Group wants Woolwich residents to lend their voices to Community Conversation


The Kitchener-Waterloo Community Foundation, along with Wellbeing Waterloo, wants to hear how you’d make life better in Woolwich Township.

With their Community Conversation, the foundation is hosting an open forum for residents to share their concerns, thoughts and ideas with different service groups, setting priorities and goals.

Inga Rinne, a member of the Woolwich Community Foundation board, says events like these are vital to the township. For her, it is about giving residents an opportunity to be proactive.

“I think it is really important to think about some of these issues when it is not a crisis. Too often, people don’t bother getting involved until it is a crisis. Something horrible has happened, and something needs to be done,” she said. “Historically, the biggest example has been the water crisis. All of a sudden, our water has all been poisoned and everybody thought it was this terrible thing, and people started working to fix it. We want to see people giving ideas without just being reactionary,” she said of the 1989 contamination of the Elmira aquifer.

Anyone is invited to join the discussion, being held at the Breslau Community Centre on Apr. 27, even those who think that their ideas aren’t groundbreaking.

“Once you watch other people get involved with something like this, people think, ‘oh, I can do this too,’” said Rinne. “You don’t have to be a visionary, you don’t have to have a full-blown set of ideas, you don’t have to have a cause. People who don’t have an agenda are often far more useful because they are much more open to other people’s ideas, or whatever might float up.”

Woolwich Community Health Centre executive director Denise Squire will be one of the speakers at the Community Conversation. She says these types of forums are valuable to each location in which they are being held.

“To me, that is really important that as planners and service delivery organizations, that we be coordinated and not repeatedly come to the community asking them to come to this focus group, or that focus group, attending different kinds of consultations with our own rural township focus,” said Squire. “We have done those collaboratively with agencies that specifically serve the rural townships, so what is really exciting to me personally is to see that kind of coordinated and collaborative approach happening on a much larger scale.”

She says she isn’t expecting to hear about certain topics at the Community Conversation, rather, the floor is open.

“I am keeping a pretty open mind about it. I am always so pleasantly surprised at events like this, the depth of caring that people express about their community and the passion they have for issues they feel are significant issues to them, their families and their neighbours, wherever they may live,” she said, adding that she is always impressed with the information gathered at these events. “I think it is sometimes easy for those of us that work in human services organizations, it is easy for us to forget that people are passionate and committed to their communities and that they want the best for their communities, not just for themselves as individuals.”

The conversation starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Breslau Community Centre on Apr. 27. The event is free, but preregistration is required by visiting

Liz Bevan
Liz Bevan is a reporter and photographer for The Observer. She has written for community newspapers in western Canada and has been published in national newspapers and magazines.