BY APRIL FUELLES
Fonthill, ON (April 1) A third pad is coming to Pelham’s new Community Centre—but not the type of pad you might think.
Late Friday, at a press conference hastily convened at Pelham Town Hall after Council voted its approval, Mayor Dave Augustyn announced that the Town of Pelham would partner with Space-X founder Elon Musk to add a “world class” launch pad to the new Pelham Community Centre currently taking shape in East Fonthill.
Flanked by members of Town Council and Pelham CAO Darren Ottaway, Augustyn conducted a brisk, two-hour, 87-slide PowerPoint presentation on the new addition, slated to be completed with the rest of the facility in late 2018. Budgeted at $228 million dollars, the rocket pad increases the original project cost by some 7 times.
CAO Darren Ottaway asserted that a “fully transparent, vibrant, innovative, and caring” funding plan was in place to pay for the addition.
“Transparent,” agreed a smiling Mayor Augustyn. Several councillors repeated the word, which some observers later likened to a chant or mantra.
“While it’s true that a 2013 analysis by Leisure Plan International did not find sufficient demand for a rocket launching pad in Pelham,” said Augustyn, “by 2015 we had persuaded—that is to say, Leisure Plan had identified a clear and convincing need for such a facility, which will draw users from Pelham, from Ontario, from Canada, and from around the world, for generations to come.”
“World-class,” said CAO Ottaway.
When asked whether existing launch facilities in Florida, California, Texas, Japan, China, Siberia, India, Israel, and the Maldives didn’t already meet current and projected demand for rocket launching, Mayor Augustyn asserted that Pelham’s small-town character would be a big draw.
“When it comes to the safe, considerate, vibrant, and innovative handling of solid rocket boosters, no one will do it better than here in Pelham.”
Funding for the new Space-X pad will be accomplished through an increase in residential property taxes over 30 years, explained Ottaway. “We’ve sort of learned our lesson on Regional debentures, on Development Charges schemes, and whatnot,” he said. “A draconian property tax is the best way to raise this kind of dough.”
Pelham’s 6,400 residential taxpayers will see an average property tax increase of $46,000 annually, according to a pie chart graphic released by the Town. The pie consisted of a single wedge labelled, “Homeowners.”
“This is a one-time-only charge,” said Mayor Augustyn, “which will repeat thirty times.”
“We are also thrilled to announce that the facility will be named the ‘Space-X Berkhout Cosmodrome.’”
“The Mayor transparently recused himself on that one,” said Councillor John Durley. “He actually left the Tra—I mean chambers.”
Councillor Marvin Junkin, already visibly pale during the media presentation, abruptly fell backward into Councillor Katherine King.
“Strategic and creative problem-solving is needed here,” said the Mayor, coming to Junkin’s aid.
“How can we…,” said Augustyn.
“How can we what,” responded King.
“How can we get an ambulance,” replied Augustyn. “There are no bad ideas. Anyone?”
While the launch facility is scheduled to be operational by late 2018, at press time no launch bookings, prime-time or otherwise, were confirmed. Reached at his Silicon Valley headquarters, Space-X founder Elon Musk seemed unaware of the project.
“’Pelham?’ Wasn’t that a movie about a subway train?” he asked before hanging up.
A public consultation session on whether to add the launch pad to the Community Centre was convened ten minutes before the vote to approve it. The motion passed 6-1.
April Fuelles is a freelance reporter whose stories appear annually on April 1, and are aimed solely at readers with a healthy sense of humour. Readers not so equipped are invited to direct their ire to [email protected]