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New Growth Era in Pelham

The Town of Pelham is entering into a profound era of revitalization and community growth. According to our Town's "Toward 2015" corporate strategic plan the population of the Town of Pelham is expected to increase by 30 per cent by the year 2015. This statistic is noted in the opening environmental scan section of the report as one of the five external issues that "could have impact on the Town, but over which Pelham has no control".

As a local citizen who happens to work in the business of moving new families into our community I am left to conclude that it is up to the five thousand or so new residents to discover Pelham on their own and/or it is the responsibility of the private sector to promote the benefits that will attract the new growth to our the Town. Admittedly, I am quite certain that this was not the Town's intent when this statement was included in the report but it does highlight the importance of developing a Town promotion plan and community development strategy.

Town Promotion is identified as a key strategic issue in the "Toward 2015" planning report. According to the report, there is a need for improved promotion of the Town to "help the Town to develop an identity within and beyond the Niagara peninsula". The report further outlines the considerable "overlap" that exists between Beautification and Town promotion.

The recent three day urban design guideline planning workshops demonstrated how inextricably interrelated beautification and revitalization is to tourism and economic development strategy. Planning consultant, Harold Madi, described a vision of Canboro Rd, with its rolling hills and orchards on each side anchored by the downtowns of Fonthill and Fenwick becoming a tourism destination. The stars all seem to be aligning serendipitously to facilitate the development of a long term economic development strategy in the Town of Pelham.

Now may be an opportune time for the Town of Pelham to consider following the model of utilizing a civic-driven prosperity planning process. Many towns, cities and regions across Canada have successfully formed volunteer advisory committees comprised of dedicated civic minded business and community leaders to facilitate the creation of long term economic vision plans. A notable local example is the St. Catharines - Thorold Prosperity Council that presented its action plan, "Path's to Prosperity" to the St. Catharine's City Council in March 2009.

It is an exciting time to be a citizen living in Pelham. Let us all participate in the political process not solely to promote self interests but also to be agents of change and purposefully collaborate and address common challenges. Ultimately, we all share the responsibility of fulfilling the final line in our Town of Pelham Vision Statement - "Pelham has become a destination point which many are proud to call home."

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