A Name Change Won’t Make the Opposition to the Thundering Waters Project Go Away

It Might Just Do More To Infuriate People.      Why Not Change the Site Location for the Development Project Instead?

A News Commentary by Doug Draper

Posted November 7th, 2017 on Niagara At Large

It has become a common tactic for trying to keep alive a product or plan that has taken on so much baggage by way of opposition and negative publicity that its fate may be in jeopardy – change its name.

Thus we had the blue-eyed sheiks in Alberta change the name of the tar sands to “the oil sands” and, more recently, to “oil patch” which almost makes it sound as innocuous as skipping though a raspberry or blueberry patch, doesn’t it?

A garbage dump became a “landfill” and then, just to take little more of the sting out of it for people who don’t want a dump near their backyard, names like “secure landfill” or “sanitary landfill” are sometimes used.

Two airplanes colliding in midair is called a “near miss,” a grade school student who used to be called a slow learner is now sometimes referred to as marginally exceptional, and he or she are no longer called a loser if they come in last at something. Better to call them “the last winner.”

So it makes perfect sense to change an urban development plan for portions of the close to 500 acres of woodlands, wetlands and wild grasses that make up the Thundering Waters Forest in Niagara Falls, Ontario – especially when that plan has drawn such a weighty archive of stories about the public opposition to it – from Thundering Waters to the “Riverfront Community Master Plan.”

A number of young people in Niagara camped out for a week this summer in Thundering Waters Forest to draw more attention to plans they oppose to urbanize parts of it.

Word of the name change began circulating across the region through a recent message the City of Niagara Falls’ Planning, Building and Development Department sent to members of the city’s municipal council.

The message to the council reads as follows – 

“Council Members:

As you are aware, there is to be a statutory public meeting on December 5th for the Riverfront Community (formerly Thundering Waters) Official Plan Amendment application.  We are in the process of posting the supporting studies on the City’s website – currently the draft amendment and the Planning Justification Report have been posted and can be found following the link below.

Should you have any questions or require further information, please do not hesitate to contact me. …

John Barnsley, MSc, RPP, MCIP, Manager of Policy Planning, Planning, Building and Development, City of Niagara Falls.

https://niagarafalls.ca/city-hall/planning/riverfront-community-master-plan-formerly-thundering-waters.aspx .”

Less than 10 per cent of Niagara’s wetlands are left. Some of them are located in Thundering Waters Forest in Niagara Falls – an area now targeted for urban development.Now here’s my message to the representatives of GR Canada, the China-based corporation pursuing the plan to create an urban “community” inside a Thundering Waters Forest that many Niagara area citizens and Indigenous people living in the region would rather see save as natural heritage site, for the sake of the diversity of wildlife that lives there and the health of watershed linked to one of the world’s greatest rivers – the Niagara.

One of many ctizen demontrations for Thundering Waters Forest over the past two years. File photo by Doug Draper

Changing the name of this development plan won’t help. In fact it may even do more to infuriate people. Some of the reaction already circulating through the social media world includes lines like; “How stupid do they think we are?” and “what kind of a B.S. move is this?’

You can change the name but, as the old saying goes, ‘if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is a duck’, and no one who isn’t already concerned or convinced that what is being planned for this site could do lasting harm or destruction to what little significant wetland habitats we have left in Niagara is going to feel better if you start peddling your plan for Thundering Waters as a “Riverfront Community.”

For the part of Niagara At Large, we will simply begin to use the name Riverfront-Thundering Waters plan to make damn sure everyone knows what we are talking about and I would hope other media outlets in the region consider doing the same.

Meanwhile, municipal and provincial government bodies that have been reviewing and storing studies, reviews, comments and other documents on this development plan should be urged by members of the public to program the search engines for their archives to automatically link to the name Riverfront to Thundering Waters, if they haven’t already.

That way everyone will continue to have access to whole file going back for at least two years when in November of 2015, Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne signed a ‘Memorandum of Understanding” for this development plan while on business in China.

Call it Riverfront or Thundering Waters, the citizens’ campaign to spare this cherished natural heritage area in Niagara rages on!

And just one quick P.S. to my Message to the developers and their political supporters in the region – Instead of changing the name of the plan, change the location. Find another site, and there are plenty of them in Niagara, where you can build this community without encroaching on or possibly damaging or destroying more of what is little left of the life-giving wetlands we have left in this region.

Perhaps if we had political leaders in this region with a little more imagination and will to do the best thing for both the economy and the environment, a land swap could be arranged.

But we may have to wait for what will hopefully be a big change in the make-up of our municipal councils in the October 2018 elections before something that sensible happens.

So see you at the next Open Houses for this controversial development plan.

The first Open House – as in open to everyone – is scheduled for Monday, November 20th, from 5 to 8 p.m., in the Memorial Room of the Gale Centre on 5152 Thorold Stone Road in Niagara Falls.

The second Open House is scheduled for Tuesday, December 5th, starting at 5 p.m. in the City of Niagara Falls, Ontario Council Chambers 4310 Queen Street.

NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post in the space below the Bernie quote.

A reminder that we only post comments by individuals who also share their first and last names.

For more news and commentary from Niagara At Large – an independent, alternative voice for our greater bi-national Niagara region – become a regular visitor and subscriber to NAL at www.niagaraatlarge.com .

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

One response to “A Name Change Won’t Make the Opposition to the Thundering Waters Project Go Away

  1. Absolutely right Doug – change the name but – it remains the destructive proposal it always was. Also – “suggesting” that the project begin on a smaller scale is equally meaningless – allowing even the “new” approach to proceed would still kill the wetland! Those of us who began fighting this back in early 2016, when the NPCA floated the trial balloon of calling it a “pilot project” (which was shot down very quickly) are not going anywhere and we will all still be here come election time. Incumbents who support this should not feel too secure!!


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