Niagara Falls NDP MPP Slams Ontario’s Ford Government for Not Enforcing Certification for Skilled Trade Workers

Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates

MPP Wayne Gates demands province resume enforcement of trades certifications

“By choosing not to invest in enforcing certifications, the government is devaluing the work of skilled tradespeople, undermining consumer confidence.”                                                     – Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates

A News Release from the Constituence Office of Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates

Posted July 23rd, 2021 on Niagara At Large

A Foreword Note from Doug Draper at Niagara At Large

I was not aware of this until a good reader of our news site sent me a CBC story a few days ago. But reportedly, Ontario’s ‘get-back-the-province-back-to-business-at-almost-any-cost’ Ford Government, decided three years ago, shortly after it was sworn into power, to let just about anyone who thinks they know what they are doing to tinker around with your home.

Thanks to Ontario’s Doug Ford and his Ontario Conservatives, you can now have this guy doing your plumbing.

In other words, if you need the electrical wiring repaired or replace in your home, or you need plumbing done (just to mention a few examples), why have a fully trained, certified trades person do it when you can hire an uncertified freelancer for a cheaper price.

Is that what Doug Ford and his Conservatives mean when they boast about growing business in Ontario and putting more people back to work. Continue reading

Start Me Up Niagara Leader Honoured With Humanitarian Award

Susan Venditti named 2021 T. Roy Adams Humanitarian Award Recipient

A News Release from Niagara’s Regional Government

Posted July 23rd, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara’s Susan Venditti receives annual humanitarian award

Niagara, Ontario – Susan Venditti has been named the 2021 recipient of the T. Roy Adams Humanitarian Award in recognition of her lifelong dedication to caring for those less fortunate in our community.

Venditti recently retired as CEO of Start Me Up Niagara, an organization she founded and has overseen since 1998.

Her leadership and limitless energy has provided new opportunities for countless individuals experiencing poverty, homelessness, disabilities, addictions and mental health issues to increase their level of self-sufficiency and improve their quality of life.

Venditti has also been an inspiration to other volunteers in Niagara, identifying each individual’s unique gifts, and encouraging them to find ways to give back to their community. She has built a community of support for those in need while at the same partnering with other agencies and organizations to fill in the gaps. Continue reading

Ford Must Declare State Of Emergency For Unprecedented Number Of Wildfires In Ontario

“Ontario has seen a total of 724 fires this season as compared to 414 last year. The 10-year average is 458 fires by July 18 annually. This increase is extremely troubling.”

An Open Letter from Members of Ontario’s NDP Caucus

Posted July 22nd on Niagara At Large

A Brief Foreword Note from Doug Draper At Niagara At Large –

Yes, the young climate activist Greta Thunberg is right. “Our house – the only place we have to live in this universe – is on fire.”

While these raging wildfires are occurring in northern Ontario and not here in the Niagara area, don’t think for a minute that they don’t significantly impact us.

We will all – and that means every single one one of us who have property or car insurance – end up paying higher premiums to cover the countless billions of dollars’ worth of damage caused by these fires. And  fire-fighting resources across southern regions of the province are being deployed to help combat these blazes, making for less resources in the event of emergencies here. .

Meanwhile, we have a Ford government that has never taken the climate crisis that is leading to more frequent and severe episodes of wildfires, floods, life-threatening winds and other costly climate –related disasters seriously and probably never will.

It is simply NOT in the DNA of today’s Conservative partisans in Canada – provincial or federal – to take environmental threats like this seriously. Continue reading

Loss of Welland House Hotel Highlights Need To Preserve Heritage – Brock University Profs

“Even if the Welland House Hotel is rebuilt, we can never truly bring it back,” Vlossak says. “Now that the building is gone, it becomes even more important that we capture, record and preserve its stories and memories.”                                                        – Brock University Associate Professor of History Elizabeth Vlossak

A Report from Brock News at Brock University in St. Catharines/Niagara, Ontario

Posted on July 21st, 2021 on Niagara At Large

The historic Welland House Hotel in St. Catharines burned down Monday, July 12. The loss of the building is about more than bricks and mortar, says Brock Associate Professor of History Elizabeth Vlossak.

When the Welland House Hotel burned down Monday, July 12th, a significant witness to St. Catharines history was lost.

Elizabeth Vlossak. (Image courtesy of Woodruff Family Fonds from the Brock University Archives)

“Its value to our cultural heritage lay not so much in its bricks and mortar, or the artifacts within it, but in its role as a ‘witness’ to the historical events that have shaped our community over the past 170 years, and in the stories of the people who worked, stayed, played and organized there,” says Brock Associate Professor of History Elizabeth Vlossak. Continue reading

U.S. to Continue Baring Canadians from Crossing Border Through August 21st

Canada Has Said ‘Yes’ To Americans Crossing Starting August 9th, While U.S. Continues to Say ‘No’ to Canadians

Buffalo, New York area Democratic U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins

“While the United States does nothing, loved ones (from Canada) remain separated and communities whose economies rely on the cross-border exchange continue to suffer economically. Continuation of this shutdown is illogical.”                                     – Brian Higgins,  U.S. Democratic Congressman representing people in the Buffalo/Niagara Falls, New York area

A Statement by Buffalo, New York-Area Congressman Brian Higgins in Response to U.S. Extension of Border Restrictions between the United States and Canada

Posted July 21st, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Uncle Sam continues to tell “non-essential” Canadian travellers to stay out of the United States.

Infuriated by today’s (July 21st, 2021) announcement<https://public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2021-15573.pdf> that the United States government will extend restrictions on non-essential travel at the border between the United States and Canada for another month, (Buffalo, New York area) Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) released the following statement:

“For months now people and businesses along the border have been strung along month after month holding out hope for the border to reopen. Today’s decision by the Biden administration harms economic recovery and hurts families all across America’s northern border; this is completely unnecessary. Continue reading

Ford Held Back On Funding Assistance For Health Care and Other Needs During Pandemic

Ontario’s Financial Accountability Office Shows The Ford Government Withheld $10.3 Billion From Ontarians, Including Over $1 Billion For Long-Term Care And Public Health

A News Release from Ontario’s NDP Official Opposition Party

Posted July 21st, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Has Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his Conservative government really been doing everything then can to get COVID-19 funding assistance to those who really need it?

A new report from the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO) shows the Ford government withheld $10.3 billion from Ontarians during the pandemic, including sitting on over $1 billion earmarked for long-term care and public health.

“While our loved ones suffered in long-term care, businesses struggled through painfully long lockdowns, and the province could not keep up with things like contract tracing, the Ford government was squirrelling away billions of dollars that they refused to invest to help Ontarians,” said NDP Finance critic Catherine Fife.

The FAO report shows that the government spent $10.3 billion less than promised last year. The FAO reported Ford withheld over $1 billion in health care funds during the pandemic, plus $368 million in funding for public health and $95 million for long-term care. Continue reading

Buffalo, New York Congressman Pressures His Government to Open Border to Canadians

Canada is Soon Opening Border Bridges to Fully Vaccinated Americans. When Is the U.S. Going to Do the Same for Fully Vaccinated Candians?

A News Release from the Buffalo, New York Office of U.S. Democratic Congressman Brian Higgins

Posted July 20th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Pre-pandemic lines of cars crossing the Peace Bridge to Buffalo, New York

Buffalo, New York – Following an announcement by the Canadian government of plans to reopen the border between the United States and Canada to vaccinated Americans on August 9th, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) is pushing the United States government to act.  Higgins expressed his dissatisfaction with the lack of response by the U.S. in remarks on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Higgins said in part, “This week the Canadian Government announced plans to reopen the border to fully vaccinated Americans on August 9th. On January 21st of this year, we were promised a plan would be developed by the United States to address travel to Canada within 14 days. 180 days have now passed.  We are still waiting for that plan.” Continue reading

Latest Marineland Story Is Just So Sad

When Are We Going To Shut These God-Awful Marine Mammal Prisons Down?

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

Posted July 20th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Another one of the many demonstrations, staged by all too few of us, outside the gates of the Marineland Park in Niagara, Ontario. file photo by Doug Draper

How damn sad the latest Canadian Press news story is  about the conditions aquatic animals are reportedly enduring at Marineland in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Then again, I feel just as sad as I wonder.. How many of you out there  give a damn? Let’s be honest after all of these almost seven decades this amusement park has been in operation, with all the concerns raised, over and over again, about the condition of marine mammals there.

How many of you really do?

Much to the many reasons that lead to my demise in journalism at Niagara newspapers, I started writing about questions and concerns around the Marineland park in Niagara Falls and the ethics around keeping mammals like whales, dolphins and seals there for our amusement, in cement ponds filed with chlorinated water, going back to at least the late 1980s, when I was still working as an environment reporter at The St. Catharines Standard. Continue reading

Buffalo, N.Y. Congressman Applauds Canadian Plan for Fully-Vaccinated Americans to Cross Border

Congressman Brian Higgins, Chair of the Canada-U.S. Interparliamentary Grou and Northern Border Caucus, Calls on U.S. Government to do Same for Canadians

Fully-Vaccinated Americans Can Begin Crossing August 9th

The Peace Bridge crossing between Fort Erie, Ontario and Buffalo, New York will probably not be anywhere near this empty of traffic by the middle of this coming August

A News Release from the Buffalo, New York Office of U.S. Democratic Congressman Brian Higgins

Posted July 19th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Buffalo, New York area Democratic U.S. Congressman has had an ongoing record of speaking out for our shared Great Lakes, with no apparent support from his Liberal MP counterparts on the Canadian side.

Buffalo, New York – Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) who serves as co-chair of the Canada – U.S. Interparliamentary Group and the Northern Border Caucus released the following statement in response to an announcement by the Canadian government<https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/news/2021/07/government-of-canada-announces-easing-of-border-measures-for-fully-vaccinated-travellers.html> detailing plans to lift border restrictions for fully vaccinated Americans effective August 9, 2021.

“We have missed you Canada and we are thrilled at the opportunity to return soon. Today’s announcement by the Canadian government puts policy in line with science. This will allow fully vaccinated Americans separated from their families and property in Canada for a year and a half, to be re-united in three weeks. “

This measure can’t come soon enough.

Continue reading

Join a Free Webinar Discussion on Plastic Pollution in Our Great Lakes

Wednesday, July 28th at 1 P.M. Eastern Time – You Can Find Registration Information Below

An Invite from the American-based citizens organization, Alliance for the Great Lakes

Posted July 19th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Each year, Adopt-a-Beach volunteers (on the American side of the Great Lakes) pick up over 50,000 pounds of trash from Great Lakes beaches.

The vast majority of it is plastic. How do we know that? Volunteers record and tally every item they pick up. This vast data set is used by researchers to learn more about plastic pollution in the Great Lakes.

Join us on Wednesday, July 28 at 1pm Eastern/12pm Central to hear how one researcher is using Adopt-a-Beach data and what it tells us about plastic pollution in the Great Lakes. [https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4632137351012499979] Continue reading

Ontario Invests Over $1.9 million to Protect and Restore the Great Lakes

44 local projects receive funding through the new Great Lakes Local Action Fund

Recipients of Provincial Funding Include Niagara Chapter of Trout Unlimited Canada and Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority

A News Release from the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks

Posted July 19th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

TORONTO — The Ontario government has selected 44 community-based projects to receive $1.9 million in funding through the Great Lakes Local Action Fund, which supports local projects that protect and restore the Great Lakes.

“The health of the Great Lakes is closely connected to our province’s health and prosperity – supplying water to our communities, sustaining traditional activities of Indigenous peoples and providing healthy ecosystems for recreation and tourism,” said David Piccini, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.

“This funding allows local organizations and groups to take environmental actions in their own communities – building a better future with clean, green growth.” Continue reading

Thanks to Niagara MPP Jeff Burch, the Ford Government’s Controversial Land-Use Policies Are Being Investigated

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

Posted July 18th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Centre NDP MPP and the party’s municipal affairs critic  Jeff Burch

A call by Niagara Centre MPP Jeff Burch for a deep probe of the Ontario Ford government’s controversial land-use policies has been answered with a green light at the Office of Ontario Auditor-General Bonnie Lysyk.

According to a breaking story in the Friday, July 16th edition of The Globe and Mail, Lysyk and her team of investigators, who have not shied away from being highly critical of the current Conservative government and former Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne when they believe the facts they uncover warrants it, have already begun looking into concerns raised by Burch and others that the so-called land-use policies the Ford government is pursuing are based far less on good planning practices than on the profit-making interests of their friends and allies in Ontario’s development industry. Continue reading

Niagara At Large Will Soon Be Cutting Off Facebook and the Evil Bastard Who Runs It

A Brief Message from Niagara At Large reporter and publisher    Doug Draper

Posted July 17th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

At the risk of losing a good number of followers, Niagara At Large will soon stop posting our content on Facebook. I always saw Facebook – an out-of-control, global corporate monster that, among other things, has torn the guts out of community newsrooms across this continent – as a necessary evil for drawing more readers to online news sites like Niagara At Large.

Trump and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg – working together to spread dangerous misinformation, and to kill truth and democracy

Now,  far more often than not, I view it and Mark  Zuckerberg,  the multi-billionaire creator of this Frankenstein monster – as a force for dangerous misinformation that is, in fact, waging war against fact-based debate and democracy, and is, through the garbage it is peddling on the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccination, literally killing people. In fact, that is exactly what current U.S. President Joe Biden said about Facebook on the White House lawn this July 16th, and he is right.

To watch Biden saying it, click on the screen below –

 I urge as many of us as possible to dump Facebook and to take a little more time to search out and key in information they might find of interest on sites like ours – Niagara At large, which you can go to directly by keying in www.niagaraatlarge.com.

Please visit and even subscribe to Niagara At Large by clicking in www.niagaraatlarge.com  to check out the news and commentary we feature here. And do the same with other media outlets struggling to deliver fair and accurate news, even as Facebook continues to work to destroy everything that a dedicated free press in a democracy is all about.

I will leave one of the last words here to American humorist and political/social critic Bill Maher, which you can hear by clicking on the screen immediately below –

I beg you all folks. Tear yourself away from poison like Facebook and seek out other ways of staying in touch with your friends and community. FACEBOOK IS NOT OUR FRIEND.

And if severing ties with it means the end for Niagara At Large, well then what can I say. Enjoy your Facebook “friends” and have a good life.

NIAGARA AT LARGE Encourages You To Join The Conversation By Sharing Your Views On This Post In The Space Following The Bernie Sanders Quote Below.

“A Politician Thinks Of The Next Election. A Leader Thinks Of The Next Generation.” – Bernie Sanders

Ontario Enters Step Three of Roadmap to Reopen this Friday, July 16

Continuing Improvements in Key Indicators Allowing Province to Safely Expand Indoor Settings and Capacity Limits

News from the Government of Ontario

Posted July 16, 2021 on Niagara At Large

TORONTO — With key public health and health care indicators continuing to improve and the provincewide vaccination rate surpassing the targets outlined in the province’s Roadmap to Reopen, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health the Ontario government is moving the province into Step Three of the Roadmap to Reopen at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 16, 2021.

“Thanks to the tireless efforts of our frontline heroes, and the ongoing commitment of Ontarians to get vaccinated, we have surpassed the targets we set in order to enter Step Three of our Roadmap,” said Premier Doug Ford.

“While this is welcome news for everyone who wants a return to normal, we will not slow down our efforts to fully vaccinate everyone who wants to be and put this pandemic behind us once and for all.” Continue reading

Buffao, N.Y. Congressman Welcomes Ongoing Discussion to Reopen the US-Canada Border to Vaccinated Travelers in August

U.S. Congressman and Northern Border Caucus Co-Chair Brian Higgins Calls Action Long Overdue

A News Release from the Buffalo, New York Office of Democratic Congressman Brian Higgins

Posted July 16th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Buffalo-area Congressman Brian Higgins seen speaking about the Canada-U.S. border crossings in this file photo

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) responded to positive developments toward lifting restrictions for vaccinated travelers wishing to cross at Land Ports of Entry between the United States and Canada.

Higgins said, “The finish line is finally in sight for people who have been separated from their families and properties for way too long.

“For Americans and Canadians who live along the border and frequently cross as a way-of-life, action lifting restrictions for those vaccinated can’t come soon enough. This progress, following month after month of disappointing inaction, is welcome and long-overdue.” Continue reading

Memorial for Niagara’s COVID Victims Should be Embraced by Region Councillors

It is a Welcome Idea that Certainly Beats Publicly Flogging the Region’s Acting Medical Health Officer 

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

Posted July 15th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Thank You St. Catharines Regional Councillor Laura Ip. We certainly needed something out of this Niagara Region after the recent slap down that our acting Medical Officer of Health received at an earlier Regional Council meeting.

Well here are two thumbs up for St. Catharines Regional Councillor Laura Ip

While so many of us across Niagara are still trying to wash from our mouths the foul after-taste of the Regional Council’s dumping all over the Region’s acting Medical Health Chief Dr. Mustafa Hirji for daring to publicly air his concerns about opening the Canada/U.S. border too soon, it was a relief to hear a Niagara Regional Councillor express a positive idea

That Regional Councillor was Laura Ip and the idea, as she outlined it at a meeting of the Region’s Public Health  and Social Services Committee this past July 13th, is to create a community memorial for us to go to remember the more than 425 Niagara residents who have so far died from a killer COVID-19 pandemic that, going by the shameful garbage Dr. Hirji had to endure at that June 8th Regional Council meetings, too many of our elected politician across this region, still do not take as seriously as they should.

Ip’s idea, first to create a temporary memorial, possibly on the property of Niagara’s Regional Headquarters in Thorold, then a permanent one at a site deemed to be accessible to all, received enough support to have the Region’s staff prepare a report for Regional Councillors in the weeks ahead. Continue reading

Ontario’s New Democrats Lay Out Plan to Build, By and Ride Electric Vehicles

NDP Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath is committed to launch Ontario’s first zero-emissions vehicles strategy.

A News Release from Ontario’s Official Opposition New Democrats

Posted July 15th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Andrea Horwath, Leader of the Official Opposition New Democrats, has committed to launch Ontario’s first zero-emissions vehicles strategy, ramping up electric vehicle sales to 100 per cent of all new auto sales in Ontario by 2035.

“We’re going to make Ontario a global leader in electric auto engineering and manufacturing, we’re going to create new jobs in the auto industry of the future, and we’re going to make it easy and affordable for everyone to buy, charge and ride electric,” said Horwath.

“The climate crisis is the greatest threat our world faces. But with how we respond to that crisis, we can create an incredible opportunity when it comes to the auto industry in Ontario.” Continue reading

Why Does Niagara Need A Chief Health Officer When We Have ‘Dr. Diodati’?

Niagara’s Regional Council Throws Our Medical Heath Officer – Dr. Mustafa Hirji – Under The Bus While It Pushes For Quick Re-Opening Canada/U.S. Border Crossings

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

Posted July 12th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara’s acting Medical Officer of Health Mustafa Hirji  showed immeasurable class and kept his cool during a hammering from Niagara Regional Councillors this past July 8th over his views on re-opening the border crossings.

Whatever Dr. Mustafa Hirji is getting paid to serve as Niagara Region’s acting medical officer of health, it isn’t enough.

If I were him, after the drubbing he got from Niagara Regional Councillors at a meeting of the council this past July 8th, I would seriously consider quitting and saying – ‘To hell with you. If you want to send out messages to the public about the risks around this virus based on politics rather than science, why don’t you appoint Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati or Fort Erie Mayor Wayne Redekop or St. Catharines Regional Councillor Tim Rigby to be Niagara’s Medical Health Officer?

“Obviously they know so much more about risks involved in opening our economy and re-opening the Canada/U.S. cross-border bridges than I do.”

I watched this disgraceful Niagara Regional Council on July 8th on-line, which is all we can do because they still won’t let us in to the Niagara Regional Headquarters or the council chambers there-in, and I left it with the feeling the feeling that, come next year’s municipal elections, do we ever need a cleaning of the house. Continue reading

While Ontario Citizens Continue Suffering from COVID-19 Fallout, Premier Ford Hosts Fundraisers for his Party’s Wealthy Donors

“We know hanging out with rich backroom insiders and lobbyists is Doug Ford’s cup of tee, but Ontarians deserve better.” – Ontario NDP Ethics critic Taras Natyshak on Doug Ford’s $1,000-per-person Golf Fundraiser

A Statement from Ontario’s NDP Official Opposition Party

Posted July 14th on Niagara At Large

Ontario NDP statement on Ford’s $1,000-a-round golf fundraiser in Muskoka

QUEEN’S PARK — Ontario NDP Ethics and Accountability critic Taras Natyshak released the following statement on tomorrow’s $1,000-per-person Doug Ford and friends golfing fundraiser in Muskoka:

“Ontarians are rightfully teed off that Doug Ford has time to sell access to himself and his cabinet for a thousand bucks and a few golf balls to insiders and lobbyists in Muskoka.

Instead of top priorities like fixing the backlog in health care procedures and tests, helping small businesses survive the pandemic or developing a real plan for a safe September in schools, Doug Ford is teeing off with his ministers and those with deep pockets,” said Taras Natysak. Continue reading

Trudeau’s Climate Plan Falls Short of What is Needed to Address Catastrophic Climate-Related Destruction

‘Recent catastrophic climate events, like heat waves and wildfires that have killed hundreds, show the suffering caused by inaction’

A News Release from Environmental Defence, one of Canada’s largest not-for-profit advocacy groups for addressing environmental issues

Posted July 13th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

A Statement from Environmental Defence’s Dale Marshall, National Climate Program Manager, on Canada’s Updated Paris Climate Agreement Pledge

Justin Trudeau and his government Liberals still sinking billions of dollars of subsidies into climate-ravaging tar sand operations

Ottawa, Ont. – We are disappointed that the Canadian government has decided to not do its fair share of the action needed to avoid catastrophic climate change. Our research shows that a more ambitious domestic target of 60 per cent reductions by 2030 would have benefited most Canadians, by improving the health of our communities and lowering our energy costs.

Recent catastrophic climate events, like heat waves and wildfires that have killed hundreds, show the suffering caused by inaction.

Instead, the government once again failed to reign in oil and gas emissions by continuing to ignore the most important measure: the phase out of oil and gas production in Canada. Continue reading

St. Catharines Council Move to Bestow Heritage Designation on Welland House Hotel Now Seems Like a Bad Joke

Or Have We Just Entered Just Entered the Twilight Zone?

A Brief Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper Posted July 13th, 2021 on Niagara At Large Niagara, Ontario – With images of the smoldering remains of the historic Welland House Hotel still in my mind, I woke up this morning to a headline in the online version of The St. Catharines Standard that read; St. Catharines designates destroyed Welland House under heritage act. What? Did I just cross over to the Twilight Zone. I am almost expecting Twilight Zone producer to walk out behind the charred wreckage of the building and tell me I did. This heritage designation was reportedly approved by a majority of St. Catharines City Council at a meeting this past Monday, July 12th meeting while smoke was still rising from the rubble at the corner of Ontario and King Streets in the city’s downtown, where the building stood for 168 years. Sorry to resort to sarcasm, but how many of St. Catharines councillors know that the building burned down? Continue reading

Niagara Regional Police  Investigating Fire that Destroyed Historic Building  in St. Catharines

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Niagara Regional Police Service at 905-688-4111, ext. 1008429.

A Message from the Niagara Regional Police Service

Posted July 13th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Firefighters continued through most of Monday, July 12th to pour water on the smoldering remains of the once great building. Photo by Doug Draper

On Monday, July 12, 2021, at approximately 5:25am 1 District (St. Catharines) uniform officers and the St. Catharines Fire Department attended the area of Ontario Street and King Street, in the City of St. Catharines, in response to a structure fire (that gutted the former Welland House Hotel building at 30 Ontario Street).

Investigators remained at the scene for much of the day as fire personnel worked to contain the fire.

Detectives with 1 District are working with the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office as they are continuing to investigate the cause of the fire.

The scene is expected to be held for a significant amount of time as the investigation continues.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Niagara Regional Police Service at 905-688-4111, ext. 1008429.

To read a Niagara At Large commentary on this tragic fire, click on – https://niagaraatlarge.com/2021/07/12/massive-fire-guts-one-of-niagaras-most-historic-buildings/ .

NIAGARA AT LARGE Encourages You To Join The Conversation By Sharing Your Views On This Post In The Space Following The Bernie Sanders Quote Below.

“A Politician Thinks Of The Next Election. A Leader Thinks Of The Next Generation.” – Bernie Sanders

St. Catharines has Shelter in Place following Major Building Fire in Downtown

A Brief Update from the City of St. Catharines

Posted July 12th on Niagara At Large

The battle to contain the fire went well into the afternoon. Photo by Doug Draper

The shelter in place that was in effect for the neighbourhood to the west of 30 Ontario St. has now been lifted. Fire personnel are still on scene and are expected to continue monitoring the situation overnight.

The investigation continues. Attached below a news release from our partners at Niagara Regional Police that they distributed earlier this July 12th

The City will continue to provide updates on social media, and, when appropriate, by way of news release. Continue reading

Massive Fire Guts One of Niagara’s Most Historic Buildings

The More Than 165-Year-Old Welland House Hotel – Located in Downtown St. Catharines – Was Destroyed in a Fire Believed to Have Started in the Early Hours of this July 12

A News Commentary by Doug Draper, Niagara At Large

How tragic and yes, at the same time, how curious.

Early this July 12th, flames shoot out of the old Welland House Hotel building in downtown St. Catharines

Niagara, Ontario – Representatives of St. Catharines heritage community have been working last year to get the old Welland House Hotel designated as an Ontario heritage site in hopes of preserving it, and as that effort continued on, the multi-storey building – once the tallest in the city – burns down.

At the end of a media briefing held this July 12th, as the remains of the building continued to smolder a few blocks away, St. Catharines Fire Chief Jeff McCormick told this Niagara At Large reporter that his department’s investigators, will be working with police and fire marshal investigators from the province to determine whether there has been any foul play.

While we are waiting for the results of that investigation, about the only other thing we can do, unfortunately, is to write an obituary for yet another treasured old building that somehow got away from us.

Within hours, the building was virtually destroyed as firefighters from St. Catharines, Thorold and Pelham continued to contain what was left of the fire. Photo by Doug Draper

St. Catharines/Niagara area residents may not realize it due to the unsightly sheets of plywood that covered windows of the once-grand Welland House Hotel during recent years of abandonment, but in its earlier days it was once ranked as one of the go to spas in North America for more affluent people on both sides of the Canada/U.S. border, including prime ministers and presidents, and even Jefferson Davis, the former president of the U.S. Civil War-era, Confederate States of America. Continue reading

Shelter In Place Remains In Effect As Efforts Continue To Contain And Control Fire At 30 Ontario Street in downtown St. Catharines.

A News Release from the City of St. Catharines

Posted July 12th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

St. Catharines/Niagara — Firefighters continue to battle the fire at the former Welland House Hotal on 30 Ontario St., and those living in the Yates Street neighbourhood, and those downwind, are being advised to continue sheltering in place this afternoon due to the smoke.

Firefighters kept on working to contain the fire at the old Welland House Hotel in the downtown area of St. Catharines well into the afternoon of July 12th and expected to continue into the evening. Photo by Doug Draper

Fire Chief Jeff McCormick is asking residents to continue to remain in place, and asking individuals to avoid the area as firefighters from St. Catharines, along with Thorold and Pelham – who are providing mutual aid, continue their efforts to fight the fire. Firefighters have been on scene since 5:23 a.m. Continue reading

U.S., Canada Must Keep Their Relationship Special – A View from Buffalo, New York

Another Voice on Cross-border relations

By Kerry Mitchell

Posted July 12th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

A year or so before the pandemic started, signs like this began appearing on lawns in Buffalo neighbourhoods. Buffalo residents were trying to assure us that regardless of anything Trump had to say about Canada, they considered us to be friends.

After a career with the Consulate General of Canada in Buffalo, where I regularly wrote speeches, op-eds, etc., on the Canada-U.S. relationship for the consuls general under which I served, it is time again to put pen to paper on this theme – but this time as a concerned citizen, and under my own name.

Born American, but with the privilege of spending summers on the Canadian shores of Lake Erie, I always felt a special connection to Canada. That feeling amplified when working at the Canadian Consulate, where border issues were the lifeblood of our work.

Shared interests would bring folks together, but the personal relationships that formed provided the sustaining spirit. Continue reading

Ontario’s NDP Leader Renews Call for $1,000 Tax Credit for Struggling Tour Industry

A News Release from Ontario’s NDP Official Opposition Party

Posted July 12th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

The Rainblow Bridge, crossing over to Niagara Falls, Ontario’s tourist district has been virtually empty to all but essential traffic since the pandemic began to take hold in early 2020, making for very hard times for people working in the tourist industry.

NIAGARA FALLS, Ontario — NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is renewing the call for a $1,000 tax credit for Ontarians to stay and play in Ontario this summer, just as the Ford government appears to be walking away from the economic boost for the tourism industry.

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, in Niagara Falls, Ontario this July 12th, calling for more government assistance for struggling tourist industry.

“Tourism businesses — restaurants, campgrounds, museums, attractions and more — have been devastated by the pandemic. People’s jobs and livelihoods are still at risk. Entrepreneurs’ dreams are on the line. And local economies are desperate for a boost,” said Horwath.

“The Travel Ontario Tax Credit is the help we need right now. Let’s give working families a well-needed vacation this summer, and get the hospitality, arts and culture sectors back on track. For every dollar a person spends, they’ll get a dollar back up to $1,000.” Continue reading

Brock U. Immunologist Calls For National Conversation to Reach the Unvaccinated

“We are at a pivot point. … (We need to reach)  those pockets of people who are hesitant because of misinformation or perhaps for ideological reasons.”        – Brock University immunologist Adam MacNeil

A News Release from Brock University in Niagara, Ontario

Posted July 9th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Brock University immunologist Adam MacNeil

Niagara, Ontario – Estimating Canada may need to achieve a vaccination rate of close to 90 per cent for the population to be fully protected, Brock University immunologist Adam MacNeil is calling for a “national conversation” to reach Canadians reluctant to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Associate Professor of Immunology says that while there are a number of authoritative sources providing reliable information in the media and elsewhere, and Canadians have a relatively high vaccination rate, it’s not high enough to achieve herd immunity.

“We are at a pivot point and need to elevate and disseminate the conversation into communities, leveraging all of our experts and their messages to create one unified, culturally-sensitive national voice that will reach those pockets of people who are hesitant because of misinformation or perhaps for ideological reasons,” MacNeil says.

This national conversation could be in the form of a televised countrywide town hall meeting, he says. Continue reading

Niagara Regional Council Urged Not to Destroy Provincial Significant Wetlands to Extend Road for Developers

“When citizens see planning like this (in this case, a plan to extend a road in Pelham/Niagara through ever more of what little is left of Niagara’s  wetlands), that ignores both the Climate Crisis and the Biodiversity Crisis that are coming together to form a perfect storm that threatens the continued existence of humankind, it convinces us that government is incapable of addressing the most pressing issues of our time.”

An Open Letter to Niagara Regional Council and Regional Transportation and Planning Staff from the A Large Coalition of Groups and Individual Citizens in Niagara Ontario

Posted July 8th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

From the Ontario Plant Restoration Alliance; Niagara Chapter Trout Unlimited Canada; SORE; Peninsula Field Naturalists; Niagara Falls Nature Club; Niagara Beekeepers’ Association of Niagara; Ontariogreen Conservation Association; Bert Miller Nature Club; Niagara Birding Conservation and Tourism Collaborative; Hamilton Naturalists; Friends of One Mile Creek; Extinction Rebellion Niagara; St. Catharines Environmental Alliance; Friends of Walker’s Creek; Pelham Tree Conservation Society; Speak For The Creek; Miriam Richards, Professor, Biological Sciences, Brock University; and members of Biodiversity and Climate Action Collective Niagara

The undersigned groups and citizens from around Niagara are writing to state our emphatic opposition to the Region’s plan to expand the existing sections of Merritt Road which will destroy adjacent wetlands, and to the plan to extend Merritt Road between Cataract Road and Rice Road right through the middle of a Provincially Significant Wetland which, again, will utterly destroy it.

One look inside the Merritt Road area targeted for destruction. After everything we are going through with this pandemic and everything we should have learned about the value of protecting and preserving what natural areas we have left, it is hard to believe that our Niagara Regional Government would give any consideration at all to gutting more woodlands and provincially significant wetlands in our region.

The area impacted by this road project includes: Provincially Significant Wetland; Significant Woodland, Area of Natural and Scientific Interest; Fish Habitat, potential Natural Heritage Corridor.

As has been well documented, Southern Ontario has lost over 90 percent of its original wetlands. In Niagara we have lost even more. As a Niagara Peninsula Conservation Watershed Report Card noted “wetlands cover an estimated 6.36% of the Niagara Watershed.”

Many reports have stated the importance of preserving what remains of our Natural environment[3] and one of the highest priorities for protection is Provincially Significant Wetlands. Continue reading

Watchdog or Lapdog – What Ever Happened to Environmental Protection in Ontario?

“For almost two years, a citizens group, The Coalition for a Better St. Catharines, has been urging the (Ontario) Ministry (of Environment, Conservation and Parks) and the City to get this site cleaned up and, in the interim, monitor the perimeter for any leakage of contaminants off the site

“Yet when asked in early 2020 about possible leaks of contaminants from this industrial site, the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) stated that the site was secure and there was no evidence to the contrary.”

An Editorial from the Coalition for a Better St. Catharines, a coalition  ‘advocating for a better City for all’

Posted July 8th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

What the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks seems to look like under the jackboots of the current Ford government. This once proud Environment Ministry has turned into a sad joke of what it once was going back to the Ontario governments of Conservative Bill Davis and Liberal David Peterson.

If there was ever a wake-up call for St. Catharines residents who believe their health and environment are safe from exposure to of toxic industrial wastes, it’s the fact that the Ontario of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) has identified “very high PCB concentrations in water” [1] coming from the former GM site.

After being practically ignored by our Ministry of Environment, the site is now a beehive of activity.

“There is an ongoing discharge of water from the site with unacceptable levels of PCBs” MECP Comments on MTE Draft Technical Memo (April 9, 2021) Continue reading

Ford Governments Makes More Problems for Ontario’s Conservation Authorities

New rules threaten public hiking trails, tree planting, recreational and educational services, dam repair, and protection of water from contamination.

Hiking trails and other public amenities may be disrupted or forced to close.

News from the Hamilton-based watchdog group, Citizen At City Hall

Posted July 7th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Conservation Authorities in Ontario are reeling from more major changes being imposed by the provincial government.

Newly released rules threaten public hiking trails, tree planting, recreational and educational services, dam maintenance, and the protection of streams and aquifers from contamination.

The latest Ford government regulations restrict) the “core mandate” of all Conservation Authorities and force them to negotiate with individual municipal councils to fund any other programs. This puts most of the long-standing services of the CAs in jeopardy at a time when the use of their lands are at an all time high.

Other Conservation Authority (CA) activities deemed non-mandatory include forest management, wetland enhancement, invasive species control, new land purchases and the provision of ecological expertise to municipal planning decisions.

Continue reading

Remembering Two Wonderful Cats

A Brief Commentary by Doug Draper

Posted July 7th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Our sweet friend Dylan, and yes, he had two different coloured eyes, which was only the beginning of what made him unique.

After 20 beloved years in our family, he took a few labored breaths while sleeping in my arms and passed out of our lives.

His name was Dylan and yes, to some, he was only a cat, but he was a most wise and loving member of this family of ours. And we still miss him, as we do Dexter, another cat in our home at the time who cried out loud – yes he did – while Dylan was breathing his last, and who left us a few weeks later.

It’s as if Dexter knew Dylan was passing, and it took such a toll on him that he, at the age of 16, decided to give it up too. Continue reading

Once Again, It Takes A U.S. Congressman from Buffalo to Stand Up for the Protection of Our Great Lakes

Where Are the Voices of his Federal Counterparts on the Canadian Side on Great Lakes Issues? To Quote the Title of an old Beatles Song – “Nowhere Man”

A News Release from the Buffalo, New York Office of U.S. Democratic Congressman Brian Higgins

Posted July 6th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Higgins Announces Passage of the Local Water Protection Act Legislation Addresses Waterway Pollution

A look at the world’s greatest single supply of fresh water from space.

Buffalo, New York – Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced passage of H.R. 2008, the Local Water Protection Act, a bill that authorizes $200 million annually in Fiscal Years 2022 through 2026 for programs that protect our nation’s waterways from runoff pollution.

“We have made significant progress in fighting the first generation of pollution from industries on the shores of the Great Lakes. Now, we must incorporate the second generation, nonpoint source pollution, into our prevention and revitalization strategies,” said Congressman Higgins. “The Great Lakes are an incredible resource economically, environmentally, and recreationally, and this federal funding will help continue the progress made towards their recovery.” Continue reading

“Do Not Eat Fish” Signs Around Lower Twelve Mile Creek Raise the Alarm

Old GM Site Off Ontario Street in St. Catharines is a “significant and continuous source” of PCB’s in our shared waters

An Editorial from the Coalition for a Better St. Catharines, a coalition  ‘advocating for a better City for all’

Posted July 6th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – For nearly two years the Coalition for a Better St Catharines has been pushing the city of St Catharines to take leadership in cleaning up the former GM site on Ontario Street.

We have focused on two primary concerns: the unsecured half-demolished buildings that present an ongoing hazard to community members on the site, and the proven concentrations of toxins on the property that present a danger to the environment and citizens.

During that time we have seen a series of misleading statements from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) and the City of St Catharines that minimized the dangers as they chose to adopt a stance of limited intervention on the site. Continue reading

Ontario’s Doug Ford Moves Us from One-Buck Beer to One Thousand Dollar Burgers

These Gold-Plated Burgers Are For Ford’s Rich Donors. The Rest of Us Can’t Even Find Ford’s A Buck-A-Beer Suds Any more

So Much for Ford’s Conservatives Self-Described “Party for the People”

A Brief Comment from Doug Draper at Niagara At Large followed by a Statement from a member of Ontario’s NDP Official Opposition Party

Posted July 5th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

By Doug Draper

When was the last time that you shelled out a thousand bucks to chow down one hamburger?

Probably never unless you are a well-healed member of Ontario’s development industry, or private long-term-care home industry or a corporate polluter or something of the like who wants to curry favour with Premier Doug Ford and his government Conservatives.

Hell, we can’t even go in to an LCBO store in the province and find the buck-a-can beer Ford promised us after he came to power almost three years ago. Not that it is much of a loss. When I went in to an LCBO outlet a couple of years ago and inquired about it, a member of the staff warned me that it tasted like “carbonated mule piss.” Continue reading

Have Your Say on the State of Our Great Lakes – One of the Greatest Single Sources of Freshwater in the World

State Your Views in a Survey Being Conducted Online – Right Now – by the Canada-U.S. International Joint Commission

A Call-Out from the International Joint Commission

Posted July 4th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Greetings,

The International Joint Commission Great Lakes Water Quality Board invites you to complete the following survey about issues related to the Great Lakes and water quality.

This online poll explores the public’s opinions, values, and beliefs about the Great Lakes as well as their concerns and suggestions for the future. Building upon a random telephone survey conducted in January 2021, we are seeking a wide range of input from people like yourself in this online survey. Continue reading

Niagara Health’s COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic Hits 200,000 Dose  Milestone

COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Seymour-Hannah Sports and Entertainment Centre in St. Catharines reached a new milestone today by surpassing 200,000 vaccine doses administered.

A News Release from Niagara Health, Niagara, Ontario’s amalgamated system of hospital services

Posted July 4th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara resident Nick Swift, at left, received dose number 200,000. This is a Niagara Health photo

Niagara, Ontario – “I’m so grateful that here in Canada we have access to vaccines,” said Nick Swift of St. Catharines. “Being number 200,000 for Niagara Health has been a privilege and I’m so thankful to the team here today.”

Niagara resident Nick Swift, at left, received dose number 200,000. This is a Niagara Health photo

The Niagara Health clinic team at Seymour-Hannah arena can administer approximately 2,500 vaccinations per day based on vaccine supply and has administered almost half of all doses in Niagara. Continue reading

Have a Happy and Safe Fourth of July America – We Hope You Really and Truly Are Back

A Brief Comment from Doug Draper at Niagara At Large

Posted July 4th, 2021

January 6th. 2021 was insurrection day in America, and millions of Trump cultists continue to call it “patriotism”

America’s current U.S. President Joe Biden – a President that tens-of-millions of Trump cultist in the United States do not accept as their president – has tried telling the world that ‘America is back’ as a beacon for democracy and as a partner in the free world.

We hope so, but when you watch what is happening around so many Trump supporters going along with each and every assault on the values and institutions of American democracy as an act of patriotism, whether or not America is back remains a wide open question.

How many Americans are willing to stand up and speak out for the democratic values their country has long taken pride in standing for? We shall see.

How long will the values that Lady Liberty in New York Harbour survive, even as Trump and his cult followers work so hard to destry them?

Here is a short video on Lady Liberty you can watch by clicking on –

NIAGARA AT LARGE Encourages You To Join The Conversation By Sharing Your Views On This Post In The Space Following The Bernie Sanders Quote Below.

“A Politician Thinks Of The Next Election. A Leader Thinks Of The Next Generation.” – Bernie Sanders

Toxic Algae  Shows Up On Lake Ontario Shoreline in Niagara

Preliminary Tests Indicate The Presence Of Toxins From Blue-Green Algae At Charles Daley Park Beach In Lincoln, Niagara

A News Release from Niagara’s Regional Government in Niagara, Ontario

Posted July 2nd, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – Niagara Region Public Health is advising the public of the likely presence of blue-green algae in the beach area at Charles Daley Park in Lincoln. Preliminary laboratory test results were received on July 2 from the Niagara Region Public Works Environmental Centre indicating the presence of toxin produced by blue-green algae.

This photo shows toxic algae swamping up on shorelines in other regions of our Great Lakes, and was not takey at the Lincoln, Niagara shoreline site. Question is, where is this coming from and what are the sources?

The beach has been closed at this time for the safety of beachgoers. Final laboratory results are expected in the coming days.Blue-green algae was first observed in the pond draining into to the beach on June 29 by Public Health’s staff conducting routine beach water testing as part of Public Health’s daily work to ensure and report on the safety of beaches to Niagara residents and visitors. Continue reading

NPCA Conducting Forest and Stream Rehabilitation Work at Two Mile Creek Conservation Area in NOTL

‘The operation will address concerns of ash tree mortality, trail-user safety, ecosystem diversity, and creek debris, while preserving the healthy upland forest in other parts of the site.’

A News Release from the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority in Niagara, Ontario

Posted July 2nd, 2021 on Niagara At Large

The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) will conduct forest and stream rehabilitation work at the Two Mile Creek Conservation Area in Niagara-on-the-Lake starting July 5. The operation will address concerns of ash tree mortality, trail-user safety, ecosystem diversity, and creek debris, while preserving the healthy upland forest in other parts of the site.

A trail through the Two-Mile Creek Conservation Area in Niagara-on-the-Lake. NPCA photo

The operation will begin in Treatment Area “A” and Treatment Area “B” (see map), with the objective of a ‘stand conversion’, where the dominate ash tree forest cover will be removed and replaced with a young forest of mixed tree species through subsequent reforestation activity. Continue reading

Niagara Regional Chair Announces Winners of inaugural Niagara Impact Awards

A News Release from Niagara’s Regional Government in Niagara, Ontario

Posted July 2nd, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley

Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley (recently) announced the names of the eight winners of the inaugural Niagara Impact Awards at this evening’s meeting of Regional Council.

The Niagara Impact Awards were created to recognize individuals, non-profit organizations and private sector businesses who have gone above and beyond to improve the quality of life of those living in the Niagara region.

Having heard countless impressive stories of the community making sacrifices to support one another, the Niagara Impact Awards were announced at the Chair’s 2021 State of the Region address as a way to acknowledge those inspiring efforts.

With over 250 submitted nominations, hundreds of stories were shared about those who made a substantial, positive impact on our communities. The scope and scale of the nominations ranged from moving personal stories, to broad, region-wide examples of service. Continue reading

O Canada – A Prelude and Anthem

A Brief Canada Day Note from Doug Draper at NAL

Posted July 1st. 2021 on Niagara At Large

This Canada Day offers us an opportunity to reflect on what we should be proud of as a country and, yes, on past injustices and shames, with a resolve to confront them and make sure they never happen again.

It is also a time to confront the challenges we face in Canada today – Continue reading

A Canada Day Message from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

“We as Canadians must be honest with ourselves about our past. And we must recognize that here in Canada there are still people who don’t feel safe walking the streets of their communities, who still don’t have the same opportunities as others, and who still face discrimination or systemic racism in their daily lives.”                                                        – Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Posted on Canada Day, July 1st, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Statement by the Prime Minister on Canada Day

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today (this July 1st) issued the following statement on Canada Day:

“Today, we celebrate our country and everyone who calls it home. We also reflect on everything we have accomplished, and look forward to what more we have to do.

“The pandemic has changed our daily lives, taught us hard lessons, and kept us apart. But through this challenge and crisis, Canadians were there for each other. We all – young and old – made personal sacrifices to help keep our communities safe and healthy.

“We put signs in our windows and banged pots and pans for our front-line health care workers. We ordered takeout and shopped at our local small businesses. And once vaccines became available, we got our shots as soon as possible, so our communities could return to normal. Continue reading

U.S. Congressmen Mark Canada Day with Push to Re-Open Canada-U.S. Border Crossings

U.S. Congressman Higgins & Assemblyman Rivera Mark Canada Day With Joint Push to Reopen the Border Between the United States & Canada

Federal & State Leaders Representing the Peace Bridge Say People Have Been Separated for Too Long

A News Release from the Buffalo, New York Office of U.S. Democratic Congressman Brian Higgins

Posted July 1st, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Buffalo, New York area Brian Higgins, seen in this file photo, speaking at a news conference with Peace Bridge crossing in background

The week including Canada Day, July 1, and Independence Day, July 4, typically tends to be one of the busiest times of the year for cross-border travel between the United States and Canada.

However, this year the border remains closed to non-essential travel and federal and state leaders representing the border community that includes the Peace Bridge are frustrated by the lack of progress. Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) and New York State Assemblymember Jonathan D. Rivera are both pushing for action. Continue reading

This Canada Day Should Be A Day of Reflection

A Brief Canada Day Note from Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper

Posted June 30th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Oh Canada, where do we go from here?

This Canada Day, I find myself in the body of people who do not want to cancel Canada Day completely, but is in agreement with those who wish to use it as a day of reflection on where we are now and where do we go from here.

We certainly need to confront a history of racism and cruel and  unfortunately even some of the murderous acts committed against peoples who are Indigenous, Muslim, Jewish, Black, Brown and others who don’t fit in with what our country’s federal Conservative government does not embrace as an “old stock Canadian.” Continue reading

Canada Loses Another Dynamic Female Leader in Former Environment Canada Minister Catherine McKenna

In Hamilton Area MP Catharine McKenna, Self-Described “Feminist” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Sees Another Young, Dynamic Leader Leave the Room

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

Posted June 29th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Catherine McKenna, arguably one of the best federal Environment Minister’s Canada has ever had, gas announced she won’t run in another election for Trudeau’s Liberals, .

When in 2015, Canada’s new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, appointed the newly-elected Liberal MP from Hamilton – Catherine McKenna – Canada’s Environment Minister ( the very first federal Environment Minister, by the way,   with the words ‘Climate Change’ in the portfolio’s name), this veteran environment journalist felt hopeful.

After too many years of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his party’s (continued to this day) climate denying ways, here was an energetic young face expressing a passion to take on the climate emergency challenge.

Catherine McKenna, who this reporter crossed paths with twice,  often mentioned  that she had young children of her own who  she certinaly did not want to see t grow up in a world that might be unbearable to live in if we don’t take bold steps to address the climate crisis now. Continue reading

The Ravaging Impact of Climate Change on Communities Across Canada

Canada Releases National Issues Report on Climate Change Adaptation

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

Posted June 29th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Maybe you heard that this past Monday, June 27, the community of Lytton in British Columbia  suffered  the highest temperatures ever recorded in Canadian history.

That record was set at scorching 47.9 degrees Celsius or 118 degrees Fahrenheit, if you will. Do you want to risk a heat stroke through that?

The hellish heat wave now frying communities across western Canada and the United States is literally threatening people’s lives, placing an enormous and very costly strain on energy services and other infrastructure, and raising their risks of even more devastating wildfires.

Regions of the mid-western United States and Canada are also now experiencing severe droughts that  could ravage crop-growing lands and drive up costs at the grocery store even further for all of us at a time when many are struggling to recover economically from more than 14 months of pandemic. Continue reading

Niagara Falls to be Illuminated – This Monday, June 28th – in Celebration of Pride Month

A News Release from Ontario’Niagara Parks Commission

Posted June 28th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Falls, Ontario  – The Niagara Falls Illumination Board will be illuminating both the Canadian Horseshoe and American Falls in rainbow colours for 30 minutes tonight at the top of each hour at 9:00, 10:00 and 11:00pm in celebration of Pride Month.

The waters of Horseshoe Falls, illuminated in previous years, in rainbow colours, just as they will be again, this June 28th. Photo courtesy of Niagara Parks

Today’s date (June 28th) holds significance to the LGBTQ2S+ community as the anniversary of the Stonewall riots that took place on June 28, 1969, in the Greenwich Village neighbourhood of New York City, with members of the gay community protesting a police raid at the Stonewall Inn. Continue reading

Niagara,Ontario/New York Residents Rally at Rainbow Bridge for Border Re-Opening

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

Posted June 27th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Expressions of frustration and anger are growing on both sides of the border as the ban on all but so-called “essential traffic” using land crossings to re-connect with friends and relatives, and properties they own on either side.

This Saturday, June 26th that frustration surfaced again when groups of residents from both sides of the border rallied at the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls, and took their protest to the middle of the bridge. Continue reading

Niagara Regional Chair Bradley and Chief LaForme of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation Build Stronger Relationship Through Productive First Meeting

‘As a next step, Chair Bradley and Chief LaForme (have) agreed to hold a special council meeting focused on educating members of (Niagara’s Regional Council) on First Nations, Indigenous and Metis issues.’

A News Release from Niagara’s Regional Government

Posted June 26th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley

Niagara, Ontario – As a step toward reconciliation, Regional Chair Jim Bradley met with Chief Stacey LaForme of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation yesterday to continue cultivating a respectful, long-term relationship between the two communities.

During their meeting, the Regional Chair and Chief LaForme discussed opportunities to raise awareness of First Nation treaty rights, the presence of Indigenous history and culture throughout Niagara, as well as prospective partnerships for new economic development initiatives.

Prior to the meeting, Niagara Region staff have been working closely with members of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, and other urban Indigenous communities, to ensure Indigenous interests are reflected in broad Regional policies. Regional Council is forging stronger relationships with Indigenous communities within Niagara  that will lead to equitable representation in Regional planning, and the delivery of services that support the health and well-being of Indigenous Peoples. Continue reading

Niagara’s Marcie Jacklin Honoured with Major Wildlife Conservation Award

Long-Time Conservationist Receives Award from One of Canada’s Most Time-Honoured Organizations in the Field of Natural Heritage Conservation                                                         – The Canadian Wildlife Federation.

A Foreword by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper, followed by Words of Tribute from the Canadian Wildlife Federation

Posted June 24th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

By Doug Draper –

Marcie Jacklin, Niagara resident and long-time citizen conservationist, is honoured with national award

On a scale from one to 10, I give her a 20.

Marcie Jacklin, a resident of Fort Erie in Niagara, Ontario, is one of Niagara’s longest standing citizen experts on birds and other wildlife, and their habitat, and most recently has been a community leader in the fight to save Waverly Woods – a natural haven along the Lake Erie shoreline in Fort Erie – from a developer’s chainsaws.

In this veteran environment reporter’s books, that makes Marcie Jacklin about as much of a treasure in this Niagara region as the biodiversity she has volunteered so many of her adult years working to protect and preserve.

So it was a thrill to learn this week that her decades of dedicated, volunteer work in the area of wildlife conservation has been recognized with one of only half a dozen annual awards from one of Canada’s premier conservation organizations, The Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF). Continue reading

Niagara’s Regional Council Adopts Region’s First Community Safety and Well-Being Plan

“The Plan identifies opportunities for action, alignment and monitoring in four areas of focus: mental health and addictions, housing and homelessness, poverty and income and systemic discrimination.”

A News Release from Niagara’s Regional Government

Posted June 25th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Region’s headquarters

Niagara, Ontario – Niagara now has a sustainable and long-term plan to improve the safety and well-being of our community.

Approved by Regional Council at its June 24 meeting, Niagara’s first ever Community Safety and Well-Being (CSWB) Plan  <https://www.niagararegion.ca/projects/community-safety-well-being/default.aspx> will strengthen how Niagara’s governments, police service and agencies work together on important safety and well-being issues in our community, and provides a framework to address emerging issues through ongoing engagement and collaboration. Continue reading

Ontario’s Niagara Parks Mourns Latest Discovery of Mass Graves for 751 Indigenous Children With Illumination Of Canadian and American Falls

A News Release from Ontario’ Niagara Parks Commission

Posted June 25th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Falls to be Illuminated in Honour of Victims of the Residential School System

Niagara Falls, Ontario – The Niagara Falls Illumination Board will be illuminating both the Canadian Horseshoe and American Falls in orange tonight, this Friday June 25th, from 10:15 to 11:15pm in memory of the 751 Indigenous children discovered in unmarked graves at the site of a former residential school in Saskatchewan.

Niagara Falls was previously illuminated in orange on May 30 in memory of 215 Indigenous children discovered in a mass grave at a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia. Continue reading

Canada’s History of Genocide on Indigenous Peoples Finds More Exposure in Another 751 Mass Graves

Shame on Canada for Letting these Murderous Residential Schools Operate On and On and On for More than Than 100 Years!

We Have Stained Our Reputation as a Humane Country in the Eyes of the World

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

Posted June 24th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, doing his fuzzy wuzzy ”I’m in to reconciliation’ thing, in native head dress in 2016. Why isn’t he treating the deaths of Indigenous children like crimes against humanity and investigating all those still alive and involved in operating residential schools? Hey Mr. Prime Minister, cut with the baloney and treat this genocide like the crime that it is.

Canada’s ever so fuzzy wuzzy, try-to-sound-good Liberal Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, came out with a statement this June 24th (included below) saying how “terribly saddened” he is about the discovery of another mass grave of more than 700 Indigenous children on the grounds of another former residential school in Saskatchewan.

This one was discovered just a few weeks after another mass grave, covering the bodies of more than 200 Indigenous children, was found on the grounds of a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia.

Trudeau comes out with a statement this June 24th, after the finding of a second of what will mostly likely be many dozens of these mass graves, with a statement that he is “terribly saddened.”

“Terribly saddned?” What in hell does that mean? Continue reading

Niagara’s Regional Government Lowers Flags Again for Another Mass Grave of Indigenous Children

Niagara’s mayors and Regional Chair recognize the Sask. residential school victims

A News Release from Niagara’s Regional Government

Posted June 24th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – In less than month, we are yet again confronted with a horrific reminder of the disturbing legacy that residential schools continue to have on Indigenous people across our country.

The flag’s for Niagara’s Regional Government and those for all 12 local municipalities in Niagara  lowered again  to half mast at the Region’s headquarters in Thorold for more mass graves of Indigenous children found at former residential schools across Canada.

The remains of at least 751 individuals who died at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan makes us remember that residential schools forcefully disrupted Indigenous families, deprived them of their culture, and exposed many children to extreme forms of abuse.

While horrific, we must face the truth that these recent discoveries in Saskatchewan and British Columbia will not be the last. Continue reading

Ontario Moving to Step Two of COVID Roadmap to Reopen this coming Wednesday, June 30th

Continuing Improvements in Key Indicators Allowing Province to Ease Additional Public Health Measures

A News Release from the Office of the Premier of Ontario

Posted June 24th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

TORONTO, Ontario  — With key public health and health care indicators continuing to improve, the province-wide vaccination rate now surpassing the targets outlined in the province’s Roadmap to Reopen, and on the recommendation of the the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario government is moving the province into Step Two of its Roadmap to Reopen at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, June 30, 2021.

“Because of the tireless work of our health care heroes, and the record setting success of our vaccine rollout, we are able to move into Step Two ahead of schedule on June 30 with the support of our public health experts” said Premier Doug Ford. “We are proceeding safely with the re-opening of our province and will continue to work around the clock until the job is done.” Continue reading

Canada-U.S Border Reopening Plans Need More Detail To Offer Hope

“Border communities, families and devastated tourism operators are rightfully asking to see the complete plan for border reopening. We fully agree that it needs to be guided by public health metrics …,but it is time for a clear plan with a roadmap to a full reopening of the border.”                                                                     – Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

A News Release from the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce in Niagara, Ontario

Posted June 23rd, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – This past Monday, June 21st,, the Government of Canada announced that Canadian borders would be reopened on July 6 to Canadian citizens and permanent residents who have had a full series of COVID-19 vaccinations.

This means that most fully vaccinated foreigners (including Americans) are still unable to travel to Canada for non-essential purposes. The announcement gives Canadians the opportunity to travel and will result in a boost for the tourism sectors of other countries, but not our own.

This change has been dubbed “Phase 1,” yet the government’s announcement contained no details as to what Phase 2 would be, when it would start, what public health measurements would indicate that it could start, or even how many total phases were in the border reopening plan. Continue reading

Ontario’s Ford/Oosterhoff Tories Show True Colours on Women’s Rights

Why is Doug Ford allowing far right, anti-choice groups to select PC Party candidates?

“Doug Ford has allowed close ties to dangerous anti-choice, anti-women groups to grow in his party, and now we are seeing the extreme Campaign Life Coalition organize his local campaigns and select candidates in communities like ours.”            – Jennie Stevens, NDP MPP for St. Catharines

News from Ontario’s NDP Official Opposition Party

Posted June 23rd, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara West and Ford Conservative Government MPP Sam Oosterhoff, speaking at anti-abortion rally in front of Queen’s Park a few years ago, with Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s blessing.

ST. CATHARINES and TORONTO, Ontario — The Campaign Life Coalition, an extreme anti-abortion lobby group, is fundraising and soliciting membership sign-ups for the PC Party of Ontario — and is planning to pick the party’s candidate in at least one riding.

The NDP is calling on Doug Ford to denounce anti-choice organizers in his caucus and party immediately.

“Doug Ford has allowed close ties to dangerous anti-choice, anti-women groups to grow in his party, and now we are seeing the extreme Campaign Life Coalition organize his local campaigns and select candidates in communities like ours,” said Jennie Stevens, NDP MPP for St. Catharines, who is also the critic for Veterans, Legions, and Military Affairs.

“Ontarians who believe in reproductive rights need to hear Doug Ford publicly denounce the Campaign Life Coalition and their mission. He needs to clearly and publicly instruct this hateful organization to stop collecting donations and memberships on his behalf.” Continue reading

Push to Sell More SUVs Could Undermine Environmental Benefits of Electric Vehicles

New report illustrates how carmakers’ EV pledges mask their push to sell more polluting SUVs, jeopardizing efforts to cut carbon emissions now

Report calls out automaker duplicity on climate change

A New Report from Environmental Defence, a Canada-wide advocacy group for a healthier planet

Posted June 23rd, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Toronto, Ontario – A new report released from Environmental Defence  illustrates how carmakers’ promises of an all-electric future mask their push to sell more gas-powered SUVs now, contributing to rising carbon emissions from transportation.

The report, titledCar Wars: EVs versus SUVs and the Battle for a Cleaner Future,” argues that carmakers’ plans to sell millions of gas-powered SUVs and pickups means Canada will not meet its electric vehicle (EV) targets and transition to electric cars, unless the federal government takes strong action.

“The car companies are talking a big game, filled with new promises of a cavalcade of electric cars, trucks and SUVs that’s just around the corner. But Canadians should take these claims with a big grain of salt,” said Keith Brooks, Programs Director for Environmental Defence. Continue reading

A Happy Belated First Day of Summer. Let’s Try to Make it Happy and Safe!

A Brief One from Doug Draper

Posted June 21st, 2021 on Niagara At Large

“There was young girls everywhere
On the summer side of life
They talked all night

To the young men that they knew
On the summer side of life
Goin’ off to fight.” – lyrics by Gordon Lightfoot from one of his many great songs, ‘Summer Side of Life’

Sorry about that Niagara At Large readers.

I am usually on time with a post on the NAL site around the start of a new season.

Given how much craziness we are dealing with though – in this spring-turned-summer continuation of the pandemic – it has been a little hard to keep up.

So here I am, with a belated wish to all of you for a better summer than the one we had last year, when we were suffering through the first wave, going on wave two of this COVID travesty.

I always like to pick a song, this one from Gordon Lightfoot, written and recorded around 50 years ago when the

Written and recorded in  1970, as the God-awful waste of a War in Vietnam dragged on and the causality count grew higher a,  and the protests against war grew larger, the lyrics, in a subtle way, speak to all of that. Yet the song, crafted by one of Canada’s national treasures, is still wonderful to listen to.  

You ca  hear and watch Gordon Lightfoot perform it live, many years ago, by clicking on the screen immediately below –

Have a safe and peaceful summer, and if you haven’t already, please get vaccinated – for the sake of you and your loved ones, and the community at large.

  • Doug Draper, Niagara At Large

NIAGARA AT LARGE Encourages You To Join The Conversation By Sharing Your Views On This Post In The Space Following The Bernie Sanders Quote Below.

“A Politician Thinks Of The Next Election. A Leader Thinks Of The Next Generation.” – Bernie Sanders

Niagara Falls to be Illuminated – This Monday, June 21st from 9 to 9:45 P.M. & from 10:15 to 12 A.M. – for National Indigenous Peoples Day

A News Release from Ontario’s Niagara Parks Commission and the Niagara Falls Illumination Board

Posted June 21st on Niagara At Large

Niagara Falls, Ontario – The Niagara Falls Illumination Board will be illuminating both the Canadian Horseshoe and American Falls in white and purple tonight from 9:00 to 9:45 P.M.  & 10:15 to 12:00 A.M. in celebration of National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada.

White and purple are the colours of Wampum belts which are significant to Niagara Indigenous history. At the Treaties of Niagara councils held in Niagara in 1764, numerous wampum strings and belts were exchanged with some two dozen First Nations and the Crown. Continue reading

Press Our Niagara Regional Council to Vote for Option 3C and Help Save Waverly Woods

This deer has made its home in Waverly Woods – now a target of predatory development in Fort Erie. How many homes will be left for wildlife like this if Niagara Regional Council passes a weak Official Plan?

“Niagara Regional Council, including all (of Niagara’s) mayors, will be making a decision in the next couple of weeks about whether to choose Option 3C or 3B for a Natural Heritage System (for our region). Option 3B is a developers dream and will continue to allow development on urban environmentally sensitive areas. Option 3C is the best choice for anyone who cares about the environment of Niagara particularly in urban areas.”

A Call-Out to All of Us from Marcie Jacklin and Community Voices of Fort Erie, a citizens group fighting to save Waverly Woods in Fort Erie from destruction

Posted June 21st, 2021 on Niagara At Large

PETITION UPDATE

Niagara Regions new Official Plan and Saving Waverly Woods

Marcie Jacklin, a leading member of Community Voices of Fort Erie a long-time field naturalist and conservationist in Niagara is urging Regional Councillors not to gamble with our future.

Niagara, Ontario – For decades now residents have been opposing many inappropriate developments in Niagara.

Locally informed citizens become aware of significant environmental or historic sites under attack and have to weave their way through a complicated planning process at the region or local municipality.

The amount of time and money spent by residents to oppose development on these priceless properties is enormous. In the meantime, when developers see there might be problems,they gear up their lobbying machines to influence staff and politicians in ways that the public can’t. Continue reading

Canada-U.S. Border Crossings Should Be Open to Fully Vaccinated

Where Is the Game Plan on Re-Opening. Border Crossings

And Why Do the Federal Governments Keep Moving the Goal Posts?

Buffalo, New York area Democratic Party Congressman Brian Higgins

“First the public was told vaccinations were the key to re-opening the border. Yet the vaccinated continue to be shut out. Then it was said, 75% partially vaccinated and 20% fully vaccinated was the threshold Canada needed to meet to loosen restrictions. That goal has been reached and still the border restrictions were extended for another month.”                                       -Brian Higgins, U.S. Democratic  Democratic Congressman representing border communities in New York State

A Statement By Congressman Brian Higgins, A U.S. Cngressman representing a District that includes the Buffalo and Niagara Falls, New York area

Posted June 21st, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Stop! Even if you are a fully vaccinated Canadian, you are not crossing that border for, possibly for the remainder of the summer, according to some reports. . Trudeau government seems determine to lock fully vaccinated people in Canada.

During a Sunday interview Canada’s Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness discussed the extension of existing travel restrictions between the United States and Canada.

“We haven’t reached the finish line, and the finish line is when a significant majority of Canadians, approximately 75%, are fully vaccinated,” said (Minister Bill) Blair.

Canada-United States Interparliamentary Group Co-Chair Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) released the following statement in response: Continue reading

PROTECING PETS – ‘PAWS’ and Think Twice Before Leaving Your Pet in a Hot Car

Call 911 if you are concerned an animal’s life is in danger

A Message from Ontario’s Ministry of the Solicitor General

Posted June 21st, 2021 on Niagara At Large

TORONTO — The Ontario government is urging everyone to take the necessary precautions to keep their pets safe and protected during the hot summer months.

Temperatures inside a vehicle can quickly become hotter than the temperature outside even if windows are left slightly open.

Pets can be put at risk of serious illness and possibly death due to heat exposure as a result of being left in a vehicle. If pets cannot leave the car and go with their owners, then leave them at home where they will be safe, cool, and comfortable. Continue reading

Canada-U.S. Border Crossing Ban Extended  to July 21st

A Question to Federal Governments – Is There Any Plan Afoot for Easing Border Crossing Restrictions? Or Do Border Communities Not Count As a Priority?

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

Posted June 19th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Canada-U.S. border crossings like this – Peace Bridge between Niagara, Ontario and Buffalo, New York – remain a bridge too far for our federal governments, even for people who have been fully vaccinated and haven’t seen loved ones on other side for more than 14 months now.

Federal governments in Canada and the United States – much to the chagrin of growing numbers of their citizens hoping there would finally be some easing of  border crossing restrictions – announced this June 18th that they would leave what is virtually a blanket ban on “non-essential” crossings in place for at least another month – until July 21st.

Earlier on in the pandemic, before there was access to a vaccine and you had a president of the U.S. in the name of Donald Trump and too many U.S. governors publicly downplaying the seriousness of the COVID-19 plague, it made all the sense in the world to continue a border-crossing ban that began in March, 2020.

This journalist was in complete agreement with keeping the border closed to non-essential then, and I was equally outraged by reports that some so-called Canadian ‘Snowbirds’ found ways to crossing anyway.

How does hiring a charter flight across the border on a helicopter and plane, and having some bogus business entity drive your car across the border, so you can get back in it and drive all the way down to Florida constitute an “essential service?” Continue reading