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.
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You may view the Parkhill presentation as part of the video of the Town Council meeting starting at minute 12:00 here: https://www.youtube.com/embed/XVce_2h_FKk?rel=0

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

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Regarding a Council Resignation and Alleged Disclosure of Legal Information

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely yours,
Mayor Dave Augustyn

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UPDATE: November 10, 2017.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.


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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

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Rededicating Ourselves to Peace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 30, 2017

Volunteers are the Heart of Pelham!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 23, 2017

Working Together to Renew Haist Street Property

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Monday, October 16, 2017

How should we use your money in 2018?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 2, 2017

Comparing Pelham’s Household Income & Status

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Monday, September 25, 2017

Recommending an Audit, but Refusing the Money

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_____________________________________________
Update: Monday, October 2, 2017

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

Here are the approved motions:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Refusal of Cash to Influence Offer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



_____________________________________________
Update: Friday, October 6, 2017

Pelham Retains KPMG Canada for Third Party Audit

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 18, 2017

Welcoming Wellspring Home, to Pelham!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Welcome to Pelham. Welcome home!”

_____________________________________

TVCogeco Niagara video of Wellspring Niagara groundbreaking:




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

Monday, September 11, 2017

Pelham’s Parkland Over-Dedication

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_________________________________
2017 September 15 Update:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Monday, August 28, 2017

Appreciating Pelham’s Small-Town Feel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And, then there was Pelham’s Canada 150 Celebrations

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

Monday, August 21, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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