Happiness doesn’t require divine intervention

I found it amusing that in the midst of fruit-picking time in Niagara, Pastor Rob Weatherby went cherry-picking to find studies that confirm his belief that “church is good for you” [Faith Lift, Aug. 12, p. 19].

The problem with digging up “studies” that confirm your worldview is that the same method can be used to confirm the exact opposite. It took me only a couple of minutes to find “studies” that show that citizens of the happiest countries in the world—Denmark, Sweden, Norway—are also the least religious.

Correlation doesn’t prove causation. Asking someone if they go to church followed by asking if they are happy doesn’t prove that their happiness is a result of their attendance at church.

I find personal happiness in my family, my work (before my retirement), where I live, my involvement in community activities, and my appreciation of the wonders of the natural world that don’t need superstitious explanations. The emotional support that Pastor Weatherby says is found at church is available to me through my family and loyal friends who have been there for me in my times of need.

Church attendees and atheists alike fall into a spectrum of human emotion from extreme happiness to despair. Urging us to attend church because it is “good for us” is an expression of personal belief only; it doesn’t fit for all of us.

David Fowler
Wainfleet

 

Not sorry to see Pupo go

In my view, she was just running to be difficult and to get even with certain elements in the Town [Pupo drops out, thevoiceofpelham.ca, Aug. 14]. Not good enough motivation to earn a council seat. That just gets us people like Kore and Haun. We already have enough drama going on.

Thomas Keenan
Via Facebook

 

Reaction to last week’s conversation with Ron Leavens

I love this man, was one of the greatest teachers I ever had.

Trish Colbert
Via Facebook

Best mayor! Wished he was able to fulfill his plans for Pelham. We would have been much better off.

Sharon Cook
Via Facebook

Glad to read this article. I enjoyed being a member of council lead by Mayor Leavens. We worked as a team and were motivated by great staff. Takes a community….

Debbie Atkins
Via Facebook

 

Not keen on Ward 1 candidate Wally Braun’s camping idea

This guy is out to lunch. [“Taxes, development, and cannabis are the key issues,” Aug. 12, p.3]

Who in their right mind would want strangers camping on their property ? No wonder he has three failed attempts at council.

Chris Agrapides
Via Facebook

 

Suggests better Beer Store mask enforcement

On Friday August 14, I stopped at the Fonthill Beer Store. I donned my mask and waited in line for my turn to enter. Following the instructions of the employee at the door I went to the rear counter to place my order, paid, and turned to leave. There, less than two feet from me, was a young man not wearing a mask going in the wrong direction toward me.

They don’t seem to get it at that Beer Store. If they are going to let people inside without a mask why not make them wait till the rest of the customers have left? I’m 76 years old. If I can wear a mask and wait my turn in line, the question is what’s wrong with some of these young people?

We need more and better choices than the Beer Store.

Carl Beatty
Fenwick

 

Ode to the maples

My husband, Graham, and I walked down Pelham Street many times during all phases of the recent roadwork. We saw the mutilation of the flowering crabapple trees, the deep cuts through the large roots of the many trees along the way.

We said and did nothing until they took down three maple trees that were likely each 100 years old.

I am not proud of this. As a citizen I need to work with our elected officials to be their eyes and ears and communicate concerns as they present themselves—not after the fact when nothing can be done. Once the tree is cut down it’s gone!

I was very angry. I was very sad.

I then realized I too was responsible for the loss of these trees. By blaming the construction workers or the Town I could project my anger outward and therefore not see or feel my part in this. As a result, our exchanges with councillors and Town employees have brought to their attention the necessity of creating an improved tree program in Pelham that is said to be moving forward. This is something I can participate in and be a voice for the trees.

And so I end with my ode to the maples and to all trees, taken from the book “Braiding Sweetgrass,” by Robin Wall Kimmerer, the most eloquent and heartfelt book I have ever read.

“My Onondaga Nation neighbors call the maple the leader of the trees. Trees constitute the environmental quality committee running air and water purification service 24/7. They create habitat for songbirds and wildlife cover, golden leaves to shuffle through, tree forts and branches for swings. Centuries of the falling leaves have built the soil, now farmed for strawberries, apples, sweet corn and hay. How much of the oxygen in our valley comes from our maples? How much carbon is taken from the atmosphere and stored away? These processes are what ecological scientists term ecosystem services, the structures and functions of the natural world that make life possible. (My aside, let this sink in—that make life possible.)

We can assign an economic value to maple timber, or gallons of maple syrup, but ecosystem services are far more precious. And yet the services go unaccounted for in the human economy. As with services of local government, we don’t think about them unless they are missing. There is no official tax system to pay for these services, as we pay for snow plowing and school books. We get them for free donated continually by the maples.

They do their share for us. The question is: How well do we do by them?”

So I ask: What can I do? What can we do together?

Edie Pett
Fonthill

 

No council news is good news

Last week’s paper was a nice change of pace, since we finally could read about some stories that didn’t deal with only the political and personal turmoil within council. I personally liked the cover shot and centrespread about Merrittville Speedway.

In front of the 2019 CAA-sponsored Wall of Fame at Merrittville, from left, Reunion Committee members Rick Kavanagh, Bob Webster, Bill Willard, and Mark Swartz. SUPPLIED BY RICK KAVANAUGH

Former Mayor Leaven’s assessment of former council’s actions of the mishandling of funds and missed opportunities of grants was correct, as well as the terrible design and layout of buildings/parking that has surely destroyed any small-town character that was left, and this doesn’t even include the ongoing mishandling of design and maintenance of the brick-paving-stone-style of parking and the struggle of businesses to function within the parameters imposed by the Town and its bylaw enforcement.

Don’t you think businesses and residents have struggled enough during this pandemic, economically, without having to endure parking tickets ? Former town council and its bad decisions caused the financial hardship regarding the community centre and the problems with streetscapes in Fonthill and Fenwick, not the residents, but we always pay for the mistakes.

On another note, no one on this council has publicly said anything about the challenge to our cannabis bylaw. Why is Leviathan being allowed to raise plants outside and function at all? Apparently they have been charged under the interim bylaw, but I am sure they were daring council anyway. Where do we stand in Fenwick, surrounded by CannTrust, a defiant Leviathan, and the ever-odourous Redecan?

It is one thing to have a workable bylaw, it is quite another to have Town employees that have the will to enforce it. I challenge council and Town employees to remember what residents said at the public meetings that were held at the community centre.

The” stinky” issue that is festering at the Regional level that impacts all our communities this October is garbage and recycling. Why is it that our representatives at the Region of Niagara and from Pelham could approve a predicted cost increase of 33%, when in fact our garbage will be picked up half as often, even though recycling stays the same. This makes no sense— no wonder Niagara Falls wanted to opt out. The result of all this should be controlling spending and keeping our property taxes affordable for all. If the pandemic teaches us all one lesson, it is debt management and spending wisely, staying within budget. A 4.5% tax prediction isn’t good enough. Try for 0%, because we know the Region, the province and the feds eventually will have their hands out regarding the deficit.

Congratulations to Jim Ryan of Fenwick on his induction to the Canadian Street Rod Hall of Fame and to the Voice for giving Merrittville Speedway recognition for surviving and thriving for nearly 70 seasons. There are a lot of Pelham residents who are part of our car hobby and racing family.

Rick Kavanagh
Fenwick

 

Commentary / OP-ED | Larry Coté

Government by controversy

When is the level of confrontation in politics too much? Regardless of the level of government, it seems confrontational practices have taken a foothold. Efforts to achieve meaningful compromises are as unwelcomed as yesterday’s trash. Such conduct gives rise to mistrust and satirical commentaries like this one.

There seems to be less and less effort by today’s political assemblages to reach innovative compromises, and legitimate debate has given way to personal attacks. Rather than researching the issues important to the governed, some politicians appear more inclined to investigate the lifestyles and personal histories of political opponents. Digging up dirt on the opposition takes precedence over proposing initiatives that matter most to the electorate.

It often appears that adherence to a political party’s program is so sacrosanct, that abandoning one’s independent thinking and the good of the entire electorate are lost to the preferences of the party’s marching orders. Whoever labelled these political organizations as a party must have had a strange social life — or none at all. Nonetheless, political conventions are gala-like social affairs and delegates are orchestrated to celebrate more robustly in front of the TV cameras than their conventioneers in opposition.

At the federal level In Canada, there are two preeminent parties, a mid-sized one and, on occasion, one or two others of little consequence to Parliamentary proceedings. The two prominent parties often change places with each other to form the government. This trading of places is often precipitated by the electorates’ disparaged mood rather than any real preferences in the platform of the party whose turn is next to govern. Some political analysts suggest the platforms for these two parties differ mostly in the verbiage rather than substantive proclamations. Frequently, a scandal of some sort allegedly committed by those of the party in power will cause voters to rebuke that party and vote for the other at the next election.

It seems, when choosing a party leader, among the uppermost criteria is a charismatic personality and an attractive appearance. Upon having elected a leader the party puts forward that personality as a celebrity to be revered possessed of the wisdom to save the domain from ruin. If that person doesn’t live up to that prevision then he or she is discarded in favour of a more eye-appealing and winsome figure.

At the lower levels of government, party politics is less prevalent. Some efforts are made to conceal party allegiances by politicos at these levels. Yet, even in the absence of party membership, the practices of division and disunity seem to rear their ugly heads. Sadly, such divisive behaviours appear beyond easy remediation and the notions of unity and cohesiveness are put in the ash bin.

Is it beyond the pale to expect such egregious governing bodies to turn from such fractured politics and focus on what’s best for the governed? For certain, once such discordant politics takes hold it takes bold and talented leadership to turn away from such unbecoming conduct and govern for the people in more altruistic ways.

 

Commentary / OP-ED | Diana Huson, Regional Councillor

Niagara Region update

The summer has been a busy time at the Region with some important issues brought forward for discussion. By far the most engaging issue we’ve addressed has been the Regional bylaw mandating mandatory masks. I previously wrote as to why I am in favour and was encouraged to see the rest of Regional Council come around and support the idea that this is an effective tool to combat COVID-19. We’re still learning and adapting policy where possible to respond to the virus, both in Niagara and across the world. Most decision-makers are now in agreement that this is a good decision for community safety. It’s encouraging to see many residents adapting and wearing masks without issue. Thanks to all who have embraced mask wearing and are helping make this a smooth transition!

We’ve had a number of meetings to specifically discuss issues pertaining to policing, such as police reform, police budgeting, the use of body cameras, the use of force, training, mental health calls, systematic racism and more. I am very appreciative of Chief MacCulloch for being available to listen to citizen delegations, provide more information, respond to our questions and reflect on what changes can be made to improve Niagara’s Regional Police Service. He pointed out that the NRP is not perfect, but no one person or single organization is. We all have room to improve, to grow and to adapt. But more importantly, a message he stated clearly and repeatedly, is that it’s in the best interest of the police service to serve all members of the community and that includes our marginalized populations.

However, I do want to specifically draw attention to mental health as it relates to policing. Mental health calls have escalated drastically over the past few years, putting many pressures on our police force. The NRP has had to respond to these calls, but are quick to point out that they are not mental health practitioners and are ill equipped to adequately provide mental health support. It’s a tricky situation. For this reason, we now have a Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Team, in place since 2015, that partners an NRP uniformed officer with a Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) worker. The program has been very successful, but is funded provincially through CMHA and only operates in St. Catharines and Thorold. This leaves a significant portion of our communities without this support, and quite frankly provides a different service response to citizens who live outside of that area, including Pelham. It’s a huge problem and we need a solution. I’m hopeful that once we enter budget deliberations some potential options will be presented for us to explore. We have to do better on this issue.

On a different note, I brought forward a motion requesting the Region to ask the province to declare childcare as essential to economic recovery. It further asks the province to partner with the federal government on a national childcare strategy. I brought this forward because we’ve had many conversations about the importance of schooling and back-to-school planning. However, childcare is an equally important aspect of that conversation and it’s not getting the attention it deserves at this time.

It’s been well-documented that the pandemic has had a far greater impact on job losses or reduced hours, subsequently impacting income earnings, when it comes to women. This is largely because women have had to pick up the slack when it comes to school and childcare closures. It’s so significant that women are now participating in the workforce at a rate of 55%, the lowest it’s been in three decades. And local data has also shown they are unable to return to the workforce as quickly as their male counterparts (specifically in Niagara) as hiring and reopening has reoccurred. This is alarming because of what it means for economic recovery. If women are unable to work, households have less money, consumer spending goes down, and subsequently our number one tool for recovery, namely consumer spending, is now at risk.

More importantly, research shows that childcare can function as an economic multiplier. In a report by the University of Toronto, it was demonstrated that for every one public dollar invested in licensed childcare, there is a egional economic output of $2.27. Childcare is not a “woman’s issue,” it’s not a “personal issue,” it’s a societal and economic issue. Developing this kind of public infrastructure is good for families, is good for our economy and just makes a lot of sense! The motion will be circulated to other municipalities, and the province, who I hope can see the value and opportunity this policy can provide.

I hope everyone enjoys these last few weeks of summer (where did the time go!) and I am sending thoughts out to families who are making a very difficult decision as to how to handle the school year come September. You have to do what’s best for your family, and we should all try to understand and respect those difficult decisions.

As always, if there are any issues that are important to you or you would like more information on, please reach out to me any time at [email protected] I love connecting with my constituents on the issues that are most important to them.

PELHAM AND COVID-19 | Mayor Marvin Junkin

Pandemic patios and cold pops

Stage 3 COVID-19 numbers for the Region continue to be very good. As of this writing there are no cases of C-19 in any Regional hospital. The reproductive number at the beginning of the week was exceptionally impressive, being at .5. However, again as of Saturday it was .9, somewhat higher, but still below 1, which they tell me the experts like to see it under.

While doing business around town, I noticed there is still the occasional person who will forget to don a mask before entering a business. Depending on the business, the interaction that I have witnessed is either the owner will transact the business “this” time, but next time you will be required to be wearing a mask, or, once inside, and seeing everyone wearing a mask, the offender will do a 180-degree turn and go back to their car to get theirs.

Friday afternoon, Candice and I visited a local patio for a pop or two, and I am happy to report there was no wait time. This is actually the first time since the patios have been open that we were able to be seated. Sipping a cold one under the shady umbrella brought back memories of past summers, and friendly get-togethers. I certainly hope that we get a warm, dry fall, so that these patios will be with us for a few more months.

With summer a bit past its halfway point, roadside produce stands are at their peak as far as selection goes. When one hears of the food shortages in other countries, caused either by civil unrest, or extreme weather conditions, it truly is amazing the abundance and variety of food found in these roadside stalls, and the Canadian food system as a whole. Like too many other good things, and it is a long list, food is just one of many basics that, as Canadians, we take for granted.

There was good news on the Town’s financial front this week. Some two weeks ago, the federal government announced that it would be allocating $7 billion dollars to the Province of Ontario, of which $4 billion was to be distributed to the province’s 444 municipalities. The Town has been informed that we will be receiving $446,000, being released in the first round. The first round amounts to less than half of the $4 billion total. Municipal treasurers will have to make business plans, showing if their municipalities deserve more. Rest assured that Pelham’s Treasurer Teresa Quinlin and her crew will be going through all Town receipts, tracking down any additional C-19 expenditures. The Town shouts out a big “Thank You!” to the two higher levels of government.

On the national jobs front, the Canadian workforce grew by 952,900 jobs in June, and a further 420,000 jobs in July. These two numbers combined represent over 55% of the total jobs lost back in March and April. This great country is picking itself up by the bootstraps, and starting to roll again!

Until next time…