Monday, February 12, 2018

Next Steps Toward Arena Property Renewal

Last week Council approved taking the next steps toward the plans to redevelop the existing Arena property on Haist Street.

You will recall that 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, 2017. 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.

So, last Monday, Staff officially presented a report with the recommendation to have Staff develop design guidelines, and official plan amendment and zoning bylaw amendment. Why? Beause by codifying it in this way we can help make the community’s preferred concept a reality.

For a copy of the preferred concept and the presentation to Council, please go to my online journal at www.pelhammayordave.blogspot.ca or the Town’s website www.pelham.ca.


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

Monday, February 5, 2018

Pre-Budget Consultation with Province

It was cool for Fonzie to live above the Cunningham's garage!
Last Monday, I had the honour of welcoming Yvan Baker, MPP (Etobicoke Centre), and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance as I presented first at the Province’s “Pre-Budget Consultation” in the Niagara Peninsula. Mr. Baker was joined by Jim Bradley, MPP (St. Catharines) in this public engagement.

Partner on Downtown CIPs:
I started by thanking the Government for their recent announcement of a $40 million over three years in Main Street Enhancement Funding, to help strengthen small businesses in downtown and enhance their digital presence. While Council has not yet seen detail on spending criteria for Pelham’s $50,000 share, we recognize the importance of Downtowns in our community. So, I also recommended that the Province partner with Cities and Towns in our “Community Improvement Plan” (CIP) incentives – to further enhance mixed-use buildings and businesses and help strengthen our sense of community. With more than one-third of Downtown Fonthill properties using our CIP incentives, you can really see the transformation and improvement!

Fund Recreation “Social Infrastructure”:
I also encouraged the Province to ask the Federal Government about their promise from a couple of years ago to partner with Provinces and Municipalities on “Social Infrastructure” – in particular for recreational and cultural facilities. I underscored that these facilities are the heart of communities and should be supported.

Transit Pilot:
I thanked the Government for funding Pelham in 2016 with the maximum grant to establish a Transit Pilot. You will recall that we established the system, tendered it to the private sector to operate, and increased our ridership. Pelham also partnered with Brock and Niagara College students. And, as a result of the Province continuing the grant another year, the ridership continues to increase. Staff are now reaching out to Wainfleet and West Lincoln to provide service. Since we are to apply again for a grant, I asked the Government to maintain funding for community transit pilot and operating expansions.

Accelerating GO Rail:
I also encouraged the Province to accelerate their timetable for the expansion of GO Rail into the Niagara Peninsula. You will recall that the Province announced in 2016 their proposal for GO Rail expansion – to Grimsby in 2021 and to Niagara Falls and St. Catharines by 2023. I reminded the Province about Niagara winning the bid for Canada Summer Games in 2021. I suggested that the Province and Niagara work together with CN Rail and Metrolinx to advance the roll-out of GO Rail to Niagara in time for Canada Summer Games.

Housing that’s Affordable:
As many folks call for more housing that’s affordable, I suggested that the Province could help financially encourage “Fonzie” units. What’s a “Fonzie” unit? You will recall that Fonzie on Happy Days lived above the Cunningham’s garage because it was affordable for him; the rent also helped that family with their mortgage, thereby making their housing costs more affordable. I pointed out that since the Province encourages Cities to allow secondary units and accessory building units in Zoning Bylaws, there could be an opportunity to also encourage more housing that’s affordable. I suggested that the Province look at ways to incentivize conversions or new construction to these units – through rebates or partial funding. They could use a similar mechanism to other conversion programs – like the Green Ontario Fund rebates to reduce energy costs with home improvements.

Promote Storm Water Separation:
Finally, I suggested that the Province should help reduce the impacts of climate change by helping to stop diluted sewage overflows. You see, in many historic communities, aged sewer systems also collect rain water; storm water and sewer systems are not separated like in newer areas (like in Pelham). As it rains more often and with greater intensity because of climate change, rain storms flood waste water plants, and operators must dump diluted sewage into natural lakes and streams. Sadly, Niagara dumped more than 1.1 billion litres of diluted sewage in 2017 because of storm overflows. Therefore, instead of funding increased sewer plant capacity, I encouraged the Province to prioritize storm water separation in their “Clean Water & Waste Water Fund.”

I appreciate the opportunity to present workable solutions to some of the issues in Pelham and across the Niagara Peninsula to Mr. Baker and Mr. Bradley.


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

Monday, January 22, 2018

Info Session for “East Fenwick” Saturday

Town Staff recently issued a notice about an upcoming information session regarding the East Fenwick Secondary Plan this coming Saturday, January 27, from 10:00 AM to noon at Pelham Fire Station #2. (For those unable to make the session, I will ask Staff to post materials on the Town’s website.)

This will be the third time that Town staff and planning consultants will provide information and updates of the study’s process, objectives, and the input received to date.

East Fenwick’s Secondary Plan has been explored by staff, consultants, and residents since last June, beginning with a visioning workshop followed by a design workshop. During these workshops residents had an opportunity to have their say in the plan. Town Council also received a progress report in late-November. (Please check out that presentation by clicking here.)

The project goals are to develop more detailed planning – called a Secondary Plan – for the East
Fenwick urban area that will provide the framework for permitting new development compatible with the character of Fenwick and consistent with Provincial, Regional and Local planning policies and legislation. This planning will also establish design guidelines for buildings, parks and streets and create a system of public space areas and linkages with natural heritage areas. Finally, the plan should also consider existing transportation and water /waste water infrastructure and suggest any improvements or upgrades.

Following this session, the Consultants will finalize the policies and mapping that will guide the implementation of the Fenwick Secondary Plan. They hope to complete this work in the Spring.

A number of folks keep asking me why we have to formulate these plans and why we have to let the property owners develop their lands.

The East Fenwick area – between Cream and Balfour Streets and Memorial and Welland Roads – was added to the area for urban development in 1987. That means that the property owners have had the right to develop the lands in an urban setting for more than 30 years!

We initiated this Secondary Plan" process so that the inevitable development might occur in a coordinated way and with public input.

Yet, the development must follow increased density targets from the Province. Why? So that communities make "more efficient use of land" in the urban areas – so that we can protect our rich agricultural land outside of the urban areas.

But, the consultants and the community are doing their best to "buffer" existing homes from some of the medium / higher density developments that might have to occur to meet the Provincial targets. That's why, for instance, Council approved the large-lot development on Balfour (between Canboro and Welland) – to mirror the type of larger lot home on the West-side of the street.

So, while it's not really a question of whether this area will develop at some point in the future, it's a question of what type of development that might occur. That’s where we can have an impact and work to best design the community. And, the way to have impact on the Plan is through this process.

Councillors and I will look forward to working together with the community as the Town develops the East Fenwick Secondary Plan.


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

Monday, January 8, 2018

Looking Forward in 2018

Happy New Year Pelham! Council, Staff and I look forward to 2018 as a year of social, cultural, recreational, and economic growth in the Town – moving us closer to being the most vibrant, innovative and caring community in Niagara.

Last year saw growth, prosperity, and many milestones to improving our community.

Because the community has been underserviced commercially for so long, many were pleased with the opening of the commercial developments along Regional Road 20 in Fonthill in 2017. This included new restaurants, a grocery store, a financial institution, retail outlets, and health services. Interestingly, these developments also account for approximately 175 new part- and full-time jobs in the Town. We look forward to a few more businesses opening in this area and in Uptown Fonthill later this year.

Our Downtowns improved and were key community gathering places last year too. After opening the renewed facility and increasing the hours and service, the number of patrons using the renewed Maple Acre Library in Fenwick tripled! Hundreds also celebrated in Downtown Fenwick with the “Green Street Challenge” in August – a multi-generational event on donated, fresh sod. “Fonthill Flats” and a few other exceptional renewals showcased our building fa├žade and residential intensification incentives at work in Downtown Fonthill. And, because of our dedicated volunteers, staff, and sponsors, Summerfest and other cultural events – like the Bandshell concerts and Suppermarket – continued as huge community successes last summer. We are committed to these community-defining events and look forward to additional developments in our Downtowns in 2018.

After the groundbreaking in late-2016, work continued in earnest on the Pelham Community Centre last year. Ball Construction oversaw the framing, construction, and “closing-in” of the new facility. They also poured both arena pads – ahead of schedule – and made great progress inside. The Oversight Committee continues their work and has assurances that Ball and Staff will complete the Centre on time – in the summer – and on budget.

As will be highlighted next month, our generous community pledged more than 50% of the Centre’s $3 million fundraising goal. We remain confident that other significant donations will be announced this spring and that a community campaign will follow shortly thereafter. (For more information, please go to www.ourpcc.ca.)

Last spring, we signed 5-year “memorandums of understanding” with six major community groups for their use of the new Pelham Community Centre. These binding agreements exceeded the Town’s revenue goals for the Centre and confirmed the demand for a second arena.

With this solid foundation, we will work with the community for a grand opening for the Community Centre this summer. We also look forward to basketball, figure skating, hockey, and so many other activities – from pickleball, yoga, tai chi, volleyball, walking clubs, community dinners, events and meetings – starting in our new gathering place this year! And, we will welcome back the Pelham Raiders Lacrosse Teams returning to play in the Town.

And, while she has served our community well over the last 40 years, it will be time to say goodbye to our existing Arena on Haist Street in 2018. We intend to activate the plan that the community developed for that site – by maintaining the existing parkland portion, linking the trails, and redeveloping the arena and outdoor storage area for new housing options.

Thanks to our ongoing investments and dedicated volunteers, the Town’s Silver “Bike Friendly” designation was reaffirmed in 2017 – the highest honour for Niagara communities. And, after 53-years, we linked EL Crossley to Uptown Fonthill via a safe walking / cycling path. Many such paths were also completed in the East Fonthill area as part of our community vision. And, following the dedication of key volunteers, Council approved an “Active Transportation Master Plan,” which lays the groundwork to make Pelham even more walkable and cyclable in the future.

We also look forward to the groundbreaking of a new affordable senior’s housing development behind the Food Basics in 2018. I understand that that since we announced this development in November, Parkhill received huge interest from the community for their +80-unit facility.

After the Town donated the use of 1.8 acres of land and the groundbreaking last September, we look forward to the opening of the new Wellspring Niagara Cancer Support Centre in 2018. This much-needed, regional support centre will allow Wellspring to serve cancer patients, their families and caregivers well into the future.

With this foundation of so many milestones last year, 2018 promises to be a great year of social, cultural, recreational, and economic growth in the Town. Best wishes to you for a healthy, happy, and prosperous new year!

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

Monday, December 18, 2017

“Big Pour” Milestone

Last Thursday, the construction of the new Pelham Community Centre (PCC) passed another milestone – the “Big Pour.”

You see, the Big Pour was when Ball Construction oversaw workers using a concrete pump truck and special laser leveling and polishing machines to continuously pour, level and smooth the floor of the Accipiter Arena in the PCC.

The set-up began weeks ago when workers smoothed sand across the leveled and prepared ground. Then, they weaved black heating pipe on top of the sand, and covered that with more sand. That heating pipe will circulate excess heat from the Ecco-Chiller ice machine along the ground to stop the build-up of permafrost.

I understand that permafrost isn’t too much of a problem in rinks that don’t have ice for one-third of the year – like the current Pelham arena. However, arenas that maintain ice into the spring and late summer or year-round, permafrost can build up and heave the concrete floor! A build-up of permafrost heaved the concrete ice-pads in the St. Catharines four-pad arena, for example, following a malfunction of the heating pipe / coil.

Then crews secured two layers of dense, “Ultra extruded” Styrofoam insulation across the sand. On top of the Styrofoam they weaved a lattice of pipes, rebar, and a metal frame that formed the core for the pad’s concrete floor.

Impressively, they checked and double-checked every square inch of the lattice and held the piping under high-pressure for three weeks so they could check the pipes, seals, and other materials. Since this passed the tests with flying colours, Ball Construction organized the Big Pour.

To ensure a constant supply of concrete for this continuous and seamless pour, Ball Construction not only secured an exclusive concrete supply from one plant, they also had another concrete factory on “stand-by” in case anything went wrong.

After the polishing and during the curing of the concrete, Ball Construction will cover the floor with water. When they slowly drain that water, they will note any high or irregular spots in need of further polishing – so that the floor will be as level as possible.

It was my honour to witness the Big Pour along with the Oversight Committee and some of the major fundraising donors to the Community Centre. And, I was delighted that two local, retired NHL players – Doug Freeland and John Stringer – also watched part of that Big Pour last week.

After this milestone and with 98% of the Centre tendered and because of the hard work of Ball Construction, all the trades and Town Staff and the Oversight Committee, the new Community Centre is on-budget and on-time to open next summer.

For more information about the multi-use facility that includes two arenas, a walking/running track, two large divisible gymnasiums, multipurpose community rooms and a spacious atrium, please go to www.ourpcc.ca or to www.pelham.ca/PCC.


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

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Welcome Home Pelham Raiders!

Why were a couple dozen lacrosse players marching proudly in their distinctive green and gold jerseys through Downtown Fenwick on Saturday? Because they participated in the annual Pelham Santa Claus parade to let everyone know they are moving back home.

That’s right, the Pelham Raiders are moving back to Pelham.

Originating in Pelham in 1967 as a “Canadian Centennial Project,” the Raiders moved to
Welland in 1997 because of the lack of facilities and the condition of the Pelham Arena. The small change rooms and the undersized, non-standard playing surface in our Arena just weren’t conducive to a growing, championship lacrosse league.

But, Ben Chambers, president of the Raiders Lacrosse Association, and the other dedicated Raider’s volunteer have said that the new Pelham Community Centre “…is going to be fantastic for us, and we’re very looking forward to it!” So much so that the Pelham Raiders signed a five-year, binding usage and rental agreement with the Town this past March.

Through the years, the Raiders have developed players who have gone on to win scholarships, play at American universities, and even advanced into professional careers.

Chambers announced to Council on November 6 that Pelham can once again get used to the Raiders moniker. “We found it very fitting that we announce, on our 50th anniversary that we are changing our name back to Pelham and from now on we’ll be known as the Pelham Minor Lacrosse Association,” he said.

In addition, the Raiders are looking forward to hosting again the largest and longest running “paperweight” lacrosse tournament in Ontario, labelled the “Paperweight Provincials” by other Associations. The special tournament for players four to six years old brings in 16 out-of-town teams to compete and learn. Now moving to the new facility, let’s hope the Raiders recent petition to the Ontario Lacrosse Association to expand the tournament to 24 or 32 teams gets approved; it would be great for the players and the community.

“It will be nice to move home to a community that is proud of us, and one that we can be proud to call home,” said Chambers recently.

I hope you join Council and I in welcoming the Pelham Raiders back home!


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

Monday, December 4, 2017

Another Seat or Start Reform?

This Thursday, Regional Council will host a public meeting and consider a bylaw to add an additional member. This would bring Council to a total of 31 members, plus the Regional Chair. In addition to the 12 Mayors, our governing body currently includes 18 directly elected Regional Councillors – 6 from St. Catharines, 3 from Niagara Falls, 2 from Welland and one each from Grimsby, Lincoln, Niagara on the Lake, Thorold, Pelham, Port Colborne, and Fort Erie.

West Lincoln Township Council initiated the process to add another member a few months ago by asking the Region to petition the Minister of Municipal Affairs to allow the discussion. The Minister got back to the Region this Fall with his consent – and that debate will occur at the Region this week.

If approved Thursday, a majority of the 12 City, Town, and Township Councils representing a majority of Niagara’s population would need to approve it by the end of the year to allow the change for the 2018 election. (This Regional / Local / Population formula is known as a “Triple-Majority” requirement.)

West Lincoln argues that they need another Councillor because their population is growing and their only representative – the Mayor – finds it difficult to cover all the work and adequately represent the people in the Township.

According to the 2016 Canadian Census, the Township’s population grew 4.8% from 13,837 in 2011 to 14,500 in 2016. This is less than the 15,275 that Pelham had in 2001 when an additional seat was added for the 2003 election. (This was also before I began serving as Mayor in 2006.) The only other time since the start of the Region in 1970 that Council added a seat was in 1978 – one more for St. Catharines.

Interestingly, this change would mean that 39% of the Peninsula’s population (in community’s less than 45,000 people) would hold 55% of the seats on Regional Council. And, 61% of the population living in Welland (52293), Niagara Falls (88,071), and St. Catharines (133,113) would elect only 45% of Regional Council.

This suggestion for an additional seat offers an opportunity to consider and discuss the size, make-up, and overall election of Regional Council.

Some, like the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce, have pointed out for years that the Niagara Peninsula is the “the most over-governed large census division in Ontario” and suggests a “more thorough inquiry into means by which the Regional government can be made more efficient and representative.”

I think we owe to each resident and business across Niagara to think more broadly and act more boldly on this issue and many other issues.

For example, instead of thinking 25 years into the future and planning for rapid bus transit or LRTs, we just adopted a “Transportation Master Plan” that codifies thinking from seven years ago. Or the Region’s Water & Waste Water Master Plan doesn’t even call for stopping billions of liters of diluted sewage overflows into our lakes and rivers over the next quarter-century. And, despite the importance of rich agricultural land, Regional Council hopes to expand urban boundaries and create more sprawl. We even recently bumbled into our “first-time-ever” Councillor expense policy that sadly sanctions some of the most flagrant past-practices.

So, instead of unthinkingly stumbling into this change, let’s start the work now to look at potential solutions to reform Council.

To build a better Niagara and to improve our quality of life across the Peninsula, we need to reform our systems to balance representation, accountability, transparency and strategic policies and planning. And, we need to have started yesterday.


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

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Christmas Spirit Arriving in Pelham

It’s beginning to look and feel a lot like Christmas – everywhere we go in Pelham.

The holiday spirit began early in Pelham when the Shoppes of Ridgeville hosted holiday open houses over the November 2-4 weekend. Then, the Fenwick United Church also got a jump on the season with Christmas crafts and gifts at their annual Fall Bazaar.

And, as if by the magic of St. Nick himself, Christmas street light decorations appeared throughout the Town this past week.

And, despite the rain last Wednesday, hundreds participated in the Holiday Gift Showcase & Downtown Stroll in Fonthill. Thanks to participating businesses and event organizers!

This past Saturday, I delighted in baked good, gifts, and crafts at the St. Ann’s Church and the North Pelham Presbyterian Church Christmas Bazaars, the Fonthill Lioness Kris Kringle “Quarter Auction” and the Rice Road Greenhouse Christmas Open House. But, that meant I couldn’t participate in the Fonthill United Church’s 14th Annual “Home for the Holidays” Christmas House Tour. I am informed that more than 450 people participated; congratulations to volunteers and organizers!

Over the upcoming weeks, some amazing community-minded volunteers will “spruce-up” the Town. While the rest of us are just waking up, these generous elves will decorate almost every utility pole and light standard in sight using evergreen boughs and red bows. So many of us appreciate their annual efforts!

Over coming weeks, Town Staff will also light-up much of Pelham – from Peace Park and the Bandshell in Fonthill, to Town Hall, to hydro poles in Pelham’s urbanized areas, to the flagpole and trees in Fenwick.

This Friday, the Fonthill Firefighters Association will start the turkey raffle tradition, followed closely by the Fenwick Firefighters on December 1. If you haven’t attended before, not only is it lots of great fun, it supports the efforts of the Firefighters.

And try to check out the amazing craft sale hosted by the Friends of Maple Acre Library – this Friday and Saturday – at the Fire Station #2 in Fenwick.

Thanks to “Christmas In Pelham” volunteers and Town staff for organizing another Outdoor Christmas Market under the Arches in Fonthill on December 1. Hope you can check out the venders, music, food, holiday beverages, and carriage rides from 4PM…including Santa and his number one helper.

Then, hundreds and hundreds will share the true spirit of generosity on December 2nd for the Annual Pelham Food Drive for Pelham Cares. I hope you can volunteer and also remember to place your non-perishable food items outside your door after 9AM. Thank you!

Then, the Fabulous Fenwick Lions are planning for Pelham’s annual Santa Claus Parade on Saturday, December 9 from 1 – 5 PM in Downtown Fenwick and at Centennial Park.

There’s so many other Christmas and Holiday events and activities across our wonderful Town – including the Christmas tree lighting in Fenwick on December 2 or the Fonthill Kinsmen Seniors Dinner on December 12 at Old Pelham Town Hall. Please check out posters throughout Town or the Town’s website at www.pelham.ca/Christmas for a complete listing.

Council and I thank all the community partners who help make these events possible and who encourage each of us to get ready to experience the joy of the spirit of Christmas this holiday season.

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

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.
______________

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

______________________
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.

______________________
UPDATE: November 21, 2017.

Council Clarifies September 5 KPMG Report
Calls for KPMG to include financial update in November 29 Audit Presentation


Amidst rumours and allegations, Pelham Town Council clarified the scope and scale of a KPMG Report that was presented to Council on September 5, 2017.

Passing a motion – with unanimous support – at the regularly scheduled meeting on November 20, Council addressed the allegations by a former Councillor, including the alleged secrecy of a “forensic audit” conducted without Council knowledge.

The Council motion clarified that a “forensic audit,” referred to and debated in various venues, was in fact a privileged report commissioned by the Town’s lawyers, prepared by KPMG in the context of litigation threatened by an identifiable individual, and presented during a closed meeting of council on September 5.

Through the motion, Pelham Council stated their desire to clear up misconceptions that have been lingering in the community since early November.

“Council hopes to alleviate the public’s concerns and to correct the record by asking KPMG to share all financial findings and conclusions as set out in the Report,” said Mayor Dave Augustyn. “Council is also asking KPMG to provide pertinent updates as part of their public presentation on November 29.”

Understanding the oath of office they took when elected requires strict adherence, Council sought legal advice to determine what information could and could not be shared with the public. Releasing the Report, in full, from September 5 could be a violation of the Municipal Freedom of Information Act, as it contains personal information of an identifiable individual.

The Town’s audited financial statements have been deemed accurate by Deloitte and can be found on the Town’s website.

The full motion reads:

WHEREAS former Town Councillor Marvin Junkin has allegedly stated to the Voice of Pelham and has alleged in an e-mail to Regional Councillor Tony Quirk dated November 12, 2017 that the Town has an additional $17,000,000.00 in debt and total debt of $59,000,000.00, that Mr. Junkin states is not disclosed on the Town’s annual audited financial statements;

AND WHEREAS Deloitte has assured the Town that the Town’s annual audited financial statements are accurate;

AND WHEREAS Mr. Junkin has inaccurately stated in an e-mail to Regional Councillor Tony Quirk dated November 12, 2017 that the Town caused a complete forensic audit to be conducted by KPMG and that the findings of such alleged complete forensic audit was presented during a closed meeting of Council on September 5, 2017;

AND WHEREAS a privileged report was commissioned by the Town’s lawyers and prepared by KPMG in the context of litigation threatened by an identifiable individual, which was presented during a closed meeting of Council on September 5, 2017 (the “Report”);

AND WHEREAS Mr. Junkin breached his oath of office by disclosing the existence of the Report;

AND WHEREAS the Town maintains its rights to litigation privilege over the Report;

AND WHEREAS some members of the community and some Regional Councillors have called for release of what they refer to as the KMPG forensic audit, but what is, in fact, the Report, as a result of the disseminated false information relating to an allegation of an additional $17,000,000.00 of debt and total debt of $59,000,000.00;

AND WHEREAS the release of the Report could be a violation of the Municipal Freedom of Information Act, as it contains personal information of an identifiable individual;

AND WHEREAS Council is desirous of clearing up the misconception and allegations of Mr. Junkin and maintaining an accurate record of the finances of the Town.

BE IT RESOLVED THAT:

The Town hereby directs the CAO to request that KPMG include in the forensic audit to be presented to Town Council on November 29, 2017, as permitted by its professional standards and reporting requirements, all of its financial findings and conclusions as set out in the Report, together with pertinent updates, with all personal information about an identifiable individual, information relating to employee negotiations, and advice that is subject to solicitor-client privilege removed.


__________________________
Update: December 1, 2017 from Town of Pelham website:

Hearing a report from KPMG on Nov. 29, facts presented to Council and the public provided a clear and accurate picture of the alleged misconduct related to parkland over-dedication and Town finances.

KPGM also confirmed that there is no unreported debt, the Town is within its debt repayment limit (even when including approved but not yet debentured debt of $9.9 million), and that no financial statements have been misstated.

"The dark cloud of several allegations hanging over Pelham has been lifted and proven untrue," said Mayor Dave Augustyn. "As the Town continues to experience prosperity and growth Town Council is committed to investing in smart growth and providing an enhanced and improved quality of life for all Pelham residents."

To review the presentations from Nov. 29, 2017, please view the documents below:

KPMG Presentation - November 29, 2017 

Treasurer Presentation - November 29, 2017