Colleague Janice Marshall and I recently sat down with Guelph Eramosa Township (GET) Mayor Chris White to discuss what’s going on and what residents can expect in the future. If you have met us or read our past blogs you know we both live in the township and love it! As with any small communities, there is lots of talk and we wanted to get real info from a really good source.
The population of Guelph Eramosa Township is approx. 13,000 and it partly encircles Guelph on the West, North and East. There is 220 km of roads and 90% of people live in rural areas. Rockwood is the largest of 12 communities in GET with a population of approx. 5000.
Retail and Grocery in Rockwood
The talk of the village for the past years has been about a proposed shopping centre on Alma St (aka Hwy 7). Most of the approvals are in place. Rumours have flown as to what will be going there and when construction will start. Mayor White explains “We are looking at a 35,000 sq ft grocery store with an LCBO inside, office space and probably some fast food retail. All of this depends on what the owner of the building wants. It is zoned for a restaurant so if a chain wants to go in they can if the owner wants to rent space to them. We have no play on brand”. We think this is great news; jobs, local shopping, competition and more variety of services are a definite plus for the community.
Parks and Recreation
The Marden Park and Community Centre located just north of Guelph houses the Royal Distributing Athletic Performance Centre. Many people think it is part of Guelph but it is actually located in GET. Indoor golf, soccer, football, walking/running track, multi-purpose fields, county library, wooded lands, picnic areas and large pond are here as well as rental facilities for functions. GET runs several programs such as yoga and tot n’ play, drop in soccer as well as walking soccer for seniors.
Mayor White notes that “through the fees applied to non-residents the facility is self-funded. We got $4 million in grants and $2 million was borrowed and the users from Guelph help to pay for it with their user fees. Its revenue neutral which is pretty amazing because it will actually start generating revenue”.
Rockmosa Park in Rockwood has seen some big changes lately and there are more to come. “We have tripled the size of the park, we have a skate park, we are going to have 4-5 soccer fields, a fully serviced 3.2km paved trail through the park. There is going to be a dog park at the back, playground area for toddlers and we will be adding more features throughout the years. We have saved a chunk of property (when the funding becomes available) for a skate pad that will be the size of an official arena but will be covered. It will run as a skate pad in the winter and a rollerblade and community area in summer; without the 12 months of the year arena costs,” Mayor White excitedly explained. The library that’s located on the grounds recently added more +55 programs that will run out of the new dedicated seniors’ room.
Behind Saunders Bakery at Main St and Alma St will be a new small development of 7 homes. “Waterside Park is owned and managed by the Rockwood Lions Club and will connect to the property behind Saunders Bakery. The township has made a deal with the builder to get the surrounding 11 acres that they can’t build on and we will flip it to the Lions Club. They will manage the 11 acres and the trails that will connect to Waterside Park.”
The Conservation is a big part of the community in Rockwood. It is also a destination for people outside of the area with average yearly visitors totalling 80,000. Many locals feel they should be able to enter without paying and often wonder why they can’t get in for free because they pay taxes. Mayor White stressed that “municipal parks are paid for by taxes, but conservation parks live off their own money, gate money is the only money they get. They don’t get taxes”
The conservation area is run by the Grand River Conservation Authority not the township and does not receive any tax dollars for funding.
The bulk of GET’s population lives in Rockwood which is predominantly made up of single-family detached homes. As a result, there are lots of families with school-aged children. Up until now, there has been a huge lack of licensed childcare in the area. According to Mayor White “There are three components to child services: daycare, Early On, and Before and After School care. We have a daycare and Early ON coming beside the Catholic school (Sacred Heart) and there will be daycare at Rockwood Centennial P.S. Early ON which is funded by the province, is a centre with free drop-in programs for caregivers and children that run throughout the day. There will also be Before and After School care, which is run by the school boards at both Harris Mill P.S and Rockwood Centennial. Those are urban services and we are getting them for a town of only 5,000.”
Overall, the township is doing its best to create a vibrant community and recognizes the needs of families and seniors in the community. We are getting small town services for a village population and we think that’s great! No wonder GET, specifically Rockwood has become a popular place to live! If you want more information check out the townships website www.get.on.ca. And of course, if you want info on buying or selling in the area you can contact Janice or me anytime. Stay tuned for Part Two of our blog which will focus on taxes, growth, housing, and infrastructure.