From left, Niagara Centre MP Vance Badawey, Pelham Mayor Marvin Junkin, St. Catharines MP Chris Bittle, and Pelham Treasurer Teresa Quinlin-Murphy. DON RICKERS

Zero-carbon, 18,000 sq.ft. branch to be built near Meridian Community Centre

The sunny skies last Friday in Pelham reflected the mood of a gathering at the Meridian Community Centre (MCC), as Vance Badawey, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous Services, and Member of Parliament for Niagara Centre, and Chris Bittle, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Member of Parliament for St. Catharines, announced $5.4 million in federal funding for the construction of a new library in Fonthill.

“Investing in community and recreational infrastructure is essential to creating communities that are welcoming, inclusive, and sustainable,” said Badawey. “Today’s announcement for the new Pelham library will ensure that all residents have access to a modern facility where they can safely connect and learn for many years to come.”

Added Bittle, “The Government of Canada is committed to building a greener and healthier future for Canadians across the country. Projects like this one help create exciting opportunities for residents while helping us achieve our goal of reaching zero emissions by 2050.”

Pelham Mayor Marvin Junkin expressed his appreciation to the federal government, noting that “this announcement is a great example of what different levels of government can do, working in partnership. With generous federal support, the Town of Pelham will now be able to replace a facility that, while beautiful, has aged badly. The community can look forward to high-quality library programming and materials in a comfortable, convenient environment. I think of this as the cherry on top of the sundae that is the MCC. It’s a great day for Pelham.”

Although the exact site of the new library has not yet been decided, it is slated to be in close proximity to the MCC.

The building as designed will be 18,000 square feet over three stories, with a zero-carbon footprint utilizing green energy and climate-resilient components such as solar panels, glazing, and abundant natural lighting. Accessibility features for the physically challenged are included in the plans.

Once complete, the new library will serve as a community hub where residents can come together and learn, said Junkin, who praised the Town’s Treasurer and Director of Finance Teresa Quinlin-Murphy as the driving force behind the federal government grant application.

This grant is thanks to Teresa and her department. The Town is very fortunate to have our own version of the Great One!

“Hockey great Wayne Gretzky’s philosophy was ‘You’ll always miss 100 percent of the shots you never take,’ and Teresa shares that same philosophy,” said Junkin. “She once told me ‘If I see any grant that the Town has the remotest chance of obtaining, I will fill it out and send it in.’ This grant is thanks to Teresa and her department. The Town is very fortunate to have our own version of the Great One!”

A humble Quinlin-Murphy told the Voice that the first design concept of the MCC had an accommodation for a library, but that it had to be scaled back due to cost-saving measures.

She submitted the federal Green and Inclusive Community Buildings Grant application for the new library to Town Council in June 2021.

“I worked on this application along with grant writer Bea Clark, Director of Public Works Jason Marr, and Recreation, Culture, and Wellness Director Vickie vanRavenswaay,” said Quinlin-Murphy. “It was a team effort. We also hired Petroff Architects who designed the MCC because we needed the technical expertise for sections of the application to promote the carbon zero building.”

Diana Huson, Regional Councillor for Pelham, at the MCC. DON RICKERS

The current Fonthill library has about 8000 square feet on the main floor, so the new design, at 18,000 square feet, will more than double the usable space.

“The MCC is a designated seniors hub, so we’ll be seeing more residents aging-in-place in Pelham, drawing on the physical activity programs, and soon the new library resources. Independent and assisted-living seniors will also benefit,” said Quinlin-Murphy. “Parents can drop their children off at the MCC for sports, and in the near future we’ll have a library close by where the kids can read or do their homework. It’s just wonderful, definitely a dream come true.”

Julie Andrews, CEO of the amalgamated Lincoln-Pelham Library, said that, “We’ve been talking about different solutions for the library in Fonthill for quite a while. This is going to be the most amazing addition to the community and a wonderful gathering place for Fonthill.”

Badawey told the assembled audience that “strong and vibrant communities are at the heart of where all Canadians want to live, work, and raise their families. Public spaces, such as community centres, libraries, pools, and arenas are incredibly important. These facilities create the gathering space which are the true definition of community.”

“This is unbelievable news. A huge lift for Pelham,” applauded Junkin.