Issues raised during the election were top of mind as Wellesley’s new council was sworn-in this week.
Speaking at a special inaugural session Monday night, Mayor Joe Nowak noted each of the township’s communities has priorities that will have to be addressed. He and the four councillors read their oaths to a couple dozen friends and family members in attendance, followed by a short speech
Nowak also appointed the councillors as committe chairs. Herb Neher will oversee the planning and development committee. Road, bridge, property, and fire committee went to Shelley Wagner. Peter Van der Maas will chair the recreation committee. The personnel committee is headed by Carl Smit.
Reflecting on retired mayor Ross Kelterborn’s accomplishments, Nowak said he hopes to build on that foundation.
“Having had the opportunity to meet with many of Ross’s associates, it is obvious that he has garnered their respect. I am often told that I have large shoes to fill,” Nowak said.
“And secondly, Ross has chosen to leave public life on his own terms and timing and not because of an upset or disappointed electorate. He stayed true to himself and the people he represented.”
Nowak said he prefers to refer to the residents as partners, rather than taxpayers or constituents, and they will only achieve success by working together collaboratively.
“When campaigning it was important for me to hear firsthand the thoughts and concerns of our partners,” Nowak said. “When confronted with these issues I would agree to make sure council would be aware and this is what I’d like to do now.”
He noted the issues he would discuss were not new, but should be reiterated.
Linwood residents mentioned the closing of the transfer station and the potential environmental impact it may have. They also complained about the horse droppings on the main street. Heavy traffic through the village was the main concern for Hawkesville.
“In St. Clements the closing of the grocery store, the LCBO, and the daycare topped the list,” Nowak said. “In addition, concerns were raised about the safety at the main intersection. The scarcity of affordable housing for young families and the lack of accommodations for seniors wanting to downsize were strongly voiced matters brought to my attention.”
Crosshill residents commented on the condition of their roads and sidewalks. And the village of Wellesley folks raised concerns about growth, fearing it will lose its country charm as more homes are built.
“Also noted were a shortage of recreational lands, open fire pits, parking issues at [The Apple Butter and Cheese Festival] and a lack of a police presence township-wide,” Nowak said.
They also suggested more funds should go toward recreational activities rather than fire protection.
The council approved a motion to hold a public meeting on January 5 at 6:45 p.m. for two planning issues. The first proposed rezoning is at lot 12, Concession 1 on the corner of Greenwood Hill Road and Gerber Meadows Drive. The agricultural land is being considered to be rezoned as urban residential to allow for the final subdivision development in the Village Estates.
The second proposed rezoning is on Geddes Street to change the land from agricultural to dry industrial, allowing Chervin Custom Woodworks to expand.
“It is my hope that after thoughtful and respectful debate it’ll be the collective wisdom of this council who moved Wellesley Township forward,” Nowak said.