On December 15, the Town announced its first major contributions to the Pelham Community Centre fundraising campaign.

At a small celebration at Old Town Hall it was revealed that CEO Tim Nohara and Accipter Radar Technologies had donated $250,000 for the naming rights to the facility’s main arena, while the Duliban family and Trillium Mutual Insurance Company had donated $125,000 and $25,000, respectively, for the rights to the second rink.

Credit should be given to Nohara and the Dulibans for their contributions and their commitment to our community.

But should residents be concerned by the apparent lack of progress in this fundraising campaign, as evidenced by the limited number of donors to come forward so far?

$400,000 is nothing to be scoffed at, but the Community Centre budget calls for $3 million in total fundraising contributions for a building scheduled to open in a year. Where is the rest of the money going to come from? $2.6 million is a lot of weekend bake-sales.

Traditionally, fundraising campaigns like to kick things off with a major donation to excite the community. Port Colborne received $1.2 million from Vale for the naming rights to their community centre. Meridian donated $5 million to name the new 5,000-seat arena in St. Catharines.

Does Pelham have another big donor lined up for the rights to the whole facility? Or has the $250,000 valuation on the main arena set prices too low to expect such a windfall?

On November 30, the town officially broke ground at the Community Centre with a small ceremony. Though staff members have purported that the facility has been under construction for some time now, the early stages have been taken up with an uncharacteristic lack of fanfare from the Mayor and Council. One wonders if the powers-that-be are beginning to feel the pressure of their overly ambitious fundraising target. After ramming the project though with little account for residents’ concerns, it might be that these residents are hesitant to throw their money behind said project.

Perhaps it’s time for these outspoken Community Centre supporters to come forward and turn out their pockets. Back on April 25, when Council was voting on the facility, there was a line of people and organizations, all with suspiciously similar talking points, who championed the new Centre. This newspaper has also published letters written along a similar theme. Hopefully these impassioned speeches and letters can be converted to tangible monies, and staff charged with raising funds on the Centre’s behalf will approach these folks to come up with the remaining $2.5 million dollars. Accipter and the Dulibans, to their credit, have gotten the ball rolling here.

And if the Town can’t raise the funds? Well, no big deal. Council and staff will simply put our money where their mouths were. Like every other element of this Community Centre budget, the fundraising component is built on assurances and little else. And when words turn to wind, the Town will turn to our wallets. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.