After an unexplained two-meeting absence, outgoing Ward 2 Councillor Ron Kore returned to Pelham Town Council for its regular Sept. 6 gathering. However, fellow lame-duck Councillor Lisa Haun missed her second straight meeting. Haun did not acknowledge a Voice request for comment regarding her absence.

Kore’s return last Tuesday allowed him to present his motion to direct staff to look into constructing a safety fence around the River Estates stormwater management pond in East Fonthill, something he brought notice of earlier this summer. Asking for staff to report back for the Oct. 3 meeting — the second-last gathering before the Oct. 24 municipal election — Kore also added an amendment to place a temporary snow fence around the pond in the interim.

“If we don’t do something, it would be very sad if something happens,” Kore said, repeating his earlier concerns regarding the risk of children entering the pond.

While the rest of council agreed with the idea of installing the temporary fence as soon as possible, Public Works Director Jason Marr revealed that staff had already begun a process of having a consultant review engineering standards for Town ponds with a goal of having such recommendations ready for the next council.

Ward 3 Councillor Bob Hildebrandt drew upon his experience as an engineer to take issue with the design of all 11 Town ponds, pointing out among other things that the water levels usually exceed one metre, which he asserted was a standard target depth.

“I think this problem is bigger than putting up a fence, but that’s just my opinion,” Hildebrandt said.

Marr said newer ponds are designed as “wet ponds” for water filtration and release back into the natural environment, and that while chain-link fences are often suggested as safety feature, they are not mandated.

I think this problem is bigger than putting up a fence, but that’s just my opinion

Ward 1 Councillor Wayne Olson — joining Mayor Marvin Junkin in council chambers for the first time since his special election during Covid — said that another solution could lie in surrounding the ponds with dense vegetation, such as vines, to act as a psychological barrier of sorts. He also noted the nuisance of Canada Geese— which tend to prefer mowed grass near water — around the River Estates pond.

The report is expected back next month.

Bright lights, small town

Kore declared a conflict of interest regarding a citizen complaint about a neighbour’s backyard lighting, but did not explain what his perceived conflict was. When asked by clerk Holly Willford for the nature of his pecuniary interest, Kore said he would disclose it later. However, by the time discussion began Kore had already turned off his Zoom feed.

The issue arose through correspondence from Fenwick resident Dan Sebert, who attached photographs of what appears to be bright overhead string lighting emanating at night from a neighbour’s yard. Sebert questioned whether the Town’s new light bylaw — designed around regulating the cannabis and greenhouse industry — could apply to his concern.

However, as noted in a July meeting, this light bylaw is being held up due to challenges of a similar bylaw in Leamington.

Referring to Leamington as the “greenhouse capital” of Ontario, CAO David Cribbs said Pelham was watching developments there with a keen interest, but that any residential restrictions on lighting would likely need to come in a separate bylaw.

“What we drafted, I don’t think goes that far,” Cribbs said, adding a report could be done by the end of the year.

Mayor Junkin said he was fine with letting the matter go to the next council.