Dismissal of Residential schools cases “unthinkable”

When I read the letter from J. Quick-Vlijm, I said to myself, “I didn’t really read this, did I? Someone actually wrote this?” but of course, there it was to read again [“Absence of councillor comment noted,” Letters, July 7].

Quick-Vlijm thinks “these things happened over 100 years ago.” No, the last residential school closed 25 years ago. There are still many Indigenous people left who were forced into these institutions. He then makes the unthinkable statement that, “There is no evidence yet that these graves weren’t a ‘saving grace’ to the families.” I challenge him to visit the Niagara Regional Native Centre and say it to one of the people there.

He then claims there is no proof that these children didn’t die of disease. Has he not heard a survivor describe the horrors, including witnessing an actual murder of a child?

Yes, many died of disease. Children were crammed together where disease could rip through the group and the resulting illnesses were untreated, leaving the afflicted to die. Is the fact that the graves are packed with children who died from disease supposed to make us calm down?

Quick-Vlijm finishes by diverting to Canada Day celebrations. He asserts that since we are after all a free country, “we should still be allowed to wave the flag and express our own opinions.” On Canada Day I witnessed nothing to indicate that this freedom was diminished, and in fact I enjoyed the “reverse” Canada Day parade in Fenwick, waving the flag the whole time. If you weren’t there, Quick-Vlijm you missed a great chance to enjoy your freedom.

David Fowler
Wainfleet

 

Placing livelihoods over lives is shameful

With increasing anger and disgust over the months of this pandemic, I have been watching our local politicians use Dr. Hirji as a punching bag whenever they get complaints from those with special interests. Most recently, Dr. Hirji was publicly reprimanded by some Regional councillors and told to “stay in his lane” because he expressed concern over re-opening the border.

Really? His lane is the health of Niagara residents—all Niagara residents—not just those “40 or more” who emailed Niagara Falls Mayor Diodati and other Regional councillors.

The population of Niagara Region in 2016 was 447,888, and this number will have increased since then. Forty emails and/or phone calls is hardly representative of the population and in no way justifies council’s latest attack. It was political grandstanding, and the apparent lack of support from council gave rise to Dr. Hirji being trolled and his family subjected to harassment last year.

Perhaps Councillor Tim Rigby should follow his own advice to be “careful what you say sometimes, when it gets around to this type of thing.”

I appreciate the outstanding work that Dr. Hirji and Niagara Public Health have done and continue to do. Dr. Hirji’s calm and consistent leadership and his resistance to political pressure during these difficult times define what it means to be a public servant. Something that Regional councillors would do well to revisit. Shame on you all.

G. Furtney
Fonthill

 

Tender fruit over chicken tenders

Why are there not community gardens in Pelham? Why are not more fruit and vegetables being donated for those using food banks /Pelham Cares? Surely we as a community can provide fresher food instead of packaged, processed foods?

Louise Morgan
Fonthill

 

No way to treat visitors

We decided on Canada Day to take our new dog to Humberstone Park in Port Colborne. We had visited there before Covid and enjoyed a day of swimming with a friend’s daughter. It’s a lovely spot and dogs were welcome to have a swim as well.

When we arrived at the parking area, a young woman approached and asked if we were residents of Port Colborne. We said no, we were from Pelham (this is all part of Niagara). At this point, we were told that due to municipal changes, it would cost us $35 to park as it was a holiday! And $25 for a regular day.

We both have had our two vaccinations, we wear masks when needed, and we only planned to stay for under an hour, so we declined. She told us of another park across the bridge and gave us directions. We did stop there, but it was very busy and no one seemed to have a mask on. It didn’t have a beach area where we were, and the water access looked murky, so we took a walk and then left.

We like to visit Port Colborne, there are good restaurants and quaint shops there, but now we wonder if there will be different rules for anyone not from that specific area. Considering we’re all part of

Niagara, it is disappointing to think we’ll be treated differently now because of Covid. The municipalities enforcing these charges may do more harm than good for the tourism industry. We will not be returning until we get further information.

R. Obelnycki
Fonthill

 

Axe what you can do for your Legion

Hey everybody—who misses the fun of league night? Us too. This is why we found a cause to support with a tournament!

The Fonthill legion is not only the best place to play shuffle board and have an icy cold OV. This Legion has made a name for itself by providing meals at no charge to those in need. To put this into perspective, since the Covid lockdown started in March of 2020 they and their awesome volunteers have served 14,000 meals to people in the area that aren’t able to get their own groceries or meals—winning a Niagara Region Impact Award for the extensive community impact.

Last year we were able to raise enough money to get the get the kitchen repairs that were needed to keep this program going. This year we are holding the event to keep it funded as we get our way out of this Covid mess. It’s time for the Niagara community to step up to the axe-throwing target and show the Fonthill Legion that we appreciate and support the work they have done for us.

When: August 21, 11 AM, with a rain date of the 22nd. There will be two tournaments this year—one for experienced throwers, and one for those new to the sport.

This will be a basic A bracket and B bracket tournament. So every player is guaranteed warm-up time, and two games with entrance. There will be prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places. Everyone else gets the warm and fuzzy feeling of doing some good in the world.

Cost: $65, which includes the throwing and lunch. There is dinner available as well for $10. There are only 32 spots open for each of the tournaments. First paid, first throws, so book in early. All proceeds after the cost of insurance and wood are going directly to the Legion. Register at: http://axes-up-fundraising.square.site/

We are still dealing with a pandemic, and like it or not we need to do this responsibly. When you are not throwing please be social distanced. Conveniently there are ample tables on the patio distanced appropriately. Yes, you can get beer from the Legion and drink it on the patio. When throwing, we have spaced the targets so you will be six feet apart from your competitor. If the axes land in a way that retrieving them will stop you from being able to distance properly, please take turns retrieving your axe.

Jamie Treschak
Pelham

 

COTE’S COMMENTS | Larry Coté

Change—the bane of comfortable routine

One of the more difficult things in life is responding to change. This is especially true as one gets older. Many elders reach a point where they refuse or ignore change and fight like the devil with anyone who tries to make them change.

The reasons for this rejection difficulty are hard to fathom. Even those trained in medicines that treat the brain are hard-pressed to explain resistance to change. One might guess that as one ages and has been challenged many times with a battery of changes throughout their years, that they merely tire of modifications to their routines. There appears to be a certain comfort in staying within the bounds of familiarity and a consequent discomfort to any disrupting of routines.

Changes in clothing styles tend to be disregarded and thought to be a ploy of haberdasheries to profit themselves. There is nothing wrong with what is in the closet so why go along with this maneuver to make them old fashioned. One of the responses to this resistance to keep up with the fashions is how absolutely silly these new fashions look in the eyes of the elders. Just watch the grandparents raise their eyebrows when the grandkids show up with some newfangled clothing style and then asking, “What on earth have you done to your hair?”

One of the most egregious reactions to change is in the realm of technology. What in heaven’s name is this stream of new gadgetry all about? There was nothing wrong with the dial telephone so why have it replaced with a device that claims to be smarter than we are. At one time, a cell phone referred to a phone in a prison. But now it is a must-have device not only for adults but even grade school youngsters. In the hands of many, these cell phones increase sterile communications and depress meaningful face-to-face interactions between people. Sad to watch a young person curled up on a bench staring into a cellphone screen and avoiding genuine social interactions in person.

Oh, and the changes to the music scene. What passes for artistry in music today is absolutely beyond both healthy decibel levels and grammatical correctness. It seems that the louder the music, the more popular the rendition. Surely, a steady diet of this cacophony will result in a generation of hearing-impaired persons in the future— and that’s anyone within earshot and not only the ones wearing the ear buds.

Well, in spite of presenting your best defense against change, you are going to lose your case. Change will take place whether you accept it or not. So it is best to go along with the inevitability of changes to your favorite routines, tastes and activities. If you have grandchildren they will compassionately introduce you to the magnitude of changes thrust upon you on a daily basis. They have certainly earned the title of “grand” as they are the most precious changes you will have experienced in your lifetime.

 

TOWN HALL INSIDER | Pelham

A new peek behind the municipal curtains

By David Cribbs
Town of Pelham CAO

Working at Town Hall is a fascinating experience. Most people who do so, including myself, liken it to working in a fish bowl: we make all of our most important decisions in the public eye (typically with the media watching) and when we make mistakes, they tend to happen in real time and there is no hiding them. Beyond that, much of our work is cyclical, so the fishbowl analogy continues to work because we are going to come around to a similar issue at the same time next year, and the year after that, and round and round we go.

So why a column about life at Town Hall? Firstly, the overwhelming majority of the money we spend on everything from paper clips to salaries to road salt comes from your property taxes. Since you really have no choice but to pay those taxes, it seems fair that you should be able to understand not just how we use your money (this can all be determined from the audited financial statements and annual budget), but what it means in the real world, on a daily basis. Secondly, there are certainly some stories worth telling: municipal operations impact daily life for people in all sorts of ways.

So I and other senior staff will explore the stories, operations and “inside scoop” of working at Town Hall—what it’s like to operate a cemetery, how festivals and events come together, what it’s like to be a volunteer firefighter, who decides whether the plows are going out on Christmas morning, how elections are run, how arena ice is kept smooth, what actually happens in the world of building inspections, and so on. Some of what we do is really unique and has no private sector equivalent. All of it matters and more than a little of it is critical to public health and safety.

This week the items I want to share are on the technology side: they are small stories, but excellent productivity enhancements that change the way we do business. During the pandemic Pelham adopted a number of new software programs. From where I sit, the two most impressive ones are the electronic signature software (if anyone has bought or sold real estate recently, you will know how convenient this is) and software that allows your office phone to ring through to your computer, anywhere with an internet connection. This combination allows many of the office staff to work remotely with the only real difference being the loss of the water cooler. As someone who has twice been in isolation because of Covid exposure, I can testify to the utility of “answering the phone” by tapping a button on my computer and not missing a beat.

I doubt that the public is aware of how cramped conditions had become at Town Hall (we had staff using converted closet/storage rooms as offices), but clearly there was going to be some sort of expensive office space reckoning on the horizon, as future growth is inevitable. While I do think that a modest renovation to Town Hall that would create public bathrooms and storage space to support the Farmer’s Market and related events would be a good idea, construction of office space now seems unnecessary. Shared offices are likely part of our future.

While technology can enhance efficiency, it does not change the fact that the administrative and operations side of a democracy can be a messy process, not unlike making sausage. In this regard the Town of Pelham is pretty normal. What makes the sausage-making worthwhile is that the work can be exhilarating and deeply satisfying at times, particularly when team efforts have helped keep people safe, or improved quality of life in the community. I hope the stories that we tell in the coming months shed some light and offer food for thought on the mystery that is life behind the curtains at Town Hall.

 

PELHAM AND COVID-19 | Mayor Marvin Junkin

Step 3 on Roadmap arrives early

With the continued lowering of all Covid indicators, the provincial government announced last Friday that the province would be moving into Step 3 of the Roadmap to Reopen tomorrow, July 16, five days ahead of the original schedule. The province will remain in Step 3 for at least 21 days and until 80 percent of the eligible population, age 12 and over, has received one dose of a vaccine, and 75 percent have been fully vaccinated. The good news for restaurants is that under Step 3, they are allowed up to 50 percent capacity for indoor dining with up to six people per table, with exceptions for larger households. For a complete list of Step 3 rules and limits please visit the provincial website.

New daily cases in the Niagara Region are consistently below ten with all indicators in the green. Nationally, the daily death numbers over the last week have ranged from a high of 18 on July 8 to a low of 8 on July 5, with the other numbers for the week being within the 10 -13 range.

Last Friday, some Regional Council members took Dr. Hirji to task for certain comments he had made to the press concerning the opening of the Canada-US border. He had expressed his view that the border should remain closed until fall, which was somewhat different from the Federal viewpoint of a gradual reopening, starting immediately. These Regional councillors pointed out to Dr. Hirji that his words had caused confusion and angst to a large number of residents and advised him to choose his words more carefully going forward.

At Town Hall, staff have been inundated with requests from officials of other municipalities seeking information about Pelham’s gypsy moth spraying program. At last count, nine municipalities have contacted the Town for this information. Obviously, the gypsy moths are greatly enlarging the scope of their destructiveness. Staff have created a complete management program package and are now sending this out to all inquiring parties. Although Town Council has not yet received a staff report on the results of this year’s spraying program, I have heard from many residents, that where we sprayed our success rate was in the 90 percent or higher range.

As was reported recently in the Voice, the Town recently unveiled two newly purchased benches painted in the distinctive Pride colours, showing that Pelham is welcoming to all members of society. I mistakenly said that resident Vilma Moretti was going to establish a GoFundMe page to raise funds to purchase another bench to be installed in Fenwick. It has now been decided that the Town will finance the third bench using surplus funds found in the Public Works budget. Delivery will be sometime this fall.

Until next week…