Sunday, November 19, 2017

Christmas Spirit Arriving in Pelham

It’s beginning to look and feel a lot like Christmas – everywhere we go in Pelham.

The holiday spirit began early in Pelham when the Shoppes of Ridgeville hosted holiday open houses over the November 2-4 weekend. Then, the Fenwick United Church also got a jump on the season with Christmas crafts and gifts at their annual Fall Bazaar.

And, as if by the magic of St. Nick himself, Christmas street light decorations appeared throughout the Town this past week.

And, despite the rain last Wednesday, hundreds participated in the Holiday Gift Showcase & Downtown Stroll in Fonthill. Thanks to participating businesses and event organizers!

This past Saturday, I delighted in baked good, gifts, and crafts at the St. Ann’s Church and the North Pelham Presbyterian Church Christmas Bazaars, the Fonthill Lioness Kris Kringle “Quarter Auction” and the Rice Road Greenhouse Christmas Open House. But, that meant I couldn’t participate in the Fonthill United Church’s 14th Annual “Home for the Holidays” Christmas House Tour. I am informed that more than 450 people participated; congratulations to volunteers and organizers!

Over the upcoming weeks, some amazing community-minded volunteers will “spruce-up” the Town. While the rest of us are just waking up, these generous elves will decorate almost every utility pole and light standard in sight using evergreen boughs and red bows. So many of us appreciate their annual efforts!

Over coming weeks, Town Staff will also light-up much of Pelham – from Peace Park and the Bandshell in Fonthill, to Town Hall, to hydro poles in Pelham’s urbanized areas, to the flagpole and trees in Fenwick.

This Friday, the Fonthill Firefighters Association will start the turkey raffle tradition, followed closely by the Fenwick Firefighters on December 1. If you haven’t attended before, not only is it lots of great fun, it supports the efforts of the Firefighters.

And try to check out the amazing craft sale hosted by the Friends of Maple Acre Library – this Friday and Saturday – at the Fire Station #2 in Fenwick.

Thanks to “Christmas In Pelham” volunteers and Town staff for organizing another Outdoor Christmas Market under the Arches in Fonthill on December 1. Hope you can check out the venders, music, food, holiday beverages, and carriage rides from 4PM…including Santa and his number one helper.

Then, hundreds and hundreds will share the true spirit of generosity on December 2nd for the Annual Pelham Food Drive for Pelham Cares. I hope you can volunteer and also remember to place your non-perishable food items outside your door after 9AM. Thank you!

Then, the Fabulous Fenwick Lions are planning for Pelham’s annual Santa Claus Parade on Saturday, December 9 from 1 – 5 PM in Downtown Fenwick and at Centennial Park.

There’s so many other Christmas and Holiday events and activities across our wonderful Town – including the Christmas tree lighting in Fenwick on December 2 or the Fonthill Kinsmen Seniors Dinner on December 12 at Old Pelham Town Hall. Please check out posters throughout Town or the Town’s website at for a complete listing.

Council and I thank all the community partners who help make these events possible and who encourage each of us to get ready to experience the joy of the spirit of Christmas this holiday season.

You may contact Mayor Dave at or read past columns at

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Affordable, Seniors Housing Coming Soon to Pelham

Town Councillors and I were delighted to receive a presentation from representatives of Parkhill Property Corporation at Council last week.

You see, the Town recently approved an agreement with Parkhill to purchase Town-owned land for a seniors/affordable housing apartment building in East Fonthill.

The projected eight storey, 80-90-unit apartment-style building (made up of both one- and two-bedroom units) addresses two significant community needs – seniors housing and affordable accommodation. The agreement requires that two thirds of the units must be “rent-geared-to-income” -- which means the rent amount is based directly on the tenant’s income.

And, we sold the 1.48 acres of land – which is behind the Food Basics and west of the new Community Centre and the new Wellspring Niagara Cancer Centre – for $1.1 million. Not only will this central location allow residents to easily access the new stores and services and the Community Centre, they can also walk along the new trail network and park system. We also intend to link both Pelham Transit and Niagara Transit within close proximity to the building.

Chair Gail Hilyer and other representatives of the Pelham Seniors Advisory Committee (PSAC) attended the Council meeting to see the presentation and to meet the Parkhill reps. PSAC has been very active in working to get more of this type of housing option in Pelham so that more of our life-long residents stay in Town.

Ms. Oriana Mantello of Parkhill said that they want to provide the right services to their tenants while also complementing nearby amenities. She outlined preliminary plans for a salon/barber shop, library and games room, laundry facility, and fitness/exercise room. Though these features have not been confirmed, I find it impressive that Parkhill said that they want to work with the PSAC committee in the final design of the building.

Parkhill Properties is a family business that has been in operation for more than 40 years, with expertise in building residential communities and commercial centres. They operate at least one other apartment in the northern half of the Niagara Peninsula. You can find out more about them at their website:

As more information becomes available, both Parkhill and the Town plan to add dedicated “pages” to our websites. Parkhill will also put together a waiting list over the next few months. Finally, we are delighted that they hope to break ground in the spring.

We appreciate working together with Parkhill to help meet this important community need. And – building on the excellent work of the Senior’s Advisory Committee – offering options and solutions for Pelham seniors, including more affordable housing, remains a priority for Council.

You may view the Parkhill presentation as part of the video of the Town Council meeting starting at minute 12:00 here:

You may contact Mayor Dave at or read past columns at

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Regarding a Council Resignation and Alleged Disclosure of Legal Information

It is disappointing that Mr. Junkin resigned his Council seat yesterday and gave up the privilege of serving the community.

It has now come to light that while he was still a Councillor, Mr. Junkin allegedly disclosed legal information from a Town Council closed session meeting regarding ongoing litigation.

Since Council is required by law to keep any and all information pertaining to that in camera meeting strictly confidential, neither I nor other Councillors, nor Staff can legally respond to the allegations made by the former Councillor, without potentially facing criminal or quasi-criminal charges.

Mr. Junkin made many allegations to a local newspaper and I very much look forward to correcting the inaccuracies as soon as legally possible.

Regrettably, his obvious political action of allegedly disclosing confidential information could have significant financial costs for the Town and our taxpayers.

Accurate information about Pelham’s financial position was always to be considered publicly later this Fall as part of the Town’s 2018 Budget deliberations, and we will follow through with that plan. Further information will also be considered as part of the KPMG audit of the Parkland Over-Dedication Agreement later this month.

Finally, Council will declare the Ward One seat vacant at our next regular meeting on November 20. After that, Council will consider options to fill the seat, which include holding a by-election or appointing a qualified citizen to represent his or her peers.

Sincerely yours,
Mayor Dave Augustyn

UPDATE: November 10, 2017.

Pelham is vibrant, innovative, and caring. We are a Town that wins awards for our festivals, playgrounds, and plans. We’re bike-friendly, walkable, and seniors-friendly. We have vibrant downtowns and dedicated volunteers. We’re the new home for the Wellspring Niagara Cancer Centre and are now building a new Community Centre on time and on budget.

With characteristics like these, it’s no surprise that more people want to live here and more businesses want to open here. Our Town is flourishing.

Yet, managing growth and all that goes with it can be challenging, and change can be difficult for some people.

Recently, a former Councillor very publicly discussed subjects from a closed session of Council. Some residents are now asking questions about that closed session.

Part of the oath we take when elected into office actually prohibits us from disclosing any information about those “in camera” meetings. The closed session rules and the oath allow Council to discuss land, legal and labour issues. Ultimately these rules are intended to protect residents and taxpayers. As a result, neither I, nor Councillors, nor Staff can legally respond to the allegations or questions. Doing so could risk a lawsuit against the Town, result in criminal charges, and impact our finances.

That’s why I have called a special Council meeting on Wednesday, November 15 to consider the breach of confidentiality of the resigned and former member of Council.

We also recognize it is important for residents to have accurate information about Pelham’s finances and Staff work hard on that. It has always been slated to be part of the Town’s 2018 Budget deliberations.

In order to ease any concerns, therefore, I have called a special meeting of Council on Wednesday, November 29 to receive KPMG’s external audit, and to hear from the Town’s new Treasurer about the financial plan moving forward.

As Pelham continues to grow and flourish, Councillors and I are more committed than ever to respect our responsibilities, keep working hard to manage growth and the Town’s finances, and work together with you to improve our community.

UPDATE: November 21, 2017.

Council Clarifies September 5 KPMG Report
Calls for KPMG to include financial update in November 29 Audit Presentation

Amidst rumours and allegations, Pelham Town Council clarified the scope and scale of a KPMG Report that was presented to Council on September 5, 2017.

Passing a motion – with unanimous support – at the regularly scheduled meeting on November 20, Council addressed the allegations by a former Councillor, including the alleged secrecy of a “forensic audit” conducted without Council knowledge.

The Council motion clarified that a “forensic audit,” referred to and debated in various venues, was in fact a privileged report commissioned by the Town’s lawyers, prepared by KPMG in the context of litigation threatened by an identifiable individual, and presented during a closed meeting of council on September 5.

Through the motion, Pelham Council stated their desire to clear up misconceptions that have been lingering in the community since early November.

“Council hopes to alleviate the public’s concerns and to correct the record by asking KPMG to share all financial findings and conclusions as set out in the Report,” said Mayor Dave Augustyn. “Council is also asking KPMG to provide pertinent updates as part of their public presentation on November 29.”

Understanding the oath of office they took when elected requires strict adherence, Council sought legal advice to determine what information could and could not be shared with the public. Releasing the Report, in full, from September 5 could be a violation of the Municipal Freedom of Information Act, as it contains personal information of an identifiable individual.

The Town’s audited financial statements have been deemed accurate by Deloitte and can be found on the Town’s website.

The full motion reads:

WHEREAS former Town Councillor Marvin Junkin has allegedly stated to the Voice of Pelham and has alleged in an e-mail to Regional Councillor Tony Quirk dated November 12, 2017 that the Town has an additional $17,000,000.00 in debt and total debt of $59,000,000.00, that Mr. Junkin states is not disclosed on the Town’s annual audited financial statements;

AND WHEREAS Deloitte has assured the Town that the Town’s annual audited financial statements are accurate;

AND WHEREAS Mr. Junkin has inaccurately stated in an e-mail to Regional Councillor Tony Quirk dated November 12, 2017 that the Town caused a complete forensic audit to be conducted by KPMG and that the findings of such alleged complete forensic audit was presented during a closed meeting of Council on September 5, 2017;

AND WHEREAS a privileged report was commissioned by the Town’s lawyers and prepared by KPMG in the context of litigation threatened by an identifiable individual, which was presented during a closed meeting of Council on September 5, 2017 (the “Report”);

AND WHEREAS Mr. Junkin breached his oath of office by disclosing the existence of the Report;

AND WHEREAS the Town maintains its rights to litigation privilege over the Report;

AND WHEREAS some members of the community and some Regional Councillors have called for release of what they refer to as the KMPG forensic audit, but what is, in fact, the Report, as a result of the disseminated false information relating to an allegation of an additional $17,000,000.00 of debt and total debt of $59,000,000.00;

AND WHEREAS the release of the Report could be a violation of the Municipal Freedom of Information Act, as it contains personal information of an identifiable individual;

AND WHEREAS Council is desirous of clearing up the misconception and allegations of Mr. Junkin and maintaining an accurate record of the finances of the Town.


The Town hereby directs the CAO to request that KPMG include in the forensic audit to be presented to Town Council on November 29, 2017, as permitted by its professional standards and reporting requirements, all of its financial findings and conclusions as set out in the Report, together with pertinent updates, with all personal information about an identifiable individual, information relating to employee negotiations, and advice that is subject to solicitor-client privilege removed.

Update: December 1, 2017 from Town of Pelham website:

Hearing a report from KPMG on Nov. 29, facts presented to Council and the public provided a clear and accurate picture of the alleged misconduct related to parkland over-dedication and Town finances.

KPGM also confirmed that there is no unreported debt, the Town is within its debt repayment limit (even when including approved but not yet debentured debt of $9.9 million), and that no financial statements have been misstated.

"The dark cloud of several allegations hanging over Pelham has been lifted and proven untrue," said Mayor Dave Augustyn. "As the Town continues to experience prosperity and growth Town Council is committed to investing in smart growth and providing an enhanced and improved quality of life for all Pelham residents."

To review the presentations from Nov. 29, 2017, please view the documents below:

KPMG Presentation - November 29, 2017 

Treasurer Presentation - November 29, 2017

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Rededicating Ourselves to Peace

The weather on Sunday was mostly dreadful. The leaves on the ground and the chill in the air reminded us that Autumn was upon us. But the rain – at times nearly torrential – reminded us of what soldiers endured in the trenches in far-away lands.
Centennial Park, Fenwick

And yet, Pelham residents took time to gather with members of the Royal Canadian Legion and the Ladies Auxiliary, the 613 Army Cadets, the Pelham Fire Service, and others at the Cenotaphs at Centennial Park, Old Town Hall, and Peace Park and during a special church service at Fonthill United to commemorate and remember the sacrifices of Pelham’s Veterans.

Each Remembrance Day it is right to remember those brave men and women who have served, and who continue to serve our country during times of war, conflict, and peace.

We honour them for their courage, their commitment, and their devotion to standing “on guard” for Canada.

Old Pelham Town Hall, Ridgeville
The democratic freedoms that so many of us might take for granted – the freedom to express ourselves, to participate in cultural, religious, and political activities, to come and go as we please, to associate with whom we please, and 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 happiness.

Yet, we must also recognize that war and conflict are man-made. They develop from traits inside each us and from our actions and inactions. War and conflict arise from those times when we have not sought justice, from those selfish moments when we have deadened our spirit to the needs and to the sufferings of others.

Instead of allowing those negative qualities to grow, let us strive to listen to each other with an open mind. Let us reopen our hearts to the needs of others. And, let us rededicate ourselves to peace and justice in our community and around our world.

Engraved on the cenotaphs throughout our Town are the names of those from Pelham that were killed in service. May their memories also be engraved in our minds and on our hearts.
Peace Park, Fonthill

Please consider joining in this year’s Remembrance Day commemoration this coming Saturday at Veteran’s Park at the Royal Canadian Legion on Regional Road 20, starting at 10:45AM.

As we celebrate our freedom together and commemorate Remembrance Day, let us be thankful. Let us never forget. And let us rededicate ourselves to justice and to peace.

You may contact Mayor Dave at or read past columns at