|Public Meeting at Old Pelham Town Hall|
We heard 17 passionate presentations (and received three) from individuals and groups representing thousands of from the community including the Pelham Seniors Advisory Committee, three youth sport associations, the Chamber of Commerce, the Niagara Building & Construction Trades Council, the Architectural Design Advisory Committee, and individual residents. Most presenters spoke about the need for the facility and their excitement on how the new Community Centre will dramatically improve our Town. A few individuals expressed reservations about the financing and questioned some elements of the facility.
In addition to the presentations, Council received 138 community letters and 22 online community engagement comments. The overwhelming majority of these letters (more than 125) and comments supported the Community Centre plan as presented more than a month before. Council also considered reports and recommendations from Staff.
Encouraged by the community support and excitement, Council approved the new Community Centre. (Please see official Town news release here.)
But, this decision doesn’t mean that we simply rest of our laurels. Rather, Council’s role changes from consultation and deliberation to oversight, approvals, and lobbying.
Together with the Treasurer, I asked the Town’s auditor to assist Staff in recommending best practices for overseeing the detailed design and construction of the Centre. Before the end-of-the-month Council will consider project and spending oversight options so that the Town can deliver the project on time and on budget.
We also directed Staff to apply for government grants when they become available. Last week, the Federal Government announced preliminary steps toward working with the Provinces for recreational and cultural project funding. When those grants open up, we will appeal to local MPs and MPPs and encourage you to do the same.
Council also directed Staff to present options for a comprehensive development and land-sale strategy before the end-of-the-month. This will not only include Town-owned lands in East Fonthill area, but lands in other parts of the Town too.
Because some Councillors wanted to better understand Development Charges, Council will also receive a presentation about DCs from the Provincial expert.
Finally, Council approved Memorandums of Understanding to negotiate long-term leases with Pelham Minor Hockey Association, Pelham Panther Basketball, Southern Tier Admirals AAA, Welland Raiders Minor Lacrosse Association, and Niagara Centre Figure Skating Club; Council will consider user-group leases over coming months.
After decades of community consultations, deliberations, analysis and planning, I am thrilled that we are taking action to construct a new Community Centre to serve residents of all ages for many, many years.