Sunday, July 24, 2016

Starting Review of Town’s Zoning Bylaw

Ever wonder what controls the heights and sizes of buildings in a community? What rules allow certain type of uses – like a gas station or an apartment building or townhouse – in one area, but not in another? Or, where do the rules come from for the amount of parking a store or an apartment or a church must have?

In Ontario, it’s a community’s Zoning Bylaw that contains detailed information on what kind of land use and what kinds of physical structures are allowed on each property in the Town. The Zoning Bylaw puts into effect the Town’s “Official Plan” or Secondary Plans (like the East Fonthill Secondary Plan or the North-West Fonthill Secondary Plan).

The details include the height and “massing” of buildings, the distance buildings must be set back from the street or other yards, and any landscaping requirements.

Since Zoning By-laws are legally enforceable (under the Ontario Planning Act), proposed developments that do not fit the By-law’s requirements are not allowed to proceed – unless they receive a variance. Thus, this important Bylaw helps achieve Council’s objectives for a successful, vibrant, and livable community.

The existing Zoning Bylaw was approved in 1987 and contains hundreds of exemptions and variances.

Since we recently updated the Town’s Official Plan – via Ontario Municipal Board approval in 2014 – Staff have been working on re-drafting a new Zoning Bylaw. That draft was presented publicly on Monday.

Staff proposed that we begin the consultation process on the draft By-law and receive feedback from you and other members of the community and agencies this Fall. We will schedule public open houses, meetings with the development community, and a special meeting with Council to receive agency input.

Following this type of consultation with the community, agencies and Council, Staff will revise the draft Zoning By-law to address the comments and feedback received. Then, Council will likely undertake a second round of community consultation.

As you will appreciate, the Town’s new Zoning Bylaw will be an important document that will oversee growth and development in the Town for many, many years.

If you are interested in reviewing Staff’s first public draft, please check out our July 25 Policy & Priorities Committee agenda by clicking here (for the agenda package) and going to page 113.. Alternatively, please watch both traditional and “social” media for further information about meetings and updates.

Council and I look forward to working together with you and other residents and business owners to update our Zoning Bylaw to ensure that Pelham continues to be a successful, vibrant, and livable and with a unique blend of residential housing types, commercial-mixed uses, and agricultural operations and uses.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Thanks for Best Summerfest Yet!

On behalf of Council and the community, thank you to the 2016 Summerfest Committee, Town Staff, service club and other volunteers for your hard-work and dedication and to the many generous sponsors who made this year’s four-day Summerfest the most successful yet!

First, I greatly appreciate the work of the Summerfest Committee, including John Wink, Chair; Councillor Gary Accursi; Bill Gibson, Active Transportation Committee rep; Candy Ashby, Pelham Business Association rep; Matthew Leask and Michelle Stewart, Pelham residents; and Sofia Labricciosa, Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council rep. The committee met for months prior to Summerfest to plan and finalize every detail and they worked very, very hard all weekend long to ensure a successful festival. Thank you very much!

Second, thanks so much to Town Staff! Thanks to Vickie van Ravenswaay, Sally Jaeger, Jodi Hendriks and other staff who helped organize the overall event and worked with the Committee to ensure success. I also appreciate the many Town staff who volunteered in one capacity or another – from setting up, to serving beverages, to cleaning up – throughout the four days; thanks for giving your time to our community. And, thanks to the (mainly) Public Works staff who worked during the Festival on logistics, garbage and recycling duty, and ensured the safety of participants and all the major clean-up!

Third, thanks to the very many members of the Town’s service clubs – including the Fonthill & District Kinsmen and Kinettes Clubs, the Fonthill Lions Club, and the Fonthill Rotary Club – for helping serve beverages and greeting patrons. We couldn’t have done it without you!

Fourth, thanks to the other members of the community who also volunteered! Thanks to members of the Pelham Fire Service, the Active Transportation Committee, the Pelham Seniors Advisory Committee, St. John’s Ambulance, the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council, members of Town Council, and the many, many other community volunteers!

Fifth, thank you to the many Sponsors and Friends of Pelham Summerfest including our Gold Sponsors: Ball Construction, Fonthill Bandshell, Fonthill Dental, Halco Mobile, Lafarge Canada, McAvoy Belan & Campbell, Meridian Credit Union, RBC Royal Bank, and Square Roots Restoration. And, thanks to our amazing Media Partners including: Cogeco TV; Country 89; Erie Media; Giant FM;; Niagara This Week; Pelham News; the Standard; the Tribune; and the Voice.

Finally, thanks to you and the more than 30,000 other people who enjoyed Pelham Summerfest over the festival’s four days! Your attendance and community spirit made it a huge success!

All of this work and participation – including the visit by Tourism Minister Eleanor McMahon, the amazing performances by Jully Black and the many other performers, the participation of Carlos and Suki from YTV, and the addition of a Sunday Car Show – helped make the 2016 Pelham Summerfest the best ever!

On behalf of Council, I appreciate the vision, dedication, and tremendous work by so many volunteers and staff to celebrate our vibrant, creative, and caring community! Thank you and congratulations on a resounding and overwhelming success!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Leveraging & Accelerating GO Rail

Bob Tymczyszyn/St. Catharines Standard/Postmedia Network
Following months of anticipation, the Provincial Government’s June 28th announcement to expand GO train service into Niagara created much excitement. Now that we’ve had a couple of weeks to reflect, how can we make this opportunity even better?

Significant Works: 
While some have bemoaned the 2021 (Grimsby) and 2023 (St. Catharines & Niagara Falls) timetable, others realize that Metrolinx (the Provincial corporation that runs GO Transit) must undertake extensive work to extend GO Rail to Niagara.

Since CN owns the track upon which GO Rail to Niagara will travel, improvements must “occur in coordination with CN along their corridor, ensuring no impacts to CN and AMTRAK rail services.”

These works include adding 21 km of track in Niagara and 12 new track crossovers (switches); improving and modifying 17 road crossings; building new Confederation (Stoney Creek) and Casablanca (Grimsby) stations; significantly upgrading St. Catharines and Niagara Falls stations; upgrading signals and rail traffic control system; and constructing a train layover facility in Niagara Falls.

The Province continues to negotiate an agreement with CN to undertake this work. “When an agreement with CN is reached, Metrolinx will undertake planning and design work required to implement the service.” (Tribune, 29 June 2016, p1.)

Transfer Service:
During our pre-announcement technical briefing, the Chief Operating Officer of Metrolinx told Niagara Mayors and Regional Chair that the “track to Confederation is fundamental to Niagara’s expansion.” Why? Because, similar to as we outlined in our 2015 business case, Niagara’s service will be a “transfer service” to the Lakeshore West rail service via the Confederation station.

Funding In Place:
Importantly, Minister Del Duca confirmed that all internal approvals “are in place, including financial approvals, to deliver GO train service to Niagara.” He also stated that the “Station work is not time critical” and some of the station upgrades in Niagara Falls and St. Catharines will begin in 2017.

But, Can We GO Faster?
Some have asked how we might accelerate GO service to Niagara. It’s a good question because the Minister indicated that “If, as a result of this important process, work can progress faster, it will.”

Obviously, because this will be a transfer service, the “opening of the Stoney Creek GO Station in 2019 will impact the plan for Niagara.

But, much depends on the negotiations and planning with CN and roll-out of the plans. Since these factors are not in Niagara’s direct control, I believe the worst thing we could do is “rest on our laurels.”

Instead, I believe Niagara Region should take the opportunity to get involved in discussions with CN and Metrolinx to try to advance the timetable. Let’s take a “We are here to help and want to partner with you,” approach.

And, while we must keep pushing for GO Rail, I believe this announcement encourages us to continue to concentrate on developing a regional transit service. Let’s get an integrated transit service finalized by the end of 2017 and show the Province we are serious about public transportation in Niagara.