The board did, however, expect a $12-million shortfall in 2019-20 due to the province’s new mandate for larger classroom sizes and mandatory online courses for secondary school students.

Legal battle latest twist to gravel pit
The latest twist in the years-long saga involving a gravel pit proposed for the Winterbourne valley saw the matter dragged before a provincial tribunal. Preston Sand and Gravel moved to have the debate brought to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT), a quasi-judicial body that deals with municipal planning issues.
Ramping up for a fight, residents were out in force at Woolwich council May 28, pressing the township to stay the course against the company’s request to mine below the water table at the site.

Dogging the tax bills
Sure that it’s missing out on thousands of dollars, Woolwich got more aggressive about ensuring dog owners purchase tags for their pets.
A new process approved May 28 by councillors saw the township opt for notifications circulated through property tax bills, with those who fail to register their dogs susceptible to fees being tacked on to their taxes.
The township estimated only a third of dog owners actually license their pets each year as required.

Wage hikes in Woolwich union deal
Woolwich’s 22 unionized workers received a 1.75% raise, 1.85% in 2020 and 1.95% in 2021 under a new contract reached between the township and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 1542.
As is customary for the township, the same increases applied to the larger non-union staff. The deal, ratified by Woolwich councillors May 28, was retroactive to Jan. 1.


Bid for gravel pit near Maryhill
After a flurry of activity around Conestogo, Winterbourne and West Montrose, it was Maryhill’s turn in the gravel pit spotlight. Guelph-based Capital Paving unveiled plans to develop an extraction operation on some 230 acres of land south of the village.
Following its licence bid with the provincial Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, the company applied to Woolwich for the zoning and official plan amendments needed to mine what is currently farmland.

Woolwich hikes the cost of buying a new home
The privilege of building a new home in Woolwich cost an additional $1,800, as the township hiked its development charges by 19 per cent.
For fully serviced single-family homes in Woolwich’s urban areas, the new charges considered by councillors June 4 saw levies rise to $11,663 from $9,836 (18.5 per cent). In Breslau, due to servicing arrangements with the City of Kitchener, the increase hit $13,273, up from $11,446, a jump of 16 per cent. In the rural areas, fees for a single-family home were $9,373, up 17.5 per cent from $7,933.

Stamp of approval from philatelists
Cross over a covered bridge in Ontario, and you know you must be in West Montrose. The historic red-splashed bridge spanning the local section of the Grand River is the province’s only remaining covered bridge, and one of a dwindling number still standing in the country.
Built with their iconic covers to protect against the harsh Canadian elements, the covered bridges of Canada – or kissing bridges, as they came to be known for the privacy they offered courting couples – were celebrated by Canada Post with a collection of commemorative stamps available in locations across the country.

Condos not seen as a good fit for Elmira neighbourhood
Neighbours wanted no part of a four-storey apartment building proposed for the former municipal pool property in Elmira, turning out in force June 25 to let township councillors know just that.
Comments at the public meeting followed a series of written submissions and a petition opposing plans for an 18-unit condominium at 18 Ernst St.
The former Elmira pool property was purchased in 2011 by 2284578 Ontario Inc. for $450,000, and had been home to the Waterloo Regional Synchronized Swimming Club since that time. Now, the principals of the company – Erika Lindner and Leanne McDonnell – want to redevelop the 0.75-acre site at the corner of Ernst Street and Snyder Avenue.

Neighbours want no part of Elmira apartment complex
On the heels of opposition to an Ernst Street condominium proposal, another group of Elmira residents were equally unwelcoming to plans for a four-storey, 21-unit apartment building on Church Street West.
Wayne Martin and Rick Brubacher are seeking township approval for a rental building on what is now two properties located at 44 and 46 Church St. W. The former contains an older house that’s been converted to a triplex, while the latter is now a vacant lot after the single-family home there was demolished.
The plan presented to Woolwich council June 25 calls for one- and two-bedroom units to be offered for rent.

Groups seek venues following Wellesley arena closure
The township’s decision to close the Wellesley arena for a year had user groups scrambling for alternatives.
Hockey teams were particularly surprised by the June 25 announcement after the township deemed the condition of the roof made the building unsafe.
An engineering assessment of the arena roof found that portions of it could potentially collapse in the wintertime. Previous maintenance coatings had failed sooner than anticipated in the last structural review in 2013, resulting in leaks.


Guilty verdict in St. Clements murders
Glenn Bauman, 46, was found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Linda Daniel, 48, and her daughter Cheyenne, 13, on July 16, 2011 at the home they shared near St. Clements.
A jury determined that after killing the two women, Bauman burned their bodies in the backyard of the home at 3670 Hessen Strasse.

Arena user groups band  together
Invigorated by the possibility of a new arena, community groups have taken the initiative to form the Wellesley Township Recreation Centre Committee. User groups as diverse as hockey associations and the fall fair board banded together.
At the group’s inaugural meeting, the wish-list for a new facility was discussed in great depth. Also broached was whether a new building would sit on the current site or be located on new parkland slated for Queens Bush and Hutchison roads.

The trail goes on, as province drops selloff
The province formally removed the Kissing Bridge Trailway land from its review of potential property selloffs. The KBT and stretches of the 148-kilometre Guelph to Goderich (G2G) Rail Trail were feared to be at risk as the Ford government carried out an assessment of potentially surplus property.
That prospect prompted the Region of Waterloo and Woolwich Township to press the province not only to drop the idea, but to pledge support for the trail system.

Ab Martin passes at the age of 83
From former banking colleagues to the many teammates and lifelong friends, they filled the pews at the Elmira Mennonite Church August 1 to remember the life of Ab Martin, who passed away July 27 after a brief illness at the age of 83.

Plan for townships to collaborate
With Woolwich signing on, the region’s four rural municipalities all agreed to look at ways they can work together to offer services more efficiently and with lower costs.
Township councillors meeting July 30 approved plans to hire a consultant for a joint service delivery study as the first step in a new working agreement. It makes formal an undertaking between Woolwich, Wellesley, Wilmot and North Dumfries townships.


Church fire deemed suspicious
An arson investigation got underway after a church fire in Wellesley Township Aug. 3.
Waterloo Regional Police and firefighters from the Wellesley Fire Department’s Linwood station were called to Orthodox Mennonite Church on Moser Young Road near Lawson Line at 5:40 a.m. Damage from the fire was estimated at $75,000.
The church had been used occasionally for functions such as funerals, but had seen little regular use for the past 30 years.

Feds provide $700K towards bridge project
Some $700,000 from Ottawa was the final piece of the puzzle needed to rehabilitate the Glasgow Street bridge in Conestogo. Combined with provincial and township money, the funding announced Aug. 19 would help keep the old steel structure open to traffic.

Safety concerns prompt closure of skate park
Granted a reprieve earlier in the summer, the makeshift skate park in Wellesley ran its course, done in by safety concerns.
Councillors meeting Aug. 27 agreed to remove the half-pipe adjacent to the Wellesley arena on Catherine Street due to excessive deterioration and potential liabilities for the township.

Woolwich posts a surplus for 2018
Postponed projects such as road paving left Woolwich with a large enough surplus to offset significant overspending on its operating budget in 2018. The township ended up with an overall surplus of $131,000.
The 2018 budget numbers were finalized in a presentation Aug. 27 to Woolwich councillors.
The operating budget experienced a deficit of $147,957, offset by a capital budget surplus of $278,863.


Crack forces sudden closure of bridge
A crack in two of the beams on the underside of the West Montrose covered bridge, discovered on Sept. 4, forced the Region of Waterloo to close the structure to traffic.

Police investigate graffiti spree
A spate of graffiti in Elmira has police investigating four counts of vandalism.
Some of the spree was caught on high-definition surveillance cameras outside the Home Hardware store on Church Street, making identification of the suspects that much easier. The security  shows a man and a woman walking across the parking lot into the light, looking right up at the camera while the female suspect shakes a spray can. The incident occurred around 10:20 p.m. on Sept. 6.

Region extends Elmira bus pilot project
A localized bus service that circulates around Elmira remained free to riders and under the auspices of Kiwanis Transit in a plan approved by regional council’s planning and works committee.
The decision altered course from a staff report that called for Grand River Transit to take over the service and issue a request for proposal (RFP) for others to bid on the contract. Instead, the pilot project that had already been in place for a year will run through 2020 in much the same way it has always operated.
Woolwich households are assessed a special-area rate raising $80,000 to cover the cost of the bus.

Leah Sebben named fair ambassador
Linwood’s Leah Sebben was named the new ambassador of Wellesley-North Easthope Fair, winning the crown during the Sept. 10 opening of the event.

Driver killed in single-vehicle rollover
An 18-year-old Mitchell man died at the scene after being ejected from his pickup truck during a single-vehicle collision near Heidelberg Sept. 12. Police say the driver wasn’t wearing a seatbelt at the time of the incident, which occurred on Lobsinger Line.

Climate emergency in Woolwich
Climate change is not only real, emergency measures are warranted to help stave off the worst of its impacts, Woolwich councillors decided.
Meeting Sept. 24, they declared a climate emergency, joining several hundred other jurisdictions on the planet that have taken the same stance in response to a warming world.

Repaired Glasgow St. bridge to be a one-way route
The Glasgow Street bridge will carry traffic in just one direction – south – when it’s rehabilitated, a solution that got formal approval from Woolwich council Sept. 24.
Getting a big boost in the form of federal and provincial funding, the township plans to spend some $1.3 million in hopes of expanding the bridge’s lifespan by a few more decades.

Wellesley Idol winner
Along with taking in the smell of fresh apple fritters, people gathered at the Wellesley Apple Butter and Cheese Festival Sept. 28 were privy to the finals of the Wellesley Idol competition, with 16-year-old Hadley Mustakas winning over the judges with her vocals.


Wellesley council declares a climate emergency
Wellesley officially recognized that the municipality is facing a climate emergency, a situation that requires bold action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Meeting Oct. 8, councillors voted unanimously to approve the decision, adding the township’s voice to a chorus of more than 1,000 municipalities globally that have taken the same stance.

St. Jacobs theatre a gift
The Schoolhouse Theatre in St. Jacobs was passed on from Mersynergy Charitable Foundation to long-time tenant and partner, Drayton Entertainment.

Lions refresh park equipment
Upgrades completed at the Elmira park that bears the service club’s name, the Woolwich Community Lions made it official with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and donation to the township.
Mayor Sandy Shantz was on hand Oct. 10 to wield the scissors and accept a cheque for $30,000, money raised by the club to help with the restoration of the playground in Lions Park on Barnswallow Drive.

$11.4 million approved for new St. Boniface school
Students at St. Boniface Catholic school could find themselves in a new building – and new community – as early as spring 2021 given that the province approved funding for the project.
The $11.4 million allocated on Oct. 18 cleared the way for the Waterloo Catholic District School Board (WCDSB) to build on a site in the south end of Breslau. Along with space for 257 students from JK to Grade 8, the facility will house an EarlyON child and family centre and a 88-space daycare operation.

Liberals take Kitchener-Conestoga
While most of the country went to bed Oct. 21 knowing there’d be a minority government, voters in Kitchener-Conestoga had to wait until late the following morning to find out Liberal Tim Louis would be their next MP.
In a reversal of the 2015 election, Louis edged out incumbent Conservative MP Harold Albrecht, winning by 305 votes, having lost the last time by 251 ballots.

Province nixes idea of forced amalgamations
The latest threat of amalgamation in Waterloo Region was removed, as the province said it would not force a “top down approach” on municipalities.
The announcement Oct. 25 by Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark followed a regional governance review launched in January. Instead of amalgamation, Clark offered $143 million in funding to help municipalities find ways to lower expenses and improve services.

Quilt auction raises $100k
The annual quilt auction held Oct. 25 brought in almost $100,000 for Elmira District Community Living (EDCL). Proceeds go directly towards the work of the not-for-profit organization, which supports individuals with an intellectual disability and their families.

Four rural townships look at ways to work together
Though the province had ruled out the prospect of forcing amalgamation on Waterloo Region, the four rural townships moved ahead with a review of services that might satisfy the Ford government’s drive for cost-cutting measures.
Meeting Oct. 29, Woolwich council signed on to a joint service delivery review, agreeing to pay a quarter of the $100,000 contract awarded to KPMG to carry out a study. The money will be drawn from the $725,000 in modernization funding the township received from the province.


Wellesley rec. complex moves ahead
Wellesley Township having cleared the way for a potential new $22-million recreation complex, the focus shifted to putting together a fundraising campaign that will make it all possible.
Township council unanimously approved submitting an application for funding from the federal and provincial governments, whose support will be needed to underwrite much of the cost.

Wellesley lifts moratorium on kennels
A 16-month moratorium imposed on new dog kennel licenses in Wellesley Township was lifted Nov. 5, as council also look to revise its kennel bylaw.

New St. Clements fire station opens
A new $1.3-million fire station in St. Clements was officially declared open for service Nov. 9.

Snow-clearing crews put to an early test in the townships
Nov. 11 brought more than just Remembrance Day, as snow-clearing crews in Woolwich and Wellesley townships were pressed into service in no small way.

Lancers capture EDSS’ first WCSSAA basketball title
In a season that already saw the team rack up win after win, the EDSS junior girls’ basketball team reached new heights Nov. 12 by capturing its first-ever WCSSAA championship.

Woolwich to automate meter reading for water bills
The meter-reader is on the endangered species list in Woolwich, as the township moved ahead with automating collection of water-billing information.
Meeting Nov. 19, councillors awarded a $1.1-million contract to KTI Limited to install a remote meter-reading some on some 6,444 water meters. There will then be a $40,000 annual fee for the service.

Teachers work-to-rule
Teachers in the region began a work-to-rule campaign as the public school unions stepped up their fight against the Ontario government.


Proposed residential development raises questions
Residents of a Wellesley neighbourhood weren’t happy about a proposed medium-density development, bringing that message to township councillors during a public meeting Dec. 3.
The proposal calls for 55 townhouses, two semi-detached units and a single-family home to be built on land at 1016, 1018, 1024, 1030, and 1032 Doering St.
The applicant is looking for an official plan and zoning bylaw amendments to allow the project to proceed on some 7.75 acres of land, some of which is currently zoned as open space.

Teachers hit the picket lines
High school teachers and support staff at schools across the Waterloo Region District School Board were on the picket lines Dec. 4, protesting the provincial government’s cuts to education funding.
Members of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF), which includes support staff such as secretaries and custodians in all WRDSB schools, were out by the hundreds in front of Elmira District Secondary School and Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Mike Harris’ Elmira office.

Woolwich approves new snow event policy
Already out ticketing cars parked on streets between 4 and 9 a.m., Woolwich extended a ban parking on roads for 24 hours following the declaration of a snow event. That too will come with a fine once the fees are approved by the province.
The fee schedule approved Dec. 10 by township council sees most of the fines in the $35 to $50 range, though clearing snow from your driveway onto the road could see you hit with a $105 penalty.

BC family is Elmira-bound after win
Elmira is set to gain three new residents, as a B.C. family was named the winner of million-dollar home on Park Avenue.
Ally Hanscom, 31, was declared the winner of HGTV Canada’s Home to Win: For the Holidays competition in the season finale that aired Dec. 15. She, along with her husband Matt and daughter Anna, will be moving into the newly renovated Victorian home from their trailer in Armstrong, British Columbia.

Teachers back on picket line
The bitterly cold winter weather didn’t stop local high school teachers and support staff from being back out on the picket lines at EDSS Dec. 18.
A one-day walkout saw the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) close all its schools in response to a province-wide withdrawal of services. It was the second time that month teachers and support staff were off the job to protest what they call inaction on the part of the province.

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