Through it all, Town staff persevered
It was a year that none of us could have imagined. COVID brought issues to our lives that caused us to change the way we live, work and interact with others. Events such as the Easter Egg Hunt, Canada Day Parade, Thursday Night Bandshell and Summerfest had to be canceled due to COVID. It is these types of events that help make Pelham special. COVID also hit home when we lost a good councillor and friend in Mike Ciolfi, which rocked our community. As well we lost a good man, Earl Clapp, to a senseless act of others.
Throughout the year I am proud of staff for what they have had to endure and accomplish. They have been proactive in the way council meets and communicates. Zoom meetings have allowed council to continue to serve our residents but I must admit the council has had its challenges and the sense of team has diminished. The residents of Ward 1 made a good selection in the by-election and Councillor Olson is proving to be a good asset to council.
Staff have worked well ensuring protocols have been established, and the fact that we were able to have two ice surfaces available throughout the summer while other communities choose not to, provided Pelham much needed revenues at the Meridian Community Centre. The Senior Leadership Team had to make tough decisions with respect to staffing, protection of employees, financing, and exploring grant opportunities.
In 2019 residents made it very clear that they wanted to mitigate odour, light and noise emissions from cannabis operations and wanted this done regardless of the cost. Special thanks to the Cannabis Control Committee, who worked tirelessly with staff, outside consultants and lawyers to make recommendations to council. Amendments to the official plan, zoning bylaws, fortification bylaws and odorous bylaws have been adopted by the Town in 2020. We now face litigation challenges from the cannabis operators and $200,000 has been budgeted to defend our bylaws in 2021. The dark skies bylaw should be completed early next year.
Another highlight was adopting a bylaw to address short-term rentals, which was a major concern for town residents. The Town made progress in selling most of the Town-owned property in East Fonthill. Proceeds were applied to a bridge loan that the Town had procured when the Meridian Community Centre was built. The sale of the old arena was a long time coming, and proceeds of the sale will fund Town projects that were completed in 2018 and 2019.
In the fall of this year council completed a strategic planning session to prioritize action items to be completed in 2021. To review these items I invite readers to review the Strategic Plan on the Town website, found in the Town Hall section under plans and reports.
I look forward to 2021 and to get back to a more normal way of life for all of us. Keep well and be safe. ◆