Three Municipal Leaders Who Have Been Beacons for Decency, Openness and Issues That Matter to Everyday Niagara Citizens Have Decided Not to Run Again –And We Are the Poorer For It
A News Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper
Posted August 24th, 2022 on Niagara At Large
Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose.
In this coming October’s municipal elections – not to make these three fine people feel bad – Niagara residents will all be losing to the extent that we will not see the names of Barbara Butters from the City of Port Colborne, Kelly Edgar of St. Catharines and Fred Neale of Thorold on the ballot.
In my more than 40 years as a reporter covering issues, including more than I wanted to of politics, in Niagara, Butters, Edgar and Neale have been among those that exemplify the best in municipal politics – those who have placed the interests of everyday people in this region above those who are the worst of the worst in the development industry, big business crowd and other special interests.
I am only going to say a few words about each of them here but I want to make sure that anyone clicking in out there knows who they are.
Barbara Butters was first elected to Port Colborne city council in 1997 and during that time, and before Al Caslin pawns and creeps like David Barrick, Bruce Timms and Sandy Annunziata corrupted the mission of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority between 2014 and 2018, she had a stint on the NPCA’s board, serving it has a strong advocate for protecting and preserving Niagara’s natural heritage lands.
Over the past four years as a Niagara Regional councillor for Port Colborne, Butters has been an equally strong voice for protecting what is left of Niagara’s natural heritage from mindless, narrow-minded urban sprawl.
Then there is Kelly Edgar who has served two terms as a Niagara regional councillor for St. Catharines and who, during his first term, under the dark skies of then Niagara Regional chairman Al Caslin, was one of a minority who bravely voted against hiring the highly controversial Carmen D’Angelo (then an infamous NPCA CAO) as CAO for the entire Region.
Kelly Edgar has also remained a solid voice for all issues that affect the lives of everyday Niagara residents, never bending to pressure from special interests.
Finally, there is Fred Neale who has served –par excellence – for more than 27 years as a councillor for the City of Thorold.
During that time, he played a leadership role in saving a beautiful tract of land along Lake Gibson(off Beaverdams Road) from urban development, creating what is now the much beloved Mel Swart Lake Gibson Conservation Park, in celebration of his friend, the late Niagara MPP Mel Swart who was a champion for protecting the Niagara Escarpment and creating a protected greenbelt in Ontario.
Even as Fred Neale was getting ready to bow out of municipal politics this summer, he was one of too few elected municipal representatives across Niagara who participated in the regional government’s Climate Summit, focused on developing plans at the local level to address the climate crisis.
Fred Neale assures me that even though he is leaving elected politics, he will remain active on the Mel Swart Park board and other organization that work for the common good.
Niagara At Large salutes these three good people and so many others that are there for building better communities in Niagara.
Doug Draper, Niagara At Large
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