Monday, June 18, 2018

What do you think about developments toward Niagara Transit?

I am wondering about your thoughts on the work toward a seamless and integrated transit system for the Niagara Peninsula.

You may recall that after working on an inter-municipal transit system for a few years, Staff presented a plan in 2010 for the Region to begin operating transit. As a response, the Cities of St. Catharines, Niagara Falls and Welland made a counter-proposal that the Region fund a system that the three services would operate. Regional Council approved this Niagara Region Transit for three years with the intent that if successful, the group could take further steps.

That’s why the first Niagara Regional Transit buses started rolling-along in September 2011 and began making connections between municipalities. The next steps discussion took some effort, and since it was growing and working, the Region extended the pilot for another year.

Then, in May 2015, Regional Council “endorsed in principal creating an inter-municipal transit system in Niagara,” extended the pilot to December 2016, and requested that the three Cities work together to provide options on how best to provide Inter-Municipal Transit. After Niagara Falls, St. Catharines, and Welland approved similar motions, the group began meeting in earnest in January 2016. They hired Dillon Consulting to develop a high-level plan and receive public input and the Region again extended the pilot. Since January 2017, Dillon presented their report – “Niagara Transit Service Delivery & Governance Strategy” – and each of the three City Councils approved it unanimously.

In March 2017, Regional Council approved the report’s recommendations: endorse (again) the principal of a consolidated transit system; direct staff to develop a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the three major transit providers by the end of 2017; form a Transit Working Group with representation from all 12 Niagara Cities and Towns. Finally, since the Region funded the pilot for five-and-a-half years beyond its “sphere of jurisdiction” in the Ontario Municipal Act, the report recommended a “triple-majority” process to sanction the funding.

Shortly afterward, by June of last year, the majority of local Councils approved this direction, allowing the Region to legally operate conventional transit.

While work continues towards a truly integrated system, the partners have made changes like: aligning customer service polices, using the same digital mobile platform – a transit app, using the same after-hours customer service call center.

Then, in March, because of their renewed commitment to transit, the Federal and Provincial government announced nearly $22 billion over the next 10-years for transit and related projects in Ontario. Niagara’s share of that funding – $148 million over 10 years – was also announced in March. St. Catharines will receive $86 million, Niagara Falls $38 million, and Welland $13 million. The remaining funding goes to Thorold ($5.4 million), Niagara Region ($3.4 million), Fort Erie ($956K), Port Colborne ($426K) and Niagara-on-the-Lake ($270K). (Pelham received a commitment of $500K over 5 years from the Province under another program.)

So, what happened recently? As the Region’s 29 May 2018 news release stated, “Regional Council approved a three-year extension of Niagara Regional Transit, after achieving unanimous approval of the agreement by the service operators. This action keeps the current inter-municipal system running while the Region and local area municipalities continue to work on a new integrated transit service for Niagara.”

Some people tell me that they are delighted with the progress and especially that the various transit providers are working together; they see this work as a huge victory and that only good can come from that. They recognize that transit changes take time but remain convinced that an integrated system can develop over the next three years.

Others express regret that not much is different for riders since the pilot was first launched in 2011; they lament the last four years as not moving an integrated system forward and renewing the pilot just shows the Federal and Province governments that Niagara still doesn’t have its act together. They recognize that there’s much work to do, but those that need and want transit have been waiting too long for a functional and integrated system.

How do you see it? What do you think about the recent changes? What do you think are next steps toward integrated transit in the Niagara Peninsula?


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

Monday, May 28, 2018

New Medical & Seniors Developments Coming to Pelham

Last Tuesday night, Council heard publicly from two groups working to build a medical centre and a retirement and long-term-care development in Fonthill.

First, the Town signed an agreement to sell nearly two acres of land in East Fonthill to a team led by Christina Dobsi, of Dobsi Medical, and David Kompson, a long-time developer in the Niagara Region, and supported by Greg Chew of Collier’s International.

The group anticipates 20,000 to 35,000 square feet of space to accommodate medical and health and wellness professionals, along with some retail. This will include eight-to-10 physicians with various specialties. Inquiries for services such as dental, aesthetics, and therapy are being accepted by the group.

We understand that this project will become a professional health and medical hub that will draw family physicians, medical specialists, and other health-related services to the community.

The location will be immediately East of the new Meridian Community Centre, at the South-West corner of Meridian Way and Rice Road. Plans call a “legacy building” to be completed by the summer of 2019!

Second, Council heard publicly about a multi-phase project consisting of seniors apartments, a retirement residence, and a long-term care facility coming to Pelham.

Led by Samer El-Fashny, owner and operator of various retirement and long-term care facilities in Ontario, the project’s first phase – seniors apartments and retirement residence – will be completed by 2019. It is anticipated that phase two’s long-term care facility will begin development in 2021.

The seniors apartments will be three-to-four stories and along the Eastern-side of the proposed public square at Wellspring Way and Meridian Way. They plan for apartments with fully equipped kitchens, an emergency response call system, and optional housekeeping.

The 140-suite retirement residence – further along the North-side of Meridian Way and toward Rice Road – will be four-to-five stories and include independent, assisted, and memory care living units. Twenty-four-hour nursing, personal support worker services, and a variety of building amenities such as private dining rooms and a chapel, for example, will also be available.

The proposed 192-bed long-term care facility will provide a mix of private and semi-private units and include additional services or space for day care and day programming. To be located along Rice Road and near the storm-water pond, the facility would employ upwards of 150 staff, including nurses, personal support workers, chefs, therapists, and administrative professionals.

In total, it is expected this retirement / long-term-care development would add approximately $60 million in economic development to the Town and could employ 200-250 healthcare and administrative professionals. The Town will sell just over six acres of land in East Fonthill for this project.

Dustin Gibson, Project Manager, informed Council that this development will allow for the seniors of Pelham to “age in place” by ensuring that as seniors care levels may change, different levels of supports will be readily available.

This medical centre and the retirement home / long-term-care development will help enhance the quality of life for residents. (For a copy of the retirement home / long-term-care development presentation click here.)

Pelham’s demographics indicate, and residents tell us, that we need these types of facilities in Town. Council is proud to partner with these groups because they will be building such important services for the community.

Both projects help complete another part of the vision for East Fonthill, which also includes the Meridian Community Centre, Wellspring Niagara Cancer Support Centre, Parkhill’s affordable seniors housing, and new commercial developments.

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

Monday, May 14, 2018

Pelham Cleared – Yet Again

Town Council was relieved and pleased last week after Pelham had again been cleared of allegations of wrongdoing regarding our finances.

First, a letter from Municipal Affairs Minister Bill Mauro indicated that the Province will not conduct a provincial municipal audit. You will recall that in February, a majority of Niagara Regional Councillors supported a petition from last Fall which called on the province to undertake another financial audit of the Town. The Region’s Council “endorsed” the petition even though it was prepared and signed before the results of KPMG’s Forensic Investigation in November/December.

Minister Mauro wrote: “The provincial government recognizes municipalities as responsible and accountable governments, with the authority to make decisions on matters within their own jurisdictions, including management of their finances. As such, the Ministry will not be proceeding with a provincial municipal audit.”

Second, you will recall that this controversy and the call for a forensic investigation arose from allegations made by former member of Council about discussions during an in camera (closed session) meeting on September 5, 2017. While Mr. Junkin alleged “unethical and dishonest” behavior, he also provided no proof when he urged the Region to investigate his allegations (see “Ex-councillor cannot prove claims against Pelham,” St. Catharines Standard, 29 November 2017). Despite this lack of evidence, a majority of Regional Councillors echoed that call for an investigation and cautioned the Town’s lender in mid-November.

Pelham was cleared of those financial allegations when KPMG presented during a public meeting on November 29 and when they provided reports of their forensic investigation and answers to community questions on December 18.

Third, Pelham was cleared again following a review by Infrastructure Ontario (IO) in February and March 2018. IO undertook that review because of the Region’s unfounded allegations from mid-November. After IO reconfirmed the Town’s finances, Regional Chair Caslin was compelled to provide an acknowledgement to IO that the Region would live up to the obligations in the Community Centre’s debenture agreement; he did so prior to the Regional Council meeting on March 22, 2018.

Yet, one allegation remained. That was about whether it was legal for Town Council to discuss HR matters behind closed doors during our September 5 meeting.

We are pleased, therefore, that Ontario Ombudsman Paul DubĂ© recently cleared the Town of allegations about that meeting. The Ombudsman’s report states: “Council for the Town of Pelham did not contravene the Municipal Act, 2001 on September 5, 2017, when it discussed a consultant’s report, received legal advice, and received a presentation from staff in camera”.

I am sad that Pelham’s residents and businesses have been dragged through an emotional roller coaster with these unfounded allegations.

It's disheartening that some Niagara politicians and partisans relied on mistruths and misrepresentations as they sowed the seeds of doubt in our community since last spring. It’s sad how they have used confusion, fear and doubt to try to persuade people that something had gone awry or been improper.

That’s why others have suggested that the Town ask the Region to foot the bill for legal fees and KPMG’s Forensic Investigation – which cost more than $165,000 to defend our community against these allegations. That works out to a 1.5% on the Pelham portion of your tax bill! Or, put another way, we could have reduced your Town taxes by 1.5% this year had we not had those expenses…

What do you think? Now that we have been cleared of all allegations, should we ask the Region to pay for these out-of-pocket expenses? Please let me and/or your Town Councillor know this week – because this will be discussed during our May 22 Town Council meeting.

Now that the Town has been cleared yet again, Council and I look forward to completing the Community Centre on time and on budget, to our upcoming award-winning festivals and events season, and to focusing on other measures to enhance the quality of life for residents.


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

Monday, May 7, 2018

Tenth Annual Mayor’s Gala will be Magical!


Nick Wallace will perform at the Tenth Annual
Pelham Mayor's Gala on May 26
It’s gratifying when people support local charities that improve our community; it’s fun when people get dressed up for a great time. The Annual Mayor’s Gala combines both opportunities!

On Saturday, May 26, 2018, community volunteers will host the Tenth Annual Pelham Mayor’s Gala. This year’s magic-themed gala will appear “right before your eyes” at Lookout Point Golf & Country Club at 6:00 PM.

In addition to showcasing great music, exquisite food, and an amazing live auction, the event will feature Nicholas Wallace, Practitioner of the Art of Astonishment and Canadian Champion of Magic! Nick will perform a masterful show full of illusion, mindreading, and magic that will be entertaining, thought provoking, and leave you wondering “How did he do that?”

Yet, these festivities have a purpose.

Since 2009 and thanks to the generosity of sponsors, donors, and attendees, the Mayor’s Gala has raised more than $250,000! Proceeds have supported more than 35 not-for-profit community organizations and service clubs that play a vital role in shaping and improving the Town of Pelham. With these funds, the Gala has helped youth and seniors, helped provide special education, supported children and women’s centres, and funded arts, cultural, and sporting initiatives.

The Gala also founded the Pelham Community Fund through the Niagara Community Foundation. Donations toward the fund’s principle may be given from not only the Mayor’s Gala, but also from anyone in the community. (As you update your estate plan, for instance, you may want to donate to the Pelham fund – and your gift will assist the community in perpetuity!)

The Mayor's Gala Committee sought applications from local organizations serving residents of the Town for the proceeds from this year’s Gala. Based on the eligibility criteria, four organizations were selected as recipients this year: Pelham Cares (toward the Konnecting Kids program); Pelham Raiders Minor Lacrosse (for extra training and equipment); Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Niagara (for Pelham-peer program in local schools); and Wellington Heights Public School (toward new playground equipment for Grades 4-8).

The community generously supports the Pelham Mayor’s Gala. In fact, we are grateful for the many businesses and individuals that continue to support the charities and the event year-after-year. If you are interested in sponsorship, we do have a few opportunities available via the website links below.

Finally, tickets and tables are “disappearing” quickly! Please call 905-892-2607 ext. 337 to purchase your tickets or see the website for more information.

The sponsorship opportunities, and tickets may be found at www.pelhammayorsgala.ca or via www.pelham.ca (search: Mayor’s Gala).

The magic begins at Lookout Point Country Club at 6:00pm. Please join us!

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

Monday, April 30, 2018

Community Centre Update: “On schedule and within budget”

A couple of weeks ago, Bill Gibson, Chair of Pelham’s Meridian Community Centre Oversight Committee, presented another upbeat update to Council.

You will recall that Council listened to suggestions from the public for proper project supervision by establishing Community Centre Oversight Committee two years ago. The committee includes two community members (Gibson and Bill Sheldon), one Council rep (Councillor Accursi), and the Chief Administrative Officer (Darren Ottaway). This committee works to ensure that the Town receives value-for-money in every aspect of the project and that the project gets delivered on time and on budget, and to provide the community with consistent and timely updates.

You will also recall that Ball Construction serves as the project’s construction manager and works with the committee, the architect, Town staff, and the various contractors to manage the project’s timing and construction.

Mr. Gibson provided updates on the project’s milestones, and finances. He showed pictures of the significant progress on the Meridian Community Centre. He outlined that the rink boards, glass, and netting were already installed in the Duliban Insurance Arena. He showed the painting and finishing work in the activity centres (named the Lucchetta Homes Courts). He spoke about the great work of local contractors – like Star Tile, which has tiled each of the washrooms and change rooms. He showed photos of the glass along the Walker Industries Upper Viewing Galleria and around the Mountainview Homes Upper Arena Lobby. He outlined improvement in the Dr. Gary & Mal Accursi multi-purpose room. His pictures showed progress along the Lookout Ridge Walking / Running Track and final preparations for the 1,000 seats in the Accipiter Arena.

He also outlined some imminent construction milestones like installing the basketball nets and divider curtains in the activity centre and installing the centre scoreboard in the Accipiter Arena. He said that most of the porcelain tile floors on the second floor would be completed by the end of April and, depending on the moisture levels, Ball Construction would also oversee the start of the wood floor installation in the activity centre. Later in May, workers would commence installation of the rubber “skaters” flooring and the poured rubber walking / running track floor.

Mr. Gibson said that the Oversight Committee was forecasting that this project will be within budget and will reach substantial completion on time – on June 1, 2018.

“Substantial completion” means that Ball Construction will “turn over the keys” to Town staff. Over the summer, staff will re-test systems, move in furniture and equipment and work with volunteer user groups so they can move furniture and equipment into their rooms and storage spaces. We are also planning for tours and open houses over the summer – but they have yet to be scheduled.

Obviously, all of this is great news for our community! Council and I look forward to opening the new Meridian Community Centre so that it can become the place for residents of all ages to gather and enjoy a wide-variety of recreational, social, health and community activities for many, many years.

To review the presentation by the Oversight Committee, please click here. You may contact Mayor Dave at mayordave@pelham.ca.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Pelham Water & Sewer Rates Lowest Again

I am delighted that Council is set to approve a water and waste water budget at our next meeting where Pelham’s charges will be the lowest across Niagara again. While we plan to increase the fixed component slightly, this change will mean an increase of $8.76 per year or 1.4% for the average residential home (that uses 25 cubic meters of water every two months).

How do Pelham’s water and waste water charges compare with others Cities and Towns in Niagara? And, how are we able to keep rates so low?

Best in Niagara Yet Again:
I reviewed the most up-to-date rates and calculated the fixed charges and the rates for both water and waste water for Pelham and for the other local municipalities. At $106 for two months (for the average residential use of 25 cubic metres) Pelham leads the pack again with the lowest combined water and waste water charges!

Two of our neighbouring municipalities – St. Catharines and Lincoln – are between 13% and 17% more expensive than the combined water and waste water charges for Pelham. Five others – Niagara Falls, Thorold, West Lincoln, Niagara on the Lake, and Welland – are 25% to 55% more expensive. Two – Port Colborne and Fort Erie – are 93% and 189% more expensive than Pelham. (The average charge is $360 more (or 57% more) per year than Pelham’s charges!)

RF Meters Continue to Pay Dividends:
You will recall that prior to 2010 the Town measured water usage and calculated waste water charges with old gallon and cubic meter odometer-type wheel meters – many from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Many of the aged-meters counted slowly or were failing/broken. It took two weeks to collect readings. If your water had a leak, it could take months to detect.

In 2010, the Town worked with Neptune Technology to replace and upgrade all 4,200 our meters to electronic, RF (Radio Frequency) meters. In addition to leak, backflow, and tamper detection, it only takes 3-4 hours for staff to collect usage data every two months.

Not only does this cost less and give much more accurate billing, but we also automatically notify residents / businesses by phone if there is a leak or other issue with their water service. And, after replacing all the meters, we reduced our water loss from more than 20% to less than 10%!

Infrastructure Upgrades:
As you know, we have also upgraded significant Town infrastructure over the last number of years. As we reconstructed or improved roads like Haist Street, Pelham Street, Canboro Road, and Hurricane, we also replaced old water and sewer pipes. Over the last number of years, we replaced more than 15 kilometers of cast iron water mains, which helped stop costly leaks and reduces the number of breaks and repairs.

Council and I are delighted that the Town’s investments in innovation and infrastructure save you hundreds of dollars each year and allow us to provide the least expensive water and sewer charges in Niagara yet again!


You may contact Mayor Dave at mayordave@pelham.ca or see comparison charts at www.pelhammayordave.blogspot.ca.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Pelham’s 2018 Blended Residential Taxes Up 1.9% -- 12 Year Increase Less Than Inflation

If you pay your property taxes by installments, you will know that the second installment of your 2018 property tax bill comes due in two weeks (April 30). With this deadline approaching, I wanted to tell you about Pelham’s 2018 blended residential property tax increase – at 1.9% – and also to compare with other Cities and Towns.

You will recall that the amount of property tax you pay to the Town of Pelham, to the Niagara Region, and to the Province (for Education) is not solely based on the Market Value Assessment of your property by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC); one must multiply your assessment by each of these three tax rates and add them up for your total bill.

With both the Region and the Province making some policy changes and adjustments for rates and tax ratios, we now know that the combined property tax increase for an average residential property (which is valued at $328,138) in Pelham will be 1.9% for 2018. That means an average residential tax bill of approximately $4,187 or an increase of about $79 over last year. (Because of some rates changes, that’s actually a bit lower than the 2% to 2.3% range that I reported to you in February.)

You can consider this $79 or 1.9% a “pocket-book” increase – an increase in the amount it cost an average residential property owner because it’s adjusted for the average MPAC increase in Pelham.

Since Pelham’s portion of your property taxes represents roughly 39% of the total bill, the Town will make use of about $1,618 of the $4,187 for the average residential property.

Who gets the most? The Niagara Region will get about $2,012 or 48% of the total amount. Meanwhile, the Province will receive the remaining approximately $558 (or 13%) to help fund education.

How do we measure whether the increase is “affordable” or not?

One independent way to judge whether Pelham’s taxes are “affordable” is to compare with inflation. For example, the Bank of Canada calculated that, over the last 12 years (February to February), inflation increased the value of goods and services by 22.7%.

Over the same period, Pelham’s combined taxes for the average residential property increased by 22.0% – a bit lower than inflation. Essentially, that means that the average home is paying the same level of taxes in 2018 that they did in 2006!

And, this 22.0% over 12 years includes so many improvements in our community – from renewed Downtowns in Fonthill and Fenwick, to new Fire Halls in Fenwick and North Pelham, from nine renewed playgrounds, to a new skatepark and a new dog park, from a renewed Maple Acre Library to a renovated Old Pelham Town Hall, from 15 km of new sidewalks and 5 km of new trails to the new Meridian Community Centre. And, the list of other infrastructure and services goes on and on.

Another way to judge would be to compare with other Niagara Cities, Towns, and Townships.

Last Fall, the Region published a corrected table of non-blended property tax increases from 2010 to 2017 for local municipalities. If you start at zero in 2010 and add up the cumulative increases, Niagara Municipalities increased their property taxes an average of 35% over those eight years.

Pelham stands as the forth lowest because ours increased 30% – including an increase in funding for the Community Centre in 2016. That’s 14% below the average increase of other Cities and Towns for the same period. Three other growing Towns – Grimsby, Niagara-on-the-Lake, and West Lincoln were lower than Pelham since 2010.

Pelham Council and I continue to work together with staff to ensure that changes in property taxes only minimally impact you and your neighbour while improving the level and quality of services in the Town.


Please check out historic charts or read past columns at www.pelhammayordave.blogspot.ca. Please contact Mayor Dave at mayordave@pelham.ca.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Let’s Get Active! Let’s Get Moving!

Early last month, it was an honour to travel to Nova Scotia, with Darren Ottaway, Town CAO, and Vickie vanRavenswaay, Director of Recreation, Culture and Wellness, to present at a special “Creating Active Communities Together” conference in Dartmouth.

We were delighted and honoured a few months ago when a representative from the Nova Scotia Ministry of Communities, Culture & Heritage contacted the Town and invited us to be part of a two-day symposium to inspire more physical activity in communities. They asked Pelham to participate because of our walkable and cycling designations – a Walk Friendly Ontario Bronze and a Silver Bicycle Friendly Community – and because our size is similar to many communities in Nova Scotia.

The first day – “Creating Active Communities Together” – involved “physical activity practitioners” who work for communities across the Province to develop and implement physical activity strategies. Town Staff presented detailed information on how we work to encourage physical activity – especially walking and cycling.

The second day – “Vibrant, Active Nova Scotia Symposium” – included Mayors and Councillors and other leaders from non-profit organizations, universities and businesses to focus on broad outcomes and overall success strategies. I presented on this day about Pelham’s successes in increasing walkability, cycling activities. I focused on our dedicated staff and volunteers – like members of Pelham’s Active Transportation Committee – that have tirelessly worked with the community and Council to encourage significant infrastructure improvements and overall active-lifestyle focus.

But, it was not only a time to share Pelham’s successes and to encourage communities across Nova Scotia. The conference was also a time to learn about strategies from other communities in North America and about the latest research on the importance of participation and an active lifestyle.

For example, there are huge physical and mental-health benefits of simply walking in a few 15-minute spurts throughout the day. Research shows that the “built environment” of a community – being built for the “human scale” and not just the automobile – impacts the participation and health of residents.

Or, that new health standards will not only focus on the number and intensity of the steps we take, but also on our overall movement or sedentary lifestyle over a 24-hour period. And, some doctors in Nova Scotia are writing actual “prescriptions for walking” and even walking with patients in community facilities or on trails each week. (I hope we can set up this type of walking club in the new Meridian Community Centre!)

Special thanks to the Lieutenant Governor LeBlanc and Minister Glavine for their focus on helping Nova Scotians to “increase their quality of life” by committing to a “healthier and active lifestyle.”

Now that spring is here, let’s follow their lead. Let’s all get moving more, get active and reduce our own sedentary living. Let’s strive to “sit less and move more.” And, let’s continue to work to create the conditions for a more active lifestyle across Niagara.


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

Monday, March 19, 2018

Final Financing of Community Centre

www.infrastructureontario.ca
As you know, it’s a very exciting time in Pelham since we are only a few months away from completing the construction of the new Meridian Community Centre.

Thanks to the excellent work and oversight of Ball Construction, the significant efforts of the many trades (many of which are local), the work of Town Staff, and the members of the Oversight Committee, we expect the MCC to be substantially complete before the end of June!

And while Staff work through the summer to fine-tune operations and prepare for full-service and a grand opening in the Fall, we look forward to hosting the Greg Campbell Memorial Paperweight Lacrosse Tournament – the largest in Ontario – in July.

And, as I wrote about last week, because of the generosity of the community, we have already reached a milestone of 90% of our original fundraising goal.

Now, this week, another element of the financing for the Community Centre should be finalized.

As you will recall, the approved financial plan called for funding to come from a variety of sources: about a quarter directly from our residents to service a debt through municipal taxes; and about a third from new development through Development Charges. Additional financing consisted of a construction bridge loan from Infrastructure Ontario (I/O) in order to help with the transition of selling the Town’s surplus land (valued at $12 million) and receiving $3 million in community donations.

As the Provincially-legislated process required, Pelham applied for this funding in the Spring of 2016. Since the Town met the qualifying criteria for the loan, the Region did its part as a facilitator by forwarding the paperwork to I/O in June 2016. As also required by the process, a binding Financing Agreement was formally signed that September for $36.2 million for the new Community Centre.

Again, as required by Provincial legislation and as contractually obligated, the Region assisted the Town’s debentures of $9.1 million in 2016 (the part of the financing directly funded through municipal taxes) and $12.1 million in 2017 (the part funded by future growth).

The standard process for the remaining portion of the loan was for the Town to notify I/O that the funds were required and they would release the funds directly to the Town without the Niagara Region approval; this was because it had already been approved in the Financing Agreement between the Town, I/O and the Niagara Region.

The standard process was interrupted by the Niagara Region on November 16, 2017. That’s when Regional Council sent I/O a motion that stated that the Region would defer future Pelham financing until they received additional information from the Town. This additional information was subsequently included in the KPMG Forensic Investigation report that is posted on the Town’s website and reviewed at the Region’s Audit Committee in January, 2018.

After I/O received this motion, they reconfirmed that the Town complies with all their qualifying criteria as under the Agreement. Then I/O asked the Regional Treasurer and Chair to sign an Acknowledgement Letter that confirms that the Niagara Region will still meet the obligations in the Financing Agreement. This Thursday, the Niagara Region is going one step further by requesting Council approval before signing this Acknowledgement.

Since the Town meets Infrastructure Ontario’s criteria, one would hope that Regional Council would live up to the obligations in the Agreement by signing the Acknowledgement Letter so that we can complete the Meridian Community Centre on-time and on-budget for the benefit of our entire community.


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

____________________________________

UPDATE: 2018 March 22

I am pleased that this financing issue was resolved before the Regional Council meeting on Thursday.

After Infrastructure Ontario confirmed that the Town continued to meet the original criteria for the financing, the Region was legally obligated to the original agreement.

Please see the media coverage by clicking here: https://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/news-story/8346233-regional-council-battle-over-pelham-s-finances-fizzles/





Monday, March 12, 2018

Unparalleled Contribution by Meridian!

Thanks to a $1 million contribution from Meridian Credit Union, Pelham’s new and beautiful Community Centre will be named the “Meridian Community Centre.”

Last Thursday, significant donors and Council gathered to make this announcement and to celebrate Meridian’s commitment to our community.

Even though they have grown to the largest credit union in the Province and the fourth largest in Canada, Meridian remains committed to its founding vision of helping the communities in which they operate.

They are a generous partner in so many community initiatives in Pelham and across the Niagara Peninsula. From supporting the Pelham Summerfest, to the Rankin Run, to naming other facilities, Meridian embodies their vision of supporting communities. They “walk the talk” by investing 4% of their pre-tax profits into donations and sponsorships to make our communities even stronger and more vibrant.

With the strong foundation of the Fonthill District Credit Union, then the Pelham Credit Union, then Niagara Credit Union, the Meridian Credit Union name represents a very long history in Pelham. That foundation includes community members coming together and working together for others and for the common good.

Wade Stayzer, Meridian Senior Vice-President and former Fonthill Branch Manager, explained the rational for their gift: “As a organization, we’re committed to building strong communities and this is a great example of that.” Further, he said that the new facility satisfied all three criteria Meridian uses in selecting recipients – a benefit to its members, to its employees and to its community. Referencing the range of activities that will occur in the facility, he added that “the Meridian Community Centre will be a place filled with moments that matter.”

This contribution stands unparalleled in our Town’s history. We are so grateful to Meridian Credit Union and all its members for demonstrating this incredible support.

As part of the acknowledgement of this generous contribution, Pelham Town Council will designate the street immediately north of the community centre as “Meridian Way.”

This contribution and those of other major donors – including Lucchetta Homes, Erwin Taylor Charitable Foundation and Contour Foot Care (also announced last week) – helps the Town of Pelham reach 90% of our $3 million fundraising goal for the new centre.

On behalf of Council, I deeply appreciate the generosity of these amazing donors! Their gifts demonstrate significant support for the new facility and show that by working together we can invest in and improve our community and achieve great things.

On behalf of all our residents and businesses, we thank Meridian for your amazing investment in Pelham and in Niagara!

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

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

____________________________________

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


____________________________________
Thanks to other media for covering the announcement:

"‘Unparalleled’ donation sees community centre named after Meridian"
NEWS Mar 08, 2018 by Laura Barton  St. Catharines Standard

"Meridian lands Pelham community centre naming rights: Donation of $1 million pushes fundraising campaign to 90 per cent of goal"
NEWS Mar 08, 2018 by Steve Henschel  Niagara This Week - Welland