One small win

It was one small win for the Trail …one giant victory for the people of the Town of Pelham. Recently, Town Council on its own initiative decided to present a motion that would deny “trail crossings” of the Steve Bauer Trail. In the end, council voted 5-2 in favour of the motion, with Councillor Olson and Mayor Junkin objecting to it, in part, because it did not follow procedure. Procedure is to have staff present a report (with potential input from the developer) as to a policy’s desirability and feasibility.

The motion was called premature, because, according to the Director of Planning, “in making a decision on this matter, council will need to consider if the request is in compliance with the Town Official Plan along with Regional and Provincial plans and policies.” That begs the question, what about considering the wishes of the people of Pelham?

Too often the people’s wishes are diametrically opposed to what developers and Town staff want and endorse. For example, the discussion about the development at 3 Hurricane Road centered around what a previous developer had planned for the site, namely 23 units in place of the current one. According to the current developer with their five units, this is preferable to the 23 units tentatively proposed by the previous developer and endorsed by Town staff in the pre-consultation meeting of December 20, 2018, which was documented by a form signed by Town planning staff, Public Works staff, Building Department staff and the Deputy Secretary-Treasurer. However, it is possible for developer and people (neighbours) to come to a consensus when it follows open and frank discussions, as evidenced by the subdivision plan proposed for the old arena lands.

Except for this odd occurrence, general action speaks to the fact (or impression of fact) that people’s wishes and opinions count for very little in this town. As the Mayor pointed out, “to vote on this motion without hearing back from the developer or having the benefit of staff input, is not following proper protocol.” What about listening to the people, Mr. Mayor?

What is long overdue is that Town Council should listen to the people when it comes to the development of 3 Hurricane Road, Kunda Park, Forest Park, and other subdivisions in this town. Council took a small step in that direction with this motion on restricting trail crossings over the Steve Bauer Trail and on the development on Haist Street, and I applaud them for listening to us, the people of Pelham.

Uwe Brand
Former Pelham Town Councillor
Fonthill

My experience with Sun Valley Gardens

I never thought I would be telling this story about a nudist colony to a newspaper— but here it is!

I was working for Jeffrey’s Dairy, when milk was delivered right to your door, or right to your beautiful naked customer. I was just covering for the regular milkman but did not know how exciting this job was to be.

We were working from roughly the location where the new St. Catharines General Hospital is today. We loaded up the truck and started on our route. I was learning the route so I could make some money for the summer. We were moving in a general westerly direction from St. Catharines to where Pelham Road goes up the escarpment and eventually meets what is now Victoria Avenue, right where a farm machinery supply company is. To the southwest of that location was a little place called Putts Inn.

Then we turned on the road which leads to the northwest where the trees were standing tall. There was a long driveway into this nudist colony with signs on the trees which said things like, “When in Rome, do what the Romans do!” (Of course that meant that we should have taken our clothes off before we went in.) The driver then stopped before we went through and gave me these words of caution.

“I know a young teenage guy like you is going to think I am crazy but everything I tell you is true. When you get into the colony where the milk is received and you start seeing totally or partially naked people, you are going to feel like laughing. I know you think you are probably going to get excited in another way. But this is true and you must listen! This is the last dairy in the Niagara Peninsula to deliver milk here. We do not want to lose this customer! So, listen. It will hit you like windstorm when you feel like bursting out into laughter. People just don’t walk around with their clothes off normally. So, when that happens you will feel like laughing loudly but you must run back into the back of the milk truck and shove your face down into those jugs of milk and stifle it so there is no laughter.”

I thought he was nuts, but he was right. The wife, I think she was German, came out to receive the milk and she was beautiful and as we used to say, “Built in all the right places.”

Then it happened! I ran into the back of the truck and stifled my laughter until it stopped and I had control again.

Before that I didn’t remember seeing anyone in the nude, except possibly somebody’s baby when they were being changed.

I have remembered that scene and forgotten I am sure millions of other scenes that I could have remembered. But I got to see a beautiful woman right in front of my eyes and that does have an effect on probably anybody, but as an 18-year-old it was like a Christmas present being opened before Christmas. Then I though how wonderful this was going to be for the next two weeks. But one of the more mature drivers took that one customer off the route to save their business from being lost.

I have told this story to the best of ability from 18 years old unto 77 years old and it will always stick in my mind! That was my Sun Valley Gardens experience.

Charles G. Pedley, BA, MSEd, MUI
Fonthill

 

Ministry of Misinformation

We are residents of Pelham and homeowners whose property adjoins Short Hills Provincial Park. We have witnessed firsthand over the last nine years the issues surrounding the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks’ “hosted” deer hunt.

In January 2013, when the first hunt was introduced in this once peaceful park, 15 hunters killed seven deer over four days. The community was shocked and outraged that this was happening in an area that had been protected for more than 50 years. Since then, the hunt has continued and expanded to alarming numbers of hunters, and lost deer lives.

Fast forward to 2020, where now up to 75 hunters at one time descend on the park for more than eight days and kill a now undisclosed number of deer. Last year’s death count was in excess of 70 deer. Since 2013, Ontario Parks has spent in excess of $400,000 to kill over 300 white tailed deer.

In the early years, the Ministry was required to produce a “safety protocol” at the request of Regional Council, as members of the community were concerned for their safety and those that used the park. Over the years this “protocol” has been revised numerous times and is now full of loopholes and escape language to protect the hunters and the Ministry. It is unknown whether council has ever seen the revisions. Past years’ protocols included a hunt zone, a buffer zone and the requirement of Ontario Parks staff to accompany the hunter tracking a wounded deer near private properties and to secure the park.

Now, although the written protocol still reads that there is a hunt zone and includes a map, the safety measures in place are not enforced or respected. The Ministry is either not willing or not capable of enforcing these rules. We have been told by Ontario Parks Manager Greg Wilson that this protocol is only a “gentlemen’s agreement” and “this agreement is not a legal document” and “this agreement would not hold up in court” and “this agreement cannot be enforced.”

The hunt zone map which is included in their protocol is now useless and the Ministry claims the hunters do not have to stay in the hunt zone. They just have to stay in the park and they can hunt right up to private property lines. Ministry staff no longer assist in the tracking of wounded deer outside the hunt zone. Wounded deer have been found multiple times on private properties after these hunt. The disposal of these animals is now the responsibility of the homeowners.

The Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, and Ontario Parks, appear to be misleading our community. They are providing what could be a dangerous false sense of security to homeowners around the park and the general public with a protocol that is not worth the paper it is written on. The Ministry claims that “public safety” is their “primary concern,” however this year for the first time in nine hunts the Ministry didn’t even bother to mail notices of hunt dates to the homeowners surrounding the park. This is the epitome of irresponsibility. Where does the liability fall?

In previous years, 30-plus Ontario Parks staff were required to try to secure the park, try to keep hunters in hunt zones and to “assist and facilitate” the hunts. This year, we assume due to COVID restrictions, approximately six to eight staff were present. This skeleton crew of parks staff were not able to control or supervise by any stretch of the imagination. Hunters trespassed on several private properties. Members of the public were documented entering the park unnoticed by parks staff during the hunt and no staff or biologist was available inside the park to count or examine the dead deer or enforce park boundaries. Ontario Parks staff was limited due to COVID restrictions, yet 75 hunters from outside the Niagara Region ignored Premier Ford’s stay-at-home order and attended the hunt on January 7th.

The final Ministry-hosted hunt of the 2020/2021 season is this Wednesday, January 27th—yes, even during a province- wide stay-at-home order.

It’s incredibly sad to witness the demise of Short Hills Park and the loss of its wildlife. With overdevelopment in surrounding areas and loss of habitat, why can we not provide one small refuge for these gentle souls?

Dr. Craig and Robin Zavitz
Pelham

 

Short Hills no longer Niagara’s hidden gem

Imagine going for a walk with your family in a provincial park and coming across trails of blood and piles of deer guts. Imagine going for one of your regular walks with your dog in a provincial park and finding a large buck that was shot and wounded in the hind and that had just died having struggled to live for two days after a hunt.

Imagine having to wear a safety vest to walk your dog on your own property because you fear you could get shot by a hunter in the provincial park joining the back of your property. Imagine looking out your back window and seeing a hunter on your property searching for a deer he wounded. Imagine looking out your back window and unexpectedly seeing that a hunting blind (tent) has been set up in an area behind your house and outside the hunt zone.

Imagine going out on your property the day after a hunt at a provincial park and having your dogs find a buck frozen to the ground with an arrow in its head. Imagine going out on your property and finding a deer’s guts in a pile and a blood trail leading into the provincial park. Imagine seeing a hunter running along your fenced property with your horses grazing nearby.

Imagine being a home owner in the vicinity of a provincial park where deer hunts are held and not even being given any formal notification when the hunts will be occurring so you can secure your property and avoid the park. Imagine being a homeowner on the edge of a provincial park having secured your property with security cameras to protect your property from hunters only to discover that the hunters have stolen one of your cameras.

Imagine going for a walk in a provincial park and coming across a crossbow laying on the ground. Imagine being a hiker in a provincial park that sanctions deer hunts and being able to access the park at one of its main entrances without being notified of the hunt and stopped from going in because it wasn’t being supervised. Imagine moving to your dream home because of its peaceful and harmonious existence with nature and wildlife on the edge of a provincial park and having it turn into a killing ground six times a year.

Imagine 75-95 hunters hunting in this small provincial park. Dozens lining up at a time pushing deer towards other hunters to kill. Imagine being told that the deer hunt was necessary to reduce the population yet no Environmental Assessment was ever done to validate this. Imagine that after almost ten years no Environmental Assessment has been done to determine the necessity of ongoing hunts in this provincial park.

Imagine learning that your tax paying contributions are used to finance this provincial park hunt.

Imagine spending almost ten years in discussions with all parties involved, all levels of government, and attempting to address the trespassing, the safety issues, the violations of the Ontario Parks mandate, the moral issues, the legal issues, the conservation issues and things have only become worse.

Imagine being told when you found out about these hunts in this provincial park and questioned it… that these hunters can hunt “at any time.”

How is it that this group has rights that supersede all others? How is it that those who have the ability and power choose this imbalance and do nothing to find a balance between the rights of all of those who are involved? Rights do not occur in a vacuum. They occur in the context of interaction with others and where rights collide or conflict they must have limits and boundaries. As Martin Luther King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Linda Chenoweth
Hamilton

 

Open letter on deer hunt

To Premier Doug Ford, Ministers Environment, Conservation and Parks Jeff Yurek and Greg Wilson:

Again reaching out to each of you to finally show true leadership for the sake of all Canadians’ health. Dig down and muster the courage to cancel the Short Hills Provincial Park indigenous hunt this Wednesday, January 27.

Premier Ford, nightly you expound how all Canadians are to follow guidelines to combat the exploding COVID virus, which is now mutating. You extol repeatedly, “We are all in this together.” Apparently not true, since one group has chosen to put their interests above the health of local Canadians. On January 27, numerous, mainly unmasked hunters, along with government agencies personnel, will converge in the small park. Previously young outdoor hockey players were shut down and government politicians have paid costly prices for breaking the rules.

This is a life-and-death situation. All Canadians are not to gather in groups above five. Businesses are closing. Schools are closed and the list goes on, but a hunt—potentially a source of spread— is allowed?

Heard the hunt is deemed essential, but prior to 2013 and the ancient treaty obviously survival did still prevail. Wounded deer inhumanely ripped with arrows still intact in their flesh have been viewed by the public. Personally a grown man shaken by the sight told me. Since the deer are free to run out of the park, especially when wounded, this leaves the public, even children, exposed to this horror.

COVID life or death being allowed to possibly percolate in the park and beyond, as well as a once peaceful oasis, now a war zone, should not be permitted in 2021. Disallow the hunt and show all Canadians you do have the quality of a good leader.

Faye Suthons
Wainfleet

 

COMMENTARY / OP-ED | Larry Coté

The dilemma of essential services

Two weeks ago I wrote a column, “Concentrate on the ‘Care’ in LTC,” that was intended to advocate for better care of the residents of long-term care facilities. With the onset of the pandemic, glaring deficiencies in the care for many of these vulnerable people made headlines. Hopefully, a large share of these facilities provide exemplary resident care. Unfortunately, there are some where the level of care might be described as abhorrent. When the military was called in to help manage some of these overwhelmed lodgings for seniors they reported on the horrid conditions in the facilities and, woefully, for the residents.

Emphatically, this should not be tolerated, ever! Such inhumane practices must be eradicated. Ways and means must be found, financially and otherwise, to correct such wrongdoings. Less than a full-out effort to correct this outrage is unacceptable.

However, one reader wrote that this seniors’ issue was worthy of advocacy but pointed out that it is only one of many societal deficiencies that need be ameliorated.

This critic from the educational system contends with the deficiencies in that sector on a daily basis. For most of my working career, I was involved in that sector and consequently advocate for student success.

It appears our society has not yet found the criteria, or courage, to prioritize the needs for the many diverse sectors that comprise our society. However, we call upon our political leadership to the near-impossible task of allocating finite resources to satisfy the near-infinite needs of groups with an almost endless list of legitimate demands.

While this society is blessed with many resources, these are not infinite. Therefore, a mechanism need be found to distribute these resources in the most astute, moral and ethical manner.

Take these two issues of education and seniors’ care. One concerns the development of youth, who will be this society’s future leaders and caregivers. The other is concerned with the life, comfort and death issues of those who gave this society its life. Is one be more indispensable than the other? Who is prepared to definitively answer this question?

Another area demanding an ever-increasing share of the finite pot is childcare. The growing importance of this sector has become a crucial matter in recent years. Changes in our society, such as the increasing number of women in the workforce, has drastically altered the profile of our societal structure.

Clearly, given the many issues our society faces, ideal solutions have yet to be found. One of the prospective solutions is the amalgamation of some of these currently diverse service sectors.

That would mean that all long-term care facilities, both private and civic, become part of the healthcare system. As hospital facilities in most communities are a given proposition, so too would long-term care facilities be part of that same proposition. Conceivably, such an amalgamation could result in some efficiencies in administration and operations.

Likewise, a similar integration of the educational and childcare systems could also result in cost savings that would fulfill some of the financial shortfalls and inequities of both of these essential services.

Let us hope that the wisest among us will lead us to resolve the inequities in our society. In the meanwhile, be tolerant.

 

PELHAM AND COVID-19 | Mayor Marvin Junkin

Vaccine delayed, but priorities are right

On the COVID-19 vaccine front, there has been some good news and some disheartening news. The good news is that some 264,000 doses have been administered across the province, with 2889 of those doses having been administered in Niagara Region. With these 2889 doses healthcare officials have completed 100 percent of long-term care homes, and 7.1 percent of high-risk retirement homes. The disheartening news is that Canada will not be receiving any further vaccine doses next week from Pfizer-BioNTech, and promised deliveries will drop by 50 percent over the next four weeks.

This delay in vaccine delivery is being attributed to the manufacturer making upgrades to its production facilities. With the upgrades, the company will have the capacity to produce up to 2 billion doses a year. While this increased production bodes well for Canada getting future promised levels of the vaccine, it means that our vaccine rollout programs throughout the country will come to a stop, with all vaccine doses in the country having been administered. This unscheduled delay reinforces the fact that it was a great idea to have a risk/ priority distribution system in place, as our senior homes and front-line workers are getting all of the vaccine available.

On the Regional front, Region Chair Jim Bradley has created a Community Coordination Task Force for COVID-19 vaccination. Chair of this task force is Dr. David Dec, who as chair, will also serve as this group’s primary community spokesperson. There are 20 community members on this taskforce and quite frankly such a large number makes me somewhat sceptical of its ability to react in a timely fashion to what is obviously a very fluid situation. That being said I wish them all the best going forward.

Niagara’s new cases while dropping below 100 on Friday were over that number on Saturday, being 116, with 91 on Sunday.

As we all know, the food service industry throughout the region is suffering tremendously under the lockdown rules. I was talking to a good friend who co-owns two restaurants in St Catharines. Their pre-COVID employee number was over 100 and now it is eight. Like most restaurants in the region they are hanging on with the business with their take-out service.

All of Pelham Restaurants are in the same boat, so please consider ordering local when ordering take-out.

Going back to last week’s column, I left out one number when discussing the Region’s funding for the proposed new hospital in Grimsby. The matrix that Regional staff designed—which, by the way, had no medical members involved in its formulation—called for the Region to contribute $9.07 million dollars to the hospital. The group spearheading the project was asking for $12.6 million. The three million dollar difference between these two numbers represent 0.3% of the Region’s yearly budget of $1 billion dollars. That was a lot of talking and posturing over such a small amount of our yearly budget, especially when it is for such a needed, worthy project. Such is life…