Attempted electric sale ill-advised

I was dismayed to read in the Voice that Pelham paid $67,000 in consulting fees in a failed attempt to sell its shares in Peninsula West Power Inc. [No buyer for Pelham electric shares, Nov. 10, p.3]. The conclusion was obvious to people with knowledge of the electricity sector and of basic economics.

The CAO has never communicated with the company or its president. The company had no notice that the Town wanted to sell its 17 percent share in Peninsula West and the board would have been able to provide relevant information. Fortunately, the Voice has provided coverage.

Peninsula West Power Inc. is not a distribution utility. It is a holding company which holds a 25.5 percent interest in the shares of Niagara Peninsula Energy Inc. Pelham’s share is about 4.2 percent and would be valuable if NPEI ever sold. The other shareholders have higher priority issues than to spend $5.5 million dollars for a minor position in NPEI.

The article refers to a statement about the 2021 dividend payment and says the number was provided by the “utility,” which we are not. We were not contacted, nor has our board determined this year’s dividend.

If the Town is concerned about a higher rate of return on investment, and they should be, they could have invested that $67,000 in replacing 37-year-old streetlights with energy-efficient LED bulbs, as every other municipality in Niagara has done.

Brian Walker
President and Secretary- Treasurer
Peninsula West Power Inc.

Editor’s note: The Voice has been provided with an email written by Mr. Walker himself, in his capacity as PWPI president, and sent to various Niagara municipal stakeholders, including Pelham, on July 14 of this year. In it Walker states, “We have received a dividend payment of $127,500.00 from NPEI. A second similar payment will arrive in December.” Based on figures provided both by the Town and in Walker’s own letter above, this equates to the approximate dividend number given by the Treasurer at council’s Nov. 1 meeting.

Responding to a follow-up inquiry on this point, Walker said, “That is the gross amount of the dividend received from NPEI. The dividend to be paid by Peninsula West Power to the municipal shareholders will be determined at our next board meeting.”

Asked to respond to Walker’s general assertions, Pelham CAO David Cribbs provided the following comment:

This letter by Mr. Walker is wholly inappropriate. Mr. Walker works for a corporation with multiple municipal shareholders. Whether one shareholder wishes to assess its investment and/or test the market amongst the other shareholders for the shares does not require the permission or knowledge of the underlying corporation or its President.

The shareholders agreement contains a process whereby sales can occur, and this process does not include providing notice or requiring the permission of the underlying corporation at the exploratory stage (or at all). Indeed, the lack of communication about which he complains would have been a violation of the Town’s closed meeting privilege, but was anticipated as a next step had there been stronger interest amongst the potential municipal partners.

The Town of Pelham was conducting due diligence upon an asset valued at over $5 million on the Town’s balance sheet, as council makes all best efforts to improve the Town’s financial performance and cash position. That due diligence required legal advice because of the regulated nature of the investment and the provincial rules which govern disposition of shares in local distribution companies. The process is not the same as selling shares on the stock market in a publicly traded company.

Mr. Walker is not a member in good standing with the law society, nor to my knowledge is he an expert on share valuation or the disposition process. Even if he were any of those things, the Town would want independent legal and financial advice with respect to this transaction, which it obtained.

We thank Mr. Walker for his sound advice regarding LED street lighting, which has been identified by both elected officials and the Town’s Utility Sustainability Advisory Committee as an appropriate area of focus for potential financial and environmental savings.

We are aware that the Town will be receiving a dividend for the year 2021. One million dollars in dividends were declared back in July, 2021 and the proportionate share was paid to the holding company, of which Mr. Walker is President. While Pelham does not know exactly how much will be paid to it (some could be held back for the holding company’s own purposes), at this point in time the Town is tracking towards a dividend payment between $40,000 and $50,000.

 

Pelham Panthers, generations of winners

The “original” Pelham Panthers was the name of our sports teams at Pelham Continuation/District High School in Fenwick. Our school colours were maroon and grey.

The Championships began in 1934, when the girl’s basketball team won the all-Ontario Championship right through until 1974, when the school closed and beyond to now; as the Town’s teams are Pelham Panthers and are a bunch of winners!

Here are some highlights of Pelham High’s championships: 1963 Tribune Tournament Champions; the 1966 Panthers Boys Basketball team won the Ontario Federation School Athletic Association title; the 1968 Panthers Football Team won the SOSSA championship.

During all those years that Pelham High was open, there were many individual and team victories in school, district, and provincial meets.

Our outstanding Pelham Panther Olympians: Jane Haist, a discus thrower who participated and medaled in several Pan Am games and the 1976 Olympics. Tom Guinn, a pistol shooter who was in the 1976 and 1984 Olympics. Steve Bauer, a cyclist who rode in the 1984 Olympics for a silver medal. Steve also rode in several Tours de France and wore the yellow jersey 14 times!

Another Pelham High alumni is Marlene Stewart-Streit, an outstanding golfer who has won so many titles I would need a whole page to mention them.

We are so proud to have been part of Pelham High School and Panther history.

The school has been closed since 1974, but since 1984 we have gathered at our reunions to renew our old friendships. We had our 11th reunion organized for 2020 but because of Covid 19 (what else) it had to be postponed. We have rescheduled for 2022. This time we will meet on Sunday, June 12, 2022, from 1-5 PM, at the Royal Canadian Legion, Highway 20, in Fonthill.

As we get closer to that time, and again depending on Covid, I will give you more info. For all of you who have been emailed or who have seen details on Facebook, please, let people who are not on computers or don’t get the Voice know what’s happening.

Hope you enjoy the picture. Don’t you just love the 1934 gym suits!

Vilma Moretti
Fonthill

 

Thanks from Lionettes

On behalf of the Fenwick Lionettes Club (formally the Fenwick Lioness Club) we would like to say thank you to the community and the Fabulous Fenwick Lions Club for your generous support. After a year and a half of not being able to do our fundraising, it was great to finally see some familiar faces at our October takeout soup lunch and hope to see you at our next one on November 21.

It’s been our club’s goal to purchase an autism support dog through the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides, and we are happy to say we have now been able to do it.

Thanks to all of you—it takes a great community and we look forward to your continued support!

Heather Soares
The Fenwick Lionettes Club

 

REGIONAL COUNCIL UPDATE | by Diana Huson, Niagara Regional Councillor (Pelham)

Looking to post-pandemic prosperity, green action

Last week I had the privilege to attend the Toronto Global Forum as Chair of the Region’s Planning and Economic Development Committee, along with representatives from the City of St. Catharines, the City of Welland, and the City of Thorold.

The event offered in-person attendance to a select number of individuals, including a small Niagara contingent. It was quite different to experience an in-person event again, complete with public health measures and Covid protocols, after a long hiatus from the traditional conference experience.

As a first-time participant of this particular event, I learned that the forum serves as an international summit, bringing together senior leadership across the banking, finance, political and economic landscape. Aptly themed, “Redefining a new prosperity,” post-pandemic economic recovery was top of mind for most speakers. However, the event also closely followed COP26, the United Nations climate summit recently taking place in Glasgow, Scotland, that featured policy and climate experts in addition to representatives from those countries that signed on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1994, including Canada.

It was no surprise that the Forum was strongly influenced by discussions coming out of COP26, especially after the announcement that nearly 500 global financial services firms agreed to align $130 trillion, or 40 percent of the world’s financial assets, with the climate goals set out in the Paris Agreement. That’s a significant commitment! And as a result, most sessions at the Toronto Global Forum, if not all, had a green lens signaling what I believe is a significant shift in embracing the need to acknowledge, implement, and accelerate impactful climate change action on behalf of the corporate/private sector.

The Forum included discussions that reflected on intentional investment in clean and environmentally friendly projects that are necessary to meet global net-zero targets. It also highlighted the role of the private sector in reducing carbon emissions. But there was also discussion on the advancement of low emission and electric vehicles, including buses and ambulances, that was particularly relevant to the public sector. This included the need for sustainable infrastructure in supporting growth challenges but also future- proofing our assets.

I was surprised to learn that 73 percent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions primarily come from three sources— energy production, transportation, and inefficient buildings. Hence these items have the potential to impact climate change the most and will play a vital role in moving Canada closer to a green economy. But equally important, we need to embrace the circular economy, which signifies a break from a traditional cycle of extraction to consumption to waste.

It was fascinating! I left the conference feeling that perhaps climate change isn’t a niche term anymore and it’s finally being taken seriously. Perhaps we’re on the precipice of a great shift where climate change is respected, and acted upon, not only for the very real threat it poses, but also for the opportunities. Shifting to a greener and cleaner economy is a necessity for future generations. And as the only G7 country, aside from the US, to see emissions rise every year since the Paris Agreement, let’s hope Canada gets on board. It seems the world is ready to finally address climate change.

 

PELHAM AND COVID-19 | Mayor Marvin Junkin

Hospitalization rates remain low despite increased cases

As provincial Covid numbers edge over 600 a day, hospitalization numbers have continued to remain low, obviously due to the high percentage of residents that are vaccinated in the province. This number is now over 85 percent, with the province vaccinating 15,000 to 20,000 residents on a daily basis. Cooler weather and the easing of restrictions are the main contributing factors in the 11 percent rise in new cases across the nation, also more people are starting to spend more time indoors. We are a walking community as evidenced by the number of people I notice as I drive through town. I strongly encourage residents to continue in this in the coming months as opposed to stopping. Now that cooler weather has arrived. Staying mobile and healthy are the two most important weapons we have to fight the effects of this virus.

Daily Covid numbers in the Region fluctuate from a high of 36 to the low teens, again with our hospitalizations remaining very low. Pelham’s positivity rate, which was as low as 2 percent in October has climbed to 4.4 percent as of last week. Almost all areas of the Region have experienced the same increase in this number, with the exception of our southern neighbour Welland, who is still just around 2 percent. Active cases in Pelham increased by three last week, to four, with all of these cases are self-isolating at home.

This past Thursday, I had the honour of participating in the Remembrance Day ceremonies that were held at the Legion on Highway 20. It was great to see so many residents take time out of their busy lives to attend, paying their respect to Canada’s war veterans. The crew at Branch 613 are to be commended for the work they do, not just with this ceremony, but for all of the ways they serve our community. Remember if you will that this same group was recently recognized by the Regional government for supplying over 1,400 meals to needy residents living in Pelham in the first 18 months of the pandemic.

The flyovers performed at the ceremony, first by a solo Lancaster bomber, and later by two smaller vintage planes, added a special touch to the day.

This past Saturday, I along with Councillor Wayne Olson, spent the morning working with the Pelham Cares Food Drive, donating three hours of our time along with other volunteers carrying the donated food inside the community centre, where it is then sorted into various boxes, then taken to the Pelham Cares building, located at the corner of Highway 20 and Rice Road. The amount of food that was brought in during this time is truly amazing, showing once again just how caring and community-minded the residents of this town are. The need is great ,so if you haven’t already donated, please phone (905) 892-5300 to make arrangements to do so. Cash donations are also appreciated and accepted.