Monday, August 27, 2018

Fonthill Kame, Cannabis, and Senior Campuses at AMO Conference

Last week, Councillor Accursi, Councillor Papp, Town CAO Ottaway, 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.

We met with Hon. Jeff Yurek, MPP, Minister of Natural Resources & Forestry (MNRF), and Toby Barrett, MPP, Parliamentary Assistant, about maintaining and increasing the protection of the Fonthill Kame. Over the last 10 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 few 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 are delighted that Minister Yurek indicated that the Government would not be changing the ANSI protections! We look forward to working together on further safeguards.

We also met with Hon. Steve Clark, MPP, Minister of Municipal Affairs & Housing, about Provincial funding. 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. Ministry Staff indicated that they could work with the Town on these issues.

The Minister also informed us about his planned review of Regional governments following this Fall’s municipal elections; we indicated that Niagara would definitely want to participate. This was consistent with his message earlier in the conference when he shared his focus in working with local governments: cut red tape, increase the housing supply, reduce unnecessary reporting, strengthen regional governments, and find efficiencies.

We also listened to the three party leaders. Premier Ford acknowledged that Cities and Towns are “closest to the people” and stated that the Government had no plans for Toronto-type election reform on other cities “in the near future.” The Premier ended his speech talking about his Government by stating: “A new day has dawned in Ontario.”

Obviously AMO also many includes educational sessions and panel discussions.

Because of Pelham Council’s ongoing work, I especially appreciated the panel about “campus-style” approaches for Long-Term Care and retirement homes. We can use some of these suggestions to further enhance Pelham’s plans for a new medical centre, new seniors affordable housing, new senior’s apartments, a retirement residence, and a long-term care facility in Fonthill. Scheduled to start over the next year, these new housing and service developments are planned around the new Community Centre, Wellspring Niagara’s new Regional Cancer Support Centre, and the new stores and restaurants.

I also attended an information session about “Cannabis and Communities” – where the Provincial representatives shared that one of the “first orders of business” for a Council will be to decide whether to “opt-out” of allowing recreational cannabis retail outlets in their City or Town.

Finally, I was pleased to attend a session by representatives of Petrolia, Sioux Lookout, and East Gwillimbury about ways in which they worked with neighbouring communities to combine services to residents and businesses or find efficiencies in those services. I am committed to helping these types of discussions among the cities and towns across the Niagara Peninsula.

Not only did the AMO Conference encourage your Pelham delegates to use “best practices” and reach higher goals, we also used it as a tremendous opportunity to advance your interests with Provincial Ministries and build relationships with other municipal leaders.


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

Monday, August 20, 2018

Broad-Based Consultation for B&Bs and Vacation Properties

An overflow crowd assembled at last week’s Town Council meeting, because of concern raised in the community over “short-term rental properties.”

You see, some home-owners in the Lookout Point neighbourhood – between Haist and Lookout Streets and north of Regional Road 20 – have complained to their Ward Councillors and Town Staff about a couple of other property owners who rent-out their homes or rooms via AirBnB. These residents are concerned with increased traffic, more street parking, their own property values, noise, and of not knowing who might be renting their neighbour’s home. These residents feel like their enjoyment of their homes and properties have been impacted by the decisions of others. And, while these issues are being felt in communities across the country and around the world, these residents turned to the Town for help.

The Ward Councillors raised the matter at a June Committee meeting and Council directed Staff to work with residents to find out more and to propose a possible course of action. Staff held four meetings with residents to find out more about their concerns and to consider possible solutions.

While the Town’s Official Plan allows Bed & Breakfast facilities, the Zoning Bylaw makes no reference to B&Bs or vacation properties. Since this type of designation does not currently exist under zoning, the group suggested that the Town work toward defining these type of short-term rentals.

The key is that once the Town defines the type of use, it can regulate the use – for location, parking requirements, safety, noise, and other elements. The group also suggested that the Town learn from other communities facing these same issues.

Town Staff informed the resident group that Staff would present a report recommending a community consultation toward this approach to Council at our August 13 meeting.

A week before that report become public, a resident in that neighbourhood started an on-line petition. Someone also wrote an anonymous opinion piece that threatened that Council “intends to permit this use in every home within the town—every home, on every street, in every neighbourhood” and that Council saw this as a “new revenue stream.” These inaccurate missives suggested that people flood the Council Chamber and demand a total ban of short-term vacations rentals across the Town (which would not be legal) and also that the matter be deferred until after the election this Fall.

This anonymous “call to arms” caused panic across the Town and helped fill the Council Chamber last Monday.

Obviously, nothing could be further from the truth on what the Town had planned. In fact, Staff recommended a more broad-based community consultation begin so that the use might be defined to match the desires of our community.

During the meeting, the Town’s director of planning corrected the record and addressed the many inaccuracies and false statements that were published in an August 8, 2018, opinion column in a local newspaper and on the Change.org website. This correct information helped quell the panic of residents.

Councillors discussed the Staff report and the statement and directed that the Town undertake fulsome, broad based discussions with the community regarding this issue. Please look forward to these discussions this Fall. We will want to know where bed and breakfast establishments and vacation rentals should or should not be permitted; and if they are to be permitted, what should be the conditions? Only following that community discussion will there be a further report to Council with options on whether or not to amend the zoning bylaw and/or to introduce licensing of these uses; that will take a few months to do, depending on the feedback.

Council and I look forward to rational and constructive discussions of this issue and to a community-based solution. We also recognize the importance of the issue, since it is currently affecting folks across the Town.

Please check out the planning director’s statement, the Staff report, other documents and a video of our Council meeting at the Town’s website: www.pelham.ca.

We look forward to working together with you and your neighbours to address short-term rental properties.


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

Monday, August 13, 2018

Answering Pool, Haist Arena, and Double-Pad Questions

Since some people asked me recently about certain elements of the Meridian Community Centre, and the former Haist Street Arena, I thought I would also answer their questions here.

Business Case:
As you know, recreational and cultural services in Pelham was at a log-jam for decades. Numerous consultant reports outlined great desires and drew nice designs of community centres. However, none evaluated the operating costs nor tested the business case. It was like those former reports offered a shiny new sports car but failed to account for operating costs and whether the community could afford to drive it.

To help break the impasse, the Town hired Leisureplan International to develop a market analysis and business case study.

Indoor Pool:
Despite the desire – which still continues today – LeisurePlan recommended against including an indoor pool. They stated that demand for an indoor pool was only at 50% of that required to financially support it. This lack of sustaining demand makes sense because there are three indoor pools 5, 10 and 15 minutes from the Meridian Community Centre – at the Niagara Centre YMCA, Welland Wellness Centre, and Brock University.

LeisurePlan reported “To be financially viable, a significant annual operating subsidy would be required from the Municipality in the order of $1,000,000 per year.” This is in line with other municipal pools; the Kiwanis Aquatic Centre in in St. Catharines, for example, costs $1.6 million net per year (expenses $2.36 million; revenues $734K).

An extra $1 million for an indoor pool would mean about a 9% increase in property taxes for the average residential property, plus another 3% for financing the construction costs. Obviously, Council did not include a pool in the Centre.

Double Arena:
There are still some questioning the need for a double arena.

While LeisurePlan initially estimated that a second arena wouldn’t be financially sustainable until 2023, arena users questioned the completeness of that data and the Architectural Design Advisory Committee struggled with the feasibility of a phased design. LeisurePlan considered the missing information and concluded in June 2015 that “a second ice pad would be utilized 69%-77% during prime time” and recommended providing a second ice pad by 2018. In July 2015, Council agreed with that recommendation and directed that the design include two arenas.

It’s a good thing we did because we will exceed those demand projections for the second ice pad. The Town signed binding five-year usage agreements with local minor hockey and figure skating associations to use 100% of the Accipiter Arena and more than 90% of the Duliban Insurance Arena during prime time. (And the ice is currently being used in the Duliban; Staff plan to get the ice in the Accipiter once Lacrosse season ends this month.)

Twinning Haist Arena:
As the Town is currently decommissioning it, some folks have asked by whether the former Arena on Haist Street was ever built to be twinned.

We know that this Arena did not meet the Building Code when it was constructed; that’s why the brick cracked and the Town had to spend $120,000 to reinforce the arena walls a few years ago. And, we know that the Town scrimped on the construction in the 1970s – shrinking both the ice surface and changeroom size. Yet, this rumour prevails…

So, about four years ago, I asked a building official to examine the original plans for the Haist Street Arena to see if they gave any hints on the potential for twinning. The plans showed no indication of twinning – like you might do with hatching or marking an area “for future expansion.” Further, and more telling, had the structure been twinned, the fire / emergency exits on the East or West sides of the building would have exited right into a second rink.

Reflecting on these questions, I find solace in a quote from Winston Churchill: “The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”

I am pleased that we have constructed Pelham’s new Meridian Community Centre based on a solid business case analysis and that it will serve as our community’s gathering place and recreational space for people of all ages and abilities for decades to come.


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

Monday, August 6, 2018

Cancelling the Chair Election

Ken Seiling was re-elected in Waterloo Region, 2014.
Waterloo Region has elected the Regional Chair-at-large since 1997.
In light of the Ontario Government’s unexpected and anti-democratic announcement a week-and-a-half ago to cancel the Niagara Chair election this Fall, I filed my nomination in Pelham to become a Regional Councillor. I hope to win a seat on Council and to work together with other Councillors, residents and businesses across the peninsula to fix the Region’s integrity crisis and to create a better Niagara.

2016 Legislation:
In the Fall of 2016, the Province introduced legislation that included mandating the election of all Ontario’s Regional Chairs by the public-at-large, starting in 2018. While this push toward a more accountable and democratic election alarmed a few folks in Niagara, those watching the Municipal sector weren’t surprised.

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

Waterloo Region began electing their Chair 21 years ago. Halton Region has elected a Regional Chair since 2000. Durham Region first elected their Regional Chair in 2014.

A bill to elect the York Regional Chair-at-large was before the Ontario Legislature in 2016. And, in 2013, Peel Regional Council directed staff to report after the 2014 election on options to directly elect their Chair for the 2018 municipal election.

History:
When they first created Regional Governments in the 1970s, the Province also appointed the first Regional Chairs. After our first Chair (John Campbell) retired in 1985, Council appointed one of its own as Chair from Council (Wilber Dick).

This appointment process meant that the new Chair had to give up his or her seat and was appointed for the entire four-year term of Council.

In 1991 and again in 2013, Council reaffirmed this process of appointing from Council. And, since the Municipal Act states that if a Mayor were appointed as Chair he or she would have to give up his or her position on the City or Town Council, for practical purposes only elected Regional Councillors (not Mayors) put their names forward for Chair.

An Opportunity for Niagara:
With the direct election of Chair-at-large, candidates for the Chair’s position were putting together a vision that would appeal to all of Niagara. These visions were similar to the visions that Mayoral candidates present to the public – but they were for all in the peninsula.

Directly electing the Regional Chair would have helped pull the views and hopes of our Region’s citizen’s together and could have become an important and unifying force for moving Niagara forward.

I believed that it would have also helped us to work together to become more open, transparent, accountable, and democratic in Niagara.

Recent Announcement:
Sadly, the new Provincial government recently announced that they would be stripping that democratic right away from millions of voters in Niagara, Muskoka, Peel and York.

It doesn’t make sense that a Government that claims to be “for the People” removes your and other people’s right to vote and decide on our future together. And to erroneously claim that directly electing the Niagara Chair added an “additional level of government [that] competes with local municipalities” is misleading and insulting.

I had put my name forward to run for Regional Chair because hundreds of people across Niagara asked me to bring integrity back to the Region and lead the peninsula forward. To those who see the major problems our Region’s facing and the opportunities we are missing, the Government’s cancellation changes nothing. My commitment to restoring integrity to our Regional Government and bringing prosperity and compassion to people is unwavering and I will continue to work for a better Region.


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

Monday, June 25, 2018

Public Money Paying for Self-Promotion?

Do you think that your property taxes should pay for self-promotion by elected Councillors?

This was the issue at our last Regional Council meeting when I brought forward a motion to end the practice of some Councillors using public funds to send self-promotional flyers to residents.

You see, this year Councillors Annunziata (Fort Erie), Barrick (Port Colborne), and Quirk (Grimsby) used Regional staff resources to prepare self-promoting flyers and public tax dollars to mail them to residents in their Towns/City. Councillor Quirk mailed something in January and again in May, when the others followed his lead.

These flyers told a story they wanted to tell about their work on the Regional Council. The flyers included their pictures and spoke to only their efforts. To many, the flyers read like re-election material.

In the case of Councillor Barrick’s flyer, it drew the ire of Port Colborne City Council because he tried to contrast the tax increases and water rates between the Region and that City. Many pointed that out as a false comparison because both have different roles and responsibilities. For instance, since the Region sells wholesale water to Niagara’s cities and towns, the City’s water rates also include the increases from the Region. Further, the Region makes up approximately 50% of the blended property tax bill and takes advantage of tens-of-millions of dollars of “uploading” by the Province for their programs and services; Cities and Towns represent 30% of the final tax bill, cannot use that uploading advantage, and provide totally different local services and programs.

The tax rate comparisons they touted weren’t even correct. They quoted “1.4%” or “1.48%” as the four-year average tax rate increase; it is actually a cumulative total of 6.02% for the four years and therefore an average of 1.50%.

(Ironically, despite their self-congratulations, the flyers fail to mention that this term’s cumulative tax increase is actually 4% higher than last term’s 5.77%, when I chaired the Region’s budget.)

Each of the flyers also mention infrastructure work or other initiatives by the Region in the specific city or town represented by the Councillor. And, while there’s the photo of the Councillor, the flyers contain no mention of the other Regional representative for that City or Town – the Mayor. It’s as if the Councillor were acting alone and that the projects and initiatives were their work alone.

Responding to my motion, the Councillors stated that they need to be able to communicate directly with residents about improvements by the Region. They state that local media does not always carry the information that they shared and not all households follow them on social media.

The three Councillors complained about my motion to disallow future self-promotional initiatives; they also stated about me that “His arrogance is astounding, that he would assume how best we should communicate with the residents of Fort Erie, Grimsby and Port Colborne…”

Most people who have spoken to me about this issue see their flyers as an improper use of public resources and funds for self-promotion. Some have even called it electioneering.

Others wondered why they didn’t include their respective Mayors on the flyers as the other representative for the community; aren’t the Mayors also responsible for the great things that they highlight in those Towns and City?

A few others wondered what it would cost if all 31 Regional Councillors did this same type of mailing – and if it were done every quarter as Councillor Quirk has done this year. I estimate that it would be over $100,000 per year if you included Staff time, printing, and distribution.

Since the matter was deferred to a future finance committee meeting, I would like to share your feedback during the debate. It this practice wrong, a misuse of public funds, and something that should be stopped? Or, is this an important way of communicating with you and other members of the public and should be funded by your property tax dollars?
________________________

Should public funds be used to pay for these types of self-promotional flyers?












_________________________

You may contact Mayor Dave at mayordave@pelham.ca or review the fliers at www.pelhammayordave.blogspot.ca.

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.