Roar of thanks for bottle donations, invitation for more

The Fonthill Lions Club wishes to express our appreciation to all Pelham residents for your contributions to our ongoing Bottle Drives. With your donations of beer, wine and liquor cans and bottles, we have been able to carry on assisting many individuals, clubs, and associations so often dependent on the generosity of neighbours.

While you can drop off at the Lions Club Park, 103 Hurricane Road, anytime, we also plan a Mammoth Drive-Thru, on Saturday, January 8, from 9:30 AM to 2 PM. Just drive in, pop your trunk, and we will do the rest!

Until we see you in January, our sincere thanks, and best wishes over the holiday season.

The Fonthill Lions Club
The Motto Makers

 

Modest proposal to increase road safety—fewer olds

Like they say on talk radio, longtime listener (reader), first-time caller (letter writer). Not to detract from the fine reporting in the Voice, but I’m sure that I am not alone each week in also looking forward to the letters to the editor. Oftentimes they stand out for their entertainment value, and not always the way the some authors intended. Such was the case for last week’s letter regarding how to improve road safety [“Want safer streets? Make driver licenses tougher to get,” Letters, Dec. 8, p.5].

In the author’s view, “50 percent of people operating vehicles are not properly qualified to do so.” He then goes on to describe examples of poor driving. However, the most appalling example of poor road manners was his own admitted behavior behind the wheel.

Let me back up a bit. After my blood pressure stabilized after reading that letter, and after I decided to respond with my own letter, I went looking for the proper address to send it to, which I knew I had seen before. My first thought was to look in the box on page 4, which I think of as the “credit box,” such as at the end of a movie. I did find the letters address there, but my attention was also caught by some Latin words under the Voice logo: Duc, sequere, aut de medio fiat.

Curiosity stoked, I typed these into Google to get a translation, and then almost fell on the floor. Why? Because it was exactly what I intended to convey through this letter.

The translation is: “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.”

These are words that I have lived by for many years. I’m sure that many of us wished other people did the same. It is a philosophy that last week’s self-righteous, self-appointed traffic expert should take to heart.

Why? Because the worst of the poor driving he described was his own—his dogmatic insistence that all traffic laws must be obeyed at all times, most particularly speed limits. This is horse—-.

I’ve come to realize that just like there are naturally gifted athletes and actors in this world, there are naturally gifted drivers. These are the drivers who instinctively operate their vehicles as if they are an extension of their beings. They know if they can make a tight turn, they know how long it will take to stop from speed in different road conditions, they know when to slow down and drive with special caution, they can anticipate what vehicles around them are likely to do.

Last week’s letter writer is not one of those drivers. He may also be past whatever prime he once had behind the wheel. There were clues to the author’s age in his letter—the usage of “whilst” for “while,” and a reference to “the latest music craze,” which would have sounded geriatric even in the 1960s. I would bet that the author is well into his 70s, possibly much older. So here is my amendment to his argument that “50 percent of people” aren’t qualified to be behind the wheel: “50 percent of old people aren’t qualified to be behind the wheel.”

The older they get, the less easy it should be for them to keep their driving privilege.

The author is correct about the ease with which drivers are licensed in Ontario. This is also true for how easy it is for drivers over 80 to keep their licenses. Once you hit 80, you are required to take a vision test, and a 45-minute “Group Education Session” every two years. I am told by older relatives and neighbours that these sessions are a joke, like the test that the stable genius Donald Trump was so proud of passing. If you can correctly identify a stop sign, and the time as indicated by the hands on a clock face, you are good to go.

Driving laws exist not just for safety, but to promote the efficient flow of traffic. No one except the elderly and the incompetently over-cautious actually drives at the speed limit. Traffic planners know this, and take it into account when setting those limits. Police practice this—you will not be ticketed for going 10 km/h over anywhere except in a school zone. (Please do not exceed the limit in a school zone.) You will not be ticketed for doing 120 km/h on the QEW.

If you drive 100 km/h on the QEW or 406, yes, you will annoy a lot of other drivers. This is the reality—and it is dangerous. In fact, try driving 90 km/h on the QEW and you’re likely to be pulled over by the police to see what’s wrong with you.

Please, Mr. Elderly Driver, do not “coast” on the road to a canal crossing. Just drive to where the cars are lined up and stop.

At four-way stop signs, for goodness sake don’t sit there waiting for everyone else to go first, and then first again, before you decide to crawl forward.

If you drive 50 km/h around town, especially on streets where the lanes are wide and there is plenty of visibility, you’re darned right that you will be tailgated, then angrily passed. You are the danger, you are the irritant to the rest of us who know how to operate our vehicles sensibly and, yes, safely, while conforming to the expectations that other sensible drivers have.

Please, please, please, sir: Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way.

Ed Stanley
Fonthill

EDITOR’S NOTE Readers are urged to drive responsibly, including by obeying all traffic laws.

 

No nukes is good nukes

Great news. Four months after Pelham Town Council joined the ICAN Cities Appeal by supporting the Nuclear Ban Treaty, New York City has done likewise! They request that the US sign the Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons.

Congratulations to our council for their wisdom and foresight.

To push the issue further, write to the Prime Minister, Global Affairs Minister, and MP Allison, to press for Canada to send an observer to the forthcoming TPNW conference. Christmas will be a little brighter!

Dave Nicholson
Fonthill

 

Legion appreciates Poppy campaign generosity

Just prior to the kick-off of our annual Poppy campaign, we asked for your continuing support so that we can continue to do the necessary work on behalf of our veterans and their families.

Despite some challenges posed with the continuing pandemic, you responded to this important initiative greatly. Through your generosity, Poppy Campaign revenues for 2021 have exceeded $19,000 and for that our members and especially our Veterans say, thank-you.

We are also grateful for the partnership that has been created with the Town of Pelham in relation to the Veterans Banner initiative and for the Town’s sponsorship of the fly-by that occurred during our Remembrance service held on November 11.

Finally, we extend our thanks to the students and staff of Niagara College’s Broadcasting, Radio, Television and Film (BRTF) program for livestreaming our November 11 service that was viewed by over 1000 people and to the Voice of Pelham which provided us with great exposure prior to and throughout our 2021 Poppy campaign.

Members of the Royal Canadian Legion
Branch 613
Fonthill

 

Recipients react to Oosterhoff Christmas card

On this Friday past, Dec. 10, I was greeted in my mail with a card from our Niagara West MPP, Mr. Sam Oosterhoff (PC), wishing me a Merry Christmas and dutifully quoting Luke 2:14. Apparently it has never occurred to Mr. Oosterhoff that we live in a diverse society and that not everyone living in Niagara West is in fact a member of the predominant faith.

I would therefore like to remind him publicly, as well any others of a like mind, that the sending or the use of greetings to individuals unknown to you that carry a religious theme, regardless of their intent, is entirely inappropriate. I for one expected that our elected representative would be more aware of our diversity but clearly I was mistaken.

It would be appropriate for Mr. Oosterhoff to issue an apology in print to all the citizens of Niagara West who were offended by his lack of forethought. I trust he has learned a valuable lesson of the need for both tolerance and inclusion if he expects to move forward in his political career.

Stephen J. Cook, PhD
Fonthill

In Niagara West, in a couple of weeks, Muslims will celebrate Eid, Jews will celebrate Hanukkah, and Christians will celebrate Christmas. I received a card from my MPP, Sam Oosterhoff, wishing me a Merry Christmas. It also has a quote from the Bible, which says that peace will be given only to those “on whom his favour rests.” So what does his card mean? Only Christians deserve Sam’s greetings and only Christians deserve peace?

I am dismayed and disappointed at his lack of awareness that other religions and beliefs exist in our community—or is this a deliberate attempt to exclude and ostracize people who do not share his beliefs?

Vilma Moretti
Fonthill

EDITOR’S NOTE Responding to a Voice request for comment, MPP Oosterhoff provided the following statement: “As I have done every year since my election in 2016, I send a Christmas card out across the riding. As Christmas is undoubtedly a Christian holiday, (holy-day), I would hope it is not a surprise to your readers or my constituents that the card contains Christian themes. To any who may have been offended — regardless of background — I wish them nothing but the happiest and healthiest this Christmas season.” Oosterhoff confirmed that the cost of the card and mailing was funded by Ontario taxpayers through the legislature’s “PCCS,” or Progressive Conservative Caucus Services. Each party with official status is allocated public funds for promotional purposes based on their proportion of seats in Provincial Parliament.

 

Good job on Bauer vote

With great pleasure and admiration of Wayne Olson, Marianne Stewart, Lisa Haun, Bob Hildebrandt, John Wink, and Ron Kore, Town councillors, we acknowledge they have stood their ground. We were delighted to witness their vote not to allow any roads to cross the Steve Bauer Trail between Port Robinson and Merritt Roads. We observe our Mayor continue to work against what we see as a jewel in the rough.

Ever since the Pelham Tree Conservation Society has addressed this issue, we have received much support from the people who use this trail regularly. We received many accolades and requests from citizens of this town to continue our stance to preserve the path in its present state.

The Mayor believes that our group is selfish by trying to save the trail for the community. We will continue to do so. We believe this beloved trail is a significant asset to the people of Pelham in its present form.

We observe that maintaining the continuity of the trail creates a significant corridor for pollinators, a substantial native species garden with a wide variety of flora, some rare in this area, brushes and bramble for a haven for small mammals, insects, snakes, other reptiles and birds. Not only are the trees unique with Carolinian species, but they are habitats for squirrels, chipmunks, owls, woodpeckers and songbirds, to name a few.

Natural spaces provide a sanctuary for people to calm, release stress, and allow your mind and body to consume the healing power of this natural setting. Earlier this week, I spoke to a neighbour about his recovery from a stroke. He reaffirmed the power that he received by using the path for recuperation and physical therapy. He told me that this undivided path’s length and nature helped him recover. I have used the trail many times to mediate while strolling alone in the dark of night.

I could go on about the natural infrastructure and its value in relieving some parts of the climate change crisis and the contribution of the area to enhance climate.

I want to thank our councillors for being forward-thinking. I remind them that our town trails are for the good of this generation and the future. Remember, our next stance must be to preserve the Steve Bauer Trail in its present form without giving large parts of it up. The developer must use his property for building his stormwater drainage ditch. It will be required to remove all precipitation coming off all the roofs, driveways, patios, and roads in the Kunda Park development.

Mike Jones
Chair of PTCS
Soon to be Pelham Advocates for Trees and Habitat (PATH)

 

Cherished December event now underway

The mating ritual traditionally takes place within two weeks of the Winter Solstice each year, always in the evening when all other endeavors have been laid to rest. Once initiated, nothing may interrupt the ritual which requires great patience, visual acuity and endurance.

Over the year, lonely souls desperate for a mate lay waiting to be re-united again. Their mates, lost or discarded during the year, left them in singular isolation. Many of their companions were lost in the whirl of things, while others escaped unnoticed into the dark oblivion of space. Some mates, were unable to mend their ways, while others just didn’t give a darn. Some, holier than others, while aspiring to higher places, were greatly disappointed and became outcasts. Yet others, worn thread-bare were unceremoniously tossed aside! A few hid covertly under the bed, unseen. Often, the remaining mates still tenaciously clinging to life, were withdrawn from circulation and relinquished to a solitary existence in confinement. Their future, uncertain, was to be determined at the next ritual.

In preparation for the ritual, all mate-less souls were gathered. All had been washed, groomed for the occasion, and arranged side-by- side in a lineup for profiling. The atmosphere was charged with static in the anticipation of reunion, each clinging to hope. Each was scrutinized in accordance to height, colour, pattern, and texture. Many were gripped by their extremities and stretched to their limits. Toes and heels were poked and prodded to determine their life expectancy. Any flaws were noted and rejects immediately discarded. Those remaining with similar features were re-evaluated . If identical, they were joyfully mated and the resulting pairs now re-united with their kind waiting to fulfill their ordained purpose in life, yet again. Some, still without mates, wait patiently in hope for a future mating in the next winter ritual.

You are probably thinking to yourself by now…put a sock in it!

Lorne Stobbs
St. Catharines

 

COTE’S COMMENTS | Larry Cote

Yikes! Is that the grocery bill or the mortgage payment?

Household budget-keepers will need to sharpen their pencils and reshuffle their spending priorities in the coming months. Deciding between the need for a loaf of bread and the need for a liter of gas could cause a migraine.

According to Statistics Canada the inflation rate in September was 4.4 percent. (By definition, the inflation rate means the percentage at which a currency devalues causing prices of goods to increase.)

The recent rise of 4.4 percent was the fastest annual increase in almost 20 years. A large part of that increase was due to the price of gasoline that cost 32.8 percent more in September than a year ago. People were gawking in disbelief as they watched the price signs for gasoline rising almost daily to levels they have never witnessed before.

Next, as they went to the grocery store they were hit with another shocking experience. When they got to the checkout, the numbers on their grocery bill were higher than ever before.

According to the Stats Can reports, food prices rose 3.9 percent over the last year. Among the highest price increases were meat portions and products. Bacon prices, for example, were up 20 percent over the prices charged only a short time ago. There is no doubting that the pandemic contributed to the rise in the inflation rate.

Obviously, these cost increases and others such as utilities and services hit hardest those on low and fixed incomes. People in those categories have little or no discretion in allocating their disposable income and are required to go further into debt or dip into their savings, if there be any, to survive.

Many of the symptoms of these dire circumstances are often hidden from view. For instance, in a recent report by the Niagara dailies, Amber Hughes, the executive director of Food4Kids Niagara, identified 6,800 children in Niagara as living in poverty. Shockingly, Ms. Hughes said that nearly 1,600 of these youngsters in our midst are experiencing “severe food insecurity.” That’s technical jargon meaning they are going through their days with empty bellies.

Traditionally, the primary purpose of elementary schools is to feed the minds of our youth. However, in recent times schools have had to almost routinely introduce breakfast and other nutrition programs to feed empty bellies. It is a fact that hungry bellies greatly degrade learning capacities.

There is some good news that accompanies this current inflationary period. The Bank of Canada governor, Tiff Macklem, has been quoted as saying the recent inflation trend is “transitory” or a temporary issue. He, and other economists are expecting the inflation rate will return to about 3.3 per cent in due course. Indeed, last Wednesday the Bank of Canada left its key overnight interest rate at .25 percent in its last rate announcement of the year—exactly where it started the year in January.

Hopefully, these projections by these expert prognosticators will soon come about so that people on the margins can readily afford the necessities of life again. Won’t it be wonderful to know that those severely compromised children mentioned above would no longer go to bed, and to school, with empty bellies?

 

PELHAM AND COVID-19 | Mayor Marvin Junkin

Another Covid casualty—pressure on property taxes

As with Pelham Town Council, Niagara Regional Council is also wrestling with various budgets. This past Thursday, December 9, at a Committee of the Whole meeting, we received staff reports on the budgets affecting the tax levy for 2022. Although they had received council direction back in June to keep the property tax increase below 2 percent, Regional staff felt that this number was unreachable/unsustainable if the Region was to maintain current service levels, thus the 4.7 percent increase recommendation.

Various councillors, myself included, felt that this was too much of an increase due to the continued trying times that people are facing with Covid, along with a forecasted inflationary rate going into double digits. Annual food cost alone, for a family of four, is estimated to increase just below $1,000 for 2022. This will bring the cost of food for one year for a family of four to over $14,000. When you add on increased energy cost, and a very likely increase in interest rates, it will be another year of “digging in” for the average homeowner.

Although no councillors relish the thought of using money from the reserves to keep tax increases low, that is what the majority of councillors voted to do. With a surplus of $11 million dollars from 2021, councillors took approximately $6 million out of a specific reserve to decrease the levy to a 2.87 percent increase.

As councillors, both at the Regional level and at the municipal level we must be sensitive to the day-to-day facts that are around us, and the economic projection for the year ahead. It doesn’t impress taxpayers that we have a healthy reserve if they are faced with hefty tax increases while their own economic reality is under duress.

With this being said, the Town must continue to provide services to its residents, while facing the same economic realities as its residents. It is a balancing act that all councillors face, at every level of government.