» Saturday, December 17, 2011
from our family to yours
MichaelHarrisMPP.ca 519.954.8679 MH_ObserverAdXmas_Banner.indd 1
11-12-07 8:59 PM
Kings take 3 of 3
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2011
> STORY ON PG.24
Season of Song
CHRISTMAS IN BRESLAU
The Breslau Evangelical Missionary Church quartet, Mark Domm, Katelynn Howard, Sun Millar Idsinga and Mark Dettweiler, perform at the Breslau Community Centre’s Christmas in Breslau event on Dec. 11. A chili dinner was served, with proceeds going to the community centre, followed by a visit from Santa Claus and carol singing.
Council balks at large hikes in ice rental rates While deferring some rec. fees, Woolwich approves a range of other price hikes Steve Kannon
lanned rate hikes that would see Woolwich Minor Hockey hit with an 11 per cent increase next year were quashed by council-
lors, who sent staff off to find a sharper pencil. While agreeing to a host of user fee increases – some of them huge – for a host of township services, councillors meeting Tuesday night
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opted to defer a decision on arena rental fees. The rates themselves are slated for an increase averaging 5.2 per cent under proposal tabled by recreation department staff. Primetime
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ice would jump to $201.76 an hour from $191.85 at the Dan Snyder Memorial Arena, and to $196.46 from $186.85 at the Jim McLeod and Woolwich Township arenas. A uniform $110.62 would be
applied to all non-prime ice times at the three arenas, up from $109.81 at the Snyder rink and $104.81 at the others.
> SEE FEES ON PG. 05
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» Saturday, December 17, 2011
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» Saturday, December 17, 2011
> Covered bridge gets designation Council this week approved a cultural heritage landscape designation for the area surrounding the West Montrose covered bridge. The move provides an extra layer of protection for the area’s historic character, in some instances requiring a heritage study prior to development within the lands of the CHL, which covers some 1,670 acres. Although Coun. Allan Poffenroth expressed concerns about undue restrictions on homeowners, director of engineering and planning Dan Kennaley explained only those changes that require assessment under the Planning Act will trigger a review. Minor changes that require only a building permit, for instance, won’t be in play, and council will have some discretion of its own.
> Putting a little soul into the holidays
HANDS-ON The John Mahood iPad focus group consisting of students Jesse Bowman (back left), Matt Yorke, Sean Heimpel, Alana Bauman, Hilary Bauman, Daniel Grant (front left) and Kyle Austin met for the first time on Wednesday afternoon to test the devices.
John Mahood PS introduces iPads to its curriculum James Jackson
n Wednesday afternoon, seven students from John Mahood Public School sat in the school’s library during their second nutrition break to try out a set of brand new iPads. It was a fascinating juxtaposition of old and new technology as John Mahood’s new iPad focus group, a collection of students ranging in age from junior kindergarten up to Grade 5, tested the latest addition to the school’s educational technology for the first time. Referred to as the iPad lab, it consists of 20 Apple tablet devices stored in a special cart that simultaneously charges and syncs them to a single laptop computer. The lab can be easily wheeled around to classrooms throughout the school, and school principal Tracy Tait has high hopes for the technology.
EE RY FR IVE L DE
“They certainly complement the curriculum,” she said, adding that all the programs known as applications, or apps, will have an educational component to them before being added to the iPads via the laptop and the school’s iTunes account. The students will have no access to the iTunes account and only staff can download apps onto the iPads. “There won’t be apps strictly for the purpose of playing games; there are math apps, music apps, language apps, and there are a wide variety of apps in the form of assistive technologies for students that struggle or have special needs.” For example, text-to-type apps will allow a child to speak into the microphone and their words are typed out, which can then be emailed to their teacher or sent wirelessly to a printer. “It’s easier for children
who struggle with fine motor tasks and writing to be able to get their thoughts on paper in a way that makes them feel successful,” Tait said. The iPads can be signed out by teachers just like any other piece of technology in the school, and staff has had a chance to test out the devices both at school and at home to get a feel for what the technology can offer. While some may call into question the increased role of technology in the classroom, there is a growing body of evidence in support of it. The National Institute for Education found that technology can support instant feedback and interaction among students, and research in the UK showed students using mobile learning technology such as the iPad increased their motivation and enthusiasm for their course. The devices have also been
W • O • O • L • W • I • C • H
shown to help those with developmental disorders such as Autism, and combined with computers, interactive smartboards and powerpoint projectors that are already in classrooms, technology has transformed the ways students learn. “Our board has a focus on a variety of different technologies, iPads being just one,” said Tait. John Mahood is far from the first school in the region to make use of iPad technology, and Tait said she was encouraged by administrators at Millen Woods P.S. and Lester B. Pearson P.S. in Waterloo who praised the impact the iPad has had on their students’ ability to learn in the classroom. This year the school started looking into getting their own iPad lab at the school, and with funds raised dur-
> SEE IPAD ON PG. 06
Stop in at the Baby Charlotte store in Conestogo this holiday season and you might notice the staff has gone barefoot. That’s all part of the “Baby Charlotte Little Souls Shoe Drive,” to raise awareness for those children who don’t have shoes this winter. The small, eco-friendly children’s shop got the ball rolling with a donation of 115 pairs of shoes. Wearing cheerful Santa t-shirts, with the words “Ask me why I’m barefoot,” four year old Charlotte, her mom Carla, and their staff are encouraging customers to add a small donation to their purchase, to help buy shoes for those kids outside of Baby Charlotte’s size range. “We are inviting other retailers to donate larger sized shoes as well,” said storeowner Carla Muller. “We’ll even send them some campaign t-shirts.”
> In search of bootlegging stories Prohibition-era bootlegging in Woolwich Township? Seems pretty likely given the region’s role in that bit of history, and Kitchener resident Janet Bock is looking for information about that kind of activity in the townships. “While not a writer, historian or researcher, I ‘m just interested in the implications of stories I’ve heard of whiskey traffic and stowaway locations not far from Waterloo,” she says, indicating she’s heard of liquor caches in the Sandy Hills area of Elmira. “I’m just curious about this … and I’m looking for stories about bootlegging or caching in Woolwich.” Bock can be reached at 519-7453296.
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» Saturday, December 17, 2011
LAW & ORDER
Countdown on for police department’s anti-drug contest December 8 >>5:50 PM | Ontario Provincial
Police responded to a head-on crash near Greenhouse Road, east of Breslau when a pickup truck and a car collided, killing a 21-year-old Kitchener man, Cody Springall and sending the driver of the pickup, a 48-yearold man, to Guelph General Hospital with serious but nonlife-threatening injuries. The crash backed up traffic as far as Victoria Street North in Kitchener. The highway was closed until around 11 p.m. Police continue to investigate the incident.
he Waterloo Regional Police Service has partnered with local pop star Nate Hall to help promote a contest that invites the region’s youth to submit art, film, song, or words that highlight the benefits of living drug-free. The contest called “It’s Your Call” is being promoted in high
schools across the region. Students can visit www.itsyourcallcontest.ca for more information. Prizes include an iPad 2, a laptop computer, a HD camcorder and a Gibson Les Paul Studio Model guitar. The contest, which aims to empower teens to speak out about drug use, closes on Dec. 31.
>>6:00 PM | A 19-year-old
Jerusalem Road near South Field Drive. Police found the car on its side in the middle of the road. The car sustained moderate damage, but no injuries were reported.
Elmira man was charged with ‘careless driving’ after he flipped his white 1999 Nissan while driving along New
December 9 >>7:40 AM | A 53-year-old
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Brantford man driving a 2011 KIA along Chilligo Road slowed for a bend in the road when he slide on ice and lost control of his vehicle and entered a ditch before hitting a hydro pole. Damage to the vehicle was moderate. No injuries were reported, and no charges were laid.
>>4:30 PM | A 73-year-old Heidelberg
OP N E O A N7 W W D EE AY K S
a 1997 Sierra pickup truck pulled over on to the side of William Hasting Line when a 2009 Volkswagen driven by a 70-year-old Milbank man pulled in behind her. The two vehicles waited for traffic to clear and when the Sierra started to move it reversed into the Volkswagen. The woman was charged with ‘start from stop not in safety.’ No injuries were reported, with both vehicles sustaining minimal to moderate damage.
>>5:10 PM | On the way to a medical emergency, a police cruiser lost control on the icy road on Hutchinson Road and rolled into a cornfield. No serious injuries were reported, but the cruiser was destroyed in the accident. Traffic branch is investigating.
>>8:45 PM | A 22-year-old
Guelph woman driving a white 2009 KIA was charged with ‘disobey a red light’ when she hit a 33-year-old St. Jacobs woman driving a GMC van on Arthur Street near Whippoorwill Drive in Elmira. The van sustained severe damages and the KIA was
destroyed in the accident. No injuries were reported.
December 10 >>5:00 PM | Police were called
after a couple of teenagers left a red plastic wagon in the middle of Killdeer Road near First Street, Elmira, waiting for a vehicle to come by and hit it. Police picked up the wagon, which was believed to have been stolen, and are holding it at the Elmira detachment. The investigation continues.
December 11 >>10:55 AM | A 17-year-old
St. Jacobs man driving a 2002 Chevy Astro Van was exiting the Shoppers Drug Mart parking lot onto Church Street in Elmira when he struck a 2009 KIA operated by a 33-year-old Elmira man. The teenager was charged with ‘fail to yield.’ No injuries were reported and both vehicles sustained moderate damage.
>>1:00 PM | A collision occurred at King Street North near Martin Grove Road south of St. Jacobs when a 2009 Ford pickup driven by a 39-year-
old St. Jacobs man stopped for traffic on King Street and was rear-ended by a 2006 Chevy Equinox driven by a 50-year-old Brussels man who was blinded by the sun and did not see the pickup stop in front of him. No charges were laid, no injuries were reported and moderate damage was sustained by both vehicles.
December 12 >>9:00 AM | Police found
a girl’s purple and silver Raleigh Portage bike at the St. Clements arena. The bike may be claimed by its rightful owner at the Elmira detachment.
>>11:00AM | A boy’s white DX Bent Number 20 stunt bike was found in Bolender Park in Elmira. It’s now awaiting pickup by its rightful owner at the police station.
>>4:00 PM | A suspicious
maroon van was reported to police outside the Mennonite school on Line 86 south of Wallenstein. The van was parked on the side of the road with the passenger door open. When police arrived the van had left the scene.
Paradise & District Lions Club Would like to thank the following businesses and individuals who generously contributed $50.00 or more to our 4th Annual Tree of Light campaign which was a great success. Special thanks to Exotic Wings and Things as well as Foodland for their continuing support.
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$50.00 STRAND DONORS Ann, Patty & Janet (Lienhardt) Ron & Pat Beaupre Belmont Appliance Service Diane Bender CMT Engineering Inc. C T Tooling Inc. Campside Contracting Creative Hair Works Ed Crowther Rick Esbaugh Ron Esbaugh Exotic Wings & Pet Things Firm Foundations, Jane Warner G Force Custom Fabrication Doris Hartman Heidelberg Metal Inc.
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» Saturday, December 17, 2011
New air route will connect Waterloo Region to Chicago American Eagle service will offer 13 roundtrip flights each week starting in June James Jackson
merican Eagle, the regional affiliate of American Airlines, will offer daily flights to Chicago from the Region of Waterloo International Airport starting next year. The airline plans 13 roundtrip flights per week to O’Hare International Airport, one of its largest travel hubs, beginning June 14, 2012. “We’re really thrilled that American has joined on with us here,” said regional Chair Ken Seiling at the official announcement Tuesday morning at the
Breslau airport. “We see a lot of economic activity in this region that is supported by the airport, and businesses that use the airport in its operations around the world.” The service will be operated by the ERJ145 Embraer regional jets that seat 50 passengers. The partnership has been about two years in the making. Airport general manager Chris Wood said he was contacted by the airline shortly after he assumed the position in 2009, as they were looking to secure more business in Waterloo’s booming technology
CHICAGO-BOUND Brett Hooyerink of American Airlines is flanked by Region of Waterloo International Airport general manager Chris Wood (left) and regional Chair Ken Seiling (right) during Tuesday’s announcement the airline will offer twice-daily flights to Chicago starting next June.
sector. The answer from those companies was clear, Wood revealed. “They said ‘simple, put planes in Waterloo.’” The airport is already home to three Canadian airlines – Bearskin, WestJet and Sunwing as well as Great Lakes Helicopter – and American will be the first carrier with U.S.-bound flights out of the Region of Waterloo since Northwest (now Delta) ended flights to Detroit in 2009. “We’re very proud to become a part of
> SEE AIRLINE ON PG. 06
Fees: Township looking to boost it’s cost-recovery model with increases > CONTINUED FROM COVER
Combined with a shift in the primetime ice schedule – starting at 5 p.m. each weeknight rather than 6 – the increases would mean thousands of extra dollars in costs for the largest user of ice time. Noting that the bottom-line impact on the association would mean paying 11 per cent more next year over current expenses, Mayor Todd Cowan dismissed as semantics
the distinction between a fee hike and primetime ice changes, calling it a “shell game.” “I have a few difficulties with this. It could limit the number of kids who could play because it’s getting too expensive,” he said of the staff proposal, part of a broader slate of changes to fees and charges. “I think that’s asking way too much.” Acknowledging the overall impact, director of recreation and facilities Karen Makela said the changes were in
Thank You All!
The Elmira Kiwanis Club would like to thank the following community minded businesses and organizations who generously supported our very successful Santa Claus parade this year. Voisin Motors Waterloo Regional Police - Traffic Division Paul & Adele’s No Frills Food Market Elmira Legion Br. 469 Riverside Public School Walter Plein Martin Mills Inc. McKee Farm Technologies Resurfice Corp. Sulco Chemicals M&G Millwrights P.I.B. Insurance Brokers Sanyo Canadian Machine Works RBC Financial Elmira Elmira Home Hardware McDonald’s Restaurants Elmira Elmira Pet Products Elmira Insurance Brokers VHF Construction
TD Canada Trust Elmira HJM Insurance and Financial Services
line with arena fees in neighbouring municipalities. The proposed hourly rate would put Woolwich in the middle of the pack, while some other municipalities start their primetime rates as early as 4 p.m. each day. Woolwich currently recovers about 54 per cent of the cost of operating arenas through fees paid by users, slightly lower than the average of 60 per cent. In order to recover all of its costs, the township would have to
charge $252 an hour for ice time. For Cowan, however, the goal is to reduce the township’s costs – “we can find some efficiencies” – rather than simply relying on fee increases to close the gap. “We have to find some better solutions for our best customer,” he said of the minor hockey issue. Having sent staff back to the drawing board on that issue, councillors did approve a host increased fees and charges for
everything from an Official Plan amendment ($4,500 from $4,299) to dog tags ($25 from $20). Increases range from inflationary to more than 100 per cent in some cases. A gravel pit application, for instance, jumps to $16,700 from $8,348. Other increases in the planning department include a doubling of many of the committee of adjustment rates, such as applications for severance jumping to $1,100 from $537 and a minor variance application
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going to $900 from $485. All of the fee hikes, including those well above inflation on the recreation side, reflect the township’s rising costs to provide the services, said director of finance Richard Petherick. Chief administrative officer David Brenneman noted the increases seen in recent years reflect a shift towards a userpay philosophy as the township tries to recover more of the costs associated with offering services.
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iPad: Another tool for teaching > CONTINUED FROM PG. 03 ing their annual Treasure Books fundraiser in September, the school collected more than $11,000, which was enough to order a lab in October, which included 10 iPads and the sync cart, and left enough money left over to purchase another 10 iPads. “We’re very thankful for the community’s support in raising those funds,” said Tait. The iPads are being used in conjunction with the school’s preexisting Digital Citizenship program developed when computers
LEARNING IS FUN Jesse
Bowman tries out one of the numerous educational apps on one of the school’s 20 new tablet devices. first entered the classroom, and it includes topics such as teaching students to interact appropriately with the
technology, how to care for it, how to be a responsible Internet user, and so on. As for the students in the focus group, the plan is for them to test out the iPads and provide some feedback on how they might be integrated into the curriculum using new and creative ways that teachers and administrators may not think of. “The hope is that those students will become leaders in their own classes, so when the class has an opportunity to use the iPads, they have an expert inhouse to assist their friends.”
REGION OF WATERLOO SIGN BY-LAW 10-030 – ENFORCEMENT ADVISORY An increasing number of illegal signs along Regional roads have led the Region to increase enforcement of its sign by-law to improve road safety and the appearance of Regional roads. Regional and municipal enforcement staff will be targeting small wire-mounted signs and other miscellaneous signs including but not limited to pole-mounted signs and mobile signs that do not meet the conditions of the by-law. Signs observed not complying with the Region’s Sign By-law will be removed immediately without notice and a ticket may be issued. The owner of any such sign found replacing or permitting the replacement of any removed non-compliant sign, will be issued a ticket by an enforcement officer and the replacement sign removed. Copies of the current Sign By-law 10-030 are available for review in the Clerk’s Office, Region of Waterloo, 2nd Floor, 150 Frederick Street, Kitchener during normal office hours. Copies of the current by-law can also be obtained by visiting the Region of Waterloo website at www.regionofwaterloo.ca under the Regional Government / By-laws menu at the top of the home page. If you have any questions concerning the by-law, any questions concerning enforcement of the by-law, or wish to make a complaint about signs, you may contact Marty Sawdon, Administrator, Licensing and Enforcement directly at 519-575-4040 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Changes are coming to your Water and Wastewater Utility Bill in the Township of Wellesley The Region of Waterloo currently provides water and wastewater services directly to the residents of the Township of Wellesley. Beginning January 1, 2012, the Region of Waterloo will assume billing for local water and wastewater services from the Township of Wellesley. Water meters will no longer be read quarterly, but every second month beginning January 2012, and the bill will arrive two to three weeks following the reading. Payment must be sent to the Region of Waterloo. Please review your invoice or our website (www.regionofwaterloo.ca, click on the Water “Quicklinks”) for detail regarding the various methods of payment. If a new water meter is required, they will continue to be available at the Township of Wellesley Administration Office for pick up. Please contact Wellesley Township in advance at 519-699-4611. If you would like more information please visit www.regionofwaterloo.ca and click on the Water “Quicklinks”, or e-mail email@example.com, or call Accounts Receivable - Water at 519-575-4490
» Saturday, December 17, 2011
Homeowners dinged with large increases in water rates Woolwich plans to hike fees by 6.9% for water and 7.9% for wastewater Steve Kannon
esidents on full municipal services will be shelling out another $50 next year for water and sewer fees, Woolwich councillors decided this week. For 2012, Waterloo Region has pushed water rates by 6.9 per cent and wastewater 7.9 per cent. In Woolwich, which buys water from the region and runs the distribution systems itself, that translates into a water rate hike of 6.9 per cent, to $1.52 per cubic metre from $1.43 (a jump of $16 to $22 per year for an average household) and wastewater increases of 7.84 per cent, to $1.90 per cubic metre from $1.76 ($25 to $33 per year). The Woolwich fees reflect the fact regional billing is the singlebiggest component of the township’s costs,
director of finance Richard Petherick told councillors Dec. 13. Water charges from the region will account for 67 per cent of the water budget in 2012, up from 60 per cent this year. On the wastewater side, the figures are 76 and 68 per cent respectively. “We’re holding the line. It’s really the region that is driving this,” he said. Given that the region plans similar increases over the next few years, water and sewage rates are likely to climb accordingly. Citing figures that show water costs are soaring because conservation measures have reduced regional revenues, Coun. Allan Poffenroth said customers are in effect being punished for good behaviour. The issue was discussed last week at a meeting of all mu-
nicipal councils in the region. Saddled with fixed costs and increasing expenditures to meet provincial regulations and future infrastructure needs, the region has seen revenues fall by $11 million over the past two years due to decreased demand. But Mayor Todd Cowan, the township’s representative on regional council, was quick to point out that conservations measures have helped defer more than $100 million in expansion projects, as well as a proposed Great Lakes pipeline. “It’s a heck of a lot cheaper than building a pipeline to Lake Erie,” he said of the rate increases. The Lake Erie project is slated for 2035 and could be pushed back by five or more years because of conservation efforts.
Airline: Bankruptcy of parent airline should have no impact on schedule > CONTINUED FROM PG. 05
the community and its great the way the community has welcomed us here,” said Dale Morris, managing director for state and community affairs with American, in an interview after the announcement. “When it starts up we’re expecting great things.” The partnership comes during a difficult time for American, whose parent company AMR Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection on Nov. 29 under Chapter 11 proceedings, and is currently undergoing restructuring in U.S. bankruptcy court. Morris said that restructuring plan included looking at new routes, such as the one to Waterloo, and that the filing of Chapter 11 would have no impact on their decision to continue their partnership with the airport.
“It’s business as usual. We had this route projected even before we went into that mode. It won’t have any affect on it at all.” Woolwich Mayor Todd Cowan admitted to having some reservations about the deal after the developments on Nov. 29, but said regional council and the township have been assured the agreement would continue as agreed. “Initially I had some concerns, but Chris (Wood) has said that just because they have filed for bankruptcy doesn’t mean they’re going under, it’s merely a reorganization of the company,” Cowan said. As for future plans, Morris couldn’t say whether or not the airline would expand upon its twice-daily route. He said the company has economic models that the market must reach first and that it would take some
time for the market to dictate their future action. “I think once the route gets going we’ll look at other options down the road but I think if it goes well it can lead to increased frequency.” Flights from Waterloo to Chicago start June 14, 2012.
Waterloo Region to Chicago Departs 6:30 a.m. and 4:40 p.m. (except Saturday) Arrives 6:55 a.m. and 5:15 p.m.
Chicago to Waterloo Region Departs 1:20 p.m. and 7:50 p.m. (except Saturday) Arrives 3:55 p.m. and 10:15 p.m.
» Saturday, December 17, 2011
Woolwich launches Real vs. artificial The Christmas tree debate rages on comprehensive review of Breslau development N James Jackson
Council approves spending $235,000 for consultant to formulate secondary plan Steve Kannon
apping out the future of Breslau will cost Woolwich $235,000, the price for consultants to carry out what’s known as the secondary plan review for what’s expected to be the fastest-growing part o the township. The plan will lay out appropriate locations for future residential and commercial growth inside the settlement boundaries, as well as places for schools, recreational facilities and the like. Transportation issues, including a proposed GO train station, will also be part of the review, as will growth targets and staging of development, determining how many new homes should be built each year. The Planning Partnership, a Torontobased firm, submitted the lower of just two bids submitted in response to the township’s request for proposals. Most of the expenses will be covered by development charges – fees collected from new construction – with about $35,000 coming from general tax coffers, director of engineering and planning Dan Kennaley told councillors meeting Tuesday night. Questioned by May-
or Todd Cowan about the need for yet another consultant on the books, Kennaley explained the comprehensive review requires time and expertise not available in-house. Scheduled to run through mid-2013, the work will run in tandem with a review of the township’s Official Plan. It will also have a direct bearing on Thomasfield Homes’ recent application for a large, mixed-use development on land east of the village core. Owner Tom Krizsan would like to see the secondary plan completed as quickly as possible, telling councillors GO Transit is on a tight schedule for a proposed park-andride station that would form part of his development project. “We began asking for the secondary plan five years ago. We’re very pleased it has arrived,” he said, calling for the township to “complete it in an expeditious manner.” Thomasfield control about 70 per cent of the undeveloped land within the Breslau settlement area, so the secondary plan will have a large impact on his plans. The company earlier this year submitted an application for a project that would add 2,300 new residents and
3,330 jobs to the area. Proposed is a combination of residential (single-family, semis, townhouses and apartment buildings), commercial space, offices, retail stores, industrial uses, schools, open space, trails and wetlands extending over more than 335 acres east of the company’s current development, the Hopewell Heights subdivision. The development would cover two pieces of land, 226 acres immediately east of the subdivision and 109 acres east of Greenhouse Road, the site of much of the proposed industrial land. There would be 865 residential units; 53 acres of employment land; 15 acres set aside at the sound end of the western property, adjacent to the CN rail line, set aside for a GO station; and substantial amounts of protected wetlands and extensive trailways. Addressing the timing of the work, Coun. Mark Bauman noted the biggest hurdle is the Ontario Municipal Board hearing that’s holding up the new Regional Official Plan. Neither the secondary plan nor the township’s own Official Plan review can be finalized until the legal issues are resolved at the regional level.
ear the front entrance of Grobe’s Nursery and Garden Centre is a large sign welcoming you to Christmas tree country, and inside, hundreds of pre-cut Christmas trees line the interior of the greenhouse. It’s pretty clear where the company’s allegiance lies in the ongoing debate of real versus fake Christmas trees. “It starts in the ground and it ends in the ground,” said coowner Perry Grobe of the benefits of a real tree over a fake one. “An artificial tree has a lifespan and when it’s over it goes to the landfill.”
Grobe points to the myriad of other benefits of choosing a real Christmas tree every year, from the absorption of carbon dioxide, the protection of soil from runoff and erosion, and the creation habitat for wildlife. It can take between four to 15 years to grow a Christmas tree, depending on the species and the desired height. Meanwhile, proponents of the artificial tree point to the ease and convenience associated with not having to drag a real one inside. “They are cleaner than a live tree, and there is less mess with no needles falling off,” said Lindsey Dietrich, a spokesperson from
Home Hardware, which sells a wide range of artificial trees. “They’re a lot lower maintenance with no watering involved or needles to vacuum.” The Christmas tree has a long history. Records suggest that when St. Boniface travelled to Germany during the 7th century to convert the people to Christianity, he came across a group of pagans worshipping an oak tree. Legend has it that he cut down the tree in anger and, to his amazement, a young fir sprung up from the roots of the oak. St. Boniface took this as a sign of the Christian
> SEE TREES ON PG. 09
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Volunteers help WCS prepare hampers for Christmas
Woolwich wants more study into visual impacts of proposed Jigs Hollow gravel pit Steve Kannon
» COLIN DEWAR
MANY HANDS ... Nancy Cooper (left) was one
of the 200 volunteers that came out to help prepare the WCS holiday food hampers at Lions Hall on Dec. 14. More than 170 hampers were filled over the week. Bruce Sieling (right) works with Elwyn Bridge as they pack food into one of the many hampers.
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» Saturday, December 17, 2011
he applicant seeking to create a gravel pit near Winterbourne will have to provide more information about the visual impact of the operation after the township found the first study to be wanting. A peer review of the visual impact study submitted by Kuntz Topsoil, Sand and Gravel having discovered a host of shortcomings, Woolwich will ask the company to address the issues. Among the findings in the report commissioned by the township, the original study submitted by the applicant failed to assess the visual impact from the perspective of the Grand Valley Trail, the Winterbourne bridge and the historic driving tour that winds through the valley. Nor did the report take into account the height and elevations of stockpiles of extracted and recyclable materials. A number of properties were unaccounted for in determining the views that would be changed if the pit went ahead. Those and other issues will have to be addressed, director of engineering and planning Dan Kennaley said at Tuesday night’s meeting of council. Council ordered the peer review last spring following concerns raised by residents. Sitting in a low spot in the Winterbourne valley, the applicant’s site at 125 Peel St. is close to Winterbourne, Conestogo and West Montrose. The findings were welcomed by residents, who took the opportunity to take aim at the application yet again, highlighting the reasons why the pit should not be allowed to go ahead. For Isabella Price, a resident of Sunset Drive in Winterbourne, the prospect of the pastoral view being blotted
out by a gravel pit is unacceptable. “It’s a beautiful view. For many of us, this is the primary reason why we live here,” She took exception with a portion of the report that berms would be an acceptable method to address residents’ concerns about the tainted view, noting they too would block out the countryside. That sentiment was shared by neighbour Laurie Breed, who argued berms of three or four metres would do nothing to block the view from some vantage points, especially with stockpiles of materials that could reach 20 metres, while simply offering another obstruction while taking part in the historical driving tour through the area. “Quite simply, berms are not an acceptable solution,” she said. Conestogo residents, meanwhile, were upset the study doesn’t take into account the impact on that community. Bill Norris told councillors 17 homes on Golf Course Road have views of the valley that would undoubtedly suffer if the pit goes ahead, not to mention the noise and dust problems that will also come along with the project. He dismissed assertions from township planning staff that there would be no unacceptable visual impact on his and other properties. “I invite you to come out our backyards and see for yourself,” he said, calling the peer review study incomplete. While they listened to the public’s input, councillors made no comments about the application because the matter is now a legal issue, having been referred to the Ontario Municipal Board. The process is still at the prehearing stage, and no formal hearing has been set.
Âť Saturday, December 17, 2011
faith, but it wasnâ€™t until the 16th century that fir trees were brought indoors at Christmastime. Martin Luther is purported to have started the tradition of decorating trees to celebrate Christmas around 1500. He was struck by the beauty of the snow-covered evergreens shimmering in the moonlight and returned home and set up a fir tree indoors and decorated it with candles in honour of Christâ€™s birth. Meanwhile, the first artificial trees were developed in the 19th century in Germany after growing concerns of widespread defores-
tation, and they were made of goose feathers that were dyed green. Since then they have been made out of brush bristles, aluminum and now plastic PVC. Nowadays customers can purchase an artificial tree to match their own decorating needs, including memory wire so they hold their shape year after year, pre-lit, and they come in a wide range of colours as well, said Dietrich. Plus, they save you time during the hectic holiday season â€“ at a price. The artificial Christmas tree market has grown into a $44-million industry, with prices ranging from $50 up to $500, yet that price is worth it
for many customers, said Dietrich. â€œThey look real without the hassle. I think over the years weâ€™ve come a long way in making artificial trees look very real and authentic,â€? she said, adding that fake trees are non-allergenic and that real trees can sometimes grow mold at the base. â€œThey can also be assembled in just a few minutes.â€? Despite that ease, however, Grobe still prefers the tradition that comes with finding that perfect tree, taking it home and decorating it with the family. He said that they sell thousands of trees each year, indicating he isnâ€™t alone in that assertion.
â€œAfter selling as many trees as we have here, there is no question that some folks see it as a tradition to do it as a family, and it would become part of a ritual for many folks â€“ going out and getting the Christmas tree and putting it up is part of their celebration of Christmas.â€? And Grobe knows a thing or two about tradition â€“ he proposed to his wife while decorating the Christmas tree, and itâ€™s become an important part of their family story ever since. â€œThe date is pretty well engrained in her head as to when it should go up (Dec. 2),â€? he laughed, â€œand I have yet to take it down before Jan. 6.â€?
TIPS FOR PICKING THE RIGHT CHRISTMAS TREE Fraser Fir and Balsam Fir are the most popular, Grobe says, because of their soft needles and pleasant aroma; Trees depend on moisture,
but buying it closer to Christmas doesnâ€™t guarantee a better tree; they are all cut around the same time (mid-November) and the amount of moisture inside the
tree at the time theyâ€™re cut will dictate its longevity; Most folks donâ€™t have a large enough reservoir for their tree. It should hold no less than about
â€œmeeting all your health & wellness needsâ€?
4 litres (one gallon) of water; When leaving to pick a tree, ensure you bring string, straps, blankets, etc. to get it home safely.
> CONTINUED FROM PG. 07
Âť JAMES JACKSON
Trees: History and tradition versus convenience
THE NATURAL CHOICE Perry Grobe holds onto a scotch pine in his companyâ€™s greenhouse. The co-owner of Grobeâ€™s Nursery in Breslau is a proponent of choosing a real Christmas tree over an artificial one.
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