BY JOHN CHICK
Special to The VOICE
The lack of planning regarding parking at the community centre reared its head again at the June 17 Pelham Town Council meeting, with a call for more disabled spaces. Currently, there are just four outside the $36-million facility.
“Four just doesn’t cut it,” Pelham Seniors Advisory Committee Chair Sharon Cook told council in a presentation.
With many seniors holding disabled parking passes, and the community centre being designated a seniors activity facility, that fact frequently leaves some with mobility issues out at the end of the parking lot.
“They almost need to call a cab to get to the front door,” Cook said. “We need more spaces.”
Cook suggested that some of the “mom and tot” spaces for parents with small children could be moved back in favour of more disabled spots. She found a sympathetic ear with council, who unanimously voted to amend the current parking zoning to allow more temporary disabled spaces during certain events until a full report on the matter is complete by September. Fire Chief Bob Lymburner said that this could easily be accomplished by putting up sandwich boards to mark off temporary spots, and by ignoring the current bylaw during special events.
Director of Community Planning and Development Barb Wiens noted that the original four disabled spots met minimum provincial standards, and that increasing them would shrink the number of overall parking spaces because the disabled ones are wider.
That brought council back to one of the community centre’s initial problems, an overall lack of parking.
Mayor Marvin Junkin asked about the unused land on the northern frontage of the building.
“I know we can’t touch all of it,” he said. “But it’s such a waste to have this grand entrance without parking.”
Wiens replied that could be looked into through a staff report.
“There was a vision for that area,” she said. “If we’re going to be changing that vision, it could be an opportunity to investigate whether we can add parking.”
Ward 3 Councillor Lisa Haun, meanwhile, suggested the possibility of adding angled parking on the west side of the MCC, across from the Wellspring building.
“If we cut into that grass area, could we do angled parking?” she asked. “I would think we could get quite a few stalls in there.”
Director of Recreation, Culture and Wellness Vickie van Ravenswaay reminded council that Pelham Transit does provide free rides for seniors to events at the MCC, and encouraged them to call ahead for pick-up.
Ridgeville short on spots too
Meanwhile, representatives from the Shoppes of Ridgeville presented their idea to council to build eight new parking spaces next to the current water station on the southeast corner of Canboro Road and Effingham Street. There are currently a dozen street spots to serve the hamlet’s shops, spaces they say are quickly taken.
Council voted to refer the presentation to staff, but also put through an amendment to address a request for a bike rack. As they wrapped up, a representative from the Shoppes of the Ridgeville thanked them and said “fifty percent off for [councillors].”
Ward 1 Councillor Mike Ciolfi half-jokingly retorted, “We can’t do that!”
More accessibility concerns
Council also heard a presentation from Niagara’s Joint Accessibility Advisory Committee, focusing on encouraging business owners to make their structures fully accessible for those in wheelchairs and scooters. Committee member Rhys Evans said it is an ongoing process to convince the private sector to act.
“We’ve become a lot more accessible than we were,” Evans, who uses a wheelchair, said. “Growing up here, I had to advocate for sidewalks.”
He encouraged businesses to reach out to the committee through its, “We Are Accessible” campaign, and staff will then perform an audit to see what alterations can be made given a particular space.
“I look at approach, entry, and usability,” Evans said. “Can I enter your establishment? Can I use it the same way as everybody else?”
Interested businesses can find out more by emailing [email protected] or by calling 905-380-4782.
Mayor Junkin hopes people will take action.
“We look forward to the business community of Pelham becoming more accessible with your guidance,” Junkin said.
Odds and ends
Council passed a standard bylaw to authorize the Town to borrow money when needed from its bank CIBC, “from time to time, such sums as the Council considers necessary to meet, until the taxes are collected and other revenues are received, the current expenditures of the Municipality for the year not exceeding in the aggregate of $7,000,000.”
Ciolfi also highlighted an item from April’s Community Beautification Report, noting that the Pelham Business Assocation donated $10,000 for beautification efforts in Fonthill, Ridgeville and Fenwick.
Now on its summer schedule, council’s next regular meeting is not until July 15.