Monday, October 31, 2011

Christmas Season in Pelham


I cannot imagine the Christmas Holiday Season being busier than in Pelham! Businesses, service clubs, volunteers, and artists have nearly two months of activities planned this year.

Christmas Open Houses in Fonthill & Ridgeville – November 2 & 3:
The “Holiday Gift Showcase & Downtown Stroll” in Downtown Fonthill on November 2 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM will include original gift ideas in fashion, jewellery, lingerie, specialty food products, home d├ęcor, travel trends, and delicious foods.

Then, on November 3, all the Shoppes of Ridgeville will host their 10 Annual Holiday Open Houses. This is a chance to check-out the original gift ideas available at this enclave of four local specialty boutiques.

Fine Art Tours – November 5 /6 and 12 / 13:
Pelham is known as a Town with many talented artists and now is a great time to showcase their talents. On November 5 & 6, four artists – Beverly Sneath, Kimberly Makkreel, Divino Mucciante, and Eddy Papez – open up their home studios so you can see their work. The following weekend, you can meet ten juried artists – including Pat Haftar, Monique Mulder-Wallace, Lynda Carr, Mary Powley, Maria Cozzi, and Toye Chanpen Hayes – in six studio locations. This one will be a free self-guided tour.

Turkey Raffles – November 18, 25, & December 2:
Turkey Raffles are another wonderful Christmas Tradition in Pelham. Not only a chance to win a turkey or ham, these raffles also bring the community together for fun and revelry. The Royal Canadian Legion holds theirs on Friday, November 18. The Fonthill Volunteer Firefighters hosts one the next Friday on November 25, while the Fenwick Volunteer Firefighters holds theirs on December 2.

Christmas House Tour – Saturday, November 19:
The annual "Homes for the Holidays" Christmas House Tour will feature six homes beautifully decorated homes in the Fonthill-area. Hosted by the Fonthill United Church between 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM, the tour is supported by many local businesses.

Annual Pelham Food Drive – Saturday, December 3:
The Food Drive is an annual tradition that shows the generosity of the community and helps those less fortunate. Please volunteer and / or place non-perishable food items at your door for Pelham Cares.

Senior’s Christmas Party – December 6:
This will be the 50th Year of the Kinmen’s Senior’s Christmas Party! Enjoy the camaraderie, sing carols, and meet Santa.

Santa Claus Parade – Saturday, December 10:
Another holiday tradition! Enjoy the Parade through Downtown Fenwick and then meet Santa and celebrate in Centennial Park.

Please watch our local media for more information about each of these community events.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Should We Appoint or Hold A By-Election?

Regional Council will need to decide on how to fill a vacancy.

Since Cindy Forster was elected as the Welland MPP on October 6, she resigned from Regional Council. She held that role since December 2006 and was handily re-elected during last fall’s municipal election.

On October 27, Regional Council will formally accept her resignation and officially declare her seat vacant.

The Municipal Act provides two options to fill the vacancy:

First, Regional Council may appoint an “eligible” person within 60 days of declaring a seat vacant. An eligible person includes someone who consents to the appointment, and is a Canadian citizen who is at least 18 years old and resides in Niagara.

Second, Council may hold a by-election. An eligible candidate would have to fulfill the same criteria as above. Because Niagara’s Towns and Cities organize municipal elections, the City of Welland would run a by-election. Media reports indicate that Welland City staff guesstimate that a by-election could cost as much as $100,000; those costs would be borne by the Region, not the City.

Vacancies on Councils have occurred before. Prior to making its decision and in a spirit of collegiality, Regional Council usually seeks the advice of the City or Town Council about their preferred method of filling the vacancy.

For example, when Rob Nicolson – one of three Niagara Falls Regional Councillors – was elected as Niagara Falls MP in 2004, Regional Council sought the advice of the Niagara Falls Council; interestingly, the City Council did not offer a preferred method to fill the vacancy.

When Mike Collins passed away in 2009, the Region asked St. Catharines Council for input; they suggested that Regional Council appoint the next candidate – Carlos Garcia – from the long list of those who ran for the six St. Catharines seats.

On the advice of Grimsby Council, Regional Council appointed Bob Bentley – a Town Councillor at the time – to fill the vacancy created when Debbie Zimmerman was elected Regional Chair; then, Grimsby held a by-election to fill their vacant Council seat.

Finally, you will recall that following the resignation of Debbie Urbanowicz from Pelham Council last spring, Pelham held a by-election to fill the vacancy; Richard Rybiak won that June election.

Before the issue comes to the Region, I am very interested in hearing your views; quite frankly, since this new Councillor will serve Welland, I am most interested in hearing feedback from Welland residents directly at mayordave@pelham.ca. (You can also call me at 905-892-2607 ext. 317.)

Residents may also contact their Councillors directly; for their contact information, please go to www.welland.ca or www.niagararegion.ca.

UPDATE -- As of November 1, 2011:
I have received responses from 46 Welland residents regarding the issue of filling the vacancy.

30 (65%) said they wanted a by-election
8 (17%) said they wanted the third place candidate in the Regional Council election
8 (17%) said they wanted an appointment, but suggested someone else than the next candidate -- some of these said definitely not the third place candidate, others suggested a Welland City Councillor, and the rest named various other people.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Procedural Rules Matter


Have you ever been part of a formal meeting that followed meeting guidelines like Robert’s Rules of Order?

We use strict rules at Town Council and at Regional Council to advance public business on your behalf. For example, our meetings follow specific agendas, and the “first order of business” is to approve that agenda. The Clerk keeps accurate meeting notes and we approve those “minutes” at the next meeting. A motion must be “moved” and “seconded” before we even discuss it.

In addition, we use a committee system. Whatever a Committee decides is then “recommended” to Council for approval. But, Council can actually change that recommendation altogether, and, once approved by Council, a decision or action becomes final.

We follow other rules as delineated in a “Procedural Bylaw.”

Well, a very interesting debate recently occurred at the Region that highlights the importance of knowing this process and these procedures.

You see, during the Public Works Committee meeting on September 27, we considered a staff report regarding a new development called “Cannery Park” on the former CanGro lands in Niagara-on-the-Lake. While a developer has upgraded a portion of the former operation and is successfully running a cold-storage facility, he also wants to rezone the surrounding lands and build 238 homes.

While supportive, Staff recommended continuation of an Ontario Municipal Board appeal so that the Region could negotiate a proportional cost-sharing agreement on behalf of taxpayers. This agreement would cover between $1.8 and $2.3 million of costs to upgrade and widen the Regional Road and to direct home construction away from an existing sewage pumping station.

A majority of the Committee disagreed and, wanting to “roll out the red carpet” and “speed-up” the process, voted down the recommendations. Then, after further debate, the Committee recommended to Council that Staff negotiate with the developer and have more information for our October 18 Committee meeting.

On October 6, Council debated the Committee’s recommendations; then, following a series of amendments and recorded votes, the majority of Council – and notably many of those who quite vocally wanted to give fast, carte blanche approval – postposed action on the entire matter “until October 19.”

But, since the deferral is to a day following the Public Works Committee meeting, we cannot actually deal with the matter until our Council meeting on October 27.

It’s unfortunate when the real issues – like the appropriateness of a development, or the mitigation of additional costs to taxpayers – are lost because of the misunderstanding and misuse of meeting procedures.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Promoting Pelham


Your Town Council has made some early steps toward the development of a plan to promote Pelham as a destination for shopping, for business, for agriculture, for community events, and for life-in-general.

You see, for years now, some have suggested that the Town needs to be more involved in a comprehensive plan to promote the great things about our community. While many individuals and groups are currently involved in promoting one or more aspects of Pelham, we do not have a common vision or a coordinated plan.

For example, the Pelham Business Association developed a “Think & Buy Local” campaign a few years ago and the “Did You Know” Campaign last year about local businesses. The Welland / Pelham Chamber of Commerce manages the Tourist Booth every year. The Fonthill Bandshell Committee promotes the hugely successful Bandshell Concert Series. The members of Pelham’s dedicated Service Clubs promote successful events like the Biketoberfest, the Pelham Homeshow and the Santa Claus Parade. A group of community volunteers developed the amazing Pelham Summerfest in July of this year. Artists and cultural enthusiasts have hosted the annual Pelham Art Festival for 25 years. Members of the agricultural community manage the weekly Pelham Farmer’s Market. Sports groups – from hockey, soccer, baseball, to cycling – each have their own tournaments and events that promote Pelham. And many other events, celebrations, and great things that people do to promote wonderful aspects of our community.

But, if asked, “What is Pelham?” what would you answer? Or, what common parts of Pelham should be promoted among ourselves and to those outside of our Town?

And, what about our schools, our neighbourhoods, our churches? What about our golf courses and horse farms? What about the natural beauty of our Town? How are these elements drawn together?

Well, when Council deliberated on the matter, we realised that these answers come only from you and other members of the the community itself.

That’s why Council – lead by Councillors Accursi and Papp – have endorsed the creation of the Pelham Promotional Advisory Committee. The committee will develop and coordinate a promotional plan for the Town. The Committee will include representatives from Pelham’s Agricultural Sector; Pelham Business Association; Welland / Pelham Chamber of Commerce; development community; recreational communities (both winter and summer); the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council; Pelham Arts Festival; local Service Clubs; Pelham’s cultural sector; from a “citizen-at-large”; and from Pelham Council.

As the advisory committee develops, you should hear more about promoting Pelham.