SOUTH BRUCE OPP LOOKING FOR STOLEN PICK-UP TRUCK

(GREENOCK TWP, ON) – On July 1, 2022, at 4:06 a.m., the South Bruce Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) received a vehicle theft report from a residence along Bruce County Road 20 in Greenock Township. A Red Ford F250 Super Duty pick-up truck with license # BK20801 had just been taken from the property. There is no estimate on the value of the stolen vehicle at this time. 

The South Bruce OPP is requesting anyone with information to call 1-888-310-1122. Should you wish to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or submit a secure web-tip at www.cstip.ca, where you may be eligible to receive a cash reward of up to $2000.

Township discusses growth with residents in Mount Forest

A small crowd was on hand yesterday evening for Wellington North’s second Growth, Housing and Development Public Information Session, in Mount Forest.
Like the April session in Arthur, the purpose of the meeting was to discuss projected growth expectations for the municipality, and how the area will handle it.
Chief Administrative Officer Mike Givens said the growth is driven by the need for more workers across many sectors.
Over the next 15 to 20 years, Wellington North’s population is expected to grow by more than 7,000 residents. Local employment is projected to have 2,370 more jobs to fill.
He said housing development is a necessity. He talked about different kinds of housing that could be built, such as townhouses, low-rise multi-unit buildings, duplexes or triplexes.
“It has to be the right mix,” said Givens.
Chief Building Officer Darren Jones said the township has seen an unprecedented number of building permit applications in the last year.
“The community will change,” Givens said, “but that doesn’t have to be a negative.”
Givens explained development charges associated with building ensure “growth pays for growth”.
There are capital expenditures for the township when new builds happen, and development charges are meant to recover those costs.
At the same time, the township still has other capitol projects such as road and sidewalk work.
“All the growth can’t take away from our rehabilitation projects,” Givens said.
Director of Operations Matt Aston spoke about the sewage allocation policy in Wellington North, which has been used by council as a tool to try and control growth.
What used to be a first-come, first-served policy in relation to sewage allocation, became an annual allocation of 15 per cent of the available capacity in both Arthur and Mount Forest.
A sewage allocation is a requirement to getting a building permit.
He explained that, in Arthur, the total allocation by capacity that could have been available this April, would have allowed 391 single detached homes to be built in Arthur. Fifteen per cent of that would be 59 units.
In Mount Forest, there were 785 uncommitted units of allocation. Fifteen per cent means a maximum of 118 units can be granted.
Wellington County Director of Economic Development Crystal Ellis said, “it’s critical we look at housing to stay competitive.”

Mapleton restaurant hit by truck

A 41-year-old from Palmerston was taken to hospital this morning after driving into a restaurant in Mapleton.

Around 6:45 this morning, Wellington County OPP responded to a serious collision involving a single vehicle and a building on Wellington Road 86 at Sideroad 15 in Mapleton. Initial reports indicated a pick-up truck had struck a restaurant and the driver was trapped.
Emergency Services attended the scene. The driver, a 41-year-old from Palmerston, was transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. There were people in the building at the time of the collision, however none had sustained injuries.
The cause of the collision is being investigated. Wellington County OPP is asking anyone that witnessed the accident to call 1-888-310-1122.

Financial challenge ahead for new pool

Township of Wellington North Council appear committed to wanting to build a new outdoor pool in Mount Forest. The challenge now turns to how to pay for it.
The pool came up at the last council meeting, when Mayor Andy Lennox said a resident had asked if the rehabilitation costs for the old pool had been stacked up against the now-higher cost of building a new outdoor pool.
Lennox said he found it “very useful” to review the reports from 2016.
“I think there’s a lot of information in there that arms us well with regards to the cost assessment,” he said. “A new pool is very close to cost of rehabilitating the old.”
He added the location for the new pool is more ideal, away from the highway.
“A new pool is desired result for all of council,” he said.
However, talk then turned to economics.
Lennox said estimated project costs have escalated from an initial $3.1 million to between $5.5 and $6 million.
“That does create some anxiety,” he said. “How do we finance this?”
“I think we all agree it’s the right solution,” Lennox said, “but the challenge of how to pay for it is a significant challenge. It could be a four per cent increase on property tax before we take care of anything else; to me, that’s way out of line.”
Councilor Sherry Burke, who is on the ad-hoc Aquatics Committee, said, “I’m glad everybody had an opportunity to review and come to the realization it’s not feasible to refurbish the pool.”
She went on, “I think there are potentially other alternatives. We don’t know it has to be made out of concrete. It’s probably another two years before we have any real conceptual design.”
Lennox reiterated, “It’s a huge bill. It’s a major challenge we can’t shy away from, and it needs to be part of our discussions as we move forward. This is a huge, huge issue.”
Wellington North Chief Administrative Officer Mike Givens said, “I do think there are specific questions council needs to address.”
As such, Givens suggested council consider keeping pool discussions as a standing item on the meeting agenda.
“Conversation’s great,” he said, “but decisions have to be made to go forward. If council’s agreeable these decisions need to happen at council, it should be a standing item at council.”

Ground Broken for Arthur Skate Board Park

The Brent Barnes Memorial Skatepark in Arthur came one step closer to reality yesterday afternoon with a ground breaking ceremony.
Along with Township of Wellington North Mayor Andy Lennox and members of council, members of the Arthur BMX Skateboard Park Ad Hoc Advisory Committee held shovels and posed for photos at the ceremonial event.
15-year-old Jack Baker was among the committee members present. He’s looking forward to having somewhere to practice on his scooter.
“It’s a spot where we can actually improve our skills,” said Baker. “At the park, we’ll got more experience. It will also be a fun place to hang out, more people will get to know each other.”
Al Rawlins, current secretary for the Arthur Lions Club, said a skate park has been talked about for many years.
“It kept coming up with kids’ groups,” Rawlins said. “Three years ago, the Lions were coming to end of our commitment to Groves Memorial Hospital, and Brent Barnes brought the subject back to the Lions Club.”
So the club made the decision to take on fundraising for the park.
To that end, the Lions will be hosting a BBQ chicken dinner on April 28. Tickets for the drive-thru event must be purchased by April 23, and cost $17 each.
“It’s a fantastic testament to the Lions club,” said Mayor Lennox, “and their willingness to raise money for community projects, which also recognizes one of the long-time members.”
The Canadian Ramp Company is expected to begin construction on the site in the next couple of weeks. The Lions Club and committee are planning an official grand opening to take place on July 1, in conjunction with the Arthur 150 celebrations.
The total cost of the project will be $170,294, plus applicable taxes.

Possible Strike Looming at Dana Corp.

Employees at Dana Corp. Canada’s Mount Forest facility have voted down the latest tentative agreement between management and their union, and voted to go on strike.
Dayle Steadman, vice-president of Unifor Local 1106, confirmed employees voted against ratifying a new contract and to take strike action, but extended the deadline to strike to 10:59 a.m. Thursday.
“We’re continuing to meet with the employer to attempt to get a deal we can ratify,” said Steadman.
There are currently 230 employees at the plant in the bargaining unit. The latest collective agreement between the union and the company ran from March 31, 2018 to March 30, 2022.

COUNTY LOOKING FOR INPUT ON REGIONAL ELECTRIC VEHICLE CHARGING NETWORK

The County of Wellington has partnered with neighbouring Cities of
Guelph, Stratford and St. Mary’s and the Counties of Dufferin, Grey, Perth, Huron and Bruce to
develop a plan for a regional electric vehicle charging network. The plan will identify preferred
locations for level 2 and DC fast charge stations based on computer modelling, electrical
capacity and feedback from the communities.
Wellington County’s Climate Change and Sustainability Manager, Karen Chisholme, says
“transitioning to electric vehicles is a big part of reducing greenhouse gases from transportation
in rural communities.” Rural communities often access amenities in neighbouring
municipalities, including for sports, health care, and groceries.
Whether you own an electric vehicle or now, the partnership is currently looking for input on
how the communities in the study area and visitors to the area would like to use electric vehicle
charging stations and what the barriers are for getting an electric vehicle. Visit the County of
Wellington’s climate change web page to provide your input on the ‘How We Move’ Survey at
www.wellington.ca/EVsurvey. Printed copies of the survey are also available upon request. The
surveys close February 15th.
For printed surveys contact Karen Chisholme, 519-837-2600 x2063 or karenc@wellington.ca.

Arson charges laid in Palmerston

Wellington County OPP’s Major Crime unit has laid arson charges in relation to two fires on White’s Trail in Palmerston – one from 2020, and another from 2021.
Investigations have led to a 28-year-old resident of Palmerston being charged with two counts of Arson. The accused is scheduled to appear in the Ontario Court of Justice – Guelph.
On the evening of April 11, 2020, OPP responded to a suspicious fire on the White’s Trail near Wellington Rd. 5.
More than one year later, on the afternoon of June 2, 2021, OPP were back on White’s Trail for another blaze near Wellington Rd. 5.
In both cases the Minto Fire Department attended and extinguished the fires at a cost of approximately $3,000 each time.
If you can help police with this investigation, or any crime of this nature, please contact Wellington County OPP at 1-888-310-1122.
Should you wish to remain anonymous, you may call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), or submit a tip on-line at www.csgw.tips. You may be eligible for a reward from Crime Stoppers of up to $2,000.

Work on new West Grey station halted

By Chris Holden

West Grey Council has decided to put work on the planned new West Grey Police Services station on hold.

During Tuesday (Jan. 18) evening’s council meeting, West Grey’s director of development and chief building official Karl Schipprack presented a police services building report. Following the report, Councillor Stephen Townsend moved to amend a motion to accept Schipprack’s report, tacking on a proposal to “defer any further action on the building until comparables are done.”

The comparables include the results of last September’s West Grey Police Service Board Community Survey; the finalized West Grey Police Service business plan; and the results of a consultancy firm analyzing an OPP costing request.

The motion passed 4-3, putting a halt to work on the planned new building. Townsend’s motion came after an earlier motion from Councillor Doug Hutchinson to defer further action on pursuing OPP costing until survey results were available, and a business plan completed. That motion was defeated 4-3.

The survey results have been collected, but have yet to be analyzed, according to Councillor Geoffrey Shea, chair of the West Grey Police Service Business Plan Committee. As for the completed business plan, Shea said, “Even though we’ve been at it for eight or nine months or longer, we’re only a third of the way through. The process got a little bit out of hand. Sorry to disappoint, sorry to report we’re very much behind schedule.”

West Grey Chief Administrative Officer Laura Johnston confirmed during the meeting that a costing request from the OPP has been submitted to the province.

“We could expect to hear something in as early as two weeks,” Johnston said, “however, there’s a pandemic, it could be up to six weeks.”

Following Townsend’s amended motion passing, pausing work on the building, Councillor Hutchinson said, “I’m concerned we’re going around in circles here. At the start of the meeting, we voted to not wait for the business plan or survey and to go ahead with OPP costing.”

Schipprack’s report noted the municipality was prepared to seek pricing quotes and construction schedules from pre-qualified firms early next week. Deputy Mayor Tom Hutchinson expressed concern over project costs rising as a result of any delays.

“There will be some significant additional fees if we don’t move forward with this design,” said Schipprack. “I don’t know if there’s any out clauses or if we’d have to pay the full project management fee or not if we move forward or not.”

Councillor Hutchinson said, “I wish we’d had this discussion three years ago, we’re in the third year of a four-year term and we’re changing direction. The Ministry has told us our police station is not appropriate; we chose to do something about that.”

Councillor Beth Hamilton said, “policing cost $1-million less in 2018. Yes, we’ve invested in this process, but we can’t be so focused on the short term. What’s the cost of policing in 10 years? Are people able and willing to pay for services?”

West Grey residents upset with council decision

Some residents in West Grey are upset with a recent motion passed by council.

The Motion of Notice passed at the Dec. 21 council meeting requests a cost analysis of the OPP taking over policing services of the municipality from the West Grey Police Services. It passed by a narrow 4-3 margin.

A Change.org petition started by Robin Brown, titled ‘Save Our West Grey Police Force’, has so far collected nearly 700 signatures. The goal of the petition is to see council rescind the Notice of Motion, passed in December. Local resident Alex Neuman is among those upset with the outcome of the vote.

“We have a really good police force,” he said, “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.”

Neuman said he didn’t understand the rationale behind the motion, brought by Councilor Rebecca Hergert.

“From a cost perspective, they (council) approved the budget increases (for policing),” he said. Neuman also worries the region will see a decrease in actual police services.

“We’re not going to get the same level of service,” he said. “I’d rather have the level of service we have for the money we’re paying.”

Neuman also has an issue with the cost involved in analyzing an OPP quote. $80,000 has been budgeted to hire an outside consultancy firm. At a special West Grey council meeting on Jan. 4, West Grey Chief Administrative Officer Laura Johnston said, “the corporation will have to do its due diligence in reviewing whatever data and proposals the OPP presents to us in the coming months, and to do that unbiasedly and as transparently and with the expertise that will be required, would necessitate us to have an outside consultant to do that work.”

Councilor Geoffrey Shea supported the amount, saying, “We’ve undertaken service and HR reviews of other departments in the municipality, and these costs are totally in line with the amounts we’ve spent on other service reviews. “This seems like a wise investment in doing an objective and thorough analysis.”

Councilor Doug Hutchinson did not agree.

“I can’t really see us spending $80,000 on this,” he said. “I would hope we’re not really looking at replacing our police force with OPP. I think the public have stated very clearly that they’re not interested in that, so I’m not sure why we’d spend $80,000 to even look at it. If people are really, truly really interested in doing something with the OPP, I would suggest making it an election issue, and put it out there as part of your platform.”

Neuman agreed.

“As a taxpayer, I don’t think it’s responsible spending,” he said.

West Grey Police Chief Robert Martin said he had not been aware there was an issue with police service costs, or any desire to seek OPP costing, until he saw the Dec. 21 council meeting agenda.

“The motion was filed, the process began, and we had no input, no feedback,” he said.

Martin said he believes council has the right to seek quotes for policing and other services, but added, “council has never complained about cost. So we’re very confused. Four councilors voted for this motion, and then praised our service. So there’s a mixed message.”

Martin said the news has affected officers’ morale.

“It does affect morale,” he admitted. “It does hang over their heads. Officers who have given 20-plus years of service don’t know if they’ll have to reapply for their jobs.”

The next West Grey council meeting is scheduled for January 18.