Merrickville-Wolford: A Year in Review

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As I look through the articles I have written for the Merrickville-Wolford Times in 2017, it is clear that it was quite a busy and exciting year for the Municipality, and not just because of Canada’s 150th birthday. The beginning of the year saw the adoption of the Municipality’s new Strategic Plan, meant to govern all decisions being made by council until 2025. Its creation was a highly collaborative process, with several public meetings, and could not have been done without the efforts of many dedicated volunteers, council and staff.

The community also welcomed a very successful series of Village Chef dinners at the Mainstreet Restaurant, which raised money for many local charities. One evening in February stands out, when the dinner turned into a fundraiser for not one, but two causes, the second being the Roulston family, who lost their home to a devastating fire. In a matter of minutes, they raised $700 to help get the family back on their feet.

Another successful community fundraising effort came to fruition over the summer, with the building of Merrickville Public School’s (MPS) new play structure. It took three years of hard work and a lot of community support to raise the $45,000 needed to build the new playground which now stands in the MPS yard, ready for climbing, swinging and sliding. It’s yet another example of how incredible the Merrickville-Wolford community is at coming together to support a cause.

Many people also rallied around Wolford Public School, as it fought to stay open during the UCDSB Accommodation Review Process in February and March. Unfortunately, despite the efforts of parents, politicians and community members, the school remained on the closure list and will be closed as of September, 2018.

Public washrooms were also a hot topic last year, when the Lions Club offered to spearhead the building of a public washroom and visitor centre in Merrickville to service the thousands of tourists who visit every year. Although that project never came to fruition, it did lead to the opening and/or signage of washrooms at the rink house and Community Centre for public use, and there are plans to make the necessary upgrades to these washrooms in order to make them accessible and pleasant to use.

On another note, Merrickville became a little more multicultural in May, when they welcomed a Syrian refugee family to the town. The family of six now lives in a house in Merrickville and the children attend North Grenville District High School and Merrickville Public School.

Le Boat officially announced the opening of their North American headquarters in Smiths Falls in May and committed to having self-drive luxury cruise boats on the Rideau Canal by Spring, 2018. This was met with a lot of enthusiasm by local dignitaries and business owners, who see this as a great way to promote the Village on the world stage.

The beautification of the community became extremely important in May as well, in preparation for the Communities in Bloom judges who visited the Village this spring. Although Merrickville-Wolford did not get the top prize, they received the highest honour of five blooms with bronze standing and were just a few points behind the winner. The Village also received an honourable mention for their multigenerational committee.

The summer was full of the typical festivals and celebrations, including Canal Fest, Canada Day, the Merrickville Fair, and the Car Show, all of which brought many visitors to the Village. Merrickville also hosted the Teeny Tiny Summit, with guest speaker Peter Kenyon all the way from Australia. The first ever Harvest Goat Festival came to the fairgrounds and locavores enjoyed the inaugural mid-week farmers market on Wednesdays throughout the growing season.

In the Fall, local teens Peyton and Taylor Horning were honoured for their volunteerism, with Gord Brown and Steve Clark’s Canada 150 medal. The girls were presented the medal at a special ceremony, where they were introduced by Mayor David Nash.

The Village also welcomed some special guests from the South Korean Embassy to the Municipality in November. The Embassy chose Merrickville-Wolford as their small town of choice to visit in 2017 and came to Merrickville to lay a wreath at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day. Then, later in the month, they returned to make presentations about South Korea to the school children and local business community. Everyone involved felt it was a wonderful day of networking and getting to know one of Canada’s allies to the east.

Finally, in December, representatives from Tree Canada came to the municipal building to present a cheque to the municipality to fund planting trees and shrubs in Eastons Corners. The grant was part of a Canada 150 program partially funded by the Canadian Government, and the money was used to plant 50 trees and shrubs in the hamlet to replace some that had to be taken out. It was a nice last hurrah to celebrate the end of Canada’s 150th year.

Looking back on the year, it is clear that Merrickville-Wolford is anything but a sleepy rural community. It is busy, vibrant, and full of people making a difference. It is fun to look back on what has happened throughout the year, and to celebrate the successes and acknowledge the difficulties, while looking forward to the year to come. 2018 is Merrickville’s 225th birthday year, and who could forget that the Municipal election is just around the corner? If 2018 is anything like the past year, I think residents can look forward to a fun ride; and I’ll be there along the way, writing about the issues and events that make Merrickville-Wolford a great place to live.

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