Longtime pump mystery finally solved

I would like to thank Bill Eluchok and Brenda Sauer for the fine article that describes the pump on the the East side of Building “A” at 190 Highway 20 West! [A time capsule on tap, Column Six, Dec. 22, p.1.]

As a resident of Building “B” I have often wondered about that old pump that no longer works; probably because there is no feed to the cistern any longer. The two buildings being built in 1979 and 1980 were the result of Lester Shoalts’ purchase and development of the property. I suspect he left the pump as decor for the gardens which were developed around both buildings. And so it stands to this day! Thanks for the explanation and the memories so well described.

George Dewar
Ridgeville

 

Anti-vaxx landscaper cancels ads

Our company has advertised for many years in the Voice and we are canceling all future advertising.

We are saddened by the direction the paper has taken. This paper is not balanced, and we can no longer support your business.

Today’s cartoon posted on Facebook was the final straw. Please stop the fear-mongering of a virus that has a 99% survival rate.

Please stop advocating for a useless vaccine that is causing so much death, injury and health complications in healthy people.

Stop pitting one person against another over their right to choose what is best for them. Stop segregation, discrimination and the hate that is spewed like vomit day in and day out.

Mainstream media is the virus that government is using to ruin our economy. Please do your research and put out a balanced paper.

Bill and Lynn deBruin
Fairhaven Gardens

EDITOR’S NOTE

This is the editorial cartoon in question:

The letter writers appear to cite a frequently distorted statistic posted on social media last year regarding Covid mortality. The fact is, survival rates vary depending on patient age, underlying health conditions, and whether they’ve been vaccinated. While “breakthrough” cases in vaccinated people can occur, the odds of serious illness or death are dramatically reduced. The efficacy and safety of Covid vaccines have been demonstrated through 9.42 billion doses given in 184 countries. Healthcare systems around the world, including here in Niagara, are now at the breaking point as they face a tsunami of new infections of the highly contagious Omicron variant, including among children. Last week, Niagara had the highest number of Covid ICU patients in the entire province—not just per capita, but in raw numbers. Niagara Health president and CEO Lynn Guerriero told Regional Council that there were no “good options” remaining for preserving critical care, and plans were underway to transfer critical patients out of Niagara—although nearby health systems were similarly at or beyond capacity. This is now a very bad time to have a stroke or heart attack, or be in a car accident, and find yourself in need of an ICU bed. These are verifiable facts, not social media opinions. The Voice, as is true of any responsible news organization, is in the business of reporting facts as accurately as possible.

The frankly farcical, paranoid, and delusional assertion that the news media is a “virus” that the “government is using to ruin our economy” requires no rebuttal.

 

More on road safety

The December 8 edition of the Voice included a letter from Mike Athay suggesting that “Fifty percent of people operating vehicles are not properly qualified to do so.” A response from Ed Stanley in the December 15 edition suggested an amendment: “Fifty percent of old people aren’t qualified to be behind the wheel.” In both cases their opinions were supported only by anecdotes and conjecture. Missing was any data regarding the carnage and death resulting from traffic accidents, and the people responsible for these accidents.

There are many Canadian sites reporting the data resulting from traffic accidents and their consequences. The Canadian Motor Vehicle Collision Statistics 2019 states “the 25-34 age group suffered the most fatalities, serious injuries and injuries. Teenagers have the highest rate of death and injury per capita.” (Not the highest number, because fewer teenagers are driving.) According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MAAD), studies conclude that young drivers are “over –represented in road crashes for two primary reasons: inexperience and immaturity.”

The data clearly suggest that drivers in these younger demographics should be scrutinized closely when driving licenses are issued, or revoked. They indicate that younger drivers are more dangerous than seniors.

I am an octogenarian with a clean driving record. On two occasions I have undergone the biannual cognitive and vision test to determine my ability to drive. Ed Stanley suggests that the process is a joke. He is not correct when he states that one test is to identify the time indicated by a clock face. The test is to draw a clock face indicating a specific time. I have seen octogenarians struggling with this task. They do not think that this is a joke. They face the loss of their driving license, and lifestyle.

Alan Bown
Fonthill

EDITOR’S NOTE

The MAAD statistics caught our eye. Out of curiosity, we reviewed all of the alleged impaired driving data reported by the Niagara Regional Police for December, including this week’s list. The youngest driver was 19 (from Burlington), the oldest was 66 (from St. Catharines). The average age among the 45 alleged offenders was 42. Fourteen were age 50 and older. (There were no Pelham residents among any of the accused.) As the letter-writer acknowledges, while younger drivers may be more accident-prone per capita, fewer younger people are behind the wheel compared to middle-aged and older drivers. Nationwide numbers are interesting, but accident and impaired driving statistics in a specific region will tend to reflect the demographics of drivers actually living in that region. Fortunately for those in Niagara who can neither afford a car or who can no longer afford to risk being behind the wheel, at long last Niagara Region is set to introduce an amalgamated regional public transit system. In the meantime, affordable personal rides are already a convenient phone call away through Transit On Demand. See the Region’s ad on page 12, and note the $10 promo credit.

 

Passing of John Lochlin Daboll

On behalf of the entire Daboll Family we wish to thank everyone in our community for their kindness and support during the past few weeks. His presence in our lives is and will continue to be dearly missed, but the outpouring of calls, visits and thoughtful gifts brightened what was otherwise a sad time for our family.

The Daboll Family

 

Hospital care needs rethink

So much for the budding optimism that ushered in the New Year. Ontario finds itself yet again in another restrictive landscape, frustrated and perplexed. We did what was asked of us, didn’t we? Our children, as well as our elderly folks, will pay a heavy price from a mental health perspective. Not to mention the scrambling parents and the small businesses who can ill afford another lockdown. Don’t think for a second that anyone has lost sight of the exponential rise in the cost of, well, everything!

One thing remains acutely clear. The people of this province deserve to hear specific details regarding how and when an end game to this pandemic will take place. Our collective sacrifices over the past 22 months warrant that much. We must insist on it. Enough of the knee- jerk strategies. Been there, done that. How about some novel thinking, and perhaps more importantly, some collective political leadership. That would be truly refreshing.

Such a shame that a population of 15 million is being held hostage by an outdated, woefully inadequate hospital ICU capacity. The hospital business model needs to be reassessed and reconstructed from the ground up. What is being done to address this, and why are we hearing precious little detail in terms of tackling our gasping healthcare system?

A tsunami of illness surely awaits once this pandemic ends. If your average citizen with a sliver of reasoning ability can grasp this, surely our political leaders can too.

As this Covid nightmare rages on, we are left to ask ourselves, where have all the leaders gone?

Rob Shook
Vineland

 

Rhyme and reason

Here we are

In our senior years,

Sitting at home and shedding tears.

Two years in, and Covid’s still here

We aren’t going anywhere!

We couldn’t get our booster shots,

Our government really screwed things up.

They started at 80 and dropped to 18—

But there wasn’t even enough vaccine!

Cases in the thousands worldwide,

There isn’t any place to hide.

So anti-vaxxers, get your shots,

You helped to put us in this spot!

Norma Mitchell
Fonthill

 

Appreciates year-ender

I must congratulate you and your staff for the excellent issue of December 22. Informative, factual and thoroughly interesting with a lot of truth, especially concerning poll results for Pelham.

Fonthill residents know who they respect and trust and are fully aware of those they DO NOT. We were also told of kindness, warmth and generosity by residents. Sadly, one also has to give print space to those who only care about themselves. Personally, l think there are far more kindly residents in Fonthill than those who are inconsiderate.

Thank you. This issue l will keep and refer to throughout the next year.

Tom Campbell
Fonthill

 

Calls for greater transparency

This year the Town should resolve to be more forthcoming, accountable and less opaque when dealing with taxpayers’ concerns.

Here is an example.

The Town was initially unwilling to share a public document with a taxpayer, relying on the Municipal Freedom of Information and Privacy Act (MFIPPA) to deny such request.

It took a formal request and subsequent follow-up with the Provincial Privacy Commissioner to realize the Town was inappropriately guarding a document that is in the public domain and available to everyone. Apparently the Town’s position is they did not know this information was publicly available until the taxpayer filed an FOI request.

To add insult to injury, the taxpayer must pay a nominal fee to query the Town’s initial response and then pay any additional costs identified by the Town for reviewing and responding to such request. Such a process can necessarily deter the average citizen from following through on their query.

Two and one-half years ago the Town hired its first lawyer as CAO. He had multiple years “experience as a municipal/corporate and labour lawyer.” We now have a legal department with two additional lawyers on staff.

Surely with their basic understanding of Municipal and Freedom of Information Regulations there should be no excuse for the Town not to get it right the first time. It reflects poorly on those employees who go about their duties in a consistent and conscientious manner.

It is unsettling how the Town has become oppositional and defiant when dealing with simple requests from Pelham taxpayers.

F. J. Feeley
Fonthill

 

Pelham Tree Conservation Society’s new PATH

Even through this pandemic, it has been an incredibly inspirational first full year for the Pelham Tree Conservation Society (PTCS). It is essential to recognize the many that have made it so successful. The Voice of Pelham, our community paper, has published our group’s many letters and has followed our progress with articles. Niagara This Week has also covered our progress.

Thanks to the people of Pelham and the businesses supporting our goals who have inspired us to preserve the Steve Bauer Trail. Thanks also to Steve Bauer and his spouse, Josee Larocque, and his parents, Hank and Fran, for the support and the anonymous donors who made our trail video possible.

We thank Town Councillors John Wink, Ron Kore, Bob Hildebrandt, Lisa Haun, Wayne Olson, and Marianne Stewart for their constant encouragement and support. Our Regional Councillor Diana Huson continuously voted and pushed forward on Option 3C at Niagara Regional Council, a significant victory for the environment and other Regional Councillors. They voted for Option 3C, including Mayor Junkin.

We appreciate every one of the more than 575 members and thousands of others who follow our sites. Our membership has made our Facebook group page and our website very informative environmental posts.

To our great Executive and advisors: Vice-Chair Uwe Brand, Treasurer Graham Pett, Secretary Lois La Croix, Brenda Burger, Dave Nicholson, Colleen Kenyon, Kathi Gorman, Wally Braun, and advisors Jackie Oblak, and Natalia Shields, thanks for your dedication. Thanks for constantly upgrading our website and Facebook administrators, Paxton Allewell, Chris Fidler, and Jason Lovejoy.

In January, we received a significant endorsement for our efforts to preserve the Steve Bauer Trail (SBT) by its namesake. Members conducted a tree count along the undivided trail from Port Robinson to Merritt Road. Our Town Council voted to pass the motion, not allowing more roads to cross any of the Town’s trails.

In February, we delivered to council, Fonthill’s elementary schools’ poster contest, “Reasons to preserve the trail.” We delivered to council petitions signed by over 5000 signatures to preserve the SBT.

In March, members began recording the vegetation, birds, wildlife and habitat along the SBT. Members volunteered to clean up the SBT between Port Robinson and Merritt Road.

In April, we started networking with other environmental groups, such as Biodiversity and Climate Action Niagara. We reached out to our councillors to request that developers be respectful and responsible to the citizens of Pelham while building their developments. Members got involved with Pelham’s “Team Up to Clean Up” and the Rotary’s “Great Lakes Watershed Cleanup Supporting the Environment.”

In May, members submitted to the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority Survey to develop a shared inspirational vision with strategic priorities for the health of the Niagara Peninsula watershed.

Our membership grew to over 475. We sent an open letter to Mayor Marv Junkin, one of our Regional Councillors, after he did not support Option 3C, the most environmentally positive way to preserve the trees and natural environment around the proposed Merritt Road Extension.

In June, we created a committee to work on submissions to the Town of Pelham regarding the new Tree Maintenance Program. During this month, we reviewed and analyzed the program. We developed a detailed summary with recommendations that were important to implement.

In July, we instigated our Public Awareness and Fundraising Project. We decided to ask for donations for Friends of the Steve Bauer Trail T-shirts. The fundraising purpose was to build enough money to allow PTCS to pay for a lawyer to assist our incorporation as a non-profit group.

In August, members of PTCS Committee and Councillors Wayne Olson and Bob Hildebrandt met with the Director of Public Works, Jason Marr, and the Manager of Public Works, Ryan Cook, to discuss changes and revisions the Town of Pelham Tree Maintenance Policy. PTSC continued to work with Councillor Wayne Olson to have the Town recognized next year as THE YEAR OF THE GARDENS. We support his projects to create corridors for pollination and native gardens.

In September, federal candidates for election in Niagara West—NDP, Liberal, and Green—endorsed our efforts to save the wetlands on the undeveloped Merritt road extension and preserve the SBT. PTCS celebrated Canada National Tree Day by walking from the Merritt Road entrance to Peace Park. Steve Bauer’s spouse Josee Larocque and his parents Fran and Hank delivered a Friends of the Steve Bauer Trail T-shirt to Mayor Junkin. Mayor Junkin told the crowd that he would display the T-shirt at the Meridian Community Centre beside the Marlene Stewart Streit Display.

In October; PTCS requested members of both the website and the Facebook group page to put their name forward if they wish to be on the Board of Directors for the corporation. Mike Jones and Paxton Allewell hiked the undeveloped proposed Merritt Road extension. The hike’s purpose was to create pictorial records of the areas to be destroyed for a two-lane road, including a bicycle and walking path.

In November, PTCS supported Steve Bauer and the Friends of the 12 Mile Creek efforts to stop an unnecessary, destructive bike trail for the 2022 Canadian Summer Games. During our meeting about incorporating, the committee agreed that our mission statement and our group’s name should reflect our evolving purpose and direction.

PTCS partnered with the Town to receive free trees from Tree Canada’s grant.

In December, members Colleen Kenyon and Dave Nicholson gave presentations to Niagara Regional councillors before voting on the best option for Niagara’s new Natural Heritage System. The councillors vote unanimously in favour of Option 3C. This is a HUGE win for protecting Niagara’s natural habitat. Pelham Town Council votes six to one not to allow any roads to cross the Steve Bauer Trail between Port Robinson and Merritt Roads. Colleen Kenyon, Dave Nicholson, and Mike Jones deliver their submissions against the proposed extension of Merritt Road through Provincial Significant Wetlands and offer sound alternatives.

Looking forward, our new name will become Pelham Advocates for Trees and Habitat (PATH) in the New Year. The mission of Pelham Advocates for Trees and Habitat is to advocate for the preservation and growth of Pelham’s trees, forests and natural habitat.

Follow the PATH.

Mike Jones, Chair
Pelham Advocates for Trees and Habitat

 

COMMENTARY | Dick Polman

Don’t Look Up! is a documentary masquerading as satire

We yawn as we drift toward doom. The news is relentless, for those who deign to pay attention. For instance, scientists discovered last month that a massive (and, until now, stable) ice shelf at the bottom of the globe is rapidly crumbling, with serious consequences for us all: “The rapid transformation of the Arctic and Antarctic creates ripple effects all over the planet. Sea levels will rise, weather patterns will shift and ecosystems will be altered. Unless humanity acts swiftly to curb emissions, scientists say, the same forces that have destabilized the poles will wreak havoc on the rest of the globe.”

The havoc is here already. Unprecedented tornadoes destroy entire Kentucky towns, unprecedented wildfires destroy Denver suburbs, the sea routinely runs wild in the streets of Miami, New York City subways drown in floodwater…it’s just life in the 21st century.

According to one report about the recent Colorado conflagrations, “heat and dryness associated with global warming are major reasons for the increasing prevalence of bigger and stronger fires, as rainfall patterns have been disrupted, snow melts earlier and meadows and forests are scorched into kindling.”

And yet, film critics and armchair curmudgeons are whining that the Netflix satirical film Don’t Look Up! —a bitter attack on climate change deniers — is too “heavy-handed,” too “broad,” too “angry,” a veritable “sledgehammer” at the expense of subtlety. I watched the film during the holiday doldrums — like many of you in semi-lockdown mode, I was binging TV — and I frankly can’t fathom those complaints.

Because the same indictment could be leveled against Dr. Strangelove (on orders from a general named Jack D. Ripper, a gung-ho Texan rides an A-bomb), and against Network (a lunatic anchorman is assassinated on the air because his ratings went bad). Heck, you could say the same thing about Jonathan Swift, the 18th-century satirist who suggested, in his treatise entitled “A Modest Proposal,” that poverty in Ireland would be cured if only the impoverished Irish families would agree to fatten their children and sell them as food to the English landowners. He even suggested some yummy recipes.

Spoiler alert: Nobody thought that Swift was literally serious. Satire, by definition, uses “humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices”— and, in case you haven’t noticed, rampant stupidity currently reigns in our benighted disunion. Witness the latest deluge of lies on social media, with keyboard loons insisting, despite all scientific evidence to the contrary, that the Greenland ice sheet has not been losing billions of metric tons of ice each year.

In Don’t Look Up!, a killer comet is hurtling toward earth — there’s incontrovertible scientific proof — but the morons on social media still call it a hoax. A male astronomer gets a lot of air time only because the viewers think he’s hunky, while his female assistant gets canceled by the Twitter haters because she’s deemed too “shrill.” Meanwhile, a MAGA-type president and her dimwit chief of staff (her son, naturally) worry that the comet will sink her poll ratings. An Elon Musk-type billionaire thinks there’s money to be made from the comet, brainless followers chant that the comet will “create jobs,” and in no time a sizeable chunk of the doomed populace is refusing to look up, wearing buttons that feature an arrow pointing down.

And finally, when it’s too late to do anything, Leonardo DeCaprio’s astronomer character says plaintively, “We had it all, didn’t we?”

This is the fractured and fool-infested present moment we know all too well. If anything, the film is a documentary masquerading as a satire — a veritable metaphor for life as we know it, with tens of millions of North Americans still spewing, circulating, and swallowing Covid-19 lies, adamantly refusing to look up.

Anyone who thinks Don’t Look Up! lacks subtlety needs only to look around and behold what mass stupidity has wrought.

Veteran reporter Dick Polman is the national political columnist at WHYY-FM Philadelphia and a frequent guest on C-SPAN, CNN, MSNBC, and the BBC.

 

PELHAM AND COVID-19 | Mayor Marvin Junkin

A dilemma that needed decided

The New Year is upon us and I would like to take this opportunity to wish all Pelham residents and their families a prosperous and a healthy year ahead. Nobody ever said this job was going to be easy and right off the hip hop we had “one of those meetings” at the Region last Thursday, January 6. It should have been a slam dunk with no controversy, as all that was required from Regional Council was a rubber stamp approval of the City of St. Catharines’ nominee for filling a vacancy that was created on Regional Council with the passing of St. Catharines Regional Councillor Sandie Bellows.

It was when selecting their new councillor that St. Catharines City Council chose the path that started the controversy. St. Catharines council had in place a policy that stated that whenever a seat on Regional Council became vacant, the next runner-up from the last election would be automatically given the seat. Instead of selecting the next runner-up on the list, the City Council decided to forgo the policy and instead select a member of their council to take the seat. This decision was made back on December 14. Since that decision was made, a large group of St. Catharines residents have made their displeasure with their council’s actions known to Regional Council, asking us to uphold the democratic process, thereby rejecting St. Catharine’s council nominee.

To add to the list of misdeeds, the city councillor selected voted not to appoint the “policy choice,” and then voted for himself to be appointed to the seat at the Region. It is possible that these actions were indeed a conflict of interest, but as of last Thursday these facts had not been challenged in court, so as far as Regional councillors were concerned no breach of the Municipal Act had occurred.

So the conundrum was this: as a Regional councillor do I follow Regional policy, or do I side with the upset residents who feel quite strongly that a small number of people, those being their city councillors, had bypassed the democratic process so as to install one of their own. Of course, it is not lost on me that first I feel strongly that they should have simply followed policy, but by voting against their nominee I would not be following Regional policy. I did not, in fact, vote for their nominee, and all I can say, just like the small lad in the principal’s office, “They started it.”

I felt the citizens had a legitimate beef and I had absolutely no problem supporting them. It never ceases to amaze me how soon, once some residents get elected, these same people acquire the level of arrogance that they know so much more than the electorate. Hopefully, with elections less than a year away, these residents will show their displeasure at the ballot box. For the record I have never met nor talked to either of these two individuals.

As everyone knows, the Town of Pelham has had to shut down all activities at the MCC, except for Pathstone Mental Health counselling and services. Appointments must be booked ahead of time. Please remember they are there to listen and to help. Provincial directives have also required that we close Town Hall once again to the public. Anyone wishing to meet with any member of Town staff must make an appointment ahead of time.

Keep walking, keep socially distanced when out and about, and pass along that warm smile!