Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Revitalizing Our Downtowns

Will you help promote the Town’s multi-million application to the Federal and Provincial Governments to revitalize Pelham’s downtowns? Will you also help finalize the Community Improvement Plan for our downtowns?

You see, the Federal and Provincial governments recently agreed to jointly fund an infrastructure improvement program called Build Canada.

In October, Town Council directed staff to prepare a Build Canada application for the revitalization of the Fonthill and Fenwick downtown cores.

Why our downtowns? Well, according to a 2007 Regional telephone survey, when asked “What areas in your city or town do you think need development/ growth?” nearly 50% of Pelham residents said “urban areas / downtowns.” In addition, it’s the municipal project that best fits the application.

Based on a 2002 Beautification Plan, Pelham’s $7.1 million project would include a series of major infrastructure developments: water, waste-water, and storm-water improvements of nearly $1.5 million; burying of hydro cables for $2.25 million; road work of $1.5 million; and proper streetscaping – accommodation for pedestrians and cyclists, better parking, brickwork, decorative lampposts, benches and planters – of nearly $0.5 million. (There’s another nearly $1.5 million for the environmental assessment, engineering, and contingencies.)

If successful, the Town will receive $4.76 million in funding from the Federal and Provincial governments. The balance of the funding would come from the Town’s various reserves and reserve funds, and long-term debt.

I assure you that our senior staff is developing an excellent application. But, because this could make such a major improvement for Pelham, and because Pelham has never received any significant Federal or Provincial funding, we are also organizing a significant lobby effort.

We have already spoken to Ontario Infrastructure Minister George Smitherman, MP Dean Allison, and MPP Tim Hudak. The Welland/Pelham Chamber of Commerce endorses the proposal and hopefully the Pelham Business Association will do the same. I know of a number of individual businesses that offered to send letters of support.

Therefore, we are inviting you and your neighbours to send a letter of support for this exciting proposal. How? Please check out the Town’s website at for more about Pelham’s application and contact information for the Federal and Provincial decision-makers.

Finally, the Town’s consultant is in the final stages of developing recommendations for incentives (like a façade improvement fund) and tax-increment financing to assist downtown land-owners to improve their properties. The consultant will host a public meeting on Monday, November 24 from 7:00 PM at Pelham Station #1, 177 Highway #20 West, Fonthill. I hope you can join us.