Monday, September 18, 2017

Welcoming Wellspring Home, to Pelham!

On behalf of Pelham Town Council, it was my honour and privilege to participate in the special groundbreaking for a new home for Wellspring Niagara last week.

Wellspring Niagara groundbreaking, Sept. 2017
Wellspring Niagara’s exceptional services are well known across the Peninsula. For more than 16 years their dedicated volunteers and staff have provided free social, emotional, psychological and informational support to people coping with cancer. Wellspring receives no government funding and relies entirely on donations so that every dollar raised in Niagara, stays in Niagara.

For individuals and families impacted by cancer, Wellspring stands as a beacon of light and a rainbow of hope – as one speaker said on Tuesday. The Wellspring board, staff, and volunteers embody a spirit of generosity and sacrifice at a critical time in people’s lives.

They have provided this amazing support from a very small space – a mere 2,000 square feet on Schmon Parkway in Thorold – which was meant to be temporary

In the fall of 2013, Council and I learned that Wellspring needed to move but could not find a suitable location for a new facility. Town Council discussed how incorporating Wellspring into Pelham matched our vision of being a vibrant, creative, and caring community. We recognized that offering a Pelham location provided the best way to show our caring nature. Therefore, we immediately and unanimously embraced Wellspring.

In addition to the use of the land, the Board recognized East Fonthill as a central location in the Niagara Peninsula and the synergy of other developments nearby – a potential Community Centre, medical centre, and retail – and natural features.

By the spring of 2014, we signed a memorandum of understanding to give use of up to two acres a land in East Fonthill for as long as Wellspring Niagara operates their Niagara Cancer Support Centre. We also named the street “Wellspring Way” to highlight the location and our commitment.

This past May we signed a long-term lease, thereby donating the perpetual use this land – and approved their exceptional site plan for their 11,000 square foot facility which will offer a home-like feel and make full use of the property.

It’s so important for everyone in the Peninsula that Wellspring has a new home to continue to provide welcoming and safe supports and encouragement for individuals and families affected by the many challenges of cancer.

Pelham Council and Staff are delighted and honoured to partner with Wellspring and we offer them our best wishes and congratulations on the groundbreaking and fundraising success to date.

May Wellspring’s spirit of generosity and sacrifice deepen and may their “beacon of light” shine even brighter in their new home.

“Welcome to Pelham. Welcome home!”

_____________________________________

TVCogeco Niagara video of Wellspring Niagara groundbreaking:




You may contact Mayor Dave at mayordave@pelham.ca or read past columns at www.pelhammayordave.blogspot.ca.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Pelham’s Parkland Over-Dedication

Despite assurances that Town Council, staff, and professional advisors followed all appropriate laws and policies when dealing with a parkland over-dedication in East Fonthill, persistent questions still exist in the community. My column this week, therefore, explains how and why this type of special transaction occurs.

The award-winning East Fonthill Secondary Plan calls for a community park near the intersection of Wellsping Way and Summersides Boulevard and along-side a watercourse. Since it didn’t own all of this land, the Town had to ultimately acquire some property.

Parkland in East Fonthill Plan
To acquire the parkland, the Town followed the Planning Act and the Town’s Parkland Dedication Bylaw and used funds exclusively from Pelham’s Parkland Dedication Reserve. (The Town did not use property tax funds to acquire this park.)

The Planning Act provides options for how a municipal council can acquire parkland and/or “cash-in-lieu” of actual land in new developments.

When a developer proposes a residential subdivision or builds a house, the Planning Act allows a Town to take 5% of the land from the new subdivision for public parkland, or to take a cash percentage of the land value (instead of actual property).

In the case of a cash-in-lieu allocation in Pelham, the Town requires a payment of 5% of the value of a serviced building lot at the “day before the of issuance of the building permit.” To determine this value, a developer or builder provides the Town with an accredited real estate appraisal for the land or for the subdivision.

As time goes on and other homes or businesses are built nearby, the property values increase and, therefore, the parkland payments increase.

Towns must deposit these cash-in-lieu-of-parkland funds into a segregated fund called the Parkland Dedication Reserve.

Sometimes, an overall community plan calls for a park that is larger than an individual property owner is legally obligated to provide – larger than 5% of the land the developer owns or plans to develop. In that case, the owner must give a “parkland over-dedication.”

A parkland over-dedication must be valued in the same way as a cash-in-lieu-of-parkland payment. In Pelham, therefore, an accredited real estate appraiser must value the over-dedication at the “day before the of issuance of the building permit.” Then, the Town uses funds from the Parkland Dedication Reserve to pay for the parkland. (Again, no property taxes are used for this purchase.)

Just as the value of building lots increase over time and as development occurs, the valuation for excess parkland also increases as nearby development occurs; it makes sense and costs less, therefore, to value and purchase parkland early and before the construction of nearby homes or businesses.

In the case of the 3.3 acres of East Fonthill parkland, the Town peer reviewed a 2015 accredited real estate appraisal and negotiated a parkland over-dedication value of $3.6 million. Since the local real estate market increased by as much as 20% since the time of the appraisal, the Town saved parkland funds by negotiating this transaction two years ago and before recent nearby construction.

The Town paid for this land from the Parkland Dedication Reserve. As new houses and businesses are constructed in the East Fonthill area and property values increase, builders and developers will have to contribute 5% of those increasing values to pay for this park and other parklands.

Negotiating the parkland over-dedication early and before rising property values, makes fiscal sense. And, getting re-payed for that parkland by builders as property values increase will provide value-for-money for the Town over the long run.

_________________________________
2017 September 15 Update:

The Town published some answers for frequently asked questions regarding parkland over-dedication and the development charge credits. Here's the text:

Q: Why did the Town purchase parkland in East Fonthill?
A: The award-winning East Fonthill Secondary Plan calls for a community park. Since it didn’t own this land, the Town purchased the parkland.

Q: Who determines the amount of land needed for parkland?
A: When a developer proposes a residential subdivision or builds a house, the Planning Act allows a Town to take 5% of land for the new subdivision for a park, or to take a percentage of cash instead of a property. In the case of a cash-in-lieu allocation in Pelham, the amount of payment is valued at 5% of the value of a serviced building lot at the ‘day before building permit’. For commercial or industrial property, the parkland is 2%. See section 51.1 in the Planning Act to read more: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/90p13

Q: Who determined the value of the land?
A: The land was appraised and peer reviewed by a professional accredited appraisers to establish the value of the land.

Q: Wasn’t the appraisal value much higher than other land sold in the area?
A: The land was purchased at a price that reflected the value of the land at the ‘day before building permit’ stage. Land without roads, sidewalks, or additional development, for example, would not be valued the same as land that included all of those things, or at the ‘building-permit ready’ stage. When the Town purchases parkland land, it is done so using this formula, a system that is fair to both developers and the Town.

Q: What is this land going to cost me, the taxpayer?
A: Nothing. The land was purchased with funds in the Town’s Parkland Dedication Reserve. As new houses and business are constructed in the East Fonthill area, the property values will increase and builders and developers will have to contribute 5% of those increase values to pay for this and other parklands, replenishing the reserve fund. Towns must deposit these cash-in-lieu funds into that reserve fund.

Q: What is Parkland Over-Dedication?
A: Sometimes, an overall community plan calls for a park that is larger than an individual developer is legally obligated to provide – larger than 5% of the land the developer owns or plans to develop. In that case, the developer must give a parkland over-dedication.

Q: Was purchasing the land in 2015 a good idea or not?
A: Negotiating the parkland over-dedication early and before rising property values makes fiscal sense. Getting repaid for the parkland by builders as property values increase will provide value-for-money for the Town in the long run.

RE: OP-ED: Stop the dodging, I'll pay for the audit – The Voice of Pelham, September 13, 2017
Q: Did the Town do a secret deal with a developer, wherein the Town agreed to buy land from the developer, land the developer did not even yet own, in exchange for some $3 million dollars’ worth of  “Development Charge credits,” and was this credits scheme even legal?
A: No, the Town did not do a secret deal with a developer. All agreements between the Town and any individuals or corporations are publicly approved. Specifically, on September 8, 2015, Town Council considered and approved the report “Over Parkland Dedication (East Fonthill) Agreement (Issue #20150901002)” and approved by by law 3650 (2015).

Q: Can parkland legally be purchased with Development Charges?
A: The Town did not purchase parkland using development charges. Parkland is purchased through the Parkland Dedication Reserve.

Q: Why did Town Council agree to pay $928,000 dollars per acre for this land when the going rate was approximately $150,000 to $200,000 per acre?
A: In the case of the 3.3 acres of East Fonthill parkland, the Town peer reviewed a 2015 accredited real estate appraisal and negotiated a parkland over-dedication value of $3.6 million. Since the local real estate market has increased by as much as 20% since the time of the appraisal, the Town saved parkland funds by negotiating this transaction two years ago and before recent, nearby construction.

For a printable version of these questions, please go to www.pelham.ca/ParklandFAQ.


You may contact Mayor Dave at mayordave@pelham.ca or read past columns at www.pelhammayordave.blogspot.ca.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Appreciating Pelham’s Small-Town Feel

Time and again this this summer, I have been very proud of Pelham’s wonderful community and small-town feel!

Congratulations and thanks to the Fonthill Lions, for instance, who hosted a first-time, amazing community event on Saturday – called Sliderfest! Held at the Lion’s GL Klager Park, the sold-out event featured a head-to-head “slider” competition between five Pelham restaurant Chefs: Zest Restaurant, Lookout Pointe Country Club, Pub on the Hill, Iggy’s Pub & Grubb, and Churchill Meats (the crowd’s favourite). While the Lions and Lioness members served beverages, local corn-on-the-cob, and fresh cut fries, Kame & Kettle Beer Works served craft beer, local bands played the blues, and folks visited and celebrated with friends and neighbours on the baseball field. The title sponsors – including Pen Financial Credit Union and Enviro-Niagara Hearth & BBQ – and other local supporting donors and businesses helped sponsor the event and/or provided fundraising prizes. All event proceeds will support the Fonthill Lions ongoing community service and their sponsorship of the elevator – the “Lions Lift” – in the new Pelham Community Centre!

Kudos as well for the organizers and participants of the “First Annual Timber Creek Block Party” on Sunday. I was pleased to attend the gathering where the Town closed a portion of the street, and neighbours from the entire subdivision joined together for live music, a barbeque, and street. Aided by the Town’s “Love My Hood” program, it was wonderful to see longtime home-owners meet new residents and folks from one part of the neighbourhood get to know families from just around the corner. (Thanks also to the other community-minded folks who hosted “Love My Hood” events this summer – notably Highland Avenue residents!)

And last weekend, sod covered Downtown Fenwick! Deep appreciation to Young Sod Farms for presenting, promoting and whole-heartedly supporting the Green Street Challenge – temporarily installing freshly-cut sod on the street to promote outdoor activities and increase community spirit. Thanks as well to DeKorte Landscaping, Nature’s Own Landscaping, Landscape Ontario, and the Pelham Fire Service (esp. Station #2) for helping lay-down and take up the sod, cleaning the streets, and installing the sod on a much-deserving, local family’s lawn. About 750 people enjoyed gathering on the street with family and friends and participate in free activities – ranging from Monkeynastics, to facepainting, to balloon animals, to free freezies, to poutine and library activities. Again, it was wonderful seeing neighbours greeting other neighbours and three generations of families playing on the street!

And, then, the Town hosted Indie Music Fest on August 12 at Peace Park. Despite the thunderstorm that rolled through at dinnertime, more than 500 people listened to local artists and enjoyed local food and beverages.

And there’s the 12th season of the Fonthill Bandshell Concerts! Coupled with the Thursday Night Suppermarket and Pelham Farmer’s Market, these amazing concerts draw thousands of local and regional residents weekly.

And, then there was the 7th Annual Pelham Summerfest in July that attracted more than 40,000 local and regional participants combined throughout the “Four Days of Family Fun.”

And, then there was Pelham’s Canada 150 Celebrations

Deep thanks to the amazing community volunteers, sponsors, and staff that organize and support these uniquely-Pelham events! Your hard work and dedication helps bring our community together to celebrate, to promote local artists and culture, and to enhance Pelham’s small-town feel.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Fonthill Kame, Ridgeville, Strategic Funding & GO Rail at AMO Conference

Last week, Councillor Papp, Town CAO Ottaway, Treasurer Quinlin, and I attended the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) Conference in Ottawa. The annual three-day conference offered a range of learning sessions and networking opportunities for the more than 1,500 delegates.

While at AMO, your Pelham representatives also met with various Ministries to directly advanced your interests with the Provincial Government.

(Photo credit: AMO)
We met with Kathryn McGarry, Minister of Natural Resources (MNR), about increasing the protection of the Fonthill Kame. For the last nine years, we effectively used AMO and “Niagara Week” meetings to urge the Province to enhance the Area of Natural & Scientific Interest (ANSI) protections of the Kame. For the last couple of years we thanked the Provincial Government for finalizing those protections in late 2013. Now, we asked to work together with MRN Staff to add more of the Fonthill Kame to the protections offered by the Niagara Escarpment Plan.

We also thanked the Minister for recognizing the historic hamlet of Ridgeville during the Greenbelt review. Now that the Government fixed this Greenbelt error, we will work together with the Region and Province to delineate, re-designate, and re-zone the “rural commercial” / boutique Ridgeville area.

We also met with Daiene Vernile, MPP & Parliamentary Assistant to Minister of Transportation (MTO), and with Grant Crack, MPP & Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs, about funding for municipalities. We encouraged the government to fund municipal projects that help create wealth and prosperity for a community; we spoke not only about projects like downtown revitalizations but also community and cultural facilities like community centres and libraries. We also discouraged the government from investing in projects that create more sprawl – like urban boundary expansions or “smart centers” disconnected from community.

We listened to the three party leaders discuss and dismiss the AMO idea of a 1% increase in the HST to help fund municipal infrastructure.

Shockingly, one party leader also spouted a lie that needs to be quashed. Mr. Brown, leader of the opposition, told the hundreds of delegates that the Government broke their promise of extending GO Rail to Niagara. Later, the PC Party Press Office cited a 2014 quote from Jim Bradley, St. Catharines MPP, in which he stated that he thought the government would announce Niagara GO in 2015.

However, since the Region failed to deliver the case for support for GO Rail to the Premier by the end of 2014 (as she requested), how can anyone blame the government for inaction? In fact, because we delivered the business case after they finalized their 2015 budget, the Government and Metrolinx made the announcement for GO Rail to Niagara at their first opportunity – in the 2016 Budget. Since that and the formal announcement in June 2016, the Government and Metrolinx have continued to work on expanding GO Rail to Grimsby in 2021 and St. Catharines & Niagara Falls in 2023, as promised.

You may contact Mayor Dave at mayordave@pelham.ca and view past columns at www.pelhammayordave.blogspot.ca.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Deficits and Levy vs. Development Charge Debt

Since that’s a lot of talk about debt lately, I thought I’d write about it here.

While the Provincial and Federal governments and businesses can run deficits, Towns and Cities cannot.

Deficits occur when a Federal or Provincial government spends more on their services and projects during their fiscal year than their revenue for that year. Adding up this overspending is called an accumulated deficit which becomes Federal / Provincial debt. And, that Federal and Provincial debt includes both operating costs (program spending) and capital expenditures.

Sometimes businesses can do the same. A small business could continue to operate for a while, accumulating their weekly loses into a relatively large deficit. This type of spending can last as long as their directors or creditors allow.

On the other hand, Towns and Cities must run balanced books each year. We cannot budget for a deficit nor a surplus, nor can we accumulate deficits.

So, how do we mitigate unexpected expenses or pay for large capital projects? With reserves and municipal debt (called debentures).

Sometimes we accumulate specific funds over a few years in a reserve to help pay for something in a future year. For example, we might set $100,000 aside for a few years so that we can buy a $400,000 fire truck in year four. Or, we established a snow clearing reserve to cover excess operating costs for winter control methods (if required).

For multi-million-dollar community assets, however, it might not make sense to save up for decades in advance.

For example, does it make sense to pre-charge residents for a number of years to save up for a multi-million-dollar water project when the asset will be used over 70 years? Why should people who move or pass away prior to a project’s construction pre-pay for an entire project? Wouldn’t it be better to allow folks benefitting from the project pay as they use it?

One could make the same case for a 50-year asset like a community centre or a 25-year asset like a downtown redevelopment. It’s often in these types of cases that “smart debt” – a debenture period of less than the life of the asset – makes sense. And, since municipal debentures lock in the interest and principal payments for the entire life of the loan, they provide certainty on pay back amounts. Once approved, interest rate hikes or changes do not impact these locked-in debenture payments.

And, many find this approach beneficial during periods of low interest rates and infrastructure grants from other Governments. For example, a portion of Pelham's debt includes our share of Downtown Fonthill’s revitalization and Fire Station #2 construction after taking advantage of more than $4.1 million of Federal and Provincial stimulus funding. If we didn't use this type of smart debt to pay for those projects, we would have left that $4.1 million (representing 66% of the project costs!) on the table for another community to use. We used the same approach for Haist Street reconstruction and for our nine new, fully accessible playgrounds.

Finally, much of the Town's long term debt is to help support new development and is, therefore, not funded by existing residents and businesses.

You may know that Development Charges are applied on new developments – from new homes to new commercial buildings – to help pay for the facilities and capital projects that are required to support that new development. For example, if a road needs to be widened, a new water line installed (like on Rice Road), a Fire Hall expanded, or a new trail system built, that new development needs to pay for those new items. Development Charges allows “growth to pay for growth.” And, that’s good news for current residents and businesses.

But, sometimes those facilities or improvements need to be built or installed ahead of the growth – like that new water or sewer line or new Fire Station – to help serve and stimulate the growth. In fact, this approach was encouraged by the Niagara Homebuilder's Association and others at the Region this month as Regional Council considered a new Development Charge bylaw. In these cases, the Town might build the project but add the debt to the Development Charges account; in this case, those Development Charges pay for both debt interest and principal and the new development projects get build ahead of time.

Since we have been preparing for growth for a while, more than 55% of Pelham’s long-term debt is for these Development-Charge-funded projects. (And, these are some of these type of DC-funded debt projects in the Region's new Development Charges bylaw too.) To be clear: more than one-half of our long-term debt will not be paid back by existing residents and tax-payers, but, rather, by new development.

Pelham Council and I continue to ensure that we only minimally impact you and other property tax-payers while we continue to improve our infrastructure and increase the quality of life in our Town.

You may contact Mayor Dave at mayordave@pelham.ca or read past columns at www.pelhammayordave.blogspot.ca.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Thanks for Another Amazing Summerfest!

On behalf of Council, thank you to the 2017 Summerfest Committee, Town Staff, service club and other volunteers for your hard-work and dedication and to the many generous sponsors who made this year’s four-day Summerfest an amazing success – with the highest attendance yet!

Pelham Summerfest 2017 (Photo: Cameron Young)
First, I greatly appreciate the work of the Summerfest Committee, including John Wink, Chair; Councillor Gary Accursi; Bill Gibson, Active Transportation Committee rep; Candy Ashby, Pelham Business Association rep; Matthew Leask and Michelle Stewart, Pelham residents; and Sofia Labricciosa and Mackenna Belding, Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council reps! The committee met for since last Fall to plan and finalize every detail and they worked very, very hard all weekend long to ensure a successful festival. Thank you very much!

Second, thanks so much to Town Staff! Thanks to Vickie van Ravenswaay, Sally Jaeger, Jodi Hendriks and other staff who helped organize the overall event and worked with the Committee to ensure success. I also appreciate the many Town staff who volunteered in one capacity or another – from setting up, to serving beverages, to cleaning up – throughout the four days; thanks for giving your time to our community. And, thanks to the (mainly) Public Works staff who worked during the Festival on logistics, garbage and recycling duty, and ensured the safety of participants and all the major clean-up!

Third, thanks to the very many members of the Town’s service clubs – including the Fonthill & District Kinsmen and Kinettes Clubs, the Fonthill Lions and Lioness Clubs, Fenwick Lions, and the Fonthill Rotary Club – for helping serve beverages and greeting patrons. We couldn’t have done it without you!

Fourth, thanks to the other members of the community who also volunteered! Thanks to members of the Pelham Fire Service, the Pelham Active Transportation Committee, St. John’s Ambulance, members of Town Council, and the many, many other community volunteers.

Fifth, thank you to the many Sponsors and Friends of Pelham Summerfest including our Gold Sponsors: Ball Construction, Brock University, Fonthill Bandshell, Fonthill Dental, Halco Mobile, Lafarge Canada, McAvoy Belan & Campbell, Meridian Credit Union, Niagara Peninsula Energy, and RBC Royal Bank. And, thanks to our amazing Media Partners including: Country 89; Giant FM; MyPelham.com; Niagara This Week; Pelham News; the Standard; and the Tribune.

Finally, thanks to the more than 40,000 people – the largest number ever – who enjoyed the Seventh Annual Pelham Summerfest over the festival’s four days. Your attendance and community spirit made it a huge success and shows why it’s one of Festival Events Ontario’s Top 100 Events.

On behalf of Council, I appreciate the vision, dedication, and tremendous work by so many volunteers and staff to celebrate our vibrant, creative, and caring community. Thank you and congratulations on a resounding and overwhelming success!

You may contact Mayor Dave at mayordave@pelham.ca or read past columns at www.pelhammayordave.blogspot.ca.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Mayors Meetings

A member of the community has recently raised questions about a June meeting of some of Niagara's Mayors and Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs).

The CAOs, the Treasurers, the Planners, the Public Works officials and other Staff of the local area municipalities and the Region meet periodically to share ideas, best practices, and discuss opportunities for working together better.

I recall three times in the last 6 years where the Mayors and CAOs met. Once at City Hall in St. Catharines and hosted by former Mayor McMullan (prior to 2014); once in Niagara on the Lake at White Oaks about 7 months ago; and recently at the Town Hall in Fort Erie. (Please note that I did not host or call the meeting, as one suggested.)

As the notes of the last meeting show, the discussions are about ways in which we can work more collaboratively together. (Please click here to review the notes from that June meeting.)

For example, when the City of Welland CAO reiterated the public presentation he recently made about Regional Development Charges, the direction of the discussion with the Mayors and CAOs was about the impact on local area municipalities.

Then, it was the Regional Economic Development Officer who presented information about the Community Improvement Plans and the Region’s hope of working with the municipalities for more collaboration. It is noteworthy that this discussion was initiated by the Region to further something called “Team Niagara” – better collaboration across Niagara.

Next were discussions regarding Intermunicipal Transit and Airports. Again, joint areas of interest.

Then there was an important discussion regarding shared services and administration. The CAOs are working on increasing ways for the Cities and Towns to share specific services to find efficiencies and work together. These could reduce costs – because of economies of scale – or help with economic development across Niagara. Some examples were cited. I suggested that the CAOs make recommendations to local Councils for the various areas in which we might work closer together.

Finally, since my elected colleagues had already heard me at the Region address Pelham Council’s jurisdictional concerns of Regional Council getting involved in the affairs of Niagara’s Cities and Towns, the Town’s CAO addressed this jurisdictional concern from an administration perspective to other CAOs.

The Niagara Mayors have met occasionally, on our own, through the years. I understood from former Mayor Goulbourne (Welland) that the Mayors met often during the 2003-06 term. I understand that during the 1997-2000 and 2000-03 terms there were meetings of the Mayors.

The Southern Mayors (Pelham, Welland, Port Colborne, Wainfleet, Fort Erie, Niagara Falls) have gotten together more frequently recently – 2-3 times per year – to plan our joint presentations to the joint Chambers of Commerce.

The Mayors of Welland, St. Catharines, and Niagara Falls and the Regional Chair and CAOs have met extensively (every 3 or 6 weeks) over the last year-and-a-half to help coordinate efforts on Intermunicipal Transit.

People expect Niagara’s Cities, Towns, and Townships to share best practices, the find efficiencies, and to work together. These types of meetings should continue to help all to meet those goals.

Monday, July 10, 2017

“Ahead of schedule and under budget”

A couple of weeks ago, Bill Gibson, Chair of the Pelham Community Centre Oversight Committee, presented an upbeat update to Council.

Looking East into Accipiter Arena (from second floor)
You will recall that Council addressed suggestions from the public for proper project supervision by establishing Community Centre Oversight Committee. The committee includes two community members, one Council rep, and the Chief Administrative Officer. This committee works to ensure that the Town receives value-for-money in every aspect of the project, the project gets delivered on time and on budget, and to provide the community with consistent and timely updates.

Mr. Gibson provided updates on the two tender packages, project milestones, and finances.

The first tender package included pre-grading site work, building excavating, site servicing, foundation, structural steel, elevator and stairwell shafts, sprinkler system, roof deck, and hollow core slabs. Tender package two covered the concrete floors, reinforced steel (for masonry and slabs), interior/exterior masonry, spray insulation, roofing, insulated metal siding, zinc paneling, metal doors and frames, finish hardware, glazing, drywall/acoustics, dash boards, and seating. These two tender packages account for 77% of the total project.

Atrium Lobby (facing South)
Working as the construction manager, Ball Construction did not just tender the entire project. Rather Ball works with the committee, the architect, and the various contractors to manage the project’s timing and construction.

The presentation indicated that this value engineering process, led by Ball Construction, and the work of the committee, “has resulted in a project that, as of this date, has in excess of 75 percent of all sub contracts awarded (including work completed) which results in the project being ahead of schedule and under budget, including the 9,000 square feet of additional space.”

The presentation made clear that it was Ball Construction that suggested adding 9,000 square feet to the community centre in June 2016 to increase accessibility in hallways, common areas, and areas with heavy foot-traffic. They based this recommendation on their experience building more than 30 recreational / community centres in Ontario. Because it was so early in the process, the architect changed the plans well before issuing final drawings. Further, Ball signed on to the $32.5 million construction price cap in September 2016 – which includes these changes. Finally, since Ball tendered the project with these improvements, there will be no additional costs to improve the Centre.

Activity Centre (double gymnasium) looking South
The work is on target to enclose the building by the end of December, and for the project to be “substantially complete” by June 2018.

This construction update, the recent fundraising announcement – “Thanks a Million, Pelham” – and the recent signing of 5-year, binding agreements with major user groups demonstrates great progress!

Council and I look forward to the Pelham Community Centre becoming the place for residents of all ages to gather and enjoy a wide-variety of recreational, social, health and community activities for many, many years.

______________________________

Accipiter Arena - July 2017


Duliban Insurance Arena & Walker Industries Viewing Galleria - July 2017


Activity Centre (double gymnasiums) - July 2017


Dr. Gary & Mall Accursi Multipurpose Area - July 2017




To see recent videos and pictures the Pelham Community Centre construction process, please visit www.pelhammayordave.blogspot.ca. You may contact Mayor Dave at mayordave@pelham.ca.

_____________________________
14 July 2017 Correction: The initial post cited Mr. Bill Gibson as Bob. I apologize to Bill for the error, but greatly thank him for his service as Chair! D

Monday, July 3, 2017

Happy Canada 150, Pelham!

Happy Canada 150!

Saturday became our opportunity to celebrate being Canadian and to celebrate our great nation’s special birthday! But we also took the opportunity to celebrate and to appreciate all wonderful features about our Town.

Our Town parade showcased many of the elements that make our community special – from the commitment of the Pelham Fire Service, to our numerous sport teams, to our dedicated volunteers, to our many devoted service clubs.

We live in a peaceful, safe community with great schools, and many recreation opportunities. We enjoy clean water, wonderful libraries, and a great mix of fully-accessible neighbourhood and community parks.

We appreciate our dedicated police service, devoted volunteer firefighters, and expert emergency personnel who protect you and I from harm. We have fair access to good and affordable healthcare.

And, as we marked Canada Day, we also embraced our history and our collective individuality.

After surveying where the ancestors of more than 150 Pelham residents were in 1867, the Historical Society unveiled “Pelham Roots Go Deep” display. The display graphically shows – with locations as the roots of the Comfort Maple – the multitude of countries and areas that make up our past.

We also unveiled Pelham’s 150 Mosaic Mural – a combination of more than 400 individual tiles painted by residents of all ages and skill levels and signifying an important element of Pelham or themselves. Artists Lewis & Paul Lavoie and Phil Alain then rearranged the tiles to depict the Comfort Maple. This art work will be displayed in the new Pelham Community Centre next year. (To see the mural, please click here.)

Thanks to the many contributions to make Canada Day in Pelham so special!

Thanks to the Rotary Club of Fonthill & District for the free children’s activities; to the Fonthill Lions & Lioness Clubs for great food – including poutine; to members of Niagara Regional Police Service who directed traffic; to St. John Ambulance who were at the ready to help as needed; to Kirk on the Hill and AK Wigg School and Pelham Evangelical Friends Church for parade logistics. We also deeply appreciate our many generous sponsors, including Heritage Canada; Fonthill Volunteer Firefighters Association (for donation to the amazing fireworks); Niagara Peninsula Energy; Sawmill Golf Course; and Sobey’s Fonthill (for the delicious Canada Day cake).

Finally, thanks to the Canada Day organizing committee, including Fred Arbour, Rhys Evans, Marylou Hilliard, Sue Kicul, Bill King, Steve Pellerin, and Lance Wiebe, and to Town recreation and public works staff for all logistics.

As you and your family and friends continue to commemorate our country’s 150th Birthday, let us celebrate, and let us be thankful for our Town of Pelham and for our great nation. Happy 150 Canada!

Please read past columns at www.pelhammayordave.blogspot.ca and contact Mayor Dave at mayordave@pelham.ca.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Comparing Pelham’s Residential Taxes

If you pay your property taxes by installments, you will know that your third installment of your 2017 property tax bill comes due on Friday. With this deadline, why not “take stock” of Pelham’s property taxes and compare with other Cities and Towns?

You will recall that the amount of property tax you pay to the Town of Pelham, to the Region, and to the Province (for Education) is not solely based on the Market Value Assessment of your property by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC); one must multiply your assessment by each of these three tax rates and add them up for your total bill.

With the Region and the Province making some last policy changes and adjustments for rates and tax ratios, we now know that the combined property tax increase for an average residential property (which is valued at $316,400) in Pelham is 2.0%. Because of those changes, that’s actually a 0.3% decrease from what I reported to you in April.

You can consider this 2.0% a “pocket-book” increase – an increase in the amount it cost an average residential property owner by adjusting for the average MPAC increase.

How do we measure whether that amount is “affordable” or not?

One independent way to judge whether Pelham’s taxes are “affordable” is to compare with inflation. For example, the Bank of Canada calculated that, over the last 11 years (January to January), inflation increased the value of goods and services by 19.7%. Over the same period, Pelham’s combined taxes for the average residential property in Pelham increased by 19.7% – the same level as inflation. Notionally, that means that the average home is paying the same level of taxes in 2017 that they did in 2006.

And, this 19.7% includes the equivalent of approximately 1.1% (in 2016) to fund the Pelham Community Centre. And, it also includes our annual increases for improved infrastructure – approximately 1.7% over the last three years, for example – supporting new roads, pipes, and other capital improvements.

What about a more concrete way to judge? How about if we compare Pelham with other Niagara Cities, Towns, and Townships?

Last November, the Region published a table of non-blended property tax increases from 2010 to 2016 for local municipalities. If you start at zero and add up the cumulative increases from 2010, Niagara Municipalities increased their property taxes an average of 35% over the last seven years.

Pelham stands-out as the second lowest by increasing at 25% – including funding for the Community Centre in 2016. That’s 27% below the average increase. Only Grimsby was lower than Pelham (at 23%). Even the Region was higher than the Town, at 29% (if you don’t include the benefit of Provincial uploading).

Pelham Council and I continue to ensure that we only minimally impact you and other property tax-payers while we work to increase the level and quality of services in the Town.


Check out historic charts or read past columns at www.pelhammayordave.blogspot.ca. Please contact Mayor Dave at mayordave@pelham.ca.