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The 2016 Year In Review

JANUARY

Collision claims local boy, 7

A seven-year-old boy was transported to Guelph General Hospital and then airlifted to Hamilton General Hospital on Jan. 6 with life-threatening injuries after being struck by a courier truck while riding his bicycle northbound on Line 86 near West Montrose. He veered across two lanes of traffic in an attempt to enter Halm Road before being struck. His nine-year-old brother accompanied him, but was uninjured.

The young victim, Abner Martin, subsequently died in hospital.

No school on Breslau parkland, council decides

Breslau Memorial Park will remain intact, as Woolwich council meeting Jan. 12 rejected the proposed sale of land to house a Catholic elementary school.

After more than three hours of impassioned pleas from residents, most overwhelmingly opposed to the parkland deal, the audience gathered at the Breslau Community Centre waited with bated breath as councillors debated the issue, then voted. An even split, 3-3, saw the motion to proceed with the sale die.

With the decision, Woolwich passed on the $1.75 million offered by the Waterloo Catholic District School Board and various park upgrades the school board offered for a four-acre chunk of parkland. The money was to be applied to improvements to the park.

Rates continue to climb for Woolwich water and wastewater customers

As part of its 2016 budget, Woolwich council approved large increases to water and sewer rates. The fees jumped by 2.4 per cent, double that to 4.8 per cent when calculating wastewater fees.

For the average residential user – based on 204 cubic metres annually – that amounted to another $8.16 per year for water, and $22.44 in wastewater fees.

Region jacks taxes well above inflation in 2016 budget

Township residents saw a 2.49 per cent increase in the regional portion of their property tax bills under the 2016 budget approved by Waterloo Region council. The figure was slightly lower than the 2.94 per cent increase – 2.27 per cent for regional services, and 0.67 per cent allocated for police – given the lower level of services outside of the cities.

At 2.94, the increase added $54 to the average household tax bill; the region uses an assessment value of $302,000, though the average is higher in Woolwich by another $40,000.

Woolwich will need millions to repair its bridges

With expensive repair bills soon coming due and little money to pay for them, Woolwich council got a dollars-and-cents lesson in the cost of failing infrastructure.

The township is facing $9.1 million in repair costs over the next 10 years just to deal with its aging bridges and culverts. That figure jumps to $17.2 million if it wants to replace its three deteriorating steel-truss bridges, one of which has already been closed, rather than trying to rehabilitate them.

Rec. spending skews Woolwich budget

Large increases in recreation costs in effect swallowed up Woolwich’s proposed 2.1 per cent tax hike for 2016, part of a “disturbing” trend in the department’s spending, argued Coun. Mark Bauman.

Net costs – expenses after revenues – for 2016 were forecasted at $2,447,665, up nine per cent from the 2015 budget of $2,238,837.

“Essentially, recreation is eating up more than our budget increase of 2.1 per cent. So the trend is disturbing to me,” said Bauman as councillors met for a special budget session Jan. 21.

Syrian refugees settled in township

Some 11 Syrian refugee families have agreed to move to Elmira and St. Jacobs, setting off a challenge to find housing for them.

Reception House executive director Albert Lobe said they’re working hard to get a few families into the rural communities. They had a hunch if they can get two or three families, it would start to grow to 11 or 12, and that would be their goal.

Approximately 300 refugees were with Reception House at the time, and every two or three days they pitched the idea of relocating to smaller towns outside of the cities.

Zoning OK’d for subdivision  in St. Jacobs

The latest phase of the Valley View Heights development got official clearance Jan. 19, paving the way for the addition of another 148 homes into the mix at the south end of St. Jacobs – 88 single-family homes, 26 semis and 24 townhouses.

The subdivision is on a 39-acre piece of vacant property located at the northwest corner of Old Scout Place and Arthur Street South.

Sun Rays get to take the ice before a home crowd

Playing host to the Kitchener Ice Pirates on Jan. 30, the Woolwich Sun Rays enjoyed their first-ever home game in front of cheering friends and family.

The hockey team was created in 2015 for players with developmental delays as part of Special Hockey International.

FEBRUARY

Wellesley approves 2016 budget, with tax increase of 2.443%

Wellesley homeowners faced an additional $23 on the township portion of their 2016 tax bills, as councillors meeting Feb. 2 approved a 2.443 per cent tax increase.

The increase stayed the course set out after the special budget meeting on Jan. 19, with an increase of $22.87 per year, or $1.90 a month, based on the average residence valued at $318,000.

Woolwich passes 2016 budget

Woolwich council made the township’s 2016 budget official at a meeting Feb. 9, approving a 2.88 per cent tax hike – a general 1.33 per cent increase, and 1.5 for a special infrastructure levy. The budget contained operating expenditures of $15,300,150 and capital spending of $13,198,919. Property taxes levied on residents brought in $9,347,067.

The tax increase added $19.67 a year to the township portion of the tax levied on a home assessed at a value of $302,000, the region’s household average.

Jacks’ Gerber coach of the year

Marking a first for himself and for the Wellesley Applejacks, Brad Gerber was named the 2015-16 coach of the year for the Midwestern Junior C Hockey League this week.

The Jacks finished the regular season in fourth place out of nine teams, a huge improvement from their eighth-place finish the previous season under a different head coach.

Shantz case moves ahead

Prosecutors opted to go ahead with a case against Woolwich Mayor Sandy Shantz related to election expenses filed after the 2014 municipal vote.

In Provincial Offenses Court Feb. 24, Crown lawyers said they intend to pursue charges brought forward by Elmira resident Alan Marshall. The case has been in and out of the provincial court in Kitchener for months now, with no decision. At an appearance before Justice of the Peace Ralph Cotter, prosecutor Alexander Andres told the court there is sufficient cause to continue.

MARCH

Woolwich drops bid to save transfer station

Underwhelmed by public input, Woolwich announced itself ready to drop its pursuit of a waste transfer station in Elmira, which was eventually shuttered by the region.

Having consulted with potential private operators and provided for public input, the township’s next step was to launch a formal request for proposals (RFP) from companies interested in taking over the facility from the Region of Waterloo.

Meeting Mar. 1, councillors quickly quashed that notion, pointing to an apparently indifferent public.

Jacks’ season comes to an end

The Wellesley Applejacks finished out their season in fourth place with a record of 21-17-2 and 44 points,  well above the previous year’s results.

The season also marked the first time the team has made it to the playoff semifinals since the team joined the Midwestern Junior C Hockey League in 2013.

After defeating Tavistock in the first round of the 2016 MWJCHL playoffs the Jacks faced last year’s champions the Ayr Centennials, and were swept in four games, ending their season on Mar. 2.

4-H recognizes volunteer of the year

Recognized for her efforts in organizing the 4-H Club’s 100th anniversary celebrations the previous year, among a long list of other clubs, Anne Snyder was named the Waterloo 4-H Volunteer of the Year.

The Bloomingdale resident used to be a 4-H member and when her children became old enough to join she and her husband decided to become 4-H leaders.

Woolwich opts to build new fire hall

New and shiny won the day, as Woolwich fire officials convinced a majority of councillors to build them another fire hall rather than renovating the existing building in Elmira.

Presented with new numbers pushing up the cost of renovations, councillors meeting Mar. 22 voted 3-2 in favour of building a new facility in the Lunor subdivision on Church Street West rather than sticking with the existing Howard Avenue fire hall.

The new build remained at $1.7 million, while renovation costs jumped to $2.1 million from $1.6 million when council last discussed the township’s new fire master plan in the fall.

Crown drops case against Shantz

Finding no grounds to proceed, the Crown has closed the file on Woolwich Mayor Sandy Shantz. It decided not to continue with charges brought by a private citizen alleging improprieties under the Municipal Elections Act (MEA).

Crown prosecutor Fraser Kelly presented his reasoning Mar. 23 to Justice of the Peace Bruce Phillips in a Kitchener courtroom. Kelly was brought in from London, Ont. to avoid any appearance of conflict from local prosecutors given that Shantz serves on Waterloo Region council.

Ice storm hits region

Mother Nature hit the area with what is hopefully the last blast of winter weather heading into the long weekend, leaving every surface covered in a layer of ice, a few power outages from downed power lines and, most noticeably, a littering of tree branches both large and small.

Fire destroys Maryhill barn, claims 45 cows

A Maryhill dairy farmer faced a major rebuild following a fire that destroyed a barn and killed about a third of his heifers. Damage was estimated at more than $500,000.

Some 50 Woolwich firefighters were called out just after 9 p.m. on Mar. 26. On arrival, they found one of the buildings at 1025 Maryhill Rd. completely engulfed in flames.

The call involved crews from Maryhill, Breslau, Conestogo and St. Jacobs.

Kings fall to Stratford in second round of playoffs

The Elmira Sugar Kings wrapped up their season Mar. 27 on home ice, suffering an emotional 4-3 overtime loss to the Stratford Cullitons in Game 6 of the second round of the GOJHL playoffs.

APRIL

Snowy weather is no deterrent to festival-goers

A heavy snowfall on Apr. 2 didn’t keep the crowds away from the 52nd annual Elmira Maple Syrup Festival.

EMSF chair Drew McGovern estimates 60,000 to 62,000 showed up to take in the festivities, slightly down from 2015’s 65,000.

Developer unveils new plan for Union Street subdivision

Four years after being rejected the first time through, a reworked plan for a subdivision adjacent to Elmira’s Union Street industrial area found the reception as chilly as ever.

Just like the last time, representatives of the applicant, Hawk Ridge Homes, were the only ones in favour of the project pitched to Woolwich council Apr. 19 at a public planning meeting.

The developer is proposing a new alignment for the 5.5-acre site, currently home to an old apple orchard, it envisions as an ideal spot for 39 new homes.

MennoHomes breaks ground on Elmira project

Politicians and community supporters ceremoniously turned some soil Apr. 29 at the official ground-breaking ceremony for the future MennoHomes affordable housing project in Elmira, marking the beginning of its construction.

Occupancy is slated for the spring of 2017 for the building which will be located on the same property as Woolwich Community Services on Church Street at Memorial Avenue.

MAY

King reconstruction dogs St. Jacobs

The King Street reconstruction project underway in St. Jacobs, township council moved quickly to approve new traffic-calming and parking control measures.

All-way stop signs were approved for Water Street and Abner’s Lane, Water Street at the park and the intersection of Queensway Drive and Princess Street near St. Jacobs Public School. The township prohibited parking along one side of Water Street while it’s being used as a detour route during the construction project.

Likewise, temporary no-parking signs lined both sides of Cedar Street between King and Water streets to provide trucks access to local businesses as needed during work on the project.

Woolwich, developer reach deal on new Breslau subdivision

New homes could appear at the rate of 75 a year when construction begins in the next phase of the Thomasfield Homes development in Breslau, a number reached in a deal with Woolwich Township just prior to a legal hearing.

The agreement turned a May 18 Ontario Municipal Board hearing into a settlement meeting, clearing the way for official plan and zoning bylaw amendments Thomasfield had requested from the township. The deal came almost three years after the company first applied for the changes that will see a mixed-use development on lands adjacent to the existing Hopewell Heights subdivision.

Downtown Elmira shuttle has a distinctly local feel to it

Passengers aboard the train from St. Jacobs to Elmira no longer had to make the two-kilometre trek from where the tourist train stops on Oriole Parkway to Elmira’s downtown.

A free shuttle began transporting travellers to the downtown area three times a day. The tractor-drawn wagon was the idea of  local business owner, Elmeda Weber of Kitchen Kuttings.
Woolwich council supported the idea, passing a motion on May 10 which freed up the money required – $12,000 – in the Elmira BIA’s budget to cover the service.

Market fire damage pegged at $125,000

A popular Woolwich tourist destination saw some disruption at Peddlar’s Village at the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market, after fire ignited on the roof on May 26.

The main market building, the Harvest Barn and the outdoor vendors weren’t affected and remained open for business as usual.

Black smoke was visible for miles coming from Peddlar’s Village, which houses a flea market, food vendors, and some offices.

Traffic-calming for Woolwich roads

Three Woolwich roads saw traffic-calming measures in 2016 as the township sticks with a go-slow approach to a new policy for dealing with complaints about road safety.

The policy was adopted the previous year as some councillors pushed for a formal plan to deal with an assortment of neighbourhood concerns about speeding and other traffic-related issues.

Meeting May 31, councillors approved work on Benjamin Road (between Weber Street and Westmount Road), Woolwich Street South (between Woolwich Street North and Dolman Street to coincide with Woolwich Street South and Dolman Street construction) and Woolwich Street South (between Elroy Road and Menno Street).

JUNE

Woolwich posts $1.1M surplus

A combination of increased revenue, lower expenses and deferred work left Woolwich with a surplus of $1,113,000 after the books were closed on 2015. That was up from a surplus of $759,000 in 2014.

As well, the township posted surpluses in the operation of both its water ($198,493) and wastewater services ($211,057). Most of the money was put into reserve funds, though councillors meeting June 6 allocated $40,000 for increased traffic-calming measures and another $10,000 to a physician recruitment program.

Community groups receive $50,000 from EMSF

The 2016 iteration of the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival reached its denouement with the distribution of proceeds to a variety of community groups. Some $50,000 was divvied up as recipients and volunteers gathered June 9 in Elmira.

While each year’s proceeds depends on the success of festival day – good weather brings the people out, while the inclement kind keeps ’em home –the EMSF committee has donated more than $1.5 million in its 50-year history.

Cowan found guilty of breach of trust

Former Woolwich mayor Todd Cowan was convicted of breach of trust June 15 in a Kitchener courtroom. Justice Michael Epstein found him not guilty of fraud in relation to expense claims submitted when he was a public official.

Cowan was charged with fraud and breach of trust on Feb. 6 of 2015 after an investigation from the Ontario Provincial Police Anti-Rackets Branch unveiled that Cowan had submitted the same expenses twice, to both the township and the Region of Waterloo. He served as Woolwich’s representative on regional council.

Expansion approved for Maryhill seniors’ home

A Maryhill seniors’ home was cleared for expansion, its zone-change request approved June 21 by Woolwich council.

Hillside Residence, located at 44 St. Charles St. E., applied for an addition to increase its capacity to 22 residents from 16.

Located on an agricultural parcel with a site-specific provision to allow for the seniors’ group home, the business in operation since 1999 had been restrained by zoning that limited the number of residents to 16.

Traditional country music’s best friend succumbs to illness

Local songwriter, musician, performer and record-collector Lynn Russwurm passed away on June 27. He was 85.

He was well-known around these parts – and southern Ontario for that matter – for his love of traditional country music and spent most of his life writing it, playing it, and helping to keep it alive.

Russwurm created the popular Sunday Night Concert Series, which sees country and bluegrass musicians perform at Gore Park in Elmira every Sunday throughout the summer, packing in large crowds for the free concerts.

JULY

Convinced Woolwich councillor Scott Hahn got off too lightly after improperly filing an expense report related to the 2014 municipal election, an Elmira resident filed private charges in hopes the Crown take up the case.

Alan Marshall followed the same game plan he used to bring Mayor Sandy Shantz into court for discrepancies in her election finance report.

A summons was issued July 15 by Justice of the Peace Zeljana Radulovic calling for Hahn to appear at the Ontario Court of Justice in Kitchener on Aug. 31.

In documents filed with the court, Marshall maintained the Ward 1 councillor “contravened multiple provisions of the Municipal Elections Act” in filing his election expense report.

Cowan gets probation, community service hours

Former Woolwich mayor Todd Cowan won’t see jail time for his breach of trust conviction, instead facing one year of probation and 100 hours of community service.

The sentence handed down July 18 in a Kitchener courtroom by Justice Michael Epstein includes a conditional discharge, meaning Cowan won’t have a criminal record. The judge determined he had already “suffered significant embarrassment” in his “fall from grace.”

“There is no question that he has been disgraced in the community.”

The community service hours must be completed within 11 months. Cowan also had to pay a victim surcharge fee of $200 to Woolwich Township, and repay by Oct. 18 the $140.09 that he expensed to the municipality in meals for his girlfriend during his time as mayor.

Cowan was convicted of the breach of trust charge on June 15, but found not guilty on the charge of fraud under $5,000.

AUGUST

Woolwich selects Bolender Park as site for splash pad

Bolender Park was picked as the location for what organizers hope will be a world-class splash pad in Elmira. That’s the preferred location of a majority of Woolwich councillors, many of whom expressed concerns about the cost of the facility, specifically annual operating expenses estimated at $40,000.

In approving the site, subject to technical studies clearing the location, councillors meeting Aug. 9 were adamant the project committee would have to pick up all capital costs. That includes the extension of water lines, technical studies and landscaping the committee suggested be a municipal expense.

Woolwich reaches deal with CUPE

Woolwich’s unionized workers received a one per cent raise for 2016, 1.1 per cent in 2017 and 1.2 per cent in 2018 under a new contract reached between the township and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 1542.

As is customary for the township, the same increases applied to the larger non-union staff.

The deal was ratified by Woolwich councillors meeting Aug. 9.

For 2016, the increases added about $51,000 to the budget – $15,672 for union workers, and $35,231 for non-union employees, reported CAO David Brenneman.

Charges laid in Wellesley murders

Police formally charged with murder a man arrested in connection with the 2011 disappearance of Wellesley Township resident Linda Daniel and her daughter Cheyenne, who were 47 and 13 respectively at the time.

Glenn Kraemer Bauman, 43, was arrested Aug. 19 in Alberta by Waterloo Regional Police detectives backed by the RCMP. He was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of offering an indignity to a body.

Regional police report that at the time of the victims’ disappearance, Bauman was in a common-law relationship with Linda Daniel.

Man electrocuted at pet food plant

A 61-year-old employee at Elmira Pet Products was electrocuted to death on the job sometime overnight Aug. 19.

The Kitchener man’s body was found about noon the following day after he failed to return home from his shift, police reported.

Wellesley expands parkland inventory

What started out as a search for a bit of land to house soccer fields quickly morphed into something else as Wellesley jumped on the chance to acquire a 32-acre tract, with councillors agreeing to spend $800,000 on the purchase.

The township’s 2014 parks and recreation master plan pointed to a shortage of recreational land. The new deal put a dent in that shortfall, providing much-needed space today and room for future development.

It was a rare chance that could not be passed on, Mayor Joe Nowak said at an Aug. 23 meeting.

“This is forward-looking and it is an opportunity that doesn’t come up too often, to get a piece of property like that with land that is serviceable,” he said to council. “I think that this is an important opportunity for the township.”

The property is on the northeast corner of Queen’s Bush and Hutchison roads. In addition to the 32 acres to be purchased, the landowner donated another eight acres.

Woolwich approves Elmira splash pad project

Its projected operating costs pared back a bit, a splash pad proposed for Elmira got the green light from Woolwich councillors Aug. 23.

Responding to concerns raised by council two weeks earlier, organizers reduced the estimated annual operating costs to $30,000 from $40,000, largely by reducing the hours of operation, including dropping to 17 from 24 the number of weeks the facility would be open.

The scale of the project – a 4,000-square-foot splash pad with 23 individual water features – was untouched, with organizers adamant the facility remain a large, accessible attraction.

With the township unwilling to pay any of the capital costs, organizers agreed to take care of some $70,000 for the extension of water lines, technical studies and landscaping, expenses they’d hope Woolwich would cover in prepping the site.

Erosion concerns force closure of Glasgow Street bridge in Conestogo

Woolwich was forced to scramble to reopen the Glasgow Street bridge in Conestogo after part of the road approaching it was washed away.

The old steel bridge has been closed for repairs on several occasions in recent years, but this time it was bank erosion, not the structure itself, that forced the immediate closure on Aug. 25 for an estimated three or four weeks.

Heavy rains the weekend before exacerbated a problem with erosion and crumbling pavement on the southwest side first identified in the spring, said Jared Puppe, the township’s acting manager of engineering.

“All the rain … just washed out the edge of the road.”

Initial estimates put the repair costs at $30,000 to $75,000.

SEPTEMBER

Wellesley approves trail plan, minus most contentious bits

A controversial trail plan for Wellesley Village got the go-ahead, but the most contentious section remained to be reworked in the face of strong opposition from residents.

Like the community itself, councillors meeting Sept. 6 were also split, with a slight edge to those in support of an as-yet-finalized plan from the Wellesley Trails and Active Transportation Advisory Committee.

Still to be tackled is a stretch of the trail system along Greenwood Hill Drive from Queens Bush Road to Ferris Drive that needs to be altered to address residents’ concerns.

New Riverside PS opens its doors in Elmira

Back to school took on an extra flavour for students of Riverside Public School, who trekked into a brand new building on the west side of Elmira.

The finishing touches on the $11.6-million project were still underway as students filed in, the population having outgrown the old building further to the east on William Street – it had exceeded its recommended capacity by more than 300 per cent. The former site remains vacant.

Sugar Kings name Jeff Jordan as squad’s new captain

As the 2016-17 season got underway, coaches chose Jeff Jordan as the new captain of the Elmira Sugar Kings. Named as assistant captains were Quinten Bruce, Josh Slegers and Jake Brown.

Jacks tap veteran Cal Jefferies as new captain

Before hitting the ice in Tavistock for the first game of the regular season, the Wellesley Applejacks chose  Cal Jefferies to wear the ‘C’ on his sweater. The coaching staff chose three players as assistant captains: Brenden Goran, Alex Uttley and Sean McEwan.

Miranda Schultz selected as Wellesley fair ambassador

The 2015-16 Wellesley North Easthope Fall Fair ambassador Sally Draper relinquished her duties and handed over her tiara and sash on Sept. 13 to the new ambassador, Miranda Schultz, at the opening of the fall fair, after lengthy deliberation from the judges.

Wellesley couple recognized for service to community

Decades of service to the Wellesley community earned a prominent local couple some well-deserved recognition at the Wellesley North Easthope Fall Fair Sept. 13.

Emily and Adolph Hafemann received the Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies (OAAS) Service Diploma at the fall fair from the Wellesley North Easthope Agricultural Society.

Chemtura parent to be sold

Chemtura Corp., which operates a plant in Elmira, was acquired by a German competitor.

Lanxess AG agreed to buy Philadelphia-based Chemtura for about US$2.1 billion.

Subject to shareholder and regulatory approval, the sale cleared the way for Lanxess to essentially double the size of its chemical additives business. Chemtura specializes in lubricant additives and flame-retardant chemicals.

In Elmira, the operation is no stranger to change, however, as it’s shifted banners from Uniroyal to Crompton Co. to Chemtura in the last couple of decades alone.

Tarasko wins Wellesley Idol

Ukulele plucking, strong singing and plenty of on-stage grooving earned Nathan Tarasko the 2016 Wellesley Idol title at the Wellesley Apple Butter and Cheese Festival on Sept. 24

Tarasko won $500, Rachel Regier received $300 for second place, and Nikki Metzger got $200 for third place.

OCTOBER

More leeway for food trucks as Wellesley approves new bylaw

Mobile food vendors looking to set up shop in Wellesley Township learned they’d get a new set of regulations as of Apr. 1, 2017 as township councillors meeting Oct. 6 approved the final draft of a new bylaw.

A public meeting held in June regarding the proposed bylaw was well attended by residents in support of the Odd Duck food truck that had opened on Queen’s Bush Road and started the conversation around mobile food vendors in the township.

Council approves apartment plan for Riverside Drive property

A list of neighbourhood concerns dismissed by Woolwich staff, a plan to convert an Elmira home into an apartment complex got the go ahead from township council.

The Oct. 6 decision clears the way for a zone change at 3 Riverside Dr. W., where the owner planned to renovate the existing house and build an addition to create a multi-unit building.

Residents oppose gravel pit changes

The side pushing for a gravel pit in Winterbourne met a full court press as residents rallied as a team at a public information session Oct. 19 in St. Jacobs.

In waves, they chipped away at Preston Sand and Gravel’s case for below-the-water-table extraction in Jigs Hollow.

Organized as the Friends of the Winterbourne Valley, the concerned citizens ramped up the fight against the controversial gravel pit. Some 65 people turned up at the community centre to voice their opposition.

Upgrades now complete at Elmira cenotaph

Just ahead of Remembrance Day, Elmira’s cenotaph underwent improvements to go along with the newer centerpiece at the war memorial.

Originally erected nearly 100 years ago with a marble statue, the soldier standing to attention at Memorial Avenue and Arthur Street was replaced in 2010 with the current bronze figure, now it is the surrounding area that has been upgraded.

For six years, Elmira Legion past-president Kirk Genereux and others campaigned for an update at the site, which previously was home to a rectangular planter, surrounded by grass. Now, there is an elaborate stonescape carpeting the spot, with a new stone monument bearing words repeated every year around Remembrance Day: Lest we forget. Benches were also installed on the north end of the plot, giving visitors a spot to sit and reflect.

NOVEMBER

Bi-weekly collection, bag limits coming to a curb near you next March

Its residents facing the threat of two weeks’ worth of rotting garbage sitting around, Waterloo Region changed gears to promote its costly and lightly used green bin program.

The region opted to shift to bi-weekly garbage collection in March 2017, limiting the number of bags to four.

Along with saving money, the change was designed to boost the use of recycling bins – green and blue – which will continue to be collected weekly.

Region backs Breslau GO station

Breslau is one step closer to housing a new GO Transit station, after Waterloo Region council endorsed the recommendation by Metrolinx to build the station at a Greenhouse Road location. The project has been in the works for a while, as the site was chosen in 2009.

Kings’ win streak stalls at 12

Attempting to extend their streak to a baker’s dozen, the Elmira Sugar Kings came up short Nov. 11 by falling 4-3 to Listowel.

OMB upholds Woolwich’s staging plan for Breslau subdivision

Woolwich’s go-slow approach to residential development will be in full force when two new subdivisions get rolling in Breslau.

Where one developer, Thomasfield Homes, came to an arrangement with the township, the second, Empire Communities, opted to challenge Woolwich’s stance at the Ontario Municipal Board. Ironically, when the quasi-judicial agency’s decision came down Nov. 18, Empire ended up with a smaller annual allocation than did Thomasfield.

Woolwich had been pushing for annual staging of 50 new homes for each developer, but allowed Thomasfield 75 per year to avoid any legal entanglements. Opting to go to the OMB, Empire ended up with the 50 originally on offer. The OMB decision does, however, clear the way for the next phase of the Riverland subdivision to go ahead.

No extra LRT charges for townships

Those buying new homes in the township won’t be hit with thousands of dollars in extra costs to pay for transit, regional council’s administration and finance committee decided Nov. 22.

Members voted against a staff recommendation that would have added $3,188 to the price tag of each new home built region-wide. Instead, the development charges will apply only to the cities, with the four rural townships exempt from the amended bylaw.

A new charge for waste management – $255 for a single-detached home – will apply region-wide.

Woolwich backs GO station

Plans for a GO Transit station in Breslau got another formal endorsement, as Woolwich councillors followed the example of their Region of Waterloo counterparts in supporting Metrolinx’s bid to build at a Greenhouse Road site.

The Nov. 22 vote committed the township to being in agreement with the location, but also to plans for sustainable access to the site – the provision of another access point other than Greenhouse Road – and backing for Metrolinx’s call for a “transit supportive planning regime” around the station.

Council formally approves  Breslau splash pad

Scaling back the project to reduce operating costs, the Breslau Lions Club won approval from Woolwich council for a splash pad in the village. The facility is slated to be built adjacent to the Breslau Community Centre, which offers access to water, sewer and hydro services, as well as nearby parking.

The club made changes to the project when council expressed concerns about costs associated with operating splash pads planned for Elmira. Revisions include reducing the footprint (to 260 square metres from 350 sq. m.), eliminating a water re-circulating system in favour of a cheaper option, and the installation of water-saving measures.

Operating costs are now been pegged at about $30,000 a year, with the bulk of it ($25,000) paying for water.

While the Breslau pad, like the one planned for Elmira’s Bolender Park, will be built entirely with donated money, annual maintenance and operating costs fall to the township.

Wellesley recognizes citizens of the year

The contributions of three Wellesley Township volunteers did not go unnoticed by the Wellesley and District Board of Trade. Henry Brick, Jamie Reid and Maddi Da Rosa each received a Wellesley Citizen of the Year award.

Brick was awarded the Lifetime Award, Reid was given the Citizen of the Year Award and Da Rosa received the Junior Citizen of the Year Award.

DECEMBER

Local trustee named WRDSB chair

Elmira resident Scott McMillan was acclaimed as the Waterloo Region District School Board’s new chair in his first term as trustee for Woolwich and Wellesley townships.

A vote was held Dec. 5, with Ted Martin selected as vice-chair.

Region opts for roundabout near Hawkesville

Waterloo Region councillors voted Dec. 6  to install a roundabout at the Ament Line and Herrgott Road intersection, instead of the four-way stop originally proposed by regional staff.

The decision ended a longstanding push from the community for improvements to the site of some fatal collisions.

“I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was a unanimous decision because I did think that there was going to be a little bit of pushback, but I think council realized how important this issue is not only for the rural folks but region-wide,” said Wellesley Mayor Joe Nowak of the decision.

The roundabout is expected to be installed in 2018, but it could take until 2019. The intersection currently is a two-way stop with oversized stop signs on Ament Line, rumble strips approaching the intersection and a flashing light, installed after the 2005 collision that claimed the life of five-year-old Emma Ringrose. In spite of the changes, there were nine collisions at the intersection from 2011 to 2015.

New home for child care centre

When one door closes, another opens. That’s certainly the case for the Elmira Child Care Centre, which wrapped up operations Dec. 9 at its long-time location, opening up the following Monday at its new home.

The centre made the jump from the Mockingbird Drive location to the west side of the new Riverside Public School building on William Street in Elmira.

The old child care centre building was constructed in 1976, and due to the aging structure, regional council approved a plan for a new facility.

Kennel approved over objections of neighbours

Woolwich councillors are hoping little dogs mean little in the way of problems after giving the go-ahead to a Breslau-area kennel over the objections of adjacent property owners.

In a split vote Dec. 13, they approved an eight-dog kennel licence for Samantha DeJong, allowing her to do puppy training for up to five dogs in addition to the three dogs of her own at 1956 Shantz Station Rd.

Home Hardware co-founder dies

Home Hardware co-founder Walter Hachborn, a familiar face to many in St. Jacobs and well beyond, died Dec. 17 at the age of 95.

Always modest about his accomplishments, the bespectacled Hachborn, usually sporting a bowtie, became the face of Home Hardware, which he and his partners transformed from a single store in St. Jacobs into a national brand with some 1,100 locations from coast to coast.

A member of the Order of Canada, inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame, a recipient of the Distinguished Canadian Retailer Award and an honourary doctor of laws, Hachborn remained humble about all the recognition.

He began his career in the hardware business as a teen in 1938, so he had more than a quarter-century of experience under his belt when he created Home Hardware in 1964 with partners Henry Sittler and Arthur Zilliax.

Woolwich nixes additional expenditures for bus route

Simply throwing more money at the system won’t improve Grand River Transit service in Elmira,  decided Woolwich councillors who voted Dec. 19 not to increase the budget for route 21.

Extending evening hours would have seen township taxpayers on the hook for another $73,000 a year on top of the $500,000 budget.

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