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.