Mayor Dave Augustyn's weekly column, January 8, 2018
Happy New Year Pelham! Council, Staff and I look forward to 2018 as a year of social, cultural, recreational, and economic growth in the Town – moving us closer to being the most vibrant, innovative and caring community in Niagara.
Last year saw growth, prosperity, and many milestones to improving our community.
Because the community has been underserviced commercially for so long, many were pleased with the opening of the commercial developments along Regional Road 20 in Fonthill in 2017. This included new restaurants, a grocery store, a financial institution, retail outlets, and health services. Interestingly, these developments also account for approximately 175 new part- and full-time jobs in the Town. We look forward to a few more businesses opening in this area and in Uptown Fonthill later this year.
Our Downtowns improved and were key community gathering places last year too. After opening the renewed facility and increasing the hours and service, the number of patrons using the renewed Maple Acre Library in Fenwick tripled! Hundreds also celebrated in Downtown Fenwick with the “Green Street Challenge” in August – a multi-generational event on donated, fresh sod. “Fonthill Flats” and a few other exceptional renewals showcased our building façade and residential intensification incentives at work in Downtown Fonthill. And, because of our dedicated volunteers, staff, and sponsors, Summerfest and other cultural events – like the Bandshell concerts and Suppermarket – continued as huge community successes last summer. We are committed to these community-defining events and look forward to additional developments in our Downtowns in 2018.
After the groundbreaking in late-2016, work continued in earnest on the Pelham Community Centre last year. Ball Construction oversaw the framing, construction, and “closing-in” of the new facility. They also poured both arena pads – ahead of schedule – and made great progress inside. The Oversight Committee continues their work and has assurances that Ball and Staff will complete the Centre on time – in the summer – and on budget.
As will be highlighted next month, our generous community pledged more than 50% of the Centre’s $3 million fundraising goal. We remain confident that other significant donations will be announced this spring and that a community campaign will follow shortly thereafter. (For more information, please go to www.ourpcc.ca.)
Last spring, we signed 5-year “memorandums of understanding” with six major community groups for their use of the new Pelham Community Centre. These binding agreements exceeded the Town’s revenue goals for the Centre and confirmed the demand for a second arena.
With this solid foundation, we will work with the community for a grand opening for the Community Centre this summer. We also look forward to basketball, figure skating, hockey, and so many other activities – from pickleball, yoga, tai chi, volleyball, walking clubs, community dinners, events and meetings – starting in our new gathering place this year! And, we will welcome back the Pelham Raiders Lacrosse Teams returning to play in the Town.
And, while she has served our community well over the last 40 years, it will be time to say goodbye to our existing Arena on Haist Street in 2018. We intend to activate the plan that the community developed for that site – by maintaining the existing parkland portion, linking the trails, and redeveloping the arena and outdoor storage area for new housing options.
Thanks to our ongoing investments and dedicated volunteers, the Town’s Silver “Bike Friendly” designation was reaffirmed in 2017 – the highest honour for Niagara communities. And, after 53-years, we linked EL Crossley to Uptown Fonthill via a safe walking / cycling path. Many such paths were also completed in the East Fonthill area as part of our community vision. And, following the dedication of key volunteers, Council approved an “Active Transportation Master Plan,” which lays the groundwork to make Pelham even more walkable and cyclable in the future.
We also look forward to the groundbreaking of a new affordable senior’s housing development behind the Food Basics in 2018. I understand that that since we announced this development in November, Parkhill received huge interest from the community for their +80-unit facility.
After the Town donated the use of 1.8 acres of land and the groundbreaking last September, we look forward to the opening of the new Wellspring Niagara Cancer Support Centre in 2018. This much-needed, regional support centre will allow Wellspring to serve cancer patients, their families and caregivers well into the future.
With this foundation of so many milestones last year, 2018 promises to be a great year of social, cultural, recreational, and economic growth in the Town. Best wishes to you for a healthy, happy, and prosperous new year!
You may contact Mayor Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org or read past columns at www.pelhammayordave.blogspot.ca.