Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What is Community?

Over the last number of years, Council has concentrated on improving the infrastructure of our Town. Now, we are expanding our focus to include the building of community.

Some of the infrastructure improvements have been multi-million dollar, multi-faceted, and many-month projects – like reconstructing Haist Street, revitalizing Downtown Fonthill, constructing a new Fire Station #2, or replacing all nine playgrounds in Pelham. (Thanks to the Federal and Provincial governments for funding two-thirds of each of these important projects!)

Other improvements – like more than 9 KM of new sidewalks, including around Pelham Town Square or down Regional Road 20 from Station Street to Rice Road – have enhanced walkability throughout the Town.

We have also funded improvements to rural and urban roads and bridges:  Effingham from Pelham Road to Kilman; Church Street from Webber Road to Canboro; Line Avenue; Elizabeth Drive; Station Street north; Shaldan Lane; Chantler Road; Maple Street bridge; Sawmill Road bridge; etc.

We’ve installed +3,200 new, radio-frequency water meters to keep track of water usage and reduce unaccounted water use. We have replaced 7 km of cast iron water mains along roads like Churchill, Peachtree, and Hillcrest.

And, we budgeted for more infrastructure improvements in 2013 – like revitalizing Downtown Fenwick, and reconstructing Port Robinson Road from Pelham Street to Station.

In January, Dean Allison, our MP, announced $158,000 from the Federal Government to match the Town’s funding of improvements to Old Pelham Town Hall, including the historic Ridgeville Cenotaph, and the Pool House at Marlene Stewart Streit Park Swimming Pool.

As I stated during the funding announcement, a community is about more than roads, and pipes in the ground.

Community is about a “sense of place” like experienced in Pelham’s downtowns or beautiful rolling hills. Community is about our joint heritage and histories like with Old Pelham Town Hall and as annunciated in our Heritage Master Plan. Community is about volunteers – and Pelham has so many committed volunteers!

Just like a home is about more than four walls and a roof, community is about people – people coming together, interacting, celebrating, and remembering.

That’s why I am so proud of events like those hosted by Pelham service clubs or like Summerfest or the Riehl Skatepark Aviva Announcement or the Bandshell Concert Series.

That’s why the Town recently reorganized by adding a Recreation, Culture, and Wellness department.

And, finally, because it’s been discussed and desired for many, many years, Council recently approved the development of a business case for community recreational facilities. Council plans to give more attention to the building of community and hopes to finally decide on the future recreational, cultural, and wellness facilities and needs for the Town in 2013.