Township of Mapleton, Ontario
Primed for progress
Business View Magazine interviews Gregg Davidson, Mayor of the Township of Mapleton, Ontario, for our focus on Economic Development in Canada
The Township of Mapleton, Ontario is a rural municipality made up of many different communities, each with its own unique flare and history, but they’ve come together with the same goal: progress. The township is home to a wide variety of thriving industries and works to attract more businesses, often finding that because of their location, businesses are flocking to them. The municipality is dedicated to growing along with those businesses and providing stellar customer service, which is what brings a lot of companies their way. The Township of Mapleton also pride themselves on planning for a sustainable future for residents and businesses, while maintaining that small town, country feel and mentality.
Manny Baron, the township’s Chief Administrative Officer, knows that great customer service brings in great business partners. He shares, “Part of the marketing, that is not even marketing at all, is when businesses come in here. We try to anticipate each and every need that they have. Our customer service level is incredible, so word of mouth works quite well. We have a lot of business owners bragging about us and, in fact, we’ve just attracted a few companies in the last year that really, we didn’t chase. They came to us because they heard about how well we treat our folks and our businesses.”
Mapleton is one of seven lower-tier municipalities that form Wellington County. The township was amalgamated in 1999 and is made up of the Village of Drayton (which is where the township offices are located), Alma, Bosworth, Dobbenville, Glen Allan, Goldstone, Hollen, Lebanon, Moorefield, Parker, Riverbank, Rothsay, Spruce Green, Stirton, Wyandot, and Yatton.
Mayor Gregg Davidson recounts that the region was once where freed American slaves chose to settle and was home to one of Canada’s largest Black Canadian Settlements. He notes, “In the mid-1800s, this area was home to approx. 3,000 black Canadians many who moved here after escaping slavery. This area, where Glen Allen is today, is known as the Queen’s Bush. Over the course of time, the Old Order Mennonites from Pennsylvania began arriving in the early 1900s and then after World War II, we had the Dutch migration.”
Mapleton has a population of about 11,000 people and has seen marginal growth since amalgamation. However, the township council is working with Township and County staff to increase both its residential and industrial spaces. Currently, there is growth with the construction of homes in the current urban residential areas, but after that the township will need the province’s approval to expand its urban boundaries. That being said, Mapleton has had a record year for building. Davidson says there have been more applications for new builds, renovations and additions than they have had in the last 15 years and he hopes to see that continue into 2022. The municipality boasts that it is ideally located for home and business construction starts, as it is within a 90-minute drive from many large urban centers including Toronto, Hamilton, and London.
To prepare for future growth, Mapleton is working on a Water and Wastewater Master Plan. Baron reports, “We’re taking care of it – not fully taken care of yet, but we are on our way to doing that. The Water and Wastewater Master Plan is going to be key to how we grow our community and our urban boundary expansion. The two of them together, hand in hand, are very important for us.”
The area has a variety of farm industries driving the economy, as well as an industrial park with farm and non-farming industries which includes: Arjune Engineering and Manufacturing, which offer precision CNC machining; Craftsmen Hardwoods, a supplier of hardwood, softwood, plywood, and cabinet hardware; and next year, Stubbe’s Precast Concrete is scheduled to break ground on a new facility. The company is a leading supplier of precast concrete, grey mix and bulk concrete. Davidson acknowledges, “Those farm industries are very diverse. We have so many, not just the regular type selling fruits and vegetables at the stands in the summer time, but we have cabinet makers, wood suppliers, farm machinery suppliers… We offer quite a lot in our community.” As a rural farming community Mapleton has some notable feed suppliers, including Wallenstein Feed and Supply, Ltd. (the largest feed supplier in Canada), as well as Nieuwland Feed and Supply.
Small businesses and entrepreneurs can also access the Community Improvement Plan, which allocates funds to refurbish and renovate current spaces. In addition to helping businesses on the farm or in the downtown core look more attractive, businesses can also use the funds to grow or expand. According to Baron, “We have more businesses that want to locate in the community than we have space for and we’re helping them to find locations. We have businesses that call each and every week and we are trying to find them sites where they can actually open their doors. With the CIP program, we’re able to help some of these places, that may not have been looking great, to actually look good, and then businesses can thrive in them.”
Mapleton is often listed as one of the best places to live in Canada. Davidson says, “As a community we boast beautiful farms, rolling hills, rivers, a lake, and we enjoy a diverse population. Drayton is also home to the original Drayton Festival Theatre.” The not-for-profit charitable organization, which began operations in Drayton in 1991, has evolved into Drayton Entertainment. They have gone on to become one of the nation’s most successful theatre companies with six locations in Ontario. They continue to entertain locally in Mapleton’s renovated 1902 Opera House and former Town Hall.
From an outdoor recreation aspect, the township is full of rolling hills, making it difficult for novice cyclists, but a welcome challenge for the experienced. Davidson says the town is working toward becoming more walkable and bikeable by adding to their small trail system – most of which are less than 2 km in length. On the outskirts of Mapleton is Conestogo Lake, which is another one of the gems in the community. The manmade lake is home to many cottages and is also a popular destination for camping, fishing, and water activities.
There are three community centers in Mapleton, with plans to turn one of them into a multi-court facility with a walking track and a seniors center. The jointly funded facility will go ahead once supportive funding from the provincial and federal government to cover the $10 million project is realized. That facility, adjoined to the local ice rink, will include many environmentally-friendly and sustainability features including using an electric Zamboni. Baron says its Mapleton’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2030. He shares, “We’re literally in the middle of working on a plan for what we can do with our fleet, how many charging stations we can put in within the municipality. Simple things such as solar, electric Zamboni versus gas… so we’re in the midst of doing that now and explaining how we can get even better at reducing emissions.”
In addition to funding from the governments, Mapleton has a great partnership with local service clubs. The Rotary Club of Drayton is currently raising $100,000 for a new park. The five-acre parcel of land, next to their Agri-hood Neighbourhood Community, was donated by Prior Construction. There was also a $10,000 donation from Darling Ingredients, and Earthscape will donate new playground equipment at a cost of $55,000 – local companies helping to build the community they are located within.
Both Baron and Davidson are looking forward to the future and hoping to see the township acquire its first childcare centre, expand the industrial park, grow the residential population, finish the wastewater and water plan, and expand the trail systems. Baron has high hopes for the area, sharing, “We know it will be a high growth area. What we want to do is make sure that it’s well planned out. We want to make sure all amenities are available to our residents and the service level matches the tax rates as well, so that we’re not over taxing or under taxing. Just offering a well thought out, well laid out plan for recreation, for growth, and for amenities and to be able to accept folks with open arms – overall making sure that Mapleton continues as just a good place to be.”
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AT A GLANCE
Township of Mapleton, Ontario
What: A thriving, lower-tier municipality; population 11,000
Where: County of Wellington, Ontario