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2015 Year in Review

JANUARY

Former Wellesley coun. dies

A service was held Jan. 3 for former Wellesley councillor Jim Olender, who passed away Dec. 26 at Grand River Hospital at the age of 70.

Olender, a two-term councillor for Ward 3 (2006-2014), was remembered fondly by his former colleagues from around the council table. Olender ran for mayor in October, falling to Joe Nowak in a close race.

Subdivision moves forward

Plans for a 141-home subdivision in Elmira cleared another hurdle Jan. 13, as Woolwich council approved a zone-change application from Birdland Developments. The project, known as Southwood 3, involves the westward extension of South Parkwood Boulevard and the creation of lots for 84 single-family homes, 24 semi-detached houses and 33 townhouse units.

Heater causes $200,000 blaze near St. Jacobs

An early morning fire Jan. 16 that consumed one home and damaged two neighbouring properties in St. Jacobs’ Martin Grove Village was likely caused by a portable heater, according to the Woolwich fire officials.

Some 40 firefighters from the St. Jacobs, Conestogo and Elmira stations responded to the call around 1:30 a.m. at 103 and 105 Jessie Lee Ln.

Council stands firm on 0% tax hike for Woolwich

Woolwich residents will see no general tax increase this year, as council meeting Jan. 27 rolled back an expected two per cent tax hike, calling instead for expenditures to be reduced by that amount.

A special levy of 1.6 per cent to fund future infrastructure projects stood, however. Advocating for the public, councillors stuck to their goal despite resistance from staff, voting to can or put off a variety of spending requests.

Jigs Hollow pit back in play

Just as Winterbourne residents feared, the operator of the Jigs Hollow gravel pit moved forward with plans to extract aggregate below the water table. Preston Sand and Gravel has requested a meeting with Woolwich Township to get the process started.

In an Ontario Municipal Board settlement, Woolwich agreed to allow for a pit on an 89-acre site at 125 Peel St. Work started on the site in 2013, but then quickly stopped when higher-than-expected groundwater levels were found, severely reducing the amount of accessible aggregate material.

FEBRUARY

Expansion cleared for St. Jacobs outlet mall

Deeming the changes minor, Woolwich has approved an amendment to its official plan allowing for an expanded range of uses at the St. Jacobs Factory Outlet Mall. The decision clears the way for the operators to find additional tenants for the retail centre adjacent to the farmers’ market.

Meeting February 3, councillors agreed to amend the definition of factory outlet mall to allow a maximum of 20 per cent of the gross leasable floor area to be non-manufacturer outlet stores, in addition to manufacturer outlet stores, as a part of the retail mix within the mall at 25 Benjamin Rd.

Cowan charged with fraud for expense claims

Former Woolwich mayor Todd Cowan has been charged with fraud under $5,000 and breach of trust in relation to his expense claims.

The charges announced Feb. 6 followed an investigation conducted by members of the Ontario Provincial Police Anti-Rackets Branch. Initially investigated by Waterloo Regional Police, the case was turned over to the provincial force in October.

Cowan, 50, came under scrutiny last year after a review found he submitted expense claims resulting in a double reimbursement of more than $2,700. Expenses related to conferences, mileage and meals charged on the mayor’s township credit card were also filed with the Region of Waterloo. As mayor, Cowan served as Woolwich’s representative on regional council.

Jacks swept in opening round of playoffs

The Wellesley Applejacks’ season came to a disappointing but expected end on Feb. 11 as they fell 8-4 to the Ayr Centennials, who completed a four-game sweep of the first-round playoff series. The score was in keeping with the first three matches, 5-1, 8-1 and 11-2 blowouts.

Fire in meat-processing trailer sends teen to hospital

A portable trailer used for cooking meat burst into flames on 4198 Arthur St. N., just north of Elmira on Feb. 17. Four people were in it at the time and a 15-year-old boy was airlifted to a Hamilton hospital with serious injuries. Damage was estimated at $30,000. The cause of fire is still under investigation.

Kings fill pair of vacancies in the management suite

The Sugar Kings will be under some new, but not completely unfamiliar leadership next season as Jeff Snyder was selected to be the director of hockey operations and Kevin Bloch was chosen as general manager.

The team had been searching for a few months after GM Paul Jennings resigned and hockey operations director Keith Stewart told the team he’d be finished after the season.

February sets a new record for cold temperatures

It’s official: February was the coldest month ever recorded in the Waterloo Region.

According to Environment Canada, the average temperature of minus-14.8 Celsius surpassed the previous record of minus-13.2 set way back in 1934. That’s a 9.3-degree drop off from the typical February average of minus-5.5.

And with 19 days below minus-20 (not including the wind chill) – there are typically two such days in February each year – it’s clear this was a truly remarkable stretch.

MARCH

Reprieve for transfer stations

The rural transfer stations earned a reprieve until year’s end as part of Waterloo Regional council’s approval of its 2015 budget on Mar. 4. Taxes will rise by another 2.58 per cent, above the inflation rate.

The transfer stations in the townships had been scheduled to close at the end of the month. The current, much-reduced hours will remain for the duration of the year. Council instructed waste management staff to work with private operators to see if a handoff of services can be arranged. Woolwich Township has been especially vocal about retaining the much-used facility in Elmira, pushing for the region to keep the station open pending sale to a private operator.

Cowan defaults on filing

On top of his legal woes over double billing expense claims, former Woolwich mayor Todd Cowan has defaulted on the Municipal Elections Act requirement to file an election campaign financial statement related to last fall’s vote. All paperwork was due in the township office by March 27, and Cowan was the only candidate not to comply.

As a result, he is now ineligible to stand as a municipal council candidate anywhere in Ontario during the next trip to the polls in 2018.

Elmira’s sweetest day of all

The syrup was flowing, the pancakes were sizzling, and the sun was shining on the 51st Elmira Maple Syrup Festival Mar. 28.

Despite a chilly start to the morning, clear blue skies invited some 68,000 people to the world’s largest one-day syrup fest, which has become an annual outing for many.

“It’s not just a festival, it’s now a tradition,” chairperson Drew McGovern said. “I have three kids and they’re all in their 30s now. Getting home for sap day is a big, big deal. Sap day, you have to come home.”

Food bank launches in Wellesley

Looking to fill the gap between social programs and out-of-town food banks, a group of dedicated community volunteers have teamed up to fight hunger in the Township of Wellesley.

The Wellesley Community Food Cupboard will officially open next month, but first the group behind the pilot program hosted open houses on Mar. 28-29 in an effort to raise awareness and fill the shelves at their 146 David St. location in the village.

APRIL

Kings win Cherrey Cup

The Elmira Sugar Kings captured the 2014- 2015 Cherrey Cup Apr. 1 with a decisive 5-1 victory over the Stratford Cullitons.

More than 1,500 spectators packed the Woolwich Memorial Centre to watch game five. Leading the series 3-1, the Kings were eager to clinch the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Midwestern Conference championship on home ice.

Grant gives the green light to Wellesley playground

With a $150,000 Ontario Trillium Fund grant in hand and a green light from council, the Wellesley and District Lions Club is ready to break ground on its accessible playground.

The $310,000 project will replace the existing facility behind the Wellesley Arena with state of the art equipment designed to provide an open and inclusive environment for children of all abilities and needs.

Hahn case sets a precedent for Woolwich, region

Elmira Coun. Scott Hahn and his election expense claims brought about the first meeting of the region’s Municipal Election Compliance Audit Committee (MECAC). The case appeared to be a first for the township and Waterloo Region. It was certainly an unknown for Woolwich clerk Val Hummel, who’s had a long tenure at the administrative office. On Apr. 13, she fielded a request to audit Hahn’s expenses from Dan Holt, one of six candidates who ran in Ward 1 during last fall’s municipal election.

Kings fall to LaSalle in semi-finals on home ice

Home ice advantage with a whopping 1,500 fans wasn’t enough to secure a game-seven win for the Elmira Sugar Kings, as they fell 3-1 to the LaSalle Vipers on April 19, eliminating them from a Sutherland Cup run.

Wildcard LaSalle was ready right out of the gate, notching two goals in the first four minutes, a deficit Elmira couldn’t recover from.

MAY

Elmira church marks 100th anniversary

When the first sermon was preached and the opening hymns sang at St. James Elmira Lutheran Church’s new sanctuary on Arthur Street in downtown Elmira, Canadian soldiers were fighting the Great War at the Battle of Ypres, women had yet to win the right to vote and the service was given in German. Some 1,000 people celebrated the dedication at 60 Arthur St. S. on May 5, 1915, which saw the growing congregation move into the church that it continues to use today.

The church marked the centenary with a special ceremony May 24.

Hachborn named to biz hall of fame

Walter Hachborn, founder of Home Hardware, was inducted as a Companions of the Order of the Business Hall of Fame. The new inductees were honoured for their enduring contributions to the Canadian economy and society.

The Order of the Business Hall of Fame is the highest honour of its kind in Canadian business. Each year, business leaders are nominated by their peers and chosen by an independent selection committee representing Canada’s leading business and academic institutions.

Rally draws opponents to Breslau park deal

While the turnout was relatively modest, sentiment at May 9’s rally against the sale of a significant chunk of Breslau’s Memorial Park for a new school was passionate and one-sided.

Some 60 people and a number of young children came out to the Breslau Community Centre for the “Save Our Park” event to show their opposition to the proposed deal between the township and the Waterloo Catholic District School Board.

The proposal proved to be the subject of an ongoing division between residents, and between the township and the community.

Committee orders audit of Hahn’s election expenses

Declaring many questions remain unanswered, a committee reviewing Woolwich councillor Scott Hahn’s election expenses determined May 11 there are grounds for an audit.

Members of the region’s Municipal Election Compliance Audit Committee (MECAC) were quick to point out the decision had nothing to do with the Ward 1 representative’s character, but with the incomplete paperwork he had filed.

Bauman in limbo pending court appeal

Mark Bauman was on the sidelines pending a court decision on his status as councillor for Woolwich’s Ward 2.

The longstanding councillor, returned by acclamation in 2014’s municipal election, failed to submit an expense report by the Mar. 27 deadline. Under the province’s Election Act, that saw him forfeit his seat immediately, but the township held off on a decision until the matter was resolved in court. The review of Bauman’s situation was prompted by a complaint from Elmira resident Alan Marshall, who filed a statement on May 20.

Bauman reinstated as  Woolwich councillor

Mark Bauman returned to the Woolwich council table, as a Kitchener Superior Court judge reinstated him May 28 as the representative for Ward 2. The decision brings some closure to the weeklong saga that saw the township short a councillor, at least technically.

JUNE

Private firms step in to clean up dumped waste

After a week in limbo, Michelle Shannon and John Weber got a solution to the hazardous waste illegally dumped at their farm on Weeby Place just outside of Conestogo. Since the Ministry of the Environment and the Region of Waterloo waste management division refused to clean up the mess, a pair of private companies stepped in to help.

Safety-Kleen, an environmental services company with operations in Breslau, was on site June 3 testing the contents of the 24 rusty barrels mostly unlabeled, with some marked as grease or oily water, on the bumpy farm lane at the edge of the family’s sugar bush a week earlier.

Rank teeing up at Pan Am Games

Garrett Rank added another milestone to his 2015 schedule this week. The Elmira native was selected by the Canadian Olympic Committee to compete for Canada in golf at the 2015 Pan Am Games.

No report cards, says school board

Waterloo Region’s 40,000 public elementary school students will not receive year-end report cards, following a controversial decision by the WRDSB. Students were sent home with a letter from the board June 16 informing parents that there would be no grades this year. Instead, they would get a “letter of placement” for the 2015-16 school year.

Audit requested for mayor’s election expenses

Add Mayor Sandy Shantz to the list of Woolwich councillors scrutinized for their election expenses.

Her financial statement was put under the microscope at a July 2 meeting of the Municipal Election Compliance Audit Committee (MECAC).

The group got plenty of work in the township, where Ward 1 Coun. Scott Hahn’s election filing is under review and Ward 3 Coun. Mark Bauman was temporarily removed from council for failing to file.

Woolwich to axe CPAC for new review format

Looking to woo Chemtura and the Ministry of the Environment back into the fold, Woolwich scrapped the citizen watchdog that monitors the Elmira chemical company in favour of a new, less adversarial format. Neither Chemtura nor the ministry has been attending meetings of the current Chemtura Public Advisory Committee (CPAC).

CPAC was to be dissolved as of August 31, replaced by two new bodies, the Remediation Advisory Committee (RAC), which will be the CPAC’s direct substitute, and a Technical Advisory Group (TAG), will provide technical advice and recommendations to RAC.

Woolwich councillors meeting June 16 reviewed the changes, including the terms of reference for the two new groups, giving official approval June 23.

Woolwich post large surplus

Woolwich reported a tax-supported surplus of $759,000 in 2014, with most of the funds destined for the township infrastructure reserve fund.

Higher than expected tax revenues, principally from the addition to the rolls of the new Waterloo North Hydro building, and larger dividends from the township’s ownership stake in the utility fueled much of the surplus, director of finance Richard Petherick reported to council June 16.

Report cards, says school board

Responding to pressure from concerned parents and students, the Waterloo Region District School Board would hire 40 temporary staff members to get students their marks by Aug. 31.

One of the last boards in the province to hold out on a decision to provide grades for the 2014-15 school year’s second term, the board changed its tune June 17. The summary of marks would not include teacher comments, nor be filed in official student records.

JULY

No audit of Shantz’s expenses

Woolwich Mayor Sandy Shantz, having submitted a new, audited expense report of her spending in the 2014 election, leaned she wouldn’t be subjected to a formal audit.

Members of the Municipal Election Compliance Audit Committee (MECAC) meeting July 2 were satisfied with the new paperwork, dismissing the application by Elmira resident Alan Marshall for a review of Shantz’s election filing.

Shantz stripped of mayoralty

The mayor’s seat in Woolwich was vacant as Sandy Shantz waited for a court date in a bid to be reinstated. Having failed to file an audited statement of election expenses by the Mar. 27 deadline, Shantz was automatically removed from the position under the terms of Ontario’s Municipal Elections Act.

Shantz was served a notice of default by the township July 8.

The move came less than a week after a Municipal Election Compliance Audit Committee (MECAC) decision to dismiss an application by Elmira resident Alan Marshall for a review of Shantz’s election filing.

Jacks pick Wellesley’s Brad Gerber as new head coach

The Wellesley Applejacks took a local approach, choosing long-time Wellesley residents for their head coach and team captain positions.

Brad Gerber was named coach and Justin Lebold given the big “C.”

Police make arrest in dumping of toxins in Conestogo

A 51-year-old Kitchener man charged with dumping toxic waste at a Conestogo-area sugar bush was remanded in court.

Waterloo Regional Police charged Donald William Hector with mischief over $5,000 on July 10, following an investigation into the case of 24 barrels containing oily water, waste grease, acid powders and polychlorinated biphenyl, surreptitiously stashed at the end of a farm lane at Michelle Shannon and John Weber’s Weeby Place property in May.

Arrest warrant issued for Todd Cowan

An arrest warrant was issued for former Woolwich mayor Todd Cowan after he failed to appear in court to answer to charges of fraud and breach of trust.

Accused of double billing expenses to the township and Waterloo Region, Cowan did not attend his court date on July 21 despite a court order to attend. His lawyer, Thomas Brock, said he made more than 30 attempts to reach his client before the trial date.

Court reinstates Shantz as Woolwich mayor

Sandy Shantz was reinstated as Woolwich’s mayor by a court ruling July 23.

The proceedings were slightly more complicated than in the case of Coun. Mark Bauman, who was reinstated quickly after being removed from office for similar reasons.

The court granted leave to speak to Alan Marshall, whose complaint led to Shantz’s removal in the first place.

In the end, Shantz was returned to the office she was forced to vacate on July 8 when the township served her with a notice of default for failing to file the required paperwork

Elevated DDT levels found in Canagagigue

High levels of contaminants, particularly DDT, found downstream of the Chemtura chemical plant in Elmira warrant quick action, an environmental watchdog group warned.

The Chemtura Public Advisory Committee called for more testing and immediate action to stop contaminants leaking offsite along the plant’s eastern and southern boundaries.

Meeting for the last time July 23, the group called on Woolwich to endorse a resolution to be sent to the Ministry of the Environment.

Auditors find issues with Hahn’s election expenses

Scott Hahn may have contravened the Municipal Elections Act on several fronts, according to a compliance audit of the Woolwich councillor’s election expenses released on Aug. 11.

Prepared by Froese Forensic Partners, the report found there was a lack of proper paperwork in relation to campaign signs and brochures prepared by Hahn’s family members.

Specifically, there may have been issues with contributions by Tri-Mach Group – owned by Hahn’s father, Michael Hahn – and KKP Waterloo, a printing company owned by his in-laws.

Ombudsman calls for changes to Woolwich meetings

Woolwich changed how it handles closed meetings of council after the Ontario Ombudsman found the township had violated the rules on several occasions.

André Marin’s report, completed in June and tabled at council’s Aug. 11 meeting, includes eight recommendations following his office’s review of the minutes from three specific meeting of councillors (Jan. 13 and 20, Feb. 3) and one meeting of the Chemtura Public Advisory Committee (CPAC) from Aug. 11, 2014).

The Ombudsman found a variety of faults, from failing to notify the public of where the in camera sessions would be held to discussing issues that should have been dealt with in open session.

Former Woolwich councillor dies in collision

Former Woolwich councillor and Elmira realtor Allan Poffenroth died as a result of injuries from a three-vehicle collision east of Palmerston on Aug. 19. He was 68. The crash happened at the intersection of Wellington County Rd. 8 and Wellington County Rd. 9 in Mapleton Township.

Poffenroth was the driver and lone occupant of the vehicle. He was transported by Guelph-Wellington Emergency Medical Services to a local hospital then airlifted to Hamilton General Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.

Woolwich councillor Scott Hahn learned he wouldn’t face legal action over his election expenses, as an audit committee opted Aug. 27 not to send the case to a prosecutor.

The majority of the seven-member Municipal Election Compliance Audit Committee (MECA) voted to consider the matter closed. The split was 6-1.

The decision came as a relief to Hahn, who had spent the previous few months on tenterhooks as his election filings were first reviewed by MECAC and then referred to an auditor. He grew visibly more relaxed as successive committee members spoke in favour of ending the matter rather than referring it to the courts.

SEPTEMBER

Taskforce split on Breslau school proposal

The bulk of the community either opposed or indifferent to the project, a taskforce looking into selling Breslau parkland to house a new Catholic elementary school recommended Woolwich go ahead with it. The split was apparent in the committee itself, with only three of seven voting members in favour, while two are opposed and two undecided even after months of study.

Mulling over a report Sept. 8, councillors said they needed more information before making a final decision, aware that the community was divided, with many seeing the deal as a township cash-grab selling out Breslau residents.

Region ignores Woolwich, plans to close transfer station

Intent on closing the Elmira transfer station over the objections of Woolwich residents, the Region of Waterloo opted to do nothing to help keep the well-used facility going as a private venture.

Months after promising to look at options for turning over the transfer station to a private operator, the region sat on his hands instead. Regional council’s planning and works committee voted to mothball the waste stations in all of the rural townships by December 31.

The region has no interest in keeping the transfer station going, or even in helping the township maintain a service widely used by residents, Woolwich Coun. Patrick Merlihan, who made a presentation to the committee Sept. 15, said at the time.

Sally Draper named ambassador as Wellesley fair gets underway

Second time was a charm for Wellesley’s Sally Draper. As a two-time participant, she was chosen as the new Wellesley-North Easthope Fall Fair Ambassador.

The 2014-15 ambassador, Ashley Jeffries, handed over the crown and sash on Sept. 15 at the opening of the fair after judges selected Draper as the winner. Four hopefuls had vied for the title.

Regional council axes waste transfer station

A last-minute pitch to keep Elmira’s transfer station open pending a handover to a private operator fell on deaf ears at regional council Sept. 23, as councillors voted to close all the rural waste stations by year’s end.

Citing decreasing tonnage as it cut back the Elmira facility to a small fraction of its former hours of operation, the region used that as a rationale for cutting the service despite the fact it was widely used. The location saw more than 25,000 visits prior to tampering by regional officials. The closure of all four stations was touted as saving about $208,000 a year, based on the curtailed service levels imposed by the region.

Wellesley finds its new idol

Paige Warner was named the 2015 Wellesley Idol at the Wellesley ABC Festival on Sept. 26. She took home $500 for her win. Second place went to Taylor Kelly, third to Brooke Bauer, and fan favourite to Jessie MacDonald. They each received $300, $200, and $125, respectively.

Manslaughter plea in Austin Padric death

A 22-year-old Elmira man pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the 2013 death of a Heidelberg teen. Austin Padric, 17, died six days after snorting crushed-up morphine tablets at a party in Elmira.

Quin Kurtz admitted in a Kitchener courtroom Sept. 28 that he told others not to call 911 even after Padric showed signs of distress.

Council says no to plan for school in Breslau park

Perhaps heeding the adage that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone, Woolwich council opted out of a proposal that would have swapped township land for a new school and improvements to Breslau Memorial Park.

While it may not have been paradise at risk of being paved over, residents out at the Sept. 29 meeting were adamant the park was worth saving in its current configuration. In a 3-2 vote, councillors agreed.

The proposal floated by the Waterloo Catholic District School Board was for the township to sell it a portion of land in the park. The $1.75-million deal would allow for upgrades to the park and community centre, as well as community access to new facilities, including a 5,000-square-foot library operated by the Region of Waterloo.

OCTOBER

Council says yes to plan for school in Breslau park

Two votes – one changed, one new – delivered up a chunk of Breslau parkland for a new Catholic elementary school Oct. 4. Coun. Mark Bauman’s vote, coupled with that of Coun. Scott Hahn, who missed the previous week’s meeting, was enough to reverse Woolwich council’s decision about the controversial joint project on township land. The new vote was 4-2 in favour (Patrick Merlihan and Larry Shantz stayed the course), whereas councillors were opposed 3-2 at the Sept. 29 committee of the whole meeting.

The decision clears the way for the township to sell a portion of Breslau Memorial Park to the Waterloo Catholic District School Board.

$2.4 million towards new child care centre in Elmira

Elmira was one of the recipients under the province-wide $120 million Child Care Investment. Some $2.4 million is going towards the now-under-construction Riverside Public School in Elmira, covering a large portion of the cost to build the new child care centre within the school. The current plan is to fill up 88 spots, housed in five rooms.

Albrecht retains seat as Liberals win federal election

As a sea of red swathed Canada in a Liberal majority government on Oct. 17, Kitchener-Conestoga MP Harold Albrecht held onto his Conservative seat the only blue riding left in Waterloo Region.

Voters chose Albrecht over Liberal candidate Tim Louis by just 351 votes, the closest election race Albrecht’s ever faced. He won the riding with 43.4 per cent of the vote. Louis was less than a percentage point behind at 42.6 per cent. With the Conservatives picking up 99 seats across Canada, they’ll be the official opposition – a first for Albrecht, who had served in government since been elected.

The Liberals earned a majority government with 184 seats, or 54 per cent of the 338 available. The NDPs will have 44 seats, followed by the Bloc Quebecois with 10, and Elizabeth May holding on to the lone Green seat.

Childcare centres to remain open, region decides

Parents in Elmira and across the region breathed a sigh of relief after Waterloo Region council voted 14-1 against a consultant’s recommendation to close the five regional childcare centres.

The consultant had suggested eliminating the 250 childcare spots, some of which are filled at the Elmira Children’s Centre, in exchange for creating 200 subsidized spots.

No further audit of Shantz’s expenses, MECAC says

A review committee rejected a request for an audit of Woolwich mayor Sandy Shantz’s election expense claims.

It was the second kick at the can for applicant Alan Marshall, whose previous filing had seen Shantz removed from office temporarily, but resulted in no action from the Municipal Election Compliance Audit Committee (MECAC).

At the Oct. 26 hearing, MECAC members were unequivocal in dismissing Marshall’s claims for a forensic audit, chastising him for his handling of the matter and his inflammatory written submissions and comments.

Cowan turns self in after arrest warrant issued again

Failing to appear Oct. 25 at his ‘failure to appear’ hearing, former Woolwich mayor Todd Cowan had a warrant out for his arrest … for the second time that year. His lawyer Thomas Brock’s subsequent request to be taken off the case as counsel was granted by the judge. Cowan turned himself into the courthouse later that afternoon.

Cowan’s case has been before the court since Mar. 3. It had been unable to move forward due to Cowan’s lack of communication with his lawyer.

Kings fire coach after skid

The team’s losing skid having hit eight games, the Elmira Sugar Kings management made the decision Oct. 30 to fire head coach Jeff Flanagan, making assistant coach Ty Canal the new head coach for the rest of the season.

NOVEMBER

Wellesley Township to honour trio of residents as its citizens of the year

Community spirit is in such abundance in Wellesley Township that organizers decided to name three Citizen of the Year recipients. John Pym received the Citizen of the Year Award, Derek Brick the Youth Citizen of the Year Award, and Jim Green was awarded the Lifetime Citizen of the Year Award.

Cowan trial begins

As the fraud trial of former Woolwich mayor Todd Cowan got underway Nov. 21, the prosecution painted a picture of someone unfamiliar with expense policies who used his township credit card for personal expenses and did not keep atop of the paperwork.

Heidelberg Foods breaks ground on expansion

Heidelberg Foods took a step towards nearly doubling the size of their processing plant in St. Jacobs.

The fine food producer, owned by Markham’s Jevons Capital Group, broke ground Nov. 25 on a construction project that will add 12,000 square feet to their processing plant. As well as adding square footage, the company will also be taking on an estimated 10 more employees, adding to the group of 30 workers already employed at the plant.

The poor election expense filings of three Woolwich councillors cost taxpayers $53,300 in 2015.

Mayor Sandy Shantz and Ward 2 Coun. Mark Bauman were both removed from officeor failing to meet deadlines for filing proper paperwork related to the 2014 municipal election.

In each case, they applied to the courts for reinstatement. As well, both Shantz and Ward 1 Coun. Scott Hahn faced hearings before the Municipal Election Compliance Audit Committee (MECAC).

Of the $53,300 total, staff costs were pegged at $13,475. Out of pocket expenses included $17,350 in legal bills for Hahn, Shantz and Bauman, $15,725 for an audit of Coun. Scott Hahn’s expense and $6,750 in MECAC hearing costs for Hahn and Shantz.

DECEMBER

Woolwich gains some time to save Elmira transfer station

Facing the closure at year’s end of the Elmira waste transfer station, Woolwich gained another five months to bring on a private operator as the region appears ready to extend a lifeline one last time.

Regional council’s planning and works committee voted to keep operating the facility until the end of May. There will be no more reprieves, Mayor Sandy Shantz reported to her Woolwich colleagues meeting Dec. 6.

Chemtura quickly contains small chemical spill

A chemical spill Dec. 19 at the Chemtura plant was much smaller in scope and scale than the 2010 release of the same chemical.

In that incident, some 4,200 kilograms of BLE 25, a mixture of diphenylamine and acetone used as an antioxidant in the making of some rubber products, was sprayed over a swath of Elmira. This time, less than 50 kg escaped, most of it caught up in a containment tank. A small amount made its way into the Canagagigue, but it was collected before leaving the site.

Woolwich floats 3.6% tax hike

For 2016, township staff is floating an operating budget of $15.3 million and another $12 million in capital spending. To cover that, Woolwich will hit up residents for another $9.4 million in taxes, proposing a tax hike of 3.6 per cent – 2.1 plus 1.5 in a special infrastructure levy. That adds another $25.02 a year to the bill applied to a home assessed at $302,000.

 

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