Monday, August 26, 2013

Making Pelham More Walkable & Cyclable This Fall

Some imminent construction will not only improve roads but will also make the Town even more walkable and cyclable.

Port Robinson Road:
The Town will reconstruct Port Robinson Road from Pelham Street to Station Street including repairing some sewer sections, and replacing water lines and storm-sewers this fall. The rebuilt road will include bike lanes and parallel parking along the School. Finally, we will reconstruct and add sidewalks on both sides of the road and re-align the Steve Bauer Trail entrance to match Station Street. (While the Town awarded the contract in June to try to complete this work prior to the restart of school, an MOE approval, the surprise location of a gas-line, and the contractor’s schedule added to the project’s timeline.)

Pelham Street:
You will recall that while Council earmarked $2.5 million for reconstructing Pelham Street from College Street to Quaker Road, the estimate came back at $6.5 million. We did apply for special Provincial funding in January (thanks to the Glynn A. Green School community, the PBA, the Chamber, and all others who wrote letters of support!), but learned we were unsuccessful in the spring. Perhaps we can apply under a new, $100 million Provincial program this fall.

In the meantime, the Town will construct a new sidewalk on the west-side of Pelham Street from Pancake Lane to Brock / Port Robinson Road this fall. 

What about the idea of a traffic signal at Pancake? Installing a complete traffic signal did not meet the Ministry of Transportation’s “warrants” but did meet some opposition from local residents. Following the successful use of the Creative Problem Solving Process, Council recently approved the installation of pedestrian-priority traffic signals (like that on Haist Street at A.K. Wigg School) at Pancake Lane / John Street and at Spruceside Crescent / Bacon Lane this fall. We will also paint reduced lane widths as an attempt to lower vehicle speeds and to provide more room for cyclists.

Regional Road #20:
The Region will be constructing a special storm-sewer outlet from Regional Road 20 through Marlene Stewart-Streit Park this fall. Town Council recently approved reallocating some savings from this project so that we can add sidewalks along both sides of “Old Hwy 20” from Park Lane to Pinecrest and from Canboro Road to Church Hill. The Region will also resurface the road in that area.

And, did you notice the new school-zone lights on Regional Road #20 around St. Alexander School? Please watch for their activation next week during student’s morning and afternoon walks to school.

Pelham Town Square and Church Hill:
The Town will also reconstruct the sidewalk on the south-side of Pelham Town Square from Station Street to the Post Office and install a pedestrian-priority traffic signal at Church Hill across Pelham Street this fall.

Please be assured that Council and I continue to strive in making Pelham even more walkable and cyclable.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Discussing Issues 230 Times…and Counting

I believe that a huge part of my service as your Mayor depends on two-way communication about issues and challenges facing Pelham. Part of that communication centres on my weekly / bi-weekly columns.

A perfect example is my last column – about the idea of prohibiting recreational longboarding on all roads but closing one road to potentially provide a safe location for Pelham longboarders. Obviously the ideas need broad evaluation – of costs comparatives, legal implications, traffic impacts, safety concerns and guidelines, etc. – and that’s why I am pleased that the recommendation to Council was to hold a special public meeting on this matter.

But, the community reaction was swift, and the concepts sparked great dialogue in the Town. Council received three presentations (two opposed and one in favour), two petitions, +500 form letters, and +25 other items of correspondence regarding this issue at our meeting on Monday. While the dialogue will continue, I am pleased to have written about the issues.

How do I decide on a column topic? I write about what people ask me about or express concern about. Many columns are updates on progress or information about recent Council decisions. Through the years, I have given advance notice of numerous special meetings (about the East Fonthill Secondary Plan or the Official Plan), events (like Summerfest, the Mayor’s Gala), or Council debates (over the sign bylaw or an environmental protection bylaw).

I also report on Regional issues or decisions – like the Niagara Regional Police headquarters plans, or whether to hold a by-election to replace a Regional Councillor.

Some also focus on Federal or Provincial matters. These include several columns about the Fonthill Kame and the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) threat to lift the Area of Natural & Scientific Interest (ANSI) protection and about a proposed new Southern Hospital.

Finally, some columns appreciate the work of others – like our hundreds of committed and tireless volunteers – or are more light-hearted in nature.

The greatest numbers of my columns for you have been about budgets and property taxes – things like Council’s pre-budget consultations, the capital and operating budgets, property taxes and tax rates, and changes at the Province’s Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC).

And there have been many more topics – like the Town’s property at Rice Road & Regional Road #20 and recreational issues – and many, many more columns – 230 to be exact!

I deeply appreciate the local media continuing to publish my column week after week. And, I appreciate you reading them and being part of a dialogue so that we can continue to work together to improve our beloved Town.