»Milo Shantz succumbs to cancer
The man whose name is synonymous with St. Jacobs passed away Jan. 6 after a lengthy battle with cancer. Milo Shantz was 76. Beginning with the opening of the Stone Crock Restaurant in 1975, he eventually transformed the village into an international tourist destination. In 1981, he launched Mercedes Corp, which focused on property development and promoting tourism. Along with brother Ross Shantz, he amassed extensive holdings in the village, including the St. Jacobs and Waterloo Farmers’ Markets, the Ontario Livestock Exchange and the St. Jacobs Outlet Mall.
»Arrest in Wellesley house fire
Police arrested a 28-year-old woman Jan. 12 in connection with a Dec. 9 house fire on Molesworth Road in Wellesley Village. Julie MacLennan was charged with ‘arson by negligence,’ ‘production of cannabis resin’ and ‘possession of cannabis resin.’
»Fees on the rise in Woolwich
Woolwich council voted Jan. 13 to increase recreation fees by an average of eight per cent. Other fees for such services as zone change amendments and building inspections jumped about three per cent, closer to the falling inflation rate.
»Region hikes tax rate
The 2009 budget approved Jan. 14 by Waterloo Region council called for a 3.15 per cent property tax increase. The increase added $43.38 to the average household’s tax bill. The police services budget increased 1.27 per cent, while the regional services budget increased 1.88 per cent.
»Hockeyville efforts kicks into high gear
Woolwich’s love of hockey was evident enough to get it into the top-10 list of CBC’s Kraft Hockeyville contest in which communities from across the country vied to be crowned the hockey capital of Canada in 2009.
The township was shortlisted as one of 10 finalists selected from a list of 195 entrants on Jan. 14. Voting to whittle that down to five began immediately after the list was announced.
»Taxes jump 6% in Woolwich
Another big jump in staff costs, the township’s largest expense, spearheaded a six-per-cent tax increase for Woolwich residents for 2009. That translated into an additional payout of approximately $30 per year on a home with an assessed value of $200,000. The increase that gained tentative council approval Feb. 3 called for a four-per-cent jump in the general tax levy; with a further two per cent capital levy for recreation projects – some $114,000 for the fund earmarked for Woolwich’s extensive, township-wide recreational facilities program.|
»Large jump in water rates approved
Also approved Feb. 3 was a water-rate increase of 9.4 per cent, to $1.24 per cubic metre from $1.14. That represented an additional $18 to $24 per year for the average household. The wastewater rate climbed by 13.6 per cent, to $1.48 per cubic metre from $1.30, adding about $32 to $43 per year to the average annual cost.
»Wellesley considers residents in setting tax rate
Where other area municipalities inflicted tax hikes outstripping inflation, Wellesley looked at the tough economic times and opted for a 1.25-per-cent increase for 2009. A pared-down budget won preliminary approval from councillors meeting Feb 17. The increase on the township portion of the property tax bill amounted to another $9.53 on a home assessed at $216,000, boosting the annual average total to $730.78.
»Rough year comes to an end for Applejacks
The Wellesley Applejacks ended a dismal season with a tough 4-0 loss to Thamesford Feb. 28, exiting the first round of the Southern Ontario Junior Hockey League playoffs in four games.
»We’re number three
The Hockeyville title went to Terrace, B.C. On Mar. 7, local hockey fans congregated at the Elmira Arena to watch Hockey Night in Canada on the big screen discovered Woolwich finished in third spot. When you consider the hundreds of communities that jumped into the fray when CBC’s Kraft Hockeyville competition kicked off, Woolwich didn’t fare too badly in reaching the final five, joined by Terrace, Humbolt, SK, Harbour Grace, N.L. and Thetford Mines, Que. The winner garnered 1.9 million votes, followed by Humboldt, which came a close second with 1.8 million; Woolwich finished third with 1,163,142.
»Kings exit playoffs with loss to Kitchener
For the Elmira Sugar Kings, who lost the best-of-seven series against the Kitchener Dutchmen in game six Mar. 8, the season boiled down to such a single, fleeting overtime moment. It came at the 12:08 minute mark of overtime, with the Kings and the Dutchmen tied 3-3, with Kitchener ending Kings’ hopes for a seventh game.
»YMT closes up shop in Elmira
The tough times for Canada’s auto sector spread to Elmira, where YM Technology Inc., the automotive tool and die plant located on South Field Drive, closed its doors at the end of March. In operation since 1998, the plant, owned by Yachiyo Industry Co. of Japan, started to feel the crunch some two years earlier as customers pushed for lower prices. Eighteen of the company’s 20 workers lost their jobs. The remaining two employees were to be relocated to a sister plant in Barrie.
»Fire destroys barn, kills livestock
A barn fire on Kossuth Road east of the Region of Waterloo International Airport Mar. 24 caused an estimated $125,000 worth of damage. Ten horses, three dogs and a pig died in the fire, which destroyed the two-storey barn. The horses in the barn were recovery horses, scheduled to go to the slaughterhouse but rescued instead.
»Counselling centre building named for Gladwell
When The Woolwich Counselling Centre held its grand opening Mar. 28, its new home was named the Joyce Gladwell Building. The organization purchased and renovated the former St. Aidan’s Church on Memorial Avenue with the help of a major fundraising push.
»Numbers drop at EMSF
Poor weather made for slow start to the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival Apr. 4. The event’s 45th year was met with nasty morning winds.
An estimated 35,000 to 40,000 people attended the festival, down significantly from the previous year’s high of 70,000.
»Bus service rolls into Elmira
Grand River Transit (GRT) launched Route 21 Apr. 6, connecting Elmira and St. Jacobs to Conestoga Mall via regular bus service. The event kicked off a year-long pilot project.
»Road conditions blamed for fatal collision
The driver of a FedEx delivery truck was killed Apr. 7 following a collision with a tanker truck on Floradale Road near Church Street West. John Leblanc, 34, of Ayr succumbed to his injuries after the vehicle he was driving crossed into the path of a milk tanker. Air ambulance responded but Leblanc was pronounced deceased at the scene. The other driver, a 57-year-old Cambridge man, was not injured. Police investigated the scene and determined that poor weather and road conditions were major factors in the collision.
»Local ringette squad takes national crown
The St. Clements Junior AA ringette team put up a solid gold performance at the Canadian ringette championships in Charlottetown, P.E.I., going undefeated en route to capturing the title Apr. 11.
»Fierce winds leave trail of damage
An early taste of summer’s unsettled weather swept through the area Apr. 25, as a brief but powerful storm erupted in the late afternoon. Strong winds wreaked a significant amount of damage throughout the townships, leaving many people without electricity, before heading east.
»Kudos for Heidelberg man
Heidelberg resident Ryan Marshall, 32, was one of those named to the Globe and Mail’s Top 40 Under 40 list.
Vice-president of operating systems at Research In Motion, he and 39 others were chosen from more than 1,200 nominees by a 26-member independent advisory board. His profile appeared May 1.
»Paintball bid shot down
The Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) upheld a decision by Woolwich council to disallow a zone change for a paintball operation. Eric Schwindt, who operated Shoot to Splatter on his farm north of Elmira, had been attempting to legalize the longstanding use on the site. Council turned down his zone change application the previous fall, prompting Schwindt’s appeal to the OMB. A hearing was held in February, with the board ultimately deciding the use does not conform to township and Waterloo Region planning directives.
»Jacks make changes at the top
After a dismal season and a first-round exit from the playoffs, the Wellesley Applejacks made changes behind the bench, with team president Kevin Fitzpatrick taking on the coach and general manager’s duties.
It was the fifth coaching change made by the team in three years in response to poor on-ice performance. After a decade in which they played for the championship nearly every year, the Jacks’ fortunes have fallen steadily: 2008-2009 was the third season in a row the team was put out in the first round of the playoffs.
»Fundraising boosts McLeod Arena
The All in 4 Jim fundraising walk held May 24 raised more than $48,000, with the money going toward the new Woolwich Memorial Centre. One of the two ice pads bears the name of Jim McLeod, who lost a battle to cancer in 2007 at the age of 58. He was involved in local sports for many years, as a minor hockey coach and equipment manager for the Elmira Sugar Kings and later the Canadian sledge hockey team.
»Tractor leads wild police chase
Police in Elmira gave chase to a tractor after it was stolen from a Maryhill Road area farm on June 5. The driver of the tractor, 34-year-old Troy Victor Taibinger from the Walkerton area, led police officers in two cruisers on a wild chase that spanned the townships of Woolwich and Wellesley and lasted some two hours. He was later arrested and charged with ‘theft over $5,000,’ ‘possession of stolen property over $5,000,’ ‘flight from police,’ ‘dangerous operation of a motor vehicle’ and ‘possession of a controlled substance.’
»Steddick meets wrecking ball
The Steddick Hotel, a longtime landmark in downtown Elmira, was demolished, having been boarded-up and derelict for years. The site is to become part of an expanded convenience store and gas bar.
»GO picks Breslau for park-and-ride
A Greenhouse Road, Breslau location was selected as the site for a park-and-ride train station under a plan to extend GO Transit services to Kitchener by 2011. The project would see the construction of a small station and parking for 700 cars (with room for an additional 350) on land along the existing CN/Goderich-Exeter Railway tracks running south of Hwy. 7. That line would connect Kitchener and Guelph to the current GO service in Georgetown, then on to Toronto.
»Township picks fitness centre operator
A holistic approach to the health and wellness of residents won the day as the township selected a service provider to staff the fitness centre at the soon-to-be-opened Woolwich Memorial Centre, councillors decided June 8. The bid by Personal Best Health and Performance Inc. of Caledon was selected from among five responses to the township’s request for proposals to operate the 2,300-square-foot facility inside the WMC.
»Townships feel stimulated
In the largest stimulus-spending handout to date, Woolwich received just shy of $6 million for four projects; Wellesley got $1.3 million for three of its roads projects. With Kitchener-Conestoga MP Harold Albrecht and his provincial counterpart, MPP Leeanna Pendergast, at Woolwich council chambers June 12 to dole out money, there was nothing but smiles going around.
»Wellesley hires new fire chief
Andrew Lillico was named Wellesley Township’s first full-time fire chief. Formerly deputy fire chief for the City of Waterloo, he was offered the job by councillors meeting June 22.
»Plane crash kills pilot
A 65-year-old Kitchener man, Janic Volcec, died on the scene June 29 when his homemade two-seater airplane plummeted to the ground in a sod farm on Shantz Station Road, adjacent to the Region of Waterloo International Airport in Breslau.
»EDSS student dies following
Dani Tillich, 16, was struck by a truck after stepping off a Grand River Transit bus in St. Jacobs July 8. She was taken by helicopter to Hamilton General Hospital with brain damage, where she was hospitalized for a week before succumbing to her injuries July 16.
»Construction begins on Breslau community centre
An official ceremony July 16 marked the start of construction on a new community centre in Breslau. The 10,000-square-foot addition to the existing Empire Communities Ltd. sales office, which is to be turned over to the township when the 475-home subdivision is built out, is slated to cost $2.2-million.
»Wellesley collision claims a life
Nineteen-year-old Irene Kuepfer of Millbank died July 17 after being struck by a cube van on Chalmers-Forrest Road, near William Hastings Line in Wellesley Township. She was airlifted to London Health Sciences, but later succumbed to her injuries. Kuepfer was struck as she was riding southbound on what was described as a homemade scooter.
»Elmira couple celebrates 70th anniversary
Elmira’s Jean and Lloyd Habel celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary July 29. The pair were married in Kitchener in 1939.
»Pedestrian killed in Elmira
An 82-year-old pedestrian was struck and killed by a black Dodge pickup truck as he attempted to cross Church Street West in Elmira Aug. 6. The vehicle, being driven by a 52-year-old Elmira man, had been travelling westbound at the time. The victim, Archie McKee, was later pronounced dead at Grand River Hospital in Kitchener. The driver was later charged with ‘careless driving.’
»Wild weather rolls in
The arrival of summery weather – absent for most of the season – brought with it some unstable conditions Aug. 9, when a storm tore through the region. Some 1,000 customers in the Bloomingdale area and another 850 in Waterloo were without power for several hours. The storm also damaged trees throughout the township.
»Golf tourney raises $12,000
The Jeanne Renault Golf Classic, held Aug. 13, raised $12,000 for the family violence prevention program at Woolwich Community Services. In its 15th year, the tournament drew 95 golfers to the Conestoga Country Club.
»Buggy accident claims Wellesley woman
A 51-year-old Wellesley Township woman died Aug. 18, succumbing to injuries sustained five days earlier when the horse-drawn buggy she was riding in was hit from behind by a minivan. Edna Hoover was a passenger in the buggy, being driven by a 17-year-old Wellesley woman, travelling westbound on Ament Line when it was struck by a Dodge minivan being driven by a 74-year-old Listowel-area man.
»Neighbours, environmentalists oppose subdivision
Plans for a residential subdivision on Elmira’s Union Street received a welcome almost as caustic as the chemicals running underground in that part of town. Aside from the developer, no one who spoke at a public meeting Sept. 1 indicated any support for the development. Hawk Ridge Homes hopes to build 44 single-family and semi-detached homes on a 5.5-acre site, a former apple orchard fronting on Union Street. Neighbours, including Chemtura and Sulco Chemicals, seemed less-than-enthusiastic about the proposal.
»Conestogo bridge closed for repairs
Loose boards on the deck of the Glasgow Street bridge forced its closure Sept. 1. The old steel truss bridge was to be closed until appropriate repairs made it safe to carry traffic.
»Public celebrates opening of WMC
Hundreds of people gathered outside of the new $23-million Woolwich Memorial Centre in Elmira Sept. 12 for the official opening ceremonies, including a ribbon-cutting by the mayor and councillors. The township hosted a barbeque for some 1,100 people.
»New post for Pendergast
Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Leeanna Pendergast was named Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Education by Premier Dalton McGuinty. This new responsibility meant Pendergast would be working with Minister Kathleen Wynn in a portfolio that recognizes the background of the former school teacher.
»Walking for cancer research
A team of local women took a big step – or many of them – towards ending cancer at the Weekend to End Breast cancer event in Toronto Sept. 12-13. The nine women – Andrea Andrew, Carolyn Andrew, Denise Bloch, Charmaine deBoer, Deborah Dugas, Kim Fraser, Kara King, Carol Mussli, Sally Miller and Jill Mathers – raised about $24,000 and walked 60 kilometres.
»Wellesley selects fair ambassador
Kate Lindner, a 17-year-old student at Stratford Central Secondary School, was named the 2009 Wellesley-North Easthope Fair ambassador. She won the title Sept. 15 as the fair opened at the Wellesley Arena.
»Woolwich debentures for building boom
Having opened most of its new facilities, Woolwich lined up the last of the necessary financing Sept. 29, as township council agreed to borrow $3.72 million to cover the outstanding balance on some $35 million in capital projects. The township will pay back $270,000 annually for 25 years.
»Gun call brings large police response
Police descended on a Heidelberg neighbourhood Oct. 13, but were just setting up when a 64-year-old man took his own life without incident. The death of David Rung saw tactical officers swarming all over the normally quiet Meadowview Court, a small residential street with homes that back onto a large forested area.
»The day the NHL came to town
Some 1,500 fans turned the Woolwich Memorial Centre into a love-in for the Atlanta Thrashers Oct. 18. The NHL team met with fans, signed autographs and held a practice on the ice of the Dan Snyder Memorial Arena. The Thrashers took a detour between games in Buffalo and Montreal to honour former teammate Dan Snyder and see the rink named for him.
»Quilt auction nets $65K
Elmira District Community Living received a $65,000 boost from the proceeds of the Oct. 31 quilt auction. More than 130 pieces, including quilts, wall hangings and hooked rugs were auctioned off. The money raised was earmarked for a new apartment building EDCL is building on Snow Goose Crescent in Elmira.
»Protecting township history
Woolwich’s former township halls – one in Elmira, the other in Conestogo – are on their way to be deemed heritage structures. On Nov. 3, the township gave official ‘notice of intention to designate’ under the Ontario Heritage Act. Both buildings were declared as surplus properties in September, the first step in Woolwich’s plan to sell them, but neither will go on the market until the heritage process is complete.
»Fire guts Elmira home
An old fluorescent light fixture is believed to be the cause of a fire that started in the kitchen of a home at 17 Duke St. in Elmira during the early hours of Nov. 7. The residents, a family who had just purchased the house, managed to escape unharmed. Damage was estimated at $300,000.
»Public wins Victoria Glen battle
After a lengthy fight, residents went away happy Nov. 10 as Woolwich council scrapped a proposal to build a residential subdivision in a portion of Elmira’s Victoria Glen Park. Residents filled council chambers once again for the fateful decision, in which councillors opted to find money elsewhere to help fund a slate of new buildings in the township.
»Fire destroys Breslau-area barn
Damage was estimated at $187,000 after a fire destroyed a barn east of Breslau Nov. 15. Firefighters from three Woolwich stations – Maryhill, Conestogo and St. Jacobs – were called to the scene on the Woolwich-Guelph Townline Road.
»Bridge reopens after repairs
The Glasgow Street bridge in Conestogo reopened Nov. 18 following $36,000 in emergency repairs to deficiencies that had kept the structure closed since Sept. 1.
»Decades behind the chair
A fixture in downtown Elmira for almost 50 years, barber Don Schell retired at the age of 68.
»Kings shut down licensed area at home games
Saddled by what it called an unwieldy process, the Elmira Junior B hockey team shut down its Blue Line Club, the licensed area at Sugar King home games, on Nov. 22. Longstanding practices at the old Elmira Arena had been curtailed by township staff at the new Woolwich Memorial Centre. Cumbersome rules surrounding the storage and handling of liquor and beer – the team acquires a special occasion permit for each game – prompted the Kings to wrap up the Blue Line Club. Negotiations subsequently led to a resumption of service.
»Public gearing up for gravel pit fight
If a public meeting held Dec. 1 is any indication, Woolwich’s gravel pit battle is going to be a fierce one. Three of five applications under consideration were up for review at township council. Two smaller projects, essentially extensions of existing operations, drew little comment, but the third was an indication of what’s to come as the other two proposed pits work their way through the system this year. The contentious pit is proposed for a farm at 125 Peel St., west of Winterbourne and north of the Golf Course Road area of Conestogo. Some of those speaking out against this pit also pointed to the application by Hunder Developments for an aggregate operation immediately to the southeast of this site, across the river. The so-called Hunsberger pit is one of the two proposals – the other is the Capital Paving application for a pit near the covered bridge in West Montrose – requiring more detailed study before moving to the public meeting stage.
»Fire quickly engulfs Wellesley home
A fire destroyed a home at 1572 Greenwood Hill Rd. Dec. 17. Firefighters from all three Wellesley Township fire halls – Wellesley, Linwood and St. Clements – were called in to battle the blaze. A witness reported the fire after seeing smoke and flames coming from the rear of the house, located on a 74-acre farm parcel just north of Wellesley village.
»Breslau meat packer gets financial boost
On the run-up to Christmas, Conestoga Meat Packers in Breslau got a gift in the form of a $2.3-million investment from the federal government. The money went to help the company open new markets for Ontario pork. The investment, announced by Kitchener-Conestoga MP Harold Albrecht, came from the Canada’s Economic Action Plan’s $50-million Slaughter Improvement Program.
»From retail to office space
The Shops at Riverworks will become the new offices of Quarry Integrated Communications, an advertising and public relations firm currently based in Waterloo. Quarry will take over 24,000 square feet of space on the main floor and part of the second, moving 90 employees from their office building in Waterloo. Riverworks, owned by Mercedes Corp., currently houses 11 retailers, many of whom will be moved to new locations.