Sunday, June 28, 2015

Happy Canada Day in Pelham 2015!

As we take this opportunity to gather and to proudly celebrate all it means to be Canadian, let’s also celebrate all the wonderful features about our Town!

From breathtaking vistas, to babbling brooks, to plentiful orchards and rich agricultural soil, Pelham enjoys a refreshingly natural and rural character. This natural character especially stands out during the spring and summer.

From the historic settlements of Effingham, Fenwick, Fonthill, Ridgeville, and North Pelham, the Town of Pelham remains grounded with a distinctive, small-town feel.

Home to diverse and creative businesses, Pelham also offers unique goods and services to residents and visitors. Their continued success depends on our patronage.

You and I are also blessed to have so many of our neighbours working to make our Town a prosperous, vibrant and caring community. I continue to marvel at the work and dedication of so many generous volunteers who form the foundation of our vibrant community. From the Fenwick Lions Carnival, to the weekly Farmer’s Markets, to the 10th Annual Fonthill Bandshell Concert Series, to Pelham Summerfest, to the Canada Day Parade, volunteers organize and run our Town’s significant public events.  From Communities in Bloom, to the Horticultural Society, to those that have “adopted a road”, volunteers work to beautify our Town. In every sport from baseball and hockey, to soccer and tennis, volunteers – like the coaches, convenors, and score keepers – ensure that our children enjoy the fun-of-the-game.

We also live in a peaceful, safe community with great schools, and many recreation opportunities. We enjoy clean water, wonderful libraries, and a great mix of fully-accessible neighbourhood and community parks.

A devoted volunteer firefighters, dedicated police service, and expert emergency personnel protect you and I from harm. We have fair access to good and affordable healthcare.

We enjoy freedoms of conscience and religion, of thought, belief, opinion and expression, of assembly, and of association. We are free from persecution and from tyranny.

And, while we may have some work in a few of these areas, when compared on a global scale, we fare very well and should be very thankful.

The Pan Am & Para Pan Am Games and the FIFA Women’s World Cup hosted by and in Canada this summer help showcase our amazing country and her dedicated volunteers

As you and your family and friends commemorate our country’s 148th Birthday, I hope you will join me in celebrating and in giving thanks for our Pelham and our Canada.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

East Fonthill Finally Proceeding

Breaking ground with David Allen of Fonthill Gardens Inc.
Maryanne Firth/Welland Tribune/Postmedia Network
On Friday afternoon, Town Council, Staff and consultants, Federal, Provincial, and Regional representatives, and land-owner representatives gathered to break ground for the East Fonthill development.

Why was it an historic moment for Pelham? Because 25-years of thinking, discussing and planning have finally become action and construction!

Former Mayor Ralph Beamer told me that it took more than a decade to get Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) approval in 2000 to expand Pelham’s built boundary from east of Station Street to Rice Road – creating the 450 acres of “East Fonthill.”

But the OMB ruled that the Town needed to undertake more detailed planning – called a Secondary Plan – before development could proceed. Pelham’s 2000/03 Council hired the Planning Partnership to work together with the community and area developers to finalize the plan.

The 2003/06 Council, led by former Mayor Ron Leavens, purchased 32 acres of land at the corner of Hwy 20 and Rice Road to build recreational facilities and playing fields, and to construct a gateway feature. That Council also gave control of the Secondary Plan to private sector developers – hoping it could be completed more quickly.

Since 2006, Council and I took back the leadership of the Secondary Plan and, with exceptional planning and legal resources, worked together with the development community, the Region, and the public to complete the Plan and get OMB approval in January 2014.

Then we overcame the next obstacle by thinking more broadly. We notionally erased ownership lines and thought not just about the Town lands or the commercial / mixed use lands, but about how we might ensure this new area could improve the rest of the Town. And, Council directed Town CAO Darren Ottaway to work very closely with the commercial developer to design a great development.

This great development not only includes new commercial, retail, and food establishments, but also a Medical Centre, a significant Retirement Residence, and new Wellspring Niagara Cancer Support Centre. This development also includes a gateway pond, pedestrian and cycle-friendly paths and roads, a two-acre public square, new parks, and protection of significant environmental features – all linked to existing community. Finally, the development also includes space for a potential new Community Centre – with a single-pad arena, expandable to two pads, fitness facility and walking track, double gymnasium, multi-purpose & performing arts space.

With the vision, determination, and hard work of so many, we have worked together to complete this 25-year steeplechase. This groundbreaking signifies the start of construction of a more integrated and complete community and puts Council’s vision of a more vibrant, creative, and caring Pelham into action.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Welcoming Proposals to Operate Potential Community Centre

At our Pelham Council meeting last week, we received the March minutes of the Architectural Design Advisory Committee (ADAC). (You will recall that Council appointed ADAC last August – with representatives from recreation user groups, youth, seniors, artists, service clubs and the community-at-large – to provide advice on the design of a potential new Community Centre.)

The March minutes of the ADAC’s meetings highlighted the committee’s interest in the way in which the facility might be operated. Some members expressed concerns with the Town beginning discussions with the YMCA of Niagara to potentially operate the fitness and other components of the potential Multifaceted Community Centre. Some committee members thought that the Town should ask the private-sector to put forward proposals to operate the Centre; others suggested that the Town should operate the potential Centre ourselves.

Over the weeks since Council signed a memorandum of understanding with the YMCA to begin talks, some members of the public have also expressed similar concerns.

Council addressed these concerns at our June 1st meeting by directing staff to “explore additional means by which programs and activities within the proposed multi-faceted community centre can be delivered.”

Highlighting the importance of transparency and community involvement, Council asked staff to recommend operating solutions that “ensure and maximize effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability, all the while meeting and sustaining the needs and demands of the community.”

Council accepted Town Staff’s suggestion to develop and issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) to operate components of the potential new facility. Staff will investigate service delivery options and potential operating partnerships, which may include not-for-profit, for-profit, or other public/private-partnerships.

In essence, the motion puts the memorandum of understanding between the Town of Pelham and the YMCA of Niagara to explore an operating agreement on hold.

Rather, this June 1st motion opens up the process and allows others (and including the YMCA) to put together a bid to potentially operate the new Centre.

Allowing enough time for bidders to develop and submit their proposals, and for Staff to evaluate and make a recommendation, Staff suggested the entire process could take six to eight weeks.

Finally, Council reiterated that this RFP process should in no way impact the Community Centre design timelines. The Architect hopes to present a final draft schematic design to ADAC on June 18, and Council will receive this plan and ADAC’s feedback on June 23. Then, since Council wants to ensure that you and other members of the public have a chance to review these plans, we hope you will participate in public consultations (at community events like Pelham Summerfest) in July.