Sunday, November 12, 2017

Affordable, Seniors Housing Coming Soon to Pelham

Town Councillors and I were delighted to receive a presentation from representatives of Parkhill Property Corporation at Council last week.

You see, the Town recently approved an agreement with Parkhill to purchase Town-owned land for a seniors/affordable housing apartment building in East Fonthill.

The projected eight storey, 80-90-unit apartment-style building (made up of both one- and two-bedroom units) addresses two significant community needs – seniors housing and affordable accommodation. The agreement requires that two thirds of the units must be “rent-geared-to-income” -- which means the rent amount is based directly on the tenant’s income.

And, we sold the 1.48 acres of land – which is behind the Food Basics and west of the new Community Centre and the new Wellspring Niagara Cancer Centre – for $1.1 million. Not only will this central location allow residents to easily access the new stores and services and the Community Centre, they can also walk along the new trail network and park system. We also intend to link both Pelham Transit and Niagara Transit within close proximity to the building.

Chair Gail Hilyer and other representatives of the Pelham Seniors Advisory Committee (PSAC) attended the Council meeting to see the presentation and to meet the Parkhill reps. PSAC has been very active in working to get more of this type of housing option in Pelham so that more of our life-long residents stay in Town.

Ms. Oriana Mantello of Parkhill said that they want to provide the right services to their tenants while also complementing nearby amenities. She outlined preliminary plans for a salon/barber shop, library and games room, laundry facility, and fitness/exercise room. Though these features have not been confirmed, I find it impressive that Parkhill said that they want to work with the PSAC committee in the final design of the building.

Parkhill Properties is a family business that has been in operation for more than 40 years, with expertise in building residential communities and commercial centres. They operate at least one other apartment in the northern half of the Niagara Peninsula. You can find out more about them at their website: www.parkhillproperties.ca.

As more information becomes available, both Parkhill and the Town plan to add dedicated “pages” to our websites. Parkhill will also put together a waiting list over the next few months. Finally, we are delighted that they hope to break ground in the spring.

We appreciate working together with Parkhill to help meet this important community need. And – building on the excellent work of the Senior’s Advisory Committee – offering options and solutions for Pelham seniors, including more affordable housing, remains a priority for Council.
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You may view the Parkhill presentation as part of the video of the Town Council meeting starting at minute 12:00 here: https://www.youtube.com/embed/XVce_2h_FKk?rel=0

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

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Regarding a Council Resignation and Alleged Disclosure of Legal Information

It is disappointing that Mr. Junkin resigned his Council seat yesterday and gave up the privilege of serving the community.

It has now come to light that while he was still a Councillor, Mr. Junkin allegedly disclosed legal information from a Town Council closed session meeting regarding ongoing litigation.

Since Council is required by law to keep any and all information pertaining to that in camera meeting strictly confidential, neither I nor other Councillors, nor Staff can legally respond to the allegations made by the former Councillor, without potentially facing criminal or quasi-criminal charges.

Mr. Junkin made many allegations to a local newspaper and I very much look forward to correcting the inaccuracies as soon as legally possible.

Regrettably, his obvious political action of allegedly disclosing confidential information could have significant financial costs for the Town and our taxpayers.

Accurate information about Pelham’s financial position was always to be considered publicly later this Fall as part of the Town’s 2018 Budget deliberations, and we will follow through with that plan. Further information will also be considered as part of the KPMG audit of the Parkland Over-Dedication Agreement later this month.

Finally, Council will declare the Ward One seat vacant at our next regular meeting on November 20. After that, Council will consider options to fill the seat, which include holding a by-election or appointing a qualified citizen to represent his or her peers.

Sincerely yours,
Mayor Dave Augustyn

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UPDATE: November 10, 2017.

Pelham is vibrant, innovative, and caring. We are a Town that wins awards for our festivals, playgrounds, and plans. We’re bike-friendly, walkable, and seniors-friendly. We have vibrant downtowns and dedicated volunteers. We’re the new home for the Wellspring Niagara Cancer Centre and are now building a new Community Centre on time and on budget.

With characteristics like these, it’s no surprise that more people want to live here and more businesses want to open here. Our Town is flourishing.

Yet, managing growth and all that goes with it can be challenging, and change can be difficult for some people.

Recently, a former Councillor very publicly discussed subjects from a closed session of Council. Some residents are now asking questions about that closed session.

Part of the oath we take when elected into office actually prohibits us from disclosing any information about those “in camera” meetings. The closed session rules and the oath allow Council to discuss land, legal and labour issues. Ultimately these rules are intended to protect residents and taxpayers. As a result, neither I, nor Councillors, nor Staff can legally respond to the allegations or questions. Doing so could risk a lawsuit against the Town, result in criminal charges, and impact our finances.

That’s why I have called a special Council meeting on Wednesday, November 15 to consider the breach of confidentiality of the resigned and former member of Council.

We also recognize it is important for residents to have accurate information about Pelham’s finances and Staff work hard on that. It has always been slated to be part of the Town’s 2018 Budget deliberations.

In order to ease any concerns, therefore, I have called a special meeting of Council on Wednesday, November 29 to receive KPMG’s external audit, and to hear from the Town’s new Treasurer about the financial plan moving forward.

As Pelham continues to grow and flourish, Councillors and I are more committed than ever to respect our responsibilities, keep working hard to manage growth and the Town’s finances, and work together with you to improve our community.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Rededicating Ourselves to Peace

The weather on Sunday was mostly dreadful. The leaves on the ground and the chill in the air reminded us that Autumn was upon us. But the rain – at times nearly torrential – reminded us of what soldiers endured in the trenches in far-away lands.
Centennial Park, Fenwick

And yet, Pelham residents took time to gather with members of the Royal Canadian Legion and the Ladies Auxiliary, the 613 Army Cadets, the Pelham Fire Service, and others at the Cenotaphs at Centennial Park, Old Town Hall, and Peace Park and during a special church service at Fonthill United to commemorate and remember the sacrifices of Pelham’s Veterans.

Each Remembrance Day it is right to remember those brave men and women who have served, and who continue to serve our country during times of war, conflict, and peace.

We honour them for their courage, their commitment, and their devotion to standing “on guard” for Canada.

Old Pelham Town Hall, Ridgeville
The democratic freedoms that so many of us might take for granted – the freedom to express ourselves, to participate in cultural, religious, and political activities, to come and go as we please, to associate with whom we please, and to pursue a safe and happy life – are all due to the sacrifices of Veterans and those who serve today. They sacrificed their futures so that our future might be one of peace and happiness.

Yet, we must also recognize that war and conflict are man-made. They develop from traits inside each us and from our actions and inactions. War and conflict arise from those times when we have not sought justice, from those selfish moments when we have deadened our spirit to the needs and to the sufferings of others.

Instead of allowing those negative qualities to grow, let us strive to listen to each other with an open mind. Let us reopen our hearts to the needs of others. And, let us rededicate ourselves to peace and justice in our community and around our world.

Engraved on the cenotaphs throughout our Town are the names of those from Pelham that were killed in service. May their memories also be engraved in our minds and on our hearts.
Peace Park, Fonthill

Please consider joining in this year’s Remembrance Day commemoration this coming Saturday at Veteran’s Park at the Royal Canadian Legion on Regional Road 20, starting at 10:45AM.

As we celebrate our freedom together and commemorate Remembrance Day, let us be thankful. Let us never forget. And let us rededicate ourselves to justice and to peace.

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

Monday, October 30, 2017

Volunteers are the Heart of Pelham!

We hosted one of Council’s and my favourite events last week – the Town’s annual Volunteer Appreciation. That’s when we thank the Town’s key volunteers for their hard work and dedication to improving our Town and for embodying the vision of a vibrant, innovative, and caring community.

During the event, I looked back over the last year to demonstrate how volunteers are the heart of our Town.

First, volunteers organize and run our Town’s significant public events. The Fonthill Bandshell Concert Series celebrated their 12th Season with the best talent, the largest crowds, and serving as a huge benefit to small town feel of Pelham. The Fenwick Lions & Lioness members hosted the Classic Car Raffle this fall and sold more than 7,000 tickets to support seeing eye dogs. With growing membership, the Fonthill Lions & Lioness welcomed drone racing, organized the very successful and fun Sliderfest with pledges to support the “Lions Lift” elevator in the Pelham Community Centre.

In addition, the members of the Canada Day Committee expanded the Canada Day celebrations to encompass Canada 150 commemorations and put together a wonderful event. And, the dedicated members of Pelham Summerfest helped maintain our small-town feel while hosting the most participants yet – more than 40,000 people attended the four-day festival – and being named one of the Top 100 Festivals in Ontario.

Second, other dedicated people volunteer with sport. For instance, because of its selfless volunteers, the Pelham Minor Basketball Association is the best and largest basketball association in all of Niagara; they are looking forward to the Community Centre become a home for their champion players. The Pelham Platform Tennis volunteers are seeing a resurgence of sport and are working with the Town to stay in their current location at the existing Arena on Haist Street.

Amazingly, the Pelham Minor Baseball Association volunteers had to cope with huge growth in participants this year – more than 36% increase in players – which stretched their resources.

And, the Pelham Minor Hockey Association celebrated 50 years of hockey in Pelham by growing their participation and making a significant donation to Community Centre.

At the same time, the Niagara Centre Figure Skating and the Welland Raiders Lacrosse (soon to be Pelham Raiders again!) both decided to bring their sport back to Pelham and use the Community Centre as their home.

Third, let’s not forget members of our service clubs who work to enhance community. For instance, the Kinsmen continue to enhance and expand their charitable activities – like the Home Show, Craft Show, and Citizen of the Year – while making a donation to name the multi-purpose room in new Community Centre. And the Rotary Club not only worked to eradicate polio from our world, but they also raised funds for Wellspring Niagara and expanded their efforts to involve young people. And, the Royal Canadian Legion members continue to host more and more events at their Hall – which is always booked – and also continue to support and honour our community’s veterans.

Fourth, other volunteers serve on various Town Committees and work to ensure that our Town is progressive and forward thinking. For instance, the Library Board not only oversaw expanded services and the opening of the new Maple Acre branch, but also work to ensure the Library constantly innovates and grows. The Seniors Advisory Committee worked to organize of a Regional age-friendly conference and developed a successful nomination for the World Health Organization to designate Pelham as an Age-Friendly Community. Then there’s the members of the Active Transportation Committee who developed an Active Transportation Master Plan to increase walking and cycling infrastructure and also initiated four “Slow-Roll” cycling events.

And, so many others volunteers across Pelham to continue to enhance many activities and efforts to improve our Town.

That’s why we also presented the “Peer Award” at the event as a special way of recognizing outstanding individuals among these amazing volunteers. Each community-based group or organization in Pelham nominated one of the most exemplary volunteers from among their group of exceptional volunteers.

We offered our deep appreciation and congratulations to each of the Peer Award recipients: Shirley Krysa, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 613; Shawn Ryan, 613 Lincoln & Welland Regiment Army Cadet Corps; Fred Arbour, Pelham Farmers Market; Frank Adamson, Rotary Club of Fonthill; Deborah Rollo, Pelham Seniors Advisory Committee; Patti Keller, Fonthill and District Kinettes; John Swart, Pelham Active Transportation Committee; Candy Ashbee, Pelham Summerfest Committee; Lannie Seddon, Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council; Lance Wiebe, Canada Day Committee; Tina Sidler, Fonthill Lions; Pat Norton, Fonthill Lioness; Jacinthe Langlais, Pelham Cares; Len Doyle, Fonthill & District Kinsmen; Marjorie Tuck, Pelham Horticultural Society; Craig Gemmel, Pelham Minor Baseball Association; Natalia Shields, Pelham Art Festival.

Congratulations to these and all volunteers in Pelham! You serve as the heart of our community!

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

Monday, October 23, 2017

Working Together to Renew Haist Street Property

The Town’s 2017 budget included funds to hire a planning and design firm to work together with the community to discuss and design redevelopment options of the existing Arena property on Haist Street.

Since 2017-18 will be the last ice season in the existing arena, Council prudently began planning for the future of the property. This included not only this work, but also funding a renovation of the Town’s Tice Road Operations Centre to accommodate parks and cemeteries staff (who currently work from the Haist property).

The Planning Partnership won the bid for the redesign work and started with two “community co-design” sessions at the Arena this past June. Representatives from user groups, neighbours, and interested residents worked in three design groups to develop 12 concept plans. Based on the discussions and work, each plan looked at ways to keep as much greenspace as possible, provide trail connections, minimize impacts on existing residential uses, and improve existing parkland features.

The firm then reviewed the concepts and gleaned them into five “explorations”: single detached houses; central park; rear-laneway townhouses and singles; front driveway townhouses; and apartments. Each of these options were posted online for public feedback. 120 survey respondents preferred some features in the explorations over others – including no change in the park and to only consider residential development in the area around the existing Town buildings and parking lot.

The Planning Partnership tested an “emerging preferred concept” at a community workshop in September. While suggesting some improvements – like ensuring that any new lighting doesn’t shine on existing properties – the majority of participants liked the plan. Why? The plan suggested no change in the location of the open spaces (soccer fields), the playground, or the platform tennis. The plan also maintained the wooded area along the western edge of the property and constructs a walking trail. Further, the concept blended townhouses and single-family homes – similar to housing in the surrounding neighbourhood.

During this process, a few folks strongly expressed a desire “that nothing be done with respect to this property until after the new east Fonthill community center be opened and that it's 1st year of operation is proven.” Realistically, the status quo option is neither judicious nor responsible. Obviously, there’s no going back from building and operating the new Community Centre. And, since we know that no one will be using the Town buildings (aside from paddle tennis) after August 2018, it’s Council’s responsibility to plan and prepare for the future.

So, this “emerging preferred concept” was presented to and discussed by Council on October 10. Ultimately, we approved proceeding because the concept responds to community desires by maintaining green areas and park amenities, creating a connected trail system, and calls for similar type of housing. The concepts also provides two points of entrance, increases safety through “eyes on the park” from the housing, and offers lane-based and attractive townhouses.

Now, the Planning Partnership will work with Staff to develop design guidelines, and official plan and zoning standards which will help make the community’s preferred concept a reality.

For a copy of the preferred concept and the presentation to Council, please click here.


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

Monday, October 16, 2017

How should we use your money in 2018?

Do you have any suggestions on how the Town should use your money to improve our Town?

Council will begin our 2018 budget process with a special public meeting where we listen to you and other members of the community about what you would like to see in next year’s and future budgets. That meeting will occur on Monday, October 23 at 6:30 PM in the Council Chamber at Town Hall.

Pelham Council first started this type of a “pre-budget consultation” eleven years ago – for the 2007 Budgets. We continue each year to welcome residents, representatives of sports teams, service clubs, and committees, and businesses and property tax payers to provide input and ideas.

I am pleased that, following Council deliberations each year, we have been able to follow-through on most of the suggestions offered by your friends and neighbours. In previous years, folks have requested a dog park, a skate park, sidewalks along a number of roads, crosswalks, sport field improvements, sidewalk snow clearing on every sidewalk in Town, partnerships on service club signs, and a new community centre. Town Council discussed each of these requests, and most have been approved or are scheduled in future budgets.

That’s why we are undertaking this consultation process again. Council and I want to hear directly from you about your needs, wants, and ideas for our Town. Our community improves when more and more people become involved in its success!

And, this is just the start of our 2018 budget discussions:
Pre-Budget Consultation – beginning October 23, 2017;
Draft Capital, Operating, Water & Waste Water Budgets available to the public – December 1;
Draft Capital, Operating, Water & Waste Water Budgets presented to Committee of the Whole – December 4;
Council consider approving Capital, Operating, Water & Waste Water Budgets – December 18;

We usually seek to approve the Capital Budget before the budget year starts – so that we might tender large capital projects earlier than other Cities & Towns. This has worked effectively in the past.

New this year: Staff will be recommending the Operating and Water & Waste Water budgets early as well – to get them approved before we actually start the budget year.

Would you prefer to provide written input?  Simply send a letter via email to a special email address:  ourbudget@pelham.ca. You will also soon be able to view background budget information at the Town’s website: www.pelham.ca/en/services/Budgets-and-Reports.aspx

Not internet savvy? You can also provide written comments via normal mail c/o Town Clerk, Town of Pelham, 20 Pelham Town Square, P.O. Box 400, Fonthill, ON   L0S 1E0. You can also simply drop a letter off at Town Hall.

We hope to hear from you and look forward to discussing your ideas so that we can continue to build a better future for our Town together.

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

Monday, October 2, 2017

Comparing Pelham’s Household Income & Status

You may recall that I wrote here in June about Pelham’s population growth through the years. I based that analysis on previous Censuses.

A couple of weeks ago, Statistics Canada released another round of data from the 2016 Census of Population. These new data provided information on individual, family and household income for various levels of geography and demographic groups.

I find it not only interesting to examine the Pelham data, but to also compare Pelham with the Niagara Region (including Pelham) or with other Cities, Towns, or Townships in the Peninsula.

For example, in 2015, the median total income of households in Pelham was $95,052. This was the highest across all of Niagara! The next highest were Grimsby at $93,145, West Lincoln at $91,325, and Lincoln at $86,816. Across all of Niagara, the median total income of households stood at $65,086 in 2015 – nearly $30,000 less than Pelham.

But, that’s “median” income of all households in Pelham – the middle number across the distribution of all household incomes. What does that distribution look like and how does it compare with Niagara?

According to Statistics Canada, 46% of households in Niagara earned less than $60,000 in 2015; in Pelham, however, only 27% earned less than $60K. Those households in the next income range – from $60,000 to $124,999 – were 36% across all of Niagara and 39% in Pelham. However, there’s a huge difference in the next income bracket: 18% of households in Niagara earned $125,000 or more; compare that to Pelham where 34% of households earned more than $125,000 –nearly double the amount across Niagara.

Statistics Canada also tracked persons with low income. A single person was considered low-income if their after-tax income measure was below $22,460 in 2015. Stats Canada used a slightly higher number for larger households.

In 2015, 5.4% of Pelham’s population – or approximately 925 people – were considered low-income. We were the lowest percentage in the Region. Stats Canada shows Grimsby at 6%, West Lincoln at 7.1%, and Lincoln at 7.2%. But, the number is very high – 17.5% – for both Welland and St. Catharines. The Census reported 14.5% of people in Niagara Region were low income; this compared to Ontario, at 14.4%, and Canada, at 14.2%.

Finally, folks reporting being married or living common-law is also an interesting comparison. For example, Stats Can reported 67% of Pelham’s total population were either married (61%) or living with a common-law partner (6%). The remaining 33% were not married and not living with a common-law partner, including those who were single (never-married), separated, divorced or widowed. Across the Region, 57% of the total adult population were either married (48%) or living with a common-law partner (9%); and 43% were not married or living with a common-law partner.

Perhaps you suspected some of this information about our Town. Or, perhaps not. If you want to find out more, check out other info about Pelham at http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/as-sa/fogs-spg/Index-eng.cfm

I intend to write more about housing, education, and employment in Pelham after Statistics Canada releases that data over the next two months.


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

Monday, September 25, 2017

Recommending an Audit, but Refusing the Money

Niagara Regional politics got even stranger last week when a Niagara developer offered a lot of money – $50,000 – to the Niagara Region Audit Committee. His proposal was to get the Committee to recommend that Regional Council ask Pelham Council to audit two Town matters – a parkland over-dedication transaction and development charge credit agreement.
Developer Rainer Hummel holds an envelope during Regional
Audit  Committee meeting that he said contained a cheque
for $50,000 to pay for an audit of the
Town of Pelham finances. Credit: POSTMEDIA

You will recall that some Regional Councillors started questioning Town issues on March 30, 2017 when Regional Councillors Barrick (Port Colborne) and Gale (Niagara Falls) put forward a motion that included 13 accusations about Pelham’s debt, finances, and property taxes. Why at the Region? They said the Region could talk about Pelham because the Town’s debt might impact the Region’s Standard & Poor’s AA Credit Rating. This was later disproved since the 2017 S&P report shows that the Region could borrow an additional $282 million before risking a credit rating downgrade.

Town Staff responded with a 335-page comprehensive report that refuted each of the 13 claims in the motion. Yet, instead of letting me respond to the March 30 motion as Pelham’s rep, a majority of Regional Council referred the matter to a June meeting of the Regional Audit Committee.

On April 3, Town Council reviewed and endorsed the Town’s response to the Regional motion. Worried that Pelham residents might have questions, Council directed Staff to organize an “Evening with the Experts.” About 100 people attended the panel discussion on April 24, with 17 people asking questions of Town Staff and professional advisors.

Then Town Staff attended and answered all questions at the June 12 Regional Audit Committee meeting. Despite my insistence that the Region has no jurisdiction in Town matters, Committee Chair Quirk (Grimsby) allowed specific questions about Pelham including parkland over-dedication, property purchases, water and tax rates, development charges and credits, library budgets, and cemetery fees. After these Town responses, the Audit Committee approved a motion that removed all references to Pelham.

When that revised motion went to the June 29 Regional Council meeting, Rainer Hummel, a Niagara developer, made numerous accusations about Pelham regarding a parkland over-dedication and a development charge credit agreement with Fonthill Gardens. Despite my request, the Regional Chair refused to recognize that the presentation was outside the Region’s jurisdiction. Following the presentation, a majority of Regional Council referred the matter to the September 18 Regional Audit Committee.

After Sept. 18, 2017 Audit Committee, I chatted with
Rainer Hummel for the first time. Credit: VOICE PHOTO
During the September 5 Town Council meeting, Staff and Callum Shedden, the Town’s lawyer, reviewed and refuted each of the claims made by Mr. Hummel. Mr. Shedden also confirmed that the Region has no jurisdiction in these matters under the Ontario Municipal Act. The Town published the accusation’s disproof and posted information about parkland over-dedication at www.pelham.ca/ParklandFAQ.

Town Council sent a strongly worded motion and Mr. Shedden to outline the Region’s lack of jurisdiction to the September 18 Audit Committee meeting. Instead of heeding the legal advice, the majority of the Audit Committee voted to allow Mr. Hummel to speak again. During his presentation, Mr. Hummel admitted to never raising his concerns with the Town or myself directly. Instead, he said he had a cheque for $50,000 for the Region to pay for the Town to undertake an audit of the parkland over-dedication and development charge credit agreement.

The committee “endorsed” the funds and recommended that Regional Council ask the Town to undertake an independent audit, but with the involvement of Mr. Hummel and Regional Staff.

I have thought a lot about and spoke to many people about this matter since last week.

For example, neither Town Staff nor Fonthill Gardens fear an audit, because it will then clearly show that all parties handled the parkland over-dedication and credits appropriately and legally. Some folks asked me why the Region’s Audit Committee was baited by the cash and agreed to the involvement of a developer in what should be an independent process. Others still cannot understand why some Regional Councillors interfere in Pelham business.

I will recommend to Pelham Council, therefore, that we initiate an independent, third-party audit of all transactions and documents related to the 3.3-acre Parkland Over-Dedication to the Town by Fonthill Gardens and a 2015 Development Charge Credit agreement between the Town of Pelham and Fonthill Gardens. While I am certain that we followed all laws and appropriate policies with these transactions, I hope than an independent audit will help satisfy those with questions.

Yet, I will not recommend that Pelham Council accept the lure of the money. I believe it is ethically inappropriate to accept the $50,000 because it sets an unacceptable precedent of granting wealth great influence and privilege in municipal decision-making. Further, it is beneath the high-standard that the public expects from Town and Regional Councillors and Staff.

Watch for Town Council to discuss these types of motions at our next meeting.

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

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Update: Monday, October 2, 2017

Pelham Council approved proceeding with an independent, third-party audit. Council also refused the "cash to influence" offer.

Here are the approved motions:


Initiate an Independent, Third-Party Audit of Parkland Over-Dedication and 2015 Excess Parkland Dedication Agreement

WHEREAS the Council and Staff of the Town of Pelham pride themselves in being open and transparent; and

WHEREAS the Town has provided complete details and answered all questions generated by some members of Regional Council and some members of the community by presenting a 335-page comprehensive response document and addendum to a March 2017 motion at Regional Council, answering all citizen questions during an “Evening with the Experts” panel, and disproving all claims and accusations made by a Niagara developer at Regional Council; and

WHEREAS despite these answers and complete documentation, some members of the local community continue to ask questions about the 3.3-acre Parkland Over-Dedication to the Town by Fonthill Gardens and a 2015 Excess Parkland Dedication Agreement between the Town and Fonthill Gardens; and

WHEREAS Deloitte Canada has provided the Town with independent, third-party audits of the Town’s financial statements for the last six years with “unmodified Independent Auditor’s reports” that are “free from material misstatements”; and

WHEREAS KPMG Canada would be an acceptable supplier of services to the Town of Pelham having ranked second in the 2016 tender by Pelham for independent, third-party auditing services;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT Pelham Town Council directs Staff to RETAIN forensic auditing experts with KPMG Canada to undertake an independent, third-party audit of all transactions and documents related to the 3.3 acre Parkland Over-Dedication to the Town by Fonthill Gardens and a 2015 Excess Parkland Dedication Agreement between the Town of Pelham and Fonthill Gardens; and

THAT KPMG Canada PRESENTS a public report of their findings, with costs to undertake the audit, directly to Council at a meeting before the end of November 2017; and

THAT this resolution be CIRCULATED to Niagara Regional Council for their 5 October 2017 meeting, to all Niagara municipal Councils, to all Niagara MPPs, to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, to local news media and to KPMG Canada, and posted on the Town’s website.


Refusal of Cash to Influence Offer

WHEREAS the Council and Staff of the Town of Pelham pride themselves in being open and transparent; and

WHEREAS the Town has provided complete details and answered all questions generated by some members of Regional Council and some members of the community by presenting a 335-page comprehensive response document and addendum to a March 2017 motion at Regional Council, answering all citizen questions during an “Evening with the Experts” panel, and disproving all claims and accusations made by a Niagara developer at Regional Council; and

WHEREAS despite these answers and complete documentation, some members of Niagara Regional Council and a Niagara developer continue to accuse Pelham Council and Staff of impropriety regarding a 3.3-acre Parkland Over-Dedication to the Town and a 2015 Excess Parkland Dedication Agreement with the Town; and

WHEREAS Pelham Council unanimously approved a motion to send the Town lawyer to the September 18, 2017 Regional Audit Committee to clarify that the Municipal Act does not grant Niagara Region jurisdiction in these Town matters; and

WHEREAS during that meeting some members of the Regional Audit Committee ignored the fact that the Region does not have jurisdiction, yet persisted in asking detailed questions about Pelham transactions and made accusations of impropriety; and

WHEREAS the Regional Audit Committee accepted and endorsed a cheque from a Niagara developer for $50,000, and recommended to Regional Council that it request Pelham Council to consider using those developer funds to undertake an audit of Town transactions; and

WHEREAS the Audit Committee motion compromised the independence of such an audit by specifying the involvement of the developer, the Regional Audit Committee members, and Regional staff in the audit; and

WHEREAS the Niagara Regional Council Code of Conduct demands that members shall observe the highest standard of ethical conduct and are expected to “Act honestly, independently, impartially, with discretion…” and to “Conduct themselves in a way that maintains and promotes the public’s trust in the Regional Municipality of Niagara;” and

WHEREAS accepting these funds would grant wealth great influence and privilege in municipal decision-making and goes against the Values of the Town of Pelham; and

WHEREAS, to us, accepting money from a developer is behaviour which is beneath the high-standard that the public expects from members of the Regional Audit Committee, and Regional Council generally;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT Pelham Town Council unequivocally REJECTS the inappropriate request by the Region’s Audit Committee to influence Town actions; and

THAT Pelham Town Council REAFFIRMS its jurisdiction over Town of Pelham matters and REQUESTS Regional Council to reaffirm the “Spheres of Jurisdiction” between regional and local municipal corporations as legislated by the Ontario Municipal Act; and

THAT this resolution be CIRCULATED to Niagara Regional Council for their 5 October 2017 meeting; to Mr. Rainer Hummel, the Niagara developer; to all Niagara municipal Councils; to all Niagara MPPs; to the Minister of Municipal Affairs; and to local news media; and posted on the Town’s website.



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Update: Friday, October 6, 2017

Pelham Retains KPMG Canada for Third Party Audit

On October 2, 2017, at the regularly-scheduled Town of Pelham Council meeting, Town Council retained KPMG Canada to conduct a third party audit of all transactions and documents related to the 3.3 acre parkland over-dedication to the Town by Fonthill Gardens and a 2015 excess parkland dedication agreement between the Town and Fonthill Gardens.

The Town is encouraging all those with questions to submit them directly to the forensic auditor, Karen Gorgan, senior vice-president of KPMG Forensic Inc.

Questions and concerns will be acknowledged with a receipt of submission, but will not be responded to directly. Instead, the questions submitted will be addressed and noted in the report without names.

“Town of Pelham Council recognized that there are many questions from the community regarding parkland over-dedication,” said Mayor Dave Augustyn. “To make the audit completely independent, Pelham Town Council has retained KPMG Canada to undertake an independent, third-party audit of all transactions and documents related to the parkland over-dedication and the development charge credit agreement.”

Any comments, questions, and concerns can be sent to townofpelhaminfo@kpmg.ca up until October 17, 2017.

KPMG Canada has been asked to report their findings, publicly and directly to Council at a meeting prior to the end of November 2017.

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!”

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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.

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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.