From “Sprawl” To A “Complete Community”

“We remain committed to the Town’s urban boundaries and increased the protections on the Fonthill Kame.”                               – Pelham Mayor Dave Augustyn

A Column from Town of Pelham Mayor Dave Augustyn

Posted November 15th, 016 on Niagara At Large

Pelham Mayor Dave Augustyn

Pelham Mayor Dave Augustyn

Town of Pelham, Niagara, Ontario – 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.

sprawl-repair-manual-bestIn 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 with questions or ideas for future columns. Please read past columns at

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2 responses to “From “Sprawl” To A “Complete Community”

  1. I admire any Mayor or council who cares enough to give a potted history of his town. I would bet that most mayors of the 12 Niagara Municipalities have even the slightest idea of the history of their towns and cities, or have ever attended a local historical society meeting of any kind. It’s all about boosterism and development now. Kudos to this mayor, or even the staff who may have helped him write this piece, for giving readers a sense of the history and growth of the place.

    A thoughtful piece of work.


  2. “A PLACE TO GROW” From the mouth of Liberals and to a degree Conservative Developers whose only concern is for themselves. A few short years ago it was disclosed the Development charge for a single family home in the Niagara Region is assessed at less than $10,000 with the Taxpayers anteing up almost half of the $10,000. (In Halton it is $32,000 and in London $22,0000 (These figures, are several years old, I got from the Building Department of the Areas mentioned) Since that time. the Niagara Regional Council opted to increase the Development Charge and I was alerted by Doug who asked me about a Particular Mayor. Apparently the Region at this time received a deferral motion from this mayor and Doug’s interest was aroused for it seemed this mayor’s father-in-law was a developer….????
    It never seems to cease in this Region.
    The Developers in building huge subdivisions are expanding the Infrastructure fields……..while much of present pipes are decades old, too old to handle the additional flow capacities. In the 1990 the province “Ordered” municipalities to up grade existing sewers and separate Storm Water from Sanitary Sewers the billing to taxpayers for water was increased about 50% but very little was done to fulfill the provinces decree.
    For the past decade or so the City has been attempting to rectify the debacle by further increasing installation and in turn increasing the Water/Waste Water taxes. Now one should be aware the City is installing Storm Sewers but the increase in flow from the “NEW” development is challenging….NOW IF YOU TAXPAYERS are AWARE these “NEW” subdivisions do not have “STORM SEWERS” The developers are now “ALLOWED” to install a ponds and ANOTHER PIECE OF NEWS after one Years your TAX dollars WILL have to be used to maintain these “MOSQUITO LARVA HATCHERIES”.,,,,ONE YEAR and you are on the HOOK and the Developers laugh all the way to the BANK..Again and Again.


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