Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pelham's "Buy Canadian" Compromise

Pelham Council recently considered a “Buy Canadian” resolution from the City of Thorold.

As you may have heard, members of the District Labour Council recently asked Thorold to endorse a resolution to “Buy Canadian.” Buying Canadian in this case would mean requiring a minimum of 50% Canadian content and domestic final assembly in goods purchased. Thorold accepted the challenge and circulated their declaration to other municipalities.

On September 2, Pelham Council cautiously referred the matter to staff for a report of the financial implications of the Thorold motion.

I am pleased to tell you that over the last year or so, the Town has made a concerted effort to become very supportive of local businesses and of “buying local.” Whether it’s paint for the arena, parts for the Town’s trucks, printed material, or food for events, Town staff now buy local whenever possible and practical.

Also, we work closer-than-ever with both the Chamber of Commerce and the Pelham Business Association. In fact, because of collaboration with these two groups, the Town is launching an internet-based Business Directory today. From the stack of cards already submitted, staff have learned about some Pelham businesses for the first time. I hope you will review the directory, so you can not only purchase the goods and services you require but also so you can support your neighbours. (Please go to the Town's website at and click on "Business Directory" in the lefthand column.)

So then, why not wholly approve Thorold’s resolution?

Well, the Town has a “best practice” procurement policy that seeks to obtain the “lowest costs consistent with the required quality and service” regardless of the location of the product’s manufacturing. That means that the Town tenders for all major purchases – and, now, consistently advertises in local media.

But, some items are simply not available in Canada or Canadian companies sell products with greater than 50% foreign content. The September 15 staff report outlined two recent examples – the purchase of a custom fire truck and of a vehicle hoist – that cost us $404,300 to purchase directly from foreign manufacturers. Had we totally abided by Thorold’s resolution, we would have paid 55% more – nearly $224,000 more – to buy the same products from Canadian sales agents!

Thus, Pelham attained a good compromise when Council passed the following: “Be it resolved that the Town of Pelham, acting in good faith and in accordance to the “Best Practices” policy enacted by the Town, will make every effort to ensure that all products and or services are obtained locally or within Canada where possible.”

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

New Business Directory Coming!

Have you heard about the new initiative to support Pelham businesses? Wednesday, September 24th marks the official launch of the Town of Pelham Business Directory which has been developed in collaboration with the Welland-Pelham Chamber of Commerce and the Pelham Business Association.

How many times have you found yourself searching your memory for a business you’ve heard about or used in the past but just can’t recall the name or find the phone number? As you know, the Town continues to work with Pelham businesses to involve them in broader initiatives to market the Town, and encourage people to “Shop Locally”. The launch of the Business Directory underscores this commitment.

The new Business Directory allows all Pelham businesses – from retail, to service, to home-based – to participate. This initiative is aimed at promoting Pelham-based businesses through the Town’s official website:, as well as adding links from the Chamber and PBA websites.

There is no cost to participate and the Town will maintain the Directory. How do you ensure that your business or service is part of this exciting new opportunity? Sign up cards will be available at the official launch, or at the businesses listed below. Simply complete and sign a Business Directory contact information card and return it to any one of the following locations, or mail it directly to Town Hall:
In Fonthill:
- Butterflies Boutique, 1475 Pelham St.;
- Fonthill Library Branch, 43 Pelham Town Square;
- Lewis Family Chiropractic, 165 Highway 20 West;
- Town of Pelham Municipal Building, 40 Pelham Town Square;
In Fenwick:
- Einstein’s Laminated Art, 726 Canboro Road;
- Maple Acre Library Branch, 781 Canboro Road;
In Ridgeville:
- The Whisk & Ladle, 306 Canboro Road

Do you want to know more about this exciting project? Come and get a glimpse of the Directory and see first-hand the advantages of participation.

The official launch event will take place on Wednesday, September 24th in the Council Chambers at the Pelham Municipal Building from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. Bring in your signed cards and begin to take advantage of the benefits!

- Easy to Use
- Free Advertising
- No Registration Fee
- Cross Referenced
- Links to YOUR Website & E-mail
- Annual Updates

If you are a Pelham business, you are encouraged to participate! For further information, please contact Town Clerk, Cheryl Miclette at (905) 892-2607, ext. 20 or Nancy Bozzato, Deputy Clerk, ext. 15.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The more things change...

As you may have heard, St. Alexander School celebrated its 50th Anniversary this weekend. The event got me thinking about Pelham’s past and present.

The anniversary started with a “pub night” on Friday, and continued with an open house all-day on Saturday. The special weekend concluded with a Mass at St. Alexander Church, celebrated by Bishop Wingle.

As a proud graduate of the school, I was both honoured and privileged to offer congratulations on behalf of Council at the opening ceremony Saturday afternoon.

All the doors were open as hundreds of current and former students and their families wondered throughout the school. The organizing committee, chaired by Debbie Pine, did an amazing job of assembling memorabilia – old yearbooks, photographs, and newspaper articles of students and their accomplishments.

I personally enjoyed catching-up with one of my former classmates. Our discussion allowed me to reflect on not only our joint school experiences, but also on what Pelham was like more than 25 years ago.

The school certainly has had many physical changes over the years. It was just an “L-shaped” building in those days. The small gymnasium and the expansive tarmac (on which we tirelessly played foot-hockey) has been replaced with classrooms, a much-larger gym, and a centre courtyard. The baseball diamond, and homemade hanging bars and sandbox are now a contemporary playground and swings. The very small library (which was always packed with paperbacks) has become a cloakroom for the kindergarten class.

In those early days – the mid-1970s – the Pelham Plaza didn’t exist. I have distinct memories of walking along a footpath from the school through long grass, only to emerge at the Pelham Library in the basement of Town Hall.

The railway tracks were still in use along Station Street and had yet to become the Steve Bauer Trail of today. With the Fonthill Firehall on South Pelham, it wasn’t odd to hear the siren calling the volunteers. Kids who wanted a treat crossed the very busy Highway 20 to get to a convenience store where the Royal Bank now stands. (Imagine how much parents and the school liked that!) And, do you remember our one-and-only traffic light – at Highway 20 and South Pelham?

While much has changed over the years, Pelham is still the most beautiful and vibrant community in Niagara. From breathtaking vistas, to babbling brooks, to rich agricultural lands, Pelham enjoys a rich rural character. And, because of committed volunteers in our service and sports clubs and other associations, Pelham continues to be the community with a small-town feel, where neighbour helps neighbour.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Inspired at the AMO Conference

Have you ever participated in a conference for your work or for a service club or group with which you are involved?

If so, you know that the right conference can be inspiring and encourage you to reach greater goals. It can be a time to “take stock”, compare one’s efforts to the “best practices” of others, and to build relationships. And, some conferences often contain exhibits with new products or services.

That’s why I’m pleased to let you know that I felt this year’s annual Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference from August 25 to 27 in Ottawa was all of these things.

More than 1,800 delegates from municipalities across Ontario attended – including Pelham Town Councillors John Durley and Sharon Cook, Town CAO, Martin Yamich, and myself. The conference included more than 30 plenary sessions and workshops. The main topics included energy management, infrastructure investment, environmental protection, sustainability planning, immigration promotion, waste management, youth involvement, federal gas tax funding, trade and labour mobility, and labour relations. In addition, all three provincial party leaders and 17 Provincial Ministers and Parliamentary Assistants addressed us.

You may have heard that the Premier announced $1.1 billion of funding to all 445 Ontario municipalities. Since the allocation will be based on the 2006 census, Pelham will receive $775,259 and the Niagara Region will receive $20.1 million. While the exact criteria isn’t yet available, the Government indicated that it should be used for “infrastructure” and urged municipal leaders to “choose their next infrastructure project, and to move that project forward.”

While at AMO, your Pelham delegation also advanced your interests with four Provincial Ministers. First we met with Leona Dombrowsky, Minister of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs, to inform her about several “buy local produce” initiatives in Niagara and to encourage her to support farmers. Then we met with Jim Bradley, Minister of Transportation, about the arrangement Pelham made with Welland Transit to link us to the rest of the peninsula; he was impressed with our leadership and our plan. Next, we urged Donna Cansfield, Minister of Natural Resources, to come forward with a funding program to assist with spraying for Gypsy Moth. Finally, we informed George Smitherman, Minister of Energy & Infrastructure, about Pelham’s significant infrastructure needs – from roads and bridges, to pipes and facilities.

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