Monday, August 27, 2012

Please Help Save the Fonthill Kame

"It's on the Minister's desk for his decision," responded a Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) official when asked by Mike Cole, MPP and MNR Parliamentary Assistant, about the status of the review of the Fonthill Kame ANSI (Area of Natural and Scientific Interest). The discussion took place during an August 20 meeting between Pelham representatives -- Councillors Durley and Papp, CAO Darren Ottaway, and myself -- and MNR senior policy reps during the recent Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) Conference in Ottawa.  (Please click here for a copy of Pelham's presentation to Mike Cole, MPP.)

The "Fonthill Kame" is our rare, 75-metre-tall landmark that was formed by retreating glaciers 13,000 years ago. At 6 km long, 3 km wide, and nearly 1,000 hectares, the Kame boasts the highest point in the Niagara Region and the headwaters of the Twelve Mile Creek.

The Kame's microclimatic and soil conditions create an ideal environment for tender fruit production including peaches, sweet and sour cherries, plums and pears.

In simple terms, the Kame is the "hill" in both Fonthill and Shorthills and the "ridge" in Ridgeville.

The MNR identified the Fonthill Kame as provincially significant in 1980 and as an "Area of Natural and Scientific Interest" (ANSI) in 1983. This ANSI designation restricts development for reasons of heritage, science or education. (Please click here for a copy of a map of the Fonthill-Kame and the ANSI.)

In May 2009, the MNR recommended making changes to the ANSI, significantly reducing its coverage to "representative samples."

The Town of Pelham Council, Niagara Regional Council, Niagara Escarpment Commission, Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, scientific experts, more than a dozen Pelham residents, Tim Hudak, our MPP, and Minister Jim Bradley, St. Catharines MPP, voiced opposition to changing the ANSI.

As a result, in early 2010, Pelham received a letter from Donna Cansfield, MPP, Minister of Natural Resources, in which she stated "Please let me assure you that it is our intention to maintain and, where feasible, enhance the current ANSI boundary."  (Please click here for a copy of the letter from former Natural Resources Minister, Donna Cansfield, MPP.)

Despite that assurance, the Ministry proposed further refinements to the ANSI in 2011. Unfortunately, that proposition would have reduced the ANSI to "Swiss-cheese," failing to protect huge portions of the Kame -- especially those areas that are under direct threat of new or expanded gravel pits.

Since the final review of the Fonthill Kame ANSI is "…on the Minister’s desk" for an imminent decision, I ask you to write to the current Minister, the Honorable Michael Gravelle, asking him to honour the commitment to "…maintain and, where feasible, enhance the current ANSI boundary."

Hon. Michael Gravelle, MPP
Minister of Natural Resources
Whitney Block, 6th Floor, Room 6630
99 Wellesley St. West
Toronto ON M7A1W3
Phone: 416-314-2301

It is imperative that Minister Gravelle hear from you and others about the importance of the Fonthill Kame and that you request that the 30-years of ANSI protections remain. 

(For some points that you can incorporate into a letter to Minister Gravell in support for the ANSI boundaries, please click here.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Join Us at Pelham’s Second Outdoor Movie Night!

Did you hear about the Second Outdoor Family Movie Night coming up next Wednesday at Peace Park? We need you and your family to vote for the films you want shown.

Where did the idea come from? At the spring 2010 Youth Forum, 90 teens representing Pelham's Youth from grades 7 to 12 clearly told the Mayor's Youth Advisory Council (MYAC) that they wanted more activities for youth and teens.

The second highest response for ideas was "Outdoor movie night." (You can find the complete report on the Town’s website in the MYAC section here.)

I was also very pleased that the 2011 Mayor's Gala raised funds to support various activities for youth. Along with four other groups, Gala sponsors and donors raised funds specifically for the MYAC to host an outdoor movie night and other youth activities.

Last year’s outdoor movie night was a huge success -- with hundreds enjoying "Despicable Me" in Peace Park on an idyllic, summer evening.

This year, the MYAC expanded the event to two movies -- one for families, and one for teens -- while also projecting local, youth videos!

Families can vote for one movie from among six -- "The Lorax", "Madagascar" 1 or 2, "Pirates: The Band of Misfits", "We Bought a Zoo" or "Happy Feet 2".

Teens can pick one movie from four -- "The Hunger Games", "A Team", "Footloose", or "Sherlock Holmes". You can cast your ballet at Pelham Town Hall, the Pelham Public Libraries, or through the MYAC Facebook page.

Cast your ballot by this Friday -- August 24 -- so that we can get the movies most wanted by the community.

In between the two winners, we will show two youth-produced short films: "Double" by Daniel Parent, and "Open Happiness" by Natasha Panter. These creative, thought-provoking, and home-made videos were chosen through a contest and showcase the exceptional talent of Pelham's youth!

The MYAC will also continue to "pay it forward." Last year, the MYAC used the event to raise funds and awareness for the United Way of South Niagara; the event was so successful that the United Way recognized Pelham's Outdoor Movie Night as the "best youth event."

So, proceeds from the sale of popcorn -- generously donated by Shriner's Creek -- and soft-drinks will again support the work of the United Way.

Please spread the word, pray for good weather, and join us on Wednesday, August 29 in Peace Park for Pelham's second Outdoor Movie Night!

UPDATE from Monday, August 27:
Voting is complete and the movies will be "The Lorax" (garnering +60% of the vote), and "The Hunger Games" (receiving 51% of the vote).
Hope to see you there!
Mayor Dave

UPDATE from Tuesday, September 11:
Thanks to all who attended. With your help, the MYAC raised more than $300 for the United Way of South Niagara.
And, if you want to see the two youth movies that were presented at the event, they are now available on the Town's Website by clicking here.
Finally, thanks to the members of the Mayor's Youth Advisory Council and Pelham staff who helped organize the event!
Mayor Dave

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

As Reconstruction Progresses, Support Businesses

So, it has been more than a few months, now, that we have lived with the reconstruction of Regional Road #20 from Rice Road to Station Street. By now, each of us have likely changed our driving patterns -- either by leaving a bit earlier to compensate for potential delays, or by taking alternative routes.

The crews from Norjohn have finished the first phase -- those lanes on the South side of the highway. Now, after transferring the traffic to the new road, the workers are well on their way with the portion on the North side of the street.

As the reconstruction continues, you can see some of the foundational elements of the new road.

There will be a new centre turning lane (where appropriate) and a couple of new "islands" to help calm traffic and delineate the turning sections. The contractor has already realigned the Hurricane Road intersection; this will take some getting used to for many.

The new sidewalk, to be installed on the North-side of the road, has already been marked out. Finally, underground work -- including upgrades to the watermain, and replacing the sanitary sewers -- is being incorporated as the above-ground work proceeds.

Although this section of Regional Road 20 reconstruction is shorter than previous the phases from the 406 to Rice Road, it is more complicated because of the more urban setting and the total rebuild of the intersection at Rice Road. It is also of a higher profile.

You will recall that the construction began in April and was scheduled to run for a maximum of 110 "working days." If we received reasonable weather and things went smoothly, it was thought that the work could be substantially complete by Labour Day; if they run into snags, the contract could run through late September/early October. It looks like it will be a little longer than Labour Day.

To help facilitate traffic, the contractor has maintained two lanes of traffic at all times. They have also done well in attempting to mitigate negative impacts on local businesses by doing their best to keep accesses open.

But, as the reconstruction continues, those businesses are likely being negatively affected by an aversion to driving through the area.

Now, those businesses in the construction zone deserve our support.

So, just as was suggested during the reconstruction of Downtown Fonthill, I encourage you to "reset you GPS" to Regional Road 20 and to support local businesses as we complete the reconstruction project.