Four Years On, It’s Time for the China Developers and their Enablers to Take a Walk
Attend the Open House on this Controversial Development Proprosal, this Thursday, January 30th at 5 p.m., at the Gale Centre in Niagara Falls, Ontario
ACommentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper
Posted January 29th, 2020 on Niagara At Large
Some four years have passed since residents across Niagara began fighting a foreign corporation and its local enablers to save a gem of an ecosystem in our Niagara River watershed from urban sprawl.
Indeed, it was almost four years ago to this day, on January 27th, 2016, that more than 200 residents – many of them young people feeling passionate about protecting what is left life-sustaining resources of this region for their future, packed the big meeting room at the Balls Falls Conservation Centre in Niagara.
They came to protest plans by China investors to intrude on areas in and around wetlands, woodlands and wild grasses in Niagara Falls’ 484-acre Thundering Waters Forest, located in the southwest end of Niagara Falls, Ontario.
The China-based investors were, and still are proposing to build what they called a ‘PARADISE’ community (now rebranded ‘RIVERFRONT’) with the support of Niagara area decision makers, including Niagara Falls’ Mayor, Jim Diodati.
On that night of January 27th, 2016, the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA), led by the likes of then-CAO Carmen D’Angelo (who later did a controversial stint as Niagara Region’s CAO), by then NPCA board chair and St. Catharines regional councillor Bruce Timms, and by a number of other then-board members of the Conservation Authoriy, including Diodati, Grimsby’s Tony Quirk and Fort Erie’s Sandy Annunziata, tried by might and main to sell us on something.
They tried to sell us on the idea that something called “bio-diversity offsetting” could somehow be used to somehow magically move natural features that took generations to evolve in Thundering Waters to places elsewhere in Niagara, so they could make way for this Disneyesque development project they claim will bring thousands of jobs and more than a billion dollars worth of investment into our region.
Yes, the promise of big money and lots of jobs have often been raised.
As if this irreplacable jewel of a natural place in Niagara isn’t worth infinitetly more than that!
That night, D’Angelo, Timms and other then-big wigs at the NPCA paraded good staff people from Conservation Authority (at least some of them possibly worried about their own jobs) up to the mikes to try to sell the more than 200 attending the meeting on the idea that his bio-diversity offsetting scheme, where you would take out provincially significant wetlands (PSWs) in one place and manufacture ones just like hem in another locale, in an effort to get the big gathering of residents onside about his China-based ‘Paradise’ business.
It didn’t’ work.
No one with brains enough to do a little research bought the idea that, as Bruce Timms tried selling it later in 2016 on a CHCH TV news clip, you could take out aged wetlands in one place, and grow wetlands just like them, in just five years or less. somewhere else.
Even Timms and other then running the NPCA – as bereft as they seemed to be of any compass pointing the way to true ecosystem protection – had to give up peddling that fairy tale after a while.
And yet here we now are – four years later – facing another open house/public meeting this Thursday, January 30th at 5 p.m. at the Gale Centre on Thorold Stone Road in Niagara Falls to entertain the plans of this same China-based GR (CAN) development group to construct some sort of urban abomination in Thundering Waters Forest.
In an era of growing climate crisis, when we should be working to protect every last acre of wetlands and woodlands that we have left, why is a plan to urbanize an area like this still on the agenda?
How much more of this kind of destructive, unsustainable planning will our decision makers in this region continue to tolerate?
Over the past four years, we have heard and read representatives of this China group express frustration over how long it is taking to get approval for this project.
They have sometimes pointed a finger of blamte at citizens for the role they have played in trying to block it.
I would suggest that instead of getting frustrated with citizens, they should aim their fingers at whoever it was in this region who may have given them the idea it would be easy, or relatively easy, to get approval to do urban sprawl in a place like this in the first place.
Perhaps they include some of the same people who gave them the idea that this thing called ‘bio-diversity offsetting’ might work, until it didn’t.
Whoever anyone on the side of this project chooses to blame, this four-year effort to build in an area so rich with some of the vegetation and wildlife our Niagara region is fortunate enough to have left has got to come to an end.
And I believe it will, if enough citizens continue to care enough to fight for this area’s preservation.
Shame on any of those in decision-making positions in our Niagara region who do not!
Please watch this moving video piece on Thundering Waters, produced three years ago by Niagara environmentalist Owen Bjorgan, when bio-diversity offsetting was still being peddled around by the likes of D’Angelo, Timms and Diodati –
To view aCHCH TVE news clip from more than three years ago, featuring then NPCA chair Bruce Timms trying to convince the world that you can grow wetlands like the ones in Thundering Waters in five years or less, click on the following link, then click on the arrow on the second image that pops up – https://www.chch.com/niagara-wetland-worries/
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