Monday, December 18, 2017

“Big Pour” Milestone

Last Thursday, the construction of the new Pelham Community Centre (PCC) passed another milestone – the “Big Pour.”

You see, the Big Pour was when Ball Construction oversaw workers using a concrete pump truck and special laser leveling and polishing machines to continuously pour, level and smooth the floor of the Accipiter Arena in the PCC.

The set-up began weeks ago when workers smoothed sand across the leveled and prepared ground. Then, they weaved black heating pipe on top of the sand, and covered that with more sand. That heating pipe will circulate excess heat from the Ecco-Chiller ice machine along the ground to stop the build-up of permafrost.

I understand that permafrost isn’t too much of a problem in rinks that don’t have ice for one-third of the year – like the current Pelham arena. However, arenas that maintain ice into the spring and late summer or year-round, permafrost can build up and heave the concrete floor! A build-up of permafrost heaved the concrete ice-pads in the St. Catharines four-pad arena, for example, following a malfunction of the heating pipe / coil.

Then crews secured two layers of dense, “Ultra extruded” Styrofoam insulation across the sand. On top of the Styrofoam they weaved a lattice of pipes, rebar, and a metal frame that formed the core for the pad’s concrete floor.

Impressively, they checked and double-checked every square inch of the lattice and held the piping under high-pressure for three weeks so they could check the pipes, seals, and other materials. Since this passed the tests with flying colours, Ball Construction organized the Big Pour.

To ensure a constant supply of concrete for this continuous and seamless pour, Ball Construction not only secured an exclusive concrete supply from one plant, they also had another concrete factory on “stand-by” in case anything went wrong.

After the polishing and during the curing of the concrete, Ball Construction will cover the floor with water. When they slowly drain that water, they will note any high or irregular spots in need of further polishing – so that the floor will be as level as possible.

It was my honour to witness the Big Pour along with the Oversight Committee and some of the major fundraising donors to the Community Centre. And, I was delighted that two local, retired NHL players – Doug Freeland and John Stringer – also watched part of that Big Pour last week.

After this milestone and with 98% of the Centre tendered and because of the hard work of Ball Construction, all the trades and Town Staff and the Oversight Committee, the new Community Centre is on-budget and on-time to open next summer.

For more information about the multi-use facility that includes two arenas, a walking/running track, two large divisible gymnasiums, multipurpose community rooms and a spacious atrium, please go to or to

You may contact Mayor Dave at or read past columns at

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Welcome Home Pelham Raiders!

Why were a couple dozen lacrosse players marching proudly in their distinctive green and gold jerseys through Downtown Fenwick on Saturday? Because they participated in the annual Pelham Santa Claus parade to let everyone know they are moving back home.

That’s right, the Pelham Raiders are moving back to Pelham.

Originating in Pelham in 1967 as a “Canadian Centennial Project,” the Raiders moved to
Welland in 1997 because of the lack of facilities and the condition of the Pelham Arena. The small change rooms and the undersized, non-standard playing surface in our Arena just weren’t conducive to a growing, championship lacrosse league.

But, Ben Chambers, president of the Raiders Lacrosse Association, and the other dedicated Raider’s volunteer have said that the new Pelham Community Centre “…is going to be fantastic for us, and we’re very looking forward to it!” So much so that the Pelham Raiders signed a five-year, binding usage and rental agreement with the Town this past March.

Through the years, the Raiders have developed players who have gone on to win scholarships, play at American universities, and even advanced into professional careers.

Chambers announced to Council on November 6 that Pelham can once again get used to the Raiders moniker. “We found it very fitting that we announce, on our 50th anniversary that we are changing our name back to Pelham and from now on we’ll be known as the Pelham Minor Lacrosse Association,” he said.

In addition, the Raiders are looking forward to hosting again the largest and longest running “paperweight” lacrosse tournament in Ontario, labelled the “Paperweight Provincials” by other Associations. The special tournament for players four to six years old brings in 16 out-of-town teams to compete and learn. Now moving to the new facility, let’s hope the Raiders recent petition to the Ontario Lacrosse Association to expand the tournament to 24 or 32 teams gets approved; it would be great for the players and the community.

“It will be nice to move home to a community that is proud of us, and one that we can be proud to call home,” said Chambers recently.

I hope you join Council and I in welcoming the Pelham Raiders back home!

You may contact Mayor Dave at or read past columns at

Monday, December 4, 2017

Another Seat or Start Reform?

This Thursday, Regional Council will host a public meeting and consider a bylaw to add an additional member. This would bring Council to a total of 31 members, plus the Regional Chair. In addition to the 12 Mayors, our governing body currently includes 18 directly elected Regional Councillors – 6 from St. Catharines, 3 from Niagara Falls, 2 from Welland and one each from Grimsby, Lincoln, Niagara on the Lake, Thorold, Pelham, Port Colborne, and Fort Erie.

West Lincoln Township Council initiated the process to add another member a few months ago by asking the Region to petition the Minister of Municipal Affairs to allow the discussion. The Minister got back to the Region this Fall with his consent – and that debate will occur at the Region this week.

If approved Thursday, a majority of the 12 City, Town, and Township Councils representing a majority of Niagara’s population would need to approve it by the end of the year to allow the change for the 2018 election. (This Regional / Local / Population formula is known as a “Triple-Majority” requirement.)

West Lincoln argues that they need another Councillor because their population is growing and their only representative – the Mayor – finds it difficult to cover all the work and adequately represent the people in the Township.

According to the 2016 Canadian Census, the Township’s population grew 4.8% from 13,837 in 2011 to 14,500 in 2016. This is less than the 15,275 that Pelham had in 2001 when an additional seat was added for the 2003 election. (This was also before I began serving as Mayor in 2006.) The only other time since the start of the Region in 1970 that Council added a seat was in 1978 – one more for St. Catharines.

Interestingly, this change would mean that 39% of the Peninsula’s population (in community’s less than 45,000 people) would hold 55% of the seats on Regional Council. And, 61% of the population living in Welland (52293), Niagara Falls (88,071), and St. Catharines (133,113) would elect only 45% of Regional Council.

This suggestion for an additional seat offers an opportunity to consider and discuss the size, make-up, and overall election of Regional Council.

Some, like the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce, have pointed out for years that the Niagara Peninsula is the “the most over-governed large census division in Ontario” and suggests a “more thorough inquiry into means by which the Regional government can be made more efficient and representative.”

I think we owe to each resident and business across Niagara to think more broadly and act more boldly on this issue and many other issues.

For example, instead of thinking 25 years into the future and planning for rapid bus transit or LRTs, we just adopted a “Transportation Master Plan” that codifies thinking from seven years ago. Or the Region’s Water & Waste Water Master Plan doesn’t even call for stopping billions of liters of diluted sewage overflows into our lakes and rivers over the next quarter-century. And, despite the importance of rich agricultural land, Regional Council hopes to expand urban boundaries and create more sprawl. We even recently bumbled into our “first-time-ever” Councillor expense policy that sadly sanctions some of the most flagrant past-practices.

So, instead of unthinkingly stumbling into this change, let’s start the work now to look at potential solutions to reform Council.

To build a better Niagara and to improve our quality of life across the Peninsula, we need to reform our systems to balance representation, accountability, transparency and strategic policies and planning. And, we need to have started yesterday.

You may contact Mayor Dave at or read past columns at