Centre Wellington considers three funding requests

ELORA – Three organizations asked Centre Wellington for funding during 2020 budget deliberations.

On Dec. 4, representatives from the Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games, the Elora Community Centre and the Elora BIA asked for additional funding from the township.

Council provided comments in response to the delegations on Dec. 5.

Fergus Scottish Festival

Matt Bennett-Monty of the Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games asked for $100,000 from the township’s OLG funds under the arts, culture and heritage allocation to complete utility and related infrastructure projects on the Centre Wellington Community Sportsplex grounds.

The project is in partnership with the Fergus Fall Fair and the Township of Centre Wellington.

“As a longstanding stakeholder we believe the Centre Wellington Sportsplex is a jewel of the community,” Bennett-Monty said.

“It is enjoyed by many user groups. The utilities on site, however, are outdated and inadequate to meet the needs of many of these groups and in some cases are unsafe.”

He explained the project has been under discussion for a number of years and will be rolled out in a number of phases.

Phase one includes repairing and updating existing power panels, replacing faulty receptacles and breakers, and the installation of a light standard for after-sunset safety.

“We are pleased to announce we have secured funding for the first phase and scheduling is underway for the implementation this spring,” Bennett-Monty said.

That funding includes $52,000 from a Farm Credit Canada grant as well as $13,000 each from the township community services department, the Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games and the Fergus Fall Fair, with Rowe Electric and Centre Wellington Hydro providing in-kind technical support and construction services.

The second phase of the project, for which the $100,000 from the OLG fund would be used, includes upgrading the western portion of the sportsplex grounds by installing primary underground hydro cables that will power new transformers where usage is heaviest.

“A secondary hydro supply, electrical panels and outlets, additional light standards and updates as required to ensure reliable service to the shaded camping area,” Bennett-Monty said.

He noted the project could also provide the opportunity to access supplemental and supporting projects specific to the grounds, such as fibre communications infrastructure installation, pavement improvements and additional campground upgrades (water utilities and improved base.)

“We kindly ask that you consider the funding of this progressive infrastructure project,” he said. “Patrons of the Scottish Festival, the fall fair, Canada Day festivities, sports tournaments, local schools and camping groups will all benefit from safe and reliable utilities, greater connectivity and increased safety.”

Bennett-Monty added, “We are keen to maintain the momentum of our initial investment in phase one with support from our municipal council to ensure the longevity and relevancy of this impressive community facility.”

Elora Centre for the Arts

Elora Centre for the Arts also asked for a $100,000 grant from OLG funds, the same as last year, to help provide services to the community through art.

Councillor comments

Council chose to allocate $55,000 each to the Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games and the Elora Centre for the Arts.

Bob Foster, the only councillor opposed, had suggested the township give the entire $100,000 to the Fergus Scottish Festival, as the Elora Centre for the Arts received a full $100,000 in the 2019 budget.

Council also directed staff to develop a policy outlining the application process for the distribution of the OLG cultural, heritage and arts funds for the 2021 budget deliberations.

Elora BIA

Elora BIA beautification chair Marty VanVliet asked the township for funds to make the Tooth of Time more accessible to the public.

“The Tooth of Time has been a focus of the Elora tourist industry for a hundred years,” VanVliet said. “People have been coming and looking at the Tooth of Time because it’s really cool.”

Since the 1970s visitors viewed the Tooth of Time by standing in what was called the stables (now the spa). However, once the Elora Mill was renovated there was no easy way for the public to view the iconic landmark.

VanVliet said the Tooth of Time was partially visible from one particular spot in Victoria Park, but the view is limited.

“The BIA is hoping council can find some money in its budget to build a platform from that spot in the public park out over the gorge so that you can walk out and look at the Tooth of Time once again,” he said. “It becomes an attribute to the tourist industry and to locals.”

Foster asked how big the deck would be and how much it would cost.

VanVliet explained the BIA had only come up with the idea two months ago.

“We haven’t had time to flush out and to be honest I think … council … have more connections with the construction industry,” he said. “I think it needs to be built properly and through the kind of companies that … build municipal infrastructure.

“In all honesty my gut tells me you need something at least 20 feet wide and … it needs to stick out from that fence probably about 20 feet to get a good view.”

CAO Andy Goldie explained the township can remove some trees to make the view of the Tooth of Time clearer from Victoria park, including removing two cedar trees that impede the view.

He said the Elora Mill does allow people to view the Tooth of Time from its property on the south side of the river when there are no big events occurring. The township is also working with Pearle Hospitality to allow viewing access on the north side of the river.

“So those are three current things that we’ll continue to work on for significant views of the Tooth of Time,” Goldie said.

The motion asking staff to investigate the installation of an outlook in the location identified by the BIA was defeated with only Foster and councillors Stephen Kitras and Kirk McElwain in favour.