Ford Getting Closer to Keeping One of His Promises – Paving Over a “Big Chunk” of Ontario’s World-Renown Greenbelt

“I live in the (Niagara) watershed. (and) this is the worst news possible. How can we protect the green belt and its rivers and lakes when these greedy gangsters want to pave it over. It’s scary.”                                                                                                           – a comment from one of Niagara At Large’s readers, Edila MacIlrelli, in response to news that the Ford Government has sent a letter to the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority and other Conservation Authorities across the province, directing them to “wind down” conservation activities that fall outside of whatever the province deems to be their “core mandate”.

A Brief Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper

Posted August 20th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

“Promise made. Promise kept.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford was caught on video in 2018 saying he would cut up a “big chunk” of the Greenbelt for development

It is one of the lines Ontario Premier Doug Ford seems to love to throw in when he claims he is fulfilling another pledge in a campaign platform that had to be one of the thinnest when it came to specifics in modern Canadian political history.

There was at least one pledge Ford made that he was real specific about – this one caught on a leaked video that was made without his awareness – while he stood before a group of friends and supporters in the development industry weeks before Ontario’s June, 2018 provincial election and told them he would be willing to carve up a “big chunk” of the protected Greenbelt running around Lake Ontario from the GTA and Hamilton, and through Niagara to the Niagara River.

Here is that video (click on the screen immediately below) of Ford making his “big chunk” promise to a group of developers who looked happy to hear it –

When this video leaked out, the pledge met such a public backlash that even Ford, as much of a battering ram as he is, scrambled to put it back in the box. Continue reading

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At Conference of Ontario Municipal Leaders,Province’s NDP Leader Andrea Horwath Shares Vision For Stronger Communities

Ontario NDP and Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath

“The countdown to devastating cuts is on. Slashing public health and child care is slashing things that keep our families safe and healthy. The human cost of failing people when it comes to public health, ambulance services and child care is unthinkable, and so is the Ford Tax municipalities are now being forced to contemplate to fill the holes Mr. Ford is digging in your budgets.” – Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, in an address in Ottawa this August 19th, 2019 at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario’s annual conference

A News Release from Ontario’s Official Opposition New Democratic Party

Posted August 19th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

(A Brief Foreword Note – Andrea Horwath delivered this message to Ontario’s municipal leaders, including representatives from Niagara, shortly after they learned that Ontario Premier Doug Ford will move forward this coming year with already planned provincial cuts to public health, ambulance, child day care and other municipally operated services – therefore downloading any costs for these services, should municipalities choose to keep them – on residents and businesses that pay property taxes. So much for saving people money.)

OTTAWA, Ontario – NDP Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath shared her vision for stronger communities in remarks Monday at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) Conference in Ottawa.

“No matter what part of Ontario we live in, we all want similar things,” said Horwath. “We all want a future where municipalities continue to be the heart of life at home – with provincial funding for municipalities that’s stable, predictable and certain – so the things our families count on will always be there.” Continue reading

Ford Now Turning his War on Our Environment on Ontario’ Conservation Authorities

Premier Doug Ford and his Environment Minister Jeff Yurek are moving to shut down work Conservation Authorities in Niagara and across the province are doing to protect and preserve Ontario’ watersheds

Conservation Ontario General Manager Kim Gavine

“We’ve been caught completely by surprise. … We’ve been working for months in good faith with the government to make a number of planning and development approvals streamlining changes to support their agenda to eliminate the deficit and implement the Housing Strategy. … I can only assume they are trying to avoid criticism about downloading conservation authorities’ programs and services to municipalities.”                     – Kim Gavine, General Manager of Conservation Ontario, the Association which represents the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority and  Ontario’s 35 other Conservation Authorities

A News Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper

Posted August 19th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

Conservation Authorities across the province “are stunned” by a letter the province’s anti-environment Ford government circulated to them this August 19th, recommending that they shut down any conservation programs that are not related to their “core mandate,” says a statement circulated by their umbrella group, Conservation Ontario.

Jeff Yurek, shown here in Ontario legislature, is Ford’s Minister of Environment. He seems more bent on declaring war on the environment than on protecting it.

As the letter signed by Jeff Yurek, a Ford Tory MPP for the Riding of Elgin-Middlesex-London who seems to be making it his business to go down as one of the worst environment minister in Ontario history, circulated through social media, Niagara At Large began receiving email from residents in Niagara with messages like “this is beyond nuts” and “the public needs to be outraged.”

The statement from Conservation Ontario and its general manager, Kim Gavine, representing the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority and 35 other Conservation Authorities across the province, said the letter from the Ford government was “confusing and extremely disappointing.” Continue reading

As Magical As Woodstock Was, Some Memories Are Better Left Alone

A Final Few Words on Woodstock’s 50th anniversary by Doug Draper

Posted August 19th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

Before I leave the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock music festival completely, just for a bit of fun, I will leave you with this.

Is ‘going back to the garden’ 50 years later really such a cool idea? Skip the brown acid. Cue the Geritol.

While I was writing and posting my own tributes to this legendary pop culture event on Niagara At Large, there I was, at one point, amusing myself with the thought of what it might be like if all of those festival goers – looking so young and fresh in the Woodstock movie and those 50-year-old photos – went “back to the garden” and gathered on the festival grounds today.

With images of these people, many of them now in their 70s, back on Yasgur’s farm, sliding in the mud, and God help us, having another skinny dip in the ponds, I came across a cartoon on the editorial pages of this past Saturday’s August 17th Buffalo News that placed the hilarity and, perhaps a bit of the nightmare of such a reunion, fully into focus.

Thanks to Dave Granlund, a well-known and respected cartoonist from Massachusetts whose cartoons are published in many daily newspapers across the United States and who was kind enough to grant me permission to  his cartoon, here it is –

Some of the organizers of the 1969 Woodstock festival tried to put together another one for the 50th anniversary. But unlike the first time, when they finally managed to find a person in Max Yasgur to let them host it on his land, despite opposition from other town’s people, they couldn’t overcome the opposition this time. Continue reading

Ford Government Could Save Billions by Chucking Nuclear and Opting for Hydro Energy Instead

Time for Ford to Get With the Times and Opt for a        100 Per Cent Renewable Future

A Message from the Ontario Clean Air Coalition

Posted August 19th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

**Have you heard the hum?**

Hydroelectric generating turbines in Quebec. Could they be a source of more renewable energy for Ontario too?

There’s a hum in the air – one that seems to get a little louder each summer. It’s air conditioning season and many people’s electricity bills will be climbing as temperatures soar.

So what happened to that 12% cut in hydro bills that Premier Ford promised more than a year ago? Absolutely nothing.

In fact, the Ford government has stubbornly stuck with one of the worst decisions of the former government -doubling down on high-cost nuclear power instead of taking Quebec up on its offer to sell us low-cost water power. Continue reading

A Kind and Courageous Act of Bringing People Together – An Act We Could Use More of Today

Why Max Yasgur – the Bethel, New York Dairy Farmer who owned the land the Woodstock Festival took place on – became so Beloved to Millions of Young People Around the World

Max Yasgur addresses the masses gathered on his farmland for the Woodstock festival, 50 years ago this August

“The important thing that you’ve proven to the world is that a half a million kids–and I call you kids because I have children that are older than you–a half million young people can get together and have three days of fun and music and have nothing but fun and music, and I God bless you for it!”                                                                                                    – Bethel, New york dairy farmer Max Yasgur, in a short address he delivered on August 17th, 1969 to the more than 400,000 Woodstock festival-goer s assembled on his land, 50 years ago this summer

One more look back at Woodstock at 50, by Niagara At Large reporter Doug Draper

Posted August 17th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

Before the 50th anniversary celebrations of Woodstock, one of the most pivotal events in 20th century pop culture history, draws to a close, let me leave you with a few nice memories of a most unlikely individual who helped make the legendary festival possible.

The individual’s name was Max Yasgur and in the age we live in today, where people seem so divided along so many lines – race, gender and age, just to name a few – and we have leaders more interested in exploiting those divisions for their own gain than bringing people together, Max Yasgur’s role in the Woodstock story should serve as inspiration to all of us.

Max Yasgur on the land on his farm that would host one of the 20th century’s greatest music and art festivals

It was July, 1969, just weeks before the Woodstock festival took place on August 15th, 16th, and 17th, and continued on into Monday, August 18th to accommodate a backlog of entertainment, including Jimi Hendrix, that had their sets delayed due to off and on pouring rain during the weekend, that the festival organizers negotiated a deal with Max Yasgur to hold the even on parcels of land on his large dairy farm in the Catskills. Continue reading

Join Us and become a Citizen Scientist – Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority Hosts “Bioblitz”

 A Free Event, this coming Saturday, August 24th, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. at NPCA’s Ball’s Falls Conservation Area in Lincoln, Niagara

An Invited from the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority in Niagara, Ontario
Posted August 17th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

Taking inventory of all the flora and fauna found at NPCA’s Ball’s Falls Conservation Area is the purpose behind the “Niagara Peninsula BioBlitz” event taking place Saturday, August 24th.

Hosted by Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, in collaboration with the Canadian Wildlife Federation, BioBlitz will see members of the public become citizen scientists and join forces with scientists, taxon experts and nature enthusiasts to take a “nature selfie,” tracking and taking inventory of all the species that can be identified during the day-long event. Continue reading