Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New Fire Station, Ongoing Service

We held the Grand Opening of the new Pelham Fire Station #2 this past Saturday.

More than a decade ago a small planning group of Firefighters identified several deficiencies in the former Fire Station. They suggested building a replacement facility, but lack of funding stopped that process.

Then, in August 2008, Town Council formally established a Fire Station #2 Replacement Committee. Chaired by former-Councillor Debbie Urbanowicz (who attended the opening!), the Committee included Councillor Peter Papp, Fire Chief Scott McLeod, District Chief Owen Simmonds, Captain Otto Heinrich, Captain Tim Vanderweide, Town CAO Martin Yamich, and myself (ex officio).

The Committee reconfirmed that Town needed a new Fire Station on a new site because parts of the 50-year-old building are structurally inadequate and deteriorating, because of the safety concerns with firefighters backing-up vehicles after each call, and because the old site has no room to expand or reconstruct a new fire station.

The Committee worked with Firefighters to determine their needs and worked with the community to find the best location and property for a new Fire Station. The Committee completed a functional analysis to determine space requirements and an appropriate building configuration, and oversaw an environmental assessment and re-zoning of the site.

When the National and Provincial government announced Infrastructure Stimulus Funding, the Town submitted a complete business case for the new facility. That funding made Fire Station #2 a reality! I deeply appreciate support of Federal and Provincial governments who invested a total of $1.98 million into the $2.9 million project.

The new, 12,000 square foot facility includes:
o a separate area to store bunker gear and each firefighter’s specialized equipment;
o specialized areas for firefighter training – including a smoke room, an elevated training platform, an auto-extrication pad, and a classroom;
o a hall for large-group training and community events; and
o drive-through parking bays for fire vehicles.

I offer special thanks to Steve Bernier, Panichi Architects, John Klassen & John Colangelo, Bromac Construction, and Martin Yamich, Town CAO and Project Manager.

Saturday’s Grand Opening was about much more than a building. It was about the men and women who have given of themselves, and who continue to give to the community so that they can be prepared for any and all emergencies and so that each of us can be safe.

Congratulations to Pelham Fire District #2 and the Pelham Fire Service and thank you for your ongoing dedication, commitment, hard work and service.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Vote in the Ward One By-Election

If you live in Ward One, you will have likely seen some by-election signs displayed on a few people’s lawns. Well, they won’t be there long…the by-election is on Monday!

You will recall that following the resignation of Debbie Urbanowicz from Pelham Town Council, Councillors debated our options to replace her.

Essentially, the Municipal Act provides two possibilities: Council may appoint an “eligible” person – a Canadian citizen over 18 years old and who resides in the Town; or Council may hold a by-election for that specific, Ward seat.

Initially, the majority of Councillors opted to appoint someone. They wanted to advertise in the paper, interview applicants, and pick the new Councillor during a special closed-door session. (I disagreed with the idea and voted against the plan.)

Well, Councillors and I were overwhelmed by the feedback from the community! I had so many people contact me that I had to keep track of the phone calls, emails, and conversations in a spreadsheet. When I analyzed the results, I found that more than two-thirds of the households that contacted me suggested we hold a by-election. Interesting, if you broke that down by Wards, more than 84% of Ward One households called for a by-election.

The majority feel that it is far better that hundreds and hundreds of people choose their new Councillor instead of a few people around a Council table.

Council listened to the feedback, and, on March 21, voted to hold a by-election. The Town’s Clerk called for nominations from the community from April 5 until May 6.

Following that nomination period, a total of five people put their names forward for the by-election. They include: Louis Butko, David Emmons, Rob Fraser, Jim Lane, and Richard Rybiak.

Interestingly, only two candidates – Richard Rybiak and Jim Lane – actually live in Ward One. (Each of the other candidates lives in Ward Two and can’t even vote in the by-election.)

So, today is the Advance Poll day from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM at the new Pelham Fire Station #2 at 766 Welland Road, Fenwick.

Voting Day will be Monday, June 20 from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM at either the new Pelham Fire Station #2 or at the First Presbyterian Church, 602 Metler Road, North Pelham. (For more information about Voting, please visit the Town’s website at

This is your opportunity to have your voice heard. If you are an eligible voter in Ward One, please vote!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What Should Pelham Look Like in the Future?

As you may know, Pelham still has a few tracts of land set aside and available for new growth.

The largest is in the “East Fonthill” area – between Rice Road and Station Street / Steve Bauer Trail and from Regional Road 20 to the Town’s southern boundary (south of Merritt Street).

While much of these nearly 500 acres of lands are currently farmed, the entire area was added to the Urban Boundary by an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) in 2000. It is estimated that at least 5,000 people could be living in this area within 20 years; that is why the Region installed water and sewer trunk lines in 2007/08.

The OMB decision required the Town to undertake a “Secondary Plan” before allowing development to proceed.

All Towns and Cities must have “Official Plans” (OPs). Essentially, an Official Plan contains policies and guidelines and outlines where commercial, agricultural, industrial, and residential developments can occur. It uses a series of maps to demonstrate those areas.

Pelham adopted our current Official Plan in 1987. We started renewing and modernizing the OP in the late 1990s; but, since the Province began changing their governing policies in the mid-2000s– Greenbelt Plan, “Places to Grow”, Provincial Policy Statement – the Town must adapt our own policies and guidelines. Staff anticipates that the Town’s new Official Plan will be available for public input and feedback this Fall.

Like an Official Plan covering the entire Town, a Secondary Plan contains detailed policies and guidelines for growth and development for a specific area – in this case, this East Fonthill area.

Some of the goals of the East Fonthill Secondary Plan include ensuring a well-designed, attractive, pedestrian-friendly community with a mixture of housing types; encouraging significant retail / commercial development while at the same time protecting the existing Fonthill Downtown; providing a “Greenlands System” that protects existing environmental features and integrates with the Steve Bauer Trail system; and developing a pedestrian / cyclist-friendly and transit-ready road network.

Council and I are really interested in your feedback and suggestions on the East Fonthill Secondary Plan. You can find a draft Plan on the Town’s website at and at Town Hall and the Libraries. Please send us an email or letter or attend the Open House on Tuesday, June 21 from 2:00 to 4:00 PM and 6:00 to 8:00 PM at Pelham Fire Station #1.

Don’t miss your chance on being involved in a plan that will dramatically shape the future of Pelham.