Pelham Town Council approved a Trout Unlimited-led project to redesign an outflow of the East Fonthill storm water drainage pond at its March 7 meeting. Last year council approved up to $70,000 for the project, but had trouble attracting contractors. By giving Trout Unlimited, a non-profit group, design say over the matter, it is hoped environmental impacts will be properly addressed.

Ward 3 Councillor Lisa Haun wanted two questions answered before lending her support —whether full design drawings would be provided, and an assurance more money wouldn’t be asked for later. While the first question was answered affirmatively, Trout Unlimited’s Brian Green said that “it remains to be seen” where the final budget lands.

Councillor Lisa Haun. SUPPLIED

Haun said she would not support any more Town money going towards the project, but gave her endorsement in a unanimous vote.

Also related to storm water drainage, council dealt with a resident request regarding amending a structure bylaw in the Lookout neighbourhood. Various homes on Philmori Boulevard currently bar backyard structures because they could add pressure on the slope. The resident was asking for an amendment to change the current limit of structures from being built 15 metres from the rear lot line to 7.5 metres. Ward 3 Councillor Bob Hildebrandt asked if such construction changes could withstand “100-year rainfall events,” some of which have already happened in Niagara over the last few years.

According to Director of Community Planning and Development Barb Wiens, the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority has expressed no concern over the changes.

Covid-19 update

CAO David Cribbs said that Town staff believes it is at the point in the pandemic where it can stop convening weekly Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) meetings.

“It’s appropriate at this point in time to stop calling the EOC for its weekly meeting,” the CAO said. “Rather our Control Group, which is [made up of] five staff, will continue meeting in its place on Monday mornings.”

Cribbs said the EOC can always be reactivated if necessary.

Ward 2 Councillor John Wink moved a successful motion to have staff survey neighbouring municipalities on masking and corporate vaccination policies, and have a report returned to council April 4. There has been criticism in some quarters of the province’s plan to lift most masking mandates as of March 21.

Despite decreasing hospitalization and ICU numbers across the country, Pelham recorded 192 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the 28 days preceding March 7. Eighty-four percent of Niagara residents have received at least two vaccination doses, which is slightly behind the provincial percentage but ahead of the national number.

Spray plan approved

The 2022 gypsy moth spray program was approved by council, at a cost of just under $150,000. Most of this is budgeted for the aerial spray component, again coordinated by contractor Zimmer Air. This year’s spray blocks are heavily centred on the Town’s rural zone, and Wink asked why a specific area in northeast Fenwick wasn’t included. Public Works Manager Ryan Cook said the plan came down to budget restrictions.

“Unfortunately we’re just not able to spray all of them,” Cook said. “We really wanted to concentrate on areas we hadn’t sprayed previously.”