Watters makes a splash at Chamber of Commerce occasion

ELORA – Centre Wellington has some laborious challenges forward and Mayor Shawn Watters used his time on the Mayor’s Breakfast, hosted by the Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce on Jan.18, to organize his viewers for what he sees on the street forward.

His hour-plus speech felt extra like a dialog than a speech as he spoke with out notes and welcomed questions as they got here up – even questions that led down a tangent.

Though he’s new to being mayor and admitted there’s heaps to study, he’s not new to native politics.

Watters served a complete 17 years on native and county councils, and as mayor he’s robotically again on county council.

Watters prolonged an invite to maintain traces of communication open with residents, the enterprise neighborhood and different ranges of presidency.

“We want your collective power to navigate these tough occasions,” he advised his viewers of 125 native businesspeople on the GrandWay occasions centre in Elora, together with 10 contributors who watched by way of Zoom.

“Attain out. We’ve huge ears.”

The most important problem for Centre Wellington, and one that may affect virtually each side of municipal authorities, is progress.

“It would have a substantive affect on our neighborhood,” Watters mentioned.

The province needs to construct 1.5 million properties within the subsequent 10 years to accommodate anticipated progress in Ontario, and it has allotted a few of that progress to Wellington County, which in flip has allotted progress to its member municipalities.

Centre Wellington is to double in inhabitants to 60,000 folks within the subsequent 20 years based on these allocations, Watters mentioned.

And will probably be as much as council to resolve the place and the way these new residential models might be constructed throughout the constraints of the newly handed Invoice 23 and Invoice 109, each of which take care of housing and planning.

The choices are to develop out, develop up or intensify. Watters mentioned it’ll most likely take all three, together with out-of-the-box pondering, to succeed in these targets and nonetheless have a habitable, well-planned neighborhood.

About 125 folks gathered to take heed to Centre Wellington Mayor Shawn Watters on the Chamber of Commerce Mayor’s Breakfast on Jan. 18. Picture by GrandWay Occasions Centre


Intensification – constructing on brownfield websites and including top to buildings – “will problem our downtowns,” he mentioned.

“We need to protect farmland as greatest we are able to,” he added, although he acknowledged the township will probably have to broaden its city boundaries.

He mentioned the township must contemplate permitting a number of dwellings on massive heaps and he sees potential within the bylaw handed by the earlier council that permits residential models in freeway/business zones.

“There’s not one reply to the issue,” he mentioned. “However we’ll determine it out and that’s thrilling.”

To his enterprise viewers, Watters mentioned he understands some companies are unable to fill vacancies as a result of potential workers can’t discover a place or afford a spot to stay in Centre Wellington.

With out employees, “eating places received’t be open lengthy (hours), retail received’t be open lengthy (hours), companies within the industrial park received’t have the ability to discover workers,” he mentioned.

“It’s not simply single-family properties we want,” he continued. “That is essential for the labour pool” to have a wide range of housing types and worth factors obtainable locally.

“That is our primary problem.”

On a query about Airbnbs taking area that would in any other case accommodate long-term leases, Watters mentioned the township must steadiness accommodating tourism with the necessity for rental housing.

He mentioned a employees report on the problem is anticipated later this yr, which can open the door for extra dialogue across the horseshoe.

“Wow,” mentioned Elora Centre for the Arts govt director Lianne Carter, as Watters closed his speech.

“It was so conversational and so participating. I used to be on the fringe of my seat and I really feel enthusiastic about the way forward for our neighborhood.”

Chamber CEO Sally Litchfield mentioned the occasion – the primary in-person Mayor’s Breakfast for the reason that pandemic – went very nicely and Watters appeared well-received by the room.

“It’s early on this council’s time period in fact, and a variety of what was mentioned was the record of great issues they’re tasked with this time period,” she said in an e mail.

“What was clear,” she continued, “was that there’ll proceed to be dialogue and conversations about these huge subjects – issues like housing, parking, infrastructure, managing the expansion of the neighborhood – this stuff don’t essentially get solved rapidly or at a Mayor’s Breakfast.

“However what does occur is a dialog begins, concepts are shared, curiosity is piqued, after which it’s our job, in partnership with the township, to maintain the traces of communication open between the enterprise neighborhood and council.”