Maintaining Pelham’s Small-Town Feel

SmallTownFeelCollageCouncil and I continue to work at maintaining Pelham’s neighbour-helping-neighbour, small-town feel as our community grows.

Focus on Downtowns:
Since many people associate community with downtowns and since more than 50% of people surveyed in Pelham in 2007 said “fix up our downtowns”, Council and I revitalized Downtown Fonthill and Downtown Fenwick (currently being completed). We achieved this because of the deep involvement of community volunteers in finalizing the plans and design; we also received significant funding from the Federal and Provincial government to revitalize Downtown Fonthill.

Council also established design guidelines and incentive programs to encourage Downtown businesses to improve their façades to a common “look and feel.” So far, seven properties have used these programs to improve – and a few more applications are imminent.

Community Celebrations:
Maintaining a small-town feel also includes encouraging friends and neighbours to come together to celebrate, interact, and remember. That’s why the Town has increased the focus on developing and expanding community events like Pelham Summerfest, the Supper Market, Christmas in Pelham and Winterfest, while also assisting service clubs and community groups to host significant events like Fonthill Bandshell Concerts, Pelham Farmer’s Market, Biketoberfest, and various parades.

East Fonthill Development Area:
Council and I also worked diligently so that all parties approved the East Fonthill Secondary Plan. The Plan contains important features to help maintain our small-town feel as we grow, by:
• Ensuring a well-designed and attractive development with a mixture of housing types;
• Encouraging commercial and mixed-use development – medical centre, retirement home, Wellspring Niagara cancer support services, and potential recreational facility
• Imposing maximum and minimum square-footage size requirements that the Pelham Business Association asked for that will help protect existing Downtown Fonthill businesses;
• Providing a “Greenlands System” that protects and enhances existing environmental features; and,
• Developing a pedestrian / cyclist-friendly and transit-ready road network that fully integrates and complements existing roads and trails;

We are currently designing a new “public square” so that the community can better gather for special events while also working on improvements to Peace Park – like permanent washrooms, and smoothing the “bowl” in front of the Bandshell. We have also working on mandating design guidelines in the East Fonthill area to ensure that all new developments match a common look and feel for our community. Of course, we will work together with the community to finalize these plans.

Other Measures:
Finally, we are taking other measures to help maintain our small-town feel:
• Providing welcome packages for new residents and businesses;
• Continuing to celebrate dedicated volunteers at our Annual Volunteer Appreciation reception;
• Continuing to provide community parks / parkettes instead of building a mega-park;
• Continuing to add sidewalks and trails throughout the Town;
• Continuing to engage members of the community in Council committees in design sessions to improve future development.

Council and I will continue to focus on building lively and viable downtowns, on promoting cultural and artistic activities, and on integrated and well-designed planning to help maintain Pelham’s distinctive, small-town feel.