Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Playgrounds Better Than Freezies!

So, do you think our nine new, fully-accessible playgrounds are better than freezies?

Let me explain.

You see, we enjoyed a special visit from Dean Allison, MP Niagara-West Glanbrook, and Minister Jim Bradley, MPP St. Catharines, on July 30. Mr. Allison and Minister Bradley joined me, members of Town Council, and others to celebrate the extraordinary Federal and Provincial investments in Pelham.

All the infrastructure projects total $12.6 million, plus $1 million to bury utilities in Downtown Fonthill. The projects include Pelham Street Reconstruction ($2.5 million + $1 million to bury utilities); Haist Street Reconstruction ($5.7 million); Replacing Fire Station #2 ($2.9 million); Playground Replacements ($1.1 million); Town Hall expansion ($380,000).

These investments are nearly triple the Town’s normal annual capital budget. And, while other Cities and Towns have received millions of dollars through the decades, Pelham was always “shut-out;”until now, that is! Pelham now leads since these investments represent the second highest per capital funding in Niagara!

How did we achieve this?

Council, Staff and the Community worked together to ensure we were prepared for the stimulus funding. Staff and I worked with MPs and MPPs. Staff worked with Ministry staff to review and emulate other successful projects and used a team approach to develop our applications. I invited you and others to get involved and write letters of support. (Thanks to the many that did!). Working together, we achieved investments now that will change years of wait into months of action.

But, what about the Town-wide playground renewal? The nine playgrounds include Harold Black, Centennial, Cherry Ridge, Hurleston, North Pelham, Marlene Stewart Streit, Pelham Corners, and Rolling Meadows. Coloured brightly and fitted with artificial turf to prevent injury and allow wheelchair, walker, stroller access, we tailored each playground to its area. For example, Marlene Stewart Streit’s brown and green match the trees and leaves surrounding “the pit.” Centennial Park’s yellow and purple match the colours of the Fenwick Lions Club (who donated the park to the Town in 1967).

Pelham now stands at the only Niagara community (perhaps the only in Ontario) with fully accessible playgrounds! The equipment includes climbers, platforms, swings, and slides for kids and exercise equipment for parents.

So, what do some kids think about their new playground? At the ribbon cutting on July 30, we offered freezies to neighbourhood children. Despite the warm afternoon, they didn’t want any. Why? Because they didn’t want to stop playing on the equipment! I hope all the new equipment will enrich the lives of Pelham residents for many years to come.