From “Sprawl” to a “Complete Community”
The Mayor’s Report with Pelham Mayor Dave Augustyn
Town of Pelham Mayor Dave Augustyn – Photo by Divino Mucciante
By Mayor Dave Augustyn – I keep the “Sprawl Repair Manual” by Galina Tachieva on my desk at home. The work “presents a comprehensive methodology for transforming sprawl” along with “implementation techniques” for “rebalancing suburbia.”
Why? Well, I hate to point out that much of Pelham developed as sprawl.
During the late-1800s and early-1900s, development in the former Township of Pelham and Village of Fonthill grew along traditional coach routes (like Canboro Road) and at crossings along the TH&B (through Fenwick) and NS&T (through Fonthill) railway lines.
But, the advent of the automobile quickly changed all that.
For example, only in a car-centered-culture would one build a high school on some of the best tender fruit land and on a (then) Provincial Highway.
Similarly, prior to the hundreds of homes around it, the Pelham Arena was erected in the mid-1970s in a farmer’s field and far from restaurants and retail.
In fact, much of Pelham’s previous residential development sprawled across farm lands and forests. These now-mature residential neighbourhoods from the 1970s and 80s contain more than 50 cul-de-sacs or courts! That’s quite different than traditional neighbourhoods of College, Emmett, Elm, Burton and Chestnut streets.
Previous Councils also expanded the Town’s “urban boundaries” – the areas in which one can develop. The +500 acres in East Fonthill and “Lookout Ridge” were added in 2000. Significant developable lands in Fenwick – from Cream to Balfour and between Memorial and Welland Road – were added in 1990.
Once approved, these urban-land-rights last forever, guaranteeing a development future for Pelham.
Given this history, how does one “repair” the sprawl and foster a more “complete” community?
We started by revitalizing Downtown Fonthill and Fenwick; in addition to rebuilding the streetscapes, one-third of the buildings on Pelham Street have recently improved their façades and added residential units.
We’ve also encouraged walking and cycling by building more than 13 km of sidewalks, 9 km of bike lanes, 7 km of trails, and 5 crosswalks. Now – 53 years after it opened – we’ve approved extending a sidewalk to Crossley. We’ve also discouraged car use by initiating Pelham transit.
We approved plans for East Fonthill that include wide-sidewalks and trails and a road network that links to existing streets; to enable these plans, we’ve even removed houses were future streets will go.
We’ve insisted on street-facing commercial development and on as pedestrian-friendly-as-possible parking. We continue to call for rear-lanes and we protected key environmental features.
Instead of consolidating services into a central building, we’re revitalizing the Maple Acre Library. And, we’re constructing the new Pelham Community Centre near other amenities – like stores and restaurants, and a future medical centre, retirement home, and other “mixed-uses.”
Finally, we remain committed to the Town’s urban boundaries and increased the protections on the Fonthill Kame.
Correcting Pelham’s sprawl isn’t easy, but Council and I will persevere toward that goal.
Please contact Mayor Dave at email@example.com with questions or ideas for future columns. Please read past columns at www.pelhammayordave.blogspot.com.