‘A matter of integrity’

Dear Editor:

Re: Developer greed, Sept. 23.

As the owner and operator of The Elora Mill, I read with consternation this letter to the editor in last week’s Wellington Advertiser.

As many readers and residents may recall, in 2010 when I purchased the mill, it was in a state of great disrepair and was unsafe for visitors. It had gone through multiple-owners, the stonework had never been maintained and there was parts of the mill that were completely closed off. The mill, the former anchor and bedrock of Elora, was in peril of near deterioration. In 2010, Elora as a whole, looked far different than it does today. Prime downtown waterfront property sat vacant and abandoned and historical assets like the Potter Foundry, Walser and the Little Folks Building were literally collapsing.

Our purchase, investment and restoration of the mill was a matter of integrity: to the history, the community and our family. I grew up in a mill town, Ancaster, and watched many small towns in Ontario de-populate, or stagnate offering little to the next generation but to leave for the city. We take immense pride in the craftmanship of the masonry work, attention to detail devoted to the restoration of the Elora Mill and do so with great homage to the unique heritage of Elora.

It is no surprise that Elora was voted one of the most beautiful small towns in Canada. At the mill, we know we are only part of the reason for such notoriety: it is Elora’s rich history, architecture and most definitely the people that make it so special. And we have always worked in partnership with the community, local leaders and organizations: we source local, hire local and are enthusiastic supporters of local events and festivities.

I understand there is hesitancy about change today. But let me say this, we have been here and part of the community for over 10 years and that has brought new opportunities. I would argue the changes over the past decade have been to everyone’s benefit and fostered our commitment to the community as partners for sustainable growth.

I am not in the business of flipping for profit; the Elora Mill should be a testament to our beliefs.  We care deeply about this community, its residents, businesses and longevity. Our next project on the south side of the river is as exciting as our restoration of the mill. More than half of our units have been purchased by local residents, not investors, that are eager to experience the beauty and lifestyle Elora has to offer. The site had sat vacant for years because it required substantial investment to remediate the soil to ensure safe development.

Similar to the Elora Mill, both sites required a large capital investment before it could be developed. I can assure you that there are many exciting opportunities to come for the entire community with our next project.

Aaron Ciancone,
Owner/operator,  The Elora Mill