Smiths Falls mayor touts Hershey’s return, community food hub, housing as some of the highlights

Smiths Falls Mayor Shawn Pankow
Smiths Falls Mayor Shawn Pankow shares highlights of 2023 and what he’s looking forward to this year. Photo credit: Shawn Pankow photo/Facebook.
Posted on: January 24, 2024

Town Square opening, volunteer appreciation, and library renovations also made the list


Smiths Fall had some encouraging progress on several fronts in 2023, and we caught up with Mayor Shawn Pankow for an overview of what’s to come, while looking back on several accomplishments.

The installation of new play structures in both Victoria and Hyland-Corbett Parks, the redevelopment of Catherine Street and holding tax increases to a minimum despite inflation leading to a 10 per cent increase in the operation budget are at the top of the list, he noted.

Pankow top picks: 

1. The return of Hershey’s

BACKGROUND: In February, Canopy Growth Corp advised the town that they would be vacating their flagship facility at 1 Hershey Dr., would be consolidating operations across the street at 99 Lorne St. and approximately 350 people locally would be losing their jobs. 

“It was a difficult day for our community and very upsetting news to know that such a large number of people would be forced out of work,” Pankow said. “However, in between the dozen media calls that came in, I started receiving calls from parties expressing interest in the 750,000 square foot facility.”

Amidst the darkness of the disappointing news, a sense of hope emerged that this building would not sit vacant for long, and the $300 million investment Canopy made in renovating and expanding the original Hershey factory would soon lead Smiths Falls to its next opportunity, the mayor noted.

On Aug. 17, the mayor shared that rumours circulating about Hershey’s return were true. Hershey Canada had purchased the building and would soon be back, hiring people and re-starting operations in Smiths Falls. 

“It was a very exciting day hosting the press conference in our new town square and sharing Hershey chocolate bars with everyone there,” Pankow said. “What was old, was new again and we have so much to look forward to.

2. Town Square opening

BACKGROUND: The grand opening of the town square and the beautiful bandstand built in memory of, and with the financial support of community builders and philanthropists Tom and Pat Foulkes, the mayor said they were blessed to have their family in attendance to share in this special moment. 

“This structure is the marquis feature in what is now one of the most attractive and appealing locations in town,” he said. 

3. Volunteer appreciation

“I was honoured to hand out awards to numerous people whose selfless giving makes Smiths Falls such a great community,” Pankow noted. “The most heartwarming moment of the evening came when I presented Community Ambassador Robbie Hull with the Charles Gilhully Award. Robbie is an incredible young man who doesn’t let his challenges hold him back … this Special Olympics athlete has volunteered with the Smiths Falls Junior A Bears, at the Salvation Army Thrift Store, the Law Enforcement Torch Run, and the Salvation Army Kettle Campaign. He is an altar server at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church, is a regular at YourTV and is such a role model for people living with disabilities through his continued advocacy for the Foundation for Prader-Willi Syndrome Research Canada.”

Pankow noted that “Robbie seems to have a permanent smile on his face and his perseverance and overall outlook on life should motivate all of us to face each day with hope and optimism.”


1. Library renovations

BACKGROUND: The long-overdue renovation to our library will lead to a completed renovated and expanded children’s library on the third floor, including complete accessibility and major improvements for a more comfortable environment and energy savings. 

2. The Falls Food Hub

BACKGROUND: Located in the Chambers Street Plaza, Pankow said he has been part of a group dedicated to delivering regular community meals and additional services to our citizens for the past five years. 

“A partnership with The Table Community Food Centre (Perth) emerged over the past couple of years and this initiative has now led to a commitment to provide this service to our community,” the mayor noted. 

“I regularly attend the food hub’s community lunches every Monday at Hanley Hall and understand the positive impact this has on our community.”

While food may be the focus, it is the fellowship and support shared between the volunteers and those present that confirm how needed this service is, the mayor said. 

“Although the frequency of meals and availability of additional services are not yet finalized, my dream is that The Falls Food Hub will bring daily meals, drop-in services and connections to a variety of health and social service-related supports on a very regular basis.”

3. Carebridge Community Support

BACKGROUND: The new community housing built by Carebridge Community Support is nearing occupation. 

“Before Christmas, I heard from some of our citizens who have received offers to move into this beautiful new apartment building at 44 Chambers St.,” Pankow said. “Thanks to the $500,000 donation from St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church, a $3.6 million contribution from Lanark County and a commitment to monthly rent supports from the county, 28 of the 34 units will have rents-geared-to-income. This means each tenant will have deeply affordable rent and a home that meets their needs, even those with limited mobility.”

The mayor said this project could have landed anywhere in Lanark County and he is thrilled to see this new, life-changing living environment for Smiths Falls citizens thanks to the leadership and commitment from Community Carebridge Support and everyone who made this possible.

Hometown News
Author: Hometown News