Sunday, December 18, 2016

Amazing Support for Community Centre!

Last Thursday, we celebrated two very generous local family businesses for donating significant funds to support the new Pelham Community Centre.

Thanks to the incredible generosity of Dr. Tim Nohara and his company, Accipiter Radar Technologies, “Arena A” will be named the “Accipiter Arena.” Accipiter donated $250,000 to the Community Centre’s capital fundraising campaign. The Accipiter Arena will feature an NHL-size ice surface with a 1,000-seat spectator area. This arena will be capable of hosting major sporting events, tradeshows, concerts, and other commercial affairs.

Dr. Nohara re-located Accipiter Radar Technologies from Waterloo to Pelham in 1995 and, through hard work and diligence, developed the company into a global leader in advanced avian and security radar technologies.

Because of the generous contributions of the Duliban Family and the Trillium Mutual Insurance Company – who donated $125,000 and $25,000 respectively – “Arena B” will be named “Duliban Insurance Arena.” This NHL-size ice surface with 100-rinkside seats – will host hockey, figure skating, lacrosse and many other events sporting and cultural events. The Duliban Insurance Arena will be visible from the Upper Viewing Area, which will allow spectators easy viewing from above the ice.

With a long history in Pelham and Niagara, Duliban Insurance recently relocated their head-office to Uptown Fonthill (on Hwy 20 between Haist and Lookout). Since the Duliban Family supported the fundraising campaign for the existing arena, it’s wonderful that they so strongly support the new Community Centre.

On behalf of Council, I deeply appreciate the generosity of these amazing donors! Not only do their gifts signal that the Community Centre continues to move forward, they also demonstrate significant support for the new facility.

Each donor spoke so well about their involvement in the community over the years and about how they want to see our community continue to progress and grow.

Again, I deeply appreciate the generosity of these amazing donors!

There are many opportunities for other donors to support the facility’s campaign. For example, the gymnasiums, the viewing areas, the multi-purpose spaces, the change rooms, the atrium, and then entire facility may be named to honour the generosity of other donors.

Following this capital fundraising campaign, volunteers will begin a community fundraising campaign phase in late 2017 or early 2018. Every community member will have an opportunity to contribute to this once-in-a-lifetime project, by pledging his or her support for the Pelham Community Centre.

For more information about the Pelham Community Centre and fundraising options, please check-out the special website at www.ourpcc.ca.
____________________________________

Thanks to TV Cogeco Niagara for this great video of the announcements!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Great Christmas Spirit in Pelham


The snow this weekend in Niagara seemed to tie the great spirit of Christmas together in Pelham.

The holiday spirit began early in Pelham on November 2 when several businesses hosted holiday open houses in Downtown Fonthill. Despite the rain that evening, there was a good crowd – including a Santa with an umbrella – to try to start-up the season.

Over the following weeks, the Town began decorating 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.

And, some very dedicated, community-minded elves took it upon themselves to “spruce-up” our Town. While the rest of us were sleeping or working, these elves decorated almost every utility pole and light standard in sight using evergreen boughs and red bows. So many of us appreciate their annual efforts!

Then, the Fonthill Firefighters Association took the lead for the turkey raffle tradition, followed closely by the Fenwick Firefighters and the Fonthill Lions (with a chili cook off to boot).

Thanks to “Christmas In Pelham” volunteers and Town staff for organizing the fourth Christmas Under the Arches / Outdoor Christmas Market in Fonthill on December 2. The hundreds participating and the venders, services clubs, and musicians helped make the event wonderful and vibrant.

Then, hundreds and hundreds shared the true spirit of generosity on December 3th for the 26th Annual Pelham Food Drive for Pelham Cares. Thank you to each of the donors and all the volunteers that went door-to-door to support those less fortunate in our Town. Thanks, as well, for those volunteers unpacking, sorting, and repacking non-perishable food. Finally, thanks to the businesses who donated food and funds so that volunteers were fed and the event was publicized.

And, have you seen the Temperanceville Historic Display this year? Check out Pelham’s history, caringly modeled in Peace Park until January 1.

This past weekend, the Fabulous Fenwick Lions and others in the community organized Pelham’s annual Santa Claus Parade. The extra-long parade ended with “Buddy the Elf” driving Santa through Downtown Fenwick and past the special, community Christmas Tree. Thanks also to the Lions for organizing free treats and time with Santa at Centennial Park.

Add to all this the Christmas concerts at our schools, the annual Fonthill Kinsmen Seniors’ Dinner, the greeting cards, and all the celebrations at Pelham’s churches, and we are doing well to prepare for and to celebrate Christmas.

Council and I hope that you and your family experience the joy of the spirit of Christmas this holiday season. We also wish you all the best in 2017!


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Groundbreaking Another Milestone in Pelham's Progress

(L-R): Ralph Beamer, former-Mayor; Councillor Richard Rybiak;
Councillor Gary Accursi; Councillor Catherine King; 
Mayor Dave Augustyn; Councillor John Durley; Councillor Peter Papp; 
Darren Ottaway, CAO; John Nicol, Chair, Architectural Design Advisory 
Committee; Bill Gibson, Chair, Oversight Committee. (30 Nov. 2016)
Along with representatives of the Architectural Design Advisory Committee (ADAC), the Oversight Committee, former Mayor Beamer, Town Councillors and the CAO, I had the honour of ceremoniously breaking ground for the Pelham Community Centre last week. While members of ADAC, the Oversight Committee, Pelham sport and recreational associations, local service clubs, Town Staff, and the general public cheered on, we broke ground and threw some soil from “center ice” of Arena A.

As you know, since 1990 the community has consistently voiced a desire for new recreational facilities. In late-2012, when Council reviewed the seven consultant studies and staff reports, we confirmed that “no significant or meaningful financial work was completed.”

That’s why in 2013 the Town hired LeisurePlan to survey you and your neighbours about your needs, to test the business case for various amenities, and to develop an operating pro forma to satisfy those needs. In 2014 and 15, LeisurePlan presented a number of reports demonstrating sustaining-demand for a Community Centre and recommending that the Town construct a facility in the East Fonthill development area.

So, in August 2014, Council established an Architectural Design Advisory Committee with 15 volunteers representing various recreational user groups, youth, seniors, artists, service clubs and the community-at-large; by October, Council hired Petroff Architects to professionally design the facility.

During 2015, ADAC worked tirelessly with the architect, LeisurePlan, and Staff to develop concept drawings and presented a design. In the Fall of 2015, the Town hired Ball Construction as a construction manager to refine the design with all involved.

In mid-March 2016, Council received the final designs from the architect, detailed construction estimates from the construction manager, and financing options from Staff for the new Centre. The Town immediately started five weeks of community engagement on the proposal.

Encouraged by the community support and because of our years of due diligence and community involvement, Council approved the new Community Centre in late-April 2016.

During the summer and fall, Council approved a maximum-price construction contract, and established an Oversight Committee to ensure the facility gets built on-time (by last-spring 2018) and on-budget ($36.2 million).

I deeply appreciate all those involved – over many years – in developing the new Pelham Community Centre; the iterative yet important process has been a genuine community and grassroots endeavor!

The groundbreaking last week shows that by working together we can achieve great things and can continue to transform and improve our community.

I will keep you updated about Pelham’s Community Centre – the facility that will serve for decades as our community’s gathering place and recreational space for people of all ages and abilities.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

New Chicane Helps Calm Traffic

The Town has grappled with ways in which to help calm traffic and make it safer for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists for a number of years.

More than a decade ago, the Town implemented “Community Safety Zones” on Haist Street (near AK Wigg School) and on Pelham Street (near GA Green School) to double the normal fine for speeders. We have added flashing lights in most school zones and employ a team of dedicated crossing guards help local students to cross the road.

To make it safer for folks to cross the street, we’ve added new crosswalks. We also added a traffic light at Pelham and Port Robinson and improved the pedestrian crossings on Regional Road 20 at Pelham and Haist Streets. We have also added stop signs to better regulate traffic – Quaker at Line, Port Robinson at Station, Canboro at Balfour, and Sawmill at Wessel.

To help slow traffic we’ve added steed bumps to Haist Street, and narrowed the road width on Regional Road 20 (up the hill between Canboro and Church Hill), and in Downtown Fenwick. We’ve painted center lines and edge lines on a few roads to make them appear narrower so that drivers slow down. We even installed pilons on Pelham Street at Port Robinson because some drivers insisted on ignoring the school crossing guards and put children’s safety at risk.

Because of ongoing speeding and persistent resident complaints, staff set-up a temporary traffic calming measure – called a chicane or a bulb-out – on Haist Street North last October. Staff monitored the results and compared the pre- and post-speeds; the test showed that speeds reduced up to 10 km / hour and drivers travelled at the posted, community safety-zone speeds.

That’s why Council approved funds for a chicane in the 2016 budget and Council reaffirmed the installation in June. (For a copy of that report, please click here.)

Staff worked with a contractor this November to install the calming measure. Immediately following the opening of the chicane last Monday, Staff discovered that the vehicle-travel path was too narrow. (I don’t know why the normal construction mantra – “Measure twice, cut once.” – didn’t pinpoint the error prior to installation.)

Town Staff promptly took action to temporarily widen the travel-lane and the contractor returned later last week to make permanent repairs.

Once cleared up this week, motorists can be reassured that the final result will allow for safe vehicular access, including school buses, emergency vehicles, snow plows and garbage trucks.

Many folks – from all across the Town – complain about speeding drivers. Council will continue to work together with area residents to develop measures to slow down speeders.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Let’s Embrace Publicly Electing the Regional Chair

Hon. Bill Mauro, speaking at AMO, August 2016
Last week, the Province introduced legislation that included mandating the election of all Ontario’s Regional Chairs by the public-at-large, starting in 2018. While this push toward a more accountable and democratic election alarmed a few folks in Niagara (including our current Chair), those watching the Municipal sector weren’t surprised.

First, during the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference in August, the Hon. Bill Mauro, Minister of Municipal Affairs, called for changes to increase the “accountability and transparency” of Regional Councils.

Second, Niagara stood as the only hold-out Region that still wanted to appoint the Chair from among members of Council. All other areas either already elect their Chair of Regional Council at large, or were working toward doing so.

Waterloo Region began electing their Chair 19 years ago. Halton Region has elected a Regional Chair since 2000. Durham Region first elected their Regional Chair in 2014.

A bill to elect the York Regional Chair at large was recently before the Ontario Legislature. And, in 2013, Peel Regional Council directed staff to report after the 2014 election on options to directly elect their Chair for the 2018 municipal election.

Finally, with the next municipal election two years away, the Province needed to announce changes now to give various municipalities time to appropriately adapt.

Surprisingly, some suggested that it would be too difficult for Regional Chair candidates to campaign across the equivalent of four Federal ridings that cover our peninsula. Interestingly, Niagara would actually be the smallest area: 4 ½ ridings cover Halton Region; 5 ridings cover Waterloo; and 5 ½ ridings cover Durham.

Similarly, some suggest that the cost to mount a campaign would keep good candidates out of the race. While the spending limits in Halton, Waterloo and Durham are higher than it will be for Niagara (estimated to be $306,000), the most any candidate spent in those campaigns were nowhere near the limits. Winning candidates spent $16K in Halton; $56K in Waterloo; and $74K in Durham.

With this latest improvement, candidates for the Chair’s position will have to put together a vision that would appeal to all of Niagara. This would be similar to the visions that Mayoral candidates present to the public – but it would be for all in the peninsula.

I believe that this change would will help us to work together to become more open, transparent, accountable, and democratic in Niagara.

Let's embrace this improvement because publicly electing the Regional Chair will help pull the views and hopes of our Region’s citizen’s together and can become an important and unifying force for moving Niagara forward.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

From “Sprawl” to a “Complete Community”

I keep the “Sprawl Repair Manual” by Galina Tachieva on my desk at home. The work “presents a comprehensive methodology for transforming sprawl” along with “implementation techniques” for “rebalancing suburbia.”

Why? Well, I hate to point out that much of Pelham developed as sprawl.

During the late-1800s and early-1900s, development in the former Township of Pelham and Village of Fonthill grew along traditional coach routes (like Canboro Road) and at crossings along the TH&B (through Fenwick) and NS&T (through Fonthill) railway lines.

But, the advent of the automobile quickly changed all that.

For example, only in a car-centered-culture would one build a high school on some of the best tender fruit land and on a (then) Provincial Highway.

Similarly, prior to the hundreds of homes around it, the Pelham Arena was erected in the mid-1970s in a farmer’s field and far from restaurants and retail.

In fact, much of Pelham’s previous residential development sprawled across farm lands and forests. These now-mature residential neighbourhoods from the 1970s and 80s contain more than 50 cul-de-sacs or courts! That’s quite different than traditional neighbourhoods of College, Emmett, Elm, Burton and Chestnut streets.

Previous Councils also expanded the Town’s “urban boundaries” – the areas in which one can develop. The +500 acres in East Fonthill and “Lookout Ridge” were added in 2000. Significant developable lands in Fenwick – from Cream to Balfour and between Memorial and Welland Road – were added in 1990.

Once approved, these urban-land-rights last forever, guaranteeing a development future for Pelham.

Given this history, how does one “repair” the sprawl and foster a more “complete” community?

We started by revitalizing Downtown Fonthill and Fenwick; in addition to rebuilding the streetscapes, one-third of the buildings on Pelham Street have recently improved their façades and added residential units.

We’ve also encouraged walking and cycling by building more than 13 km of sidewalks, 9 km of bike lanes, 7 km of trails, and 5 crosswalks. Now – 53 years after it opened – we’ve approved extending a sidewalk to Crossley. We’ve also discouraged car use by initiating Pelham transit.

We approved plans for East Fonthill that include wide-sidewalks and trails and a road network that links to existing streets; to enable these plans, we’ve even removed houses were future streets will go.

We’ve insisted on street-facing commercial development and on as pedestrian-friendly-as-possible parking. We continue to call for rear-lanes and we protected key environmental features.

Instead of consolidating services into a central building, we’re revitalizing the Maple Acre Library. And, we’re constructing the new Pelham Community Centre near other amenities – like stores and restaurants, and a future medical centre, retirement home, and other “mixed-uses.”

Finally, we remain committed to the Town’s urban boundaries and increased the protections on the Fonthill Kame.

Correcting Pelham’s sprawl isn’t easy, but Council and I will persevere toward that goal.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

An Open Letter Response to Marianne Stewart:

Dear Ms. Stewart:
Thank you for your email and for asking additional questions about activities in Pelham.
I am sorry that it has taken me a few days to reply to you. Between Town Council, Regional meetings, and the Hydro Board, I have been in hours and hours of meetings thus far this week. And, since I received your email late Sunday, I thought I would have time to get you an answer before it was printed in a local newspaper. I was surprised it was printed this week because I was told by the publisher that the deadline for letters to the editor was Friday at 5:00 PM… Oh well. (To see the letter, please refer to page 6 at: https://issuu.com/thevoiceofpelham/docs/the_voice_november_9_2016.)
I am sorry that my previous responses haven’t been clear enough for you. Let me try again by annotating my online journal and my 23 October 2016 column that was published in the Pelham News and by other media for free (but that the Voice refused to print). I have added comments and annotated in italics.
___________________________________
To help answer some recent community questions, here’s some of what I spoke about during a “State of the Town” address to the Chamber of Commerce in early-October.

Added in 2000, Developing Now:
When it added 450 acres to the Town’s eastern “Urban Boundary” in 2000, the Ontario Municipal Board guaranteed huge growth for Pelham. What wasn’t certain was the type of that growth. (For more details about the type of growth, please see: http://pelhammayordave.blogspot.ca/2014/03/what-type-of-growth-for-pelham.html)
That’s why Council and I worked so hard over the last decade to ensure that these “East Fonthill” lands integrate with the existing community, protect sensitive environmental elements, benefit existing residents by including public facilities and commercial amenities, and require attractive and pedestrian/cycle-friendly form. (For more details, please see: http://pelhammayordave.blogspot.ca/2014/02/maintaining-our-small-town-feel-as-we.html)
To help achieve this vision, Council approved a Secondary Plan for all of “East Fonthill” and a Site Master Plan for the 54 acres of Town- and privately-owned lands fronting Regional Road 20. These award-winning Plans allow various uses including medical, retail, retirement, community centre, mixed-use commercial, townhomes, mixed-use residential, parks and trails. (For more detail, please see: http://pelhammayordave.blogspot.ca/2014/02/draft-site-master-plan-helps-maintain.html. Also, for more information about the award-winning plans, please see: http://www.pelham.ca/Modules/News/index.aspx?feedId=5a220134-e962-4e40-93c0-cad29d1038f0&newsId=4bfa7364-1bbf-4fbb-a644-1d8da6319056.)

Commercial Development:
As you know, the commercial component is taking shape along Regional Road 20. While most stores will likely open in early-2017, the Food Basics is scheduled for [this] month and the Tim Horton’s in late-December. The buildings are purposefully closer to the road to help encourage walkability and slow vehicle traffic.
As you may know, Food Basics will officially open on Thursday, 17 November 2016; further, the framing steel for the Tim Horton’s went up this week.

Medical Centre & Retirement Home:
In 2014, the Town approved an agreement to sell 7.7 acres of land to the Allen Group [also known as Fonthill Gardens] to construct a medical centre and a retirement home. It is important to note that the agreement to sell the lands is dependent on the construction of these facilities – and that the facilities are seen as for the public good.
As it says in the Community Centre section of the Town’s website (at http://www.pelham.ca/en/how-might-I/Pelham-Community-Centre.aspx#sale-surplus):
“In 2005, the Town purchased 32-acres at the corner of Rice Road and Hwy 20 for $3.6 million ($112,000 per acre). After re-designating, re-zoning, and fully-servicing those lands, the Town will be able to sell nearly 20 acres for an estimated $12 million ($600,000 per acre appraised value).
"Including the $1.1 million in interest payments, this sale will represent a return on investment of greater than 150%.
"Staff indicated that the value range for property in this area is between $600,000 and $800,000 per acre, depending on the location within the development. To help maximize the property value, the Town intends to sell these lands in smaller parcels.
"Council approved agreements with Fonthill Gardens Inc. for an option to purchase 7.7 acres of the Town-owned lands to construct a medical centre (with 5-10 family doctors) and a retirement home (with +130 beds/units). The price of those lands would be a base, un-serviced price of $375,000.00 per acre plus all costs of development.”
The +/-30,000 square foot Medical Centre should include 5-10 family doctors, a mini-pharmacy, and other health and wellness / allied professionals. When the Province disallowed new “family health teams” for Niagara for nearly a year, establishing the Centre got slightly delayed to 2017. The ~130-unit senior’s campus should offer independent and assisted living options and is hoped to break ground in 2018.
I understand that the Allen Group is actively recruiting doctors and other allied professionals to the new medical centre; to protect the privacy of those doctors and other professionals, I cannot comment further about how many or to whom they are speaking. Similarly, the Allen Group is working with potential operators and eventual owners for the retirement facility. As a business person, I know you are sure to understand that this information cannot be shared publicly.

Surplus Lands:
In September, Council reaffirmed our priority of selling surplus lands at a maximum dollar value and for the best community use. We also developed a draft lay-out for the property. You will recall that we expect to generate an average of $600,000 per acre to help fund the Community Centre’s construction.

Piazza / Public Square:
I am sorry that this continues to be unclear for you, especially since you also asked about it during my October presentation to the Chamber of Commerce. Please let me try again. When I wrote: “The Site Master Plan envisions a large, public square next to the future Community Centre that would include interlocking brick, an outdoor theatre, a water feature, and trees and benches,” I tried to explain that the Piazza it is a plan, or something for which we are hoping to achieve.
When I wrote, “While contemplated a few years from now, Council applied in June for Canada Cultural Spaces Funding to cover 50% of the estimated $5.1 million project; we have yet to hear the results of that application,” that means that the project does not yet have a specific approval from Council. Whether we receive funding or not, Council will have to consider this project in relation to our future Capital Budget addressing the various needs across the Town and the desires from the public before moving ahead and approving it. This consideration will likely form part of our 20-year capital budget discussions in late-November and December.

Development Charges:
I understand that the Town has collected $2.2 million this year (to 20 October 2016) from development charges. Further, I have asked Staff to report on this amount monthly to Council.
At our 7 November 2016 meeting, Council received the first report to the end of September 2016. Please see: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B2EgPD0Bv1qVWnpHcnB1MktkTlk. Further, I understand that to the 31 October 2016, the total was $2,766,705. These are collected from new development from across the Town, not just from development in the eastern part of Fonthill.
For more information about Development Charges, please see http://www.pelham.ca/en/services/Development-Charges.aspx or see the “Development Charges” section of the “Financing Options” tab at www.pelham.ca/community-centre.

Rental Rates:
Again, I am sorry that this continues to be unclear for you. Thanks for asking me to try again to explain it!
I wrote: “The operating projections for the new Pelham Community Centre that Staff presented last spring used current (2016) rental rates for various community services -- like ice rental or room rentals. They also estimated an inflationary increase each year. Council approves all fees and charges annually during budget considerations.”
This means that Staff presented a very conservative estimate for activity fees for the new Community Centre; they used the 2016 user fee rates for a facility that will open in 2018. In subsequent years, they estimated the fees to be increasing by inflation each year. (This means that we are not planning on gouging users for use of the facilities – which may be your worry.) We do not know the specific, 2018 rates for which you specifically ask because Council will officially approve that as part of the 2018 budgets in the fall of 2017. It’s similar to most businesses not being able to tell you exactly how much they would be charging for a product – be it a car or a pie or a cup of coffee – two-years from now.
For the Town’s current Fees and Charges, please see: http://www.pelham.ca/en/how-might-I/resources/Corporate-Services/Files/TownOfPelham-Fees-and-Charges-2016.pdf
Council agreed with the Architectural Design Advisory Committee and Pelham Seniors Advisory Committee recommendations that the walking / running track would be available free-of-charge.

Maple Acre Library:
At the start of construction in June, I said that the renewed Maple Acre Library was to be open by mid-December. During my Chamber presentation in early October, I said that it was to be completed by the end of the year. We will be having a Maple Acre Design Advisory Committee meeting next week to see and better understand their progress and the schedule from completion.

Skatepark Lighting:
The Isaac Riehl Memorial Skatepark is open until 11 PM and lights are on from dusk to 11 PM. For more information about the rules and guidelines for the Skatepark, please see: http://www.pelham.ca/en/experience/Riehl-Skate-Park.aspx
___________________________________
Again, I appreciate your keen interest in the Town! I hope that this annotated response answers all of your questions.
Thanks again!
Sincerely yours,
Mayor Dave

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Take Time to Remember

Each year in Pelham, the Legion and Cadets organize a number of very special ceremonies to commemorate Remembrance Day.

On the Sunday before Remembrance Day – this year on November 6 – the commemorations will begin at the Cenotaph at Centennial Park at 9:00 AM. During this special service, Veterans, members of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 613, the Ladies Auxiliary, the Royal Canadian Army Cadets, the Fenwick Volunteer Firefighters Association, the Fabulous Fenwick Lions, and Federal, Provincial, and Municipal political representatives will march to the Cenotaph and lay wreaths to remember those brave men and women who served (and who continue to serve) our country during times of war, conflict, and peace.

Then, at 10:00 AM, the Legion will organize another commemoration at Old Pelham Town Hall in Ridgeville. This will be the first Remembrance Day service with the newly restored WW1 mortar. This service recalls those that served from the Ridgeville area and often also includes representatives of the Niagara Regional Police Service and several local veterans.

At 11:00 AM, Reverend Russ Myers and the congregation of Fonthill Baptist will host a special church service. The ceremony usually includes reciting John McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields”, a scriptural reflection, and a video that highlights local veterans.

Later, at 12:30 PM, the Legion will host a commemoration at the Cenotaph at Peace Park in Fonthill. This service calls to mind those who served from the Fonthill area, and also includes the laying of wreaths by members of the Fonthill Volunteer Firefighters Association, the Fonthill Lions, the Fonthill Rotary Club, the Fonthill & District Kinsmen and some local businesses.

On Remembrance Day itself – this year on a Friday – the Legion will host a complete service at Veteran’s Park at the Legion in Fonthill. The service begins at 10:45 AM so that the moment of silence can occur at 11:00 AM. In recent years, and especially since the revitalization of the park, many people participate in this Remembrance Day service.

The freedoms that so many of us might take for granted – to express ourselves, to participate in cultural, religious, and political activities, to come and go as we please, 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 of happiness.

Let us each take a few moments to participate in these Remembrance Day ceremonies so that we can be thankful and rededicate ourselves to peace. Lest we forget.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

East Fonthill Progress Update

Site Master Plan for northern part of  East Fonthill
To help answer some recent community questions, here’s some of what I spoke about during a “State of the Town” address to the Chamber of Commerce in early-October.

Added in 2000, Developing Now:
When it added 450 acres to the Town’s eastern “Urban Boundary” in 2000, the Ontario Municipal Board guaranteed huge growth for Pelham. What wasn’t certain was the type of that growth. That’s why Council and I worked so hard over the last decade to ensure that these “East Fonthill” lands integrate with the existing community, protect sensitive environmental elements, benefit existing residents by including public facilities and commercial amenities, and require attractive and pedestrian/cycle-friendly form.

To help achieve this vision, Council approved a Secondary Plan for all of “East Fonthill” and a Site Master Plan for the 54 acres of Town- and privately-owned lands fronting Regional Road 20. These award-winning Plans allow various uses including medical, retail, retirement, community centre, mixed-use commercial, townhomes, mixed-use residential, parks and trails.

Commercial Development:
As you know, the commercial component is taking shape along Regional Road 20. While most stores will likely open in early-2017, the Food Basics is scheduled for next month and the Tim Horton’s in late-December. The buildings are purposefully closer to the road to help encourage walkability and slow vehicle traffic.
Demonstration Plan for
450 Acres in East Fonthill

Medical Centre and Retirement Home:
In 2014, the Town approved an agreement to sell 7.7 acres of land to the Allen Group to construct a medical centre and a retirement home. The +/-30,000 square foot Medical Centre should include 5-10 family doctors, a mini-pharmacy, and other health and wellness / allied professionals. When the Province disallowed new “family health teams” for Niagara for nearly a year, establishing the Centre got slightly delayed to 2017. The ~130-unit senior’s campus should offer independent and assisted living options and is hoped to break ground in 2018.

Surplus Lands:
In September, Council reaffirmed our priority of selling surplus lands at a maximum dollar value and for the best community use. We also developed a draft lay-out for the property. You will recall that we expect to generate an average of $600,000 per acre to help fund the Community Centre’s construction.

Piazza / Public Square:
The Site Master Plan envisions a large, public square next to the future Community Centre that would include interlocking brick, an outdoor theatre, a water feature, and trees and benches. While contemplated a few years from now, Council applied in June for Canada Cultural Spaces Funding to cover 50% of the estimated $5.1 million project; we have yet to hear the results of that application.

______________________________
Other Questions:

Development Charges: I understand that the Town has collected $2.76 million this year (to October 31) from Development Charges. Further, I have asked Staff to report on this amount monthly to Council. (Here's the first report -- to the end of September 2016.)

Rental Rates: The operating projections for the new Pelham Community Centre that Staff presented last spring used current (2016) rental rates for various community services -- like ice rental or room rentals. They also estimated a inflationary increase each year. Council approves all fees and charges annually during budget considerations.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Encouraging Vibrant Downtowns

Former "Central Variety"
You must have noticed the ongoing construction on Pelham Street at Churchill in Downtown Fonthill.

This private-sector work – renewing the building and adding apartments – is part of the general revitalization and redevelopment of Pelham’s private and public realms in our Downtowns.

You may recall that a decade ago the Downtowns in both Fonthill and Fenwick were tired and drab. Quite frankly, they did not reflect our vibrant community and they needed desperate renewal.

Designer's Rendition
Encouraged by the Pelham Business Association that the Town take action, I called together a community meeting in the spring of 2007. At that meeting, dedicated residents and business owners stepped forward to establish an ad hoc, community-based committee to help advance Downtown revitalization. Shortly thereafter, those citizens approached Council to become an official Town committee – the Downtown Beautification Committee.

The dedicated Committee members actively advanced beautification of our downtowns by encouraging Council to undertake and develop a Community Improvement Plan (CIP) along with improvements to the streets, sidewalks and parking. Council followed through on these elements.
U-Turn Decor, Fonthill Inn, Zest

Volcano Pizza
First, thanks to stimulus funding from the Federal and Provincial governments, we revitalized the public realm in Downtown Fonthill in 2010/11. A one-day celebration in 2011Pelham Summerfest – marked the end of this considerable work.

Second, we worked to revitalize Downtown Fenwick – including repairing and designating the historic flagpole in 2013, and reconstructing and revitalizing the sidewalks, parking and roadway in 2014/15. Last spring, it was my honour to accept a Regional award recognizing excellence in that reconstruction.
Mokus, Fonthill Dental, Fonthill Fitness

Third, we worked very closely with the community from 2007 to 2010 to develop design guidelines and an incentive program to encourage upgrades to private properties. We not only developed grants to encourage façade improvements, but to also increase the number of residential units.

The renovation and construction at Churchill and Pelham Street is the tenth property in Downtown Fonthill to take advantage of these incentive programs. Others include: Volcano’s Pizza; Zest Restaurant; Fonthill Inn; U-Turn Décor and More; Pelham Street Grille & Goods Sports Excellence; Mokus Restaurant, Fonthill Fitness; Fonthill Dental Clinic; and Strut. Together, these represent nearly one-third of all the buildings in the downtown-district on Pelham Street!
Strut

A few years ago the Region studied the benefit of these type of programs and found that for every dollar invested or deferred in a Niagara downtown, the incentives generated nine dollars in private sector investment. We are pleased to see similar investments in our Downtowns. Council and I will continue to promote and fund these programs so that we might further encourage vibrant downtowns.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

How should we spend your money in 2017?

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

Council will begin our 2017 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 Tuesday, October 11 at 6:30 PM in the Council Chamber at Pelham Town Hall.

Pelham Council first started this type of a “pre-budget consultation” ten years ago – for our 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.

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, 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 2017 budget discussions:

  • Pre-Budget Consultation – beginning October 11, 2016;
  • Draft Capital Budget available to the public – November 25;
  • Draft Capital Budget presented to Committee – November 28;
  • Council consider approving Capital Budget – December 5;
  • Draft Operating Budget available to the public – January 27, 2017;
  • Draft Operating Budget presented to Committee – January 30;
  • Council consider approving Operating Budget – February 6;
  • Draft Water & Sewer Budgets available to the public – February 17;
  • Draft Water & Sewer Budgets presented to Committee – February 20;
  • Council consider approving Water & Sewer Budgets – March 6.


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.

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.

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

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Pelham Community Centre Progressing

Pelham Community Centre Approved Site Plan
During our special strategic planning session on September 16, Council verified our number one priority as completing the Pelham Community Centre on time and on budget. So, let me give you an update of progress to date.

Oversight Committee:
In August, Council appointed Gordon Morasco, Bill Gibson, Councillor Gary
Accursi and CAO Darren Ottaway to the Centre’s Oversight Committee. During their first meeting (on September 7), the Committee elected Bill Gibson Chair, confirmed their Terms of Reference, and received a project overview and status update from Ball Construction. The Committee will meet monthly and provide regular financial and construction updates.

Financial Progress:
As promised, the Town hired a temporary analyst to oversee all financial aspects of the Centre. Council insisted on this to ensure transparent tracking of Community Centre expenses and project revenues – including development charges, sale of surplus lands, and the debenture. This arrangement will also ensure regular Staff carry on seamlessly with the Town’s normal operations.

Also, Infrastructure Ontario approved the Community Centre loan and construction financing.

Site Works Progressing:
Council unanimously approved the Site Plan for the Community Centre last Monday.

As depicted in the Spring, the Town will locate the Centre at the corner of two new streets – Wellspring Way (with a traffic signal on Regional Road 20 at Pelham Petroleum) and Shaw Avenue (linked with Rice Road near the entrance of Duffin Appleworks). The Centre will stand adjacent to a public square and future transit stop and within walking distance to new stores and restaurants, the new medical centre and various types of residential housing.

Site Servicing by Beam Construction (19 Sept. 2016)
Last week, Ball Construction presented the blueprints and other Community Centre drawings as they applied for the Building Permit. While Staff review the application, Beam Construction continues with “earthworks” and will be starting “site servicing” – installing water, waste water, storm water, and electrical services – over coming weeks. While these significant works have already begun, we will host the ceremonial groundbreaking later in October.

Ball Construction and Staff will provide scheduling and financial updates at Council’s next and subsequent meetings.

Surplus Lands:
Council’s strategic priorities also includes “Begin selling surplus land at maximum dollar value and best use.” Over the summer, Staff prepared and Council reviewed a conceptual plan for the surplus lands that the Town owns in East Fonthill. Efforts continue on this priority.


I am pleased that we’ve made significant progress thus far on the new Pelham Community Centre, for the benefit of our entire community.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Assessment Only Half the Picture


Have you received your new residential property assessment notice from MPAC – the Ontario Municipal Property Assessment Corporation? (If you own a farm, business, or multi-residential property, you should receive your assessment mid-October.)

Updated for the first time since 2012, your notice will outline MPAC’s determination of the market value of your property as of January 1, 2016.

MPAC considers many factors when assessing property values, such as the sale prices of comparable properties in your neighbourhood, and the age, location, characteristics, and size of your property and home. In essence, MPAC strives to base their value on the amount your property could have sold for on the open market.

Just like in 2012, property assessments will remain the same for the next four years – from 2017 to 2020. However, if the value of your property increases, that increase will be phased in over the four years; if the value goes down, you will immediately see a reduction.

For example, if the value of your home increased by $20,000 over its current assessment, the value for determining your property tax will increase by $5,000 per year over the next four years.

If the value of your home goes up, does that mean that your property taxes will also go up?

No, not necessarily. Market Value Assessment is only one half of the property tax equation. The amount you pay to the Town of Pelham, to the Region, and for Education is based on the Market Value Assessment of your home multiplied by the three tax rates and added together.

Say the Town budgeted for revenues of $10 million from property taxes in 2017. If all assessments double, the Town would cut the tax rate in half to collect that $10 million. If everyone’s assessments went down, we would increase the rate to collect the same $10 million.

But, what if your assessed value increases more than the average?

The property tax system is a bit of a blunt instrument. Municipalities set the tax rate based on the average assessment for each of the tax classes – residential, multi-residential, commercial, industrial, farm/managed forest, pipelines.

If your property’s assessed value increases more than the average, you will likely pay more than the average tax. By the same token, if your assessed value increases less than the average, you will likely pay less tax.

What if you don’t think the MPAC assessment on your property is correct? You can issue a “request for reconsideration” before November 30, 2016 for residential properties so that MPAC will review your assessment. (Owners of farm, business, and multi-residential properties must file reassessment requests 120 days from the assessment issue date.)

Please check out MPAC’s website (www.mpac.on.ca) and your notice for more information.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Unveiling & Rededicating WWI Cenotaph & Mortar

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cst. Susan Phillips,
WWII Veteran Jim Summersides, Pelham Mayor Dave Augustyn
and Niagara Centre MP Vance Badawey.
Photo Credit: Laura Barton/Welland Tribune
On behalf of Pelham Council and the community, it was my honour to help unveil and rededicate two significant historic and cultural artifacts – a WWI Cenotaph and the newly restored WWI Mortar – at Old Pelham Hall on Saturday.

Because of the generous partnership of the Town with the Canadian Government, the Royal Canadian Legion, and caring citizens, these newly restored artifacts now stand as a constant reminder of the ultimate sacrifices paid by Pelham residents and other Canadian soldiers in World War I to secure our freedoms.

The beautifully restored cenotaph was completed last year, in time for our 2015 Remembrance Day commemoration. May the names of those 18 local soldiers killed in battle for our freedoms also be engraved in our minds and on our hearts.

The WWI German Trench Mortar (called a minenwerfer) was captured by the 31st Battalion, Alberta Regiment, Canadian Expeditionary Force, in a raid on enemy trenches at Neuville Vitasse, France, on 23-24 of June 1918.

The mortar, considered a “War Trophy,” was awarded to the former Township of Pelham in 1921 by the Government of Canada. It was placed next to the Cenotaph in Ridgeville as a memorial to those from this area and the 31st Battalion, who made the ultimate sacrifice during the Great War 1914-18.

Historic research showed that Government provided this mortar with the understanding that it “belongs to the Crown and to the people of Canada…and was to be preserved and respected.”

Research also shows that this mortar is very rare. It was one of 101 trench mortars brought to Canada and is one of very few not melted down for the World War II war effort.

Photo Credit: Laura Barton/Welland Tribune
Sadly, through the 95 years since it was first placed here, memories faded and few knew the real history or recognized the significance of the mortar. The artifact deteriorated and there was talk of removing it altogether and replacing it with an artifact from the World War II or the Korean War.

Thankfully, a group of dedicated citizens and representatives came together to work with the Town and Council to help recommend what to do. Among others, these included Carolyn Botari, Dell Clark, Gary Chambers, Jake Dilts, Leo Giovenazzo, Mary Lamb, Bernie Law, and Jim Summersides.

Council and I deeply appreciate the work of these caring citizens, of Town Staff, the Royal Canadian Legion, Veterans Affairs, the Canadian Government, and the conservation company to fully restore and tell the story of this mortar for generations to come.

Further, we hope that these newly restored artifacts – outside our recently revitalized Old Pelham Town Hall – stand as a constant reminder of the ultimate sacrifices paid by Canadian soldiers in World War I to secure our freedoms.

______________________________________________________

Thanks to the hundreds who participated in and attended the special ceremony, including:

  • Veterans & Members of Canadian Armed Forces;
  • Members of the Royal Canadian Legion & Ladies Auxiliary, Branch 613;
  • Members of the Burl-Oak Naval Veterans;
  • Members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police;
  • Branch 613 Army Cadets;
  • 87 Eagle Squadron Royal Canadian Air Cadets;
    Photo Credit: Laura Barton/Welland Tribune
  • Grimsby Pipe Band;
  • Reverend Myers;
  • Mr. Allison, MP Niagara-West;
  • Mr. Badawey, MP Niagara-Centre;
  • Regional Councillors Baty & Quirk;
  • Town of Pelham Councillors & Staff;
  • Members of the Citizen Advisory Committee;
  • David Hulley, Emcee.


Special thanks to Jim Summersides, World War II Hero, for assisting with the unveiling of the newly restored mortar and plaque.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Timmsdale House & Heritage in Pelham

Over the last couple of months, there’s been a lot of interest about the former “Timmsdale House” and about heritage in general.

As you may know, the former Timmsdale House (at 202 Highway 20 West at the base of Lookout Street) was built between 1942 and 1944 by Reg Timms in a “revival Tudor style.” After being a home, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources used the building as a regional office for some years. About 28 years ago a family purchased the home to fix it up and live in it; about 13 years ago those owners severed-off property to the West and sold it to a developer for single-family homes – now known as Timmsdale Estates.

Over the years, the plumbing, heating, electrical, and roofing systems have deteriorated or failed; this was largely due to the concrete construction of the floors, walls, and ceilings which make it extremely difficult and costly to repair, replace, or upgrade. In fact, the Town received a professional engineering report (from Mark Shoalts, Shoalts Engineering) that indicated it would be a “monumental task” that would cost $2.2 million to repair the building. (Mr. Shoalts was Chair of the former Pelham Heritage Advisory Committee.)

Last year, the owners put the property up for sale. While many looked at the property, because of its construction and current condition, it took a year to secure an offer (which closes on September 30).

On July 11, the Town received a request by two adjacent neighbours (and not the current or new owners) to designate the property. On July 25, Council officially received that request and directed staff to prepare a report for our next meeting.

At that August 22 meeting, Council learned that the former Municipal Heritage Advisory Committee did not include the Timmsdale House in an inventory of possible properties of cultural heritage value; in fact, the Committee noted that the house had no cultural heritage value as it was considered to be a modern house.

Council agreed unanimously with the Committee comments, the Shoalts Engineering report and professional Staff recommendations to not designate the property under the Ontario Heritage Act. Council did direct Town Staff to work with the new owners to preserve architectural features or elements of the home that can be integrated with the redevelopment of the property.

Conservation of our cultural heritage resources – like the Fenwick Flag Pole, Old Pelham Town Hall, and the WW1 Cenotaph & Mortar – are important to our community because they enliven our past and inform our future. Council will continue to honour Pelham’s unique and diverse history and consider potential heritage properties on a case-by-case basis.

And, after the Town completes a heritage inventory of non-designated properties this Summer/Fall, Council will consider re-establishing a Heritage Advisory Committee to help us with this important work.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Clarifying Minimum Agricultural Lot Sizes

Minimum Distance Separation
So, a bit of an issue brewed throughout the summer: minimum lot sizes for agricultural properties. The issue first arose during a neighbour vs. neighbour clash in an agricultural area in the Northern-part of Pelham.

Unfortunately, it happens all the time. If two neighbours cannot get along, one or the other enlists the assistance of Staff to enforce various Town bylaws. Staff are often caught in the middle of such disputes. Staff must try to work with the parties after they make formal complaints against each other over various bylaws – like noise, animal control, fences, signs, and clean yard – or for not having proper permits – like for building or demolition, open air burning, or site alteration. Sometimes it’s an immediate neighbour that complains about another, and sometimes it’s someone else. One complaint often leads to counter-complaints and counter-counter-complaints.

This makes balanced Bylaw Enforcement very difficult for Staff; Staff act as impartially as possible, while focusing on the overall resolution of all complaints between arguing neighbours. And, in extreme circumstances, any of the complaints could form part of a court or other quasi-judicial proceeding.

In a particular case in June, one party used the Town’s Zoning Bylaw to try to resolve disputes with his neighbour.

You see, Pelham’s 1987 Zoning Bylaw includes a 10 hectare (approximately 24 acre) “minimum lot size” for agriculturally zoned properties. If a property-owner has less than 24 acres – the complainant reasoned – that owner cannot have farm animals.

Initially, Town Staff also enforced this complaint as a way to help find resolution between the neighbours for all their disputes.

Then, the one party called the media and set-up petitions about the Zoning Bylaw complaint. And the concern spread like wild-fire. If “minimum lot size” can be used against someone farming on 10 acres – reasoned the argument – perhaps it can be used against my farm on three, five, 10, 12 15, or 20 acres.

Staff dropped the enforcement two weeks later, because – as we learned at Council on July 25 – that provision of the Zoning “applies to the creation of new lots” only and that “existing lots are recognized.”

Instead of something arbitrary like minimum lot sizes, the Province actually provides rules for the types and number of animals allowed on a property based on their impact (odour, waste, etc) and their proximity to neighbours. This formulaic calculation, called Minimum Distance Separation (MDS), is already embedded in our existing Zoning Bylaw.

So, since we are currently rewriting and updating the Town’s overall Zoning Bylaw, Council and Staff we will work together with agriculture property owners, the Federation of Agriculture, and the Province to clarify the “minimum lot size” and MDS provisions so that we might settle the matter and “preserve our unique urban and rural blend.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Kame, Ridgeville, Funding and Transit at AMO Conference

This week, Councillors Accursi and Durley, Town CAO Ottaway, and I will attend the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) Conference in Windsor. The annual three-day conference offers a range of learning sessions and networking opportunities and organizers expect more than 1,300 delegates.

While at AMO, your Pelham representatives will also directly advance your interests with the Provincial Government through meetings with various Ministries.

First, we will meet with Kathryn McGarry, Minister of Natural Resources (MNR), about increasing the protection of the Fonthill Kame. For the last eight years, we effectively used AMO and “Niagara Week” meetings to urge the Province to enhance the Area of Natural & Scientific Interest (ANSI) protections of the Kame. For the last couple of years we thanked the Provincial Government for finalizing those protections in late 2013. Like last year, we intend to ask MRN to add more of the Fonthill Kame to the protections offered by the Niagara Escarpment Plan.

Similarly, we will be meeting with the Bill Mauro, Minister of Municipal Affairs, about the same topic and more. You see, the Province is seeking final input on their "Co-ordinated Land Use Planning Review" -- a review of the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the Greenbelt Plan, the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan and the Niagara Escarpment Plan (NEP). These planning documents work together to "manage growth, build complete communities, curb sprawl and protect the natural environment." In addition to asking for adding additional Fonthill Kame lands under the protection of the NEP, we want to thank the Minister for fixing an historic planning error regarding Ridgeville. Since the Greenbelt Plan excluded the Hamlet of Ridgeville more than 10 years ago, the coordinated review is proposing that it be included and recognized.

Next, we will meet with Eleanor McMahon, Minister of Tourism, Culture & Sport, about the Pelham Community Centre and Provincial funding opportunities. Since Minister McMahon recently attended the launch of Pelham Summerfest, we will also be updating her about the successes of our signature, four-day festival.

Finally, we will meet with Daiene Vernile, MPP & Parliamentary Assistant to Minister of Transportation (MTO), regarding our Community Transportation Pilot Project. Thanks to $100,000 of Provincial funding, the Town has operated Pelham Transit for nearly a year as a pilot program. We will again thank the MTO for the grant, talk about plans for Regional Transit, and outline the need for ongoing sustainability of transit.

Please be assured that Council and I will continue to take all opportunities to promote Pelham’s interests to the Provincial Government.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Starting Review of Town’s Zoning Bylaw

Ever wonder what controls the heights and sizes of buildings in a community? What rules allow certain type of uses – like a gas station or an apartment building or townhouse – in one area, but not in another? Or, where do the rules come from for the amount of parking a store or an apartment or a church must have?

In Ontario, it’s a community’s Zoning Bylaw that contains detailed information on what kind of land use and what kinds of physical structures are allowed on each property in the Town. The Zoning Bylaw puts into effect the Town’s “Official Plan” or Secondary Plans (like the East Fonthill Secondary Plan or the North-West Fonthill Secondary Plan).

The details include the height and “massing” of buildings, the distance buildings must be set back from the street or other yards, and any landscaping requirements.

Since Zoning By-laws are legally enforceable (under the Ontario Planning Act), proposed developments that do not fit the By-law’s requirements are not allowed to proceed – unless they receive a variance. Thus, this important Bylaw helps achieve Council’s objectives for a successful, vibrant, and livable community.

The existing Zoning Bylaw was approved in 1987 and contains hundreds of exemptions and variances.

Since we recently updated the Town’s Official Plan – via Ontario Municipal Board approval in 2014 – Staff have been working on re-drafting a new Zoning Bylaw. That draft was presented publicly on Monday.

Staff proposed that we begin the consultation process on the draft By-law and receive feedback from you and other members of the community and agencies this Fall. We will schedule public open houses, meetings with the development community, and a special meeting with Council to receive agency input.

Following this type of consultation with the community, agencies and Council, Staff will revise the draft Zoning By-law to address the comments and feedback received. Then, Council will likely undertake a second round of community consultation.

As you will appreciate, the Town’s new Zoning Bylaw will be an important document that will oversee growth and development in the Town for many, many years.

If you are interested in reviewing Staff’s first public draft, please check out our July 25 Policy & Priorities Committee agenda by clicking here (for the agenda package) and going to page 113.. Alternatively, please watch both traditional and “social” media for further information about meetings and updates.

Council and I look forward to working together with you and other residents and business owners to update our Zoning Bylaw to ensure that Pelham continues to be a successful, vibrant, and livable and with a unique blend of residential housing types, commercial-mixed uses, and agricultural operations and uses.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Thanks for Best Summerfest Yet!


On behalf of Council and the community, thank you to the 2016 Summerfest Committee, Town Staff, service club and other volunteers for your hard-work and dedication and to the many generous sponsors who made this year’s four-day Summerfest the most successful yet!

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

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

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

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

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

Finally, thanks to you and the more than 30,000 other people who enjoyed Pelham Summerfest over the festival’s four days! Your attendance and community spirit made it a huge success!

All of this work and participation – including the visit by Tourism Minister Eleanor McMahon, the amazing performances by Jully Black and the many other performers, the participation of Carlos and Suki from YTV, and the addition of a Sunday Car Show – helped make the 2016 Pelham Summerfest the best ever!

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

Monday, July 11, 2016

Leveraging & Accelerating GO Rail

Bob Tymczyszyn/St. Catharines Standard/Postmedia Network
Following months of anticipation, the Provincial Government’s June 28th announcement to expand GO train service into Niagara created much excitement. Now that we’ve had a couple of weeks to reflect, how can we make this opportunity even better?

Significant Works: 
While some have bemoaned the 2021 (Grimsby) and 2023 (St. Catharines & Niagara Falls) timetable, others realize that Metrolinx (the Provincial corporation that runs GO Transit) must undertake extensive work to extend GO Rail to Niagara.

Since CN owns the track upon which GO Rail to Niagara will travel, improvements must “occur in coordination with CN along their corridor, ensuring no impacts to CN and AMTRAK rail services.”

These works include adding 21 km of track in Niagara and 12 new track crossovers (switches); improving and modifying 17 road crossings; building new Confederation (Stoney Creek) and Casablanca (Grimsby) stations; significantly upgrading St. Catharines and Niagara Falls stations; upgrading signals and rail traffic control system; and constructing a train layover facility in Niagara Falls.

The Province continues to negotiate an agreement with CN to undertake this work. “When an agreement with CN is reached, Metrolinx will undertake planning and design work required to implement the service.” (Tribune, 29 June 2016, p1.)

Transfer Service:
During our pre-announcement technical briefing, the Chief Operating Officer of Metrolinx told Niagara Mayors and Regional Chair that the “track to Confederation is fundamental to Niagara’s expansion.” Why? Because, similar to as we outlined in our 2015 business case, Niagara’s service will be a “transfer service” to the Lakeshore West rail service via the Confederation station.

Funding In Place:
Importantly, Minister Del Duca confirmed that all internal approvals “are in place, including financial approvals, to deliver GO train service to Niagara.” He also stated that the “Station work is not time critical” and some of the station upgrades in Niagara Falls and St. Catharines will begin in 2017.

But, Can We GO Faster?
Some have asked how we might accelerate GO service to Niagara. It’s a good question because the Minister indicated that “If, as a result of this important process, work can progress faster, it will.”

Obviously, because this will be a transfer service, the “opening of the Stoney Creek GO Station in 2019 will impact the plan for Niagara.

But, much depends on the negotiations and planning with CN and roll-out of the plans. Since these factors are not in Niagara’s direct control, I believe the worst thing we could do is “rest on our laurels.”

Instead, I believe Niagara Region should take the opportunity to get involved in discussions with CN and Metrolinx to try to advance the timetable. Let’s take a “We are here to help and want to partner with you,” approach.

And, while we must keep pushing for GO Rail, I believe this announcement encourages us to continue to concentrate on developing a regional transit service. Let’s get an integrated transit service finalized by the end of 2017 and show the Province we are serious about public transportation in Niagara.