Public Code of Conduct

Pelham Town Council unanimously passed a public code of conduct related to enforcement of COVID-19 regulations at its Oct. 19 meeting. Continuing his leave of absence, Councillor Ron Kore was not in attendance.

Town CAO David Cribbs had brought the matter of a public conduct policy to council’s last meeting, citing increased “incivility and disrespect” toward staff at the community centre from some citizens regarding mask and social-distancing protocols.

The new document defines “inappropriate behaviour” on Town property, and gives staff and bylaw enforcement the authority to enforce rules and issue trespass notices if needed.

“Really what it says is don’t abuse Town volunteers and Town staff … in tenor, tone or language, et cetera,” Cribbs said.

The directive takes effect immediately.

Director of Culture, Recreation and Wellness Vickie van Ravenswaay said that since warning signs were posted, only “one minor incident” had been reported in recent weeks, and that “it was taken care of.”

Elsewhere on the COVID-19 front, council passed an amendment to its municipal mask bylaw to include the mandating of appropriate face coverings in enclosed common areas of multi-unit residential buildings. Councillor Marianne Stewart sat out the vote again, given her sideline in producing and selling face masks.

Wink raises concern

Multiple councillors requested the lifting of different agenda items for separate discussion, with Councillor John Wink making a point of highlighting Pelham’s August financial report. It’s currently forecast that the Town would require a 3.5 percent tax increase in order to pay for legal costs related to both cannabis regulations and Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) challenges, as well as a comprehensive parking study.

Wink said the buck needs to stop somewhere.

“Going forward, council needs to be cognizant of approving expenditures outside of budget,” the Ward 2 representative said. “We can’t keep on playing catch-up on this, at some point in time we’ve got to stop the bleeding with respect to tax increases.”

Mayor Marvin Junkin called Wink’s remarks “words of wisdom, for sure.”

Wink also asked staff to provide details of how much money a particular project comes in under budget.

“We’ve got to start counting pennies somewhere,” he said.

Provincial LPAT appeals are common when developers are denied permission to construct per their plans. Two notable challenges the Town of Pelham is currently facing stem from council’s denial of rezoning requests at 1307 Haist Street, and 22 Alan Crescent in Fonthill.

Cribbs said that council will receive a “closed session report” from external legal counsel regarding the Alan Crescent property on Nov. 2.

Motions

The mayor and two councillors tabled motions for the next meeting. Ward 3’s Lisa Haun moved to create a working group tasked with improving the second-floor servery/bar area at the community centre in honour of late councillor Mike Ciolfi, and nominated herself to chair it.

“Pelham lost an amazing individual in April of this year. Mike Ciolfi was a friend and fellow councillor who dedicated countless hours to the betterment of our town,” Haun said. “The MCC is a sport and social area, one that was near and dear to Mike.”

Along with herself, Haun proposed Stewart, vanRavenswaay, resident Jen Pilzecker, and Ciolfi’s widow, Michele, sit on the committee.

“I hope I can count on council’s support next meeting through the formation of this working group —and budget — so we can move forward with a project to honour our councillor and friend Mike,” Haun said.

Stewart, meanwhile, moved that Pelham consult with the City of Burlington regarding a system in which developers and residents living near a proposed development meet to discuss logistics before a project gets off the ground.

“I think it’s a great initiative,” Stewart said.

Junkin’s motion was somewhat ominous, telling council he plans to request staff undertake a technical study of the drainage pond at Highway 20 and Rice Road. The large pond, known informally among some residents as “Lake Augustyn,” was constructed before the MCC and other East Fonthill developments came online, due to the sensitive watershed in the area. The Mayor added he has inspected the stream outlet across the highway, and the results are not good.

“The erosion that is happening on the north side of 20, it’s not an over-exaggeration to say that it is horrendous,” Junkin said. “It’s gonna cost this town several thousands to stop that erosion.”

Three-way stop petition

Council also received a petition signed by dozens of residents asking for a three-way stop to be placed at Pelham Street and Shorthills Place.

Public Works Director Jason Marr said that a previous study had concluded a three-way stop wasn’t warranted just south of there, at Pelham and Hurricane Road, but that data would be gathered to look at the Shorthills T-intersection.

Other traffic calming measures remain possible if a stop is not warranted.

Reverse Christmas parade

Council approved major changes to the 2020 Christmas in Pelham event given the continuing pandemic. A key difference this year is that the annual Fenwick Santa Claus parade will be done in reverse: instead of a road procession, families may get in their vehicles and drive through Centennial Park, where floats will be stationed.

Kudos for comms staff

Cribbs opened the meeting by congratulating Town staff for winning two “MarCom” awards, handed out by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals. The honours related to Town materials regarding its financial reporting, as well as its “Moving Forward” crisis communications plan, near the dawn of the pandemic.

“[Town Communications and Public Relations Specialist] Marc MacDonald deserves credit. We’re all cogs in the machine and we all play a role, but these were [projects] where he was front and centre.”

Junkin thanked staff.

“You guys have done so much to improve the communications,” the Mayor said. “Council thanks all of staff for doing a yeoman’s job in getting the messages out to the residents.”