Thanks to all for fabulous Fenwick event

The Fabulous Fenwick Lions would like to say thank you to the people that participated in this year’s Reverse Santa Claus Parade, and to the Town of Pelham for helping to organize this unique event.

Most importantly we would like to give a huge thank you to the people of Pelham that came out to our parade and donated so generously. We collected an entire truck-full of food and $1300 cash for Pelham Cares!

The Lions and Lioness are always thrilled to make a positive difference in the lives of the people of Pelham. We wish you all a healthy and much happier 2021.

Lion Trevor Philbrick
Fabulous Fenwick Lions

Trail is an incentive to buy in Fonthill

The Steve Bauer Trail is our town’s hidden gem. A place to refresh ourselves and clear our minds and enjoy nature. Oh, and I forgot! Get some much needed physical activity! If the proposed plans for it are approved it will be tarnished forever.

Two roadways cut through the heart of this trail will be devastating! Why must the developers sacrifice this gem to connect subdivisions? Why can’t they make adjustments in their road plans? Don’t they and the Town realize our trail is an incentive to buy here? Please preserve our priceless gem!

Brenda Burger
Fonthill

Please, sir, more

Just one reader’s observation — from “an outsider” really—but from someone who has in the past spent time elsewhere covering municipal politics (city councils, township and county councils, rural boards, regional conservation authorities etc.).

It isn’t easy, I know, to find humour or “light” pieces in municipal politics — but you, in Pelham, have a gift that keeps on giving in Ron Kore. Truly, a journalist’s dream. A perpetual Christmas gift. Guaranteed to put a smile on everyone’s face.

It’s hard enough having to deal with, and survive in, a global pandemic without having to wade through the numbing intricacies of regular council meeting reports. Then, without warning, comedy presents itself.

More please, Mr. Kore.

Bill Eluchok
Welland

 

We left Mississauga once, now we may do it again

Our family moved to Fonthill from Mississauga almost 25 years ago and we immediately fell under the spell of Fonthill’s small-town charm and atmosphere. We raised our kids, retired and had always planned to spend the rest of our lives here. However, the recent changes in town are reminding us more and more of the sprawling city we had left behind, causing us to seriously reconsider this last part of our plan.

It seems that in the rush to expand their tax base, Town planners have completely forgotten about the existing citizens, and Fonthill is slowly becoming yet another characterless suburb. Unfortunately, there is no holistic approach to the urban planning in our town and based on the changes we’ve seen, neither the Region’s Woodland Bylaw or Land Care Niagara Species at Risk list have been consulted or considered.

Years ago, we watched with alarm how the Carolinian forest at Kunda Park was destroyed during the development. White and red trilliums, sassafras, pow-pow, tulip trees and the most beautiful specimens of endangered flowering dogwood were ripped out by bulldozers. All the while the empty field behind the forest was left intact.

I would like to strongly remind our planners and our Council about the Town of Pelham Community Vision:

“The primary purpose of the Official Plan is to provide the basis for managing growth that will support and emphasize the Town’s unique character, diversity, civic identity, rural lifestyle and heritage features and to do so in a way that has a positive impact on the quality of life and health for the citizens who live and work in Pelham. (…) The Town has a number of significant environmental and topographical features that contribute to the ‘sense of place’ felt by many of the Town’s residents. These features include, the Niagara Escarpment, rivers and streams, smaller woodlots and wetland areas that support diverse wildlife and plant communities. The protection of these attributes is a key underlying principle in this Official Plan.”

The future Kunda Park Phase Four development does not provide any amenities for its inhabitants—there are no parkettes, playgrounds or other public greenspaces— even though Town of Pelham Parkland Dedication states that, “Council will require the dedication of 5 percent of the land within a residential Plan of Subdivision to be dedicated to the Town as parkland.”

Unless I missed something, I did not find any of those amenities in the recently built subdivisions, either. It is true that, according to Development Charge By-law 4023, cash-in-lieu of parkland dedication is permitted, but so far—after several completed developments—we have yet to see any substantial parkland projects. Currently, the only plan for Kunda Park Phase Four is to cut down all the mature trees along Stella Street backyards, destroy more trees for the Station Street extension in the Forest Park subdivision, mutilate the freshly paved Steve Bauer Trail, and permanently destroy all wildlife corridors. The consequences of these actions will affect not only the wildlife, but will also negatively impact the quality of life for the Town’s existing and future residents.

Why don’t we take a more curated approach to future developments? We could work with the existing natural landscape and use it as our asset, planning developments around the green spaces, instead of on top of them. Not only would this approach be environmentally responsible, it would also be beneficial economically. As a recent example, you can ask the people in Kunda Park, whose houses were built on top of creek beds, about the water and sump pump issues they’ve dealt with from the beginning. And let’s not forget the ongoing disaster of the “Lake Augustyn” saga, which continues to cost taxpayers money.

Urban planning has a long and storied tradition in North America and the municipalities most remembered are those which maintained a healthy symbiotic relationship between nature and human intervention. Every great city in the world has a “Green Heart” (Central Park in New York, High Park in Toronto, etc.) and though I understand that we are just a small community, this balance should be even more important to us. As a small town, one poorly planned subdivision can have a much greater negative impact here than it would in a large city such as Toronto.

I do not expect to find another Frederick Law Olmsted in our midst, but we could, at the very least, use our unique geographical location and abundance of Carolinian forest species present in the area to our benefit. It doesn’t seem that we even appreciate how rare these are in our Canadian climate. Instead, we let the developers butcher mature forests without paying any attention to the nesting seasons of declining bird populations. After the mayhem of construction is complete, they plant a bunch of small, scrawny trees along these new roads, which more often than not promptly get sick and/or die.

According to the 1934 aerial photographs from Niagara Navigator, the Kunda Park Phase Four subdivision is planned in an area which wasn’t originally even farmed. In all likelihood the reason for this was the existing wetland, which is still full of standing water, even today. This will very likely cause major issues to the unsuspecting people who buy up these new homes. Instead of destroying a naturally occurring wetland for yet another development, why don’t we create a passive nature park?

Citizens of Pelham voted our previous Council out to protect the town from the destruction of rampant development. Let’s learn from the past and avoid making the same mistakes.

Magdalena Woszczyna
Fonthill

 

If province is under lockdown, why is deer hunt allowed to proceed

The Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and parks intends to proceed with the Short Hills Deer Hunt on January 27, despite our provincial lockdown guidelines due to COVID.

During past hunts, the Ministry has hosted up to 75 hunters per day. They do not wear masks, there are multiple hunters in each truck, and there is no social distancing. The hunters themselves have recorded via video their hunts in Short Hills and their gathering in large groups within the park.

These hunters and the Ministry staff present for this hunt all come from outside of Niagara. All of Ontario is under a mandatory lockdown and yet these hunters and staff are allowed to enter this region with no ramifications, business as usual. The NRP is also on site at park entrances and there has just been reports of an outbreak within the police service.

Zone Manager Greg Wilson has not provided information on how the Ministry intends to host this event and meet provincial guidelines. He states it will proceed with the same staffing and protocols as previous hunts prior to the lockdown. This remark proves that there are no new rules and guidelines for the January hunt dates, even during a provincial lockdown.

There appears to be a different set of rules for government officials and a select group of hunters. This is a potentially huge COVID spreader as these folks from other regions interact personally with citizens of Niagara, and utilize food and beverage facilities during their trip.

Concerned citizens and lovers of this park are extremely concerned, not only for the hunt-related desecration of the park itself and the deer lives lost, but for the spread of this pandemic. Shouldn’t a province-wide lockdown pertain to all Ontario citizens?

K. Masterson
Thorold

 

Evidence of trail use plain to see

On New Year’s Eve I walked the Steve Bauer Trail. The weather was mild. There were many walkers, several runners and a couple of people in wheelchairs.

On Sunday, the 3rd of January, I walked again. It was cold with snow on the ground. This photo attests to the fact that the Steve Bauer Trail is used heavily in all weathers. The trail is an invaluable asset. Pelham does not have a comparable trail.

Are our councillors willing to countenance the desecration of the Steve Bauer Trail? Really!

Alan Bown
Fonthill

 

Only two IGA checkouts, and that deer in Shoppers

In spring of 2000, I chose Fonthill as the place where I would continue to raise my daughter and call home. What drew me to the community was its small-town feel. Acres of farmland and orchards tucked away outside of the hustle and bustle of the larger cites. Quiet streets, kind and friendly neighbours who quickly became friends.

At that time the IGA grocery store in the Fonthill Plaza had only two checkouts and a deer actually made its way into the entrance of the Shoppers Drug Mart one year. The Steve Bauer Trail was and is home to many deer who on many occasions found their way into town or into my neighbour’s backyard, to the rear of me, as the trail is across from their home. What a wondrous sight!

I had grown up in Cooksville, an area that later became part of Mississauga. It, too, was a small community, but with much development became the busy city it is today. I watched those orchards be ploughed under and be replaced with homes and plazas. The farmer’s fields we played in as children disappeared.

For the past 20 years I have watched Fonthill change as well. Gone is the two-checkout IGA with only one of the registers that could process my debit card properly. Now there are two large grocery store chains. Gone are the days of waiting to turn left at the junction at the 406 for 15 minutes. Gone are the safe bicycle rides down Port Robinson Road. Gone are the four-wheeler-pulled sleighs through the fields on a moonlit New Year’s Eve night with all the neighbourhood kids laughing with delight. And if the Town and developers get their way, gone will be the many years of daily walks with the dog across the Steve Bauer Trail from Port Robinson over to Merritt and the enjoyment it brings to many.

Not only is this trail a natural habitat and home for countless wildlife, it is a piece of beauty, tranquility and peacefulness to the lives of those of us who live in the area. Many come from outside of the area to enjoy this lovely trail. Schools bring their students for nature walks on this trail for all it has to offer which I might add, is home to our provincial and protected flower, the trillium. Carpets of pink and white trillium varieties have been photographed by residents on their walks. Will there be fines for their demise by the Ontario government?

I am absolutely appalled and disgusted to learn that our Town is considering letting a developer destroy this source of beauty and home to wildlife. I am even more heartbroken that the Town would consider doing so to a trail dedicated to one of our own, Steve Bauer, who the trail was named after, for his many, many accomplishments as a professional bicycle road racer. A man to be admired and respected. A 1984 Olympic Silver Medalist, a 1982 Silver Commonwealth Games athlete and medalist, a 1984 World Championship medalist in Barcelona; not to forget being inducted into the Olympic Sports Hall of Fame and the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame. The consideration of the destruction of the Steve Bauer Trail is utterly disrespectful and disgraceful. The Town MUST stop this!

Cheryl MacDavid
Fonthill

 

Loss of Carolinian forest along Steve Bauer Trail would be irreparable

I am writing today to tell you how immensely important the existing Steve Bauer trail is to myself, my husband, our four sons, our dogs and all of the users of the trail. The new development adjacent to this section of the trail between Port Robinson, Merritt Road, Station Street and Kunda Park threatens to destroy this peaceful stretch of woods that is not only a natural habitat for many species but adds quality to the lives of Pelham residents who use it.

As an experienced horticulturist, I have been documenting the species I’ve encountered on my daily walks for years. We are so lucky to have a slice of Carolinian forest running through our town. I would like to point out some of the species to be found on the trail. Although we have lost many of the mature ash on the trail, there are many younger saplings that have emerged to take their place. I have also found: sassafras, tulip tree, pussy willow, sumac, black walnut, mulberry, poplar, maple, wild rose, honeysuckle, birch, dogwood, columbine, trillium in multiple colours, meadowrue, horsetail, wild grape, blood root, marsh marigold, violets, wild geranium and poison ivy (an important source of food for birds, not just a nuisance). This is a list of plants I can easily call to mind. If I were to document all plant species that the trail contains and identify all the other species I can’t readily identify, the list would perhaps be five times this.

I am concerned that the existing development plans will negatively impact the rich variety of species living on this piece of land. It is home to deer, coyotes, foxes, squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, snakes, toads, frogs, and many species of birds, including ducks and wild turkeys. I would like all children to be able to continue observing these animals in real life, not just from nature documentaries.

This is a trail and natural oasis that is used by seniors looking to keep themselves in good health, young people looking for a safe place to run and bike, young families pushing strollers, school children from Glynn A. Green as well as St. Alexander, dog owners looking to exercise their pets, walkers, runners, even cross country skiers. Geocaches are dotted along the trail where enthusiasts might find an occasional treasure.

Local residents meet and make friendships with other residents using the trail system. This trail is used by people who live in the downtown neighbourhood, as well as the neighbourhood north of highway 20 off Station Street, the seniors complex on Pelham Town Square, the new arena neighbourhood, the new Rice Road development, the neighbourhoods off of Line Avenue, the Spruceside area, not to mention the newest residents of the latest development which has our natural oasis under threat.

It is well documented that nature is good for our physical and mental health. The recent paving of the trail has made it more accessible to residents in wheelchairs, walkers, and parents with strollers. As residents, we gather there to exercise, recharge, and observe the changes that occur from season to season. We strike up spontaneous conversations about birds, plants, books, politics and of course, the weather, with our fellow trail users. As a result, we feel more connected to nature and the community, which nurtures us and can ease loneliness.

During this COVID period alone, it is the trail where one can see a friendly unmasked face, have a quick conversation in a relatively normal situation and commiserate about the situation in a safe manner. This natural outlet has been invaluable to many who have struggled to deal with the isolation of the pandemic.

In a town increasingly losing its fields and forests to houses and people, we need this natural escape to relax and recharge, to teach our children about nature, to protect the species who have less space to call home. It is important to us, the people who are using the Steve Bauer Trail, that it is not diminished in any way, that it is not reduced in size or dissected with roads. Please join me in asking Town Council to consider alternatives to the current development plan.

This town draws many residents for the same reason it drew my family—tree-lined streets, beautiful gardens, creative parks and the natural trail system. These are assets we should strive to protect as our town grows, because Pelham may not feel like Pelham for much longer.

Emily Grant-Rochon
Fonthill

 

Council, listen to the people

Residents of Fonthill, we have seen an unprecedented response to the planned destruction of the beloved Steve Bauer Trail, which indicates that a lot of people in Fonthill feel strongly about the development that is planned for our town.

I would like every reader to ask themselves:

“What kind of a town do I want to live in?” And realize that it is your choice.

You elect council to represent you, each resident.

Not developers, not Town planners.

And you have a voice and you need to exercise your voice, or the place where you live will become someone else’s vision of a small town. (I don’t know whose vision that is. I would like to meet them and ask, “What the heck are you thinking?”)

It is up to us residents. We have to speak up and demand better.

I am not against development—development is inevitable—but let’s have thoughtful, planned development. Let’s have development that reflects the Fonthill that we know and love.

Step one would be to have planners that are aware and thoughtful about the town that they are planning and actually care.

Step two would be to tell our council to stop giving developers/builders numerous minor variances. I have wondered, “How many minor variances make a major variance?” We have bylaws governing setbacks, allowances, density and type of development, and every time a minor variance is given it sets a precedent for every other request for variances that follow.

Council, stop agreeing to minor variances requested by developers only interested in their bottom line. Developers don’t care what kind of town we live in. We have to care! Keep Fonthill development to the bylaws in place to preserve the kind of town I believe we want.

Let your voice be heard. It is your town, it’s where you live, raise your children, do your shopping, take walks, enjoy green space. Contact your councillor—an email, a phone call, a letter. Tell them to stop what’s happening. They represent you and you can hold them to account.

Margie Hadley
Fonthill

 

COMMENTARY / OP-ED | Larry Coté

Concentrate on the “Care” in LTC

It is difficult to pin down who it is to blame for this alarming mistreatment of the most vulnerable among us — our seniors in long term care (LTC) facilities. So much has been written about this atrocious situation and so little appears to have been done to ameliorate this dreadful state of affairs. It is not only our current leadership to blame for this infamous neglect. The matter has been on the back burner for longer than the current politicos’ terms of office.

Having entered the second wave of this frightening pandemic, might we expect more dreadful harm coming to these, the most vulnerable, in our midst? Reportedly, six out of ten Ontarians who died from the COVID virus were residents in long term care. What does that dreadful statistic say about our society? As a collective, we hesitate to ponder this question because we fear the answer. As Walt Kelly’s opossum Pogo forewarned, “We have seen the enemy and he is us.”

As a result of more attention and closer inspection, some appalling conditions have been uncovered. Upon taking over some overly stressed LTCs, the military reported distressing mistreatment and troubling conditions.

The Ontario government set up an in-house commission to look at some of the problematic issues and practices in long term care. That commission called for more and better trained staff but did not openly substantiate other issues that affect the quality of care these residents deserve.

There is a fulsome range of questions to be asked at this critical juncture, while LTCs remain top-of-mind. What has changed in LTC facilities and care practices since the first phase of this pandemic hit? Should LTCs become part of Ontario’s healthcare system? Will wages paid the PSAs and other workers in this sector be more in line with their value? Should multiple resident rooms be eliminated to insure more healthy conditions and restore some personal dignity? How will the standard of four hours of care per resident be introduced —double the current norm of two hours? Such questions are just the tip of the iceberg that need be addressed.

Does the seriousness of this distressing lack of care for our seniors not demand more proactive programs to provide more care, security and comfort to our elderly? Do we not owe them this? Each one of us should become more actively involved and contact our political leadership and demand they take the necessary actions to correct this unacceptable neglect.

You need not be rude, but do not accept the often platitudinous responses many politicians bespeak, and demand more action, and less talk, about this matter of proper care for our elderly. The elders in your family are, or soon will be, counting on you.

To begin, your active participation in correcting this wrongful situation starts by emailing the elected officials, regularly highlighted on page 4 of this newspaper. Let them know your concern and press them to commit to taking concrete action on this gravely important issue. Some day, you may well regret not having done so.

 

PELHAM AND COVID-19 | Mayor Marvin Junkin

Vaccine arrival in Niagara expected this week

I trust that everyone had a safe and enjoyable holiday season. Thank goodness for the technology that allows us to see our loved ones in real time on our tech devices. Our oldest son is Down East, so we have experienced this first hand. Nothing replaces the hug of a loved one, but to see their smiles and facial expressions is the next best thing.

Good news for this new year is that several countries have begun the gigantic task of vaccinating their people. Britain, which was one of the first countries to start the program, has now vaccinated over 1.1 million residents. They are hoping to reach 2 million people vaccinated a week, as they try to combat a new variant of the virus. Their number of new cases on a daily basis has reached 60,000, and if that number becomes the norm, their hospitals will be overwhelmed.

As of last Wednesday, Canada ranked tenth in the world in doses given per capita, with most healthcare officials saying that we must increase our numbers. As of last Wednesday, Canada has given a least one shot to more than 193,000 people. As of Friday morning, Ontario had administered 87,653 total doses, with 4,053 people having been given both shots.

Although no vaccine has arrived in Niagara yet, as of this writing Niagara Health is expecting the first shipment to arrive locally sometime this week. As in all other areas of the province, workers in long term care facilities, retirement homes, as well as essential caregivers will be given priority treatment, along with the residents in these facilities. Niagara Health will be running vaccination clinics from a temporary structure next to the Walker Family Cancer Centre at their St. Catharines site. Please visit the Niagara Health website for more up to date details: niagarahealth.on.ca

Of course, with the continuance of the provincial lockdown the Town’s recreation centre remains closed to public use. Thankfully the weather so far this winter has been very conducive to walking, with virtually no snow having fallen so far.

The one major snowfall that has occurred happened on Christmas Eve through to noon on Christmas day. Our roads department started clearing our streets at three o’clock Christmas morning, went home for a few hours of gift-opening around 8 AM, then were out again to finish the job. On behalf of all Pelham residents, here is a big thank you, guys.