Year in review: 2017

JANUARY New hand on tiller to navigate Elmira’s groundwater morass Tiffany Svensson became the new chair of  Woolwich Township’s Technical Advisory Group (TAG) following the December 31 retirement of Dick Jackson. TAG is the citizen body tasked with reviewing technical advice regarding the remediati

Last updated on May 03, 23

Posted on Jan 04, 18

25 min read


New hand on tiller to navigate Elmira’s groundwater morass

Tiffany Svensson became the new chair of  Woolwich Township’s Technical Advisory Group (TAG) following the December 31 retirement of Dick Jackson.

TAG is the citizen body tasked with reviewing technical advice regarding the remediation process with Chemtura. TAG and the Remediation Advisory Committee replaced the Chemtura Public Advisory Committee in 2015. RAC reports to council and includes the Ministry of Environment and Climate Control and Chemtura.

Conversion plan for new LED streetlights gets the nod from Wellesley council

Streetlights in Wellesley Township were set for a 2017 facelift when council decided January 3 that some 537 light fixtures in the township would be replaced with LED lights.

The work, to be carried out over the course of the year, was approved to reduce energy consumption, bring down maintenance costs and increase the lights’ lifetime.

Fairway Electrical was awarded the contract to complete the work.

Developer seeks expansion at Elmira retail centre

More floor space and an expanded range of uses would bring new tenants into the Foodland-anchored retail centre at the south end of Elmira, argue the property’s new owner.

Skyline Retail Real Estate Holdings Ltd., which purchased the development from Sobeys Capital Inc., made a bid to council on January 10 to increase the retail floor space available at the 315 Arthur St. S. property to 97,000 square feet from the existing 51,500, including adding 10,000 sq. ft. to the Foodland grocery store, which currently occupies 34,000 sq. ft.

To move ahead, the company needs official plan and zoning amendments from Woolwich Township, which five years earlier turned down a similar proposal by Sobeys.

Region to hike taxes 2.95% for 2017

Waterloo Region, which scoops up more than half of your property taxes, dug a little deeper for 2027, with council approving a 2.95 per cent increase on January 11.

The tax hike added another $56 to the annual reaping from the average home in the region. The take was 2.31 for the region and another 0.64 for policing, the region’s single largest expense.

Crown withdraws charges against Woolwich Coun. Scott Hahn

The Crown opted not to pursue a case against Scott Hahn despite a reasonable chance of conviction on charges the Woolwich councillor mishandled his expense report following the 2014 municipal election.

In a Kitchener courtroom January 25, Crown prosecutor Michael Carnegie said pursuing the case wasn’t in the public interest. All charges were withdrawn.

Hahn was accused of misreporting and mishandling his financial reports following the 2014 municipal election. After a forensic audit, Waterloo Region’s Municipal Elections Compliance Audit Committee (MECAC) found that even though there were discrepancies and cases of misreporting, there weren’t enough grounds to refer the matter to the courts.

Wastewater rates jump 3.9%, while Woolwich holds steady on water rates for 2017

It was business as usual for water customers in Woolwich, with the township holding steady on its 2016 rates through 2017.

Doing your business as usual would cost more, however, as wastewater rates climbed by 3.9 per cent.

In approving budgets for water and wastewater at a meeting January 31, councillors backed a plan to hold the water rate unchanged at $1.71 per cubic metre even though the region had increased its bulk water rate by some two per cent.

Wastewater charges went up 3.87 per cent to $2.50 per cubic metre, reflecting a regional price increase of 7.9 per cent.


Jacks face Woodstock in first round of playoffs

Rounding out their regular season in third place behind Ayr and Paris, the Wellesley Applejacks (24-14-2) qualified for the playoffs, meeting the Woodstock Navy Vets in the first round that kicked off on February 3 on home ice.

Jacks advance to the second round

The Wellesley Applejacks moved on to the second round by defeating the Woodstock Navy Vets in six games in the opening round of the playoffs in the Provincial  Junior Hockey League’s Doherty Division.

Wellesley advanced in style last February 17, ending the series with a decisive 6-3 victory in Woodstock.

Woolwich tax rate hike officially 3.13%

Woolwich councillors meeting February 21 hit homeowners with a 3.13 per cent tax hike for 2017, adding an additional $26.70 to the average tax bill.

Based on the average residential assessment of $340,102, homeowners will shell out about $810 to cover just the share of taxes collected by the township, which gets about a quarter of the total – more than half of the bill goes to the Region of Waterloo, with the rest being scooped up by the school boards.

For the 2017 increase, 1.63 per cent went to the general levy, while 1.5 per cent was earmarked for a special infrastructure levy to help pay for Woolwich’s growing  list of roads, bridges and buildings in need of repair or replacement.

Plenty of sap by time of first tap

The ceremonial first tap was just that on February 24, as many maple syrup producers were already well along given the mild weather.

Still, maple syrup producers and politicians gathered on Dan and Heather Goetz’s Woolwich farm, Shady Grove, for the ceremonial first tapping of a sugar maple.

Some years, the trees are still frozen and weeks away from the start of a season that is typically capped in the area by the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival.

New line aims to stabilize regional water services in West Montrose

The construction of a new water line from St. Jacobs to Conestogo to West Montrose got underway with the intent of keeping a steady water supply heading to its final destination, according to the the Region of Waterloo.

First up, the region constructed a watermain from the Conestogo Plains water supply system to West Montrose. Previously, when the reservoirs in West Montrose get a little low, the region trucks in water to the village.

No additional sidewalk for Green Warbler, council decides

In a case of sidewalks if necessary, but not necessarily sidewalks, a group of Elmira homeowners weren’t conscripted into the endless battle over walkways.

Meeting February 28 night, Woolwich councillors scrapped plans to put sidewalks on both sides of the street when Green Warbler Crescent is rebuilt.

Kings finish season in second place, advance to playoffs

The Sugar Kings finished the regular season on a high note over the weekend, overtaking both Cambridge and Stratford.

Elmira finished second in the Midwestern Conference, six points behind Listowel. They’re now up against seventh-place Guelph in the first round of playoffs that got underway March 1 in Elmira.


Elmira curling team wins Intermediate Provincial Championships

Elmira & District Curling Club’s Team Pidgeon has won the 2017 Intermediate Provincial Championships.

From Mar. 1-5, the team, made up of Mary Pidgeon, Twyla Gilbert, Jackie Gidge, Colleen Coughlin, visited Fenelon Falls Curling Club to compete against seven other provincial qualifiers.

Visible changes as new garbage collection system takes to the streets

Pick-up schedules aren’t the only things changing as March got underway with the region’s new waste management plan.

Along with a different garbage and recycling schedule, residents of Wellesley and Woolwich townships saw new waste vehicles on the roads as of this morning. The new trucks came along with new waste management provider, Emterra Environmental, and allow for fewer trucks on the road, streamlining garbage and recycling pick-up.

Providing new trucks was part of the initial tender put out to environmental and waste management companies in 2016. The new contract costs $18.5 million annually.

Jacks fall to Paris in second round of the playoffs

The Wellesley Applejacks gave it everything they had, but their season came to an end March 4 in the second round of the playoffs.

Up against the Paris Mounties in Game 6, the Jacks fell 3-1.

Reversing course, Woolwich turns down on-farm business’ expansion bid

Deciding an on-farm business was too much business, not enough farming, Woolwich councillors reversed course on a decision to approve expansion plans at Wellington Fertilizer.

The business operates on a farm property at 7021 Sideroad 5 W. owned by Robert Brubacher, who requested a zone change to increase the amount of space available for his fertilizer-packaging business. The plan was to allow for the processing of de-icing salt during the summer downtime.

Absent from the previous week’s discussion, Coun. Mark Bauman argued March 7 that the fertilizer operation already appears to be the principal use on the property. The addition of salt processing can’t be seen as farm-related, making the venture even more of an “industrial use.”

Sugar Kings complete sweep of Hurricanes to advance

It was off to the second round of the playoffs for the Sugar Kings, who completed a four-game sweep of the Guelph Hurricanes with a convincing 8-3 win on the road March 7.

No industrial land expansion in Hawkesville, council decides

Residents’ opposition carried the day, as Wellesley councillors meeting March 14 voted against plans to create more industrial land in Hawkesville.

Councillors did, however, vote in favour of adding 6.7 acres of employment lands in Crosshill.

Concerned Hawkesville residents were out in full force, filling council chambers to voice their objection to township staff’s plan to add 3.8 acres of employment land abutting an industrial site occupied by Chervin Kitchens.

Wellesley eliminates its committee of adjustment, with councillors taking on those duties

Wellesley Township’s committee of adjustment is no more after councillors decided on March 14 to take on the responsibility themselves.

The committee of adjustment typically deals with minor variances to the township’s zoning bylaw, including the likes of property severances, rights of ways and easements. As in other municipalities, the current committee is made up of citizens appointed to the position.

Councillors opted to disband the committee and assume its duties.

Deal in the wee hours avoids GRT strike

Grand River Transit riders, including those who use Route 21 in Elmira, narrowly avoided service disruptions on Monday after the Region of Waterloo and the Local 4304 came to a tentative agreement. The strike deadline was looming, at 12:01 a.m. on March 20, but negotiations went on past the deadline in the interest of working out the final details.

Conestogo residents to pay for extension of municipal water

With residents in favour by a split of 55-45 per cent, Woolwich decided to install new water lines in Conestogo when the region reconstructs Sawmill Road. The move required every homeowner to pay a share of the cost, estimated at about $8,500 apiece, whether or not they tap into municipal water.

The installation of a new watermain piggybacks on a major reconstruction of the roadway by the Region of Waterloo, providing a good opportunity to have the services put in place at a reasonable cost, director of engineering and planning Dan Kennaley told councillors meeting March 21.

Kings rebound to head to Cherrey Cup

Just call them the comeback kids. Down 2-0 in the semifinals against the Kitchener Dutchmen, the Elmira Sugar Kings rallied to come back and win four straight to send themselves to the Cherrey Cup final with a game-six win March 24.

Catholic board votes to close St. Agatha school

With only one trustee voting against the plan, the Waterloo Catholic District School Board has officially decided to close St. Agatha Catholic Elementary School.

The issue came to a final vote at the board of trustees meeting on March 27.

Having gone through an accommodation review, the board determined retaining the school wasn’t worth the nearly $3 million needed to repair the structure, as just 82 students currently attend.

Those 82 St. Agatha students were reassigned to either St. Clement Catholic Elementary School in Wellesley Township, or Holy Rosary Catholic Elementary School in Waterloo.


70,000 at EMSF

Thousands of pancakes were served and gallons of maple syrup were poured April 1 as 70,000 people descended on Elmira’s downtown for the 53rd annual Elmira Maple Syrup Festival.

Attendance was up up from 2016’s estimated 60,000 to 62,000. In 2015, some 65,000 people showed up.

It appears the milder temperatures and a lack of precipitation drew people out for the maple syrup festival.

Despite loss in conference finals, Kings advance to Sutherland Cup playoffs

The Elmira Sugar Kings may have lost out on the Cherrey Cup, but they had their eyes on the next prize – the Sutherland Cup. April 9’s Game 6 win by Listowel earned the Cyclones the Cherrey Cup, but the Kings qualified for a wildcard spot in the Sutherland Cup semi-finals.

Wellesley opts to do away with paper ballots in next year’s municipal election

There will be no more paper ballots in Wellesley Township in the 2018 municipal election, as councillors decided April 11 to have residents vote online or over the phone rather than lining up at the polling station.

Registered voters will be able to vote from their homes or at the township office where a computer and telephone will be provided.

The estimated cost of the switch to telephone and Internet voting is $26,600, or $3.38 per voter. In 2014, the voting system cost $3.65 per voter.

Farm building fees to jump

Having not raised permit fees for farm buildings since 1999, Woolwich decided to phase in a 450 per cent jump over the next two years.

Rising to $0.35 per square foot from the current $0.10, the fees for issuing a building permit will increase to $0.45 in 2018, township councillors decided April 11.

That will take Woolwich’s fees from being the lowest in the area to among the highest.

LANXESS finalizes takeover of Chemtura, including Elmira plant

From Crompton & Knowles to Uniroyal to Chemtura, the local chemical plant in Elmira was officially acquired April 21 and given its new name: LANXESS.

LANXESS is a specialty chemical company based in Cologne, Germany. The acquisition was announced in 2016, but it’s taken some time to sort out all the paperwork across international borders.

Wellesley PS celebrates its 50th anniversary

Current and former students and staff enjoyed a walk down memory lane at Wellesley Public School April 22.

The walk was both literal and figurative as the halls of Wellesley PS were lined with photos and memorabilia in celebration of the school’s 50th anniversary at its current location.

Woolwich to go with electronic voting in 2018

Woolwich residents will be voting electronically – online or by telephone – when they go to the polls in next year’s municipal election. Deeming the technology safe enough, Woolwich council formally approved the shift April 25.

Traditional paper ballots will be replaced by an electronic service to be provided by Dominion Voting. Those unable or unwilling to vote from a device or telephone will be able to attend a voting site to use equipment provided by the township.


Kelly Christie named as new executive director of WCS

Woolwich Community Services named Kelly Christie to replace retiring executive director Don Harloff upon his retirement on June 1.

A 17-year veteran of the Elmira-based agency, which operates on a shoestring budget with a small staff, Christie carried institutional knowledge in the role.

Elmira netminder Jonathan Reinhart named Junior B player of the year

Elmira Sugar Kings goaltender Jonathan Reinhart has added to his list of accolades after being named the Ontario Hockey Association’s Junior B Player of the Year.

He has already been named the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League Midwestern Conference’s most valuable player, and now, the honour spans the province.

The 21-year-old is the Kings’ career goaltending leader in games, minutes played, shutouts, wins and goals against average (GAA), along with holding many team single season records in shutouts (5), wins (3) and GAA (2.15).

Kings capture Sutherland Cup

The Elmira Sugar Kings hoisted the Sutherland Cup in London May 5 after the team defeated the Nationals in Game 5 of the finals. It was the fourth time the team has won the top trophy in Ontario Junior B hockey, but the first time since 2011.

Collision claims the life of Elmira’s Bryan Maher, former resident Peter Surey

Friends and family mourned the loss of an Elmira man and his friend, a former resident. Brian Maher, a Woolwich firefighter and local business owner, and Peter Surey were killed in a single-vehicle collision on May 5 near Killarney, Ont.

The two 27-year-olds were longtime friends, having attended Elmira District Secondary School together.

The Elmira native was one of four founders of the popular St. Jacobs brewery, Block Three Brewing, as well as a volunteer firefighter in the St. Jacobs station.

Local Conservatives back Scheer

After 13 round of voting, Kitchener-Conestoga delegates provided the region’s largest margin of victory to new Conservative leader Andrew Scheer.

The final vote had Scheer up against Maxime Bernier, with the former’s 63.49% to 36.51% the largest spread  of Waterloo Region’s federal ridings.  Bernier won just a single of the area ridings, Kitchener South – Hespeler, by a split of 51.76 to 48.24%.

Woolwich posts another surplus in 2016

Woolwich posted a surplus of $425,000 in 2016, with most of the money destined for a variety of reserve funds kept by the township. The books having been audited, the township also had surpluses in its water ($321,247) and wastewater ($290,260) operations, director of finance Richard Petherick told councillors meeting May 30.

The operating budget saw a surplus of $420,281, but that was offset by cost overruns in winter control ($138,741) and legal costs ($20,124) to finish up at $261,416. That was joined by a $163,788 capital surplus.

Most of the final surplus was allocated to the infrastructure reserve fund, with some set aside from operating and capital contingencies.


Wellesley proposes changes to dog bylaw

Whether you’re breeding, boarding or simply buying a dog, Wellesley has some changes in store for you.

The township revamped its dog and dog kennel bylaw to tighten guidelines around impounding dogs at large, dog bites and restricted breeds such as pit bulls. There were also new kennel guidelines and rules covering micro-chipping dogs.

A draft of the new bylaw was discussed as councillors met June 6.

Woolwich expands its clean yards bylaw

Taking a pass on the yard work and outdoor maintenance? A really long break? It could cost you, as Woolwich has expanded the list of offending circumstances – and official offences – that could earn you a ticket for failing to maintain property standards.

From failing to keep property free and clear of waste material to preventing the pooling of stagnant or standing water, homeowners face a longer list of actionable offences under a new clean yards bylaw approved June 6 by township council.  Offences also include a failure to maintain your lawn, from cutting the grass to controlling weeds. The bylaw takes wider aim at items left out on the property, beyond inoperable vehicles and the like.

Fines were set at $110.

Community groups receive $55,000 from proceeds of EMSF

That the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival is about more than pancakes smothered in golden goodness was on display June 8 as the organizing committee donated the proceeds to a group of local charities.

Representatives from community organizations gathered at Elmira’s St. James Lutheran Church, where the committee presented $55,000 to a range of charities, up from $50,000 in 2016. A total of 32 community organizations got funding.

Waterloo North Hydro to explore merger, acquisition options

Selling off the utility isn’t in the cards, but the municipal owners of Waterloo North Hydro are open to possible mergers and acquisitions that will boost the bottom line. Meeting in joint session, councillors from Wellesley, Woolwich and Waterloo voted to explore their options.

The local distribution company is owned by Waterloo North Hydro Holding Corporation (Holdco), which in turn belongs to the three municipalities on a proportional basis – the City of Waterloo owns 73.2 per cent, while Woolwich holds 20.2 per cent and Wellesley 6.6 per cent.

Wellesley revamps fire department to help ensure better coverage

Prompted by difficulties filling vacancies on its fire department, Wellesley Township this week restructured the organization.

Rather than always assigning firefighters to each of the three stations – Linwood, St. Clements and Wellesley – the department will look at the township as a whole to help ensure there are always enough firefighters available for calls, especially during the day.

Addressing council June 20, chief Paul Redman said the department hasn’t had enough qualified volunteers to meet existing demand. That, in turn, worsens the already difficult situation of having enough firefighters on hand to respond to daytime emergencies.

Woolwich, developer split costs on planned road upgrades

St. Jacobs’ Old Scout Place was upgraded in conjunction with the nearby Valley View Heights subdivision.

Meeting June 20, councillors agreed to spend more than $1 million on the project, with much of the funding supplied by the developer.

Ersman Construction Inc. won the bid to carry out the construction work at a cost of $962,000, having submitted the lowest of four bids. Additionally, Meritech Engineering was awarded $140,000 to design and oversee the project.

Region reaches deal with CUPE

Committing taxpayers to multi-year raises, the Region of Waterloo reached a new deal with unionized outside workers in CUPE Local 1656.

The 60-month contract, retroactive to January 1, offers up pay increases of 1.5 per cent this year and next, 1.6 per in 2019, 1.75 per cent in 2020 and 2 per cent in 2021.

Local 1656 represents 212 full- and part-time employees working in the areas of transportation, waste management, water services, fleet services and facilities management.

Cost overruns at Breslau fire hall

The township discovered it had to dig a little deeper – literally and figuratively – to build a new fire hall/ambulance station in Breslau.

Currently home to a temporary one-bay fire substation, the soil at 51 Beacon Point Ct. isn’t suitable for the new structure planned for the site, resulting in an extra $383,000 for fill and grading.

Woolwich council awarded the construction contract to Reid & Deleye Contractors, the lowest of five bidders at $2,659,000, on June 20. The Region of Waterloo is picking up 30 per cent of the project cost to cover a new EMS station within the 9,000-square-foot building. Construction is expected to be completed next year.

West Montrose residents unhappy with response to flooding

West Montrose was the hardest hit area in Woolwich during a flood along the Grand River system June 23.

Rising rivers and creeks flooded parts of Elmira, St. Jacobs, Breslau, Conestogo and Floradale.

Several homes along the river in West Montrose suffered significant flooding. The campground, not unfamiliar with the river spilling over its banks, saw water on a much larger scale than usual.

The Grand River Conservation Authority said it was caught off guard by the amount of rain that fell on the northern part of the watershed early on the morning of June 23. The forecast had called for five to 10 millimetres of rain. Instead, more than 100mm – in excess of 130 in some spots – fell in the span of a few hours.

With water pouring in from the northern part of the system, the GRCA had no option but to release water from the full reservoirs at Belwood (Shand Dam) and Conestogo lakes.

Extra funding to see three new infant spaces open at Elmira Children’s Centre

Three new infant spaces were announced for the Elmira Children’s Centre courtesy of increased daycare funding from the Region of Waterloo. The move elevated the centre’s capacity by 50 per cent.

Regional council approved the addition on June 28, bringing the total number of spaces up to nine. This allowed for the daycare centre, located at the Riverside Public School, to take care of nine infants (between 0-18 months) starting in September 2017.


Wellesley finds budget shortfall

Wellesley’s recreation department has to find another $50,000 in its budget to make up for a shortfall attributed to an accounting error, township councillors heard July 4.

Whereas labour costs for full- and part-time workers were always combined as one item in the department’s budget, that process was changed for the 2017 budget. However, the township only just discovered it has been operating without taking into account the separate line item for part-time wages.

Glasgow Street bridge reopens

Short of options for getting in and out of the village, Conestogo residents have been abiding by the one-vehicle-at-a-time rule since the township reopened the Glasgow Street bridge July 28.

Woolwich had closed the bridge, along with a similar old steel structure on Peel Street, due to concerns about traffic volumes during the Sawmill Road construction in Conestogo.

A single-lane bridge, the structure has been closed numerous times in recent years for repairs, and subjected to load limits due to its age. Restricting traffic to one car at a time helps to reduce stress on the bridge.

Jacks name Spencer Brick as new captain ahead of camp

The Applejacks named their captain and alternates for this season ahead of their August training camp.

Spencer Brick, a St. Clements native and third-year veteran, succeeds Cal Jefferies to lead the team this season.

Wearing an ‘A’ for the season are Alex Uttley, Kyle Soper and Shaun Pickering.


Pair arrested for bank robberies in Drayton and Milverton

Police arrested two Brampton men in connection with bank robberies in Milverton and Drayton.

Perth County OPP obtained surveillance video images of a vehicle believed to have been used in both robberies, one on July 25 at the CIBC branch in Milverton and August 1 at the RBC bank in Drayton.

Peel Regional Police, meanwhile, investigated a similar armed robbery in Brampton on July 25.

Twin Centre U14 softball squad capture provincial title

The Twin Centre U14 Wildcats won the Ontario Amateur Softball Association (OASA) peewee C provincial championships Aug. 5-6 in Stouffville, a gold medal to show for  their first trip to the provincial stage.

The Wildcats had a clean sweep of the C division leading up to the semi-finals, beating Ennismore 13-1, Grafton 15-5 and Springfield 8-4 before meeting Wiarton.

Region reaches deal with paramedics

The Region of Waterloo reached settlement deal with some 200 paramedics and fleet support personnel who provide emergency medical services.

The four-year collective agreement is retroactive to Apr. 1, 2016, running through Mar. 31, 2020.

Members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 5191 will receive annual raises of 1.75 per cent, 1.5, 1.5 and 1.75 through the course of the contract.

Storm raises questions about Woolwich’s emergency protocol

Woolwich pledged to review its emergency notification protocol in the wake of a tornado that touched down in nearby Hawkesville on August 11.

The township activated its community alert network (CAN) after officials learned of a tornado warning, later hearing that some residents hadn’t been contacted by phone, while others complained about the delay in getting the word out.

The complaints came on the heels of a flood in June that left some residents concerned about the timing of communication from the township.

WRPS stepping up visibility in the townships

Restructuring of police services in the region’s rural area is an ongoing process aimed at increasing visibility and decreasing emergency response times, Waterloo Regional Police officials said.

While not planning to resume regular office times at the Elmira and New Hamburg detachments, police have assigned a sergeant on a permanent basis to look after the rural areas. Sgt. Kelly Gibson was joined by police brass in explaining the changes to Woolwich councillors meeting August 22.

Former foundry site now called home

After much hard work and community input, the affordable and accessible apartment project being headed by MennoHomes saw its first tenants move into the Elmira building August 23.

The building, located at Church Street and Memorial Avenue, has been dubbed “The Foundry” by MennoHomes, in recognition of the Procast metal casting building that had historically stood at the site.

The project was also the first affordable apartment building in the township with elevators to make it accessible.

Artist Peter Etril Snyder dies at 73

A chronicler on canvas of Mennonite life in Waterloo Region, artist Peter Etril Snyder died August 28 following treatment for leukemia. He was 73.

His artwork was a widely recognizable portrayal of rural life in the area, particularly of Old Order Mennonites, gracing many publications, including promotional material for the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival.

Jacks’ director dies in collision

Paul MacDonald, a member of the Wellesley Applejacks’ board of directors who was in charge of game-day operations, died August 31 in a motorcycle accident while on vacation in Tennessee. He was 63.

Township names Elmira street in memory of Richard Rank

A former Woolwich employee and prominent minor sports booster who passed away three years prior received a lasting memorial. Family and friends gathered in Elmira’s South Parkwood subdivision August 31 for the dedication of Richard Rank Road.

Rank passed away Jan. 3, 2014 at the age of 57 after suffering a heart attack at work, where he had had a 25-year-career in the township’s public works department.


Heidelberg makes it official with grand opening of new community centre

The village made it official September 9 with a grand-opening ceremony for the new Heidelberg Community Centre.

The Heidelberg Recreation Association had been campaigning and fundraising for the community hub for almost a decade, and finally their vision has become reality with the help of several groups.  The township itself committed $257,000 towards the project, while $142,000 was provided by an Ontario Trillium Fund grant. The rec. association, for its part, raised $67,000, and another $5,000 was committed by the Paradise and District Lions Club. The project cost $442,000 to complete.

Katie Kneisel named Wellesley fair ambassador

New Hamburg’s Katie Kneisel, 19, was named as ambassador of Wellesley-North Easthope Fall Fair at a ceremony September 12.

As ambassador, the Wilfrid Laurier University student attends various events throughout the year, sits on the fair board and represents the community at the CNE competition next summer.

Conestoga Meat Packers to expand again with help of $5.3 million from the province

Conestoga Meat Packers saw the addition of up to 170 new jobs at its Breslau plant thanks in part to $5.3 million from the province.

The funding announcement came September 15 in Breslau. The investment will help the business boost its productivity and expand its pork processing capacity.

No streetlights for Bloomingdale

The night sky continued to reign supreme in Bloomingdale, with Woolwich council voting down a proposal to install streetlights in part of the village.

The split decision came at a meeting September 19.

Already balking at the underwhelming support from residents and the price tag, some councillors were even more convinced when told the estimated $37,000 cost had almost doubled to $72,600 for just 14 lights in one section.


Trees for Woolwich reaches goal of 23,000 plantings, opts to extend target

It started with a simple premise: plant a tree for every person in Woolwich. Back when the members of the Township of Woolwich Environmental Enhancement Committee (TWEEC) first proposed the goal in 2011, it must have seemed a far off prospect. But as October got rolling, the group achieved just that by planting 23,000 trees in the township, with students from EDSS rounding out those final few.

Having reached the goal, the group opted to extend the target, recognizing the growth of the township and the need for more trees to restore traditional coverage levels.

Council approves plan for small residential development in Wellesley over neighbours’concerns

Wellesley is moving ahead with a contentious development in the village despite opposition from residents.

Township council’s decision October 10 had more than a few heads shaking among those in the gallery at Crosshill council chambers. The decision was made after a heated discussion at council meeting in September that saw members of the public vociferously denounce the project, providing council with a petition calling for the plan to be scrapped.

Blaze Properties Inc. wants to build 16 semi-detached homes and one single-family house on a vacant two-acre lot on Gerber Road in the village.

Having originally won approval two year ago for a 16-unit plan, the company made changes to add a single-family house into the mix. That requires three of the 17 units to be smaller than the mandated minimum sizes of semi-detached and single-family homes.

Neighbours take issue with latest subdivision plan for Elmira

What the developer called benefits in proposing a new subdivision in Elmira, existing residents see as nothing but problems for their neighbourhood.

Inappropriate land use, densities, traffic and parking headed a long list of concerns aired at a public meeting at Woolwich council October 30 to discuss the Southwood 4 project.

Proposed for some 70 acres of land fronting on 1143 Listowel Rd. in the south end, it would essentially form a link between Whippoorwill Drive and Listowel Road.

The Birdland Developments plan proposes 444 to 513 new residential units – a mix of singles (176 to 194 houses), semis (50), townhouses (68 to 94 units) and apartments (150 to 175) – that would be home to an estimated 1,165 to 1,300 people.

Bookstore seeking move to Elmira site

Looking for a new place to call home, Living Waters Christian Bookstore has its eye on a former farm dealership in Elmira.

Currently based in Linwood, the company wants to consolidate its offices, warehouse space and a retail store under one roof. To that end, it’s seeking an official plan amendment and zoning change on the property at 122 Church St. W.

Most of the former Premier Equipment site is already slated for residential development in conjunction with the Lunor subdivision, but Living Waters wants to sever the front portion and make use of the existing buildings to serve as the company headquarters.

The company aired its proposal at a public meeting before Woolwich councillors October 30.


Legendary Lancers chronicles the achievements of 49 notable EDSS graduates and staff members

Legendary Lancers, a book by author Nancy Silcox, on some of the movers and shakers to have passed through the modest halls of the Elmira school.

The book, launched at a special event at EDSS November 19, profiles 49 individuals, mostly EDSS alumni but a few teachers as well, who went on from their time at the rural school to make a difference, whether that’s locally, in Waterloo or Ontario, or even on the international stage.

Among those featured are the likes of author Malcolm Gladwell; Paul Straus, the president of Home Hardware Stores Ltd.; Garrett Rank, the NHL referee and professional; Waterloo Region Chair Ken Seiling; opera singer Paul Frey;  and Roger Martin, who was the dean of the Rotman School of Economics.

Floradale’s Earlidale Meats seeking expansion to deal with demand, provincial regulations

A growing demand for local food and provincial regulations governing meat processing are driving a Floradale business’ bid for expansion.

Earlidale Meats is seeking a zone change to build a new processing plant on a 3.2-acre property at 2065 Floradale Rd.

A new 600-square-metre facility would join the existing 180-sq.-m. building, which would be converted to dry storage under a plan aired in a public meeting at Woolwich council November 21.

Farmers’ market, surrounding land to be sold

A deal was announced to sell the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market and market district businesses, with the properties changing hands from Mercedes Corp. to Schlegel Urban Developments Corp. in early 2018, contingent on obtaining the necessary corporate and regulatory approvals.

The sale includes the land and operations of the St. Jacobs Factory Outlet mall, the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market, Market Road Antiques and the TSC property.

The businesses and approximate 45 acres of land on which they sit, have long been held by the families of Ross and Milo Shantz and 40 independent shareholders.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Woolwich facing decrease in provincial transfers, assessment growth

Heading into budget season, Woolwich found itself already behind the eight ball, in large part due to the provincial government.

That township’s funding from the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF) had been cut by 15 per cent for 2018. It will also take a hit when the province hikes the minimum wage to $14 an hour as of January 1.

Combined with a reduced forecast for growth next year, Woolwich is looking at reduced revenues that would require a 3.25 per cent tax hike just to get back to square one, said director of finance Richard Petherick. The province’s OMPF grant will drop to $625,800 next year, down from $736,200 in 2017, he told councillors meeting November 28. The $110,400 difference is the equivalent of a 1.13 per cent reduction in the township’s overall budget.


Public, Catholic school trustees re-elect their respective board chairs for 2018

The Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) and its Catholic (WCDSB) counterpart decided to stay the course for the 2018 year by re-electing trustees Scott McMillan and Wendy Price as their respective chairpersons.

For McMillan, an Elmira resident and relative newcomer to the board, the vote marked his second year as chairperson. In a sign of the positive influence of McMillan’s conciliatory tone, the oft-times fractious board members chose to unanimously back McMillan for the position.

Wellesley inks deal for fire dispatch

Wellesley Township opted to continue to contract fire dispatch services from the City of Kitchener, agreeing December 5 to a new five-year contract.

The township was operating under a one-year agreement that expired on December 31. The new deal started January 1.

Wellesley budgeted $24,200 for the service in 2018.

Residents to chip in as Woolwich proceeds with drain repairs in St. Jacobs

Woolwich opted to push ahead with repairs to a drain running under much of St. Jacobs, splitting the costs among the benefitting property owners. For many residents, that amounts to a $40 cost.

The extra assessment, ranging from $10 to the $67,790 bill Home Hardware faces, will cover the cost of repairing and replacing parts of what is known as municipal drain #10. Meeting December 12, Woolwich council approved the project and its $244,000 price tag.

Most of the planned work will take place in the underground portion of the drain from a point west of High Crest Lane and Queensway Drive to King Street, plus some maintenance on the open ditch portion east of Water Street.

Break-ins, thefts from vehicles up in rural areas, police report

Break-ins and thefts from vehicles are on the rise in the townships, according to Waterloo Regional Police.

In a presentation to Wellesley council December 19, superintendent Daryl Goetz said that in the vast majority of cases, the thefts were possible because of unlocked homes and vehicles.

Criminals were increasingly taking advantage of that situation, he added.

Between January and the end of November, there were 103 break-and-enters reported to the police by rural residents. This was up more than a third from the five-year average of 71 reports over the same period.

Break-ins to commercial properties had risen to 67 from a five-year average of 51, while thefts under $5,000 from vehicles are at 157 compared with the average of 128.

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