Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Major Infrastructure & Planning Issues Ahead

For your information, here is a summary of the speech I delivered yesterday at the Pelham / Welland Chamber of Commerce Mayor's Breakfast.

Major Infrastructure Investments:
• Pelham received unprecedented Federal & Provincial investments – totaling $12.4 M in capital projects
• Context: Double annual capital budget; second best per capita in Niagara

Downtown Fonthill Revitalization: $2.5 M + bury Hydro
• Pelham Street from College Street, across Regional Road #20 to Broad Street – New road, water and sewer, improved streetscape
• Public Open Houses in November and January 2010
• Construct from May until November 2010

Haist Street Reconstruction: $5.7 M

• Priority project that with investment, doing three years work in one year
• New road, water, storm sewer, sidewalks, crosswalks, cycling
• Sanitary Sewer relocation – construction November 2009
• Rest of construction from March to ~November

Replacement of Fire Station #2 (Fenwick): $2.9 M
• Required for +decade; Fed. & Prov. support make possible now!
• Replace 60 year old Firehall that falling apart and too small for growth
• Functional analysis complete, property issues complete fall 2009
• Construction from March to October 2010

Nine New, Accessible Playgrounds: $1.1 M
• Replace and upgrade playground equipment in nine playgrounds across Town including: MSSP, Centennial Park, Harold Black, North Pelham, etc.
• Install totally accessible equipment and accessible flooring
• RFP awarded this fall; Installation & Finishing from April to July 2010

Town Hall Addition: $260K
• Add on to second floor of Town Hall to accommodate staff (sardines now!)
• Construction beginning in December and ending in March 2010

Major Planning Issues:

Community Improvement Plan Designation & Design Guidelines:
• CIP allows for establish area that can receive special treatment
o Incentives, Tax-Increment Plan, Development Charge exemption
• CIP public meeting in November, and to Committee / Council in December
o Budget implications for 2010?
• Design Guidelines:
o What will it all look like for fa├žade improvements?
o What will be long term vision for downtowns?
• Design Guidelines report to Committee / Council in November
o Action Plan to achieve strategies

Official Plan:
• Policies for commercial development, agriculture, residential development, for downtowns, for growth
• Work of several years; last updated in 1987
• Work impacted by:
o Provincially imposed policies such as Greenbelt, Places to Grow, Provincial Policy Statement
o Regional Growth Plan
• Open House in October
• Public Meeting in November; Enact in January 2010?

East Fonthill Secondary Plan & Town-Owned Lands:
• Town-Owned Lands purchased as if designated and zoned a certain way:
o Province changed “Rules”; Secondary Plan process to Landowners
• Town-Owned Lands:
o Report for Workshop to Council in October
o Dependant on rest of Secondary Plan
• Secondary Plan:
o Landowner’s Group present draft plan by end of 2009
o Final to Town in April / May; Public meeting in June
o Ratified in July/August?

An important year lies ahead.
Let’s keep working together to improve Pelham!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ways of Working Together with You

Last week I wrote to you about how your municipal council is organized. But, how can you or other members of the public get your suggestions or improvements examined and implemented?

Anyone interested in making a presentation to Council or General Committee should contact the Town Clerk at (905) 892-2607 ext. 320. You must make a formal request in writing before 4:30 PM on the Wednesday preceding the meeting. The Town’s Procedural Bylaw limits presentations to 10 minutes, but offers no time limit on questions by Councillors; it also limits the number of presentations to four per meeting.

You can also provide suggestions during a “public meeting.” Most public meetings involve planning matters and follow a formal agenda – presentations by staff and the applicant, direct input by members of the public with questions and comments, comments by Councillors. We invariably direct staff to prepare a report for action based on the public input.

I am very proud that this Council starts our annual budget deliberations with a special public meeting. We listen to all public input on any spending or Town issue. We refer all your input for consideration as staff prepares the budget for the next year.

We will hold the 2010 Pre-Budget Meeting on Tuesday, October 13 at 7:00 PM at Pelham Fire Station #2 (Fenwick). Register with the Clerk in advance or just come and present your ideas or suggestions.

You can also give us your ideas at open houses or “public information centres”. These sessions generally include diagrams, maps, or mock-ups and, over a couple of hours, provide you with an opportunity to ask questions and make written suggestions or comments. For example, staff will organize an open house regarding the reconstruction of South Pelham (downtown Fonthill) this fall.

After generally starting with a presentation by a consultant or staff, workshops usually break-up into small groups to solicit interactive feedback and suggestions. During the summer, the Town held workshops regarding a vision for the Town’s “Community Improvement Plan”; we should hear results this fall.

You can also use standard communication methods to make a suggestion or get your point across. If you write about a major issue or request a policy change, your letter will go to the appropriate committee for information or action. Of course you can also call staff, councillors or myself directly. You can also request a meeting to discuss your issue. (You can even stop me on the street, as many people do, to discuss Town matters!)

These are some of the major ways in which you can get involved in the Town’s democratic process.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Immigrant's Memorial Bench

Below you will find my speech for the unveiling of the Immigrant's Memorial Bench in Peace Park today:

In March of 2009, the Pelham Town Council approved a resolution that the Town of Pelham honour “all immigrants who find themselves caught between cultures and are challenged to conform to both.”

The resolution carried on that “we honour these immigrants by installing a bench and planting a tree as a memorial in Peace Park.”

That is why we are here today.

As you may know, Canada was the first country in the world to adopt multiculturalism as an official policy. By so doing, Canada affirmed the value and dignity of all Canadian citizens regardless of their racial or ethnic origins, their language, or their religious affiliation.

Canadian multiculturalism is fundamental to our belief that all citizens are equal. Multiculturalism ensures that all citizens can keep their identities, can take pride in their ancestry and have a sense of belonging. The Canadian experience has shown that multiculturalism encourages racial and ethnic harmony and cross-cultural understanding.

Through multiculturalism, we recognize the potential of all Canadians, encouraging them to integrate into their society and take an active part in Canada’s social, cultural, economic and political affairs.

All Canadians are guaranteed equality before the law and equality of opportunity regardless of their origins. Canada’s laws and policies recognize Canada’s diversity by race, cultural heritage, ethnicity, religion, ancestry and place of origin and guarantee to all men and women complete freedom of conscience, of thought, belief, opinion expression, association and peaceful assembly.

At the same time, Canadians are free to choose for themselves, without penalty, whether they want to identify with their specific group or not. Their individual rights are fully protected and they need not fear group pressures.

Our diversity is a national asset. And, our citizenship gives us equal rights and equal responsibilities.

We affirm these rights today to help ensure that a multicultural, integrated and inclusive citizenship will be every Canadian’s inheritance.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Council, Committee, and You

Over the last couple of months, a number of people have asked me about how Council and Committees works. When do we meet? When can members of the public speak at Council? And, how do you get your suggestions or improvements discussed?

As a general rule, your Town Council meets at 7:00 PM on the first and third Mondays of each month in the Council Chambers in Town Hall. (During July and August we tend to only meet once.) If one of our regular meetings falls on a holiday Monday (like Labour Day), we meet on the Tuesday.

Council is formal; it’s where we undertake the official business of the Corporation of the Town of Pelham. We advance the Town’s business through motions and our actions are governed by a Procedural Bylaw. At Council, we make motions and enact bylaws – for taxation, for spending, for administration and enforcement. We set policy and we authorize and accept tenders. We receive and act on official correspondence. And, we ratify decisions of the Town’s General Committees.

Immediately following these Town Council meetings, we hold a “General Committee” meeting. Slightly less formal, General Committee is intended to be more detail oriented. All Councillors are members of General Committee and act as either Chair or Vice-Chair of one of the three divisions.

Planning & Development Services deals with matters involving development proposals, subdivision plans, zoning bylaws, official plans, building permits and the building code, and bylaw enforcement. Councillor Emmons is Chair; Councillor Durley is Vice-Chair.

Community & Infrastructure Services deals with roads, sidewalks, streetlights, sewers, water, cemeteries, drainage, parks, recreational services, facilities, and special community events. Councillor Urbanowicz is Chair; Councillor Cook is Vice-Chair.

Corporate Services deals with all matters relating to budgets, taxation and fees, and all other financial matters, human resources, and fire and library services. Councillor Papp is Chair; Councillor Lane is Vice-Chair.

What General Committee approves at one meeting is scheduled for ratification by Council at its next meeting (roughly two weeks later).

As you may know, both Council and Committee require “quorum” – at least the majority (four members) of the seven members – to legally function and make decisions. Each member of Council, including the Mayor, gets one vote. If the majority of members on hand support the motion, it is approved or “Carried”. If not, the motion is “Lost” or “Defeated”. In the case of a tie vote, the motion is defeated.

Next week, I will write about how you and other members of the public get involved in this democratic process.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Thanks to Volunteers and Coaches

Were you or your children / grandchildren involved in one of Pelham’s play-off games over the last couple of weeks?

On Sunday, Pelham Minor Baseball held an extremely well organized “Championship Day” at Harold Black Park. All the teams – from T-Ball, Rookie, Mosquito, Peewee, Midget, and Bantam – participated in playoff games, and each of the players gave it their all in running, throwing, and hitting competitions. The tremendous day also included a BBQ (courtesy Brian at M&M Meats) and awards ceremonies for each of the levels of play. I commend all the volunteers, organizers, and sponsors for the special day and for the wonderful season!

Similarly, my Pre-Squirt Soccer team recently enjoyed a special awards ceremony following our last game. I understand that other soccer levels have recently finished their seasons.

Over the weekend I bumped into my friend Ken who has coached Fenwick Softball for the last seven years. He said they recently had their playoff games.

And, so it has been similar for each of the summer team sports -- each of the seasons has ended.

Now the other sports – Figure Skating, Hockey, and Basketball – will be starting up in earnest for the fall / winter season.

As we are in this transition of sorts, I think it is a good time to honour and thank all those who volunteer with all the organized sport across our Town.

There are hundreds of coaches, conveners, and members of sports executives / associations that volunteer their time and efforts to ensure that our kids learn new skills, stay active, and enjoy the game. They also work behind the scenes to ensure it’s all organized and runs like a well oiled machine. Some might have kids on a team, but others volunteer or keep volunteering because they love the sport and are community minded.

On your behalf, and on behalf of the children of our Town, thank you to all our sport volunteers!

What about you? Are you interested in coaching or helping out?

Coaching just takes a couple of hours a week for you, but it helps build a positive foundation for kids for their lifetime.

Please check out these websites for more information and to get involved:

Pelham Figure Skating Club:
Pelham Minor Baseball Association:
Pelham Minor Hockey Association:
Pelham Panthers Basketball:
Pelham Soccer Club:
Pelham Tennis Club:
Fenwick Softball:

Thanks again to all coaches and youth sports volunteers!