Monday, October 11, 2010

Greatest Achievement & Biggest Disappointment

Below are my notes for the third prepared question at the Mayoral debate, hosted by the Fonthill Rotary Club on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at the Royal Canadian Legion.

Question 3)
In your term on Council, what do you consider to be:
a) your greatest achievement
b) your biggest disappointment or failure?

Working together with Council, Staff, the Community, Federal and Provincial reps, and Ministerial staff to Make Investments Happen for Pelham.

Over the decades, Pelham used to be "shut out" from grants while other cities and towns received millions of dollars.

Now, Pelham has become a leader! These $8.4 investments represent the second highest per person stimulus funding in Niagara.

For example:
• Thorold: 18,000 people: $1.8 M stimulus
• Lincoln: 21,000 people: $1.7 M
• Grimsby: 24,000 people: $5.4 M
• Pelham: 17,000 people: $8.4 M

How did we achieve that together?
First, we met frequently with Pelham's Federal and Provincial representatives and even before the stimulus investments. For example, Mr. Hudak assisted us and connected us with Ministry staff. We also received copies of the successful applications from other Towns and Cities so that we could imitate them.

Staff & Council met with Provincial Ministers (Smitherman & Bradley):
o When Minister Bradley met with staff and I in my office in December 2008, tt was the first time in Pelham's history that a Provincial Minister had ever visited Town Hall!
Staff and I met with Provincial Ministry staff
o Infrastructure, Energy, Hyrdo One; Agriculture
Council also obviously got engaged in process and we used their contacts
Council and I encouraged Town Staff to:
o Use a team approach for Pelham's applications.
I invited the Pelham Business Association, the Chamber of Commerce, and all businesses and residents to get involved and write letters of support for improvements.

The focus on working together may have looked easy to some, but it has resulted in what Minister Jim Bradley stated at groundbreaking for Pelham Fire Station #2 on Friday.
He said "this is yet another milestone in the transformation of Pelham."

Because we have achieved so much this term, I am disappointed that we couldn’t move ahead faster on issues with Town Property;

But as you know, THIS Council’s hands were tied by the previous Council when they gave control of the process to the Developers.

Good news is that we have managed to pay down $1.1 million of principal – while the previous Council only paid interest (no principal!);
Also the East Fonthill Secondary Plan should be complete in 2011.

Working together we have achieved great things.
We have turned years of wait into months of action.

Pelham's Main Economic "Engine"

Below are my notes for the second prepared question at the Mayoral debate, hosted by the Fonthill Rotary Club on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at the Royal Canadian Legion.

Question 2)
What do you consider will be the main economic engine in the Town of Pelham for the next 5/10/20 years and beyond? And, what is the Mayor’s responsibility in this regard?

Historically, Pelham’s main economic engines have been agriculture and trade, residential developments and affiliated services.

Recently, also developing other services and a retail sector.
But, have little to no manufacturing or industrial operations.

Really rely on the businesses in other parts of Niagara.
Rely on improvements and advancements at Brock University and Niagara College and other key employers.

Statistics Canada says that 76% of employment work force works outside of Pelham
Double rest of Region – where it’s 36%.

At same time, Town’s First Strategic Plan of 1994, suggested that Town ease up rules on home-based businesses.

Result: 10% of Pelham’s employment work force works from Home, average across Region is 6%. This highlights Pelham's innovative, entrepreneurial residents.


Decisions and investments so will revitalize Downtowns – draw people and businesses to the downtowns.

Some proposals in the Draft Official Plan and in East Fonthill Secondary Plans should provide additional areas for small and medium sized businesses to grow in the Town.
Downtown Transitional Zones – near Downtowns
Highway Commercial – along Regional Road #20
Not talking big box stores, here;
Look at businesses that have set-up shop out-of-Town because no location for them:
Royal LePage; JTG Computer Systems; Nauta Home Designs; Personal Touch Home Improvements; Select Coffee Roasters;

Main Economic Driver in Pelham over next 20 years:

Residential Sector and allied services:
From garden centres to flooring stores, from Mobility Niagara to financial services;

With Pelham’s lively and walkable Downtowns, great culture, and relaxed rules to establish home-based businesses, Pelham needs to become a leader in Niagara in the new economy … the idea / creative economy

The "Creative Economy" includes:
o Graphic designers;
o Engineers;
o Writers and artists;
o Planners;
o Aeronautics – like Accipiter Radar Technologies;
o Bio-tech R&D;
o Robotics;
o Environmental industries;

Will continue and expand on things already started:
1. Continue to work with Niagara Economic Development Corporation to promote Pelham to outside businesses:
a. Did that through new Economic Development website Pelham which was launched this summer

2. Expand current efforts with the Mayor’s Corporate Visitation Program:
a. current partnership with Chamber of Commerce:
b. Meet with local businesses, to discern what the Town can do or the Chamber can do so they can grow business;

3. Finally, I will also lead development of an overall vision and strategy for Pelham:
i. Not strategic plan for Town Hall;
ii. But, a strategic plan for the entire Town (and similar to the Mayor’s prosperity councils in other communities)

It’s clear that during the next 20 years, Pelham’s economy will continue to be dependent on successes of businesses across the Niagara Region;
Also clear that to survive, Pelham will need to focus on:
• the agricultural sector;
• services to the residential sector, and;
• encouraging more small, creative-economy, idea-based, home-based businesses to start-up and expand.

Recreation & Town-Owned Lands

Below are my notes for the first prepared question at the Mayoral debate, hosted by the Fonthill Rotary Club on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at the Royal Canadian Legion.

Question 1)
What is your position with regard to the Town providing a Community Recreation Centre and, what is the current status of the Town owned lands at the corner of Hwy. 20 and Rice Road? Please comment citing specific budget considerations and time lines.

Who among us wouldn’t want the best for our community?

Who wouldn’t want a new Twin-Pad arena, a new Community Centre, a new indoor pool, and new outdoor fields?

But the question isn’t simply about being “for or against” a community centre.

The responsible questions are about what Pelham needs and about what we can afford.

It’s responsible to ask what recreational and cultural facilities do we need now; and, what will we need in the future.

It’s also responsible to ask “what can we afford?” What can we afford for land and construction costs now, and for operating costs into the future?

To responsibly answer these questions, Council established a process so we could make informed decisions.

First, this Council initiated a Facilities Feasibility Study, which studied all major Town facilities, and reported in 2008.
Then, Council established a working committee for recreational facilities with a mandate to:
o Determine the Town short and long term recreational needs;
o Refine Capital & Operating Costs;
o Test the business case for a community centre facility;

The Recreational Facilities Committee Final Report was to have been available by spring 2010, but now won’t be complete until November or December.

I believe the next step must be to facilitate significant and broad community consultation based on this final report.

With the data in the report, we can have an informed and open, community discussion so we can achieve a common vision about the future recreational and cultural needs for our Town.

Then, Council will be in a good position to make informed decisions in 2011.

RE: Town-Owned Property:
• Previous Council purchased the property in question for$3.6 million or average of $112,000 per acre in March 2005.
• And they ONLY paid interest.
• Paid for property as if parts were zoned commercial and as if had water and sewers -- but that was NOT the case.

Previous Council set to fix the zoning in April 2006, then stopped,
o gave control of planning process to development group in fall 2006.

• Started paying down principal -- we have paid down $1.1 M (have $2.5 M remaining)
• Established process to work with Developers to finish planning -- first draft plan is currently with Town for comment;
• This East Fonthill Secondary Plan Process should be complete in 2011.

Only once Secondary Plan process complete will the property be "unlocked" and can any development on the Town-Owned property be allowed to proceed.