Two years delayed, but another great reunion

On Sunday afternoon, June 12, 235 “original” Pelham Panthers gathered at the Legion in Fonthill for our 11th Pelham High Reunion. We were supposed to have this in 2020 but because of Covid it was postponed. So it had been four years since we last met.

We had a wonderful time reminiscing as only people who grew up together can do. There was a group of teachers there also to help us share in those memories. Every decade was represented from the late ‘40s, ‘50s, ‘60s, and it was wonderful to see the “youngsters” who attended in the ‘70s.

The Legion set up both rooms with tablecloths and flowers. We could also go outside to the patio as the rains did not come. The food that was put out for us was super!

Pelham High School in Fenwick was closed in 1974. We held our first reunion at the school in 1984. This was the only time we could have it there. About 4000 people came over the two days and we danced and sang and told lots of stories. From that reunion, we had $10,000 left over after all the bills were paid. We set up the Pelham High Alumni Scholarship with the intent to give a $1000 scholarship to a graduating student at E. L. Crossley going on to university. Interest rates were 18 percent in the ‘80s, so our fund grew. We put all extra money from every subsequent reunion and donations into the fund. Sometime in the 1990s we raised the scholarship amount to $2000. When we give our next two scholarships in September, we will have given out $70,000. Our first scholarship was given in 1985, and we would love to keep it going until 2025—40 years. Our alumni are very generous in their giving and I’m sure we will be able to reach this goal.

Everyone who was there on Sunday agreed that we should gather together again in 2024 to mark the 50th anniversary of our school closure.

Many thanks to the Voice for helping us keep everyone informed. There are some who do not have email and the Voice is the “go-to” place for our updates.

Hopefully, in 2024 there will be no Covid or any other nasty virus and we can meet again—one more time.

Vilma Moretti
Fonthill

 

Border Covid screening, via Dr. Kafka

On Tuesday June 14, I was stopped at Canada Customs at the Peace Bridge and “randomly selected” for Covid testing. (Please note, travelers arriving by airplane are not subject to random testing.)

I was given the test kit and directed to return home and told I would receive instructions “by email or text.”

I received no instructions and so I called Lifelabs directly as their name was on the kit. I was able to book an appointment online for Wednesday June 15. I asked what the quarantine rules were, but the Lifelabs employee didn’t know the rules either and suggested I call the local health department. I called Canada Customs but was told to call the “health department.” I waited until the next morning and called Niagara Health but was advised to call the Public Health Agency of Canada. as this was a Federal matter.

I have learned that:

a) only land travelers can get “randomly picked’, not travelers flying in

b) only Canadians get “randomly picked,” not Americans

c) because I am double vaccinated (actually triple in my case) they can’t quarantine me, so I am free to wander until results come back

d) I simply had to get tested while I was monitored over the phone (but I could be testing my wife, or my cat, or…)

e) If I test positive, Canada Health can order me to quarantine, but—

f) Ontario refuses to perform residence checks for double vaccinated people, so unless the RCMP are free to do door checks, no one is coming out

g) While waiting for my results, I can even travel back to the US again

I am not anti-vaccine and I fully understand that Covid is real, so while awaiting my test appointment I “pre-tested” myself using a free kit that I’d got from the Food Basics, and I passed (negative result).

I completed the required Lifelabs test in cooperation with the employee of Lifelabs and then the train went off the tracks.

Rather than wait at home for a Fedex pick up, I was told I could hand deliver the completed test kit to the nearest Lifelabs facility (which is in Welland) as this was the fastest method.

I decided to go that route and, playing along with the theory that I might have Covid I biked to the lab so I would be alone and not interact with anyone. I arrived at 2:50 to find the lab was closed. Apparently the Lifelabs testing office didn’t know of the closure. The Welland Lifelabs employees were inside when I knocked anyway. I could hear them laughing inside.

I was worried about the kit spoiling as it had been an hour on my bike in the sun (at 33 C) so I called the Lifelabs 800-number. I spoke with a woman who said I was not to leave the completed test kit outside the door. I explained about the heat and my concern for the kit being destroyed. She put me on hold after assuring me she would have someone speak to me who had an answer. I was on hold for 22 or 23 minutes. Finally another woman answered and she said that whoever told me to go to the Lifelabs facility was wrong and that I was required to drop off the completed test kit at a Shoppers Drug Mart, specifically the Shoppers Drug Mart at the Rose City Plaza in Welland. Meanwhile, some bright person broke the rechargeable light off my bike (that’s $100 I’ll never see again).

I biked to the Shoppers Drug Mart at the Rose City Plaza and, of course, no one knew what I was talking about. The pharmacist said they hadn’t collected packages for Lifelabs in years.

I gave up and I biked home.

I called the Public Health Agency of Canada and was told that there was nothing they could do but the call taker suggested I call Fedex and arrange a pick up (it would show I had tried to comply). I called FedEx and learned that my label was invalid. My label showed delivery to “Specimen Management Lifelabs” in Mississauga. But, apparently, the associated tracking number recorded the pick up location as Mississauga and not Fenwick, so no, FedEx wouldn’t come and get the completed test kit. The FedEx employee suggested I call the shipper and have them mail me a new label.

I called Lifelabs again and was told that “the best thing” for me to do was go back to Welland and demand that FedEx accept the package. I refused. I explained that wasn’t an option. I said I would not be returning to Welland on a whim and that they needed another solution. At that point the line disconnected. No one called me back. I understand it could have been an accident but I also get why a call taker might give up and hang up when they have no solution to the call.

I was getting concerned because in the Quarantine Act we see not too subtle threats about incredibly high fines for non-compliance and I wondered if I could or would be charged with non-compliance.

Again, I called the Public Health Agency of Canada. This time I spoke with someone I would call a gentleman. He listened and then he gave me the call number (100 122 9671, if anyone at enforcement is reading this) and pointed out that I had completed a test. If a new test was required, so be it, but between the recorded test I had done on the telephone with the Lifelabs employee, my previous recorded calls to the Public Health Agency of Canada, and this current recorded call, I had shown that I had done my utmost to comply. He ended by suggesting I call Lifelabs one last time and ask that I be re-tested but this time at a lab, and that they keep the test and process it.

Ignoring the time I spent upon returning to my residence and waiting for a non-existent email of instructions from Canada Customs, I spent over five hours today, between waiting to be tested (by myself), actual testing, traveling to a lab that was closed, traveling to a drug store that had no idea what I wanted, trying to get FedEx to pick up an improperly labeled package, waiting on hold, and then being given advice that was out-of-date or wrong or maybe just lies to get me off of the phone.

I have called back to ask Lifelabs to let me have a second test. I wonder what is next?

Wesley Barnes
Fenwick

 

Path to an improved zoning bylaw

Having had the opportunity to speak to Pelham Town council this past Monday regarding the new official zoning bylaw, I felt it might be helpful to provide a number of my comments on what is a complex issue (at 215 pages, it’s a long bylaw). I spoke on behalf of PATH (Pelham Advocates for Trees and Habitat). Firstly, kudos to Town of Pelham Planning staff and council in tackling this sizeable project, a new zoning bylaw fully updated from the current one dating back some 35 years. While there is much to appreciate in this bylaw (such as a first time comprehensive mapping of Pelham’s Environmental Protection Zones, a matter near-and-dear to the heart of PATH), there are some evident deficiencies which we believe require redress.

On a values basis, the bylaw states: “It is considered desirable to regulate use of land, and the character and location of buildings and structures, and for the promotion of public health, safety, general convenience and well being of the Town of Pelham.” Further, “It is the objective of this zoning Bylaw to create successful, vibrant and livable communities….”

Fine aspirations indeed, except there is no mention made of the natural environment in these statements. Nothing is stated regarding the honouring and preservation of the lands from which all that we have derives. Nothing is stated in the bylaw which serves to inspire, let alone aid us in mitigating and adapting our land-use practices in context of the climate change emergency.

The bylaw further states, “The bylaw implements and conforms to the policies of the Town of Pelham.” I asked, how does this bylaw implement and conform to the 2021 Corporate Climate Change Adaptation Plan devised by the Town just a year ago now? Has the zoning bylaw been vetted within context of this comprehensive plan (at 100 pages long)? The fancy words and lofty aspirations need to be translated into action— we are at a “sink or swim moment”! I emphasize that given the climate predicament we are collectively in, should not all of Pelham’s policies and bylaws going forward be viewed through the lens of our having to mitigate and adapt to this climate change crisis.

I drew council’s attention to the Region of Niagara’s September 15, 2021 Climate Change Emergency motion first passed by the Planning and Economic Committee of the Region and then endorsed by Regional Council, which declares we are in an emergency situation. This motion repeatedly focussed on the issues of mitigation and adaptation related to climate change. A Regional Climate Change Summit was to be convened to evaluate best practices and to coordinate climate action. That summit will be occurring at the end of June. I advised council that this zoning bylaw needs to be evaluated within the context of the outcomes of that Climate Change Summit. Until the analysis is concluded and subsequent recommendations are known as arising from this summit, it is unknown if this zoning bylaw will meet the test of “best practice.”

If we are to have a “liveable community,” to be concerned about “public health” and for the “well being” of the citizens of Pelham, might one not expect to see some reference in this bylaw to our natural heritage, to wildlife, to a tree! Over the course of the 215 pages I was hard pressed to find mention of trees, woodlands, wetlands, and wildlife.

This zoning bylaw deals extensively with urban development, from A to Z. Well, it almost does! Yet, no mention is made concerning the practise of LID (Low Impact Development). This is a more and more widely utilized development strategy deployed for mitigating flooding, for water retention (when we’re in a drought), and much more than this. I am aware this concept has been discussed previously at council. It should be a standard of “best practice” in any development project. LID needs to be integrated into our bylaws.

Presently, the Planning Department’s Pre-Consultation Development document contains numerous boxes to be ticked by the would-be developer, including taking a tree inventory and developing a tree preservation plan. Yet, when all is said and done, these are simply boxes to be ticked. Nice in theory, but meaningless in practice. There is no requirement nor enforcement that ensures the developer actually has to follow through on this, nor is there a standardized tree replanting/tree planting plan. We have been told it is all negotiable. Yet, we consistently see whole forests clear cut and subsequent tree planting that is wholly inadequate (and which will not in a 100 years replace the carbon capture from the old growth trees, let alone protect us from flooding, provide us shade and temperature relief during heat waves, let alone bring us joy from witnessing the magnificence of something so huge that grew from a single nut). While preserving standing trees should be a priority for any development, we know this may not always be possible. We request that the developer replace cut trees on the same size-scale basis that the Town itself is subject to (as per the Town’s Tree Maintenance Policy). We need more trees— not fewer!

And on the subject of trees, while this zoning bylaw regulates everything from the placement and height of a fence, to garage sales, etc., as occur on private property, there is nothing stated regarding regulating trees on private property. Surely a tree deserves as much consideration as a parking spot or a fence! What does this say in terms of our priorities if a garage sale is considered more important than the life of a tree? If as Town Planning contends that a private property tree bylaw cannot be integrated in this zoning bylaw, then clearly we need another bylaw option. The Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake (arguably one of the most magnificently treed and beautiful towns in all of Ontario), has had such a bylaw in place for some years (as do many other municipalities in Ontario). Clearly it can be done. The only question is: is there the political will (and leadership) to get it done?

As Town Council is well aware, the Niagara Region is in the throes of finalizing their new Official Plan. A particular concern of PATH’s regarding this plan is the issue of how the Natural Heritage 3C designation (as governs how the natural environment is to be protected within and between municipalities), will be implemented. The 3C policy could potentially have significant implications for future development, this as attempts are made to preserve the last vestiges of our natural heritage. Until the 3C policy is fully documented and clearly understood, we believe this new zoning bylaw should not be approved by council. After all, it’s been 35 years. What’s the rush!

To conclude, we at PATH counsel that everything we do as a society needs to be viewed through the lens of this Climate Change Emergency. Going forward we must become laser-focussed in planning actions consistent with the “best practices” of mitigation and adaptation available to us. The trees, the wetlands, farmland, and green spaces, along with the will to act, are all vital contributors to the resiliency that will be required to cope with coming floods, heat waves, and who knows what else which will unfortunately but surely visit our community in the days ahead.

Graham Pett
Pelham Advocates for Trees and Habitat (PATH)
Fonthill

 

COTE’S COMMENTS | Larry Coté

Inflation introduces Shrinkflation

Many people casually use the term inflation to describe the rise in prices they encounter for goods and services. Fewer people understand that a more complete definition also includes the devaluation of money. That part of the definition means that your money will buy less than at some point in the past.

The rate of inflation is determined by the percentage the price has increased over a specified period of time. More recently, more shoppers have been keeping an eye on that number as it has mercilessly eroded the money in their wallets.

Short of taking a doctoral-level course in economics, many shoppers need to keep an eye out for other marketing practices and factors that affect their cost of living.

As of more recent times the price increases have been speedier and more substantial as compared to a few years ago. This has brought about a change in the marketing practices for an increasing number of consumer goods marketers that hope to conceal the increased prices from the consumers.

This practice has been coined by economic experts as “shrinkflation,” and the practice appears to be accelerating at a rapid rate almost globally. This practice means that consumer goods manufacturers are reducing package sizes and retaining the price level for the previously larger-sized packages.

Shrinkflation has become a popular marketing practice because while prices are regularly top of mind for consumers they pay little or no attention regularly to the weights or other factors such as the numbers or sizes of the products inside the package. For instance, a widely known consumer goods company recently reduced the number of facial tissues in their dispenser box from 65 to 60 sheets while the price remained the same. That same manufacturer reduced the number of sheets in their popular toilet paper from 340 sheets to 312 per roll while maintaining the price for the larger roll. They are absolutely certain that consumers do not count the sheets—yet.

Companies can also draw attention away from smaller packages by employing brighter colours and graphics in their packaging. These marketing department creations can detract from the downsizing of the package size and avoid adverse reactions from consumers.

This particular marketing practice may have been noticed by some shoppers about a year ago as they shopped their grocers’ cereal box aisle where it appears shrinkflation may have been first introduced. Since that time the tactic has spread quickly, and is being adopted across a wide variety of product lines from shampoo to corn chips to dish soap and beyond.

Perhaps the good news for beleaguered shoppers is that the measures introduced by the central bank to curtail inflation appear to be making their intended impact. Such measures need be cautiously monitored and are agonizingly slow to take effect throughout the economy. The bad news? One might expect that once the smaller package sizes have been introduced it is probable they are here to stay at the price of the larger size. Be happy. Your shopping bag is going to be a little lighter and your wallet a bit thinner.