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Puslinch proposed site for Canadian National Waterski Championships

by Mike Robinson

ABERFOYLE - While council is supportive of the idea of Puslinch hosting the Canadian National Waterski championships, proper planning is also required.

On Nov. 15, event committee promoters were in Puslinch seeking a nod of approval to move forward with the event, scheduled for Aug. 7 to 12, 2018.

Speaking on behalf of the committee, Wendy Durigon said, “We’re here to give information and answer questions on the possibilities of hosting the Canadian National Waterski Championships ... in Puslinch at a decommissioned quarry at the corner of Victoria Road and Wellington Road 34.”

The site currently is currently used by Summer Ski waterski club.

The event would be hosted in cooperation with the McClintock’s Water Ski School on Puslinch Lake and they would provide practice and training time.

“We are seeking permission to run a one-time classic water ski event,” Durigon said.

Along with the presenters were some members of the national water ski committee, including:

- Paul Roberts, Water Ski and Wakeboard Ontario (WSWO) president and co-owner of the proposed event site;  

- WSWO board member Stephen Collins;

- Jeff McClintock of McClintock Ski School; and

- Jason McClintock, Ontario team coach for waterski development.

Durigon said WSWO is the governing body for towed water sports in Ontario and the lead on hosting this event. She said the organization approved Ontario to host the 2018 event “... and we want it to be in Puslinch.”

Durigon said, “Ontario is home to almost half the Junior Canadian Team and half of the Elite National Team.”

In addition, she explained    Puslinch is the home training site of the Ontario Water Ski Team and coach Jason McClintock.

“Puslinch is the mecca of water skiing for Ontario athletes, both developing and decorated,” Durigon said.

“We are very proud to have a lot of developing and decorated athletes.”

She used the example of the eight water ski events at the PanAm games in the summer of 2015.

Canada earned medals in every event and “of those, five came out of Puslinch.”

Durigon suggested there is little risk, and a lot of gain for the township, noting, “developmentally and environmentally, water skiing is an environmentally responsible sport and a positive use of a decommissioned quarry.”

She added such events would create stronger ties within the municipality and the county.

Durigon noted Cambridge MPP Kathryn McGarry, the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, commended WSWO on its use of decommissioned quarries for the environment and social benefits.    

Economic implication

Durigon added this would be a self-funded event by a not-for-profit organization.

She also saw the event as a means to stimulate tourism in Wellington County, which would spin-off to economic areas such as hotels, taxis, restaurants and shopping.

In general, Puslinch councillors were supportive.

Susan Fielding agreed the event sounded exciting, but noted certain formalities would need to be met, such as permits and proper zoning.

Councillor John Sepulis expressed similar support.

Proponents asked if approvals could be covered in a special event permit.

Mayor Dennis Lever said he spoke with the proponents last year about the potential of the event. At the time, there was discussion of zoning and permitted uses of the property.

When the property was being used for personal use, it was not an issue, but it would be different for a national event, he said.

Lever asked if the proponents had pursued a change in the zoning to include the event as a permitted use.

He said the township would have to rely on the Wellington County planning department to determine if it is a permitted use.

Lever said he hoped the proponents had pursued that.

Councillor Ken Roth agreed it was potentially a great event, but the proper process still needed to be followed, including proper zoning.

Councillor Matthew Bulmer saw the event as a good use for a former quarry.

“I absolutely love the idea,” he said, adding that he too shared concerns about  the zoning challenge.

“Even a temporary zoning change would take some time to pass,” Bulmer noted.

The issue for the proponents is they are facing an early December deadline to offer a commitment to the national organization.

Organizers stressed they were only looking for a one-time opportunity to stage the event and they hoped this could be covered through a one-time special events permit.

Lever said while it sounded like an exciting event, council would still need to hear from planning staff before making a decision.

Wellington County planner Sarah Wilhelm said a rezoning (or temporary rezoning) would certainly take a number of months.

Lever added that if the information could be made available before the deadline, he expressed a willingness to hold a special meeting.

The next regular council session is Dec. 6.


December 1, 2017


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