Fort Erie News: October Edition

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FULL ARTICLES

Hot Summer Draws Large Numbers to Kinsmen Pool
Mini Downtown Residential Building Boom Causes Parking Issues
Community Growth Affecting Transit Service Levels?
The Town is opening up with Open Data
Annual Junior Firefighting Camp a Success


Hot Summer Draws Large Numbers to Kinsmen Pool
With little rain and lots of sunshine, it’s no surprise local residents took advantage of the Fort Erie Kinsmen Pool this summer. Since its reopening in 2015, more than 500 children expanded their skills by participating in free swimming lessons thanks to a partnership between the Town of Fort Erie, the Fort Erie Underwater Recovery Unit (FEURU), Canadian Tire’s Jumpstart program and generous donations from the community. In addition to swimming lessons, the pool was visited by 150-300 swimmers daily.

The Town would like to thank the many corporations, service clubs, and individuals who have contributed greatly to ensure the pool is fiscally sustainable, as well as the many local contractors who have donated their time, talent, and resources when repairs were needed. The Town would also like to thank the FEURU who have been front and center in tackling many projects around the facility. The FEURU and the Town worked towards a lease arrangement whereby giving the FEURU control of the facility and its operations in 2015.

Planning has already started for 2017 and organizers anticipate another busy summer, especially if the weather cooperates the way it did this year.  Some minor repairs and renovations are being considered in order to prolong the life of the pool as long as possible.

 

Mini Downtown Residential Building Boom Causes Parking Issues
Local owners and builders are currently taking advantage of municipal community improvement funding, which is causing Fort Erie to experience a mini residential building boom in its downtown areas. This mini boom is helping to revitalize the Town by creating a number of new residential apartments throughout Fort Erie’s five downtowns: Ridgeway, Bridgeburg, Stevensville, Southend and Crystal Beach.

With this success come concerns, as developers and property owners are finding it difficult to meet the mandatory parking requirements for new residential properties. To address these concerns, Town Staff has developed, in consultation with the Town BIAs and commercial business owners, a preliminary Parking Strategy that includes a suite of options (such as cash-in-lieu and permit parking) for the Town’s five downtown areas. On Oct. 11, Fort Erie residents and business owners are invited to attend a Parking Strategy Public Meeting from 5:30 to 7pm at Fort Erie Town Hall (Atrium). During the meeting, Town Staff will present the options and gather feedback from participants. By addressing the parking requirements, Fort Erie will continue to support the revitalization of the downtown areas.

For more information, please review the Downtown Parking Strategy Report that was presented by Staff to Council-in-Committee on September 6, 2016.

 

The Town is opening up with Open Data
Fort Erie is now part of the Open Data movement. This is an exciting opportunity for the Town to effectively engage its citizens by giving them more access to data and the freedom to do what they want with it.   Open Data is all about promoting transparency and breaking down silos that exist within communities and government itself.

To understand the benefits of participating in an Open Data environment it is important to understand what Open Data is. As a government organization, the Town maintains three broad classes of information: (1) closed, (2) shared and now (3) open.

  • Closed data refers to information that only those in the organization can see. This is data that the citizens of Fort Erie trust the Town to keep secure, such as personal information on taxes.
  • Shared data is information that is not entirely public but is used by some Town staff members for certain tasks. An example would be information provided to contractors working on projects for the Town.
  • Open data unlocks access to information and provides new freedoms for citizens to use it. Open Data is often defined as information that anyone can access, use and share.

The key to Open Data is having a license that supports these freedoms. By exposing new information in a format that everyone can access, people are starting to use the information in ways that were not predicted such as developing software applications. Everyday examples of this are GPS systems that take open data in the form of coordinates from satellites and weather information that is broadcast to websites but free for people to integrate into applications.

Closer to home, citizens in Toronto have used Open Data to develop over 60 applications including waste management reminders, transit trackers and event/festival scheduling. It is anticipated that having Open Data available in Niagara will stimulate similar developments for its citizens.

The Town has recently finalized the Open Data license and has started to release information to the new Niagara Open Data Portal. The site houses datasets from seven area municipalities, Niagara Region and Brock.   As the Town builds its Open Data repository, citizens should expect to see datasets related to budgeting, elections, mapping and more. Please visit niagaraopendata.ca for more information or contact Kelly Davis, Manager, Digital Services, at kdavis@forterie.ca.

 

Community Growth Affecting Transit Service Levels
Fort Erie is growing and trends reveal that this growth is going to continue. Although positive, this growth has placed pressure on the Town’s transit services and has drawn concerns related to route accessibility, service levels and access to services. In order to adapt to this growth, the Town recently hired the Transit Consulting Network (TCN) to review the current transit services and to assess transit needs based on community feedback.

In order to meet the needs of the community, TCN conducted stakeholder meetings with staff, Council, bus operators, the general public, local service organizations and community agencies. In addition, a community-wide online/on-board public transit survey was conducted resulting in almost 300 submissions. The meetings and survey were designed to help prioritize transit investments based on community feedback balanced with industry best practices.

On Oct. 3, TCN will present highlights of its findings and recommendations to Town Council. Interested residents are encouraged to attend the Council-in-Committee meeting, listen through the Town’s live-stream audio service or view the Staff report.

 

Annual Junior Firefighting Camp a Success
With overwhelming support from community partners, Fort Erie’s Fire and Emergency Services (FEFES) has successfully completed its 5th Annual Junior Firefighter camp. This 5-day camp is designed to teach 25 youths (10-12 years) about fire, rescue, and emergency medical service organizations in a safe, controlled, educational and fun way. The program also provides graduates from the previous year with an opportunity to participate in a 3-day course. Following the course, five participants are picked to become Junior Leaders and assist with the next Junior Firefighter camp.

Some benefits of a Junior Firefighter Program include:
• Allowing youth to gain insight and interest in becoming long-term members of emergency services;
• Increasing awareness among youth about volunteering and supporting fire and emergency services;
• Developing leadership for Canadian youth who are tomorrow’s leaders; and
• Educating parents and care-givers on the importance of encouraging volunteerism.

It is anticipated that participants go home at the end of the week with some life skills, an appreciation for those who volunteer in their communities and a respect for not only themselves but also for others.

The Town will be accepting applications for the 2017 Junior Firefighter program in Spring 2017. Stay tuned.

For more information about the FEFES, CLICK HERE

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