Sunday, September 30, 2012

How should we spend your money in 2013?

Do you have a suggestion on how the Town should spend your money?

The question seems timely not because the final installment for 2012 property taxes came due last week, but, rather, because Council will begin our 2013 budget considerations in October.

Council will begin our 2013 budget process with a special public meeting where we listen to you about what you would like to see in future budgets. That meeting will occur on Tuesday, October 9 at 7:00 PM in the Council Chamber at Pelham Town Hall.

Pelham Council first started this type of a “pre-budget consultation” for the 2007 Budget. That consultation welcomed residents and property tax payers and invited input. Following Council deliberations that year, I was pleased that we were able to follow-through on most of the suggestions offered by your friends and neighbours. In subsequent years, we had similar consultation processes.

I am very pleased that we are undertaking this consultation process again. Council and I want to hear directly from you about your needs, wants, and ideas for our Town.  Our community improves when more and more people become involved in its success!

We want to hear about the specific things that you think the Town should do or things that we should stop doing in 2013. How can we make Pelham a better place to live, work, grow, and play?

Council adopted this budget schedule:
Pre-Budget Consultation – beginning October 9, 2012;
Draft Capital Budget available to public – November 23;
Draft Capital Budget presented to Committee – November 26;
Council consider approving Capital Budget – December 3;
Draft Operating Budget available to the public – January 25, 2013;
Draft Operating Budget presented to Committee – January 28;
Council consider approving Operating Budget – February 6;
Draft Water & Sewer Budgets available to the public – February 15;
Draft Water & Sewer Budgets presented to Committee – February 19;
Council consider approving Water & Sewer Budgets – March 4.

Want to provide written input?  Simply send a letter via email to a special email address: You will also soon be able to view background budget information at the Town’s website:

Not internet savvy?  You can also provide written comments via normal mail c/o Town Clerk, Town of Pelham, 20 Pelham Town Square, P.O. Box 400, Fonthill, ON   L0S 1E0.

I hope to hear from you and I look forward to discussing your ideas so that we can continue to build a better future for our Town together.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

New Southern Hospital, Two New UCCs

Last Friday, Dr. Kevin Smith, the Provincially-appointed Supervisor of the Niagara Health System (NHS), presented his Final Report regarding NHS restructuring to the Honourable Deb Matthews, Minister of Health & Long-Term Care.

Among the 23 final recommendations, Dr. Smith suggested that the Province construct a new hospital “in the QEW and Lyons Creek area of Niagara.” He suggested that the new “South Hospital” should include emergency and critical care, the Regional stroke centre, the Regional geriatrics program, the total joint replacement centre, general internal medicine and surgical services, complex care, and maternal child / in-patient pediatrics.

Smith also recommended operating two, free-standing Urgent Care Centres in “South Niagara” -- sites and locations to be determined -- and closing the existing facilities in Port Colborne, Fort Erie, Niagara Falls, Welland, and Niagara-on-the-Lake.

You will recall that in May, Dr. Smith asked the “Mayors of the ‘Southern Tier’ with input from the Regional Chair” to come to a unanimous recommendation for the locations of the new Hospital and one, stand-alone Urgent Care Centre by mid-June.

The six southern mayors -- Vance Badawey, Port Colborne; Jim Diodati, Niagara Falls; April Jeffs, Wainfleet; Doug Martin, Fort Erie; Barry Sharpe, Welland; and myself -- and Regional Chair Gary Burroughs met five times and reviewed population densities, ambulance call volumes, drive times, municipal infrastructure, NHS referrals, and ER usage.

We came to a unanimous decision and recommended two geographic areas for the new “Southern” hospital -- generally described as the QEW & Lyons Creek area, and the East Main Street and Highway 140 area. We also recommended that the NHS operate two Urgent Care Centres.

I am pleased that Dr. Smith honoured the Mayors’ and Regional Chair’s unanimous recommendations for siting of a new hospital and for the operation of two Urgent Care Centres to serve South Niagara.

I did communicate with Dr. Smith directly about the potential impact of the Lyons Creek / QEW location for Pelham residents.  When the Province builds a new hospital there, it seems likely that many Pelham residents will travel instead to the new Northern hospital. When he wrote back to me on Friday morning, Dr. Smith reaffirmed his earlier position: “I can absolutely confirm that Pelham residents will be provided care at the site they choose to use. If that is the North site we will welcome them there.”

I sincerely appreciate the significant and comprehensive work by Dr. Smith. I will now work together with colleagues from across the Region to help convince the Provincial Government to build the new facilities and embrace, as Dr. Smith writes, “…a new era focused on creating a sustainable, high quality health system” for all of Niagara.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Wanting Your Feedback on Site Alteration Bylaw

I am writing to give you an update regarding a draft Site Alteration Bylaw, hoping that you will provide some feedback by October 1.

You may recall that in the spring of 2011 a rural resident made a presentation to Council about construction fill being dumped on a neighbouring property and built into a high berm.  The material not only covered rich agricultural soil, the neighbour built the berm right up against the property line. The resident asked Council to consider developing a Site Alteration Bylaw to regulate this type of activity.

Many other municipalities have enacted this type of bylaw because it allows Towns to regulate activities with the potential for environmental degradation (dumping, erosion, sedimentation), drainage problems (blockages, impact on neighbouring properties) and public nuisances (tracking of mud on roads, dust).

The Town convened a public information session in August 2011 to give people an opportunity to ask questions and provide written comment.

Following that input, Council convened a public meeting to receive feedback in September, 2011. Farmers, nursery operators, and sod growers asked to be exempt for "normal farm practices"; landscapers asked for exemptions for their business activities.  Some neighbours of existing “berms” implored Council to act and to regulate that activity and the dumping of construction / excavation material on good farm land. Others asked Council to stop consideration of any "infringement of property rights."

Based on that public meeting, Town Staff developed a draft bylaw and presented it to Council in January 2012.  At that time, Council discussed whether the bylaw should deal exclusively with berms or include additional elements raised during the public meeting.  Council sent the bylaw back to staff to make further changes.

At our August 13 Committee meeting, Councillors received a new draft Site Alteration Bylaw and directed staff to make it available to residents for feedback.

You can pick-up a draft at Town Hall or review a paper copy at the Library; you can also download a copy from the Town’s website at  We hope to receive your written feedback by October 1, so Staff can present it to Council in November.

Finally, you may be pleased to know that this draft Site Alteration bylaw would not allow Town staff the right to enter private property without appropriate notice – something like Staff knocking on the front door, identifying who they are, and seeking permission to undertake an inspection.

I look forward to your feedback regarding this draft bylaw.