Sunday, May 31, 2015

Improving Thursday Evenings in Pelham’s Peace Park

Over the last six weeks, Council approved requests from the Pelham Farmers’ Market, Pelham Supper Market, Fonthill Bandshell, and the broader community to help improve the Thursday Evening experience in Peace Park in Pelham.

And, based on some significant (and largely negative) feedback, Council reversed one of its earlier decisions.

First, Council approved expanding the number of Supper Market vendors and to include even more flavours and varieties. Some venders will also offer cooking demonstrations by local chefs using fresh produce from the nearby Farmers’ Market.

Second, Council approved the request from the Pelham Farmer’s Market to allow Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) wine samples and sales in the market (as permissible through a Provincial pilot program). Any wine purchased is intended for personal use at home. I took advantage of this opportunity last Thursday and bought wine from Calamus Winery. (Vineland Estates also sells their wines at the Fenwick Farmer’s Market – Wednesday nights at St. Ann’s Church.)

Third, because of significant feedback from the Fonthill Bandshell and the broader community, all of Peace Park will NOT be licensed for alcohol; only a portion of the Park – the northern part containing the Supper Market – will be fenced and licensed.

In mid-April, upon recommendation from Town Staff, Council initially approved licensing all of Peace Park for the consumption of craft beer and local wine. The Special Occasion Permit would have required placing a discreet 36” fence around the Park’s perimeter each week, except for six access points. Licensing the entire area was to be a trial and Staff were to report monthly to Council.

But, after meeting directly with volunteers organizing the Bandshell, the Farmer’s Market, and the Suppermarket, and listening to the significant public opposition to the change, Council reversed this decision in early-May.

In late-May, Staff recommended that the Bandshell hire Police to patrol Peace Park to ensure folks weren’t drinking alcohol in the non-licensed areas while enjoying the concerts. Instead, Council directed staff to hire security personnel to monitor the non-licensed area at the Town’s expense.

Finally, Council approved a joint promotions committee to help circulate a weekly newsletter about the features of the Farmers’ and Supper Markets, the Bandshell schedule, shuttle bus and parking information, and to review operations.

After considering the recommendations of Staff and the feedback from residents and some of the Town’s most dedicated volunteers, Council approved these improvements so that your Thursday evenings in Peace Park might continue to offer a unique experience of food, family, friendship, music and fun. Hope to see you there!

Monday, May 25, 2015

“Freedom Does Not Happen On Its Own”

I haven’t written here lately because my family and I travelled to Europe for a couple of weeks on a long-planned trip. While there, we attended some special commemorations.

Celebrating Liberation Day:
Jim Summersides, Wageningen, 5 May 2015
On May 5, we travelled to Wageningen, where 70 years before German General Blaskowitz surrendered to Canadian General Foulkes, officially ending the war in the Netherlands.

Each year on this Liberation Day, Wageningen hosts a huge festival and parade. Being the 70th Anniversary, the parade this year included hundreds of Allied veteran soldiers (including 70 World War II vets from Canada), marching bands from varies Allied nations (including the Burlington Teen Tour Band), and current troops and cadets. Thousands and thousands lined the parade route – at least five or six people deep – and cheered and applauded each of the veterans driven by in vintage vehicles.

We knew that among those Canadian veterans was Jim Summersides, a member of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 613 in Fonthill. It wasn’t easy finding him from among the hundreds of vets sheltered under several structural tents at the parade-start. Finally, we found him being led to one of the parade’s jeeps; you see, Summersides wasn’t with the others was because he was among eight veterans speaking with our Prime Minister. (You may recall that American Congressional leaders awarded Summersides and 41 other Canadians with the Congressional Gold Medal on February 3 for their service and determination in the first Joint Canadian-American Special Forces unit.)

Full Honours:
The next day, on our way to Belgium, we specifically travelled to the Canadian War Cemetery in Bergen-op-Zoom. We arrived just as members of the Canadian Armed Forces, the Canadian government, and family, laid the remains of Private Albert Laubenstein from Saskatoon to rest. While serving with the Lincoln & Welland Regiment, Pte. Laubenstein was killed during the Battle of Kapelsche Veer on Jan. 26, 1945. While Laubenstein’s body was interred in a battlefield grave, during the chaos at the end-of-the war, his grave was lost. His remains were discovered in 2014. Now he was buried with full honours with fellow members of his regiment near a large monument that reads “Their Name Liveth For Evermore.”

What Is Freedom?
Two huge banners surrounded one of the three Wageningen music stages on Liberation Day. Loosely translated, one banner read “Freedom Is Something We Celebrate Together!” The other: “Freedom Does Not Happen On Its Own.” My family and I will remember both poignant statements whenever we recall our special trip and commemorate our veterans.