Holiday cheer cards for veterans

The holidays will be different for all of us this year. The flights home will be empty; the tables will be set for far fewer. While this time of year is usually about coming together with family and friends, Canadians across the country, including many of our veterans, will be separated from their loved ones this winter.

If you’ve got some time, let them know you’re thinking of them by sending holiday cheer cards directly to veterans in long-term care homes in your community, or via your local Royal Canadian Legion branch. It’s going to be a difficult winter for a lot of folks, and a small act like sending a holiday card can brighten the spirits of the veterans who have sacrificed so much in service of Canada.

For more information about the Holiday Cheer Card campaign, please visit veterans.gc.ca/holidays.

The Hon. Lawrence MacAulay
Minister of Veterans Affairs
Associate Minister of National Defence

 

Council needs to get its act together—minus Ron Kore

What is going on with Town Council? With the exception of Mayor Junkin, Councillor John Wink, and the newest member of council, Councillor Wayne Olson, the rest of our elected officials seem to be off the rails. After voting out the Augustyn regime I thought the future for Pelham was bright and that common sense would finally prevail. Apparently not so.

The Three Amigos of Haun, Hildebrandt and Stewart—there were four with Kore in the mix, but we’ll get to that later—must have some hidden agenda against the Mayor and the people of Pelham. They obviously can’t think for themselves and have made some sort of pact to work together and undermine the ability of council to work cohesively.

I first started taking note when they tried to silence the Mayor for speaking on the Town’s behalf. Well, who else? What was that all about? That left me scratching my head.

Then, and I must say this is where I lost all respect for them—and Mr. Wink, you were surprisingly on board with this one— they contacted the ombudsman to investigate the Mayor for simply trying to do something good for the Bandshell Committee and the town. Let me stress this again. He was trying to do something good!

They followed up their attack by breaking the Code of Conduct themselves when they read a statement by an absent Ron Kore and voted in favour of a serious penalty and reprimand. That little coup cost the town $20,000 and the Mayor around $5,000. Good job, folks. You must have been so proud of yourselves!

This group was also in favour of scaling back their “work load,” and voting by proxy, which makes no sense whatsoever. If a councillor is not present to hear and discuss the facts then how can one possibly vote with a clear, educated mind. I’m sure with Ron Kore’s continued absence they acted with a safety-in- numbers mentality.

And now Councillor Lisa Haun is trying to waste another $20,000 for an emergency response plan that Fire Chief Lymburner has had under control for some time. I’m sure there’s more instances like the ones above, but what is crystal clear is the Town cannot be run effectively with such a self-serving, biased group, not acting with the Town’s best interest in mind.

This brings me to councillor Ron Kore. I believe it’s time Mr. Kore did the right thing and resign his position on council. He has shown that he does not have the heart, temperament and/or time to commit to the day-to-day dealings required of the office he was elected to. The Town needs another full-time councillor that can commit to doing what is required of them by their constituents.

Given the current climate within Town Council, I have lost all confidence that the best interests of Pelham residents will be met. There is no place in council for the petty grievances the above councillors have continued to display. The role of Town councillor requires an open mind. Not three or four working as one!

As far as I’m concerned, Pelham residents already pay far too much in property taxes. We are all suffering for the misdealings of the previous council, rates on just about everything are going up, and the Town is struggling to get back on its feet financially. It’s time to stop frivolous spending on never-ending consultant fees, including the one proposed by Lisa Haun above.

Steve Murphy
Fenwick

Open letter to Mayor Junkin on airport situation

I am writing this in reference to a comment relayed to me about a member of your council allegedly referring to us stakeholders and pilots as rich playboys with their expensive toys. Might I refer you to a study done recently on the Niagara Central Airport, paid in part by your council, https://centralairport.ca/economic-impact-of-cnq3.html. This may clear up the question as to whether the airport has economic value to the Town.

My expensive toy enabled me to employ two well-paid assistants and myself, and to pay taxes. Now that I’m semi-retired it is not only a toy, it is a piece of teaching equipment and used to expand the horizons of our local youth in various programs who wish to get involved—by the way, at my expense. (It is still used for business by my business partner)

Others on the field use their aircraft for business purposes. Some offer their equipment to charity groups to fly medical patients from remote areas to hospitals. Most times it is children with a parent alongside. No charge.

Yes, some folks are flying just for the sheer pleasure. Our group ranges from farmers, postal workers, retired mill workers, hospital staff, and corporate and commercial pilots. We have at least three retired military pilots, and two were on the Snowbird team. The other flew F-104s in Germany during the Cold War. One of them is currently flying at the age of 87—an inspiration to us all and the kids that meet him. Several of us are currently assisting a high school teacher who was given permission by his school board to begin teaching aircraft subjects. We will be bringing his class to our hangers for hands-on instruction once we’re clear of COVID-19. By the way we’re not getting paid.

Our C.O.P.A. group collectively spent our own funds and added another runway for the airport use. It has had spectacular results with visiting pilots using it to practice soft-field landings. Yes, some airport funds were used, but very little considering the result. We maintain it free of charge. We have a van at the airport available to all visiting pilots for their use while in the area. Free of charge.

I personally own a third share in one of the hangers. I built a second hanger set up as a six pack to accommodate the number of pilots who wanted to bring their aircraft to our airport. All six units filled up in less that a month after completion. Sold at cost.

This year I’ve had four prospects walk into my hanger asking about hanger space or could they build a hanger. It is my understanding from speaking to them later they were shrugged off to come back much later. Not very encouraging.

All of the airport commissions that I have seen have fumbled the ball over and over again. Pricing fuel so high that they drove pilots like myself to fill up at other airports. Even the current price is out of line. The previous commission wasted funds on a new type of covering on the runways. They allowed themselves to be conned into buying a process that now is allowing small pebbles from the application to loosen and destroy our propellers. (Replacement of mine, $15,000 US dollars.) They wasted $12,000 on a new survey when there currently exist five surveys completed over the last 15 years. The latest I believe is only five years old. Their justification is they found a few acres recently given over that must be added. They require a complete new survey to add them in.

We have an airport toilet at the front gate to the airport. It’s a construction site single booth. Were not allowed (COVID is the excuse) to use the building donated by one of our C.O.P.A. members for the airport use. (Managers office, pilot lounge.) The only other public toilet is controlled by the Niagara Sky Dive operation. The owner does not want the general public to use it since he pays for the water that it uses. And rightly so.

I will not discuss the firing of the airport manager. Except to say he was a good friend to the pilots and the field and those who came to visit. We were greatly respected at the field for our hospitality.

I saw a mention in the 2019 airport budget, an expenditure of $45,000 for advertising. I can only assume this paid for the five road signs that the former airport manager requested to direct traffic to us. That works out to $9,000 per sign. I have never seen any other advertising in local newspapers or elsewhere. By the way, even your own Pelham folder at our airport has nothing about the airport except a business card ad from Niagara Sky Dive. Most of his clients come from the Toronto area.

Neither do Welland, Port Colborne nor Wainfleet. Nor is any information on the airport on your respective websites—or none that is worthwhile at least.

It’s obnoxious that Port Colborne has transportation information in their brochure, talking about how to get to their famous town, yet no mention of an airport just ten minutes from them. Lots on bus routes and highway access.

No wonder when I organized and paid for the RCAF Snowbird team to display at our airport in 2008, we had difficulty obtaining rooms for them and strange looks when I spoke about the local airport.

Yet come that afternoon we had over 10,000 people show up.

I apologize for this long dissertation. But we stakeholders and pilots are fed-up with the constant on-and-off as to the future of the airport. We’ve tried repeatedly to assist all the appointed committees, with little to no success. It seems they know how airports are run better then the pilots who use them.

James Morrison
Welland

 

WWII grit and 21st century anti-maskers—no comparison

Thank you so much for the wonderful story about Peter Nice’s experience as a British child evacuee during World War II [This Pied Piper was a hero, Column Six, Dec. 9, p.1].

It was very interesting to read. I especially enjoyed his comment near the end, where he says, “Today, I sometimes wonder how those protesting the wearing of masks would cope with the multitude of restrictions imposed by a government during a war.”

Please publish more memories like this from the older members of our community. We have a lot to learn from them.

Janet Klingender
Fenwick

 

Pelham Cares thanks

This year’s Food Drive certainly looked a lot different than past years’. Each month we hand out approximately 275 boxes of food, so our Food Drive goal was to collect 3000 boxes of food to “Help Fill our Shelves” for at least seven months. With your help we collected over 1700 boxes.

We had an amazing contribution of financial donations as well. Overall, we are 35% down in food, but with the increase in our monetary donations this enables us to purchase in bulk. We are so encouraged by the overwhelming support received from our community!

A special thank you to the Town of Pelham and the Meridian Community Center staff for allowing us the use of their loading bay over the five weeks. Special thanks to our Food Drive partners—Fonthill Kinsmen, Fonthill Lions Club, and Fabulous Fenwick Lions Club. Working together, following Public Health and Ontario safety guidelines to keep all volunteers safe, we thought would be a challenge, but everyone was so willing and understanding we were able to successfully have a safe food drive.

This year we needed 60 volunteers a week. They were scheduled four people or a family bubble at a time over a 3.5 hour shift over the three days each week. Some 657 volunteer hours were calculated. We are reminded of the generosity and kindness that abounds in the community of Pelham. The difficulty through COVID-19 has been a struggle for many, but are reminded how our community is in this together.

As they say, “It takes a village,” and it is never more true than in this case. It is contributions from donors and volunteers, individuals, businesses large and small, social clubs, schools, churches and granting foundations, which allow Pelham Cares to continue to meet this need in Pelham.

On behalf of the Board of Directors of Pelham Cares, staff, volunteers and clients, a heartfelt thank you goes out to the Pelham community for your support again this past year!

Tracy Holmwood, President
Board of Directors

 

Gratitude for the education professionals on the front lines

Thank you to all the principals, vice principals, teachers, EA’s, secretaries, custodians and bus drivers who are going above and beyond this year to keep our children safe and in school. All of them are dealing with situations they have never had to deal with in their professional careers or experienced as children or teens themselves. Not enough can be said for all their hard work.

Above all, it is their unwavering commitment to following strict safety protocols that often change daily, to keep themselves safe, as well as protect others in the school system.

In-school learning, virtual learning or both, has significantly changed our system. We can not underestimate the demands placed on teachers to learn new forms of technology, on the go, as well as teaching this technology to colleagues, students, parents. Teachers are dedicated to making lesson plans for both students online and in class that keep our youngsters energized and engaged.

Many of these professionals are taking care of their own children and perhaps parents, while also meeting the new and unprecedented demands of their job—often calming parents and caregivers over the telephone, when a runny nose or slight fever means a self-assessment and a COVID test before the child can return into school.

We are so grateful to all the education workers. Where would our children and teens be without them? Where would we be without them? We admire you and thank you for all that you do.

Let us spread a little kindness and gratitude especially at Christmas, especially this year, if you get the chance, #thankaneducationworker.

Norma Sgambelluri
Fonthill

 

Fonthill now mostly just a memory

I have lived in Fonthill since 1978, so I think I can safely have an opinion on what goes on in my town. And I have to say I am not very thrilled about what is going on. Do we have planners, like city planners? Or does the council just say to developers, “Here’s the land—over to you. Make as much money as you can.”

So they rub their hands together and divide the land into smaller and smaller lots, build bigger and bigger houses, making it possible to pass that cup of sugar to your neighbour without either of you leaving your house. And did you know that “People don’t want yards”?

We don’t? Who made that rule?

The result is a huge new development of close-packed houses, no green space, no trees, no gardens, no play space, no decent living space at all. And we are assured that this is what we want. This apparently makes Fonthill the ultimate desirable place to be.

What I think makes Fonthill a desirable place to be are the family homes with yards, gardens, beautiful trees, bushes, shrubs, green space and quiet tree-lined streets—that’s what makes Fonthill a nice place to live. So why are we hellbent on making it anything but that?

What else do we have? We don’t have waterfront, we don’t have a beautiful downtown park, we don’t have theatres, we don’t have amazing civic architecture. We have quiet, tree-lined streets of family homes.

The new build areas don’t have room to plant trees—I laughed when I saw the landscaping for the townhouses on Port Robinson Road. The developer has planted trees, and hopefully they are some genetically engineered varieties that will never get bigger than the saplings they are now!

And now we learn that the Steve Bauer trail that so many of us walk and enjoy—our little bit of nature—is to become no more than a glorified sidewalk! Come on council, planning department, whoever you are. The decision makers have so far given us another few shopping plazas, a community centre that we are never going to pay for, a lot of other very questionable planning decisions—but no parks, no walkable areas, no nice little cut-throughs between streets that give character to living space, no tree-lined streets, no interesting architecture, really…nothing.

One day soon people are going to wake up and ask what’s so special about Fonthill? And realize…nothing. Not any more.

Margie Hadley
Fonthill

 

Council: Preserve the green corridor along Bauer Trail

I read with interest your front page article regarding imminent housing developments that could desecrate that portion of the Steve Bauer Trail running between Port Robinson Road and Merritt Road [Renewed call to protect remaining trees along trail, Dec. 9, p.1]. This trail is an invaluable asset, recently paved, accessible to all and much used. It allows people to experience a walk through a wooded environment without the noise and fumes from passing traffic. I am not opposed to the Town’s policy of high- density housing because it is designed to protect our green spaces from urban sprawl. The question is: Are we getting high-density housing without any protection of green spaces?

The Town of Pelham Official Plan – Goals and Objectives, includes the following: “To encourage the establishment of an open space system that links environmental and recreational resources both within and beyond the boundaries of the Town.”

Will council act to ensure that the Kunda Park and Forest Park subdivision proposals do not destroy the environmental and recreational benefits of the Steve Bauer Trail? Or will the developers win and the residents of Pelham lose a valuable asset?

I am reminded of the words of Joni Mitchell, the Canadian folksinger:

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

They took all the trees
And put them in a tree museum
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see ‘em

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Till it’s gone

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

A green corridor separating developments on the east and west sides of the Steve Bauer Trail could preserve the trail as it is. Otherwise, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”

Alan Bown
Fonthill

 

There must be a better way

It has been a long time since my “Crick boys” and their friends could get on their mini-bikes and ride down the tracks from Gramma Leslie’s bush to Welland (they knew enough to get off when a train was coming). What a great idea it was to make the Steve Bauer Trail and have it open to all. Surely, there is another way to be able to get into the new subdivision that is being planned without having to build roads across it.

I’m sure Im not the only one right now remembering Joni Mitchell singing about paving over paradise, and not knowing what you had until it was gone.

Vilma Moretti
Fonthill

 

“I live at the corner of Hollywood and Vine now”

Over the 30 years I have lived in Fonthill I have watched as the farmland across from me became the Timber Creek subdivision. Bacon Lane, originally a dead-end lane way, was opened up to Pelham Street, and numerous building lots were approved by Town Council. The Kunda Park subdivision went in off of Merritt Road, and over the last few years the farmlands and tree lots of Mori Gardens along Rice Road have been turned into sprawling Brampton and Whitby-like suburbia.

Now the new Saffron Meadows Phase Two and Forest Park subdivision signs have been erected along Rice Road and Port Robinson Road. The Steve Bauer Trail between Port Robinson Road and Merritt Road is going to be cut in places to allow roads to join the Kunda Park subdivision with these new developments of Forest Park and Saffron Meadows.

I attended Town meetings regarding the Bacon Lane developments and they passed, reducing the frontage of building lots—to allow more homes to be constructed—greed, more tax dollars for the Town coffers. These houses are so close together. With these new building materials and the close proximity to neighbours, house fires speed rapidly.

I watched in horror as the house behind me was fully engulfed and my trees were set ablaze a little over two weeks ago, on November 28, and prayed that the firefighters could save my workshop/ barn and my house. My huge silver maple is badly scorched and for safety reasons needs to be taken down, along with two large evergreens. The larger five-trunked silver maple was taken down behind my barn two years ago, with no prior notification to me, to allow my new neighbour to dig and pour his foundation. All summer, I listened to chainsaws take trees down on a property three doors down from me on Line Avenue. That property was sold and yes, a developer purchased the land and more cookie-cutter structures are going to be built there.

I live at the corner of Hollywood and Vine now—have listened to squealing tires and near accident misses. I aided a bicyclist who was hit at the corner of Bacon and Line as well as assisted with crashes at that corner. I’ve often wondered why Timber Creek only has one way into that subdivision. There is a walkway further down Line Avenue, but if there is a fire at one of the houses how is an ambulance going to get in to service the other homes in that subdivision? Pelham Town Hall should be ashamed of themselves.

The proposed clearing of part of the Steve Bauer Trail is detrimental to the wellbeing of the inhabitants of Fonthill. With the COVID pandemic, the Steve Bauer Trail has given me and others the much needed mental health we need—communing with nature, walking through this last unspoiled woods. (We already lost the woods and swampy area of Bacon Lane, lost the field across from me and the woods my dogs and I would hike when Timber Creek went in, lost the woods when Willson Crossing went in, lost the woods when Ryan’s Walk went in…it just goes on and on and on.)

Is money, greed and sprawling suburbia what Fonthill is all about? Obviously preserving nature is on the back-burner of Pelham Town Hall. Shameful! So sad.

Heather Armstrong
Fonthill

Common sense worked before, why not now

We have lived in Fonthill for 57 years and have seen many changes —some good, some not so good. The plan to desecrate the Steve Bauer Trail is an example of the not so good. That section of the trail is well used and the plan for tree removal and having two crossings would destroy the serene beauty and safety of this section. Surely a better solution can be found.

Years ago, when the sewers went through our area here, we were confronted by the construction plan to cut through the stand of many mature trees that enhanced the properties involved. After discussing the plan with the engineer in charge of the project, a change was made to have the sewer line run along Stella Street, with the homes involved hooking up through easements. As a result, there was minimal loss to the forest, and today one would never know there are buried sewer lines on the easements. The alternative was accepted by the engineer who admitted that it would also be less costly to do so! Common sense won the day back then. Let’s hope that common sense will prevail again for this issue.

Bob and Pat Laing
Fonthill

 

COMMENTARY / OP-ED | Larry Coté

A Tailgate Christmas

For many families, Christmas celebrations are like no other throughout the year. And our family is no different. However, this virus is worse than any meanspirited Scrooge and has almost ruined the festivities for many families this year. The traditions of gathering round the tree, exchanging gifts and stuffing bellies with goodies, including a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, will be but a fond memory for 2020.

In our family, our daughter is by far the leading celebrant of Christmas and has served as our spirit of Christmas since she was about five or six years old. I expect many households have such an elf-like enthusiast. Our exuberant girl was one of the local tree farms’ first customers each year and decorated the tree with fastidious enthusiasm. I swear she started planning for such joyous celebrations just after Labour Day. Her brothers were not always that supportive, but she soldiered on in spite of their humbug attitude.

This year, plans were made for the clan to meet at a local party facility large enough to comply with the social distancing and other health department regulations for such gatherings. However, as conditions associated with the virus worsened, those plans had to be canceled. But our spirit of Christmas would not be deterred.

In spite of those restrictions this year she didn’t let us down. She covertly organized her children and grandchildren to present us, the family elders, with a Christmas celebration like no other. And as she intended, this spirited celebration of Christmas surprised us greatly. This surprise was under the pretext of us meeting with just her and her husband to exchange gifts as was the tradition.

Arrangements were made to meet in our condo’s parking lot to do the exchange. My wife prepared a few nibbles and made a large container of hot chocolate. This socially distant get together was a sad substitute for the many wonderful Christmas gatherings for this close-knit family in former years. For sure, there are worse circumstances associated with this pandemic, but our Christmasy daughter was determined to make the sweetest of lemonade out of the sourest of lemons.

My wife and I got to the parking location at the appointed time for the gathering and opened our vehicle’s tailgate and set up the buffet- style eats. Shortly after our arrival an entourage of cars decked out in seasonal décor drove in. Celebratory garlands strung with flashing lights, car hoods bedecked with wreaths, large colourful bows hung from the grills and loud Christmas music filled the air. Our great- granddaughter, wearing her best Christmas dress, ran from the car and presented us with beautifully wrapped and especially labeled gift packages. Our nephew, a very close cousin to our children, was also there and added to the unexpected joy of this occasion. All were wearing masks and maintained the appropriate social distancing protocols. But one could easily detect the huge grins beneath the masks and see the sparkle of joy in the eyes of each celebrant.

In the spirit of the season the exchange of gifts took place and it was a gathering full of joy. Our family will always remember 2020 as the year of the “Tailgate Christmas.”

 

PELHAM AND COVID-19 | Mayor Marvin Junkin

Vaccine news step in right direction

It has now been announced that Ontario will administer its first COVID-19 vaccines December 15 at two hospitals in Toronto and Ottawa. The first people to receive the vaccines will be healthcare workers at long-term homes, and other high-risk places.

While the vaccine will alleviate much of the need for physical distancing and masking long term, it won’t immediately end these public health measures. Herd immunity, which refers to a large proportion of the community being immune to contracting the virus, has to hit 70% in order for COVID-19 to be manageable. This level will take months to reach, depending on just when the shipments of vaccines arrive. Also, it is still unknown whether the vaccines prevent somebody from becoming infected and spreading it forward. The worry being that if people are vaccinated, and they can still spread it, then the risk remains to the people who aren’t vaccinated. Of course the big question remains — how long the vaccine will offer immunity from the virus. Here at home, the Niagara Public Health unit has made it be known that they would consider our community centre to be an ideal vaccination point, because of its size and its central location. As of this writing they had not yet appeared on site for an in-depth inspection.

Just when we thought they might have been starting to drop, there have been new cases. There were 20 last Wednesday, and last Thursday that number shot up to 36. With this big increase, our reproductive number is now over 1, at 1.2, as of Dec. 10. Our hospitals are still good, with 85.6% of their beds currently occupied, below the target numbers of 90%. Our positivity test number is 1.7%, meaning that of the 8000-9,000 tests done every week by Regional Health, only 1.7% are positive, The provincial average is over 5%, while parts of Alberta, their worst parts, were testing over 41%.

On Saturday, a rather strange event took place in Fenwick. Well, when I say strange, everything this year is relative, so maybe this event wasn’t that strange. I am talking about the reverse Santa Clause Parade, which as its name implies, saw floats remaining stationary and the people/kids driving by in cars. Although somewhat damp, and while it sounds somewhat bizarre, rest assured, everyone had a fun time. A huge thank you to the Fabulous Fenwick Lions and the Town’s Recreationl Department.

Jennifer Dube dropped me a line with the final stats of the Pelham Cares food drive. The bad news was food donations were down 35%. The great news was that monetary donations were up a whopping 60%. To make this drive a success, 60 volunteers were scheduled each week in 3.5 hour shifts, for a total of approximately 300 volunteers. Only in Pelham, I say! Thanks to all the donors and volunteers! With the success of this event we gave the virus a darned good kicking.