Sunday, February 22, 2015

Update on Multi-Faceted Community Centre

Over the last couple of weeks, Council approved some key recommendations of the Architectural Design Advisory Committee for the potential multi-faceted community centre.

You will recall that during 2013-14 Council worked together with LeisurePlan International and the community to develop a market analysis, business case study, and facilities review regarding arena and community centre desires.

Based on a resident survey, detailed analysis and a comparison to industry standards, Council:
• Confirmed demand for single-pad arena now, and potential for demand for twin-pad after 2023-24;
• Confirmed sustaining demand for fitness centre and activities, walking / running indoor track, multi-purpose space, and gymnasium sports / uses;
• Confirmed that the operating costs for this type of new multi-faceted community center could be covered within the net costs for the existing arena – which were $92,486 in 2013;
• Confirmed the dire condition of the existing arena and determined that a potential new community centre should be part of other imminent East Fonthill developments – Medical Centre, Retirement Home, Wellspring Cancer Support Centre, and new retail;

Council acknowledged that the construction costs for a new multi-faceted community centre will be a challenge. So, to try to make those costs affordable for municipal tax-payers, Council recognized the need for financial support from the Federal and Provincial governments and from local potential donors.

But, to achieve this, the Town needs more detailed, shovel-ready plans with tight cost estimates.

So, Council appointed a community design committee last August – with representatives from recreation user groups, youth, seniors, artists, service clubs and the community-at-large – to ensure we have the right plans for our community.

Over the last six months, the dedicated members of this Architectural Design Advisory Committee worked diligently to recommend an architect, to help develop schematic plans, and to make recommendations to Council in February.

Working together with the Committee, Council approved some improvements to the initial plan:
• Including a large, sectional multi-purpose room (~6,000 ft2), plus one multi-purpose space (~1,200 ft2);
• Clarifying that the running/walking track should be located above the perimeter of the double gymnasium and near the fitness area;
• Including an atrium / shared public space (~9,600 ft2) that would help link each of the centre’s main elements;
• Including 1,200 to 1,500 spectator seats in the first arena to support ice uses (including Junior B hockey) and other, non-ice related uses.

Based on these decisions, the Architect will now begin developing more detailed designs. Then, after they provide additional advice, the Committee discussed holding a public open house to get feedback from the broader community.

This is an exciting project for Pelham; I will continue to keep you informed about progress on the potential multi-purpose community centre.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Thinking of & Thanking Pelham Fire Fighters

Hearing a siren of any type in our Town makes us think immediately of the person needing help. It is a family member or friend whose vehicle has flipped over? Are they headed for our neighbour down the street who has heart problems?

And, then, since they are usually first to the scene of an emergency, Council and I think about the safety of our dedicated Pelham Fire Fighters.

As you may know, when someone calls 911 with a medical call, fire call, or general emergency, Regional dispatch pages Pelham volunteer firefighters. The dedicated men and women drop whatever they are doing with the families or at work and immediately head to the fire hall. (As you can imagine, this can be especially stressful for and demanding on their families.)

Once they get to the Fire Hall, they jump into their bunker gear, run to the appropriate fire / rescue vehicle, and drive to the emergency. While it’s difficult to drive one of the large fire vehicles normally, it’s even more of a challenge to drive one in an emergency!

How do our fire fighters know what to do? How do they prepare?

They train every week – week in and week out. They practice with the equipment – from pulling out the hoses and spraying down a target, to stabilizing and cutting open old vehicles to practice using the “jaws of life.” They practice putting on their breathing apparatuses and searching for victims in a smoke-filled room. Other times they check and fix equipment or learn the latest techniques in a classroom setting; then they try it hands on. Other times, they stage mock disasters – like a tanker truck hitting a school bus – and involve all three stations and the Police Service and Niagara EMS. And, while I am not doing it justice here, they practice, and practice, and practice for every types of emergency.

Many members of our Fire Service also attend the Ontario Fire College for specific courses based on the Ontario Fire Service Standards; this includes officer training and instruction. It’s great that our volunteer fire fighters take advantage of the programs and courses so that they can continue to be among the best-trained and most professional members of the Ontario fire service.

Many Pelham fire fighters have served the community for 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and even 35 years! That’s absolutely amazing dedication and service!

On your behalf, I express my deep appreciation for the dedication, commitment, sacrifice, and hard work of each of the more than 85 part-time, professional firefighters in Pelham!