Levay should be commended, not condemned
I am writing this letter in support of car wash owner and Pelham citizen Gail Levay.
Gail is a proud and enthusiastic resident and business owner in Pelham, with years of being a generous contributor to our community. She has shown a willingness to adjust her operations to satisfy the objections of some of her neighbours, going much further than many of us would have by reversing the traffic flow through her car wash and erecting a noise barrier.
I also live in the downtown of Fonthill, next to the same busy roadway where traffic has increased significantly in the 30-plus years since we moved in. I recognize that living near a main thoroughfare and commercial district there will be significant noise relating both to traffic and the operation of business. My only expectation is that a business be operated within Town of Pelham bylaws.
When a business goes above and beyond to accommodate neighbouring residents, that should be commended, not condemned.
These are trying times for everyone including residents and business in Pelham. People are edgy from months of being subjected to pandemic-related restrictions and anxieties, things beyond our control. We are all more reactive as a result. I hope we can all move beyond this, be a little more tolerant, and work together to enjoy the summer.
Possum not faking it
About the only time you want to hear, “Hello, Possums,” is when greeted by Dame Edna Everage. Alas, my spouse and I were out for our usual daily walk at high noon last Wednesday along Welland Road, near Fern Gate, when we perchance happened upon one of these beady-eyed nocturnal marsupials.
He was doing an excellent impression of playing his classic role on the macadam, truly an Academy Award-deserving performance. So life-like was his pretend death that it soon became clear that he had, in fact, sincerely shuffled off this mortal coil.
He left a handsome corpse, so it is likely that he was literally bumped-off by a motorist passing in the night. Upside down, his eerie claws up in the air, he was very much visible to passing traffic given that he was no spring chicken possum. His ample girth suggested a long life of omnivorous snacking on worms, fruit, frogs, and pet food foolishly left outside.
We paid our respects to his departed spirit and strolled on, confident that our Town’s crack Public Works crew would spot the fellow and transfer him with all due dignity into the appropriate receptacle in short order.
The clever reader will have deduced by now that had this occurred there would have been no reason to write this letter.
In fact, as I type these words on Saturday evening, four days later, our dear departed possum has transformed from a handsome corpse into something resembling chunky grape jelly covered in fur and approximately 10,000 swarming maggots. The odour, I can assure you, puts the “ich” in “rich.”
How is it possible that a dead animal the size of a Japanese subcompact can go unseen by Town workers on a thoroughfare as busy as Welland Road? Surely residents are not expected to call in every request for gob-smackingly-obvious service, are we?
Please, we beseech you, o Public Works, kindly shovel up the puddle formerly known as possum and return our neighbourhood to olfactory peace.
Open letter to Mayor Junkin
Let me get directly to the point. When you closed your comments in the opinion page of last week’s paper [It’s patio time, but same households only, June 16, p.5], what you probably thought of as humour—“Now, to find the little woman and go find a local patio to support!”— came out as a blatantly sexist remark that is not acceptable coming from the political chief of our municipality. However you choose to refer to your wife as in private is your business, but when you speak as mayor, you speak for all of us, so if you made a racist, homophobic or other similar remark, you would be condemned. Similarly a sexist one. I, for one, am offended by your remark, and, by the way, she is not “the wife” either, but your wife.
Car wash operators “hiding the truth”
Contrary to the Town’s apparent position, it is, in fact, possible to enforce the noise bylaw to address faulty equipment.
Bylaw Number 3130 (2010) page 4, Prohibitions Section 8 states: No person shall, at any time within the limits of the Municipality, cause or permit to be caused any noise created by any of those acts set out below and which noise is clearly audible at point of reception.
Further Section 8(f) specifies: The operation of any mechanical equipment that is not operating or being maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications including any air conditioner, heat pump, hot tub, pool or spa pump, or filter or the like that is not in proper working order.
So, the Town does have the bylaw tool to force an operator to maintain their equipment.
Now how do we know the age of the car wash dryers?
Well, Spencer Carter, car wash operator, declared “I’ve been all across this country building car washes and I can tell you that our car wash is no different from any other. Our equipment here is not old—we’re talking three, four years max.” After all, he should know, right? He bought it and installed it… his words not mine.
First of all, their car wash is different than others because it is less than 100 feet from a residential community. That’s not only a big difference from most other car washes, it is the heart of the dispute between that car wash and our community. Furthermore, it is a situation which the Town itself has created and to which it is now turning a blind eye. So that statement is patently incorrect.
Secondly, the equipment is not “three, four years max.” In reality the equipment is nine years and nine months old, having been built on September 9, 2011.
As much as this may be a surprise to the owners of the car wash, it is clearly evident from reading the specification plate attached to the dryers. But don’t take my word for it. I called Baldor Electric in Burlington and spoke with two different technicians who both confirmed Sept 9, 2011 as the manufacture date based on the serial number.
In the past ten years equipment advances in sound dampening and design on fan type devices have made enormous strides, spawned by pressure on the airlines industry to silent their jet turbines over cities.
So maybe these old dryers are the reason for the high siren-like pitch they produce? After all, it’s a known fact that as dryer blades age they warp to create a higher pitch noise. Listening to two neighbouring car washes in Welland (Woodlawn, and Seaway Mall) those dryers are much quieter, suggesting that there are units performing to acceptable noise standards.
Perhaps the Car Wash Guys at 151 Hwy 20 E should simply consider inspecting their own dryers and repairing them. Maybe the bearings are worn or the blades are warped. Perhaps the Town should require an independent inspection which they can do based on their bylaw, before ignoring the basis of the noise issue—the noisy, old dryers themselves.
Money plays an important role in starting any business and although it makes sense to try to get by with as little investment as possible, in most cases a new business owner will find it necessary to make a substantial monetary investment in starting their business.
Opening an automatic car wash involves many considerations, location being an important one. But when considering opening one near a residential area, a conscientious entrepreneur would budget for the quietest equipment possible, not only in the spirit of being a good neighbour but also to avoid conflicts with the municipal bylaws and local residents.
Less considerate business owners, however, might choose a more coldblooded, profit-oriented approach, which ignores the suffering of fellow human beings and utilizes reclaimed equipment with unknown operational specifications and questionable maintenance records. This strategy of course would rely heavily on the local municipality abdicating its responsibility to its citizens for the financial benefit of the business owner under the guise of promoting small business.
What we’re suggesting here is not unreasonable, and is consistent with Councillor Wayne Olson’s approach —problem-solving at the basic level. Car washes and communities can live in harmony but compromise is a two-way street, and both sides must be willing to give a little. Perhaps Robert Louis Stevenson said it best: “Compromise is the best and cheapest lawyer.”
So, let’s take a breath.
Why must we make this noise issue a four-alarm fire when a bucket of effort against the dryers is all it takes to put out this blaze?
Children yet to be found
In lieu of the 215 children now found at the Kamloops Residential School a lot has happened to “shake up” Canada’s mainstream people. As Indigenous people we value and appreciate your support and there is much for you to learn now. We urge you to enlighten yourselves and your families as there is much more here than you know.
When Europe showed up in North America, Indigenous people were not nomads, not few, not savage, not impoverished, not recent immigrants, and were not looking for salvation. Who do you think that this narrative, script, mantra and artificial construct served and why? Yes, Indigenous people had ancestry, currency, commerce, travel, economies, permanency, stewardship, inheritances, territories, languages, artistry, drama, ceremony, mourning, health care, politics, justice, penance, peacekeeping and still do.
Every step is important, every person needs to know that in our defense of Indigenous human rights, we defend everyone —we raise the bar up, up, up. Canadian laws and UN law are not the highest moral/ethical/legal standard; they are in fact the bare minimal standard currently in use. Do not accept the lowest possible standard that laws provide, rather seek to raise those laws to the standard of truth.
There is thinking that money will solve all this. This is not about money. It is about realizing all the assets and power we hold and using it now. The “little ones” found at the KIB residential school have no cash to offer you. Their currency is mobilizing change from a much higher place, and they are using all that they have in their collective divine basket to raise us to a higher bar.
Do you as a settler feel overwhelmed by the recent news?
Do you feel that you are only one person and cannot change the world? You can change the world. It all starts with you. You can take these simple steps to change our country: www.thevoiceofpelham.ca/simple-steps
Bonnie Watts, Eagle Clan
Please bump this to the top of the list
It’s a pretty sad situation when you write your Town Council and Mayor about a concern, and they don’t even have the decency to acknowledge your email. I have even contacted the Town’s road department with no response. I ask every year for the speed bumps to be painted on Haist Street, and the one and only time they got painted is when I had contacted the Voice letters to the editor.
Speed bumps everywhere are painted whether they are in parking lots or on roads. The paint job the Town did that one year didn’t last very long. I can go into parking lots at Wal-Mart and Canadian Tire and the paint job on the speed bumps lasts more than one or two seasons, and even then when they re-paint the old paint job is still quite visible.
So it is with regret I have to go this route once again to try to resolve this issue. I ask please either paint the speed bumps on Haist Street every year, or do a proper job so that the paint will last longer, for everyone’s sake. Thank you!
Editor’s note: We can testify from personal observation that not all drivers notice the road signs indicating a bump ahead, and many careen into them at a speed fast enough to risk damage to their vehicles. Since presumably the goal of speed bumps is to slow down traffic, not take out oil pans or gas tanks, painting the bumps in a high-visibility colour seems like a prudent win-win to us.
The Birdman of Asparagus
I was in my local South Pelham Sobeys the other day, mask-slinking through the produce department doing the awkward Covid dance with the other patrons, when a bird —a starling, to be specific —landed on a cardboard display next to my head, trained his beady little eye on me and said, as plain as day: “Help me!”
After a second or two of staring at me to be sure that I got the message, he flew off into the rafters to await rescue.
Following a day of my mind circling back to that starling every time I heard or saw one of his cousins in my backyard, I felt compelled to phone Sobeys and enquire as to the fate of the bird. What do big boxes do about unwanted avian invaders? Turns out, in this case, it’s likely to be a happy ending, as the Sobeys staff members are actively attempting to live-trap and then release it. Good on ya, Sobeys; now I can stop being neurotic about it.
For some reason I’m always affected by birds trapped in big box stores. They clearly have no idea how they got into their predicament and are just as much at a loss as to how to get out of it, and without help they’re doomed to a lingering death by hunger and thirst. How ironic that a bird, the very symbol of freedom, should be trapped and starving amidst the bounty of a produce department. Not unlike so many of us at this end of the pandemic, he just wants to see the sky again. I hope he gets his chance.
Proud of little brother
I’m a week late with this note as Trent didn’t even tell me he was publishing his essay about growing up gay [A traumatic childhood over, but not forgotten, June 9, p.3]. But I couldn’t be more proud. I know I was part of the problem back then and while I realize that I was taught to act the way I did, it is not an excuse. I am now part of the solution and that made it so much easier when my daughter told me she was lesbian.
I regret that I wasn’t progressive enough to adjust my beliefs until I went through the learning process with Trent, when he finally came out so many years ago. I understand there is still some resistance in the town to raising the LGBT flag for Pride month but I’ll encourage those of you who feel that way to read all the letters being published and imagine these people to be your brother or your daughter. Do you really think people would go through all the persecution you are reading about if being LGBT was a choice? And if it isn’t a choice, then how can we not love these people for who they really are?
I’ve lived in LGBT-friendly California for many years but my heart will forever be in Fonthill. I’m proud of all of you who supported this initiative in the town too!
Open letter to Pelham Town Council
I watched CBC this morning on Covid issues and the talk about opening the borders at the end of July. It now apparent that we will be going into much better phase of this lockdown. Seeing all the talk about opening the borders must mean that our society will be opened up as well.
For democracy and transparency, I would like the Town and council to wait until the end of this lockdown to pass or to implement any policy or bylaws. This would allow for real public meetings on major topics that are of importance to the residents of the Town of Pelham, such as second dwelling units, the proposed tree policy, Merritt Road expansion, and the increase in population in the town of Pelham.
During the past year I feel that our public meetings by Zoom have not allowed for the people of Pelham to participate in a meaningful way nor can the public show their support for delegates, councillors, or Town employees.
Potential for ticks ticking her off
Father’s Day was Sunday and it was a most welcome respite to the lockdowns. People got their yards mowed, trimmed and clipped to enjoy a day devoted to the special father that gave them life.
If you live beside Centennial Park in Fenwick, however, the fence that divides your special occasion and public land is rife with three-and-a-half-foot-tall weeds and the mosquitoes that come with them (and possibly the ticks) that line the fence. Unfortunately for us, the only shade we can enjoy is along that fence line.
I have in the past, and since I moved here, done the Town’s job myself. I could no longer after five years continue. The neighbour has been up to the task and performed the duty a few times. I will admit that if I happen to be home while the park employees are up to their tasks, they are more than willing to cut the weeds. I have been told that it is done every two weeks. This, however, is not the case as the above picture will surely prove.
People pay property taxes. Part of my rent goes to pay those taxes. Why should I not expect the same consideration that the rest of the park enjoys, including other property lines that are edged (although I don’t know if they are edged because the property owner took it upon themselves to do the job, as I have in the past, because the Town has been delinquent in the chore).
This is not my Pelham. I have lived here most of my life and things have surely changed, but bylaws are bylaws and the Town should abide by their own rules!
Open letter to Dr. Hirji from MPs Allison and Baldinelli
We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your leadership and dedication to public health over the past 15 months of this Covid-19 pandemic, and we understand the tireless effort required to balance health restrictions within the community during this challenging time.
As we enter the second week of phase one of the provincial government’s reopening plan, we share the concerns of both business owners and patrons across Niagara, who are eager to offer their services to individuals beyond their immediate family members. Despite seeing a renewed sense of hope across Niagara, the enforcement of the Section 22 order, specifically that which limits dining to just four members of the same household, continues to be met with frustration.
Niagara is one of the only regions in Ontario that limits dining strictly to individuals within the same household.
Phase one of the provincial framework allows for outdoor dining with individuals beyond immediate family members, which not only helps our local restauranteurs, but also begins the process of a return to normalcy, which contributes to improved mental health and emotional well-being. With a decline in new Covid-19 cases across Niagara, we respectfully ask that you consider lifting the Section 22 restrictions for restaurants here in Niagara.
Local restaurants have made substantial investments into health and safety protocols so they can reopen carefully and responsibly this month. Expanding the dining limits beyond one household would be a much-needed boost to their revenues and everyone’s mental health and emotion well-being.
We thank you once again for your commitment to public health in our community, and we continue to support you in your role as Chief Medical Officer of Health for the Niagara Region.
Dean Allison, MP
Tony Baldinelli, MP
Ambulance response time way too long
Last Saturday I was driving to the post office in Fonthill and I saw an elderly citizen who appeared to have collapsed on the sidewalk.
I stopped my vehicle and after talking to the senior, who was 82- years-old, I called for an ambulance. I dutifully asked the questions they needed answered of the citizen in distress and was then informed that the ambulance might take “up to two hours” to attend.
Is that the best we can do for those in need in our community? You have collapsed, you are 82-years-old, please wait on the sidewalk for up to two hours with a stranger?
Fortunately as I was on the call to 911 a police officer was driving by and took over from me, demonstrating the care and compassion that was needed.
I want to be clear that I am not criticizing the fine work done by paramedics in the Niagara region 24/7. My concern is that if they are so severely stressed that this is the window of response, then why aren’t funds in place to offer prompt emergency services?
During the height of the Covid epidemic this kind of delay would be understandable. However, recent statistics indicate that Covid-related demands have dropped.
Given the level of demand that clearly exists on the basis of this 911 call, coupled with the age and vulnerability of many in our community, this issue needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
Daily noise now a fact of life
Sunday was at one time considered a day of rest—once meaning going to church and doing very little else but, with permission to shop in Ontario being granted in 1992, Sunday became just like any other day, and the day of expecting peace and quiet one day of the week fell by the wayside.
Unfortunate, perhaps, but those that abided by Sunday being a day of rest and did their utmost to refrain from noisy outdoor activities, such as grass cutting or leaf blowing, could then spread their chores over the week/weekend which meant we could all expect some noise to occur any day of the week.
There have been many more people at home during the past year or so and while we may be feeling inconvenienced by the restrictions we’re under, it has provided opportunities for people and pets to get outside more for exercise and fresh air, to take pride in their yards and gardens with a little more muscle and enthusiasm, or improve the indoor/outdoor living spaces with a new deck/patio, put in a pool or carry out some interior renovations to enhance their homes.
Yes, the long anticipated season of summer has arrived and the not- so-pleasant sounds of snow blowers and plows have been replaced with the sounds of this season’s tools. Not to worry though, they will again be put in storage and exchanged for the fall and winter collection of noise makers!
There is still plenty of time to enjoy a morning coffee, an evening refreshment, a meal, a snack or even an outdoor nap…well, okay…maybe not every day. Sometimes Mother Nature interferes and sometimes our neighbours may cut in to the quiet time while they take a few minutes to cut their lawn and yes, sometimes the neighbourhood dogs need to bark at each other as they run off some energy and frolic about, but for the most part there is nothing like summer to enjoy the great outdoors when our backyards become an outdoor living space, an extension of our homes. Flowers bloom, their scent filling the air, and we are reminded of the lazy, hazy days of summer by the sweet smell of fresh cut grass.
A day of rest is self-declared so, if someone else’s plan doesn’t coincide or seems to interfere, adjust your plan but keep in mind that one cannot fix a problem if they aren’t aware there is a problem.
How lucky we are to be living in the heart of Niagara!
COMMENTARY / OP-ED Shirley Lazareth
Molly’s Meadow revisited
During May 2018, after my mother’s passing at age 104, I found a wonderful way to utilize the time I no longer spent visiting her at Shorthills Villa, where she resided for 18 years. My time could now be spent creating a memorial not only to honour my mom but a project which kept me busy from May until September. It was the way in which I chose to grieve but in a positive, productive manner. When I told my husband of 65 years my plans to clean up the boulevard beside our Fonthill home, he, being a very practical man, inquired, “You do know that’s town property, don’t you?”
Shades of our wedding vows, I replied, “I do.”
“And you plan to do exactly…what?” he smilingly asked.
“Well, first I’ll weed, then put down soil and seed, and water, of course,” I happily explained.
“And who pays for all this?” my doubting mate responded. “You do know it still belongs to the Town!”
“I do,” I repeated once again. “I will pay. It will be my way of holding little Molly close to my heart.”
So it was settled and the physical work began. The grass grew. Paul’s Lawn Care took over the cutting of the sleek green shoots and Lawrence Lawns handled what remained of the pesky crabgrass and other wandering weeds. Time passed. Molly’s Meadow thrived. So did the water bill. The beautiful long expanse of green velvet that bordered our little home could now give a golf course a run for its money—well, almost!
The year 2019 came uneventfully. I continued my weeding and hosing and the lawn looked luscious. Neighbours waved and smiled as they walked or drove by. Many signaled a thumbs-up. Everyone appreciated the hard work it takes to maintain a cared-for lawn and perhaps they were surprised to see this old senior marching up and down the boulevard, hose in hand, spotting weeds at 20 paces and yanking to her heart’s delight. And so some even honked their horns. Life was good! Then just a few weeks before Christmas, my young sister passed away very suddenly from an unsuspected cancer and in January 2020 I too was diagnosed with colon cancer. Then, Lord help us, Covid struck!
My thoughts of lush jade lawns died on the back burner. I barely knew nor cared what grew or survived on the boulevard beside our home. Covid did that to us. In reality I fought to keep our home and we three who dwelt within it free from the virus. Finally, after months of isolation and incredibly long and lonely days, Pfizer and Moderna came to our rescue. We were overjoyed to receive our shots in the arm with the promise it brought of better days to come.
My husband and daughter had no serious side effects but strangely I suffered two clots in my right “digging” leg. A month’s treatment with anti-coagulant injections worked wonders and once again I am back in the meadow. It is there I quietly water the lawn and reminisce about happy times spent with Molly, my mother and my friend. I recall my mother’s last words to me as I stood by her bed and held her hand three years ago. She feared nothing. Her faith was secure. But she did have one important question she asked of me and I will share it with you now.
In her sweet voice she asked, “Will I see my mother again?” Through my tears I whispered, “Oh, yes. I’m sure Grandma is there just waiting to see you.”
A smile of contentment upon her face she closed her eyes. I too wear a smile of contentment as I wander, hose in hand, up and down the beautiful boulevard I call Molly’s Meadow. I feel her presence and know the tribute that I chose has given me the peace of mind we all need when we lose someone we truly love. For after all, life did begin in a garden. ◆
PELHAM AND COVID-19 | Mayor Marvin Junkin
Potential Delta spread keeps the eating outdoors for now
Don’t live in fear.” These are the words of Alberta’s Premier Jason Kenney before unveiling that province’s reopening plans, which, to say the least, are bold. After hitting that government’s goal of getting a first vaccine dose into 70 percent of the eligible population, Alberta will become the first Canadian jurisdiction to drop all restrictions just in time for Canada Day. Other than a few restrictions to be kept in place in long-care homes, Albertans will be free to shop, dine, and gather indoors with no provincial indoor mask mandate, and no mandated social distancing. Needless to say, the rest of the country will be watching Alberta’s Covid numbers in the coming weeks.
In Niagara Region, daily new Covid cases continue to remain low, being under 20 per day for the most part. Section 22 remains in effect, with most people believing it will be lifted next Friday. The main reason Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Hirji insists on keeping this restriction in place is due to the potential spread of a more contagious variant from India, known as the Delta variant. However for the last three weeks that number remained at three cases, so it isn’t exactly spreading like wildfire in Niagara. With the low Covid numbers occurring also on the provincial level, the Ontario government is strongly considering moving up the Stage 2 reopening date.
There were smiles all around Town Hall last week when it was announced that staff had been awarded yet another award of excellence—this has become an almost weekly occurrence, or so it seems! In the municipal world the E.B. Danby awards are viewed as the premier or most prestigious. Pelham Town staff have been unable to identify any previous win, or even a previous nomination for the Town, making this a first for Pelham. The Danbys are given in two categories—for municipalities with over 20,000 residents and for those under 20,000. Pelham’s win came in conjunction with the City of Ottawa, the City of Cambridge and the City of Windsor. The award was based on the Town finding safe, creative ways to bring large numbers of citizens together to vote in a safe fashion during a pandemic. Of course heading the team for overseeing our last by-election was recently retired Clerk Nancy Bozzato. A heartfelt congratulations to Nancy and her team!
As were all Pelham residents, I was saddened to hear of the death of long-time resident Gary Accursi. In life he wore many hats, one of those being that of a Town councillor from 2010 to 2018. I had the pleasure of serving on council with Gary for three years, and during that time I got to see first-hand his dedication to the role of councillor and the professional, courteous way he carried out this duty. He was a top-shelf individual and will be missed by all. ◆