Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Summer Update

As the lazy-hazy days of summer are headed our way, I thought you might be interested in a short update of significant Town issues.

Town Facilities – from Feasibility Study to Committees:
As you may recall, the consultant hired to solicit significant public input to help determine the long-term needs for Town facilities presented her final report in April 2008. This report called for a joint facility to replace and enlarge Fire Station #2 and the Maple Acres Library, a new twin-pad arena in town or in partnership with Welland, and to keep the campus-like feel of Fonthill’s downtown with the continued presence of the Town Hall and the Fonthill Library Branch.

As a result, Council recently approved the creation of three special facilities committees – one for Maple Acres Library branch, one for Pelham Fire Station #2, and one for Recreation Facilities – to make recommendations on the construction / replacement of Town facilities. We also asked for a conceptual plan for a new Town complex, which might include a new Administration / Library facility in Town Square in 10 years time.

Council asked to finalize the terms of reference and membership of these Committees at next week’s Council meeting.

Decision to Sell Land:
As you know, Council agreed to sell the Town-owned property at the corner of Rice Road and Highway 20. Because it is a public asset – the asset of you and your neighbours – the Town will follow open and transparent policies to dispose of the property. Council is awaiting an update report from staff.

Downtown Beautification:
Following an open house in the spring of 2007, Council designated a representative citizen’s group as an official Town committee to help beautify our downtowns. The active group encouraged Council to develop a Community Improvement Plan in 2008. This formal process began this spring and the first-set of public meetings were held last week to establish beautification guidelines and incentives for our downtowns. Any incentives will need to be funded by your tax dollars.

Other Significant Items:

  • Formalized a transit-link from Pelham to the rest of the Region via a hub at the Niagara College, with buses set to start this September;
  • Worked closely with the Ministry of the Environment to reach agreement that saw the removal of the Sound Sorb berm from Pelham;
  • Approved another fiscally-responsible budget (with a 1.6% combined Town, Region, and Education increase) and established reserve and reserve funds to better plan for multi-year capital projects;
  • Continuing to work with developers and planners to ensure that both the East Fonthill and East Fenwick developments fit with Pelham’s small-town feel and our vision for a walkable community.