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Pelham arena campaign aims to raise $250,000

PELHAM – May 29, 2018 – Pelham Ward 2 Coun. Gary Accursi provides a tour of Meridian Community Centre shortly after a media event to launch a community fundraising campaign for the $36-million facility that will open officially in the fall.

The fundraising efforts behind the new arena complex in Pelham has reached 95 percent of its goal and now efforts to bring in donations from community members are at a focal point.

At a media event at Peter Pipers Pubhouse in Fonthill, representatives of the community campaign launched Tuesday morning said it will target business owners, residents, and community groups who are able to make contributions starting at $2,500 over five years.

Donors will also have their names on a wall in the atrium of the $36-million facility that will begin welcoming guests next month as a soft opening and be officially ready in the fall.

Residents and business owners will later be able to have one of 1,000 seats at the centre inscribed with their names for a pledge of $250.

The community campaign’s goal is $250,000.

Martin van Zon, president of Interkom, the firm hired to coordinate fundraising efforts, said the smallest donation accepted during the ongoing capital campaign is $10,000, but the community phase is more geared towards families and smaller businesses.

“Ten thousand dollars is a little rich or unattainable for some people, so the community campaign allows people to get aboard for $2,500 over five years,” he said at Tuesday’s event.

The community goal is a small part of the total g$3-million fundraising goal set by Pelham council. About $2.8 million of that amount has already been gifted by donors, including a $1-million contribution from Meridian Credit Union, securing naming rights for the centre.

According to Van Zon, the community campaign will be an effort to bring the amount raised over the target.

“What we’re trying to do is overachieve,” he said.

His firm was also the driver in fundraising efforts for the performing arts centre in St. Catharines, bringing in $5 million over a period of three years.

For Pelham, a much smaller municipality, to already have $3 million in commitments in two years is remarkable, van Zon said before tours of the community centre were offered.

“To me, it’s a testament to the project and the excitement about it,” he said.

One community donor who has already got the ball rolling is Upper Canada Consultants, a planning firm that has worked on many projects around Niagara for decades.

“It will be an integral part of Fonthill moving forward,” said William Heikoop, representing the firm started by his father more than 40 years ago.

Ron Palmer from the Planning Partnership, another committed donor, said it’s nice to see plans become a reality in a part of Niagara he and his team have been involved with since 2001.

“It’s great to see implementation come to fruition and we’re happy to be a part of this amazing community-building event,” he said.

Ward 2 Coun. Gary Accursi, who made a $300,000 capital campaign donation with his wife, said he gets satisfaction from giving back to a community that has played such a pivotal role over the years as the couple raised their five children.

“We decided we have to give back and pay it forward, so the future kids of our community can have the same opportunities our kids had,” he said.

Mayor Dave Augustyn said the rate the fundraising campaign has moved at since it started is incredible.

“We are absolutely delighted with where we are right now,” he said.

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Originally posted in Welland Tribune – Written by Kris Dube on May 29, 2018