Sunday, September 25, 2016

Pelham Community Centre Progressing

Pelham Community Centre Approved Site Plan
During our special strategic planning session on September 16, Council verified our number one priority as completing the Pelham Community Centre on time and on budget. So, let me give you an update of progress to date.

Oversight Committee:
In August, Council appointed Gordon Morasco, Bill Gibson, Councillor Gary
Accursi and CAO Darren Ottaway to the Centre’s Oversight Committee. During their first meeting (on September 7), the Committee elected Bill Gibson Chair, confirmed their Terms of Reference, and received a project overview and status update from Ball Construction. The Committee will meet monthly and provide regular financial and construction updates.

Financial Progress:
As promised, the Town hired a temporary analyst to oversee all financial aspects of the Centre. Council insisted on this to ensure transparent tracking of Community Centre expenses and project revenues – including development charges, sale of surplus lands, and the debenture. This arrangement will also ensure regular Staff carry on seamlessly with the Town’s normal operations.

Also, Infrastructure Ontario approved the Community Centre loan and construction financing.

Site Works Progressing:
Council unanimously approved the Site Plan for the Community Centre last Monday.

As depicted in the Spring, the Town will locate the Centre at the corner of two new streets – Wellspring Way (with a traffic signal on Regional Road 20 at Pelham Petroleum) and Shaw Avenue (linked with Rice Road near the entrance of Duffin Appleworks). The Centre will stand adjacent to a public square and future transit stop and within walking distance to new stores and restaurants, the new medical centre and various types of residential housing.

Site Servicing by Beam Construction (19 Sept. 2016)
Last week, Ball Construction presented the blueprints and other Community Centre drawings as they applied for the Building Permit. While Staff review the application, Beam Construction continues with “earthworks” and will be starting “site servicing” – installing water, waste water, storm water, and electrical services – over coming weeks. While these significant works have already begun, we will host the ceremonial groundbreaking later in October.

Ball Construction and Staff will provide scheduling and financial updates at Council’s next and subsequent meetings.

Surplus Lands:
Council’s strategic priorities also includes “Begin selling surplus land at maximum dollar value and best use.” Over the summer, Staff prepared and Council reviewed a conceptual plan for the surplus lands that the Town owns in East Fonthill. Efforts continue on this priority.

I am pleased that we’ve made significant progress thus far on the new Pelham Community Centre, for the benefit of our entire community.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Assessment Only Half the Picture

Have you received your new residential property assessment notice from MPAC – the Ontario Municipal Property Assessment Corporation? (If you own a farm, business, or multi-residential property, you should receive your assessment mid-October.)

Updated for the first time since 2012, your notice will outline MPAC’s determination of the market value of your property as of January 1, 2016.

MPAC considers many factors when assessing property values, such as the sale prices of comparable properties in your neighbourhood, and the age, location, characteristics, and size of your property and home. In essence, MPAC strives to base their value on the amount your property could have sold for on the open market.

Just like in 2012, property assessments will remain the same for the next four years – from 2017 to 2020. However, if the value of your property increases, that increase will be phased in over the four years; if the value goes down, you will immediately see a reduction.

For example, if the value of your home increased by $20,000 over its current assessment, the value for determining your property tax will increase by $5,000 per year over the next four years.

If the value of your home goes up, does that mean that your property taxes will also go up?

No, not necessarily. Market Value Assessment is only one half of the property tax equation. The amount you pay to the Town of Pelham, to the Region, and for Education is based on the Market Value Assessment of your home multiplied by the three tax rates and added together.

Say the Town budgeted for revenues of $10 million from property taxes in 2017. If all assessments double, the Town would cut the tax rate in half to collect that $10 million. If everyone’s assessments went down, we would increase the rate to collect the same $10 million.

But, what if your assessed value increases more than the average?

The property tax system is a bit of a blunt instrument. Municipalities set the tax rate based on the average assessment for each of the tax classes – residential, multi-residential, commercial, industrial, farm/managed forest, pipelines.

If your property’s assessed value increases more than the average, you will likely pay more than the average tax. By the same token, if your assessed value increases less than the average, you will likely pay less tax.

What if you don’t think the MPAC assessment on your property is correct? You can issue a “request for reconsideration” before November 30, 2016 for residential properties so that MPAC will review your assessment. (Owners of farm, business, and multi-residential properties must file reassessment requests 120 days from the assessment issue date.)

Please check out MPAC’s website ( and your notice for more information.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Unveiling & Rededicating WWI Cenotaph & Mortar

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cst. Susan Phillips,
WWII Veteran Jim Summersides, Pelham Mayor Dave Augustyn
and Niagara Centre MP Vance Badawey.
Photo Credit: Laura Barton/Welland Tribune
On behalf of Pelham Council and the community, it was my honour to help unveil and rededicate two significant historic and cultural artifacts – a WWI Cenotaph and the newly restored WWI Mortar – at Old Pelham Hall on Saturday.

Because of the generous partnership of the Town with the Canadian Government, the Royal Canadian Legion, and caring citizens, these newly restored artifacts now stand as a constant reminder of the ultimate sacrifices paid by Pelham residents and other Canadian soldiers in World War I to secure our freedoms.

The beautifully restored cenotaph was completed last year, in time for our 2015 Remembrance Day commemoration. May the names of those 18 local soldiers killed in battle for our freedoms also be engraved in our minds and on our hearts.

The WWI German Trench Mortar (called a minenwerfer) was captured by the 31st Battalion, Alberta Regiment, Canadian Expeditionary Force, in a raid on enemy trenches at Neuville Vitasse, France, on 23-24 of June 1918.

The mortar, considered a “War Trophy,” was awarded to the former Township of Pelham in 1921 by the Government of Canada. It was placed next to the Cenotaph in Ridgeville as a memorial to those from this area and the 31st Battalion, who made the ultimate sacrifice during the Great War 1914-18.

Historic research showed that Government provided this mortar with the understanding that it “belongs to the Crown and to the people of Canada…and was to be preserved and respected.”

Research also shows that this mortar is very rare. It was one of 101 trench mortars brought to Canada and is one of very few not melted down for the World War II war effort.

Photo Credit: Laura Barton/Welland Tribune
Sadly, through the 95 years since it was first placed here, memories faded and few knew the real history or recognized the significance of the mortar. The artifact deteriorated and there was talk of removing it altogether and replacing it with an artifact from the World War II or the Korean War.

Thankfully, a group of dedicated citizens and representatives came together to work with the Town and Council to help recommend what to do. Among others, these included Carolyn Botari, Dell Clark, Gary Chambers, Jake Dilts, Leo Giovenazzo, Mary Lamb, Bernie Law, and Jim Summersides.

Council and I deeply appreciate the work of these caring citizens, of Town Staff, the Royal Canadian Legion, Veterans Affairs, the Canadian Government, and the conservation company to fully restore and tell the story of this mortar for generations to come.

Further, we hope that these newly restored artifacts – outside our recently revitalized Old Pelham Town Hall – stand as a constant reminder of the ultimate sacrifices paid by Canadian soldiers in World War I to secure our freedoms.


Thanks to the hundreds who participated in and attended the special ceremony, including:

  • Veterans & Members of Canadian Armed Forces;
  • Members of the Royal Canadian Legion & Ladies Auxiliary, Branch 613;
  • Members of the Burl-Oak Naval Veterans;
  • Members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police;
  • Branch 613 Army Cadets;
  • 87 Eagle Squadron Royal Canadian Air Cadets;
    Photo Credit: Laura Barton/Welland Tribune
  • Grimsby Pipe Band;
  • Reverend Myers;
  • Mr. Allison, MP Niagara-West;
  • Mr. Badawey, MP Niagara-Centre;
  • Regional Councillors Baty & Quirk;
  • Town of Pelham Councillors & Staff;
  • Members of the Citizen Advisory Committee;
  • David Hulley, Emcee.

Special thanks to Jim Summersides, World War II Hero, for assisting with the unveiling of the newly restored mortar and plaque.