Noting that in “recognizing good play, sometimes you get backed into a corner,” Wellesley Mayor Ross Kelterborn made good on a promise to Centre Hastings Township Deputy Reeve Tom Simpson by wearing a Centre Hastings Grizzlies jersey at April 30’s Wellesley council meeting.
The sartorial choice stemmed from a bet made between Kelterborn and Simpson based on the outcome of a playoff game in the Ontario Minor Hockey Association between the Grizzlies and the Twin Centre Stars Atom AE teams. The Centre Hastings government suggested that if the Stars lost, then Kelterborn would have to either wear a Grizzlies jersey during council, or fly the Centre Hastings flag at Wellesley’s municipal building for a week.
“If by any chance we lose, I would do the same,” wrote Simpson.
“I have the enviable task of wearing a sweater tonight,” deadpanned Kelterborn to council on Wednesday. “I hope it’s a summer sweater.”
While the Twin Centre team lost their third and final game of the series on March 24, Kelterborn, who attended the game with Coun. Jim Olender, called it “an excellent game sportsmanship-wise, playing-wise.”
In a letter that accompanied the jersey, Simpson wrote, “With all sports, there is always a team that comes out victorious and a team that gives its best. Your coaching staff, players, and parents should be commended for being your community ambassadors.”
Kelterborn added, “The minor hockey coaches, in my opinion, got from their people what they set out to do, and that’s to promote good sportsmanship and citizenship in our township.”
Kelterborn also requested that a copy of Simpson’s letter be made for the Stars’ coaching staff.
The power centre in St. Jacobs would see the addition of a Value Village location and a rearrangement of the Walmart store to allow for more grocery items under a plan introduced this week at Woolwich council.
To proceed, the projects require the township to amend both its Official Plan and the property’s zoning.
While a Value Village store is a permitted use, current restrictions mean it couldn’t be built until the second phase of the entire power centre project. At the Walmart location, the grocery component is restricted to 6,000 square feet inside the 134,000 sq. ft. building, so changes are necessary to allow that area to expand to 25,000 sq. ft.
The details of King/86 Developments’ plan were unveiled at Tuesday night’s public meeting. Dan Kennaley, Woolwich’s director of engineering and planning, said the developer had submitted reports, including market studies, backing the suitability of the proposed changes.
For Ed Fothergill of Fothergill Planning & Development, a planning consultant for operator SmartCentres, the amendments sought by the company reflect changes in the market.
“It’s important to react to these changes, to keep up.”
At the Walmart store, the larger grocery section is in keeping with the offerings at other Walmart locations, driven by market demand, just as grocery chains are continually adding general merchandise to their locations, he explained.
The addition of the Value Village store now reflects slower-than-expected growth at the power centre, he added. Phase one, which covers 230,000 square feet of the 305,000-sq.-ft. project, was anticipated to be built out years earlier. Currently, 157,000 sq. ft. of space has been built. The addition of a 24,500-sq.-ft. building would bring phase one to about 80 per cent complete.
SmartCentres has identified the delay in getting the at-one-time-controversial development off the ground as a factor in the slower growth there. Over the years of delay, prominent would-be tenants found other locations to build or lease space, leaving fewer potential clients once the St. Jacobs centre got rolling.
“The whole project has slowed down,” said Fothergill.
With the construction of the Value Village store, the developer expects a boost in overall business – “new investment … brings new investment.”
While the stockyards area is the subject of an ongoing secondary planning review by the township, the changes proposed by the developer are “minor enough” not to have any impact on that process, Kennaley said in response to a question from Coun. Mark Bauman.
Coun. Allan Poffenroth, meanwhile, raised the possibility of an expanded grocery area at the Walmart drawing the attention of grocery chains in Waterloo, in turn putting pressure on the city to withhold cross-border water and sewage services.
Kennaley said he would expect the city to stick with current agreements, dealing with servicing as a technical issue, not a political one. Fothergill noted the changes would have no impact on the overall servicing levels for the site agreed to at the beginning, as the footprint of the site would not change.
As well, marketing studies have shown there would be no negative impacts on existing retail areas in Waterloo or Woolwich, he added.
Aside from the developer, nobody else addressed the issue at the meeting, nor were there any members of the public in the gallery, a far cry from the often-charged public meetings that greeted the Walmart-anchored project when it was still on the drawing board in the late-1990s.
Tuesday’s meeting was for information and input purposes only. A decision on the applications will come some months down the road after planning staff have reviewed the documentation and compiled a recommendation for council.
“The items vary throughout the year; items that we are always in need of are canned fruit, canned fruit juice. People don’t think often of donating personal hygiene products so toothpaste, shampoo is something that we also need quite often,” said WCS’s Kelly Christie earlier in the week.
Locally, donations can be made at the Elmira Foodland and No Frills locations, as well as Foodland in St. Clements, with all food items dropped off at the three grocery stores heading straight to the local food bank. Excess reserves will then be given to the Food Bank of Waterloo Region.
The top items most needed at the food bank include: condiments (ketchup, mayonnaise), canned fruit and juices, cookies and baking mixes, instant coffee, sugar, flour, shampoo, toothpaste and canned meats.
While many people are used to pitching in at Thanksgiving and Christmas, there’s a need to stock the larder at this time of year. The next food drive is for Thanksgiving hampers in the fall. The Elmira Kiwanis Club also hold an annual food drive for WCS Christmas goodwill program later in the year.
Additions are coming to the Wellesley Splash Pad, as township council approved enhancements to the Wellesley Community Centre play area. In anticipation of the park’s opening in mid-June, the Wellesley Lions Club will cover the cost of additional benches and landscaping plants for shade, as well as a new gazebo.
Jen Sommer, Lions member and splash park committee representative, noted community requests for more seating and shade areas in her presentation to council on Tuesday night. The gazebo was proposed as a memorial for Melissa Flynn, a committee member who died of a cardiac arrest in November 2011 at age 32.
“She was very instrumental in all the planning and fundraising and building of the project, so that was a real loss to our community,” Sommer told council.
“It’s a big structure for a memorial, but it was her site and her vision, and I think it’s appropriate for the amount of work that she put into that project.”
Wellesley landscaper Derek Brick worked with the committee to draft a plan for the gazebo, trees, and benches, which may eventually be used as memorials. (The Wellesley Horticultural Society will dedicate a tree in memory of their late member Marjorie Runstedler). Sommer said the design includes “about a dozen additional trees and half a dozen additional benches.” Wellesley director of facilities Brad Voisin confirmed that there would be room for the additions.
While splash park operations have largely been taken over by the Lions Club, the splash park committee periodically “brainstorms” ideas, noted Sommer. The estimated cost of the additions is $9,000, including $6,000 for the gazebo. “We’re hoping that we can run it through our splash park account so that we can get back some of the HST by ordering through township,” said Sommer, who hopes to bring the cost down to $7,700. No fundraising will be required.
Council approved the enhancements unanimously, and also pledged to review and determine suitable locations for the enhancements, to be handled by Voisin.
“Who let the dogs out?” asked Baha Men in their breakout song. On May 26, the answer will be the Lions Foundation of Canada, which is bringing the Purina Walk for Dog Guides to Elmira for the ninth year running.
The annual five-kilometre trek through Elmira helps raise money to train and donate dog guides to six categories of Canadians with disabilities: visually impaired, hard of hearing, children with autism, people with epilepsy, people with medical or physical disabilities, and people with type 1 diabetes (a new category introduced this year).
Lisa Colombo, whose 10-year-old son Matthew was diagnosed with autism, discovered the Lions’ Breslau-based dog-breeding and training program four years ago. She said that Cash, the family’s Lions-sponsored dog, has helped her son immeasurably.
“It helps the individual go from their home into the community,” said Colombo. “For me, that’s the biggest thing: just helping Matthew navigate the world outside of home.”
“I can’t believe the change in Matthew since Cash came into his life,” added Nancy Booth, event organizer from the Woolwich Community Lions Clubs. “The first year, he really shied away from people. He didn’t really say a whole lot. Now, if he sees me at school he comes up behind me and taps me on the shoulder and talks away. He never did that before.”
Events like the Walk for Dogs Guides are critical to the Lions’ fundraising mission. When dogs are selected, they have to be trained for just under a year. After that, the matching process can take two to four weeks, to help build a relationship between the client and the dog. Booth estimates that the cost to train one dog for the Lions can be in excess of $20,000.
“What most people don’t realize is the dogs are donated from the Lions Club at no cost. The Lions Club solely depends on donations and fundraisers,” said Booth.
“With autism, the push right now is to have children diagnosed early to help with support early on,” said Colombo. “As a child moves into adulthood, if they’ve had the diagnosis early on, and support is put in place – therapy, support, a guide dog, adapting programs – their life looks very much different.”
The walk departs from the Kissing Bridge Trail (Arthur Street entrance) at 9 a.m. on May 26. More information on how to register and donate can be found on www.walkfordogguides.com. Matthew Colombo will be among the participants, and is accepting donations at www.purinawalkfordogguides.com/donationWalker.cfm?WalkerID=9438.
Lisa Colombo added, “Being in this walk is a great opportunity to Matthew and us to just give back to an opportunity that we’ve been given.”
When the ice storm hit Woolwich on April 11 and 12, most of its citizens were at least temporarily inconvenienced. For the Elmira Kiwanis Music Festival, which was to hold events on those fateful days, the hassles led to several weeks out of key.
“When I got up in the morning, bright and early, I went up to the church, and of course the church had no power,” remembered Kiwanis member Murray Haight, who was to welcome a strings competition that day. “There was nothing – the place was locked. At that point, a phone call went out to all the students that were competing.”
With a key competition in limbo, Haight and the Kiwanis Club were forced to cancel the festival’s centerpiece event: “Stars of the Festival,” an afternoon concert featuring the best performers in the Elmira Kiwanis Music Festival, as chosen by the adjudicators.
“The adjudicator for [the strings competition] lives in Kitchener-Waterloo,” said Haight. “Her husband was able to get a hold of her and save her coming all the way in an ice storm!”
But now that the tree branches have been picked up and the frost-bitten fields are but a fading memory, the show must go on. Saturday, May 4 will mark the new date for the Stars of the Festival, and students of many musical disciplines will show their stuff.
“The performers get a chance to perform in front of a live audience, as opposed to being just adjudicated,” said Haight. “In a way, it’s another part of their education, being able to perform publicly.”
Winning participants will be awarded scholarship money, ranging anywhere from $50 to $250, that goes towards the students’ musical education.
Anyone who has ever sang in a school choir or played in a high school band class knows that the Kiwanis Music Festival is a time-honoured ritual for young musicians. Kiwanis International’s self-stated mission is “serving the children of the world,” and their commitment to music education continues even as school systems continue to downgrade their arts programs. How important, exactly, is a musical education?
“It seems to be not seen as ‘core’ for their development, but for some people, I would argue the opposite,” said Haight. “It enhances an appreciation of music. Everybody listens to music, right? Twenty-four hours a day I see people walking around with earpads and earphones and everything else!”
He added, “It’s also good for character development. You have to perform, you have to train … you have to be willing to put it all out on a stage, and you have to take criticism, both positive and negative, and know how to deal with that.”
The “Stars of the Festival” performance will take place at Floradale Mennonite Church (22 Florapine Rd.) on May 4 at 1:30 p.m.
Students who’ve not received their immunization shots, or without updated records, face suspensions as the Public Health department begins enforcing the Immunization of School Pupils Act (ISPA) on May 7.
Region of Waterloo Public Health this week mailed a request asking the parents and guardians of secondary school students to provide immunization records for those students whose records remain incomplete.
Linda Black, manager of the vaccine-preventable diseases program at Region of Waterloo Public Health, said every year there are incidents of students who have all of their shots but have not updated their records. On the other hand, many students miss out on the proper immunizations as well.
“It’s important to have that information so that in case there is an outbreak we have accurate records, so we know who is protected and who potentially needs to be excluded from school,” she said.
The annual procedure is a good reminder for those who have lost track of their immunization information, she added.
The procedure ensures that the region is tracking the immunization status of all children under 18 as a pre-emptive measure to protect children from vaccine-curable diseases, including those covered under the act: tetanus, diphtheria, polio, measles, mumps and rubella.
Though this is a mandatory measure, exceptions based on religious or medical reasons are allowed provided all proper legal documentation is presented directly to Public Health.
Students and parents may face consequences should they not provide proper documentation by the May 7 deadline.
The ISPA dictates that students failing to provide an immunization record and/or legal exception may face a school suspension for up to 20 days or until the documentation can be provided.
In September, the department sends notices home to remind parents and students to update their information. They review the records in March and send a second round of letters to those with incomplete immunization information. Public Health gives parents about six weeks to update their information before sending a letter to schools a week prior to the final deadline on May 7, when all students who still have incomplete records are eligible for suspension.
Public Health recommends that guardians and students obtain their records from a family physician or make use of one of two walk-in clinics set up for the purpose in Waterloo and Cambridge. The clinics are located at 99 Regina St. S. and 150 Main St. respectively, with both clinics running from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“Every time your child gets an immunization it is important to call or let us know. We don’t get the information from family doctors, we have to get them from parents,” said Black.
Records or exemptions can be submitted in one of three ways: by phone at (519) 883-2007, in-person at the walk-in clinics or online at https://e-immunization.regionofwaterloo.ca/.
Hot on the heels of the refurbishing of the Howard Avenue water tower in Elmira, the tower on Floradale Road is now being overhauled.
Work started last week and is expected to run through June. The tank is now offline while crews work on maintenance and painting.
While the tower is out of service, Elmira’s water system will receive its pressure from the booster station located below the spheroid water tank on Howard Avenue. The station will maintain pressure in the distribution system, with Woolwich engineering staff saying it is unlikely residents will notice any difference in water pressure unless there is a malfunction. In the event of a power outage or similar incident, homes may experience a period of minimal water pressure.
The Elmira west tank now offline usually provides the town with water pressure, said Bob Brown, water and wastewater supervisor with Woolwich’s engineering and planning services.
“Water comes in to town via the [Howard spheroid water tank], down Arthur [Street] and then it goes out and fills that tower. As water rises in elevation it rises in pressure, so we actually use the pressure from that elevated tank [Elmira west tank] to supply the pressure for the town. Now we’ll be using pumps, which are what they used before the tower was built,” he explained.
Previous maintenance measures have already been carried out on the Howard Avenue tank. In November 2012 it was surrounded by scaffolding and concealed by tarps for re-surfacing, completed in December.
This time the west tank near Floradale faces similar maintenance measures, with the recently-refurbished tank acting as a buffer for the township’s water.
“You would never want to be working on two water sources at the same time: you always need some backup. When you do have two towers it’s important to always keep one in service,” he said.
According to the Region of Waterloo, MacDonald Applicators Ltd. will be handling the re-coating of the tank.
Brown said the tank is not in bad shape when it comes to appearance, the region’s decision is likely a preventative measure.
“It looks good, but you know what? When it starts to look bad then it’s more to paint,” he said.
He added the project came at a strategic moment in the season; just in time for the spring flushing which took place April 22-24. Staff used the excess water – which had to be drained prior to painting the tower – for the annual three-day spring flushing of the township’s watermains.
“It worked out pretty well for us. Water is an important commodity and it’s quite expensive.”
“Play is an important part of a kid’s life, and when you have a child with a disability, you want them to be included.” Such was Kelly Meissner’s rationale for starting up Kate’s Place for Everyone, the accessible playground that opened last year in Elmira’s Gibson Park. Now, Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris will present her with a grant from the Ontario Trillium grant to fund an expansion.
“It’s about kids being able to be kids, and not having the barriers that they have to go through each and every day,” said Harris, who will present the $149,000 Trillium cheque to Meissner on April 27, 12:30 p.m. at the playground.Kelly Meissner, K-W Oktoberfest’s 2011 Woman of the Year and a 2012 Queen’s Golden Jubilee medal-winner, conceived of “Kate’s Kause” in 2010, not long after her daughter Kate (now almost 4 years old) was diagnosed with Angleman syndrome. The rare neurological disorder (which strikes approximately one in 15,000) is marked by low verbal skills and slow development of motor skills.
“The earlier you can get kids included, the better,” said Meissner. “Kate goes to a preschool in Elmira that’s a co-op, so she has good exposure to other kids, but the best thing for kids is to play. That’s one of the best ways to integrate her.”
After joining forces with the Elmira Kiwanis Club in 2011, Kate’s Kause was able to quickly raise $300,000 from the community to build the playground, which opened in July 2012. The Trillium grant will help cover two new features: a sensory wall – with artificial tree branches, animals, rocks, bugs, fossils, etc. – for children with vision problems, as well as a “green gym” with additional activities.
An order has already been placed for the materials for the sensory wall, which Meissner estimates will take around three months to build, with an eye set on the July long weekend for completion.
Since opening the playground, Meissner has observerd a marked change in her daughter’s life.
“Her development has just soared. Because she sees the kids playing, she’s walking earlier than the doctors expected, and it’s been unbelievable for her social development.”
Added Harris, “At Kate’s Kause playground, they truly allow for kids with special needs to just be kids, and I think that the Ontario Trillium Grant is meant for projects just like this.”
Kate’s Kause’s next fundraising event will be the Beautiful Me Fashion Show, presented by Guys & Dolls Salon & Spa, on Sunday, May 5, from 1:30 to 4 p.m. The event will also include a silent auction. Tickets are $20 at the door, or can be reserved at 519-669-8234.
Unless the planet is just revving up for another unfair late-season storm, it looks like spring has finally sprung in Woolwich Township. As kids look longingly from their elementary school windows at the sun-kissed parks outside, what activities will they be looking forward to?
“They’re going to be weeding, hoeing, cleaning, mulching, staking, pulling, thinning, hilling, picking the produce … and whatever else goes with gardening,” smiled Irene Dickau, who, along with Barb Finn, will be leading the Elmira Horticultural Society’s Junior Garden Club.Since its founding two decades ago by Elmira resident Lois Weber, the Junior Garden Club has offered adolescent botany enthusiasts a chance to learn the tips and tricks behind the perfectly-planted gardenia, and May 15 will see the club reconvene at Elmira’s Bristow Park, for applicants ages 8 to 10. Dickau and Finn, who are both retired teachers, will be taking on leadership responsibilities for the first time (Finn served last year as an assistant).
Citing the findings of Charlie Hall, a horticulture professor at the University of Texas, Finn lists the scientific benefits of getting kids in the garden: “Children learn better when they’re around plants, it’s a multi-sensory experience … people concentrate better in the workplace and have better memory retention; spending time in nature gives people better energy levels; gardening can act as therapy …”
“It gets them away from the video stuff,” interjected Dickau.
“That’s why we chose this year to focus on the 8-to- 10-year-olds,” added Finn. “We felt this was the age when kids like to become independent, and they like to be learning and teaching and helping their families.
“It’s a great intergenerational activity. It involves all the senses; it connects you with nature; it’s just good for body-mind-spirit.”
The Junior Garden Club has long used Bristow Park as its meeting place, although soon they will likely be sharing space with another Elmira youth initiative. On Monday night, Woolwich council formally approved Skate Elmira’s application to build a skate park in Bristow Park, the same area where the horticultural society holds its club and maintains its garden.
Does the group anticipate any conflict?
“I did raise that concern at one of our board meetings, and they indicated that there was no communication from the council indicating that we would be impacted in a negative way,” said Finn. “From my understanding, [council decided] that gardening is just as valuable as skateboarding, and they would work out both being able to handle that space.”
She added, “It is a large space, so I’m trusting that that will be honoured.”
Registration for the Junior Garden Club is $15. Space is limited, and granted on a first-come, first-serve basis to those who call 519-669-8616 or 519-669-3244.