Monday, October 30, 2017

Volunteers are the Heart of Pelham!

We hosted one of Council’s and my favourite events last week – the Town’s annual Volunteer Appreciation. That’s when we thank the Town’s key volunteers for their hard work and dedication to improving our Town and for embodying the vision of a vibrant, innovative, and caring community.

During the event, I looked back over the last year to demonstrate how volunteers are the heart of our Town.

First, volunteers organize and run our Town’s significant public events. The Fonthill Bandshell Concert Series celebrated their 12th Season with the best talent, the largest crowds, and serving as a huge benefit to small town feel of Pelham. The Fenwick Lions & Lioness members hosted the Classic Car Raffle this fall and sold more than 7,000 tickets to support seeing eye dogs. With growing membership, the Fonthill Lions & Lioness welcomed drone racing, organized the very successful and fun Sliderfest with pledges to support the “Lions Lift” elevator in the Pelham Community Centre.

In addition, the members of the Canada Day Committee expanded the Canada Day celebrations to encompass Canada 150 commemorations and put together a wonderful event. And, the dedicated members of Pelham Summerfest helped maintain our small-town feel while hosting the most participants yet – more than 40,000 people attended the four-day festival – and being named one of the Top 100 Festivals in Ontario.

Second, other dedicated people volunteer with sport. For instance, because of its selfless volunteers, the Pelham Minor Basketball Association is the best and largest basketball association in all of Niagara; they are looking forward to the Community Centre become a home for their champion players. The Pelham Platform Tennis volunteers are seeing a resurgence of sport and are working with the Town to stay in their current location at the existing Arena on Haist Street.

Amazingly, the Pelham Minor Baseball Association volunteers had to cope with huge growth in participants this year – more than 36% increase in players – which stretched their resources.

And, the Pelham Minor Hockey Association celebrated 50 years of hockey in Pelham by growing their participation and making a significant donation to Community Centre.

At the same time, the Niagara Centre Figure Skating and the Welland Raiders Lacrosse (soon to be Pelham Raiders again!) both decided to bring their sport back to Pelham and use the Community Centre as their home.

Third, let’s not forget members of our service clubs who work to enhance community. For instance, the Kinsmen continue to enhance and expand their charitable activities – like the Home Show, Craft Show, and Citizen of the Year – while making a donation to name the multi-purpose room in new Community Centre. And the Rotary Club not only worked to eradicate polio from our world, but they also raised funds for Wellspring Niagara and expanded their efforts to involve young people. And, the Royal Canadian Legion members continue to host more and more events at their Hall – which is always booked – and also continue to support and honour our community’s veterans.

Fourth, other volunteers serve on various Town Committees and work to ensure that our Town is progressive and forward thinking. For instance, the Library Board not only oversaw expanded services and the opening of the new Maple Acre branch, but also work to ensure the Library constantly innovates and grows. The Seniors Advisory Committee worked to organize of a Regional age-friendly conference and developed a successful nomination for the World Health Organization to designate Pelham as an Age-Friendly Community. Then there’s the members of the Active Transportation Committee who developed an Active Transportation Master Plan to increase walking and cycling infrastructure and also initiated four “Slow-Roll” cycling events.

And, so many others volunteers across Pelham to continue to enhance many activities and efforts to improve our Town.

That’s why we also presented the “Peer Award” at the event as a special way of recognizing outstanding individuals among these amazing volunteers. Each community-based group or organization in Pelham nominated one of the most exemplary volunteers from among their group of exceptional volunteers.

We offered our deep appreciation and congratulations to each of the Peer Award recipients: Shirley Krysa, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 613; Shawn Ryan, 613 Lincoln & Welland Regiment Army Cadet Corps; Fred Arbour, Pelham Farmers Market; Frank Adamson, Rotary Club of Fonthill; Deborah Rollo, Pelham Seniors Advisory Committee; Patti Keller, Fonthill and District Kinettes; John Swart, Pelham Active Transportation Committee; Candy Ashbee, Pelham Summerfest Committee; Lannie Seddon, Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council; Lance Wiebe, Canada Day Committee; Tina Sidler, Fonthill Lions; Pat Norton, Fonthill Lioness; Jacinthe Langlais, Pelham Cares; Len Doyle, Fonthill & District Kinsmen; Marjorie Tuck, Pelham Horticultural Society; Craig Gemmel, Pelham Minor Baseball Association; Natalia Shields, Pelham Art Festival.

Congratulations to these and all volunteers in Pelham! You serve as the heart of our community!

You may contact Mayor Dave at or read past columns at

Monday, October 23, 2017

Working Together to Renew Haist Street Property

The Town’s 2017 budget included funds to hire a planning and design firm to work together with the community to discuss and design redevelopment options of the existing Arena property on Haist Street.

Since 2017-18 will be the last ice season in the existing arena, Council prudently began planning for the future of the property. This included not only this work, but also funding a renovation of the Town’s Tice Road Operations Centre to accommodate parks and cemeteries staff (who currently work from the Haist property).

The Planning Partnership won the bid for the redesign work and started with two “community co-design” sessions at the Arena this past June. Representatives from user groups, neighbours, and interested residents worked in three design groups to develop 12 concept plans. Based on the discussions and work, each plan looked at ways to keep as much greenspace as possible, provide trail connections, minimize impacts on existing residential uses, and improve existing parkland features.

The firm then reviewed the concepts and gleaned them into five “explorations”: single detached houses; central park; rear-laneway townhouses and singles; front driveway townhouses; and apartments. Each of these options were posted online for public feedback. 120 survey respondents preferred some features in the explorations over others – including no change in the park and to only consider residential development in the area around the existing Town buildings and parking lot.

The Planning Partnership tested an “emerging preferred concept” at a community workshop in September. While suggesting some improvements – like ensuring that any new lighting doesn’t shine on existing properties – the majority of participants liked the plan. Why? The plan suggested no change in the location of the open spaces (soccer fields), the playground, or the platform tennis. The plan also maintained the wooded area along the western edge of the property and constructs a walking trail. Further, the concept blended townhouses and single-family homes – similar to housing in the surrounding neighbourhood.

During this process, a few folks strongly expressed a desire “that nothing be done with respect to this property until after the new east Fonthill community center be opened and that it's 1st year of operation is proven.” Realistically, the status quo option is neither judicious nor responsible. Obviously, there’s no going back from building and operating the new Community Centre. And, since we know that no one will be using the Town buildings (aside from paddle tennis) after August 2018, it’s Council’s responsibility to plan and prepare for the future.

So, this “emerging preferred concept” was presented to and discussed by Council on October 10. Ultimately, we approved proceeding because the concept responds to community desires by maintaining green areas and park amenities, creating a connected trail system, and calls for similar type of housing. The concepts also provides two points of entrance, increases safety through “eyes on the park” from the housing, and offers lane-based and attractive townhouses.

Now, the Planning Partnership will work with Staff to develop design guidelines, and official plan and zoning standards which will help make the community’s preferred concept a reality.

For a copy of the preferred concept and the presentation to Council, please click here.

You may contact Mayor Dave at to suggest future column or read past columns at

Monday, October 16, 2017

How should we use your money in 2018?

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

Council will begin our 2018 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 Monday, October 23 at 6:30 PM in the Council Chamber at Town Hall.

Pelham Council first started this type of a “pre-budget consultation” eleven years ago – for the 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 and ideas.

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, sport field improvements, 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 2018 budget discussions:
Pre-Budget Consultation – beginning October 23, 2017;
Draft Capital, Operating, Water & Waste Water Budgets available to the public – December 1;
Draft Capital, Operating, Water & Waste Water Budgets presented to Committee of the Whole – December 4;
Council consider approving Capital, Operating, Water & Waste Water Budgets – December 18;

We usually seek to approve the Capital Budget before the budget year starts – so that we might tender large capital projects earlier than other Cities & Towns. This has worked effectively in the past.

New this year: Staff will be recommending the Operating and Water & Waste Water budgets early as well – to get them approved before we actually start the budget year.

Would you 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. You can also simply drop a letter off at Town Hall.

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

You may contact Mayor Dave at to suggest future column or read past columns at

Monday, October 2, 2017

Comparing Pelham’s Household Income & Status

You may recall that I wrote here in June about Pelham’s population growth through the years. I based that analysis on previous Censuses.

A couple of weeks ago, Statistics Canada released another round of data from the 2016 Census of Population. These new data provided information on individual, family and household income for various levels of geography and demographic groups.

I find it not only interesting to examine the Pelham data, but to also compare Pelham with the Niagara Region (including Pelham) or with other Cities, Towns, or Townships in the Peninsula.

For example, in 2015, the median total income of households in Pelham was $95,052. This was the highest across all of Niagara! The next highest were Grimsby at $93,145, West Lincoln at $91,325, and Lincoln at $86,816. Across all of Niagara, the median total income of households stood at $65,086 in 2015 – nearly $30,000 less than Pelham.

But, that’s “median” income of all households in Pelham – the middle number across the distribution of all household incomes. What does that distribution look like and how does it compare with Niagara?

According to Statistics Canada, 46% of households in Niagara earned less than $60,000 in 2015; in Pelham, however, only 27% earned less than $60K. Those households in the next income range – from $60,000 to $124,999 – were 36% across all of Niagara and 39% in Pelham. However, there’s a huge difference in the next income bracket: 18% of households in Niagara earned $125,000 or more; compare that to Pelham where 34% of households earned more than $125,000 –nearly double the amount across Niagara.

Statistics Canada also tracked persons with low income. A single person was considered low-income if their after-tax income measure was below $22,460 in 2015. Stats Canada used a slightly higher number for larger households.

In 2015, 5.4% of Pelham’s population – or approximately 925 people – were considered low-income. We were the lowest percentage in the Region. Stats Canada shows Grimsby at 6%, West Lincoln at 7.1%, and Lincoln at 7.2%. But, the number is very high – 17.5% – for both Welland and St. Catharines. The Census reported 14.5% of people in Niagara Region were low income; this compared to Ontario, at 14.4%, and Canada, at 14.2%.

Finally, folks reporting being married or living common-law is also an interesting comparison. For example, Stats Can reported 67% of Pelham’s total population were either married (61%) or living with a common-law partner (6%). The remaining 33% were not married and not living with a common-law partner, including those who were single (never-married), separated, divorced or widowed. Across the Region, 57% of the total adult population were either married (48%) or living with a common-law partner (9%); and 43% were not married or living with a common-law partner.

Perhaps you suspected some of this information about our Town. Or, perhaps not. If you want to find out more, check out other info about Pelham at

I intend to write more about housing, education, and employment in Pelham after Statistics Canada releases that data over the next two months.

You may contact Mayor Dave at or read past columns at