What Waterloo Region's townships want over the next 4 years

The cost of living in the townships is one of the top concerns raised by each of the four township mayors in Waterloo Region.

From transit to affordable living, mayors weigh in on their top concerns

CBC Kitchener-Waterloo asked the four mayors of the townships in the Region of Waterloo for their top concerns going into the next four years of council. (Kate Bueckert/CBC News)

The mayors of Waterloo Region's four townships did not change in the municipal election.

A few faces on the councils are new, but even many councillors have returned to their roles. The four mayors of the townships hope that means they can get everyone up to speed and back to work on the issues important to residents quickly.

CBC Kitchener-Waterloo spoke with the four mayors after the municipal election about what they want to see happen in their communities in the next council term.

Wilmot: Les Armstrong

Wilmot is in the black financially and Wilmot Mayor Les Armstrong wants to keep it that way.

But he understands it may not be easy. 

"I've always been realistic to the fact that we probably can't maintain the debt-free [status] forever because there will be times that we'll come to the point where we will need to maybe go into debt," he said.

With a new provincial government, Armstrong says the township has already seen cutbacks and he's not sure if they'll see more.

It's why he wants to see council stick to the 10-year capital plan for new buildings and infrastructure.

Armstrong would also like to see transit service, which currently consists of one bus going between Kitchener and New Hamburg and Baden, expanded in the township. And they'll focus on building the community's trail systems.

North Dumfries: Sue Foxton

North Dumfries has had to tighten its purse strings in recent years and is in a better place financially now, says Mayor Sue Foxton.

"We have spent four years rebuilding North Dumfries township administratively. Now we are solvent, we're strong. Now we've got to look forward and plan and organize how we grow and develop," she said.

But it doesn't mean council can start spending money on anything they want.

"This is going to be a tight year," Foxton said.

"We will move forward but maybe we will space out moving forward. Maybe that new township office that we want will be deferred another year and we will be saving and building our reserves to help pay for that because the constituents can't be hit with too much in one year."

Among other concerns for Foxton are the cost of living in the township, transit and the question whispered throughout this municipal election: amalgamation.

Wellesley: Joe Nowak

The cost of living in Wellesley township is higher than it should be, and that's a concern says Wellesley Mayor Joe Nowak.

Nowak, who learned Tuesday night he had won his seat by just 23 votes over Bernia Wheaton, said the township lacks a good mix of entry-level homes. It means people who grow up in the township tend to move away.

In the village of Wellesley, he says it's hard to find a home under $500,000.

"I think that'll be an opportunity for Wellesley to identify some areas where we can look for additional growth, where we can put a better mix of housing," Nowak said.

The communities in the township also face some big, and expensive, projects over the next four years. There's the new fire station in St. Clements, the township has promised money for a library if a new Catholic school is build in St. Clements, the community centre in Hawksville needs a lot of work or it needs to be rebuilt and there's a pond restoration project in Wellesley that is "going to be a lot of money," Nowak says.

Woolwich: Sandy Shantz

Roundabouts, traffic lights and easing congestion on the highway between Elmira and Waterloo, are the big issues says Woolwich Mayor Sandy Shantz.

"Probably the most talked about thing is transportation," Shantz said.

Vehicle speed has been a major issue in the township, particularly through towns and villages. There have also been problems at some rural intersections.

There is also road congestion between the township and Waterloo, and Shantz said the region has promised to look at the issue in 2019 to see if there's a simple, quick fix for the short term, then do a broader study if that's not enough.

Meanwhile in Breslau, the township continues to work with the province for a new GO train station.