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Business Leader Summer 2018
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2017: The Year in Review for Mapleton Township

by Patrick Raftis

MAPLETON - The Community News and Wellington Advertiser would like to wish everyone a safe and happy 2018, as we take a look back on an eventful year in 2017.

The following is just a small sample of the news that made headlines in Mapleton Township in the past 12 months.

January

The Maryborough Community Centre here will be upgraded with the assistance of provincial grant funding. CAO Brad McRoberts reported at the Jan. 10 meeting the Township of Mapleton was successful in obtaining a grant for upgrades to the facility through the Ontario 150 Community Capital Grant Program. The total project costs were estimated to be $526,000 with $249,800 being funded by the Ontario 150 program and $10,000 being funding through the Wellington County Accessibility Grant Program. The remaining $266,700 will be funded by the municipality.

Seasonal operators with the township’s public works department were granted more guaranteed work hours. At the Jan. 10 meeting, council approved a staff recommendation that the standard work week for seasonal operators become 42 hours. In addition to retention and recruitment advantages, the change would provide the public works department with “greater operational flexibility to address winter maintenance needs particularly during extended active weather conditions,” a staff report stated.

Local farmers mounted a letter writing campaign in an effort to convince Mapleton council not to proceed with a proposal to implement development charges on rural construction. Correspondence received at the Jan. 10 meeting included 14 nearly-identical letters (a few contained hand-written additions) from Mapleton farmers and farm families. Mapleton’s current development charges bylaw includes a 100 per cent exemption for buildings constructed for “a bona fide farm use.” A proposal presented at a public meeting on Oct. 11 would see the exemption reduced to 75%.

February

Quick responses from two local farmers and Mapleton Fire and Rescue prevented what could have been a large loss in the farming community near Drayton. Moorefield  and Drayton firefighters responded to a call at 8:23am on Feb. 3 for a structure fire at on the 4th Line of Mapleton Township.

“The farm owners had installed ABC fire extinguishers recommended by the Mapleton Fire Department. These extinguishers, along with the quick actions of the farm’s owners and the Mapleton firefighters, saved approximately 90 head housed in the dairy barn,” Fire Chief Rick Richardson said.

There will be no development charges on farm building construction in Mapleton. At its Feb. 7 meeting, council passed a resolution amending a proposed development charges bylaw update to maintain the status quo on agricultural buildings. Local farmers and leaders of area farm organizations voiced opposition to the proposal at council meetings on Oct. 11 and Nov. 8, and the idea was met with nothing but opposition at a public meeting in Moorefield on Jan. 26.

Two Drayton youths competed at the national level in synchronized skating and came home with gold medals.  Micayla Shantz and Rachel VanAnkum, skating with the Burlington-based Nexxice Intermediate Synchronized Club, participated at the Skate Canada National Synchronized Skating Championships in Calgary Feb. 24 to 26.

March

Residential taxes were increased by about $15 per $100,000 worth of assessment. At a special meeting on March 7, Mapleton council approved a budget that called for expenditures of $9,626,413 in 2017, compared to $8,774,003 budgeted in 2016. The projected tax levy of $6,554,085 was up by $671,849, or about 11.4 per cent from the budgeted 2016 levy of $5,882,236. The budget called for a tax rate increase of 3.3%.

The township hired a new director of public works.

Mapleton council passed a bylaw on March 14 appointing Salvatore (Sam) Mattina to the position, effective March 20. Mattina is a civil engineering technologist (CET) with over 35 years of experience, including 14 years of municipal experience working for the City of Guelph, Town of Milton and City of Brantford.

The Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) hosted a public open house on “Preparing for Flooding in Drayton and Mapleton Township” on March 23 at the PMD arena.  On hand to answer questions from local residents were representatives from the GRCA,  Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, Insurance Bureau of Canada, Office of the Fire Marshall, Wellington County Emergency Management Services and Mapleton Township emergency responders and planners. Information was also available on the flood warning system, how to reduce risks to property and what to do after a flood. About 10 members of the public attended the event.

 “Once again the Drayton Farm Show exhibitors and our community has exceeded all expectations,” said Drayton Kinsmen Farm Show chair Glenn Dobben. He noted more than 3,000 people, including many youngsters, checked out the event on March 29 and 30.

April

Township council approved a $12,000 expenditure for Mapleton Fire and Rescue’s share of a new computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system. The City of Guelph Fire Department has provided pager and radio dispatching for Wellington County fire departments for several years. The city recently moved to the CAD system and has updated it to allow county departments to utilize it. Fire Chief Rick Richardson said Guelph will invoice a one-time charge of $12,000 for each Wellington County fire department. There will also be an annual fee of $1,800.

Implementation of a Community Improvement Plan for the township moved a step closer following a public meeting on April 11. Among the goals of the plan, outlined by consultant Nancy Reid of Vitality Planning, are to promote Mapleton as a business friendly community and an inviting destination for visitors. The plan would establish a program of municipal financial incentives to encourage the rehabilitation and improvement of private lands and buildings in Mapleton.

Participants in Norwell District Secondary School’s inaugural Amazing Race took to the streets of Palmerston on April 26.  The event, organized by the Norwell Student Council, was created to raise funds for the Troy McLaughlin Sports Foundation in honour of Troy McLaughlin, who was tragically killed in a car accident in Mapleton in 2014.

May

The third annual Empowerment Day on May 4 drew more than 5,000 students to the Sleeman Centre in Guelph. Empowerment Day began in 2015 as a project of two students on the Drayton Heights student council. The first year saw 1,300 Grade 6 to 8 students at PMD arena in Drayton.  In 2016 the event grew to over 3,000 students at the Fergus sportsplex. Though the event has grown exponentially over three years, the Drayton Heights student council is still responsible for organizing the day.

The Friends of the Grand River and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) released 14,750 brown trout into the Conestogo River. The project took place on May 10 and 11 at about 30 sites along a 19km stretch below the Conestogo Dam in the communities of Glen Allan, Macton, Wallenstein and Hawkesville. The fish have been stocked annually in the Conestogo River since 2003. The stocking program has resulted in “a great brown trout tailwater fishery,” officials state.

June

Alex Mustakas, founding and current artistic director of Drayton Entertainment, was honoured by Governor General David Johnston with the Meritorious Service Medal (Civil Division). Created by Queen Elizabeth II, the Meritorious Service Decorations recognize Canadians for exceptional deeds that bring honour to the country. Mustakas was celebrated for his commitment to making the performing arts affordable and accessible throughout Ontario.

The township’s new $5.5-million municipal maintenance facility was completed under budget, with about $15,000 to spare, according to a final cost summary presented to council on June 13. The report from CAO Brad McRoberts indicates the final tally for the project was $5,540,879, $15,590 under the total project budget of $5,556,469. The new facility was officially opened on May 24. The previous public works building at the same Sideroad 16 loaction was destroyed by fire in 2013.

Mayor Neil Driscoll declared an emergency at 11:15am on June 23 in response to massive flooding. The PMD Arena in Drayton was set up as the township’s evacuation centre. Emergency crews began warning residents and business owners in Drayton that flooding was still imminent in some areas. Data from the Grand River Conservation Authority indicates just over 88mm of rain fell in Mapleton between Thursday night and Friday morning.

July

A local developer eager to see the municipality expand its water and sewage capacity to end a development freeze indicated its willingness to contribute financially to a solution. Representatives of Glenaviland Development Corporation (GDC) advised Mapleton council the company is open to working with council and contributing funding assistance for proposed wastewater capacity and water service upgrades through a special per-lot surcharge beyond the regular  development charges.

Township council agreed to allow a Moorefield business to install an additional water meter to allow for manual calculation of wastewater discharge. Council agreed to the move on July 11, despite a staff recommendation to maintain the status quo. Spectrum Feeds general manager Mark Flaherty told council the business experienced a 534 per cent increase in water and wastewater charges for its two Moorefield facilities after metered water billing was implemented.

The Grand River Conservation Authority said flooding associated with a record rainfall event on June 23 was the direct result of more than 100 millimeters of rain falling in the span of two to three hours across a wide section of the northern portion of the watershed.  In a flood debriefing posted on its website, the GRCA stated rain gauges at Luther Marsh indicated the flooding, which caused damage in Drayton and Glen Allan, was due to the highest recorded one-day rainfall for that area since record-keeping began in 1950.

The authority noted the heavy rainfall was not identified in any weather forecasts in advance of the event. Environment Canada did identify a chance of “localized, severe thunderstorms” in a message put out shortly before midnight on June 22, but there was no indication those storms would include rainfall of that magnitude.

August

Police charged two Brampton residents in connection with armed robberies in Drayton, Milverton and Brampton. On Aug. 8 the OPP announced that an investigation, in partnership with Peel Regional Police, led to the arrest of a man and woman who police said were suspects in two robberies:

- on July 25 at about 1:35pm at the CIBC Bank on Main Street North in Milverton; and

- on Aug. 1 at about 4pm at the RBC bank on Main Street in Drayton.

In both cases a suspect entered the banks with a weapon, stole an undisclosed amount of cash and left on foot. In the Drayton robbery the suspect’s face was covered by a bandana. The Drayton RBC was the scene of a similar incident on March 2, 2015.

Mapleton council decided to work with local citizens and a supplier to build a splash pad in Drayton’s ABC Park by summer of 2018. At the Aug. 8 meeting, council authorized staff to work with the Mapleton Splash Pad Committee and Openspace Solutions Inc. to build the splash pad, at a cost of $226,755 plus tax. While the township will act as purchaser, the committee will contribute the bulk of the cost from fundraising efforts.

The 2017 Wellington County Plowing Match held near Alma on Aug. 17 was a success, despite some afternoon rain. “All the plowing got completed before the heavy rain, so it worked out quite well,” said Wellington County Plowmen’s Association president Walter Trachsel. He noted the match featured 34 plowing competitors, including five horse teams, “which is a pretty good show.” The match was hosted by Roger and Susan Harrop on Highway 6, north of Wellington Road 17.

September

Three Mapleton youths were part of a provincial baseball championship team. Moorefield residents Owen Ottens, Ethan Culling and Cody Frook are members of the Listowel Rookie Ontario Baseball Association (OBA) squad. The team is constructed of boys born in 2008 and 2009. The Listowel team qualified for the 2017 OBA Provincial Championships held in Wallaceburg, from Sept. 1 to 4, finishing the tournament with a perfect 6-0 record.

The 37th annual Drayton Terry Fox run raised around $20,000 for cancer research. About 220 people participated in the event, with organizers reporting a fundraising total of $19,420 on Sept. 18, with donations still coming in. The 2017 event was the first run organized by a new local committee consisting of Marieke Scholten, Melissa Gleeson, Kayla McGuire, Leona Ottens, Paula Trinier and Jenny Bults. The local run regularly places in the top 10 in per capita in fundraising and has raised more than $425,000 since its inception. The 2016 run raised about $24,000, with just over 160 participants taking part.

Mapleton council planned to spend almost $20,000 to repair a tennis court damaged during massive flooding in Glen Allan on June 23. Council approved awarding the repair project to MEI Paving Contractors, which submitted the only quotation for the project at $19,860. A report from public works director Sam Mattina notes the entire area of Glen Allan Park was submerged in over one metre of water during the flooding, which caused significant damage to the tennis court facility.

October

A cold front pushing into the region produced winds up to 130km/h that downed trees and power lines across Wellington County. Centre Wellington and Mapleton were seemingly the hardest hit by the Oct. 15 wind storms that pummeled southern Ontario, leaving thousands without electricity, including upwards of 1,000 homes in Wellington County. But Environment Canada officials say there were no confirmed tornadoes in the province. “Everything we’ve seen ... all point towards downbursts,” said warning preparedness meteorologist Geoff Coulson.

The township engaged the firm of Ward and Uptigrove as consultants to assist with hiring a new CAO. Mapleton Mayor Neil Driscoll told the Community News that council made the decision to hire the firm during an in-camera session at a special meeting on Oct. 17. The township announced the resignation of CAO/clerk Brad McRoberts on Oct. 13. McRoberts took a job as CAO of the Town of South Bruce Peninsula, where he formerly worked as manager of public works.

This year’s BMO Farm Family Award was presented to Morley and Thelma Trask of Alma at the Wellington County Plowman’s Banquet on Oct. 27 at the Alma Community Centre. The Trasks received a decorative bowl and plaque from Wellington County Queen of the Furrow Kayla Scott. Tate Driscoll of Mapleton was named 2017/18 Princess of the Furrow at the banquet.

November

An official tree planting and dedication ceremony was held for the Paul Day Forest on Nov. 4. A total of 10,000 trees are to be planted in Mapleton Township, one for each resident, as part of a Canada 150th legacy project in memory of Day. Volunteers and members of the Trees for Mapleton committee were to plant the area surrounding Mapleton’s soccer fields and river trails with 35 different tree species native to the area. Two trees originally planted at the Day farm in Goldstone by Paul Day will also be moved to the site. The plaque’s inscription says “The W. Paul Day Forest - A Living Legacy honouring Paul (1941-2016) and his vision and passion to create a more sustainable environment in Mapleton by planting the right trees, in the right places.”  

The end of a long-standing development freeze in the villages of Drayton and Moorefield may be at hand. Mapleton Township’s proposed 2018 budget contains a $4.2-million allocation for wastewater capacity enhancement and $3 million for a water tower. While the allocations are provisional at this point, Mayor Neil Driscoll said council seems prepared to spend the money needed to put an end to local wastewater capacity problems that originated about two decades ago. “Our intent, as far as I can read from council … whatever system that the consultants recommend ... that’s what we’re willing to put the money in for,” Driscoll said.

Township council opted not to re-appoint the municipality’s current closed meeting investigator, meaning the job will fall to the provincial Office of the Ombudsman. John Maddox, operating as JGM Consulting Inc., has been the investigator for the township since 2014 through an agreement between the County of Wellington, JGM and six of the county’s seven member municipalities. Under the Municipal Act municipalities have the option of appointing an investigator. The Ombudsman’s office is the default investigator for any municipality that doesn’t make an appointment. It does not charge for the service.

December

The average residential tax bill in Mapleton will rise by about $177 in 2018, based on budget projections. Mapleton council and township staff outnumbered members of the public 11 to six at a public presentation of the proposed 2018 budget at a special council meeting at the PMD arena on Dec. 6. The average residential assessment in Mapleton, $335,000 in 2017, is expected to rise to about $350,000 in 2018. Property taxes on a $350,000 home are estimated at $4,690 for 2018, an increase of $177 a year or $15 per month.

The reorganized Mapleton Chamber of Commerce held a meeting and membership drive on Nov. 29 at the Drayton Festival Theatre. Mapleton resident Greg Durocher officiated the election of the board. The newly-elected chamber executive consists of president Amber Tuck; treasurer Cathy Burton; secretary Dale Franklin; vice-presidents Jenn Landman, Wayne Mick and Donna Hirtle; and directors Jocelyn Martin, Dave Taylor, Beth Anne Rumph and Jeff Duimering. Memberships were accepted from 25 businesses in Mapleton Township.

The Mapleton Youth Action Council (MYAC) presented its inaugural Youth of the Year awards on Dec. 12. MYAC plans to present the awards annually to Wellington County residents between the ages of 13 and 24 who are making a difference in their communities.

The 2017 awards were presented prior to the Mapleton Township council meeting on Dec. 12 to: Amber Cowan, Cessale Koch, Isaac Hirtle, Jordan Turk, Jody Devries, Luke Whale, Parker Cummings, Rainen Oates, Shayna Morphy, Taylor Good and Chloe Collins.

 

January 12, 2018

 
 

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