Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"Be Nice, Clear Your Ice"

Do you remember the cartoonist Ben Wicks? If so, what does he have to do with the proposed sidewalk clearing bylaw for Pelham?

Ben Wicks was a British-born Canadian cartoonist, illustrator, journalist and author. Very topical and witty, his cartoon, The Outcasts, was syndicated by 84 Canadian and more than 100 American newspapers.

In the early 1980s, Toronto promoted sidewalk clearing using an animation by Mr. Wicks. “Be Nice, Clear Your Ice” encouraged people to clear the sidewalks in front of or alongside their property within 12 hours of the end of a snowfall or ice event.

But what does this have to do with Pelham, you ask?

Last year, the members of the Pelham Active Transportation committee suggested that the Town enact a bylaw to compel owners and tenants to clear ice and snow from the sidewalk surrounding their properties. The Committee gave research showing how it would help make Pelham a more walkable community.

Also last year, the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council asked Council to pay for the removal of snow from sidewalks to that they would be clear for local students when walking to and from school.

In February of 2009, Council approved nearly $20,000 to the budget to clear an additional 633 metres of sidewalks in front of Town-owned properties like parks. We also asked for staff to develop a snow clearing by-law for implementation in November.

When that draft bylaw came back to Council in July, Council asked that it be posted on the Town’s website for comment.

At our regular meeting on November 2, General Committee received those 17 public comments, debated an amended bylaw, and approved it.

The bylaw called for property-owners or tenants to clear ice and snow from sidewalks in front of or along side a home or business within 24 hours of a snowfall. It proposed that if the Town must clear the ice and snow the costs will be charged to the property-owner.

Staff recommended that the Town inform all residents about the bylaw, its purpose and enforcement details through the next set of water bills and with newspaper inserts. Further, it was recommended that until January 31, 2010, staff would remind people with a note and give a grace period to clear the ice and snow.

That bylaw came to Council for consideration on Monday, but was not adopted. Given recent feedback from the community, Council referred the bylaw back to staff to add more flexibility.

If enacted, I hope that a sidewalk snow clearing by-law will lead to safer, more pedestrian-friendly neighbourhoods throughout our Town. As I shovel this winter, I will remember Ben Wick’s advice: “Be Nice, Clear Your Ice.”

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

With Our Hearts

It was a very gentle gesture that was so filled with meaning.

Four children offered poppies to the veterans and members of the Royal Canadian Legion.

But these were very special poppies. You see, not only were they hand-made, but they were constructed from four, cut-out hearts that were joined at the base.

This gift to our veterans was during a “Moment with the Young” and part of a special Remembrance Day Service at the Fonthill Baptist Church on Sunday. The heart-poppies tied so beautifully with Rev. Russ Myers’s theme for the service: “See with your heart what they saw with their eyes.”

That’s the point of Remembrance Day, isn’t it?

Remembrance Day is the time for us empathize with and give thanks for those brave men and women who served, and who continue to serve, our country during times of war, conflict and peace.

Remembrance Day is about honouring their courage, their commitment, and their devotion to our community and to Canada.

The men and women of the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan are fighting still, for the principles of peace and justice. Indeed, it is right to remember their sacrifice and determination too.

On the cenotaphs in Fenwick, Ridgeville, and Fonthill and on the bricks at the Veteran’s Park, we can read the names of some of those from Pelham that were killed in battle or who acted in our service.

It is right for us to remember those who served from Pelham. They gave their lives for us. They gave their lives for our children. They gave their lives for future generations yet to come.

They gave their futures so that our future might be one of peace.

The gentle action of the children during the special Remembrance Day Service calls us to engrave their names and their sacrifices not only on cenotaphs or bricks but also on our hearts.

The freedoms that so many of us might take for granted – to express ourselves, to participate in cultural, religious, and political activities, to come and go as we please, to pursue a safe and happy life – are all due to the sacrifices of Veterans and those who today follow in their footsteps.

And so, on this Remembrance Day 2009, let us be thankful. Let us rededicate ourselves to peace. And let us never forget.