Skip to content

LETTER: Former Community Living board member feels the group has 'lost focus'

'The decision to close day program sites to the current participants shows that the leadership has lost focus of the original reason the organization exists,' says reader Malcolm MacKenzie
keyboard_computer-laptop - 95538487

GuelphToday has received the following letter to the editor from Malcom MacKenzie concerned about the closure of day programs provided by Community Living Guelph Wellington: 

Open Letter to CLGW Members, Local Mayors and MPPs, Minister Smith

The recent revelations of unsought, unnecessary, and disruptive changes to services provided by Community Living Guelph Wellington (CLGW) has resulted in fine local journalism and also the printing of excellent letters in support of individuals who counted on these services, for decades in some cases. These letters profoundly and elegantly present the impact of rash decisions on affected individuals.

As a former board member and current voting member, I am shocked that the guiding principles of this member-based and publicly-supported charitable organization have not been followed.

The decision to close day program sites to the current participants shows that the leadership has lost focus of the original reason the organization exists. To put it simply the decisions to close and to re-brand and re-vision are an abrupt reversal of the needs and goals that inspired the formation of CLGW over 65 years ago. Parents took the initiative then on behalf of their children to give them a place to meet as a group, learn and enjoy each others company. Ending day programs and closing facilities is a betrayal of these founding principles.

Leadership chose to make these decisions behind closed doors and tried to keep them there. To date there is still no public announcement. At the recent AGM no mention of these decisions occurred. CLGW bylaws allow for the calling of special meetings for various reasons including “… presentation of information or material of interest or importance to the members … “. Does the board honestly believe none of this is of interest and importance to members, and thus their silence? Or do they simply not feel they have to explain or be accountable for their decisions?

After deciding to execute these decisions no effort has been made to detail what if anything can or will take their place. Vague, non-specific statements have been made purporting to encourage individuals to find alternatives in other areas of the community. CLGW services a huge area, mostly rural, and while other options are few and far between in the City of Guelph, they are literally non-existent in the rest of the county. If Leadership thinks finding options are easy why didn’t they take the initiative to identify and summarize them?

Beyond closing the doors to participants, no mention has been made as to the planned fate of CLGW facilities that previously housed these programs.


  • 8 Royal Road, Guelph
  • 10 Thompson Crescent, Erin
  • 280 St. Patrick St. W, Fergus
  • 106 Thomas Street, Harriston
  • 135 Fergus St, S, Mount Forest

Each of these facilities was built and/or repurposed in large part by local fundraising. To have no guidance now with respect to what leadership plans to do with them is an affront to the communities and the community spirit that built them.

The decision to eliminate these services also explains the long silence on any resumption of services after mandated March closures. There is no longer any such mandate, though of course any program in the short term would need to be modified and follow current guidelines. Other organizations have adapted and re-opened. For whatever reason leadership has used the COVID-19 situation to facilitate permanent closure.

In summary, CLGW Management and the board have made rash decisions that contradict the founding principles of our organization. They did so without genuine consultation and still have not publicly presented any rationale or presented any viable alternatives. Perhaps the Leadership is what needs significant change.

Yours truly,

Malcolm MacKenzie
Guelph, Ontario