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2011: Mapleton Year in Review

by Chris Daponte

MAPLETON TWP. - The Community News would like to wish everyone a safe and happy 2012, as it takes a look back at an eventful 2011.

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

January

The township’s first baby of 2011 was Alexis Vandenberg, born on Jan. 3 at 4:56am at Groves Memorial hospital in Fergus. Alexis, who weighed in at 9lbs 6oz., was welcomed by parents Chantel Robinson and John Vandenberg and big sister Breanna, of Drayton.

Mapleton Township received a $50,500 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation for new playground equipment at ABC Park in Drayton. The old play structure was destroyed by vandals.

Drayton Entertainment was also on the receiving end of a grant when the federal government announced $359,000 in funding for theatre upgrades and new equipment at three of its venues. About $47,500 was spent on the Festival Theatre in Drayton, which was matched by Drayton Entertainment, for a total project cost of $95,000.

During a public meeting on Jan. 11, neighbours expressed concerns about the proposed 196-unit Glenaviland Estates subdivision and nine-hole golf course on the west side of Wellington Road 8 in north Mapleton. Concerns included parking, water and sewer capacity, lower property values and sidewalk access.

Mapleton council reaffirmed its position of refusing to fill out the consultation forms necessary for companies like NextEra Energy to set up wind farms in the township. The municipality also repeated the call for an independent study to determine the possible impact of wind turbines on human and animal health.

An annual report revealed Mapleton councillors were paid a total of $78,328 in 2010, up 2% over the total for 2009.

February

Council decided to hire a consultant to help develop a parks and recreation master plan for the township.

The 2011 insurance program was approved by council, with a total premium of $151,752 - up 2.6% over the 2010 figure.

Wellington County council approved its 2011 budget, including a 2.7% tax levy increase.

Local residents rallied around fired crossing guard Michelle Choma, while  township officials remained quiet on the issue, refusing to allow a delegation to speak about it and also refusing (for at least two prominent township officials) to speak to the Community News about it. Choma said she was fired by Sinnamon for “leaving her post” (after a verbal altercation with an alleged aggressive driver), even though there were no more children that needed to cross the street.

Officials with the Wellington Waterloo Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) said they received good feedback during a “regional round table discussion” held in Drayton about health care in northern and rural Ontario.

Council proposed several changes - including some increases ranging from 50 to 100% - in its fees and charges bylaw. The changes were later approved.

An engineer’s report showed four bridges in Mapleton were in need of “fairly immediate” upgrades.

Township council approved a Feed-in Tariff (FIT) application for a 170-kilowatt, $1-million solar project on the roof of the PMD Arena in Drayton (in partnership with Essex Energy).

Council also approved paying its portion of the 2011 levies from the Grand River Conservation Authority ($78,285) and the Maitland Valley Conservation Authority ($7,884).

March

A large fire completely destroyed a Mapleton home and hangar/garage on Wellington  Road 11, just south of County Road 109. Damage from the blaze, the largest structural fire the local fire department had handled in about five years,  was estimated at over $1 million.

Wellington County council told the Ministry of the Environment it has no interest in taking part in the public consultation process that would permit the construction of wind farms within the county, due to “significant deficiencies” in the approval process.

The county announced plans to hire a fire training officer to work with seven lower tier municipalities. The county later hired Jonathan Karn to fill that role.

Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) officials revealed they are still unsure how they will fund the construction of a $20-million emergency spillway for the Conestogo Dam, expected to be completed by 2015.

Mapleton Township added another 27.5 acres to its industrial park in Drayton at a cost of $305,710.

The Shoes for Haiti campaign was a remarkable success, collecting close to 30,000 pairs of shoes to be shipped to Haiti, including about 2,000 from the Mapleton area. Councillor Jim Curry was credited with much of the campaign’s local success.

A panel of three Superior Court judges in Toronto ruled the 550 metre setback for industrial wind turbines is legitimate. Prince Edward County resident Ian Hanna had argued that in coming up with the new setback, the provincial government failed to properly consider how the turbines can affect human health.

The junior and senior girls volleyball teams at Norwell District Secondary School both captured CWOSSA gold medals on their home court at the regional championships in Palmerston.

Councillors expressed concern with a new property standards bylaw that didn’t “feel like Mapleton Township.” The bylaw, proposed by bylaw enforcement officer Bruce Brockelbank, was criticized by councillors for being too stringent and was deferred.

Meeting investigator Norm Gamble ruled the township was correct in its handling of a closed session council meeting to discuss the firing of crossing guard Michelle Choma. The complaint was filed by Choma’s mother.

Mapleton Township batted .500 in grant applications, securing $174,000 (over three years) in funding for the Closer to Home seniors program, but losing out on a $37,000 application to the federal government to make the Maryborough community hall more accessible.

NextEra Energy’s application for a 10-turbine wind farm southwest of Arthur was accepted as complete under the Renewable Energy Approval process, despite the refusal of both Mapleton Township and Wellington County to take part in the consultation process. John Wilkinson, at the time the MPP for Perth-Wellington and also the Minister of the Environment, had previously assured local councillors and residents this exact scenario would not occur.

Around the same time, NextEra officials boasted that changes to their application (including turbine and transformer locations and the collection route) offered a “net benefit” for local residents.

The Drayton Defenders peewee rep hockey team captured the Ontario Minor Hockey Association ‘D’ championship, after defeating Marmoro/Madoc 3-1 in the best-of-five final OMHA series.

April

Council voted unanimously not to proceed - as an owner, partial owner or even as a lessee of the space - with a $1-million solar project on the roof of the PMD Arena. Council’s concerns included an unwillingness to borrow $300,000 and also feedback from residents who suggested such a project should be left up to private businesses.

Township officials were encouraged by the Ministry of the Environment to take part in the consulting process for the NextEra Energy project, although councillors said they still had concerns about the 10-turbine proposal, including what they saw as poor communication by the company.

Mapleton Township helped out grieving neighbours in North Perth by providing fire department back-up and also extra barricades during the memorial services for firefighters Raymond Walter and Ken Rea, who tragically died during a huge blaze at a Listowel dollar store.

Mapleton council passed a new tow truck bylaw aimed at curbing accident solicitation, despite the plea from one operator for a deferral. The Wellington County Tow Group was in favour of the bylaw.

The 30th annual Drayton Farm Show was a great success, attracting over 2,300 people to the annual event at the PMD Arena.

Council approved the 2011 budget, including $3.4-million in capital projects, which resulted in a 6.3% increase to property taxes. The owner of the average home worth $270,145 paid an extra $55 in township taxes as a result of the increase.

Candidates in the Perth-Wellington federal election race addressed a number of issues at debates in Alma and Arthur, including energy production on farmland, large wind farms, income splitting, tax cuts, veteran services, immigration policies and the long gun registry.

Drayton native Nick Spaling advanced to the second round of the NHL playoffs, after scoring the series-winning goal that lifted the Nashville Predators over the Anaheim Ducks. Nashville would go on to lose its second round series against the Vancouver Canucks.

Mapleton farmer David Ellison and lifelong friend  Matthew Klumpenhouwer, of Perth County, announced they would appear on an episode of the OLN television show Mantracker in May. Ellison was the only one to cross the finish line, but both called the experience a great team victory.

May

Incumbent MP Gary Schellenberger won his fifth consecutive election on May 2, defeating four other candidates in the Perth-Wellinton riding. Schellenberger garnered 55% of all votes cast in the riding.

Paul Day was honoured at a county council meeting as the volunteer of the year for Mapleton Township. Day is an active member of the Trees for Mapleton group as well as the local historical society.

Despite an increase in local break ins and domestic disturbances, OPP Inspector Scott Smith said Mapleton Township remains a very safe place to live.

Hall revenue at the Maryborough Community Centre topped the list of concerns expressed by over 50 people who attended the town hall meeting at the Moorefield centre. Other issues included water meters, wastewater costs, the condition of local sidewalks and roads, and changing road signs to read Mapleton instead of former township names.

Mapleton blood donor Allen Martin was recognized by Canadian Blood Services for making 75 donations.

The Ministry of the Environment announced the opening of a 60-day commenting period for NextEra Energy’s application for a 10-turbine wind farm southwest of Arthur.

The Palmerston Legion received a $69,000 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to provide a more accessible and energy efficient building.

Council unanimously approved a 20-year, $950,000 Infrastructure Ontario loan application to cover the purchase of 59 acres of land to make room for a new lagoon at its wastewater treatment facility. The township received the loan and in July passed a bylaw officially approving the debenture.

June

The township’s auditor announced Mapleton will have to spend $4.8-million per year just maintain its current infrastructure assets.

Council unanimously approved a resolution supporting an official plan amendment that would allow the Glenaviland Estates subdivision and golf course to proceed, provided the developer meets the requirements of the MNR and the GRCA.

Mapleton and Wellington County officials met with Wind Concerns Ontario president John Laforet to discuss NextEra Energy’s proposed wind farm near Arthur.

Over 70 trucks attended the 14th annual Bob Tail Truck Show in Palmerston, despite rainy weather.

MPP John Wilkinson announced a $439,000 grant for Mapleton Township to cover costs for the installation of water meters for users in Drayton and Moorefield. Installation was delayed until spring of 2012.

Six workers were injured after the roof of the new Norwell Diary building at the Drayton industrial park collapsed. None of the injuries were life threatening and the Ministry of Labour was called in to investigate the incident.

Officials at the Groves hospital in Fergus, which is used by many Mapleton residents, announced the successful completion of the $2.6-million CT scanner fundraising campaign.

Students from both the public (84%) and Catholic (86%) school boards had success rates higher than the provincial results (83%)in the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test issued by the Education Quality and Accountability Office.

The Conestoga Sailing Club celebrated its 50th anniversary with an event at Conestogo Lake.

A busy weekend in Moorefield included three annual events: the Mapleton Custom Rodders Car and Truck Show, the Optimists’ Garden Tractor Pull and Minor Ball Day.

July

Hundreds of locals packed the new Optimist hall for a grand opening ceremony at Wallace Cumming Park in Alma. The federal, provincial and municipal governments each provided one third of the cost for the $1.5-million building.

Mapleton council approved the formation of an economic development committee.

Councillors also approved a 2.5% pay increase for themselves and township staff members.

The annual Canada Day fireworks display at the Drayton fairgrounds, sponsored by the Mapleton Fire Department, was attended by hundreds of people.

NHL player Nick Spaling and NHL linesman Scott Cherrey, both Drayton natives, were honoured during an event at the PMD Arena in Drayton. The celebration included the unveiling of framed jerseys.

Council defeated a proposal to make all township parks smoke free, citing concerns about enforcement and signs. But they all agreed more should be done to get smokers away from entrances to public buildings.

Alma’s Acadia Northfield was awarded a $1,000 scholarship through the Tim Hortons Scholarship Program. She planned to put the cash towards her post-secondary education at the University of Windsor in the forensic science program.

Moorefield arm wrestler Tyler Robinson was named the Ontario Rookie of the Year by the Ontario Armwrestling Association. Robinson, who was born with cerebral palsy, is widely regarded as one of the sport’s rising stars.

Tractor enthusiasts gathered as usual at the Upper Canada Two Cylinder Show at the Drayton fairgrounds.

Extremely hot weather in July led to a county-wide fire ban, although the ban was repealed within a week.

August

Council voted in favour of a new Bell Mobility tower north of Alma to help improve cell phone and Internet service for those in the area.

Council also approved a zoning bylaw amendment to allow the construction of a 4,800 square foot Mennonite church on Wellington Road 10, but rejected the developer’s proposal for a cemetery on the site.

The Harvest Table, located in Parker, received a $59,562 provincial grant to promote local food and help local farmers.

The annual Drayton Fair was well attended and great weather helped ensure the event was another success for the local community.

The Alma Bantam girls ball team captured the intercounty softball championship at a tournament in Cambridge.

Another successful summer event took place in Drayton, as hundreds gathered for the third annual Underground Railroad Music Festival at Centennial Park. The event, which celebrates the black Queen’s Bush settlement in what is now Mapleton, was moved from Glen Allan Park due to construction in that hamlet.

Township officials asked for the help of those living in Moorefield and Drayton to address “excessive volume” at the municipality’s wastewater treatment facility.

Drayton native Victoria Rumph helped lead the Guelph Gators ball team to a silver medal at the junior national tournament in Windsor. She then started her third season with the women’s team at Youngstown State University in Ohio, where she received a scholarship.

Council was forced to slash costs in the new sewage lagoon project after the tender came in at $2.13 million - about $950,000 above the original budget.

Friends and relatives of 2-year-old Jasper More were able to breathe a sigh of relief after the Palmerston toddler was finally granted life-saving provincial funding for a rare blood disorder.

September

Councillors rejected the idea of changing the name of the PMD Arena to the Drayton Community Centre, citing amalgamation (which changed the municipality’s name to Mapleton) and a lack of input from residents. The township’s parks, culture and recreation committee, which had suggested the change, later agreed to keep the name PMD Arena.

The Mapleton Fire Department was granted approval from council to start training its volunteers for water-based rescue work (later delayed until spring 2012). The department was also granted permission to update its confined space training.

Moved from the south to north end of Wallace Cumming Park to take advantage of the paved hall lot, the Alma Optimist Car Show was a resounding success.

Members of the Drayton Legion voted to keep Branch 416 alive, but a spokesman said a lack of active members continues to threaten its survival.

The Palmeraston 81’s and the Drayton Icemen amalgamated to form the Mapleton Minto 81’s for the 2011-12 WOAA Senior AA hockey season. The move was made in attempt to ice a more competitive team and also to capitalize on larger fan and sponsorship base.

A huge fire completely destroyed a home on Concession 12, northwest of Drayton and southeast of Rothsay. Damage was estimated in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, but no one was injured.

Council deferred the purchase of laptop computers for councillors, despite the inclusion of the item in the budget.

Area students fared well in the annual EQAO assessments in reading, writing and mathematics.

Agricultural issues and wind farms dominated provincial election debates in the Perth-Wellington riding, including those in Arthur and Alma.

A bylaw prohibiting smoking within five metres of public buildings was finally approved by council.

The Community News office moved from the corner of Wood and Wellington Streets to the Studio Factor building on Wood Street. The paper’s old home was transformed into the Drayton Chop House restaurant, which opened in December.

October

Council approved a notice of motion from councillor Andy Knetsch calling for studies on how to deal with erosion in the Conestogo River that causes flooding in Drayton and presents a safety hazard. However, officials at CN Rail, which owns an abandoned abutment remained aloof, despite assurances they would discuss the matter with the township.

Incumbent Perth-Wellington MPP John Wilkinson was narrowly defeated by Progressive Conservative candidate Randy Pettapiece in the Oct. 6 provincial election. Pettapiece won by just 210 votes. Local NDP candidate Ellen Papenberg placed third, with the other three candidates finishing far behind.

Wellington County agreed to store and preserve excess artifacts of the Mapleton Historical Society.

Council approved increasing the Drayton and Moorefield sewage rates at least 12%, despite admitting there are some inequities in the system. The rate hike was necessitated after huge cost overruns for the expansion of the wastewater treatment facility.

The CKNX Health Care Heroes Radiothon raised over $666,000 for 16 hospitals in midwestern Ontario, including the Palmerston and District Hospital.

The Harvest for Hunger event, during which 160 acres of cash crops was harvested in  under 12 minutes by 115 combines, raised nearly $250,000 for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

The Upper Grand District School Board announced three Mapleton Township schools (Alma, Centre Peel and Maryborough) will undergo renovations totalling $1.5-million over the next three years to make room for new full-day kindergarten students.

November

The township discovered its insurance premium for 2012 will climb 3% from $159,873 to $165,150.

Newly-elected Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece took the oath of  office at Queen’s Park and was named by PC Leader Tim Hudak as the official opposition deputy critic for agriculture.

Mapleton Township hired Stemski Kelly and Associates of Fergus at a cost of $15,000 to lead its recreation master plan.

Local Kinsmen Wayne Mick was presented with a life membership pin recognizing his vision and dedication to the community.

The Mapleton Arena eXpansion (MAX) committee unveiled its donor recognition wall at the PMD Arena. The group also announced it had raised about $200,000 of the $250,000 it committed to the arena expansion project.

The Drayton Remembrance Day ceremony was, as usual, very well attended.

Palmerston teen Ashley Hedge published her first  novella, entitled Siren. She is 16 years old and a student at Norwell District Secondary School.

December

A delegation of local health care officials convinced council to provide its $10,000 doctor recruitment fee to the local recruitment committee. Council had previously turned down the request, citing a lack of information and also concerns about how long the township will have to provide the fee.

Teviotdale was chosen by the county as the home for its new $7.5-million OPP operations centre.

Council voted 3-2 in favour of keeping the current automated phone answering system at the township office. The system regularly draws the ire of residents and at least one councillor.

A bill to restore planning authority to local municipalities when it comes to wind farms was defeated in Toronto by MPPs from the Liberal and NDP parties.

The annual Christmas parades in Drayton and Moorefield were very well attended.

Mapleton Township wind farm opponents were upset to learn NextEra Energy’s 10-turbine application southwest of Arthur was approved by the Ministry of the Environment. The township decided not to seek an appeal  through the Environmental Appeals Tribunal but announced it would consider a judicial appeal to determine if all the legal processes were followed by NextEra.

January 6, 2012

 
 

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