Open house at old Wardsville Community Hall

Gary Van Osch & Barb Urbach, Crocodile Productions, invited the community to come to their new home to see what they have done to the old Wardsville Community Hall.  They purchased the hall in June 2010  during the Bicentennial Weekend celebrations.

AT 8:30 the lights went down for the film show. Filmakers are the perfect owners for this heritage buiding.

They thank the community for voting for the Crocodile Productions Cheetah Power Surge Commercial.

We appreciate everyone’s support and………..Always Prosper!
Gary Van Osch & Barb Urbach
Crocodile Productions, The old Wardsville Community Hall, 1788 Longwoods Road, Wardsville, Ontario

Wardsville Celebrates 200 years on Father’s Day weekend

Two hundred years is a special birthday and Wardsville is planning a very special party to honour its past, its founders, and its artists.  Everyone is invited Friday evening to eat Crossroads sausage and hear the Dykehoppers’ big band sound.  Before settling in to listen to the music under the tent and the stars, families are requested to visit the old Community Hall on Main Street to have their group photo taken.

Digital prints taken by professional photo journalist, Dave Chidley, will be printed on the spot for families to take home, while special 2.25 inch square black and white negatives taken by Lawrence Merin (Lutchin descendent) will be carefully stored away for the next 100 years in the Elgin archives.  To assist future researchers and geneologists, the names of those in the photo will be written on a card placed in the photograph. Also, people are asked to bring the wedding photos of parents to include in the family portrait.

The Dykehoppers are directed by John Tentkate, who has been active in the Dutch Canadian music community since arriving in Canada as a young fellow in the early 1950s.  The Dykehoppers play a mixture of Big Band, Latin type standards and semi-classical European music.

Saturday features Dave’s Cafe open stage.  All musicians welcome to show up and play a set.  Contact Dave’s Cafe to secure a spot in the lineup.  Crossroads Cafe are cooking up a storm and the Wardsville firefighters will be polishing their brand new Rosenbauer 2010 tanker.  Ken Willis, the Wardsville museum curator, will have the museum doors open. And the folks at TCCU Wardsville Credit Union will be dressed for the spirit and reminding potential patrons of the value of locally controlled banks.

Up above in the ball park, the Ward’s Station Heritage Village will feature candle and rope making, a potter, basket makers, drummers, and traders.  Shaymus Gunn, the story teller, will be regaling everyone with his stories about adventures with his old military pal, George Ward.  The Red Coats are sure to appear, because 1810 is only months away and the outbreak of hostilities between Britain the and new colony is imminent.
Al McGregor’s film, Battle of the Longwoods, will be shown at the Wardsville United Church.  A history panel featuring Glenn Stott, Al McGregor, Doug Robinson, and Ken Willis will sort out the players and the significance of this “skirmish” which never gets much mention in the history book.  Never the less, it was no small event for those that lost their lives or sustained serious bodily damage.  The Upper Thames Reenactment Military Society is working on a new cairn on the battle site that will retell the battle story from both sides’ points of view.
Another Saturday program features the Twin Valley Community and School.  Sixty residents  are making their way back to Wardsville from all over the world for a reunion. Many lives were changed forever at this alternative educational community just outside Wardsville during the years 1971 to 1983. An inspirational, multi-media program introduced by Don Nisbet will feature the former Director, George Bullied, and many others.  For those that always wondered what went on at Twin Valleys, this is your chance to find out.  This reflective program will be of great interest to teachers and professionals involved with hard-to-reach youth.  Twin Valleys offers a chance to look at education approaches that were successful.
Saturday evening is Mrs. Ward’s Country Chicken Dinner, a menu featuring traditional foods of 1810: corn, squash, beans soup; bannock; succotash; and other seasonal delicacies.  The thirty “barn quilts” will be on display in the ball park before they are mounted on local barns and buildings.  The dinner crowd will witness the installation of the Victory Barn Quilt block at the local cenotaph and pay tribute to those who died in the Battle of the Longwoods, March 4, 1814.

The Mile Long Dessert table will feature the desserts of the Women of Wardsville and Bojena Bladeck, an accomplished Pastry Chef.


What will drive Wardsville’s economy in the future?

What is the economic generator that will drive our local rural economy in the future?  Agriculture, for sure.  Manufacturing?  Health care? Tourism?  The more diversified the economy, the stronger it is.  Some argue that culture is an important economic engine. Creativity and entrepreneurism are the infrastructure.  People.  The guy who explains this well is Richard Florida and I recommend his writing.

Richard Florida is author of the global best-seller The Rise of the Creative Class. His latest book,Who’s Your City? also a national and international best seller, was an book of the month.

He is author of The Flight of the Creative Class and Cities and the Creative Class. His previous books, especially The Breakthrough Illusion and Beyond Mass Production, paved the way for his provocative looks at how creativity is revolutionizing the global economy.

He tends to focus on city economies.  Where does that leave our rural economy?  Where are we headed?  What happens here when oil is permanently priced at over $100 per barrel?

Check out the thinkers and researchers at Richard Florida’s blog:

Lutchin property zoning

 by Marie Williams-Gagnon, Transcript and Free Press, August 2009

Southwest Middlesex council considered, at its June 24 planning meeting, an application for permission to establish a welding and fabrication business in an existing building, formerly known as Dave Lutchin Tire, on lands zoned for future residential purposes. The lands on Hagerty Rd., north of Longwoods Rd., has a frontage of 300 ft. m and an area of approximately 22.5 acres. A small single unit dwelling and shop are situated on the parcel.

Planner Ted Halwa explained that the lands are zoned, for the most part, Future Residential (FR) in the Wardsville zoning bylaw. The frontage of the lands along Hagerty Rd. are zoned Residential First Density (R1). The proposed use of the property is not a permitted use in either zone. Halwa added that the potential for conflicts with neighbouring residential properties would increase despite the fact that the building is well removed and generally isolated from neighbouring homes. Correspondence was received from neighbouring property owners.

Photographs were circulated of the location where Arnold presently operates his business in Komoka. Benjamin explained that the property Arnold presently shares with other tenants in Komoka, which is littered with equipment and scrap, is the reason he is hoping to leave that site. She explained that they hope to operate the business in Wardsville for a short period of time until retirement at which time they’d like to develop the property for residential development. Gary Merritt, solicitor for the vendor, said that there would not much different from the amount of noise from Veltri or Cooper Standard which both have homes nearby.

David Maika, representing the purchasers as their realtor, said the couple is looking at bringing employment to five or six workers who are nearby. “With plants closing in Southwest Middlesex, this would be a good thing for Wardsville.”

Councillor Mary Jane Grover expressed concern that Arnold would retire, wondering who would take over business or would those five or six people be out of work again.

Councillor Martin Vink asked where else in Wardsville a business owner could put a commercial business. “Is there no industrial zoning in Wardsville?” Halwa said there is not but that there is commercial and industrial zoning in other areas of Southwest Middlesex.” Vink added that the property once housed a wrecking yard at which time there would have been quite a bit of noise. Halwa explained that the wrecking yard which predated the tire shop predated zoning regulations. Vink stressed that with sewer rates going up in Wardsville there is a need for growth in Wardsville. “We need someone to ignite it.”

Bill Arnold responded to questions about the future of the business, explaining that presently they are apprenticing young people. “I hope they will take the business over but I won’t retire until I’m 75 or 80.”

Deputy mayor Vance Blackmore asked what safeguards the municipality could build in so the property doesn’t become a storage area for equipment. Halwa said that they would need to ensure that any sort of breeches would be built in.

Councillor John Kendall agreed that there are various factories around Glencoe that don’t create trouble but there’s very little residential property next to these buildings. “It’s a totally different category but we’ve recommended this area be future residential. If we allow this business, we have no limitations in the future.”

Reycraft said that, rather than comparing the business to Veltri or Cooper Standard, he would compare it to Ross Welding which operates in a predominantly residential area. “I don’t ever recall receiving complaint about it and I’m not convinced that this kind of use can’t co-exist. The property Ross Welding sits on is industrial but this property we’re discussing was zoned residential in the 1970s when it was Wardsville’s wish that the property would be zoned residential. The question is when should action on the intent of the Official Plan come forward? A temporary use bylaw possible which could be middle ground.”

After further discussion about storage of equipment and limitations on hours of business, which Arnold agreed to, he said that within a 10-year time frame, he would like to see 60 houses on the property. They agreed that they would be willing to accept a 10 year limit to the operation of the business. In a recorded vote, council unanimously moved to refer the issue back to the planner to see if conditions can be arranged if the application is supported.

Minor variance approved for Lutchin property

by Marie Williams-Gagnon, Transcript & Free Press


A decision was made allowing the development of a Wardsville property to establish a welding and fabricating business during Southwest Middlesex council’s July 29 meeting.


With discussion continuing from an earlier meeting, planner Ted Halwa presented a list of appropriate conditions with respect to the application to establish such a business in an existing industrial/commercial building at 22051 Hagerty Rd. Council also considered the remarks of Paul Svendsen who expressed concern about consideration of the application in an area which is an intended residential zone in the municipality’s Official Plan. 


After a lengthy discussion, the application was granted on the conditions

  • that the building and lands be restricted to a welding/fabricating shop; that the walls be insulated and/or lined in a manner to provide adequate soundproofing to minimize noise related impacts; 
  • that no assembly or other work be conducted outside of the building with the exception of limited fabrication or repairs;
  • that all outside equipment and machinery be confined within the limits of a storage compound;
  • that on site landscaping include the planting of trees and shrubs to enhance its appearance;
  • that the number of people employed on site be limited to six;
  • that the hours of operation be restricted to the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. from Mondays to Fridays excluding statutory holidays;
  • that all items associated with the former tire shop, hog farm and wrecking yard on the property be removed and the lands restored to the municipality’s satisfaction;
  • that permission expire on December 31, 2014 with an extension to be considered at that time;
  • that no further application for renewal or extensions be made by the prospective purchasers of the lands and
  • that permission be granted only to the prospective purchasers and not be transferrable.

Request to roll up our sleeves and work with SWM

Dear Mayor and Members of Council:

 The Board of Directors of Your Wardsville would like to propose a working session with our Municipal staff and representatives to work on a number of development issues that Your Wardsville community association would like to assist with:

  • Designing strategies for reaching towards the goals and objectives of the new Official Plan
  • Meeting with the community to look at the sewer system: how it can be paid for and better managed
  • Completing the branding process for which Your Wardsville has been gathering public input
  • Planning for park development: Little Kin park water access, parking, and future amenities.  The community requests that the property across from the park and United Church not be sold.
  • Other planning and development issues that SWM or the community would like to address.


Your Wardsville cannot comment on the the Lutchin property application, but we wonder if the lack of industrial zoning might act as a barrier to growth?  

Wardsville is working on a branding process in order to address a number of the O.P.’s objectives.  One opportunity is to brand Wardsville and area as a green community, attractive to natural farming and value-added food businesses such as Evergreen Juices. Light industry such as Ross Welding is very important to farming operations.  Could the lack of light industrial zoning result in Wardsville being unfriendly towards agriculture? Where would food processing, welding shops, green energy fabricators, farmer’s markets, etc. be located in Wardsville?

The rather defeatist and negative wording of the character of Wardsville in the new Official Plan is permeating Council discussions, newspaper reports, and general attitudes towards a historical community with some exceptional qualities and opportunities.  Is it too late to adjust the sections about character and population in the Official Plan to reflect a positive vision of the future before it is “cast in stone”?  How can a community with sewers and water be in “decline”?

Wardsville has some great opportunities and amenities to attract seniors, but should its primary goal be to attract a retirement population?  On the surface this seems like a good idea, as Wardsville is definitely moving towards the strategy of marketing itself as a “continuum of seniors’ housing and service”.  Is the goal of residential development going to limit other types of development?

These are all important issues that need to debated.  We appreciate the hard work of Council and staff and look forward to working collaboratively on the issues that Your Wardsville can help with.

We offer these comments in the context of Your Wardsville’s objects. (See below)


Mary Simpson, President, Your Wardsville community association


Backgrounder re: Your Wardsville community association


Your Wardsville: people who care about where they live.

Your Wardsville is a community association for the residents, property owners, and businesses of Wardsville and area. No longer content to be a “bedroom community”, Your Wardsville is proud of its 200-year history and welcomes new residents who choose to live here. Your Wardsville is committed to the grass roots: no one is excluded.

By mobilizing volunteers and raising funds, our community association takes on initiatives that promote, encourage and build community pride and identity. We value creativity and are committed to sustainable growth. 

Objects from Constitution

(a) To promote, encourage and build community pride and identity

(b) Liaise with our municipality, Southwest Middlesex

(c) Support community initiatives and committees

(d) To accept donations, gifts, legacies and bequests including real estate

(e) To raise funds for any of the foregoing objects.

(f) Organize special community events

Mary Simpson’s report to SWM Council

Feb 11, 2009.  At the beginning of 2009, I’d like to report on the community economic development (CED) projects I have been working on and make some recommendations to Council.  


Creative Communities

Recommendation: That Council members and staff read Richard Florida’s work, a well-respected economic development specialist who recently moved to Ontario from the U.S. because he feels that Canada is well positioned to compete in the global knowledge economy.  See report he has submitted to the Premier: “Ontario in the Creative Age”.


Arts and Cookery Bank

SWM’s participation in the Arts and Cookery Bank’s regional programming and branding has great potential to get this area “back on the map”.  Thank you for seeing the value of this project, even though the actual building is not within SWM borders.


Regional Cultural Map

Lori Watson and I are working on the Cultural Advisory Roundtable to prepare a cultural map.  This map will be on-line and printed on paper and will contain all the tangible cultural assets for SWM, Dutton Dunwich, West Elgin, and Newbury. 

Recommendation: That Council support SWM staff’s time required to make this an excellent resource, i.e. help gather the data for the data base.


Google Map

Recommendation: That Council in concert with Middlesex County, Elgin County, the CFDCs, and local business associations work on a strategy to get our businesses and non-profits located on Google Map.  Google Map is a user created platform, designed to allow each business to post their information connected to their latitude and longitude.  This means that businesses need to register and provide their information directly to Google.

It is critical that our rural businesses keep up with the tools on-line.  We are falling behind due to the lag time in high-speed availability.  Now that faster connection speeds are available, we need to train businesses how to use the tools that will help their businesses. 


Seniors’ Supportive Housing

Beattie Haven is working on a needs assessment re: seniors housing in this area and is looking forward to sharing the results with Council.  In the background research, we have discovered that Beattie Haven Retirement Community is a progressive model for the future. 

Recommendation: That Council join in the examination of supportive housing for seniors with Beattie Haven and the Your Wardsville community association in the coming months.


Wardsville revitalization

Thank you to SWM Council members for all the support given to the residents of Wardsville and area.  The next step is to prepare a community plan that defines a vision and strategy for the future.  The GIS and Urban Planning department of Fanshawe College is very interested in working with Your Wardsville community association and the broader community. 

Recommendation: That Council support a community planning workshop as well as the June 20th Duncombe Days as part of KinDay.


Natural Heritage a Big Asset

London starting to focus on the river.  London Free Press series, the river, a success.  The river and Carolinian forest are an important asset.  Skunk’s Misery finally is recognized for its importance with actual dollars to purchase and preserve.  Need accommodations and small business: five star camping, B&Bs.



The five counties of South Central Ontario Region are moving ahead with their strategic plan and benchmarking process.  We are at the far west end of this region.  What strategic advantage do we offer to the larger region?  How can we differentiate ourselves from the pack? 

Recommendation:  That Council participate in the SCOR process and provide their input at early stages.  Check web-site.  That Council continue working on its strategic plan in collaboration with residents, businesses, neighbourhoods, and community organizations.


Community Futures Development Corporation – Middlesex County

Recommendation: That Council help identify Board members to represent this part of the County. 


Welcome Wagon

Recommendation: That Council work on a Welcoming program with Your Wardsville to ensure new residents get a hearty welcome when they move in to this area.

“Creatives” and entrepreneurs are moving to the community and need our support. Let’s give them a good old fashioned country welcome.