The Schneider Family Needs Your Help
The Schneider Family is calling on the community for help in making this land donation happen. Below is the letter they have sent to the Wilmot Township Council, and a call to action for you to stand in support:
Our family, specifically our mother and father, have allowed access to the Schneider property for over 40 years. Many people have enjoyed the ability to hike and ski the many kilometres of trails now maintained by the next generation. It was their wish that this would continue for generations to come.
Our mother is 94, and although she is healthy and continues to enjoy and occasionally still walk these trails, this will not continue forever. Our family is planning to donate a lot of this land you are now enjoying, but the local government -specifically Wilmot Township- is putting up roadblocks preventing this from moving forward.
For over four years, we have negotiated with Wilmot to sever the existing houses and donate over 230 acres of this land to rare. The rare Charitable Research Reserve is a registered charity working as a land trust and environmental institute in Waterloo Region/Wellington. They will steward this land as part of their conservation land trust mandate and continue to allow access to this property no differently than it is now. The existing housing with minimal adjacent land will be retained by the family to allow existing tenants and my mother to live in them. No further building, except possibly a shed for maintenance, will be built on donated land.
Wilmot is not allowing this to happen. Our father died in 2011, and with the passing of our mother, taxation will be triggered that would necessitate the sale of these lands and, therefore, the loss of access to all. As of now, Wilmot is mandating that we build a parking lot, at our expense, on our lands to allow severance of the existing homes. A parking lot would be detrimental to neighbours, incur excessive maintenance and cost, and destroy the beautiful land where it would be built. Existing road parking works well now, and we see no need to change this.
We have successfully addressed many other issues demanded by the township but as a family we do not want a parking lot on our lands. We will be donating a large parcel of land with a value of millions of dollars and Wilmot needs to honour this commitment which comes at no cost to them. Much expense has already been absorbed by the family and rare in the preparation of this land donation. We are now going public with our concerns and ask for help.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Please write, phone, or email your support of our land donation to the Wilmot council and mayor. If you are uncertain what to write, please copy and adapt the sample letter located below. Let Wilmot council know that you do not want a parking lot, that any further delays are not acceptable and that they need to work on alternative solutions to approve our severance application quickly. We do not want to close the property for public access as has been suggested by township planners. Improved roadside parking is a possibility and needs to become a political priority!
Mayor Natasha Salonen : email@example.com
Councillor Steven Martin : firstname.lastname@example.org
Councillor Stewart Cressman : email@example.com
Councillor Lillianne Dunstall: firstname.lastname@example.org
Councillor Harvir Sidhu: email@example.com
Councillor Kris Wilkinson: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please feel free to copy rare at email@example.com when you e-mail.
Please share this letter with any friend/group you think would help (click here to download this letter as a PDF). Thank you for any help you can give us!
The Schneider Family
Sample Schneider Woods Letter to personalize and send to Wilmot Council
Dear [Wilmot Council member name]:
I am writing to urge you and your fellow members of Wilmot Township Council to approve without further delay the planning and severance applications (OPAA-01-23 and ZCA 01-23) that the rare Charitable Research Reserve and the Schneider family submitted to you in March 2023, so that the family’s planned donation of over 230 acres of pristine natural lands can proceed.
According to media reports, the primary obstacle to these approvals and this donation is the township planning staff’s proposed requirement that a parking lot be built on or near these lands. This requirement is ill advised and unnecessary, for several reasons.
· When the donation proceeds, these lands will continue to be used in the same way that they have for decades. lack of a parking lot has not created any serious problems before, so there is no need to build one now.
· These lands are among the most ecologically significant in Waterloo Region, and part of the Laurel Creek Headwaters Ecologically Sensitive Landscape. The whole point of the proposed donation is to conserve them in their current state. A parking lot would have numerous unacceptable impacts on this environment.
· The Schneider family and rare have proposed alternative solutions such as traffic-calming measures and enhanced signage to improve roadside parking around these lands, and at the Council’s May 2023 meeting, it was decided that planning staff should work collaboratively with the City of Waterloo to have such solutions in place by the end of 2023. That deadline has not been met.
[Optional: On a personal note, (describe what these lands have meant to you personally.]
As you know, Jane Schneider is well into her nineties and would like to see the donation that she and her husband had planned become a reality while she is still here to see it. It would be a shame not to honour her wishes in this regard. It would also be a shame if the public were deprived of such a unique, special gift simply because Council had not been determined to work collaboratively and timely with all concerned parties to overcome whatever obstacles stood in the way.
Once again, I urge you to take proactive measures to cut through the red tape and make sure that these lands remain open for the public to enjoy in their current state for generations to come.
- This document was submitted by rare to Wilmot Township Council in March 2023 detailing the existing and proposed use of the property and options to address the Township Council’s traffic concerns.
- rare Press Release: Schneider Family calls on community to remove red tape stalling Schneider Woods donation.
- rare Editorial: Ensuring Our Most Important Environmental Areas are Protected.
- rare Editorial: This is about more than a parking lot. The case for protection.
- Mike Farwell Show, Friday, January 19, 2024: Tune in at 22:30 to hear Stephanie Sobek-Swant speak to Mike Farwell about the Schneider Lands and this campaign. Local resident Galen calls in at 02:45:20 to voice his support.
- CTV News Segment (text and video), Thursday, January 18, 2024: Schneider family land donation hits bureaucratic road block in Wilmot Township.
- CBC Morning Edition with Craig Norris, Friday, January 19, 2024: Schneider family wants to donate its land to a charity. But it’s not that simple.
- CKMS Waterloo, from Thursday, January 25, has a report on the Schneider Woods situation and an interview with Stephanie Sobek-Swant.