Author Archives: dougdraper

Niagara Mayors Call On Ontario’s Ford Government For Clearly Defined Re-Opening Plan

“With the prospect of an outstanding summer in Niagara on the horizon, we need to continue to do everything we can to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in our communities. We also need to have plans in place to allow our communities to be prepared and ready for a safe, more open summer than last year.”

An Open Message to the Ontario Government  from the Mayors of the 12 Local Municipalities in Niagara, Ontario

Posed May 14th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – On Thursday Premier Doug Ford announced an extension to the Stay-at-Home order until at least June 2. The extension is needed to provide additional time to control the spread of COVID-19, bring down case counts, take pressure off already overburdened hospitals and put more vaccines in arms.

While we are supportive of the decision to further extend protective measures for the betterment of our communities, the lack of any kind of detailed plans to lead us towards an opening up of the economy is frustrating.

We believe our residents and businesses need to see a clearly developed re-opening plan that is evidence-based and includes the positive impacts of vaccinations. With more than half of Ontarians vaccinated with at least one dose, increased shipments of vaccines on the way, and age eligibility expanding in the next few weeks – Ontario should have a clearly defined re-opening plan. Continue reading

Ford Government Adding 2,000 Nurses to Health Care System, Long-Term Care Homes

New Investment Will Also Expand Support For Clinical Education Programs In Long-Term Care Homes

A News Release from the Ontario Government

Posted May 14th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Ontario Long-Term Care Minster Dr. Merrilee Fullteron insists she inherited a mess on long-term care from previous governments – so, as she continues insist, cut her some slack. It takes years to take action.

TORONTO — The Ontario government is investing $35 million to increase enrollment in nursing education programs in publicly-assisted colleges and universities across the province.

The new spaces will be available for Fall 2021 and Winter 2022 cohorts and will introduce approximately 1,130 new practical nurses and 870 registered nurses into the health care system.

COVID-19 has exacerbated the gap between the current supply of nurses compared to Ontario’s current and future needs across the health care system.

Today’s (May 14th, 2021) announcement is a significant step towards keeping pace with the rising demand for frontline health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, especially in sectors where health care workers care for Ontario’s most vulnerable patients such as long-term care, home and community care and acute care. Continue reading

Buffalo, New York Area Congressman Says No To More Monthly Extensions On Canada/US. Border Crossings

Congrressman Calls for Peace Bridge, Rainbow Bridge and Other Border Crossings to Be “Fully Open” by July

“We cannot keep the border closed forever – families, loved ones, businesses, and communities along the northern border have sacrificed so much for the past year to get where we are. Now is the time for the Biden Administration to act (on land crossings along the border).                  _                                                                                     – Brian Higgins, U.S. Congressman for the Buffalo/Niagara Falls, New York area

A News Release from the Buffalo, New York Office of U.S. Democratic Consgtressman Brian Higgisn

Posted May 14th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

With Existing Cross-Border Order Set to Expire Next Week Congressman Says CDC Guidance Demonstrates the Ability to Safely Return to Travel.

Buffalo, New York area Democratic Party Congressman Brian Higgins

Buffalo, New York area Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) says new public health guidance confirms we can safely reopen the border between the United States and Canada.

The Congressman, who serves as Co-Chair of the Northern Border Caucus and the Canada-U.S. Interparliamentary Group, is pressing the White House to end the orders banning non-essential travel which have been issued monthly for over a year now.

In a letter to President Biden<https://higgins.house.gov/sites/higgins.house.gov/files/051421%20Letter%20to%20President%20Biden%20re%20CDC%20-%20Northern%20Border.pdf>, Higgins writes, “For over a year, Americans along the Northern Border have awaited eagerly the end of the pandemic and resumption of normal commerce and travel between our two countries.

The CDC’s decision lifting the masking requirement for fully vaccinated Americans is an affirmation of the scientific fact on the power of vaccinations to crush COVID-19. Continue reading

If Ford Had Listened to Health Experts in Past, Would We Still Be In Lockdown Today?

Stay at home extension is the result of Doug Ford’s choices, says Ontario NDP Official Opposition Party Leader Andrea Horwath

A News Release from the Office of Ontario’s Official Opposition Leader

Posted May 13th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Ontario Premier Doug Ford rolls up his sleeve for his COVID-19 vaccine in early April. He often sounds as though the vaccine alone will rapidly bring things back to “normal.” Then he opens business back up again, even while health experts plead with him to wait at least a little longer

QUEEN’S PARK — NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the current Stay at Home order has to be extended, yet again, because Premier Doug Ford continuously refuses to do what the experts have told him to do.

“People are frustrated. They are exhausted. They are struggling with isolation. And they will be devastated to hear this Stay at Home order has to be extended, yet again, because of Doug Ford’s choices,” said Horwath.

“People and families have to stay locked down because Ford refuses to do what the experts have been telling him to do.

“If I were premier today, I would give workers paid sick days, close non-essential businesses and give them financial support, focus on hotspots, and re-open outdoor activities safely, right away.” Continue reading

BREAKING NEWS – Ontario Extending Stay-at-Home Order Until June 2

Province Outlines Plans to Make Pfizer Vaccine Available to Youth Aged 12 to 17

A News Release from the Office of Ontario Premier Doug Ford

Posted May 13th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

TORONTO, Ontario  — With the new, more contagious variants continuing to pose significant risks, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, has extended the Stay-at-Home Order (O. Reg. 265/21) until at least June 2, 2021.

All public health and workplace safety measures under thprovincewide emergency brake will also remain in effect. During this time, the government will prepare to administer the Pfizer vaccine to youth between the ages of 12 and 17, beginning the week May 31, 2021, as the province also finalizes plans to gradually and safely re-open the province.

“While we are seeing positive trends as a result of the public health measures put in place, we cannot afford to let up yet,” said Premier Ford. Continue reading

Join Niagara Region’s Medical Health Officer for a COVID-19 Update

Participate in a Virtual Question & Answer Session – Coming Our Way, Tuesday, May 18th at 2 P.M.

See Details for Registering for this Free On-Line Event Below

A News Release from Niagara’s Regional Government

Posted Mary 13th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – Vaccination progress and other health updates from Dr. M. Hirji, Medical Officer of Health and Commisioner, Public Health, Niagara Region.

An update from Dr. Hirji, Medical Officer of Health and Commissioner, Public Health. – https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/lunch-learn-maximizing-emotionally-effective-leadership-tickets-151242966785?aff=odeimcmailchimp&utm_source=Greater+Niagara+Chamber+of+Commerce+Subscribers&utm_campaign=86afb1335c-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2021_01_19_04_05_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_a9d7633c2c-86afb1335c-111643714&mc_cid=86afb1335c&mc_eid=UNIQID#tickets

About this event

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Niagara Falls MPP Calls on Ford Government to Address Niagara’s Housing Affordability Crisis

“We have a housing crisis in Niagara – people from our own community literally cannot afford to buy a home here. Parents are watching as their kids have no choice but to leave the community they were raised in. Residents of Niagara have known this for years as their kids have been priced further and further out of the market.”                                                                             – Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates

A News Release from the Constituency Office of Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates

Posted May 13th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates asked Premier Doug Ford to immediately table a plan to address skyrocketing housing prices in Niagara

Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates

Nagara, Ontario — On Tuesday in question period, Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates asked Premier Doug Ford to immediately table a plan to address skyrocketing housing prices in Niagara.

Gates pointed to a recent study by Desjardins, which showed that housing affordability in Niagara got worse by 14 per cent — the worst drop in Canada. Data shows that the average sale price of a house in Niagara for the first quarter of the year was $717,702.

“We have a housing crisis in Niagara – people from our own community literally cannot afford to buy a home here. Parents are watching as their kids have no choice but to leave the community they were raised in. Residents of Niagara have known this for years as their kids have been priced further and further out of the market. Houses are facing multiple offers and bidding wars — regularly selling well over asking price, sometimes $100,000 over asking. Who can afford that?” Continue reading

Town of Lincoln Council Reaffirms Commitment To Preserving Parkland And Green Space

A News Release from the Town of Lincoln in Niagara, Ontario

Posted May 12th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Lincoln, Ontario  – Coming out of a closed session of the Special Council Meeting on May 10, 2021, Town of Lincoln Council passed a motion to maintain greenspace and preserve park lands in the community, as per the Parks, Recreation and Culture Master Plan.

The motion also confirms that the Elizabeth Street property will not be sold and that the park will be remain open for community use.

“Through this motion, Council continues to advance our priorities of being a Connected and Resilient community,” said Town of Lincoln Mayor Sandra Easton. “The Town continues to invest in parks and green spaces so that they can be enjoyed by Lincoln residents and visitors for many generations.” Continue reading

Niagara Region’s Planning Staff Supports Official Plan that Favours Urban Development Over Natural Heritage Protection

This deer has made its home in Waverly Woods – now a target of predatory development in Fort Erie. How many homes will be left for wildlife like this if Niagara Regional Council passes a weak Official Plan for our future?

“The Region staff is recommending to council that they choose option 3B for a Natural Heritage System. This option is totally in favour of development. It means Niagara will look like Mississauga in a few short years.”                                               Community Voices of Fort Erie, a citizens group fighting to keep urban sprawl out of Save Waverly

A Call-Out to all Niagara citizens from Community Voices of Fort Erie

Posted May 12th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Today, Wednesday May 12, 2021 (at 1 p.m.) the Planning and Economic Development Committee will be holding a meeting about the upcoming new Official Plan.

There will be several important residents speaking about the issues and problems with this official plan. Watch for the live stream on  https://www.niagararegion.ca/government/council/  starting a 1 p.m.

Will ever more of the low-density urban sprawl on the bottom half of this photo pave over ever more of the green lands above?

The region staff is recommending to council that they choose option 3B for a Natural Heritage System. This option is totally in favour of development. It means Niagara will look like Mississauga in a few short years.

And citizens won’t be able to have any further input on development. Continue reading

Here’s Some Good News on the Waste Management Front in Niagara

Residents Turn to More Composting and Recycling After Garbage Collection is Reduced to Every Other Weeks

“This term of council made the progressive choice to move forward with every-other-week collection as it was the best decision for our local environment. After six months, we have seen exceptionally positive results that demonstrate that this change in policy lead to a significant increase in green bin usage, while diverting organics from our landfills. On behalf of Regional Council, I want to thank residents for their willingness to adapt to every-other-week collection as it is protecting our natural heritage.”                                                                                                                          ~ Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley

A News Release from Niagara’s Regional Government

Posted May 11th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

  Green Bin use is up six months after launch of new collection contract

Niagara, Ontario – Last October, Niagara Region moved to every-other-week garbage collection for  residents and businesses while continuing to provide weekly collection of Green  Bin, Blue Box and Grey Box materials.

Based on the early results, Niagara residents are responding well as Green Bin tonnage is up more than 34 per cent and garbage tonnage is down almost 16 per cent. Recycling tonnages have also increased by almost 12 per cent since the new collection changes came into place.

The results were part of an update given to Niagara Region’s Public Works Committee on May11, 2021 for the first six months of the new contract comparing tonnages versus the same period last year. Continue reading

Ontario NDP Leader Tells Ford to Get Rolling on the Second COVID-19 Shot

Stop Making People Wait for Up to Four Full Months for the Second Jab

This vaccine, along with Pfizer, was approved for use based on tests that involved the second dose being taken within one month. Now politicians like Doug Ford are stretching it out to four months – just to get at least one shot in people’s arms.

“Four months is the longest possible safe delay in between the two shots, according to the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, while Pfizer and Moderna recommend getting the second dose about three weeks after the first.”                                   – Ontario NDP Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath

A News Release from the Office of Ontario’s Official Opposition Leader

Posted May 11th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is calling for a comprehensive plan to be released urgently for speeding up second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine

Ontario NDP MPP Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath want’s Ford Longterm-Care Home Minister’s head.

QUEEN’S PARK — Official Opposition NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is calling for a comprehensive plan to be released urgently for speeding up second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“People are anxious and frustrated, knowing their second vaccine appointment isn’t until a full four months after their first, or not knowing how the heck they’re going to find a second appointment within the right time frame,” said Horwath.

“With supply rolling in, it’s wrong to force everyone to wait until the very last minute it’s medically acceptable to get the second dose. And it’s wrong to drag this out into the fall when we can do better.” Continue reading

Niagara’s Conservation Authority Purchases Ecologically Rich Land in Wainfleet

“The property is designated as an Environmental Conservation Area and Significant Woodland, serving as a vital habitat and migratory stopover for birds, bats, and butterflies.” – NPCA

Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley

“Safeguarding Niagara’s environmental heritage is of vital importance to our community, and this major NPCA investment will ensure that a significant part of our local ecosystem will remain protected. This acquisition speaks to the shared priorities of the conservation authority, municipalities and Region to ensure we are taking the necessary steps to protect what makes Niagara unique.”                                         – Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley

A News Release from the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) in Niagara, Ontario

Posted May 11th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) is pleased to announce the purchase of 70 acres on Morgan’s Point Road in Wainfleet, Ontario.

The property is designated as an Environmental Conservation Area and Significant Woodland, serving as a vital habitat and migratory stopover for birds, bats, and butterflies.

Area in yellow show new lands purchased by Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority  near shores of Lake Erie in Wainfleet, Niagara. Lands outlined in red pinpoint two other conservation areas owned by NPCA – the Lakewood Conservation Area to the left and Morgan’s Point Conservation Area along Lake Erie at the tip of Morgan’s Point.

The new land purchase includes several important ecological features, such as interior forest which provides critical habitat for interior species, a significant water recharge area, a highly vulnerable groundwater area found throughout the entire parcel, and a potential alvar ecosystem with characteristic shallow soils.

It also serves as a prime habitat for species at risk including the Monarch Butterfly, and various snakes, birds, and toads. Continue reading

Niagara Falls NDP MPP Demands Justice for Niagara Long-Term Care Families

A News Release from the Constituency Office of Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates

Posted Mary 10th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates

NIAGARA FALLS, Ontario  — Following the devastating loss of life in Niagara’s long-term care homes, NDP MPP Wayne Gates (Niagara Falls) demanded in question period Monday (Math 10th) that Doug Ford commit to implementing the recommendations of Ontario’s Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission.

Nearly 100 per cent of staff and residents at Oakwood Park Lodge in Niagara Falls contracted COVID-19, and 40 people died.

“Despite the Premier’s (Doug Ford’s and his Conservative government’s) promise to build an iron ring around long-term care in the first wave of COVID, more seniors died in the second wave than in the first. Continue reading

Here’s to the Courage and Dedication of Frontline Healthcare Workers on National Nursing Week

“I am honoured to recognize and thank the dedicated nurses, long-term care staff and frontline workers who provide quality care for some of Niagara’s most vulnerable residents. COVID-19 has required our staff to go above and beyond to provide the very best care possible, and our talented employees make a real difference.”                                                                                                   – Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley

A News Release from Niagara’s Regional Government

Posted May 10th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Region marks National Nursing Week and Long-Term Care Week

Niagara, Ontario – Over the past year, we’ve seen so many frontline healthcare workers selflessly answer the call as the COVID-19 pandemic took over our hospitals, long-term care homes, schools and workplaces.

Of those courageous and professional frontline healthcare workers, nurses, personal support workers and lots of others are an integral part of the equation. Whether that’s helping us during a hospital stay, caring for our family and friends in long-term care homes or working at mass immunization clinics, nurses have been the backbone in the fight against COVID-19.

“On behalf of Regional Council, I want express my sincere appreciation for all who work in long-term care homes, or serve our community by being a nurse,” said Regional Chair, Jim Bradley. Continue reading

You Are Invited to an Ecological Journey Around the Niagara Peninsula

Join this FREE VIRTUAL EVENT – this coming Sunday, May 16. Find Registration Details Below

Hosted by Kathryn Waugh and the Green Party of Canada, Niagara Falls

Posted May 10th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

 

 

Hello!

Join our speaker Owen Bjorgan on Sunday May 16th at 11am for a FREE VIRTUAL photographic journey around the Niagara Peninsula, showcasing its biodiversity and ecological highlights.

This talk is a colourful, photographic journey around the Niagara Peninsula, showcasing its biodiversity and ecological highlights in an exciting way. Continue reading

More Vaccination Clinic Appointments Added In Niagara This Coming Week

A Public Service Announcement from Niagara Region Public Health

Posted May 10th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – Due to a last minute boost of vaccines coming to Niagara, additional spots have  been added to many Niagara Region Public Health COVID-19 vaccination clinics  this month.

These include:

  * May 11-14 – Port Colborne, Vale Health and Wellness Centre

  * May 15-16 – Niagara-on-the-Lake, Community Centre Continue reading

Happy 50th to One of the Greatest Albums of All Time

This Spring, Marvin Gaye’s Opus – What’s Going On – Turns 50 Years Old

Watch the debut of a CNN Cable Television Special on this masterwork this Sunday, May 9th at 8 P.M.

A Brief One by Doug Draper, at Niagara At Large

Posted May 9th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

I would hardly ever use Niagara At Large to plug a special on cable TV, but this one looks to good to ignore.

It is called ‘What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye’s Anthem for the Ages – and it is a tribute to what is, without any doubt here, one of the very best and one of the most influential, albums of music ever produced.

The album, ‘What’s Going On’ also contains songs about war and peace, about protecting our environment, and about freeing humankind from the shackles of poverty and racism that are timeless. They are as relevant today as they were when the late great Marvin Gaye first wrote and recorded them 50 years ago. Continue reading

Niagara’s Regional Council on Cusp of Deciding the Fate of Our Natural Heritage for Generations to Come

“Niagara’s major environmental groups and nature clubs, along with many citizens, have worked collectively over the past year to ask our elected officials to adopt the best NES (Natural Environment System) option. We hope that other citizens will join us.”

An Important Message from Liz Benneian and Biodiversity and Biodiversity and Climate Action Niagara (BCAN)

Posted May 7th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

With all the development coming to Niagara, can we protect enough of Niagara’s natural environment to ensure it will still be there to serve our children and grandchildren?

On Wednesday, May 12, Regional Councillors will be asked to make one of the most important decisions of this term at the Planning and Economic Development Committee (PEDC) when they choose what Natural Environment System to implement as part of the Region’s new Official Plan.

The most protective option, known as 3C, would apply some additional protection within our urban areas, such as including small green linkages between significant features. Continue reading

Join a Virtual Celebration of Migratory Birds in the Niagara River Corridor

This Saturday, May8th, 2021  – See Details Below for Participating Below

Hosted by Birds on the Niagara and Buffalo Adubon

Posted May 7th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

“The Niagara River Corridor is a Globally Significant Important Bird Area because migratory and breeding birds depend upon it for survival.  This is a designation shared by the Galapagos, the Everglades, and Yellowstone. … Birds on the Niagara is the only international Bird Festival in North America.  It celebrates the abundance of migratory birds in the Niagara Region.”                                                                                     – Jay Burney Chair, Birds on the Niagara, based on the New York side of the Niagara River

BON Bird Friendly City Initiative

Our BON21 Programming focused on Conservation Strategies in the International Niagara River Corridor. One of our featured speakers, Dr. Timothy Beatley, founder of the Biophilic Cities Network, and author of a new book The Bird Friendly City as well as presentations by Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP Canada) have inspired and lead us to create this initiative.

For More on Tim Beatley including his BON21 Presentation CLICK HERE

For More on FLAP Canada including the BON21 Presentation CLICK HERE

Birds on the Niagara are pleased to celebrate Migratory Bird Day (May 8, 2021) with the announcement of a Bird Friendly City Initiative and an International Niagara River corridor-wide “Lights Out Niagara” program, targeted at protecting migratory birds in the International Niagara River Corridor.

Continue reading

More Than 35 Per Cent of Niagara Residents Have Now Received First Dose of Vaccine

And the Numbers Vaccinated Are Growing Every Day

News from Niagara Health in the Region of Niagara, Ontario

Posted May 6th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Health’s COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic at Seymour-Hannah Sports and Entertainment Centre continues to make significant progress in our fight against COVID-19, with more than 95,000 doses administered at the clinic.

If supply allows, we can continue to vaccinate approximately 1,650 people per day. Overall, more than 35 per cent of the Niagara community has received a first dose through the region’s vaccination efforts. Continue reading

May 1st Anti-Lockdown Rally at St. Catharines Cenotaph Draws Criminal Charges

Niagara Regional Police say “Further Charges Are Pending”

A News Release from the Niagara Regional Police Service

Posted May 6th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

A Brief Foreword from Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper –

This sign has been prominent at protest gatherings in Niagara and other regions in Ontario

At least three times since this past April 10th, when reportedly more than 1,000 people participated in an anti-Covid 19 lockdown in St. Catharines, there has been that rally, another in Niagara Falls and the latest one this past May 1st at a cenotaph in St. Catharines for honouring those who served Canada during times of war.

All of the gatherings involved people milling together, mostly without masks, and chanting or cheering speakers who referred to the pandemic as a hoax, the stay-at-home or lockdown orders as assaults on their constitutional rights, and to vaccines as some form of “bio-warfare.” Some adult participants took their children to the gatherings. In some videos, infants in strollers can be seen.

Following the first rally, police issued charges and summons to at least a handful of participants, including West Lincoln Mayor and Niagara Regional Councillor David Bylsma (who was later called on the carpet by other members of the Region’s council) and veteran Thorold City Councillor Jim Handley. Continue reading

Niagara Centre MPP Holds Doug Ford Minister Responsibe for Deadly Failures in Long-Term Care Homes

When Will Ontario Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton Stop Shifting Blame? She Should Resign.

A News Release from the Constituency Office of Niagara Centre NDP MPP Jeff Burch

Posted May 5th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Centre NDP MPP Jeff Burch

QUEEN’S PARK – The minister of long-term care needs to take responsibility for failing seniors, said MPP Jeff Burch (Niagara Centre).  The Ford government must take action now to protect them, Burch said during question period this Wednesday, May 5th.

Burch shared the stories of two local families whose mothers have suffered at Royal Rose Place, a for-profit long-term care home in Welland.

“Over the course of five months, a constituent from Welland saw her mother’s health deteriorate. She had two ulcers, constant urinary tract infections, and was left in soiled diapers for hours. Complaint after complaint to the ministry went unaddressed until her mother passed just a few weeks ago,” said Burch.

“When will this minister take responsibility for her government’s lack of action and for what is happening to seniors at long-term care under her watch?” Continue reading

What Good Are Lockdown/Stay At Home Orders If They Have No Teeth?

“Whatever happened to handcuffing and tossing into squad cars? Could there possibly be anyone in the crowd (of anti-lockdown demonstrators) deserving of better? What am I missing?”

A Commentary by Carla Rienzo, a long-time community activist in Niagara, Ontario

Posted May 4th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

It is not lost on those of us who have made, and continue to make, huge sacrifices that the pandemic is nowhere close to being under control due to the selfish ignorance of those who feel that their personal rights trump social responsibility.

It is not lost on those of us who made, and continue to make, huge sacrifices that the pandemic is nowhere close to being under control due to the presence of the least effective politicians, police enforcement and bylaw enforcement in the history of the Niagara region.

If leadership starts at the top, there has been NONE. Continue reading

Feds Put Brakes on Ford Government’s Controversial Highway Building Plans

A Statement on Trudeau Government designating Highway 413 for a Federal Environmental Assessment

“If built (in what are left of the greenlands in our Golden Horsehoe) , Highway 413 will destroy critical farmland, portions of the Greenbelt, wetlands, forests, and endangered species. It would add millions of tonnes .” carbon pollution and endanger the health of nearby communities with increased air pollution.”

A News Release from the public interest groups Environmental Defence and Ecojustice

Posted May 4th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Toronto, Ontario – Environmental Defence applauds the federal government for stepping in to perform a thorough environmental assessment (EA) of the proposed Highway 413.

This action is necessary due to the Ontario government’s dangerous plan to undermine the environmental reviews of this highway and race to its construction.

If built, Highway 413 will destroy critical farmland, portions of the Greenbelt, wetlands, forests, and endangered species. It would add millions of tonnes of carbon pollution and endanger the health of nearby communities with increased air pollution. Continue reading

Doug Ford Minister Makes No Apologies & Takes All of the Responsibility but None of the Blame for Long-Term Care Home Tragedy

One of many makeshift memorials Ontarians have created across the province to those who died in long-term care homes in the province during this pandemic. These are mostly senior people who died who once worked to build our communities. Yet the Ford government took more steps to pass legislation, protecting their pals in the for-profit long term care industry from any legal liability.

More than 3,900 Senior Residents and 11 Long-Term Care Workers Die from COVID-19 under Ontario Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton

Fullerton Chooses to Blame Previous Provincial Governments for Lack of COVID-19 Protection for LTC Residents, Following Release of  Scathing Commission Report on Illness and Death in Ontario’s  Long-Term Care Homes

Ontario’s NDP Official Opposition Is Calling for Fullerton’s Resignation

A Brief Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper, followed by a Statement from Ontario Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath

Posted May 3rd, 2021 on Niagara At Large

“We were overdue for a pandemic,” said Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s long-term care minister Merrilee Fullerton during a 20-minute news conference this May 3rd, and “I’m one person.”

Poor, poor pitiful Ford Government Minister for Long-Term, Care, Merrilee Fullerton. She is just “one person,” after all.

Poor, poor pitiful Merilee Fullerton.

How can she cope?  She’s just one person. And while we are discussing her limitations, let’s not leave incompetent and morally bankrupt out.

This verbal vomit from yet another one of Doug Ford’s boot-licking cabinet ministers followed in the wake of what could hardly be a more damning report, released late this past Friday, April 30th by an independent Ontario Commission on Long-Term Care during the COVID-19 crisis that was in session for about a year and heard from literally hundreds of loved ones of residents in these homes, front-line staff in the homes and others.

Among other things this report, which we will provide a link to at the bottom of this post), concluded that long-term care homes across Ontario were left woefully unprepared for this pandemic due to budget and regulation cuts that stem back through a number of governments, including the former Mike Harris Conservatives, and Dalton Mutiny/Kathleen Wynne for many years. Continue reading

St. Catharines Invites Residents to Help Shape a Climate Plan for the City

City hosts online open house for draft Climate Adaptation Plan through to May 14th

“We must be prepared for the impacts that are already coming with a changing climate. The Climate Adaptation Plan does just that, shoring up City resources and processes against the projected impacts of climate change to protect both City assets and the health and safety of residents.” – Olivia Groff, Climate Change Adaptation Coordinator, City of St. Catharines

An Invite to residents from the City of St. Catharines

Posted May 3rd, 2021 on Niagara At Large

The City is looking to residents for their input as planning continues to offset the impacts of global climate change.

With a draft being finalized for a new Climate Adaptation Plan (CAP), the City of St. Catharines is hosting an online open house from April 30 to May 14, allowing residents the opportunity to review the plan, ask questions and provide feedback. Continue reading

Pelham’s Annual Art Festival – Featuring the theme “Our Planet, Our Future” – is Now Underway Online

You Can Join it Thru to May 15th. Keep Reading this Post for Details

An Invite from the Organizers of the Pelham Art Festival

Posted May 3rd, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – The popular Pelham Art Festival, held annually in May, is online this May 1-15 and will include an impressive number of local artists and artists from all over Ontario displaying and selling their work.

Everyone is welcome to continue to enjoy and purchase original art so that the fundraising efforts for the Pelham Library System, Pelham arts scholarships and community art projects can proceed.

“When the 2020 Festival was cancelled due to the pandemic, we fully expected to be back for an in-person show in 2021. However, such a large event is no longer possible so instead we present the Pelham Art Festival Online. Continue reading

Long-Term Care Commission Report is Damning for Ford Government

“The residents, their families and their loved ones, and long-term care staff who met with the Commissioners provided a first-hand oral history of the loneliness, anguish and fear that, for them, forever marked this time in Ontario’s history. Their willingness to relive their experiences humanizes the dry world of policies, directives and statistics. The Commissioners were indelibly marked by what we heard.”                                                                                – from the Final Report of Ontario’s Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission, April 30th, 2021

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

Posted May 1st, 2021 on Niagara At Large

So we are almost finished the third year of a four-year (what will hopefully be the last) term for Ontario’s Ford government.

How do you like this so-called government “for the people” so far?

It was bad enough that in the first year of good ol’ boy Doug Ford’s rule, he came out with a “one buck beer’ tasting like – how did one LCBO employee I talked to at the time put it? Oh yes, “carbonated mule piss.”

The ongoing war Ford and his Conservatives are waging on programs and rulings for protecting and preserving what is left of our province’s natural heritage has been bad enough for present and future generations of Ontarians. Continue reading

Ford Appoints Mike Harris’s Former Anti-Greenbelt MPP and Environmental Protection Hatchet Man to Chair Ontario’s Greenbelt Council

Appointment of former Mike Harris environment minister Norm Sterling to Greenbelt Council Spells Another Blow to Ontario’s Natural Heritage

“Putting the fox (in this case Norm Sterling) in charge of the henhouse is classic Doug Ford. Time and time again Ford has been busted trying to pave the Greenbelt as a favour to his donors. Ontarians have a right to be worried about this appointment.”                                                                                              – Sandy Shaw, Ontario NDP Environment critic

A Brief Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper followed by Information circulated by Ontario’s NDP Official Opposition Party

Posted April 30th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

When the former Ontario Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty  declared almost two million acres of farmland in the Golden Horseshoe e in 2005 as a protected Greenbelt zone, the move was praised by the United Nations and by countries around the world.

Here in Ontario, though, there have always been representatives from the farming community, among them Niagara North Federation of Agriculture rep Austin Kirby, and the development industry in the province who have viewed the Greenbelt as a “nightmare” and as an unwanted obstacle to property speculation and urban sprawl.

In 2018, just a few months before the last Ontario election, Conservative leader Doug Ford was caught on a video tape, promising supporters in the development industry that he would allow the selling off of “chunks” of the Greenbelt if he were elected Premier. (click the video at the bottom of this post if you have not yet seen it.)

Since then, Ford and his Conservative government have motored ahead with one move after another that has weakened or completely eliminated rules and programs for protecting and preserving what is left of Ontario’s natural resources – so much so that last year, former Toronto mayor David Crombie and six members of his staff on the province’s Greenbelt Council, there to help preserve the greenbelt lands from north of Lake Ontario to Niagara-on-the-Lake, quit in protest.

So what does Ford and his government do?

They turn around this April and appoint former Conservative MPP Norm Sterling to Crombie’s old position as chair of Ontario’s Greenbelt Council. Continue reading

Police Should Crack Down Hard on Planned Anti-Lockdown Rally at St. Catharines Cenotaph

Our Police and Government Leaders Have Got to Put an End to this Selfish, Dangerous Nonsense

Enough $880 Slaps on the Wrist. $100,000 Fines and Criminal Charges Are in Order

A Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher               Doug Draper

Posted April 30th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

A sign on a lawn in Thorold. Photo by Doug Draper

In the Thorold neighbourhood where I live, one homeowner has erected a sign in front of their yard that reads; “No More Lockdowns.”

A first glance at the sign has me saying; “Okay. Who wants more lockdowns? I can’t think of anyone who is not waiting for the day when can all go back to something that resembles a normal life again.”

I have a young daughter who, like so many of her 20-somethng and 30-something friends, was concerned enough about finding steady, decent-paying work before this pandemic started. So who doesn’t want to see an end of lockdowns and stay-at-home orders for them?

But that is not what those leading and supporting the so-called ‘No More Lockdowns Canada’ movement is about. Continue reading

In Wake of 2016 CAO Hiring Debacle, Niagara’s Regional Council Working to Make CAO Recruitment Process “Open, Transparent, Fair and Equitable”

Niagara Regional Council makes progress on CAO recruitment

A News Release from Niagara’s Regional Government

Posted April 30th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Region’s headquarters

Niagara, Ontario – Over the past several months, Regional Council and its Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Recruitment Committee has continued to work toward selecting a permanent Chief Administrative Officer.

The Recruitment Committee has retained Legacy Executive Search Partners <https://www.lesp.ca/>, an executive recruitment firm, to aid in the search for a permanent leader. Legacy Partners has a long history of successful work within Ontario’s municipal sector, and has facilitated several CAO searches throughout the province, including neighbouring communities, along with a recent placement within Niagara. Continue reading

Ontario’s Paid Sick Day Program Is A Step In The Right Direction

“Our position continues to be that business, particularly small businesses, simply cannot afford the additional financial responsibility to fund sick leave at this time, which is why the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce support the notion of a temporary paid sick program that is paid for by government.”

A News Release from the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Posted April 29th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce CEO Mishka Baisom

Niagara, Ontario – This April 29th, Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce CEO Mishka Balsom and Ontario Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Rocco Rossi released the following joint statement in reaction to the Government of Ontario’s Paid Sick Day Program Proposal announced today: –  

“Today’s announcement by the Government of Ontario is a step in the right direction to protect essential workers. Ontario is the only province that has committed to a paid sick day program during the pandemic.

The proposed provincial top up to the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit is also encouraging but is contingent on federal government participation and does not address other shortcomings of the federal program, such as processing delays.

We would like to see all levels of governments open to further adjustments of their programs – as they have been with other programs rolled out in the pandemic – to ensure programs meets the needs of workers and the market in Niagara. Continue reading

Ford’s Offer of Three Paid Sick Days Shortchanges Ontario’s Workers

A Statement from Ontario NDP Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath on paid sick days bill

Posted April 29th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

QUEEN’S PARK — Official Opposition leader Andrea Horwath released the following statement in response to the passage of a bill that gives people just three paid sick days, only until September:

“The bill that passed Thursday offering people a pathetically inadequate three paid sick days is not good enough — especially not during a global pandemic that makes people sick for at least 14 days. Continue reading

Auditor General’s Report Slams Ontario Government Management of Long-Term Care Homes

Lack of Pandemic Preparedness and Poor Infection Control Practices in LongTerm Care Contributed to COVID-19 Impacts: Auditor General

A symbolic graveyard of seniors who have died from COVID-19 complicaitons in Ontario’s long-term care homes – more than 3,000 to date.

“Despite very specific observations and recommendations on preparing for future SARS-like outbreaks by our Office and others, actions taken over the years have been insufficient to ensure that we would be better prepared as a province – and Ontario’s long-term care homes were among the first to be impacted.   – Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk

A News Release on a Special Report prepared by the Ontario’s Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk

Posted April 28th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk

TORONTO, Ontario – No requirement to prepare for a pandemic, coupled with long-standing, unaddressed weaknesses in infection control and prevention in Ontario’s long-term-care homes contributed to the tragic impacts of COVID-19 on long-term care residents, concluded Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk in her special report on COVID-19 Readiness and Response in Long-Term Care.

“Despite very specific observations and recommendations on preparing for future SARS-like outbreaks by our Office and others, actions taken over the years have been insufficient to ensure that we would be better prepared as a province – and Ontario’s long-term care homes were among the first to be impacted,” Lysyk said following the release of the report today (April 28th, 2021). Continue reading

Honouring Our Front-Line Workers on this National Day of Mourning

“One of the small silver linings of this pandemic has been our renewed focus on front-line workers and the important role they play in our society.”                                                                                      – Jim Bradley, Chair of Niagara’s Regional Council

A Statement from Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley

Posted April 28th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – Every year on April 28, we take some time to reflect on those who lost their  lives or suffered injury as a result of performing their work duties.

In years past, we have all gathered in person to observe the National Day of  Mourning through formal ceremonies. Attendees would share remarks and lay wreaths to mark this solemn occasion, while we pledge to take every step to keep the health and safety of all workers at the top of mind.

As with many other  important traditions, COVID-19 has forced us to recognize this occasion  differently to ensure we are keeping one another safe. Continue reading

Doug Ford’s Highway Building Obsession Spells Potential Disaster for Our Farmlands, Our Air Quality and Our Climate

New report shows how Highway 413 in Golden Horseshoe area will increase greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution from transportation

Another multi-lane highway in Ontario “means more car-dependent communities with high carbon footprints, and more people exposed to damaging air pollution. This is the opposite of the healthy future Ontarians want and deserve.”

A News Release from Environmental Defence, a citizens advocacy group for our protecting and preserving our natural heritage

Posted April 28th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Toronto, Ontario. – Ontario’s proposed Highway 413 will increase transportation emissions in the province, escalate suburban sprawl alongside the highway, and cause billions of dollars in damages from heightened air pollution in nearby communities.

That’s the conclusion of Environmental Defence’s new report: Paving Paradise: The Impact of Highway 413 on Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Air Pollution and Sprawl [https://d36rd3gki5z3d3.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Highway-413-Paving-Paradise-Report_Environmental-Defence.pdf]

Environmental Defence teamed up with Eunomia Research & Consulting to calculate that the vehicles using Highway 413 will add up to 700,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually, leading to a cumulative total of 17.4 million tonnes of emissions by 2050, assuming today’s vehicle mix remains unchanged. This is more pollution than the entire City of Toronto emitted in 2018. Continue reading

We May be Locked Down, Yet We Still Had a Super Moon

A Brief One by Doug Draper

Posted April 28th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

There isn’t much else we can do these days but look out the windows of our homes at a world that is more than a bit risky right now with more infectious variants of VOVID-19 floating around.

And if you looked out of your window the last couple of nights, or walked out on your yard, if you have one, up there is the sky was a super moon, unusually large looking in size because it is orbiting closer to our earth than usual.

The super moon fading away in the western skies in my neighbourhood in the early morning of April 28th. Photo by Doug Draper

I went out shortly before 6 a.m. this Wednesday April 28th to try to get one last picture of the super moon before it fell below the western horizon. As usual, my pictures of the moon and other bodies way out their beyond our planet never work out so well with the camera I have.

That didn’t stop me from humming the music of one of my favourite Tragically Hip songs, ‘Morning Moon’, which you can listen to here by clicking on the screen below.-

For more on the super moon this April, click on – https://www.ctvnews.ca/sci-tech/pink-supermoon-illuminates-sky-across-canada-and-it-s-not-done-yet-1.5404008 .

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 Politician Thinks Of The Next Election. A Leader Thinks Of The Next Generation.” – Bernie Sanders

Why We Must Do More to Tackle the Climate Crisis

“The gap between what needs to be done and what we are actually doing is widening by the minute. The gap between the urgency needed and the current level of awareness and attention is becoming more and more absurd.”                                                              – World Renown Climate Activist Greta Thunberg

An Open Message to the World from 18-year-old Swedish Climate Activis Greta Thunberg

Posted April 27th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

A Foreword by Doug Draper at Niagara At Large –

This remarkable young girl, Greta Thunberg, first burst on the global scene in 2018 when she was 15 years old with a message to us all that “our house is on fire.”

Since then she has been a keynote speaker in front of the United Nations and other internation events.

A year later, she was the lead speaker at a climate change rally in Montreal, Quebec, which was to that date and probably until now, the largest demonstration Canada has ever hosted on the climate emergency threatening our planet today. Continue reading

Canada’s 2030 Emissions Reduction Target for Addressing Climage Change Falls Well Short Of Global Leaders

“A bolder target — in line with leading countries — is not only essential for a better quality of life and economic decarbonization, it is also what Canadians have been calling for across the country.”                                                                                       – Sabaa Khan, David Suzuki Foundation director general for Quebec and Atlantic Canada

Canada has a reputation as an oversized polluter

Canada is the only G7 country to increase its emissions since 1990. As the climate crisis worsened over the past decade, Canada was the only country in this group whose emissions continued to climb. 

A News Release from the David Suzuki Foundation

Posted April 27th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

VANCOUVER, B.C. — Canada’s new 2030 target to reduce carbon emissions by 40 to 45 per cent below 2005 levels, while an improvement over previous targets, falls dangerously short of what the world’s science says is needed to avoid catastrophic climate change. 

“We want Canada to do its part to keep the most catastrophic impacts of the climate emergency from happening,” said Ian Bruce, acting executive director of the David Suzuki Foundation.

“This target, unfortunately, falls short of what is needed to keep on track for a livable planet and compared to the EU and other leading G20 countries including the U.S. Continue reading

Ontario NDP Blasts Ford for Playing Political Games with Paid Sick Days

“Essential workers are still waiting for the paid sick days Doug Ford finally promised last week. Every day of delay means more suffering, more infections and more families devastated by COVID-19.”                                                                                                   – Ontario NDP Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath

A Statement from Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath

Posted April 27th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

QUEEN’S PARK — NDP Leader Andrea Horwath released the following statement in response to Globe and Mail and Toronto Star reports that indicates the Doug Ford government isn’t developing a paid sick days law in Ontario as promised — instead, he’s scheming to kick in funding for the federal program that is not paid sick days:

“Essential workers are still waiting for the paid sick days Doug Ford finally promised last week. Every day of delay means more suffering, more infections and more families devastated by COVID-19. Continue reading

Niagara Falls MPP Demands that Ford Act Immediately To Prevent Patient Triaging In Niagara Hospitals

Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates

“This (Ford) government calls (front-line health care workers) heroes but refuses to listen to public health experts and take the actions needed to protect people, help nurses and save lives.”                                                           – Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates

A News Release from the Constituency Office of Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates

Posted April 26th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

NIAGARA FALLS —MPP Wayne Gates (Niagara Falls) demanded that Doug Ford get the COVID crisis in Niagara under control, as doctors in the province take part in triage protocol training sessions.

“Frontline health care heroes are worried they’ll be forced to implement the triage protocol they’ve been briefed on. They don’t want to make the impossible decision of who is more worthy of life-saving care, like ventilators or trained ICU nurses,” said Gates. Continue reading

Ford Government Oversees Soaring Disaster of  Suffering and Deaths in Ontario

“The Ford Government did not take adequate steps to prevent or mitigate the third wave of COVID-19. Now surgeries are cancelled, and nurses and health professionals of every discipline are being reassigned to unfamiliar duties in unfamiliar environments. … Families are left in limbo.”                                       – Ontario Health Coalition

An Update from the Ontario Health Coalition, a public advocacy group for quality public health care in Ontario,  on the State of the Pandemic*

Posted April 26th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

And the death toll in Ontario just keeps on climbing.

In the last three weeks, Ontario’s coroners have seen 25 people in South/Central Ontario who died suddenly at home as a result of COVID-19, some in their 20s and 30s, before they ever got to the hospital for care.

Like many of you, our hearts went out to the family upon reading the devastating account of young Emily Viegas, a 13-year-old who tragically died at home in bed of COVID-19 on Thursday.

Her mom, who has COVID, is hospitalized at Brampton Civic Hospital and her father who works in a warehouse in Brampton, feared Emily would be separated from both her parents and sent to a different hospital, kept her home thinking that she was young and would recover. Continue reading

Ford’s Simple-Minded ‘Open For Business’ Ideology and Incompetence is Killing Us

Premier Ford and His Bungling Party of Covidiots Have Got to Go

ANews Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper

Posted April 26th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Ontario Premier’s teary news briefing this past April 22nd. Too little, too late for the admissions of failure. And where is the action?

Anyone who may have watched the live coverage this past April 22nd of Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s news conference – zoomed to us from the backyard of his late mother’s home because he is under quarantine due to exposure to a member of his staff tested who tested positive for COVID-19 – might have been struck by his tearful emotion as he apologized for some failures in the way his government has been addressing the COVID plague.

Normally, when a politician shows that kind of contrition – rare for almost any politician these days, and certainly unexpected from a rough-and-tumble street fighter like Doug Ford – one wants to cut them some slack. Continue reading

Essential Workers & Workplaces Need to be Prioritized with Health Measures – Now

“Mr. Premier, do a better job protecting essential workers.  Protect the workplaces where COVID19 is spreading.  We need more consistent support for workplaces that are having outbreaks.” – St. Catharines NDP MPP Jennie Stevens

A News Release from the Constituency Office of St. Catharines NDP MPP Jennie Stevens

Posted April 26th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

QUEEN’S PARK —St. Catharines NDP MPP Jennie Stevens made a statement in the Ontario legislature this Monday, April 26th, calling on the Ford government to immediately address the lack of health measures that have left essential workers and workplaces to struggle with outbreaks – given that Friday’s National Steel Car closure from COVID-19 outbreak affected families in St. Catharines – and increases pressure on our ICUs in Niagara.

“I rise to encourage the Premier to prioritize essential workers and workplaces now.  Residents in St. Catharines work as essential workers across this province.  That’s why I was not shocked to hear, on Friday, when National Steel Car in Hamilton shut down due to an outbreak of COVID-19,  it affected people in St. Catharines as family members work there as essential workers,” said Stevens in the Ontario legislature. Continue reading

A Brief Thanks for the Birthday Wishes

From Doug Draper at Niagara At Large

Posted April 26th, 2021

I just want to thank all of those who, through email and Facebook, were kind enough to send me Happy Birthday wishes this April 25th.

To be honest, it was not a birthday I was looking forward to.

I will leave the last word on that to the late great Leonard Cohen, through a song that worked as a theme for me during this birthday..

To watch Leonard perform it, click on the screen below and listen to the lyrics carefully –

 

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 Politician Thinks Of The Next Election. A Leader Thinks Of The Next Generation.” – Bernie Sanders

‘Stick It To COVID’ – Take the Vaccine!

If and when you can get the vaccine, take it for the sake of yourself, your family and your community

And Hat’s Off to Our Dedicated Niagara Region Public Health Workers who are operating vaccination sites

A Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher           Doug Draper

Posted April 24th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

When it comes to getting a needle, I am probably as much of a chicken as everyone else.

I was diagnosed with hay fever when I was a kid, and found myself having to get hay fever needles – at first every week, then monthly – for the next two or three years of my young life, which seemed like an eternity then.

I played minor league baseball at the time, and the injections would cause my arm to swell up with so much pain, that I could barely play a game.

So the thought of having to have a needle in the arm again, this past Friday, April 23rd, to guard against COVID-19, kept me up most of the night before, with un-fond memories of those hay fever needles in mind.

Then my wife Mary and I went to the MacBain Community Centre in Niagara Falls this past Friday, April 23rd, and we both held out a bare arm and received a shot of Moderna. Continue reading

Region Inviting Nominations for ‘Niagara Impact Awards’ for Community Members Who Have ‘Made A Difference’ during Pandemic

“We all know someone who has made a real difference in our community over the last 13 months, and I encourage all Niagarans to consider nominating those individuals to be recognized through the Niagara Impact Awards, … those that have gone above and beyond to make Niagara a better place in which to live.””                                                                                             – Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley

A Call-Out for Nominations from Niagara’s Regional Government

Posted April 24rth, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Nominations open for Regional Chair’s Niagara Impact Awards

At this April 20th’s 2021 State of the Region address, Regional Chair Jim Bradley officially launched the new Niagara Impact Awards to recognize community members who have made a positive impact on life in Niagara.

Throughout the past year, there have been numerous stories of people or organizations in our community who have risen to the unique challenges of the

past 13 months. The Niagara Impact Awards highlight those who have risen to the occasion, lending a helping hand in order to make living in Niagara a little better for others. Continue reading

Join an Online Day of Action – Tuesday, April 27th – On the Crisis in our Long-Term Care Homes

Demand our Federal and Provincial governments set national standards to improve long-term care

“The scale of suffering and preventable death through the pandemic in our long-term care homes creates an obligation for the most meaningful of change. However, our political leaders have failed to lead.”                                                                                   – Ontario Health Coalition

An Invite to All of Us  from the Ontario Health Coalition, a province-wide advocacy group for quality, accessible public health care

Posted April 23rd, 2021 on Niagara At Large

HOW YOU CAN JOIN: The Day of Action will roll across Canada through the different time zones.

On Tuesday April 27 Join our Facebook livestream in Ontario at 12:00 p.m. here: https://www.facebook.com/ontariohealth

Or join the Facebook livestream at https://www.facebook.com/Canadians4LTC to watch the rolling livestreams hosted by Health Coalitions from across Canada from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Eastern Time. (Start times in Eastern Time: PEI: 11 a.m., Nova Scotia 11:30 a.m., Ontario 12 p.m., Ottawa (Canadian Health Coalition) 1 p.m., Manitoba 1:30 p.m., Alberta 2 p.m., B.C. 2:30 p.m.) and —

Please help make a show of strength to push our federal and provincial governments to finally take real action on Tuesday April 27: Continue reading

Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake Triumphs In Another Developer Lawsuit

Front gate to historic Randwood Estate in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario – a focus of a battle to protect and preserve the town’s heritage.

“Niagara-on-the-Lake is a gem. Our historic capital, its history of European settlement goes back to the Loyalists. Set on the shore of Lake Ontario, surrounded by vineyards, it is a hub of history, culture and tourism. In the 2018 municipal election, development of the old town was very much debated. A focus of the debate was one particular developer (not the Applicant) who provoked discussion by cutting down old trees on his estate.”                           – Ontario Court Justice Mr. James Ramsay

A News Release from SORE (Save Our Rand Estate), a citizen’s group in Niagara-on-the-Lake

Posted April 23rd, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Tree cutting at the historic Randwood Estate property in Niagara-on-the-Lake three years ago infuriated many town citizens and paved the way to legal action.

SORE is pleased to report on a decision last week of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice of relevance to both the Rand Estate and to heritage protection in NOTL

Hummell Properties, owned by a well- known local developer, had brought an application to quash an interim control by-law enacted by your elected Council in December of 2018, at its first meeting following the most recent municipal election. Hummel claimed bad faith and illegality by the Town in enacting the by-law. The application was heard over two days in St. Catherines last week.

The decision was issued the very next day by Mr. Justice Ramsay, who was clearly unimpressed by application. He made quick work of the allegation of illegality, dismissing it in one paragraph and then characterized the applicant’s evidence on bad faith as “contrived”.

One of a number of rallies, held by SORE and its supporters over the past five or six years, in support of preserving the historic Rand Estate in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario as a heritage site for now and future generations.

His Honour held as follows with respect to the bad faith argument:

“I think that council wanted to preserve the old town’s heritage and that it considered the matter urgent.  They wanted to fulfil the mandate that they thought they had been given by the public. They froze the status quo, considered studies and public input, amended the Official Plan and then repealed the interim control by-law. That is essentially what they were supposed to do.” – Mr. Justice James Ramsay Continue reading

Niagara Region’s Integrity Commissioner to Probe Bylsma’s Conduct at Recent Anti-Lockdown Rally in St. Catharines

News from Doug Draper at Niagara At Large

Posted April 23rd, 2021

Niagara Regional Councillor and West Lincoln Mayor David Bylsma under the gun again for his recent participation in an anti-lockdown rally in St. Catharines/Niagara

Niagara Region’s Council has decided to take one of its members participation in a recent anti-lockdown rally to its integrity commission for a probe into a possible violation of the Region’s code of conduct rules.

The Regional Council member under the gun is David Bylsma, who also serves as West Lincoln’s mayor, and the rally he played a prominent role in involved several hundred Niagara area residents, most of them not wearing masks, gathering in St. Catharines on April 10th to protest recent COVID-19 stay-at-home and lockdown rules in place across the province.

Bylsma’s involvement in the rally, which included him leading the gathering in a chant of ‘stop the lockdowns’, received widespread criticism. It also drew statements of disapproval from St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik and Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley. Continue reading

A Tower of a Song for Earth Day 2021

Soak in the Haunting Music and Lyrics of this song by the late Marvin Gaye, and Join the Fight for a Healthier Planet

A Brief One from Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper

Posted on Earth Day, April 22nd, 2021 on Niagara At Large

To listen to this song and watch the moving images of life on our precious planet, click on the screen immediatetly below –

In memory of one of Niagara, Ontario’s great environmental activist, Margherita Howe, president of the Niagara-on-the-Lake-based, Operation Clean.

A true warrior for our planet.

I was proud to know her and cover her many campaigns for a healthier world in our Great Lakes region. She was a relentless, courageous warrior for Mother Earth.

Every time we need a powerful voice in the room to give those who plunder our green places the hell they rightfully deserve, I miss her badly.

She received Order of Canada recognition for her efforts and she was, as some of our American friends in the environmental movement came to call her, ‘the lady of the lakes’.

  • Doug Draper, Niagara At Large

For an earlier Commentary on Earth Day, posted on Niagara At Large, click on – https://niagaraatlarge.com/2021/04/22/this-earth-day-lets-vow-to-get-rid-of-the-most-anti-environment-government-ontario-has-ever-had/ 

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 Politician Thinks Of The Next Election. A Leader Thinks Of The Next Generation.” – Bernie Sanders

Trudeau Vows to Slash Canada’s Climate-Ravaging Emissions by More than 40 Per Cent by 2030

Prime Minister’s Announcement Comes this Earth Day at Joe-Biden Hosted Climate Summit. It Also Falls After Years of Canada Falling Behind in Cutting Emissions

“Canada is a committed partner in the global fight against climate change, and together we will build a cleaner and more prosperous future for all.”                                                                       – Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

A News Release from the Office of Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Posted April 22nd , 2021 on Niagara At Large

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, with U.S. President Joe Biden on screen in background, makes announcement at virtual global Climate Summit this April 22nd

Ottawa, Ontario – Climate change is the greatest long-term threat that we face as a global community, but it is also our greatest economic opportunity.

By taking bold climate action, we will create new jobs for the future, strengthen our economy, and grow the middle class, while also ensuring clean air and water for our kids and grandkids.

During today’s Leaders Summit on Climate, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, announced that Canada will enhance our emissions reduction target under the Paris Agreement – known as a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) – by 40-45% below 2005 levels, by 2030. As a signatory to the Paris Agreement, Canada’s NDC reflects its highest possible ambition in light of its current national circumstances. Continue reading

This Earth Day, Let’s Vow to Get Rid of the Most Anti-Environment Government Ontario has Ever Had

‘If You Aren’t Part of the Solution, You Are Part of the Pollution!’

An Earth Day Message from Doug Draper at Niagara At Large

Posted on Earth Day, April 22nd, 2021

One of the buttons from the very first Earth Day in April of 1970.

This Thursday, April 22nd marks the 51st anniversary of countless many around the world holding ‘environmental teach-ins’, rallies, tree-plantings, among a host of events, in observance of the first-ever Earth Day.

A wide-eyed high school kid back then, I joined a group of my school mates in staging a demonstration in front of what was then one of the most polluting industrial plants in my hometown of Welland.

We were out there in front of the plant, receiving a mixture of people waving support and shouting at us to go back to school and shut up, and we weathered it all – filled with hope that if enough people got engaged in the fight to protect our natural environment, we would, by now, be living in a far healthier world. Continue reading

On Earth Day, Buffalo, New York area Congressman Continues Push for Federal Investments in Great Lakes Protection

“Funding the Great Lakes today provides a significant economic return on investment and builds safer and healthier communities for generations to come.”                                                                         – Brian Higgins, a U.S. (Democratic) Congressman serving Buffalo, New York and neighbouring communities

A News Release from the Office of Buffalo, New York area Congressman Brian Higgins

Posted April 22nd, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Buffalo area Congressman Biran Higgins speaks up for our shared Great Lakes

Buffalo, New York  – As the country recognizes Earth Day, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) is pushing for the federal government to take action to protect the planet by increasing its investment in the Great Lakes, the largest source of fresh water in the world.

Higgins, a member of the bipartisan Great Lakes Task Force, and other members are asking budget appropriators to fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) for fiscal year 2022 at $375 million, a $45 million increase over FY2021 funding levels.

Higgins said, “Historically polluted waterways, like the Buffalo River, caused by years of toxic dumping inspired a public movement for change leading to the first Earth Day in 1970, and passage of the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts a short time later. We have come a long way in the last 50 years but there is still work ahead of us to cleanup, restore and protect our water. Funding the Great Lakes today provides a significant economic return on investment and builds safer and healthier communities for generations to come.” Continue reading

What Gives With the Messy COVID Vaccine Roll-Out in Niagara?

“Premier, it is imperative that you review the data, listen to the science, and get vaccines into Niagara and communicate clearly so that we can get them into the arms of our citizens as quickly as possible.”                                                                                                               – in a Statement in the Ontario Legislature, from Niagara Centre NDP MPP Jeff Burch to Ontario Premier Doug Ford

News from the Constituency Office of Niagara Centre MPP Doug Ford

Posted April 21st, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Centre NDP MPP Jeff Burch

From an April 21st Transcript of Niagara Centre MPP Jeff Burch’s Remarks in the Legislative Assembly of Ontaro

Mr. Jeff Burch: Vaccines are the light at the end of a very long tunnel, but in my community in Niagara, the vaccine rollout has been rife with confusion due to the actions of this government.

We still have no answers on the diverted shipment of 5,000 Moderna vaccines away from Niagara. I’ve heard from countless constituents from all age groups who were told conflicting information for the provincial booking portal, and had difficulty booking their appointments.

The province earmarked selected areas for priority access to COVID-19 vaccines, but people across the province were confused when some of the areas with higher case numbers were not selected. Continue reading

On Eve of International Earth Day Summit, Canada’s Trudeau Government Urged to do More on Climate Change

“We’re calling on Canada to double down on climate ambition not just so we can finally contribute our fair share of greenhouse gas emissions reductions, but so that we can do our part to build a better world.”                                                                                               – Catherine Abreu, Executive Director, Climate Action Network Canada

A Call-out from BLUE GREEN CANADA, CITIZENS FOR PUBLIC JUSTICE, CANADIAN ASSOCIATION OF PHYSICIANS FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, CLIMATE ACTION NETWORK CANADA, ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE, FOR THE LOVE OF CREATION

Posted April 21st. 2021 on Niagara At Large

Coalition of environmental, labour, health, faith groups call on Canada to increase its climate ambition

Today (this April 21st, 2021) , the day before world leaders come together at the Leaders Climate Summit hosted by President Joe Biden, a coalition of groups came together to call on Canada’s federal government to increase the ambition of its actions to combat climate change.

The organizations are highlighting that doing our fair share on climate action is not only Canada’s responsibility, but within our reach, with strong regulations, increased investment and a commitment to justice.

Catherine Abreu, Executive Director, Climate Action Network Canada:

“We’re calling on Canada to double down on climate ambition not just so we can finally contribute our fair share of greenhouse gas emissions reductions, but so that we can do our part to build a better world. A foundation of strong climate goals, smart climate governance, generous climate finance, and human-centred climate policy will help us break our addiction to fossil fuels and shift to social and economic systems that work for people as well as the planet.”

Naolo Charles, Founder, BE Initiative and Co-Founder, the National Anti-Environmental Racism Coalition:

”We need to put people at the center of our environmental policies and frameworks. We often forget that we, the people, and the living things around us are really what needs saving, not the planet itself. We need to let go of the old ideas, of the old profit over people, the old colonialism, we need to stop believing in old energy sources that start their life cycle as great assets for the economy and end as nightmares for people’s health. Continue reading

Is Mother Nature Telling Us Something?

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

Posted April 21st, 2021 on Niagara At Large

If you live almost anywhere in Southern Ontario or West New York, you likely woke up this April 21st to something like this.

This is my backyard patio area in Niagara. Want to come over for a barbecue?

Photo by Doug Draper. Taken April 21st, 2021.

It’s almost the last week of April, for God’s sake. The daffodils and tulips are out. Garden Centres in our area have been getting ready to bring in geraniums and other plants for spring planting.

And yet here we are, a little more than a week away from the first day of May, and in a matter of a few hours we have winter wonderland out there.

Is Mother Nature trying, once again, to tell us something?

Continue reading

Ontario’s Ford Government Threatens To Block NDP’s Paid Sick Days Motion

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath plans to put paid sick days to a vote. Ford government threatening procedural blockades to try to block NDP’s paid sick days motion

“Without paid sick days, workers and their loved ones will keep pouring into Ontario’s hospitals. It is cruel and heartless to keep denying workers protections when we know it will condemn more people to get sick, and more people to die.”                                           – Ontario  NDP Leader Andrea Horwath

A News Release from Ontario’s NDP Official Opposition Party

Posted April 21st, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Ontario NDP MPP Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath want’s Ford Longterm-Care Home Minister’s head.

QUEEN’S PARK, Toronto — For months Doug Ford and his PC MPPs have been refusing the paid sick days plan called for by countless experts and workers alongside Andrea Horwath and the Ontario NDP.

But with indications growing that the government won’t be able to hold out much longer, Horwath scheduled the Opposition Day motion Wednesday afternoon to be a debate on a safety plan for essential workplaces that includes paid sick days.

But as of Wednesday morning, the Ford government is throwing up as many blockades as possible to prevent the regularly-scheduled Opposition Day Motion from going ahead. To block the debate and vote on paid sick days, the government has scheduled surprise votes on a raft of non-pandemic motions and bills. Continue reading

At Long Last, A Little Bit of Justice

A Very Brief One by Doug Draper

Posted April 20th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

As just one, going back to my grade school days,  who has studied the ugly, violent conduct people of colour in North America have had to put up with for centuries now,  at least a  little bit of glory, glory and Thank God has to go out to the news late this afternoon of April 20th  that a jury in the U.S. State of Minnesota came out of deliberations.

It came out   and declared that a monster in a cop suit, who betrayed anything that has to do with the sworn duty of police in the United States and Canada to serve and protect, and  who destroyed the life of George Floyd, guilty of murder on all three counts.

To all of us out there, who still believe in the dream, here is a little bit of Amazing Grace.

Here is to Martin Luther King’s  dream of reaching the mountain top and seeing the other side, to a more just and peaceful day when we can all live together, regardless of the colour of skin, or our religious or sexual orientations.

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 Politician Thinks Of The Next Election. A Leader Thinks Of The Next Generation.” – Bernie Sanders

 

Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley on One Very Difficult Year

“I believe the Region’s upcoming Official Plan should strive to find a fair mix between the promotion of responsible growth and development, while protecting this natural heritage. I believe it is the diversity of our Region – the green space and the urban areas – that make us such a desirable location.”                                                – Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley

Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradleydelivers his annual State of the Region address

A News Release from Niagara’s Regional Government – Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley’s Annual State of the Region Address, hosted by the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Posted April 20th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley

Niagara, Ontario – Good morning – I am pleased to be here with you today virtually for my third State of the Region Address. I want to thank everyone who has taken time out of their busy schedules to participate in today’s event. ….

*Looking back at 2020*

When we look back at the last 13 months, we have to acknowledge some of our losses.

At last count, over 375 Niagara residents have died as a result of COVID-19. These individuals were a part of our community – they were our neighbours, our friends, and our family members. It can be easy to get lost in the cold statistics of this pandemic, but we have to remember that real people have lost their lives.

We also have to remember that the pandemic also had a significant impact on our collective mental health. Feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression are all too common as we live through yet another round of lockdowns.

We have also learned that this pandemic has not impacted everyone equally.

Women have been more greatly affected, with the majority of frontline positions being occupied by females. At the same time, the coronavirus has driven women out of the labour market as they shoulder the majority of childcare responsibilities – in fact, a recent RBC economic report noted women’s participation in the workforce is now at 55 per cent, the lowest rate since the 1980s. When we talk about recovery, we must keep these facts in mind and work to build a more equitable economy. Continue reading

A Federal Budget Focused On Helping Us Out of the COVID Crisis – Vance Badawey

A News Release from the Constituency Office of Niagara Centre Liberal MP Vance Badawey

Posted April 20th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Centre Liberal MP Vance Badawey. File photo

Niagara, Ontario — Niagara Centre Member of Parliament Vance Badawey says Canada’s new federal budget puts Canada on the path to recovery and provides the country with a level of support that will ensure we weather the worst of the economic impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The entire country has learned a valuable lesson during this crisis; that childcare is a vital component in the lives of a large number of Canadians. And no one feels the effects when it’s lacking more than women in the workforce.

“At a time when employment has been uncertain, when we could not rely upon our schools to stay open, the lack of support for childcare has hamstrung the efforts of working moms and dads to return to work and some sense of normalcy. Continue reading

Ontario Premier Doug Ford “Needs To Go”!

“He’s (now) attempting to shut down parliament to escape from the outrage he caused with his abysmal handling of the third wave.”                                                                                                          – Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca

A News Release from Ontario Liberal Party

Posted April 20th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

TORONTO – Steven Del Duca, Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party, issued the following statement:

“Since last week, Doug Ford has been in hiding, not making a single public appearance minus one bizarre tweet begging for help from the European Union’s Ambassador to Canada. This is a Premier in witness protection, and it’s never been so clear he needs to go.

He’s attempting to shut down parliament to escape from the outrage he caused with his abysmal handling of the third wave. How can our Premier – the person who has repeatedly said the buck stops with him – hide from the very people he was elected to represent? Continue reading

Buffalo, New York Area Congressman Response To Extension of U.S.-Canada Border Closing Order

Brian Higgins Advocates for a Reopening Plan to be Defined and Released

Buffalo-area Congressman Brian Higgins

“It’s 395 days since the United States-Canadian border closed, and the closure was just extended another 30 days. Families on both sides of the border have been torn apart, people who love each other, parents, grandchildren, unable to see each other. We need a plan to open the U.S.-Canadian border.”                           – Buffalo –area Democratic Congressman Brian Higgins

A News Release from Buffalo, New York-area Congressman Brian Higgins

Posted April 20th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Peace Bridge between Niagara, Ontario and Buffalo, New York. Still off limits to all but “essential” trafffic.

Buffalo, New York – Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26), Co-chair of the Northern Border Caucus, addressed the renewed shutdown of the border between the United States and Canada in remarks on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Higgins said, in part, “It’s 395 days since the United States-Canadian border closed, and the closure was just extended another 30 days. Families on both sides of the border have been torn apart, people who love each other, parents, grandchildren, unable to see each other. We need a plan to open the U.S.-Canadian border. With vaccines, face masks, and good physical distancing we can do so safely and successfully.” Continue reading

Honouring the BME Church, Salem Chapel – A Historic Church & Heritage Site in St. Catharines Niagara

Join in an Online Tribute to this Great Places, this Thursday, April 22nd at 7:30 p.m. – Details Below

An Invite to All of Us from the Historical Society of St. Catharines

Posted April 19th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

On Thursdsay , April 22 at 7:30 p.m., the Historical Society of St. Catharines will have the pleasure of hosting Rochelle Bush speaking on the BME Church, Salem Chapel in St. Catharines.

Designated a National Historic Site, the Church was built to accommodate African American individuals and families fleeing slavery in the United States notably including Harriet Tubman. The Salem Chapel remains an active congregation today. Rochelle is a Church Historian and Trustee. Continue reading

For Ford Government, Running a Police State Takes Priorority Over Protecting Essentional Workers

Standing Against Workers Will Haunt Ford’s Conservatives

A News Release from Ontario’s Liberal Government

Posted April 19th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

TORONTO, Ontario Steven Del Duca, Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party, issued the following statement:

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, getting his first shot of vaccine ear;oer this April, and that is good. But what about all of the mostly younger grocery store workers, taking a chance in every day? And what about paid sick days for these brave front-line workers, or a return to COVID-19 bonus pay Apparently that is too much for Ford to ask of his billionaire corporate pals in the retail industry. You sure wouldn’t want to ask the Weston family (owners or Loblaws/Zehrs, Shopper Drug Mart, etc.) to do a little more to reward their front-line workers.

“The past week has been absolute chaos in Ontario. Sweeping police powers, closures on the outdoor activities experts say don’t cause the spread of COVID-19, and insufficient measures. But despite everything Doug Ford threw at the wall, he didn’t even bother to consider paid sick leave.

Ontario Liberals are calling on Conservative MPPs to finally stand with essential workers and against their anti-science Premier, and pass our bill before Doug Ford runs and hides from the outrage he caused.

For over a year, Ontario Liberals have stood with doctors, other opposition parties, and virtually everyone else to demand paid sick leave. It was, after all, Ontario Liberals who brought in paid sick leave in the first place before Doug Ford cut it in 2018. That’s because we know how important protection is for workers. Continue reading