Mayor Marvin Junkin, standing, and CAO David Cribbs accept commemorative buttons offered to council and staff by members of the Fonthill Bandshell Committee. Chair Gayle Baltjes singled out Junkin for his personal involvement in helping fundraise for improvements to the popular music series venue, which draws thousands each summer. YOUTUBE

Town approves up to $50,000 for Cannabis Control Committee

Town Council approved more funding for Pelham’s Cannabis Control Committee at its January 13 gathering, another infusion of cash that prompted a round of applause from members of the public present at the meeting.

Committee Chair Tim Nohara said the money will be used to pay an external planning consulting firm in regards to bylaw implementation before a self-imposed March 31 deadline.

Nohara said the committee had unanimously decided to subject local pot producers to an “Odorous Industries Nuisance Bylaw,” in concert with amended zoning changes.

Tim Nohara. YOUTUBE

Last fall, Pelham extended its Interim Control Bylaw on cannabis production to this coming July in order to allow the committee to devise actionable regulations. Nohara told council last Monday that the goal is still to have these compiled by the end of March.

“The biggest thing we need … is to help us rapidly get these bylaws drafted and over the finish line,” Nohara said. “This has been carefully engineered to anticipate challenges. We need some runway after the bylaw is approved.”

CAO David Cribbs then recommended the Town waive its regular purchasing policy to get the committee the money they asked for.

“Broadly speaking, I think [council] would be supportive of this being an appropriate time to waive the purchasing policy with regards to the potential quantum of monies to be made available,” he said. “I would submit that one might reasonably expect to pay around $200 per hour for these services rendered, for perhaps three weeks to a month’s worth or work—puts the value of that in the ballpark of $40,000, plus or minus a bit.”

Council agreed.

“Residents would rather see us get this right,” Ward 1 Councillor Mike Ciolfi said. “Forty thousand dollars sounds fair.”

Last fall, Ciolfi, who is also a member of the CCC, also asked for and received $10,000 for the committee’s legal bills.

With that, council unanimously approved the $40,000, with an amendment for Cribbs to authorize an extra $10,000 if needed. The overflow public gallery then broke out in applause.

Bandshell bonanza

Fonthill Bandshell Committee Chair Gayle Baltjes appeared before council to thank it and various community members for their help in redoing the landscaping around the Peace Park Bandshell, home to Pelham’s summer music series. In addition to thanking the CAO for “moving mountains” to get the bulk of the project off the ground before winter started, Baltjes credited Mayor Marvin Junkin for his work in getting local businesses on board.

“You can help us with fundraising anytime, Mayor, you did a great job on our and the community’s behalf,” she said.

Local businesses and organizations highlighted included Dekorte’s Landscaping, Willowbrook Nurseries, Lafarge Canada, Lookout Ridge, Taylor Foundation, Rankin, Young Sod, Sobeys, Tim Hortons and the Voice.

Baltjes said that 75 percent of the refurbishment is paid for, with the committee now in talks with other businesses to fund lighting and benches come spring.

“It just goes to show what a great community we have,” Junkin said.

New sign bylaw deferred

A proposed update to the Town’s sign bylaw was deferred during council’s Committee of the Whole meeting, with members wishing to seek further clarification on private property lawn signs.

The new bylaw has expanded to include eight pages of definitions, covering a broader range of issues than the previous version’s two pages of definitions.

“A well-drafted sign by law is a lengthy document — it protects free speech and tries to curb the worst excesses that other communities in Ontario have seen,” Cribbs said. “You’re not clamping down on protest or expression, but you are also protecting quality of life.”

The proposal for a new sign bylaw came about last fall, when anti-cannabis signs began appearing on some private properties around town.

New video system works

After a technical glitch that sent a blank screen to YouTube of council’s December 16 meeting, the Town’s new $65,000 audio-video system in chambers worked last week. In addition to being able to be streamed live, the new system utilizes multiple cameras that are activated by a speaker’s microphone.