Author Archives: dougdraper

Big Changes Coming to Niagara’s Curbside Waste Collection Services in 2020

Niagara Region Selects Two New Waste Collection Contractors – GFL Environmental and Miller Waste Systems Inc. – to Begin    in Fall of Next Year

“Every-Other-Week Garbage Collection (also coming in next year), coupled with weekly collection of recycling and organics, will help to increase Niagara Region’s waste diversion rate towards our target of 65 per cent.”                                                       – Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley

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

Posted November 22nd, 2019 on Niagara At Large

It was less than a decade ago – in February of 2011 – that a new waste collection contractor, the Emterra Group, rolled in to Niagara from its home base in Burlington to begin serving residents and businesses here.

In February of 2011, some of the Emterra waste collection trucks, all lined up and ready to roll across Niagara. File photo by Doug Draper

“We are ready to make this happen,” said one of Emterra’s operators  as the company was  about to launch its new fleet of trucks with the words; “More Recycling, Less Waste – Rethink Your Waste,” emblazoned on their sides.

Eight years later, the Emterra trucks don’t look as shiny any more and complaints have come in to Niagara’s regional government over the past few years about the company falling behind  collection schedules – sometimes by as much as a day or two. Continue reading

Niagara NDP MPPs Demand Answers From Ontario’s Premier on the Ongoing Thorold Tunnel Fiasco

Ontario Ministry of Transportation is Reportedly Looking at Closing  Problem-Plagued Thorold Tunnel to Two-Way Traffic

“We have had local business owners tell us this is a disaster for business, residents tell us about the hardships this will cause and local elected officials are demanding a meeting to get answer about when the Ministry knew the tunnel was unsafe.”                   – Niagara Fals MPP Wayne Gates

“Is the(Ontario transportation) minister prepared to listen to local elected officials and take the necessary steps to maintain the current traffic configuration in order to ensure our community is safe, accessible and moving efficiently?”                                              – Niagara Centre MPP Jeff Burch

Thorold Tunnel running under the Welland Canal in Niagara, Ontario, shut down temporarily again this past October due to another in a series of potentially deadly accident that occurred inside. Photo by Doug Draper

A News Release from the Constituency Officies of Niagara Centre MPP Jeff Burch and Niagara Falls MPP Wayne

Posted November 21st, 2019 on Niagara At Large

QUEEN’S PARK NDP MPPs Jeff Burch (Niagara Centre) and Wayne Gates (Niagara Falls) this November 21st  urged Doug Ford to explain why the Ministry of Transportation decided to close two-way traffic through the Thorold tunnel without consulting local people. Continue reading

Ontario Government Launches Free Routine Dental Care for Low-Income Seniors

Program Will Help Keep Seniors Healthy in Niagara

“By providing seniors with access to quality dental care and keeping them out of hospitals, this new program is a key part of our plan to end hallway health care.”                                                   – Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott.

“The announcement today addresses the growing needs of our aging population in Niagara.”                                                                –  Sam Oosterhoff, MPP for Niagara West

News from the Ontario Government

Posted November 21st, 2019 on Niagara At Large


Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott

Thorold, Ontario – As part of its comprehensive plan to end hallway health care, Ontario is investing in programs that keep seniors healthy in their communities longer.

Each year in Ontario, preventable dental issues like gum disease, infections and chronic pain lead to more than 60,000 emergency department visits by patients, of which a significant portion are seniors. Many low-income seniors face challenges accessing regular dental care because they cannot afford it, impacting their overall well-being.

This is why the government is investing approximately $90 million annually for the new Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program (OSDCP), which will provide free routine dental care for eligible low-income seniors in Niagara and across the province. In doing so, the government expects to reduce the number of dental-related emergency department visits, helping to end hallway health care. Continue reading

St. Catharines-based Con Gusto Artisan Bakery is Niagara’s Latest Living Wage Employer

News from the Niagara Poverty Reduction Network in Niagara, Ontario
Posted November 21st, 2019 on Niagara At Large

The Niagara Poverty Reduction Network is pleased to announce that Con Gusto Artisan Bakery has become a certified living wage employer at the Champion level. 

Since first opening its doors in 2006, Con Gusto has earned a reputation as a go-to source for premium-quality artisanal breads, pastries and traditional Italian baking in Niagara. Based in St. Catharines, they currently employ six full-time and one part-time staff.

Niagara Poverty Reduction Network Chair Glen Walker (left) presents certificate for paying employees a living wage to Giovanni Stanziano, Owner of Con Gusto Artisan Bakery in St. Catharines, Ontario

“Con Gusto’s most important values are quality and integrity, which are just as important to the way we run our business as they are to the products we create. We care about our employees and being a Living Wage Employer is a way of demonstrating our commitment to their well-being and to the well-being of our community.” Says Giovanni Stanziano, Owner of Con Gusto Artisan Bakery.

“With this latest certification, Niagara now has 30 certified Living Wage employers,” says Glen Walker, Chair of the Niagara Poverty Reduction Network. “We are very pleased to see so many local employers from various sectors who recognize the value and benefits of paying their employees at least a living wage. Paying a living wage takes direct action to tackle poverty and we are excited to see the growing number of Niagara businesses joining us in this work.”

A living wage reflects what earners need to be paid based on the actual costs of living and being included in the community. A living wage is not the same as the legislated minimum wage. It is a voluntary commitment that employers can make to compensate directly-employed and contract-employed full-time and part-time workers.

The 2019 living wage for Niagara region has recently been calculated to be $18.12/hour. If an employer’s total compensation package includes benefits such as dental and prescription drugs, the living wage can be lowered by at least $1.00/hour. Learn more about Niagara’s living wage

Niagara-area employers interested in becoming living wage certified can contact the Ontario Living Wage Network for more information at

The Niagara Poverty Reduction Network is a collective of over 30 agencies and individuals working to wipe out poverty in Niagara through education, collaboration, and advocacy to address poverty’s root causes.

For more information on and from the Niagara Poverty Reduction Network, click 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 reminder that we only post comments by individuals who also share their first and last names.

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

Niagara Regional Council Expertly Demonstrates Why Women Need Representation

‘Not one man on regional council stood up and supported the creation of a women’s advisory committee without attaching his own preferences, ideas, and requirements to it. The men on regional council have soundly demonstrated why women need equal representation at every level of government.’

A Commentary by Melissa McGlashan, a citizen of Niagara, Ontario, living in the City of Welland

Posted November 19th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

On the evening of November 14th a motion was presented at Regional Council to strike a women’s advisory committee. The resulting debate revealed disturbing truths about the state of our regional council and the state of representation for women across our region.

Niagara’s current regional council, shown here during its inaugural meeting in December 2018, is made up of a total of 24 men and eight women. File photo by Doug Draper

Here in Niagara, 75 per cent of our regional councillors are men, three of four provincial ridings are represented by men, and all four federal ridings are represented by men.

A women’s advisory committee is an important step towards increasing representation and leadership opportunities for women and allowing for discussion by women of shared experiences, barriers to participation in society, and possible remedies. Continue reading

Three Niagara MPPs Make “Urgent” Call on Ford Government to Fix Thorold Tunnel Chaos

“We … request a prompt meeting between local leaders and your Ministry in order to find a solution that accounts for our community who have expressed deep concern with this closure.” – Niagara NDP MPPs Jeff Burch, Wayne Gates and Jennie Stevens to Ontario Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney

One of the entrance ramps to the Thorold Tunnel, passing under the Welland Canal in Niagara, Ontario, and closed again this past October for yet another potentially deadly mishap in the tunnel. Over the past four months alone, the tunnel had to be temporarily closed because of a truck catching fire, a multi-vehicle collision, and concrete slabs falling from the ceiling of the tunnel falling when a truck grazed them. The Thorold tunnel, in many peoples’ mind,s, has been a nightmare for decades. At least two or three fatalities have occurred in the tunnel due to leaks of water from the tunnel walls turning to ice and other dangerous conditions. Photo by Doug Draper

An Open Letter , dated November 19th, 2019, to Ontario’s Ford Government from Niagara Centre MPP Jeff Burch, Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates and St. Catharines MPP Jennie Stevens

Posted November 19th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

Ford’s Transportation Minister, Caroline Mulroney

Letter to Caroline Mulroney, Ontario Ministry of Transportation

Dear Minister Mulroney:

We are sending you this urgent letter on behalf of the people of Niagara. For months now, thousands of Niagara drivers who rely on the Thorold tunnel daily have experienced inconvenience, delays and frustration.

With the recent news that the Ministry of Transportation is ending two-way traffic through the Thorold tunnel, citizens and local leaders have come forward demanding an answer. Vehicles eastbound to Niagara Falls would have to find an alternative route, one that is already facing issues of congestion and construction closures. Continue reading

A Happy 80th Birthday to one of Canada’s, and the World’s, Greatest Living People – Margaret Atwood

“War is what happens when language fails.”
― Margaret Atwood

“Stupidity is the same as evil if you judge by the results.”
― Margaret Atwood

A Brief Comment by Doug Draper, Niagara At Large

Posted November 18th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

One of Canada’s greatest, Margaret Atwood, turned 80 this November 18th

Whenever I hear someone say Margaret Atwood’s name – and I know this is going to sound so silly given all the rich rewards she has brought to our lives through her writings – one of the first things that comes to mind is the role she played with others eight years ago to stop Doug Ford and his now late brother Rob from cutting funding for Toronto public libraries.

When asked about Atwood’s involvement in fight against library cuts, Doug Ford – then a Toronto city councillor and now premier of Ontario – was quoted telling a reporter; “I don’t even know her.”

Blathering on as if he were proud of himself for saying something that might impress a bunch of old school pals sitting at a bar, Ford punctuated his naked stupidity with the obvious follow-up; “If she walked by me, I wouldn’t have a clue who she is.”

Sad to think that it was episodes like this that endeared Doug Ford to enough Ontarians (“I like him cause he sounds like a regular guy,” I’ve heard more than a few of my fellow Ontarians say) to plunk him in the seat of the most important political office in the province.

For those of us who at least know who Margaret Atwood is, the Canadian author who has become known and celebrated around the world for  critically acclaimed, award-winning books like ‘Cat’s Eye’, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, and her most recent runaway bestseller, ‘The Testament’, turned 80 this November 18th, and a very happy birthday to her.

Margaret Atwood is not only a great writer. She has shown herself to be a great humanitarian for at least as many years as people began reading her work some five decades ago.

For this long-time environment writer, I also became aware earlier on that she has been passionate spokesperson for protesting and preserving the life-sustaining gifts of our mother earth.

On that score, Margaret Atwood has been among a growing number of others who have called out for action on climate change.

Here is just an excerpt of an article she wrote in 2015 on the subject –

Says Margaret Atwood of 16-year-old Swedish climate active Greta Thunberg – “She’s wonderful and she’s impervious to people slagging her off.”

“The laws of science are unrelenting, and they don’t give second chances. In fact, that bill is already coming due.

“There are many … effects (of climate change), from species extinction to the spread of diseases to a decline in overall food production, but the main point is that these effects are not happening in some dim, distant future. They are happening now. And in response to our growing awareness, there have been some changes in public and political attitudes (though not universal).

“Some acknowledge the situation, but shrug and go about their lives taking a “What can I do?” position. Some merely despair. But only those with their heads stuck so firmly into the sand that they’re talking through their nether ends are still denying that reality has changed.”

Happy Birthday Margaret Atwood, and may there be many, many more.

To read the full article that  Margaret Atwood wrote three years ago on the climate emergency we are now facing, click on –

To watch a great interview with Margaret Atwood, broadcast on CBC’s program Q this November 18th, 2019, click 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 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