Pelham Cares thanks Hoppin’ Easter Hunters for gift

Pelham Cares would like to thank all those who participated in the Town of Pelham’s recent Easter weekend scavenger hunt game. One of the missions that was included in the online hunt was for participants to nominate a community group to receive an advertising credit, donated by the Voice.

Pelham Cares is the proud beneficiary of this challenge—in the amount of a $400 credit! We wish to thank all of the participants that voted for us. We also want to thank all those pictures and videos that came in as you kindly donated at one of our donation bins within Pelham! The Town of Pelham has been incredibly supportive of Pelham Cares and we thank all their staff for their continued support.

Jennifer Dubé
Coordinator, Client Services
Pelham Cares

 

Community centre vaccination clinic well organized

Yesterday, I was at the MCC twice.

I took my neighbour Lenora in the morning for her vaccination appointment. She has mobility issues (she will be 90 in May). I pulled up to drop her off. As I was helping her out of the car, getting her walker out of the trunk, etc., there was immediate response from the volunteers. They came with a wheelchair and looked after her by taking her in through the screening and then into the gym for her shot. I went and parked the car. I came back, went through screening, and when I got to the gym, she was just getting her shot. We sat together for the 15 minutes required. During that time, someone came by every five minutes or so to make sure she was okay. I wheeled her outside and then went to get the car. We were helped again and she was just fine.

We both agreed that the whole process was very well organized, efficient and everyone was wonderful.

My appointment was for 4:55. I arrived at 4:45 and walked through the screening process, into the gym and got my shot at 4:55. I waited for the 15 minutes and was out at 5:12! As before, the process was so well organized and everyone was great!

Now we both proudly wear our “Stick it to Covid” badge.

I know that some people have had difficulty getting an appointment but with patience it will happen.

Vilma Moretti
Fonthill

 

Pelham council’s townhouse vote inexplicable

As I read the recent article on the Gang on Four’s objections to the proposed Park Place South development application, I couldn’t help but give my head a shake [Council opts to kill townhouse design, March 31, p.8].

The Park Place South development was perfectly acceptable from a planning perspective, specifically as part of the number of units per acre allowed by the Town zoning and the official plan, and to boot, provincial planning. The Park Place South development met all of the required zoning and planning policies.

This proposed development was an opportunity to meet demand for smaller homes that are priced lower than the current stock of housing in the market. Not only was the Gang of Four’s objection to the Park Place South neighbourhood an impediment to development, but this threatens to take possible supply out of the mix for young people attempting to purchase (transition into) their first home, or for seniors hoping for an opportunity to downsize to make things simpler for their retirement years.

Pelham needs more opportunities for medium-priced supply, and the two key markets (young people and seniors) would be well-served and benefit from this development. This development is about relative affordability, and taking out the supply is complete nonsense. The Gang of Four trying to defend their position is simply defending the indefensible.

I will remind these four councillors what their roles are— to provide oversight when staff conduct a professional review that says that this project was indeed a solid development. Instead, the Gang of Four would rather punish taxpayers and staff with an unnecessary LPAT action (the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal—formerly Ontario Municipal Board, the OMB), that could cost the Town tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, staff resources, etc. These councillors should be held accountable by the public for the cost that Pelham incurred for any tribunal hearing. Not to mention that it will be staff—not they—who will have to do all of this unnecessary work, after they advised that the project was, once again, in accordance with established policy.

In conclusion, and to reiterate my previous points: there is already a shortage of supply in the current housing market. Every planner in the province would tell these councillors that back-to-back townhouses are perfectly acceptable from a planning perspective, and I am greatly concerned that the Gang of Four will kill progress for young people, couples with preschool kids, and seniors. Why? Because they didn’t like the way it looked. Once again defending the indefensible.

Steven Soos
Former Pelham Town Council candidate

Editor’s note: At their regular meeting last week, those councillors who objected to aspects of the project beat a retreat, indicating that they will likely approve it after all. Story, p.3.

 

Purpose and promise

This week is National Volunteer Week in Canada. My purpose in writing is to engage in a once and future conversation about our volunteers. Of course, I want to say thank you to all of our many volunteers and I want address the future of volunteering, and I want to invite our many new friends and neighbours to join our great service clubs and volunteer organizations.

The current situation has affected everybody in ways that we cannot now predict. It’s been a lot to deal with. Our volunteers have not been able to work together because of COVID-19 distancing restrictions. I can tell you one thing about volunteers: volunteers like other volunteers so this makes it a bit harder for everybody.

In so many ways, volunteering is a practice from the future. We could chose to live in the present “reality” of shortage and isolation unless we intentionally generate expanded possibilities for ourselves. What would it be like if hunger was eradicated? What if we could make sure that everybody has access to the transportation they need? What if nobody had to unwillingly bear the burden of loneliness and isolation?

These are only a few of the possibilities that drive volunteers to generate a better future for our community.

Here is one of my favourite quotations on the motivational value of possibility.

“If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of what might be, for the eye, which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating as possibility.” (Soren Kierkegaard)

For our newcomers and those who might be considering volunteering, let me tell you something about our volunteer organizations and service clubs and why they might be attractive to you.

The single greatest skill of our volunteers is enrollment. It is really a way of being for all of our organizations. When an organization is enrolling, people will follow naturally, want to participate, and will take the ball and run with it. People describe our organizations as welcoming and inviting. This is a big deal.

Enrollment occurs when others are inspired to see new possibilities and make a commitment, and when you are passionately committed to a future possibility and just as passionately committed to the possibilities for the rest of the volunteers and the rest of the community.

It means listening to others’ commitment and engaging in an exploration of the values and possibilities for them and always respecting their choice in the matter. Enrollment always comes from choice—honouring the right of the other to choose to participate. Successful organizations actually enroll people in their own possibilities and commitments.

In enrolling people, you create and come from a view of people that they are already committed and open to possibility. Our organizations are experts at unleashing the hands and minds of our volunteers. They might not be able to meet you face-to-face, but they are there serving you in ways that might not be so obvious in these troubled times.

To our returning volunteers and prospective new volunteers, you will find that our organizations are welcoming, open and willing to listen to your possibilities, and committed to sharing aims. Our organizations create the freedom to invent new questions about what our shared future can look like.

Responsibility is not a burden. Our volunteer organizations give us the power of causing and of being proactive. They were willing to instigate, to create and own the challenges of COVID-19. They have have responded at a critical time and they will stand for us in the unforeseen future. Just look at the solutions that have been found to deliver meals and groceries and medications to our residents.

Thank you to the Voice for the opportunity to speak and thank you to you, the readers, and of course thank you to the volunteers. You found a way to come through time after time. You have honoured your promise to our community. That’s integrity.

Wayne Olson
Pelham Town Councillor, Ward 1

 

Don’t forget separate bag of bags

Trying to do the right thing, I made an error in placing my large plastic wraps bag on top of the metal and plastics bin—whoops, wrong bin. Neither was picked up. I received a large, bright orange warning sticker for my efforts. (Lesson learned.)

I decided to check out my area to see how many people put out such a bag. We have been told to include food wrap, beverage wrap, gardening bags, and of course Amazon bubble wrap, just to name a few. (However not the meat-absorption bit! Apparently government has not mandated that change.)

Very few plastic bags were visible in my neighbourhood. Is all that wrap hidden in plain sight within garbage bins or black plastic bags? Think of this as a reminder to participate in the recycling efforts. Create a smaller footprint and keep costs down. Please

L. Morgan
Fonthill

 

DSBN REPORT | Nancy Beamer, Trustee

Decision to close schools in provincial, not local, hands

COVID— after a long 13 months, it is still the main topic of conversation. It has impacted all of our lives and it appears that with the safety measures most of us observe and with the mass vaccinations on the horizon, that maybe, just maybe, there is hope we are getting closer to the end. Even though that hope has been dimmed with the rise in the number of cases and hospitalizations in the last few days, we must persevere.

One group that has been greatly affected by all this is our students. Schools being closed, then opened, then closed again, not getting together with family and friends, no sports or birthday parties, extra safety measures in classrooms and in public areas, all have taken a toll on the mental and physical wellbeing of our children.

But students are resilient and most of them have adapted to this fluid situation caused by the pandemic. While some students have totally embraced online learning, most students are happy to be in their actual classrooms. Staff, teachers and trustees believe that the best place for students is learning, in person, with their peers and classroom teachers. We have adopted many measures to make this happen and to keep students safe in the school environment. On the whole, this seems to be working. Although we had one major outbreak at Quaker Road School, most schools within the DSBN are experiencing no or a minimal number of cases. The DSBN COVID web page is updated at 4:30 PM daily for anyone wanting to check the numbers.

Our Director of Education, Warren Hoshizaki, is in constant contact with Dr. Mustafa Hirji from Niagara Public Health. This collaboration has resulted in as many as 4500 DSBN staff, teachers, EAs, custodians, et al., being prioritized for vaccinations. Also, our special needs and kindergarten teachers, due to their close contact with students, were offered vaccinations several weeks ago. This means that another layer of safety and protection is there for students, staff, and their families. We are grateful to NRPH and Niagara Health for recognizing the important role that these staff have in the community.

People have been asking — why doesn’t the DSBN just close the schools and revert entirely to online learning. The simple answer is that we do not have that authority. The closing of schools is decided by the Ministry of Education in conjunction with the public health departments and we must follow their directives.

At our schools, the students have been actively involved in many activities.

Off the Wall Art Show: Grades 9-12 students from across the DSBN organized this year’s Off the Wall Art Show online and have done an outstanding job in showing the community their hard work and talented artwork. On Tuesday, March 30, members of the DSBN community joined our secondary students for the Microsoft Teams Launch event followed by the Virtual Art Show Opening. The exhibition features some 150 unique pieces of artwork ranging from paintings to pictures, drawings, sculptures, and much more! The link for the Art Show is available on the DSBN website.

Celebration of Music—K-12 Virtual Ensemble project: Anyone who uses social media has seen choirs, etc., perform their work even though they are in separate places—the wonders of technology! And now our students and teachers across the system have been invited to learn the DSBN’s very own Music Monday Song, The Music Lives Within Me. Individual student recordings can be submitted for inclusion in the K-12 Virtual Ensemble Project, which will be shared on the DSBN website on Monday, May 3 (Music Monday). Families can share in the celebration of music by viewing the final video on May 3!

PIC Speaker Series: The Parent Involvement Committee has hosted a successful Virtual Speaker Series that has provided meaningful opportunities for parents during this challenging time. Some of the topics have included, Parenting in a Pandemic, and Screen Time and Your Teenager—How much is Too much? There are still a few more speakers in this series. As dates and times are confirmed, they will be put on the DSBN website or on my Facebook page. Well worth the time to listen.

Building: Funding has been approved for and things are moving forward on renovations to Park School in Grimsby and Peace Bridge School in Fort Erie, as well as for the build of the new school in Wainfleet.

The new West Niagara Secondary School building is on schedule with plans to open on schedule in September 2022. Although a new theatre was not included in the funding, the DSBN and the community felt that it would be a beneficial addition for both the students and the community at large. As such, the money for this theatre must come from fundraising. West Niagara kicked off its first fundraiser on Saturday, March 20. The Virtual Concert and Fundraiser was supported by a number of local restaurants and the event was hosted by Lori Love, from radio 105.7. The lineup included several Canadian national and local musicians and entertainers, including Steven Page, Moe Berg, Odds, and raised $9800. Many other local organizations and businesses have also generously donated to this project.

Someday this pandemic will be over, but until then be assured that whether online or in class, student learning will continue. The more we do our part to follow Public Health guidelines, the higher the chances are that we will continue to keep the doors of our schools open and our students safe and happy.

 

COTE’S COMMENTS | Larry Cote

A Canadian oligopoly in the making

The recent proposal by Rogers Communications to buy its rival Shaw Communications, if implemented, will be one of the largest takeovers in Canadian business history. If the $20-plus billion dollar deal goes through, the telecom industry in this country will become an even tighter oligopoly—a state of limited competition, in which a market is shared by a small number of providers.

Known as “The Big Three” in the Canadian telecommunications field, Rogers, Telus and Bell control some 90 percent of the market. This control will increase if the proposed purchase takes place.

According to Canada’s Competition Bureau, because the Big Three hold a stranglehold on this market, Canadians pay higher cellphone bills than consumers almost anywhere else in the world. During the last election campaign, the Trudeau Liberals promised a 25 percent reduction in cellphone bills over their first two years in office. It appears that the COVID-19 pandemic may have derailed that particular campaign promise. It will likely be resurrected in the next election campaign.

People and businesses in Canada are paying in some cases nearly twice as much for wireless services than people and firms in some other countries. Notably, such higher costs make doing business in Canada a more costly and less competitive venture.

However, this deal is not a fait accompli yet, as it will require the approval of the Canadian Competition Bureau, the Canadian Radio and Television Commission, and the Innovation, Science and Industry department of the federal government. If past experience is any indicator, getting the approval from any one of these, let alone all three, will take many months of negotiations. Some business experts predict that time frame will likely go well beyond the next federal election.

On the surface, it would appear that the deal will not go through, as such a merger conflicts with the avowed purpose of all three of those entities. Their professed purpose is to protect the interests of Canadian consumers from any unsavory practices by industry and commerce.

Should any of these three entities approve of such a gigantic merger, the approval would likely involve a number of conditions that would purportedly protect Canadian consumers. Limits such as reducing Rogers’ abilities to raise prices for their services over the next while, or not allowing them to close down some of their smaller subsidiaries servicing rural and remote communities.

One of the reasons the telecom industry in Canada has a limited number of competitors is that federal government policy does not allow foreign-owned telecom companies to enter the Canadian market. One of the reasons for this ban is that telecommunications is a crucial factor in a country’s security and independence.

There are a few points that may enhance the prospects for the approval of this merger. First among these is that the development and installation of the 5G network system in this country will involve investments in the order of mega-millions. The ability to underwrite such costs will require business organizations with access to such resources.

Another matter that might influence a positive response to the merger is the number of jobs that could be created by the installation of the 5G network and expanding high-speed services to under- serviced areas of the country. Due to the high unemployment levels created by the pandemic, any proposal that would quickly help reduce this number would be looked upon with great favour.

If this merger is allowed to proceed, then Canadian consumers will almost certainly continue to pay more for their wireless services than people and firms in most countries around the globe. However, if people were to let their government representatives know of their disdain for that continuing disparity, they might see their telecommunications expenses more in line with their counterparts in other countries. It might be wise for all Canadian citizens to keep an acute ear and a sharp eye on this transaction.

 

PELHAM AND COVID-19 | Mayor Marvin Junkin

Alarming case rise sees ICU capacity 88 percent filled

Some 100,000 Niagara residents are now vaccinated against COVID-19. This represents 19 percent of Niagara residents having received a first dose, while 1.9 percent have received a complete series, so are fully vaccinated.

The vaccination clinic held this past Thursday at the community centre operated without a hitch, with some 900 doses having been administered. Residents that I talked to were very impressed with the quickness that they were in and out of the building. Health officials were so impressed with the site that at least two future dates have been booked, and will be announced shortly. All vaccination clinics within the Region are now completely booked for the next two weeks. It is great to see Niagara residents accepting the vaccines so willingly, with other areas of the province having a hard time filling all of their appointments.

On Monday, Niagara Public Health reminded residents in the “strongest possible terms” to continue observing the current stay-at-home order, noting that there were 1062 confirmed COVID cases in the Region, ICUs were 88 percent filled, and that the health system did not have “unlimited capacity” to provide critical care.

It’s been very disheartening to see the region’s new daily case count consistently over the 100 mark for the last several days. I find it hard to believe that Niagara residents are travelling around that much more now than we were, say, three weeks ago, so I think it is safe to say that these large daily increases are due to the more infectious variants, demonstrating how they are so much more easily spread. As of Monday there were 43 active cases in Pelham, which left us with the third -highest rate of infection among all municipalities in the Region.

One big change from the province’s science advisors has been the recommendation since February that vaccinations should be targeted into the most affected areas of the province. Last week the government announce that in Ontario’s hardest hit neighbourhoods anyone 18 and up may get vaccinated. These are the neighbourhoods where the hospital ICUs are getting alarmingly close to capacity, and doctors are predicting that they may soon have to make the impossible decision as to who gets a ventilator and who doesn’t, due to the continued influx of patients. I personally agree with this decision, at the same time hoping that we here in Niagara continue to make progress with vaccinations as well.

This week has been designated as pitch-in week within the Town. Residents wanting to host a clean-up event on Town property can choose a site such as a park, trail, street or parking lot, to clean up. The Town will provide such things as gloves, recycling bags, and specially marked garbage bags. For more information and to register please visit: pelham.ca/cleanup or call the community centre. If you don’t want to be quite so formal you could just simply take a garbage bag with you when doing your daily steps and pick up what you find. Until next time…