GAIL MARTIN, Independent Editor
A pre-budget consultation held in Elmira on Tuesday night drew only eight residents out to give input to Woolwich councillors on the 2013 budget.
This is the second year the township has held pre-budget consultations, looking for ideas and direction from the public. Two hours had been slated for the meeting, with only one hour needed.
Treasurer Richard Petherick opened the discussion, outlining some of the major issues facing the township in this year’s budget, including the township’s $63-million infrastructure deficit, and the need to make improvements to recreation facilities.
Discussion focussed on two main thrusts — the recent council decision to turn down a Dollarama store at the south end of Elmira as a lost source of revenue, and the mounting costs associated with Ontario Municipal Board hearings, in relation to gravel pit applications.
Hans Pottkamper, a West Montrose resident, asked whether the township had considered increasing the fees for gravel pits, in response to costs associated with processing the applications.
Dan Kennaley, director of planning and engineering, told Pottkamper that the township has already increased fees twice in the last few years, and the fees are now covering the costs of processing the applications.
“What we can’t do, unfortunately, is cover the costs if the application goes to the Ontario Municipal Board,” said Kennaley, who noted such a fee would be challenged by gravel pit applicants.
The recent decision to deny a Dollarama store for the Elmira Foodland building was also raised by councillor Julie-Anne Herteis, who said she had heard from numerous residents concerned about the township turning away a new business for Elmira.
Her thoughts were echoed by Elmira resident Rick Frey, who said his shopping patterns are influenced by his needs — if he can’t buy something in Elmira, he’ll go to Waterloo.
And, “once I go to Waterloo, I stay and shop in Waterloo, because I’m there anyways,” said Frey.
Councillors also heard from Sherrie Cochrane, representing the Conestogo Recreation Association, about the need to revitalize the former tennis courts in the village.
“This community, like so many other communities in the township, deserves appropriate and safe recreation facilities,” said Cochrane. “Our young people have limited access to recreation.”
She urged council to support improvements to the Conestogo Community Park.
A public information meeting is planned on Oct. 24 to discuss this issue, with the intent of including work on the park in the 2013 budget.
A second pre-budget hearing will be held tonight in Breslau, at the Breslau Community Centre. The meeting will start at 6:30 p.m.