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Letters & Op-Ed, September 1 2021

Takes issue with “fish in a creek” I have some serious concerns about the editor’s response to Mr. Edell’s letter of last week [“TUC was hands-off,” Letters, Aug. 25, p.6].

Takes issue with “fish in a creek”

I have some serious concerns about the editor’s response to Mr. Edell’s letter of last week [“TUC was hands-off,” Letters, Aug. 25, p.6]. The editor writes: “As for the Mayor and Town Council’s duty of care, it is first and foremost to the residents of Sulphur Springs Drive, not to fish in a creek—worthy of protection may they be....”

Surely it is not the editor’s place or role to speak for the Mayor or Town Council. The Mayor can and ought to speak for himself. The same goes for Town Council. Furthermore, and it is a fine line, should an editor of a newspaper not maintain a certain level of neutrality rather than insert his own strong views directly into the issue?

By referring to Mr. Edell’s concern as being about “fish in a creek,” the editor is clearly attempting to minimize and thus undermine Edell’s position. But Edell is not merely concerned about “fish in a creek.” He is, rather, concerned about the health of the entire Twelve Mile Creek. And, in my view, rightly so. In his own words:

“Our concern is and has always been the protection of the Twelve Mile Creek...the last remaining stream in Niagara that supports cold water reliant species.”

And there we have it: the last remaining stream in Niagara that supports cold water reliant species. We are talking about a precious and fragile ecosystem. Worth saving? In my view it certainly is.

The fish are only one aspect of the equation. It is always some seemingly insignificant fish or bat or salamander or plant or any other species we are trying to protect and whose habitat we are trying to restore. And we invariably find that even the smallest living creature in a given ecosystem is vital to the very integrity, health and ultimately survival of that ecosystem. Ecosystems are living webs.

Is there a solution which addresses the needs of both the residents of Sulphur Springs Drive and the Twelve Mile Creek? Looking at the wonderful restorative and protective work done in some of our Biosphere Reserves I believe there is the know-how. Whether there is the will is another matter. If not, and we fail to protect this fragile creek, this last remaining stream in Niagara that supports cold water reliant species, it will just be one more of many grave assaults we perpetrate on our natural environment. And always to our own detriment.

Johanna M. Tito Fonthill


Looking forward to more axe throwing

Just imagine going out for a Saturday afternoon, meeting new friends and helping to raise a generous amount of money for a great cause. I draw a lot of personal inspiration and motivation from volunteers like Jamie Treschak and his crew [Hatchets slice the sky at Fonthill Legion fundraiser, Aug. 25, p.1].

Jamie read off an impressive list of donors and sponsors. The Penny Tables were full of great gifts. It always amazes me to see how our business community supports our service clubs and charities even when the business climate is not ideal.

There should be a special award for President Toni and our comrades at the Legion. How do you really say thank you to somebody who toils away in the background and comes through time after time, even though they might tire of the task.

Volunteers like other volunteers. It was a great opportunity for myself and Mayor Junkin to meet visitors to our town and have a lot of fun doing it. There were a lot of happy people and families there on Saturday.

I’ll definitely be back next year. In the meantime, I’ll try to remember not to hold my breathe when I throw my axe. That plus injury explains the expression!

Councillor Wayne Olson Pelham Ward 1 Fenwick


Open letter to Ford on school vaxx mandate

With the looming presence of a fourth wave of the pandemic and beginning of the school year approaching, the issue of whether a policy making Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for all eligible students, staff, and visitors who enter public schools is a topic of much discussion within our school communities.

As the representative of Ontario’s 31 English Public School Boards and ten School Authorities, with their 1.3 million students, I am writing to request that your government act as quickly as possible to implement a policy and strategy to make vaccination mandatory in our schools.

We support the growing number of medical professionals and public health experts calling for such a policy in the education sector. As I’m sure you’ll agree, ensuring that we provide the safest possible environment for our students, staff, and school communities is a top priority for all of us. Swift and decisive action must be taken to ensure that our schools remain as safe as possible, and that we have the greatest chance of keeping our schools open for in-person learning, which is vital to the mental health and development of our students.

The Ontario Public School Boards’ Association and our member boards stand ready to work with the Ministry of Education, Public Health officials, Education sector stakeholders, and our school communities to ensure that the implementation of such a policy occurs as smoothly as possible.

Cathy Abraham President Ontario Public School Boards’ Association


Thanks for Merrittville 70th success

Many of us who reside in Pelham, including Mayor Marvin Junkin, spent an enjoyable evening visiting and celebrating the 70th anniversary at one of our oldest sports venues in the area, Merrittville Speedway. On a couple of occasions, Mayor Junkin hinted that with a minor boundary adjustment, Merrittville would be located within Pelham.

Many thanks to all the alumni, fans, and competitors who made the evening a huge success coming from all across Ontario, especially all fellow Pelham residents who continue to make Merrittville Speedway your home for Saturday night racing! Thanks to the Voice for covering our historic event as the oldest/continuous and in my opinion, best dirt track in Canada!

Rick Kavanagh Chair Merrittville Speedway Reunion Committee Fenwick



Salty talk for a snowy day

BY RYAN COOK Manager of Public Works

As this column is written, the weather is over 30 Celsius with the Humidex. It’s very hot and according to the forecast will continue to be. Accordingly, it’s time for Pelham to start getting serious about snow plowing. Because that’s how life is in municipal Public Works: you are aware that there are problems on the horizon, seasonal change is entirely foreseeable, winter is coming, and Mother Nature doesn’t care if you are ready or not. To offset this, Town staff plan and prepare months in advance.

So what does this look like?

In the heat of summer, supervisory staff begin divvying up newly constructed roads and assign them to routes based on available staff and equipment. More than a few hairs have been lost (I’m told) creating more efficient methods to stretch existing resources to clear snow in expanding residential areas. This can be a challenge since most of the new roads are all concentrated in areas well away from the Operations Yard, which increases travel time and decreases efficiency.

One of Pelham’s great strengths as an organization, and certainly not something that is universal in the municipal world, is that during a winter storm, the Water, Roads, and Beautification departments, work together as one. Most every employee working at the Tice Roads Operations Yard can operate big, heavy machinery with a plow blade. In Pelham, when the snow begins to fall it is literally an all-hands-on-deck type of event, and by having virtually everyone able to do the work, we can continue to keep vehicles on the road in staggered shifts, long after labour regulations require individual operators to stop.

Fall is time for returning to school and it is the same for Public Works staff who are required to attend a number of in-house training exercises for those who may be new to their assigned equipment or routes. Additionally, staff take winter maintenance courses related to safety, technology, applicable legislation, and salt application. Every winter storm is different in terms of severity, timing and the availability of staff and equipment, so it is important that all involved are on the same page.

The winter maintenance budget is a constant concern for the staff responsible for planning and implementing winter responses. Weather and operational data from long-forgotten winter seasons is tracked and debated in the creation of next year’s budget. The last remaining hairs on the head of management staff are lost pouring over seasonal weather predictions and commodity futures reports as the coming winter holds the potential for severe impacts across multiple operating budget line items. For example, a small increase in the average winter temperature can cause provincial shortages of road salt supply as, paradoxically, temperatures at or just above freezing lead to more ice accumulation, and ice, being harder to melt than snow, requires more salt to get the job done. A few extra winter storms can send fleet repair and fuel budgets alarmingly askew.

Behind the scenes during the dog days of summer, Public Works staff are preparing because winter is coming and they have good reason to sweat about it.



Lessons from the heat wave

As a follow up to a previous column (If we love our children, August 19, 2021) here are some measures that as individuals we can take to join the battle to fight global warming. These practicable ideas are based on proposals by the David Suzuki Foundation ( and distilled to the space limitations of this column.

According to environmental scientists, global warming is rising at an unprecedented rate. The current pace is roughly ten times faster in the last decade than the rate over the previous 5,000 years. So the issue is a serious one and not merely a pie-in-the-sky rumination.

1. Urge elected officials to take action now. With an election in the near future, ask candidates to state and put into writing their plans to fight the further destruction of our climate.

2. Take care to use energy wisely. Canadians are huge energy consumers — among the highest in the world. We can comfortably lower furnace thermostats a few degrees in winter and install a programmable heat control. Unplug computers, TVs and other electronic devices when not in use. Replace your gas stove with an electric model.

3. Encourage renewable energy production. Push our leaders to advocate for cleaner, healthier energy production. Wind and solar production facilities are easier on the climate than carbon fuels such as natural gas, oil and coal-fired power generation.

4. Eat more climate-friendly foods. Commercial food production such as beef and fertilized produce require large amounts of energy. Eating more meat-free meals is good for the planet and likely your health as well. Growing your own food and buying locally grown organics are good for the environment.

5. Encourage conversations about the climate. In order to make a difference, we must work together to reduce harming our planet. Talking to family and friends about measures to reduce global warming and pollution will raise the awareness and encourage top-of-mind reasoning about those issues.

6. Green up your traveling. According to ecological scientists, transportation accounts for 24 per cent of climate polluting emissions — second to only the oil and gas industry. Consider using public transit, arrange car-sharing, replace you gas driven vehicle with electric or hybrid models.

7. Make a commitment to consume less and waste less. Enjoy the feeling of doing your part for the environment. Focus more on simple activities such as nature walks, biking and exercises that will be gentler on the environment and engender feelings about earth’s wonders.

8. Consider investing and encouraging renewable energy sources. Resist investing in and supporting fossil fuel installations. Consider financing solar, wind and other climate-friendly projects and withdraw from eco-damaging investments.

9. Become involved in local climate-friendly actions. Be willing to work with government and society leaders who are making provisions to be less harmful to the environment and friendlier to planet.

10. Become politically active and astute. Vote only for candidates who pledge to enact measures to reduce global warming and are willing to take positive control over pollution and global warming. Be mindful of the environment we are leaving for our children.


PELHAM AND COVID-19 | Mayor Marvin Junkin

Town Hall set to welcome public again; fish or cut bait

Municipal town halls across the Region are beginning to allow entry to residents. Some of the bigger towns have already taken this step, while most are waiting, like Pelham, until after Labour Day. On September 7, we will begin to allow the public access to the building. The only entry will be off the lower/back parking lot. Anyone entering the building will be required to conduct self-screening sign-in, and then go about their business on either floor. We will be asking residents to come in, conduct their business, and then leave the building, with a bare minimum of socializing with staff. This will limit everyone’s exposure and keep pedestrian traffic moving in and out of the building.

There are currently no plans to re-open council meetings to the public. The council chamber is not large enough to safely accommodate interested residents. Meetings will continue to be live-streamed and then afterwards viewed on You Tube. Council will operate in a hybrid fashion, with most of council continuing to zoom in but allowing one or two councillors to be physically present if they so desire, again because of the small size of the chambers. If more than two councillors express a desire to return to the chamber, then a rotating system will be put in place allowing councillors to take turns attending meetings.

It was surprising how much interest a two-and-a-half-minute clip of an old farmer— well not that old—on a local TV station generated with certain agencies within our community. Dennis Edell, president of the local Trout Unlimited Canada chapter, designated yours truly to be “the supreme being in charge of all fishes in the Twelve Mile Creek.” Although I humbly accept this role it should be pointed out that after passing through one federal agency and two local agencies it would be hoped that the project granted the work permits will indeed be fish-friendly. My number one concern is for the residents of this town and secondly—a close second, I may add—is for the environment. I would also like to add that I feel that the NPCA has an important role to play in the region but it is also true that my entire life I have never heard anyone say, what a pleasure it was to try to get a permit issued from this agency in a timely fashion. Surely a third-party review is warranted by any agency every so often to keep the process up-to-date and taxpayer-friendly.