Sunday, April 29, 2012

Volunteers Key to Town's Success

Last week was National Volunteer Week in Canada. Here’s a snapshot of just one week of volunteers in action in Pelham. Pelham Cares: Congratulations to the members of Pelham Cares for being awarded a June Callwood Outstanding Achievement Award for Volunteerism in Ontario last Friday! The Hon. Charles Sousa, Minister of Citizenship & Immigration, recognized eleven individuals and seven groups for their “…superlative volunteer contributions to their communities and to the province of Ontario.” As the nominee for Pelham Cares, it was my pleasure and honour to witness the awards during a special ceremony in Toronto. As you know, for nearly 30 years, Pelham Cares has supported Pelham and the surrounding area through a variety of community support services. They provide food and supplies to low-income or single parent families, fund sports leagues for kids and offer a volunteer driver service. Again, congratulations on this Provincial honour! Pelham Art Festival: Last Wednesday, the Pelham Art Festival committee held a special event to thank the many committed and creative volunteers who have arranged and organized the Festival for the last 26 years. Not only do they put together the best Art Festival in Niagara, they have also donated more than $345,000 to the Pelham Public Library! Thank you! Please plan on attending the Festival on May 11, 12 and 13 at the Pelham Arena. Fonthill & District Kinsmen: Thanks to the Kinsmen for organizing the Annual Home Show in the Pelham Arena. The show this year not only highlighted businesses, products, and services that serve Pelham residents, they also raise significant funds for Pelham Cares! Other Groups and Volunteers: During last week, I also had the honour of participating in special appreciation lunches for volunteers with the Woodlands of Sunset and Rapelje Lodge Regional Homes, and with the March of Dimes. Thank you to those volunteers who build gardens, pour coffee, organize events, and visit and pray with residents and clients. In addition, the volunteers with the Fonthill Lions & Lioness organized their Annual Agricultural Night to honour and thank the agricultural community for their importance and impact in Pelham. I was also reminded on this Saturday’s Community Clean-up when I saw volunteers from the Church of Christ in Fenwick picking up garbage along the portion of Welland Road that they have “adopted”. And, some Town-related committees – including the Heritage Committee, the Summerfest Planning Committee, members of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council – met to help move the Town forward in specific areas. And so, thank you to the hundreds and hundreds of volunteers in Pelham; you form the foundation of our vibrant and caring community. Because of your hard work and dedication, your vision for an improved Town is being realized!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

New Sound System Makes Council More Accessible

During a recent Council meeting, Town staff pointed out to me a gentleman sitting in the front row who was using a small machine to audio-tape Council’s proceedings. This surprised me since we are fortunate that our local Cogeco Cable company regularly video tapes and broadcasts Council meetings. (In fact, I am always pleased when residents inform me that they regularly watch our Council meetings on Cogeco!)

At least one member of Council saw the gentleman’s action and raised a “point of order.” While the Town Clerk read from our procedural bylaw – which was approved in 2005 and allows for recording of Council meetings with expressed written consent – the gentleman ceased his recording. (That meant that I did not actually have to rule on the matter.)

Because Council recently approved some major audio and video improvements to Pelham’s Council Chamber, our meetings should be totally accessible and available for future reference.

Within the last year, the Town applied for and received an “enabling accessibility grant” from the Federal Government. The grant “…supports community-based projects across Canada that improve accessibility, remove barriers, and enable Canadians with disabilities to participate in and contribute to their communities.”

The grant funded improvements include:
* Microphones at each Councillor’s seat and at the presentation podium;
* Speakers to assist members of the public to better hear the proceedings;
* Video cameras, able to record all meetings – including public meetings, Committee of Adjustment meetings, or special meetings (that Cogeco does not currently tape);
* Media inputs for Cogeco, so that their set-up and take-down time will be dramatically reduced to five minutes.

These improvements will also mean that the Town will be able to “stream” digital recordings from the Town’s website and to offer and maintain a record of all meetings.

I hope that these changes will not only make it easier for folks to hear the proceedings of Council or Committee of Adjustment, but also that it will make Council meetings even more accessible to you and your neighbours.

For example, if there’s an issue you read about in the newspaper and you want to see what the discussion looked like, you should be able to do so from the Town’s website.

I hope that these improvements will help advance one of Council’s Strategic Plan themes – “An Engaged and Integrated Community” – by increasing opportunities for you and your neighbours and friends to interact with Council and I and for Council and I to better interact with you.

You may contact Mayor Dave at or read past columns at

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Regional Reconstruction About to Begin

Have you noticed the signs announcing the imminent reconstruction of Regional Road #20 from Rice Road to Station Street?

Since I wrote about the project a few months ago, you may recall that this is the final phase of the reconstruction and expansion of Regional Road #20 from the 406 to Pelham Street. Because of the length of the stretch of roadway, the complexity of the work, and the costs involved, the Region undertook this work in phases.

The actual final construction area will be from just east of Rice Road to just east of Station Street.

I was pleased to support the inclusion of $3.0 million in the Region’s and $750,000 in the Town’s 2012 capital budgets for this work.

The works will include adding a centre turning lane (where appropriate), installing a couple of new “islands” to help calm traffic and delineate turning sections, realigning the Hurricane Road intersection, and preparing for an intersection leading into the East Fonthill Secondary Plan lands (the +450 acres to the south of Regional Road #20). The Town’s money will fund the installation of a sidewalk on the north side of the road, replacing and upgrading the existing watermain, and replacing or repairing the existing sanitary sewer laterals.

Although this section is shorter than previous phases, it is more complicated because of the more urban setting and the total reconstruction of the intersection at Rice Road. It is also of a higher profile.

Norjohn Contracting and Paving Limited, a division of Walker Industries, won the reconstruction contract.

I understand that staff anticipates the construction to begin the third week of April and could run for a maximum of 110 “working days.” If we continue to get reasonable weather and things go smoothly, the work could be substantially complete by Labour Day; if they run into snags, the contract could run through late September/early October.

To help facilitate traffic, the contractor must maintain two lanes open at all times. They also plan on paving in “echelon” – side by side – to avoid joint problems like those developed in previous phases.

Regional staff assures me that they will be in contact each of the local businesses regarding access issues prior to any actual construction taking place. Further, they will attempt to mitigate all negative impacts on abutting residents and merchants, including noise and dust control.

I am pleased we are moving ahead with this work and continue to improve our community.