When Are Niagara’s Municipal Leaders Going To Stop Showing Contempt For Residents Fighting To Save Thundering Waters Forest

A Brief Commentary by Doug Draper

Posted August 24rd, 2016 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – For those of you who have not yet heard, the much-anticipated August 23rd Public Meeting over a controversial plan to urbanize a tract of natural heritage known as the Thundering Waters Forest in Niagara Falls, Ontario was over before it began.

Celeste Smith, a young voice for the Indigenous community in the Niagara area, speaks to a gathering of residents outside Niagara Falls City Hall this August 23rd. She calls the coming together of native and non-native people to save the Thundering Waters Forest "beautiful." Photo by Doug Draper

Celeste Smith, a young voice for the Indigenous community in the Niagara area, speaks to a gathering of residents outside Niagara Falls City Hall this August 23rd. She calls the coming together of native and non-native people to save the Thundering Waters Forest “beautiful.” Photo by Doug Draper

After all of the weeks of foreplay over this most important opportunity for members of the public to comment on the strength and weaknesses of a provincially required Environmental Impact Statement for this development plan, there was no Public Meeting at all.

In the minutes before the Public Meeting was set to begin on this past Tuesday night in August, enough Niagara Falls city councillors had the good sense to pass a motion tabled by Councillor Kim Craitor to hold the Public Meeting in a larger venue at a later date – this while residents packed the council chambers until there wasn’t a square foot left for anyone to stand, and others were forced to remain outside, chanting ‘Let us in’ while watching the sorry proceedings on a video screen.

It is hard to believe that those who scheduled this meeting did not know that, generally speaking, scheduling a meeting like this in late August when many people are off somewhere, trying to enjoy the last few weeks of summer, usually means that hardly anyone shows up or is even around to read or hear about the meeting in the media.

If they don’t know that, then what else don’t they know? And I don’t think they are quite that stupid.

So I don’t think it is too much of a stretch to say that scheduling a meeting of this importance on an issue that has so obviously raised concerns among a great many residents for the dog days of summer – and holding it in council chambers that are hardly that spacious at the tail end of a council agenda already crammed with other issues and delegations – was a deliberate attempt to get this public input session out of the way when few people are around.

Residents packed into Niagara Falls council chambers shortly before the council decides to reschedule a public meeting on the Thundering Waters Forest issue at a later date in a larger venue. This photo on Facebook of Niagara resident Karrie Porter

Residents packed into Niagara Falls council chambers shortly before the council decides to reschedule a public meeting on the Thundering Waters Forest issue at a later date in a larger venue. This photo on Facebook of Niagara resident Karrie Porter

In other words, it is just one more expression of the contempt too many of our municipal leaders have shown for the better part of a year over the billion-dollar plan by a Chinese-government sponsored corporation to build what it is marketing as a “Paradise” complex of residential and commercial units on the Thundering Waters Forest site.

But the beauty of it all is that all the apparent efforts by the supporters of this development to wear concerned citizens down has only resulted in more and more residents joining the campaign to save this natural area from the buzz saws and bulldozers.

The turnout of people – young and old, and everyone in between, including members of Niagara’s indigenous community – was huge this August 23rd. So much so that the Niagara Falls council had no choice but to support the motion to reschedule the meeting for a later date in a larger venue.

On top of that, the council also agreed that they should schedule a walking tour of the Thundering Waters Forest to check out the richness of the biodiversity it supports for themselves.

It is well past time our municipal leaders give up on the idea that in one way or another they can run down the clock until people get tired and go home. It is not going to happen on this issue!

In fact, the determination of residents in this region to stop this development from ever happening at this location has been strengthening by the month.

And every time municipal councillors try to frustrate delegations with insults and bully tactics, or by making them wait through one closed session of council after another before giving them a chance to speak – as was witnessed at regional council this past spring – the determination to keep the Thundering Waters site natural grows stronger.

“This issue is about our children and our grandchildren … Enough is enough,” said St. Catharines, Niagara resident Jeff Strikefoot, to a large group of fellow residents in the courtyard of the Niagara Falls City Hall after the council backed away from holding the public meeting in its cramped chambers this August 23rd meeting.

“What is our aim,” he continued. “I can answer in one word – Victory! Without victory (for preserving what is left of Niagara’s green spaces) there is no survival.)

Stay tune for much more on this issue on Niagara At Large in the days and weeks ahead.

For a related story on the mess that was supposed to be a Public Meeting on the Thundering Waters Forest proposal click onhttp://www.niagarafallsreview.ca/  .

Visit Niagara At Large at www.niagaraatlarge.com for more news and commentary for and from the greater bi-national Niagara region.

NOW IT IS YOUR TURN. Niagara At Large encourages you to share your views on this post in the space below the Bernie quote . A reminder that we only post comments by individuals who share their first and last name with them.

 “A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

 

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4 responses to “When Are Niagara’s Municipal Leaders Going To Stop Showing Contempt For Residents Fighting To Save Thundering Waters Forest

  1. Well said as always Doug – those members of Council who are deluded enough to think they can “bulldoze” this through are in serious need o a reality check. It might be a slightly outdated term but “People Power” is stronger than individuals who would overthrow the will of the “People”!

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  2. I don’t get some on Niagara Falls City Council and staff. Downtown Niagara Falls and many established communities in the city continue to struggle. Urban renewal and intensification would help these struggling areas become more attractive to new residents and responsible developers. It would also greatly benefit small businesses in these areas. However, Niagara Falls continues to push their urban boundaries outwards in an extreme case of urban sprawl, essentially pushing people away from the original commercial core. The city of Niagara Falls is an urban planning blunder. Why not focus on improving their existing urban areas and retain what’s left of the natural heritage? Wouldn’t this make better long-term social, economic and environmental sense? This mayor and some on council and staff are not working in the best interests of the citizens of Niagara Falls and Niagara. A few people are benefiting (including the Chinese government) at the expense of the long-term interests of everyone else.

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  3. Great to see the community digging in on this one!

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