Sunday, October 30, 2016

Take Time to Remember

Each year in Pelham, the Legion and Cadets organize a number of very special ceremonies to commemorate Remembrance Day.

On the Sunday before Remembrance Day – this year on November 6 – the commemorations will begin at the Cenotaph at Centennial Park at 9:00 AM. During this special service, Veterans, members of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 613, the Ladies Auxiliary, the Royal Canadian Army Cadets, the Fenwick Volunteer Firefighters Association, the Fabulous Fenwick Lions, and Federal, Provincial, and Municipal political representatives will march to the Cenotaph and lay wreaths to remember those brave men and women who served (and who continue to serve) our country during times of war, conflict, and peace.

Then, at 10:00 AM, the Legion will organize another commemoration at Old Pelham Town Hall in Ridgeville. This will be the first Remembrance Day service with the newly restored WW1 mortar. This service recalls those that served from the Ridgeville area and often also includes representatives of the Niagara Regional Police Service and several local veterans.

At 11:00 AM, Reverend Russ Myers and the congregation of Fonthill Baptist will host a special church service. The ceremony usually includes reciting John McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields”, a scriptural reflection, and a video that highlights local veterans.

Later, at 12:30 PM, the Legion will host a commemoration at the Cenotaph at Peace Park in Fonthill. This service calls to mind those who served from the Fonthill area, and also includes the laying of wreaths by members of the Fonthill Volunteer Firefighters Association, the Fonthill Lions, the Fonthill Rotary Club, the Fonthill & District Kinsmen and some local businesses.

On Remembrance Day itself – this year on a Friday – the Legion will host a complete service at Veteran’s Park at the Legion in Fonthill. The service begins at 10:45 AM so that the moment of silence can occur at 11:00 AM. In recent years, and especially since the revitalization of the park, many people participate in this Remembrance Day service.

The freedoms that so many of us might take for granted – to express ourselves, to participate in cultural, religious, and political activities, to come and go as we please, to pursue a safe and happy life – are all due to the sacrifices of Veterans and those who serve today. They sacrificed their futures so that our future might be one of peace and of happiness.

Let us each take a few moments to participate in these Remembrance Day ceremonies so that we can be thankful and rededicate ourselves to peace. Lest we forget.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

East Fonthill Progress Update

Site Master Plan for northern part of  East Fonthill
To help answer some recent community questions, here’s some of what I spoke about during a “State of the Town” address to the Chamber of Commerce in early-October.

Added in 2000, Developing Now:
When it added 450 acres to the Town’s eastern “Urban Boundary” in 2000, the Ontario Municipal Board guaranteed huge growth for Pelham. What wasn’t certain was the type of that growth. That’s why Council and I worked so hard over the last decade to ensure that these “East Fonthill” lands integrate with the existing community, protect sensitive environmental elements, benefit existing residents by including public facilities and commercial amenities, and require attractive and pedestrian/cycle-friendly form.

To help achieve this vision, Council approved a Secondary Plan for all of “East Fonthill” and a Site Master Plan for the 54 acres of Town- and privately-owned lands fronting Regional Road 20. These award-winning Plans allow various uses including medical, retail, retirement, community centre, mixed-use commercial, townhomes, mixed-use residential, parks and trails.

Commercial Development:
As you know, the commercial component is taking shape along Regional Road 20. While most stores will likely open in early-2017, the Food Basics is scheduled for next month and the Tim Horton’s in late-December. The buildings are purposefully closer to the road to help encourage walkability and slow vehicle traffic.
Demonstration Plan for
450 Acres in East Fonthill

Medical Centre and Retirement Home:
In 2014, the Town approved an agreement to sell 7.7 acres of land to the Allen Group to construct a medical centre and a retirement home. The +/-30,000 square foot Medical Centre should include 5-10 family doctors, a mini-pharmacy, and other health and wellness / allied professionals. When the Province disallowed new “family health teams” for Niagara for nearly a year, establishing the Centre got slightly delayed to 2017. The ~130-unit senior’s campus should offer independent and assisted living options and is hoped to break ground in 2018.

Surplus Lands:
In September, Council reaffirmed our priority of selling surplus lands at a maximum dollar value and for the best community use. We also developed a draft lay-out for the property. You will recall that we expect to generate an average of $600,000 per acre to help fund the Community Centre’s construction.

Piazza / Public Square:
The Site Master Plan envisions a large, public square next to the future Community Centre that would include interlocking brick, an outdoor theatre, a water feature, and trees and benches. While contemplated a few years from now, Council applied in June for Canada Cultural Spaces Funding to cover 50% of the estimated $5.1 million project; we have yet to hear the results of that application.

Other Questions:

Development Charges: I understand that the Town has collected $2.76 million this year (to October 31) from Development Charges. Further, I have asked Staff to report on this amount monthly to Council. (Here's the first report -- to the end of September 2016.)

Rental Rates: The operating projections for the new Pelham Community Centre that Staff presented last spring used current (2016) rental rates for various community services -- like ice rental or room rentals. They also estimated a inflationary increase each year. Council approves all fees and charges annually during budget considerations.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Encouraging Vibrant Downtowns

Former "Central Variety"
You must have noticed the ongoing construction on Pelham Street at Churchill in Downtown Fonthill.

This private-sector work – renewing the building and adding apartments – is part of the general revitalization and redevelopment of Pelham’s private and public realms in our Downtowns.

You may recall that a decade ago the Downtowns in both Fonthill and Fenwick were tired and drab. Quite frankly, they did not reflect our vibrant community and they needed desperate renewal.

Designer's Rendition
Encouraged by the Pelham Business Association that the Town take action, I called together a community meeting in the spring of 2007. At that meeting, dedicated residents and business owners stepped forward to establish an ad hoc, community-based committee to help advance Downtown revitalization. Shortly thereafter, those citizens approached Council to become an official Town committee – the Downtown Beautification Committee.

The dedicated Committee members actively advanced beautification of our downtowns by encouraging Council to undertake and develop a Community Improvement Plan (CIP) along with improvements to the streets, sidewalks and parking. Council followed through on these elements.
U-Turn Decor, Fonthill Inn, Zest

Volcano Pizza
First, thanks to stimulus funding from the Federal and Provincial governments, we revitalized the public realm in Downtown Fonthill in 2010/11. A one-day celebration in 2011Pelham Summerfest – marked the end of this considerable work.

Second, we worked to revitalize Downtown Fenwick – including repairing and designating the historic flagpole in 2013, and reconstructing and revitalizing the sidewalks, parking and roadway in 2014/15. Last spring, it was my honour to accept a Regional award recognizing excellence in that reconstruction.
Mokus, Fonthill Dental, Fonthill Fitness

Third, we worked very closely with the community from 2007 to 2010 to develop design guidelines and an incentive program to encourage upgrades to private properties. We not only developed grants to encourage façade improvements, but to also increase the number of residential units.

The renovation and construction at Churchill and Pelham Street is the tenth property in Downtown Fonthill to take advantage of these incentive programs. Others include: Volcano’s Pizza; Zest Restaurant; Fonthill Inn; U-Turn Décor and More; Pelham Street Grille & Goods Sports Excellence; Mokus Restaurant, Fonthill Fitness; Fonthill Dental Clinic; and Strut. Together, these represent nearly one-third of all the buildings in the downtown-district on Pelham Street!

A few years ago the Region studied the benefit of these type of programs and found that for every dollar invested or deferred in a Niagara downtown, the incentives generated nine dollars in private sector investment. We are pleased to see similar investments in our Downtowns. Council and I will continue to promote and fund these programs so that we might further encourage vibrant downtowns.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

How should we spend your money in 2017?

Do you have any suggestions on how the Town should spend and invest your money to improve our Town?

Council will begin our 2017 budget process with a special public meeting where we listen to you and other members of the community about what you would like to see in next year’s and future budgets. That meeting will occur on Tuesday, October 11 at 6:30 PM in the Council Chamber at Pelham Town Hall.

Pelham Council first started this type of a “pre-budget consultation” ten years ago – for our 2007 Budgets. We continue each year to welcome residents, representatives of sports teams, service clubs, and committees, and businesses and property tax payers to provide input.

I am pleased that, following Council deliberations each year, we have been able to follow-through on most of the suggestions offered by your friends and neighbours. In previous years, folks have requested a dog park, a skate park, sidewalks along a number of roads, crosswalks, sidewalk snow clearing on every sidewalk in Town, partnerships on service club signs, and a new community centre. Town Council discussed each of these requests, and most have been approved or are scheduled in future budgets.

That’s why we are undertaking this consultation process again. Council and I want to hear directly from you about your needs, wants, and ideas for our Town. Our community improves when more and more people become involved in its success!

And, this is just the start of our 2017 budget discussions:

  • Pre-Budget Consultation – beginning October 11, 2016;
  • Draft Capital Budget available to the public – November 25;
  • Draft Capital Budget presented to Committee – November 28;
  • Council consider approving Capital Budget – December 5;
  • Draft Operating Budget available to the public – January 27, 2017;
  • Draft Operating Budget presented to Committee – January 30;
  • Council consider approving Operating Budget – February 6;
  • Draft Water & Sewer Budgets available to the public – February 17;
  • Draft Water & Sewer Budgets presented to Committee – February 20;
  • Council consider approving Water & Sewer Budgets – March 6.

Prefer to provide written input?  Simply send a letter via email to a special email address: You will also soon be able to view background budget information at the Town’s website:

Not internet savvy?  You can also provide written comments via normal mail c/o Town Clerk, Town of Pelham, 20 Pelham Town Square, P.O. Box 400, Fonthill, ON   L0S 1E0.

I hope to hear from you and I look forward to discussing your ideas so that we can continue to build a better future for our Town together.