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Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce

Questions & Answers

Shawn Watters - County Council Ward 6

96 Water Street, EloraShawn Watters 2014


Shawn Watters is a long term residence of Centre Wellington and lives in Elora.  Shawn is married to Debbie and has two university aged children Haydn and Emmett.

Professional Experience

Shawn is a graduate of the University of Guelph and has degrees in Political Science and Landscape Architecture.  Shawn is a Landscape Architect and is the principle at Shawn P. Watters & Associates which is a design firm specializing in community design and resort planning.

Political Involvement

  • Presently Wellington County Councillor for Ward 6 for the past 4 years
  • Presently serves as a member of the planning and land division committee
  • Presently serves as a member economic committee
  • Formerly served as Councillor for both the Township of Centre Wellington and Elora
  • Formerly served as a board member for Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA)
  • Formerly served as a board member Groves Memorial Hospital

Community Involvement 

  • Principle organizer Riverfest Elora music and arts festival
  • Design participate Elora Green Space and Bissell Park
  • Past involvement included: Rotarian; founding member “not so grand Players”
  • Served on the board of Chamber of Commerce
  • Served on the board of the Fergus theatre


Good Governance

  • Balanced well thought out budgets
  • Fiscal responsibility
  • Provide high quality service to the public
  • Continue to work lower tier and provincial government concerning taxation
  • Responsible and caring employer

Planning and Economic Development

  • Strategic and master planning for the County of Wellington
  • Identifying the County of Wellington strengthens and weaknesses
  • Continue to position the County of Wellington for growth in business, agriculture and tourism


  • Maintain to a high standard county infrastructure including roads, bridges, libraries, county buildings and equipment, trails and forest tracts


  • Continue to promote the environment through our quality audits and reviews of county infrastructure and practices
  • Provide a high level waste management services
  • Continued leadership role in the green legacy program

Social Responsibility

  • Maintain a high level of social services which is fully accessible to all levels of our communities


Questions & Answers

Question submitted by Michael Weinstein from The All Candidates' Meeting on September 25 to Innes and Watters

Why does the county continue to have its administrative head office outside of the county, in the city of Guelph?  Would you support spending more county administrative funds in the county instead of in a city that is not even part of the county?

Watters, Shawn:
Answer :  Responded by telephone personally to Michael Weinstein.

This was his answer:   The administrative office of the County should be in the County.  We share a number of services with the City of Guelph including Social Services and Ambulance.  I would see that those services would obviously continue and we would continue to build a high level of service to the users of those services in both the County and the City of Guelph.   I could see that sometime in the future that the administrative building would be re-located to the County. A potential spot would be Aboyne in Centre Wellington.  The County is presently building a campus there that now includes many of the County services including the future site of the hospital.  A relocated administrative office could possibly include the day to day operation of the County including council services meetings etc…  Other services could include planning, engineering and economic development.  Those services would be closer to citizens of the County and be centrally located to the County making access easier for many living in the County.

Question submitted by Carrie Jenks from The All Candidates' Meeting on September 25 to Ross-Zuj and Watters

The basketball nets and ice rink boards have been missed by our children since they were removed to host Riverfest.  It saddens me to see the basketball nets laying in the grass – tossed to the side, forgotten about.  But, I must say, our youth have not forgotten about them.  They are missed and our youth are no longer playing as they once had in Bissell, our beloved park.  What is the plan?  Is there a plan to put them back up AND how are you going to let the kids know what you are doing to make this up to them?

Watters, Shawn:
One of the basketball nets are back up.  The Celtic basketball club and local businesses are in the processes of buying new basketball nets and my understanding that installation of those new nets are to be done shortly.  The hockey boards prior to Riverfest were removed they were in disrepair and in need of replacement.  As part of Riverfest Elora give back program we will be donating monies towards the establishment of new boards.  Details coming very soon.

Question from Sue Thompson for Shawn Watters

Are county councillors required to have answering machines?  When I attempted to contact you regarding the county decision to fund hospitals, I was unable to reach you for over 5 days.

Watters, Shawn:
I think I answered your question at the all candidates meeting concerning hospital funding.  I supported it.  It is too important not to maintain a hospital in Centre Wellington.  I do understand in theory this is a province of Ontario responsibility. Unfortunately the new reality is the province expects local participation in the development of new hospital including the financing of these projects.  We have seen this with the continual downloading of roads and bridges.

There is never a problem accessing me.  I am pretty much an open book.  Please check on line you can find my business – Shawn P. Watters & Associates 519 846 2685  You can reach me on my cell 519 577 5226;  I live at 96 Water Street Elora, where I have a home office - people come by all the time. You can also access me at which is my county email address.

Or you can call the county at 519 837 2600 and they will track me down.  I hope that helps

Question from S. Brown for All Candidates, except School Board

Micro chip scanner for dogs.  Most dogs have micro chip identification and when I bought my dog licence learned Elora does not have a scanner – why not?

Watters, Shawn:
This is a local issue.  I would contact the Township of Centre Wellington – start with the building department call 519 846 9691  they should be able to help you. If there is an issue there call me back at 519 577 5226.

Question from Jeremy Woods, President, Wellington Standard Condominium Corporation No.149 for All Candidates, except School Board

The unit owners and tenants of the Wellington Standard Condominium Corporation No. 149 (The Beckett Centre), at 820 Gartshore Street in Fergus would like to know the candidates’ views of the current Commercial Tax Rates and Classification.  In particular the possible creation of Commercial and/or Industrial Condominium Classifications.  We feel that we are being unfairly taxed – as an example, each of the 26 units are being taxed as if they are stand-alone buildings on their own lots, instead of one building, on one lot, broken into 26 units.  MPAC does allow for this in their assessments, and other municipalities in Ontario have created these additional classes.  By creating these classifications and reducing the overall tax base on these companies, may encourage more of these commercial condo buildings to be built.

Watters, Shawn:
Sorry I don’t have an answer for you yet.  I am in communication with the Wes Snarr the CFO/ Treasurer of the Township of Centre Wellington and Ken DeHart County Treasurer for the County of Wellington .  It is my hope to get some clarification concerning your comments and question.

My phone number is 519 846 2695

3 Question from Karen Hudson for any wishing to respond  (her 4th question was asked at the meeting on October 1st)

We have roads and bridges in poor repair.  Is there money to repair these, and is it really our money, or are we operating in a deficit?  Is there actually any plan?

Watters, Shawn:
Responsibility for road and bridges come understand 3 jurisdictions. The vast majority of the roads and bridges are handled by the Township of Centre Wellington and the County of Wellington.  The province has some responsibilities and  over the years continue to download to the local levels.  I am not going to sugar coat this, the Township of Centre Wellington has struggled to keep up to maintaining hundreds of  kms of roads and 100 +  bridges.  Each year projects are identified both annually and on a 5 year basis of what roads and bridges need to be dealt with (5 year forecast).  As best we can at both the Township level and the County level we identify the priorities.   The County works in collaboration with the Township on taxation issues as well as on road and bridge rationalization.  This can have the biggest impact on dealing with this type of infrastructure as well as provide additional funds especially at the local level for dealing with roads and bridges.

My phone number is 519 846 2685

What can we do to have influence over the slow progress in the building of a new hospital?  Genuine influence.

Watters, Shawn:
As it relates to Hospital.  The province drives the bus on this issue.  The hospital board (which I have served on in the past) has worked hard to get to this stage. There are a number of steps that Groves Hospital has to go through.  It is not a case of the squeaky wheel but rather a cooperative approach with the province.  The County has worked hard with Groves including providing land, road systems and financial resources to the development.  We totally understand the importance of a new hospital for both Centre Wellington and the County of Wellington.  We are doing all the right things at all levels and we are on track to break ground for the hospital within the next County Council term.

Why did the mayor agree to such an elaborate expansion of the Fergus library?  It needed work, but this is far beyond what is sensible.

Watters, Shawn:
For the mayor of Centre Wellington to respond to.

Questions (2) from Steven Wright, Wrighthaven Homes for Mayoral, Township and County Candidates

Nimby Syndrome:  Not in My Backyard or "NIMBY" is a major concern for builders and developers who are faced with community opposition to important new developments including affordable housing, higher density housing mixed use developments and other housing options that provide choice for everyone.  Do you agree that NIMBY needs to be addressed?  If so by what methods will you address NIMBY attitudes in the community?

Watters, Shawn:
Strong communities consist of variety of housing types and a good mixture of socially economic conditions throughout each community.  You need balance in to have a healthy community.  It is up to political leaders, staff, developers and members of the community to educate the public on the value of mixed and integrated communities.  I would suggest excellent readings on diversity and variety which have been  written by Jane Jacobs. A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander and Associates is pretty much a standard for Landscape Architects like myself.

Places to grow legislation has increased pressures on planning departments to adhere to new rules and density requirements encouraging intensification in existing residential subdivisions and particularly downtown areas whereby often homes and buildings of heritage value exist.  Quite often these older buildings are in jeopardy as a result of requests to demolish so as maximize density requirements when a developer submits new plans to develop these building consistent with the places to grow legislation.  As a councillor do you feel you have the fortitude to resist pressures of the act and vote to deny the requests to demolish heritage resources?

Watters, Shawn:
Without heritage there is no starting point. Heritage building, trails, natural features, roads etc. all speak to our past.  Unfortunately sometimes we try to ignore this because it is easier to do so. Places to grow in theory is a policy which hopes to limit outward growth through intensification.  This intensification can and has been a threat to heritage areas especially in our rural communities.  This intensification rules were modeled  by the  province in Toronto.  These policies may make sense in quickly growing communities where space is an issue.  We need to find a balance in rural communities  at the local level to make density decisions.  Local  council needs to have the ability and the tools to be able protect heritage areas. Strong  communities need to have a good mix of housing types.  This includes a good range of property sizes.  Heritage buildings, properties and infrastructure needs to be preserved within reason.  I have never been fearful in speaking up for our community and valuing our heritage. In the past I was an active member of planning and Heritage committees.

My phone number is 519 846 2685


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