Monday, September 30, 2013

Committed to Revitalizing Downtown Fenwick

Pelham Council decided during our regular meeting on Monday, September 16, 2013, to temporarily postpone the revitalization of Downtown Fenwick from the fall of 20 13 to early 2014.

You will recall that Council budgeted $2.1 million to revitalize Downtown Fenwick in 2013. The improvements were intended to help make the area more pedestrian friendly, bury the hydro lines, and enhance the historic flagpole (thanks to funds raised during Fenwick’s 150th celebration).

We had a wonderful celebration of Fenwick’s 160th Anniversary in the spring (thanks to a number of very committed and community-minded volunteers). And, thanks to the work of the Pelham Heritage Committee, Council officially designated the Fenwick Flagpole as a significant heritage structure in May – the first flagpole so designated in Ontario.

So, why have we agreed to postpone the reconstruction and revitalization of Downtown Fenwick?

Council made this decision after receiving a staff report outlining the complexities of the project requirements, including: total road reconstruction to address storm water and soil conditions; and reconfiguration of overhead utility wires to an underground system

In essence, to deal properly with the storm sewers and to tie them correctly into the systems on adjoining streets, construction crews will have to dig fairly deep; with a high water table and poor soil conditions, the best time to undertake that work would be in the winter months. Second, the requirement to bury the hydro lines and other overhead utilities means that the Town must work closely with Ontario Hydro; Hydro had said they could not undertake that work until 2014.

As a result, the Town cannot complete the project before the end of 2013. Council felt that there was no reason to dig up the road now to bury the storm sewers, only to have it a mess until the utilities could be buried next spring.

Council also directed staff to firm up the revitalization schedule so that any negative impact can be kept to a minimum and to also give the community plenty opportunity to plan and prepare for any potential disruptions.

Finally, the planned work may require additional finances. I understand that staff may also be submitting an additional budget request to Council for consideration during the 2014 capital budget deliberations.

I want to assure you that Council remains committed to revitalizing Downtown Fenwick. Instead of starting construction now and impacting the downtown all winter, we intend to start early in 2014. We are all looking forward to it!

Monday, September 23, 2013

How should we spend your money in 2014?

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

The question seems timely not because the final instalment for 2013 property taxes is due September 30, but, rather, because Council will start formally thinking about our 2014 budget in October.

Council will begin our 2014 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 15 at 6:30 PM in the Council Chamber at Pelham Town Hall.

While Pelham Council first started this type of a “pre-budget consultation” for the 2007 Budgets, we continue each year to welcome residents and property tax payers to provide input.

I am pleased that, following Council deliberations each year, we have been able to follow-through on most of the suggestions offered by your friends and neighbours. In previous year, folks have requested a dog park, a skate park, sidewalks along a number of roads (like Pelham Street), crosswalks, and sidewalk snow clearing on every sidewalk in Town; each of these examples are either currently being done or have been approved and will get done soon.

That’s why 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!

And, this is just the start of our 2014 budget deliberations:
Pre-Budget Consultation – beginning October 15, 2013;
Draft Capital Budget available to public – November 22;
Draft Capital Budget presented to Committee – November 25;
Council consider approving Capital Budget – December 2;
Draft Operating Budget available to the public – January 24, 2014;
Draft Operating Budget presented to Committee – January 27;
Council consider approving Operating Budget – February 3;
Draft Water & Sewer Budgets available to the public – February 14;
Draft Water & Sewer Budgets presented to Committee – February 18;
Council consider approving Water & Sewer Budgets – March 3.

Prefer 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.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Creating a Dog Park in Pelham

Town Council recently agreed to work together with the Region toward the creation of a dog park in Pelham in 2014.

In May 2011, members of the public presented Council with a 200 name petition to request that the Town establish an off-leash dog park in our community. They cited several benefits, including: offering a place to promote responsible dog ownership and to hold dog related events; providing an easier place for elderly and handicapped owners to take their dogs; providing exercise and social benefits for both people and dogs. Council directed staff to develop a report.

In June / July 2011, a number of residents formed a coordinating group called “Pelham DOGS” and presented the idea to Council again. Council directed staff to work with Pelham DOGS, and referred the matter to the Town’s 2012 Capital Budget.

During the pre-budget public consultation meeting that October, Pelham DOGS presented a survey showing that 63% of respondents strongly agreed or agreed with the idea of a dog park for Pelham.

In December 2011, Council approved earmarking $35,000 in the 2012 Capital Budget toward a park. Council directed staff to work together with Pelham DOGS and recommend possible locations before proceeding further.

In August 2012, staff reported that dog parks are the fastest growing areas of municipal recreation services in North America and that dog owners currently use general parks and playgrounds as areas to exercise dogs. Staff recommended constructing a park on the former landfill on Centre Street (just north of Regional Road 20); after much discussion, Council directed staff to seek permission to use those lands from the Niagara Region.

After a year of planning with the Region and representatives of Pelham DOGS, staff proposed a design and a proposal to Council:
- The Region would retain ownership of the land, will maintain the park, and continue accept all liability for the property. (This is similar to the Port Colborne dog park and other public uses at closed landfills across Niagara.)
- The Town will begin to rezone the property and will contribute $35,000 toward the park’s construction;
- Pelham DOGS will contribute (via fundraising) $10,000 (Please see for fundraisers like the community BBQ at Giant Tiger on October 12 from 11 AM to 2 PM.)
- The Region will seek approval for the remainder of the construction costs – approximately $66,000 – in their 2014 Capital Budget.

This plan was approved by Council (in a 5 to 2 recorded vote) on September 3. While a few important hurdles remain, the finish line is in sight for constructing and opening a dog park in Pelham in 2014.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Surveying Recreation and Culture Needs in Pelham

In March, I wrote here about the Executive Summary that staff prepared for Council about the recreational and cultural reports that various Councils have received over the years. I also wrote that “…because it’s been discussed and desired for many, many years, Council recently approved the development of a business case for community recreational facilities.”

As part of a creative problem solving session last December, Council identified reasons for such an Executive Summary and a business case:
• Council wants to develop the Town-owned-lands in East Fonthill (32 acres at Regional Road 20 and Rice Road) in the best manner and in conjunction with other property-owner groups;
• Council wants to define the recreational and cultural services the Town needs now and for the future;
• Council wants to stay focused on deciding what to do with Town facilities and those Town-owned-lands.

In June, the Town awarded the “Request for Proposals” for a Business Case to LeisurePlan International Inc. – a firm that specializes in planning and market research for recreation and leisure activities including YMCAs and municipalities.

We were hoping that their market analysis and business case study would have been completed by now. However, the CAO reported to Council last week on something many have been saying for a long time: “A review of all previous studies was undertaken which confirmed that no significant or meaningful financial work was completed requiring additional financial analysis for both an arena and community centre.”

So that they can present a comprehensive report and so that we can have meaningful discussions about recreation in Pelham, LeisurePlan began a phone survey last week. Randomly selected Pelham residents will be asked to participate in a brief 10 minute telephone survey. Residents will be asked about their recreation and culture habits and preferences. LeisurePlan will vary the time of calls so that no biased day or hour exists, and will survey more than 1,000 residents so that they can achieve a statistically significant result. All personal information collected will remain strictly confidential.

Over the last number of years, many in the community have expressed the desire for increased recreational and cultural services. I am pleased that we are finally undertaking a market analysis and business case. This statistically valid survey will gauge the need for these services and evaluate whether a business case exists to expand services like indoor aquatics, arena ice-times, fitness programs, and other facilities.

I hope that we can publicize the results of the business case over the next couple of months so that Council can work together with you and your neighbours to finally decide on the future recreational, cultural, and wellness facilities and needs for the Town.