Thursday, November 10, 2016

An Open Letter Response to Marianne Stewart:

Dear Ms. Stewart:
Thank you for your email and for asking additional questions about activities in Pelham.
I am sorry that it has taken me a few days to reply to you. Between Town Council, Regional meetings, and the Hydro Board, I have been in hours and hours of meetings thus far this week. And, since I received your email late Sunday, I thought I would have time to get you an answer before it was printed in a local newspaper. I was surprised it was printed this week because I was told by the publisher that the deadline for letters to the editor was Friday at 5:00 PM… Oh well. (To see the letter, please refer to page 6 at:
I am sorry that my previous responses haven’t been clear enough for you. Let me try again by annotating my online journal and my 23 October 2016 column that was published in the Pelham News and by other media for free (but that the Voice refused to print). I have added comments and annotated in italics.
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. (For more details about the type of growth, please see:
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. (For more details, please see:
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. (For more detail, please see: Also, for more information about the award-winning plans, please see:

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 [this] 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.
As you may know, Food Basics will officially open on Thursday, 17 November 2016; further, the framing steel for the Tim Horton’s went up this week.

Medical Centre & Retirement Home:
In 2014, the Town approved an agreement to sell 7.7 acres of land to the Allen Group [also known as Fonthill Gardens] to construct a medical centre and a retirement home. It is important to note that the agreement to sell the lands is dependent on the construction of these facilities – and that the facilities are seen as for the public good.
As it says in the Community Centre section of the Town’s website (at
“In 2005, the Town purchased 32-acres at the corner of Rice Road and Hwy 20 for $3.6 million ($112,000 per acre). After re-designating, re-zoning, and fully-servicing those lands, the Town will be able to sell nearly 20 acres for an estimated $12 million ($600,000 per acre appraised value).
"Including the $1.1 million in interest payments, this sale will represent a return on investment of greater than 150%.
"Staff indicated that the value range for property in this area is between $600,000 and $800,000 per acre, depending on the location within the development. To help maximize the property value, the Town intends to sell these lands in smaller parcels.
"Council approved agreements with Fonthill Gardens Inc. for an option to purchase 7.7 acres of the Town-owned lands to construct a medical centre (with 5-10 family doctors) and a retirement home (with +130 beds/units). The price of those lands would be a base, un-serviced price of $375,000.00 per acre plus all costs of development.”
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.
I understand that the Allen Group is actively recruiting doctors and other allied professionals to the new medical centre; to protect the privacy of those doctors and other professionals, I cannot comment further about how many or to whom they are speaking. Similarly, the Allen Group is working with potential operators and eventual owners for the retirement facility. As a business person, I know you are sure to understand that this information cannot be shared publicly.

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:
I am sorry that this continues to be unclear for you, especially since you also asked about it during my October presentation to the Chamber of Commerce. Please let me try again. When I wrote: “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,” I tried to explain that the Piazza it is a plan, or something for which we are hoping to achieve.
When I wrote, “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,” that means that the project does not yet have a specific approval from Council. Whether we receive funding or not, Council will have to consider this project in relation to our future Capital Budget addressing the various needs across the Town and the desires from the public before moving ahead and approving it. This consideration will likely form part of our 20-year capital budget discussions in late-November and December.

Development Charges:
I understand that the Town has collected $2.2 million this year (to 20 October 2016) from development charges. Further, I have asked Staff to report on this amount monthly to Council.
At our 7 November 2016 meeting, Council received the first report to the end of September 2016. Please see: Further, I understand that to the 31 October 2016, the total was $2,766,705. These are collected from new development from across the Town, not just from development in the eastern part of Fonthill.
For more information about Development Charges, please see or see the “Development Charges” section of the “Financing Options” tab at

Rental Rates:
Again, I am sorry that this continues to be unclear for you. Thanks for asking me to try again to explain it!
I wrote: “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 an inflationary increase each year. Council approves all fees and charges annually during budget considerations.”
This means that Staff presented a very conservative estimate for activity fees for the new Community Centre; they used the 2016 user fee rates for a facility that will open in 2018. In subsequent years, they estimated the fees to be increasing by inflation each year. (This means that we are not planning on gouging users for use of the facilities – which may be your worry.) We do not know the specific, 2018 rates for which you specifically ask because Council will officially approve that as part of the 2018 budgets in the fall of 2017. It’s similar to most businesses not being able to tell you exactly how much they would be charging for a product – be it a car or a pie or a cup of coffee – two-years from now.
For the Town’s current Fees and Charges, please see:
Council agreed with the Architectural Design Advisory Committee and Pelham Seniors Advisory Committee recommendations that the walking / running track would be available free-of-charge.

Maple Acre Library:
At the start of construction in June, I said that the renewed Maple Acre Library was to be open by mid-December. During my Chamber presentation in early October, I said that it was to be completed by the end of the year. We will be having a Maple Acre Design Advisory Committee meeting next week to see and better understand their progress and the schedule from completion.

Skatepark Lighting:
The Isaac Riehl Memorial Skatepark is open until 11 PM and lights are on from dusk to 11 PM. For more information about the rules and guidelines for the Skatepark, please see:
Again, I appreciate your keen interest in the Town! I hope that this annotated response answers all of your questions.
Thanks again!
Sincerely yours,
Mayor Dave