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Fort Erie Grieves with our Good Neighbours in Buffalo, New York

A Statement from Fort Erie (Ontario) Mayor Wayne Redekop:

Posted May 16th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

An image of Fort Erie’s shores in the foreground with Buffalo in the background and the Peace Bridge joining them as it crosses over the upper waters of the Niagara River

FORT ERIE in Niagara, Ontario – “The residents of Fort Erie are shocked and horrified at the senseless shooting of innocent people in Buffalo.

“The knowledge that the shooter was racially motivated is extremely troubling.  There is no place for hate and racism in our societies. 

“We grieve with the families of those killed and maimed (this past Saturday, May 14th), and all residents of the City of Good Neighbours. We all have an obligation to speak out against and oppose the ideologies that promote hate, racism and discrimination. Continue reading

A Gift of Music from the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra “for our Buffalo Community”

From the Buffalo Philharmonic(BPO) in Buffalo, New York

Posted May 16th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

Our hearts are with you

One of many makeshift memorials left near the scene of the mass shooting

There is no room for hate and prejudice in our society. 

The Buffalo Philharmonic is horrified and saddened by the senseless tragedy that took place this past weekend.

As our community grieves together, we would like to share the healing power of music with George Walker’s Lyric for Strings.

To watch and listen please click on the screen below –

To visit the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s website, click on – https://bpo.org/ 

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

Remembering Niagara’s Doug Rapelje – A Model Citizen and a Super-Model Public Servant

A Brief Remembrance by Doug Draper, followed by a 2020 Tribute to Doug Rapelje upon his receiving the Niagara regional government’s T. Roy Adams Humanitarian Award

Posted May 16th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

In the neighbourhood where I grew up in the west end of Welland and where he and his family lived for a while, everyone loved them.

Doug Rapelje – a model of the kind of public servant working in the best interest of us all

“You could not ask for better neighbours,” I heard my parents and others in the neighbourhood say.

The father figure or dad in that good family was Doug Rapelje and years later, when I began working as a reporter at The St. Catharines Standard, I crossed paths with him again – this time working as an administrator for Niagara’s regional government as a passionate, tireless champion of quality pubic services for senior citizens.

Even after he retired from the Region, he volunteered his time to making life better for seniors and by doing so he more than embodied the meaning of the term; “above and beyond the call of duty.”

Public servants have received more knocks than usual in recent years – especially at the Niagara regional level of government from 2014 through 2018 when the Al Caslin administration (or “cabal” as many came to call it) was in charge at Regional Headquarters and in the offices of partner agencies like the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA). Continue reading

Tears for Buffalo and its People

“This is the worst nightmare that could come to a community and we are hurting.”                                                       – Byron Brown, Mayor of Buffalo, New York

A Comment from Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper

Posted May 15th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

A popular place for grocery shopping turns into a blood-soaked crime scene.

As the cable news channels continued to report the “breaking news” out of Buffalo, New York this past Saturday afternoon, the skies in that city turned from bright sunny and blue to grey, and rain started falling.

It was as if the heavens were shedding tears on this “City of Good Neighbours.”

As I am sure most, if not all of you know by now, a horror that has visited far too many cities and towns across the United States visited Buffalo this Saturday, May 15 with a mass shooting that murdered 10 people and wounded three others in a Tops’ grocery store in a neighbourhood that is a few minutes’ drive from the downtown core. Continue reading

If We, The People, Don’t Stand Up For Our Natural Heritage, No One Else Will

It Was Everyday Citizens – Not Politicians and Surely Not Developers – That Won Some Concessions in the Fight to Save Waverly Woods along the Shores of our Great Lakes in Fort Erie, Ontario

A Comment from Fort Erie resident Linda McKellar

Posted May 13th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

We have elections this year, provinciall elections this June and municipal elections this October, and it is time to sweep out those who don’t work to save what is left of our natural heritage.

Power to the people.

The public must stand up to those who care only about the almighty dollar and don’t care what invaluable treasures they destroy! This was a grass roots movement that average citizens researched for over four years and they worked hard to attain at least some concessions.

If the average person doesn’t speak up and fight for their towns and their special uniqueness, nobody else will. When it’s gone it’s gone forever!!!!!

Everyone needs to stand up to any greedy individuals who have little or no regard for communities, the people who live there, the history, the natural beauty, the serenity and the wildlife. They create havoc in one place and move on to the next one with pocketsful of cash. They just don’t care!

Unfortunately, such people have the money to fight the average Joe’s and Jill’s of the world. Continue reading

Settlement  Has Been Reached in Waverly Woods Development Plan Case in Fort Erie

‘Community Voices’ Citizens Group Pleased with Additional Protection and Wildlife Connections

A News Release from Community Voices of Fort Erie, a citizen group dedicated to saving Waverly Woods in Fort Erie, Niagara

Posted May 12th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

Fort Erie, Ontario —Community Voices of Fort Erie Inc. (“CVFE”) is pleased to announce a settlement with 800460 Ontario Ltd. and the Town of Fort Erie over the longstanding dispute over the development of a proposed 236-unit Harbourtown subdivision on the shore of Lake Erie at Waverly Woods.

Inside Waverly Woods in the summer of 2021. It has been a natural haven for many during the pandemic. File photo by Doug Draper

After more than two weeks at the hearing, the parties reached a deal that will see a significant increase from 2.8 to 3.4 ha of Environmentally Protected lands on site, the closure of Lakeshore Road near the lake, creation of vernal pools for amphibian breeding and an increase in the setback of the proposed tower from Waverly Woods.

“Our experts recommended the settlement and a number of additions to the development that will improve conditions for the Fowler’s Toad, Red-headed Woodpecker and other important species. This was our primary motivation all along in launching the appeal,” said Marcie Jacklin, CVFE’s President.

“We’re particularly pleased that the closure of Lakeshore and added Environmentally Protected lands will really make a difference for Fowler’s Toad recovery. It’s now up to the Town and the Conservation Authority to create new habitat along the Friendship Trail that will need swift action in the coming weeks,” Jacklin added. Continue reading

Ontario Greens Launch Fully-Costed 2022 Election Platform

The Green Plan: New Solutions To Old Problems

A News Release from the Green Party of Ontario

Posted May 12th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

Ontario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner

TORONTO — This May 12th, Leader Mike Schreiner launched The Green Plan: New solutions to old problems ahead of the June election.

“Our vision is for the Ontario we all want — caring, connected, and ready for the new climate economy,” Schreiner said at the announcement in Toronto alongside Deputy Leaders Dianne Saxe and Abhijeet Manay. “And with our full slate of strong, diverse candidates, we have the leadership ready to deliver on it.”

“We need new solutions to the decades-long problems that the old-line parties have simply failed to solve.” Continue reading

Another Ontario Election, Another Promise to Lower Auto Insurance Rates

The NDP May Be the Go-To Party to Cut Rates, But Will They? Can They?

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

Posted May 12th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

It must be election time in Ontario because here we voters are again, facing another promise from one of the provincial parties to lower those bank-busing auto insurance rates.

 

Maybe I’ve been around too long, covering too many elections, but I’ve heard promises to lower auto insurance rates before and nothing ever comes from them.

The first time I recall hearing this promise in a big way was back around 1990 when the Ontario New Democratic Party, then led by Bob Rae who would later switch to the federal Liberals and now serves as Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations, promised lower rates as part of a grander plan to and a larger plan to switch to a not-for-profit public insurance system across the province. Continue reading

St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik Has Set His Own Term Limits, And It Is Two

The St. Catharines Mayor has Announced he will Not be Running for a Third Term as Mayor in this October’s Municipal Election 

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

Posted May 10th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik

In an announcement Walter Sendzik made this May 10th through his city’s local newspaper, The St. Catharines Standard, he said he will not be running for a third as the city’s mayor in this October’s municipal elections.

Sendzik explained during an interview with The Standard that he told himself when he first ran in 2014 for the top office of Niagara’s largest municipality that he would only serve two four-year terms.

“I do think the role of a public official, the person who is elected, shouldn’t be a career job,” Sendzik was quoted saying in the interview. I don’t think it was ever designed to be a career job.”

Perhaps that is an idea that should become infectious in Niagara. One wonders what Mayors Jim Diodati of Niagara Falls (now serving his third term as mayor), Frank Campion of Welland (now serving his second term) and Wayne Redekop of Fort Erie (now serving his fifth term) awould think of that? Continue reading

Canada’s Prime MinisterMakes Unannounced Visit to War-Torn Ukraine

“As Russia continues its ongoing illegal and unjustifiable war against Ukraine, Canada will continue to be there to support Ukraine and its people. I would like to thank President Zelenskyy for hosting this visit, but also more importantly, for his leadership. Together with Ukrainians, President Zelenskyy is defending the values at the very heart of democracies. His courage and the courage of Ukrainians is inspiring, and we will continue to do everything we can to make sure Ukraine gets the support it needs.”                                           

  –  Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

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

Posted May 9th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

, Ukraine – This May 8th, Canada sends a resounding message to the world that we continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine and its people.

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today visited Kyiv, Ukraine, where he met with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The Deputy Prime Minister, Chrystia  Freeland, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mélanie Joly, accompanied the  Prime Minister.

Earlier (this May 9th), the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister of Foreign Affairs participated in a flag raising ceremony to mark the re-opening

of the Canadian Embassy in Ukraine. Ambassador Larisa Galadza, together with a team of additional staff members, will resume diplomatic operations in Kyiv, Ukraine as part of a gradual restoring of Canada’s full diplomatic presence and services. Until further notice, consular and immigration services will continue to be provided in Poland and many other European cities in the region. Continue reading

Ford Tories Are Driving All of Us in Ontario Down the Highway to Bankruptcy

And Few, If Any, In Ontario’s Business Community Seem to Give a Damn or Seem Willing to Pay More Taxes to Cover the Cost

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

Posted May 6th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

Roads, highways and bridges! Bridges, highways and roads!

Get out the heavy machinery and plough through more of our crop lands and woodlands to build ever more highways. Is that what we still want in the third decade of a 21st Century faced with a highly destructive climate crisis? Apparently a good number of  his business supporters and others in Ontario do.

Since the 2022 Ontario election officially got started in these first days of May, Premier Doug Ford and his Conservatives have made a highly-orchestrated point of standing on green fields where they want highways built and empathize how much they view spending multiple billions of our dollars on every more roads, highways and bridges as a centre piece of their vision in this third decade of the 21st century of economic growth for Ontario. Continue reading

Buffalo, New York Area Congressman Slams Top Court’s Attack on Women’s Rights

A Statement by Brian Higgins, U.S. Congressman for the Buffalo, New York area followed by a Commentary by NAL’s Doug Draper

Posted May 3rd, 2022 on Niagara At Large

On Draft Decision by United States Supreme Court to Strike Down Roe v. Wade

Buffalo, New York area Democratic Party Congressman Brian Higgins

(Buffalo, New York area) Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) released the following statement in response to a draft decision by the United States Supreme Court which would overturn Roe v. Wade:

“The Supreme Court is on the verge of decimating the rights of women across our country.

“A ruling to completely strike down Roe v. Wade, which has been in place for over 50 years, is a gross backslide of a grueling fight for progress and signals a forewarning that equal rights in America universally are in danger.”

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

Time For Rest of Us to Tell Extreme Right-Wing, Anti-Abortion Fanatics to Stand Down

Continue reading

Canada’s Prime Minister Pays Tribute to Key Role Journalists Play in Democracy on ‘World Press Freedom Day’

A Statement from Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Posted May 3rd, 2022 on Niagara At Large

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today (this May 3rd) issued the following statement on World Press Freedom Day:

“Today, on World Press Freedom Day, we honour the many journalists here in Canada and around the world who work tirelessly to seek out and report on the truth. We also reaffirm our longstanding commitment to the freedom of the press – a foundational pillar of our democracy – and recognize those who have been injured or lost their lives defending freedom of the press.

“While Canada enjoys a strong and free press, we know that this is not the case everywhere – many journalists face censorship, intimidation, violence, imprisonment, and false arrests. This year alone, many journalists were killed and hundreds imprisoned in the line of duty around the world. This serves as reminder that we must continue to advocate for journalists and for a strong and free press. Continue reading

It’s Time To Make Building New Superhighways In Ontario’s Greenbelt Illegal

“These highways would also increase pressure to allow new industrial, commercial and residential development along them, while also crossing and polluting hundreds of waterways, fragmenting forests and farms, filling in wetlands and creating a death trap for many wildlife species.”

A Message from Environmental Defence, Ontario Nature, Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition, Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition, and the Wilderness Committee

Posted May 2nd, 2022 on Niagara At Large

Environmental Groups say: Enough is Enough. It’s time to make building new Superhighways in the Greenbelt illegal

Toronto | Traditional territories of the Huron-Wendat, the Anishnaabeg, Haudenosaunee, Chippewas and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation – New multi-lane superhighways threaten the farms, forests and wetlands of the Greenbelt and need to be banned to protect Ontario’s water, air, food, wildlife, access to nature and our climate.

This is why five organizations are calling on all political parties in Ontario’s June 2nd election to commit to making a legislative amendment to the Greenbelt Act to ban new multi-lane highways from being built through the Greenbelt. Continue reading

Just In Time for Ontario’s Spring Election, Shovels in Ground for New West Niagara Hospital

“After decades of inaction by previous governments, our government is getting it done for the people of West Niagara.”     – Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

“Promise made, promise kept – shovels are in the ground for our new West Lincoln Memorial Hospital.”                                                 – Niagara West Conservative Government MPP Sam Oosterhoff

A News Release from the Constituency Office of Niagara West Conservative MPP Same Oosterhoff

Posted April 30th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

GRIMSBY, Ontario  – Shovels are in the ground to build a new West Lincoln Memorial Hospital in Grimsby.

The Government of Ontario has approved the start of construction to begin on the new Hamilton Health Sciences site following the closing of the project contract between Ellis Don Infrastructure Healthcare, Hamilton Health Sciences and Infrastructure Ontario on April 29, 2022. 

During the next three years, Ellis Don Infrastructure Healthcare will design, build and finance the West Lincoln Memorial Hospital redevelopment project.

From left to right at ground-breaking, Andrew Smith, Chair, Take It To The Finish Campaign; Kevin Antonides, Chair, West Lincoln Memorial Hospital Foundation; Tony Joosse, Co-Chair, Save and Rebuild Campaign; Sandra Easton, Mayor, Town of Lincoln; Sam Oosterhoff, MPP Niagara West; Rob MacIsaac, President and CEO, Hamilton Health Sciences; Mary Volk, Board Member, Hamilton Health Sciences; Jeff Jordan, Mayor, Town of Grimsby; Dave Bylsma, Mayor, Township of West Lincoln

On behalf of the Government of Ontario, Sam Oosterhoff, MPP for Niagara West, made the announcement today at West Lincoln Memorial Hospital.  MPP Oosterhoff was joined at the podium by Sandra Easton, Mayor of the Town of Lincoln; Rob MacIsaac, President and CEO of Hamilton Health Sciences, and other key representatives from the hospital, West Lincoln Memorial Hospital Foundation and West Niagara community. Continue reading

4,700 New Native Trees To Be Planted At Two-Mile Creek Conservation Area in NOTL

A News Release from the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority

Posted May 1st, 2022 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) will continue a forest and stream rehabilitation project at the Two-Mile Creek Conservation Area in Niagara-on-the-Lake this May.

This work will see the planting of 4,700 new native trees in the cherished conservation area.

Photo courtesy of Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority

Phase one of this project took place last summer, with a tree-clearing operation to remove the dominant ash tree forest decimated by the invasive Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). Fallen trees and logs in the watercourse were also removed to improve flow and address large creek debris and flooding concerns.

While the largest debris was cleaned up, some dead trees and other smaller, messy debris were intentionally left behind to provide habitat features for birds, bats, and other wildlife that call the area home. Continue reading

Ontario Green Party Gongs Ford’s ‘Pro-Sprawl, Anti-Climate’ Budget

A News Release from the Green Party of Ontario

Posted April 29th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

THIS BUDGET IS PRO-SPRAWL AND ANTI-CLIMATE.

Full of old ideas we don’t want, Doug Ford’s pro-sprawl, anti-climate budget is out of touch with what Ontarians want.

The government says if it’s re-elected it will invest money in highways, cars, and sprawl. These are old ideas Ontario can’t afford.

This $198.6B budget is selling Ontarians a bill of goods. Minister Bethlenfalvy announced investments in “clean steel” — a disastrous fairy tale that will only increase Ontario’s emissions — an increase in housing supply without measures to lower costs, and the same calamitous highways we’ve been fighting against for years. Continue reading

Ford Government’s Pre-Election Budget is a Bust for Environmental Protection

“The 16 lanes of asphalt highway on the cover of today’s budget tell Ontarians everything they need to know about the government’s environmental agenda. This budget would commit billions to environmentally disastrous projects like Highway 413, the Bradford Bypass, and the widening of Highway 417 that will destroy Greenbelt, farmland, and endangered species habitat, worsen car traffic, and keep our existing suburbs mired in car-dependency for decades to come.”                                                             – Phil Pothen, Ontario Environment Program Manager, Environmental Defence

Experts for citizen group Environmental Defence react to the 2022 Ontario budget

News from Environmental Defence

Posted April 29th, 2022 on Niagara At Larg

Toronto | Traditional territories of the Huron-Wendat, the Anishnaabeg, Haudenosaunee, Chippewas and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation –

Keith Brooks, Programs Director:

Ontario’s Budget 2022 shows once again that this government doesn’t care about the environment. The environmental elements of the budget are mainly focused on building more highways and encouraging more people to drive by cutting the gas tax, removing tolls, and eliminating license fees, none of which are new announcements.

The budget also celebrates that businesses will be paying over a billion dollars less for their pollution, thanks to the government’s cancellation of the cap-and-trade program. This government has wasted millions tearing up green energy projects and fighting against climate change policy. This head-in-the sand budget dooms us to billions more in climate damages in the years to come Continue reading

Ford’s Pre-Election Budget Slammed for Failing to Address Housing Crisis in Niagara

Niagara’s Four Ontario NDP candidates react to Ford’s refusal to address affordability in budget

News from the Ontario New Democratic Party

Posted Apri 28th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

NIAGARA, Ontario – Niagara’s NDP MPPs Jennie Stevens (St. Catharines), Jeff Burch (Niagara Centre), Wayne Gates (Niagara Falls), and NDP candidate Dave Augustyn (Niagara West) were dismayed that Doug Ford has tabled a election platform masquerading as a budget with $2.7 billion in cuts to services people rely on, while refusing to address the housing and affordability crises in Niagara Region.

Niagara West Ontario NDP candidate Dave Augustyn

“Niagara families needed to see a budget that made building affordable housing a priority and provided assistance for young families trying to buy their first home – but it is clear that Doug Ford’s budget will once again only make life easier for his developer buddies, and it does nothing for families.

“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. The problem is worse now than four years ago, and families — especially young families — are paying the price,” said Stevens. Continue reading

Niagara, Ontario’s Major Business Chamber Finds Ford Government Budget Mostly Encouraging

 “We are encouraged to see Government of Ontario’s pledge to build 1.5 million homes over the next ten years and their extensive commitment to building highways and public transit. These are valued steps to address some of our members’ concerns.”                     – Mishka Balsom, CEO, Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce (GNCC)

Niagara, Ontario – Mishka Balsom, CEO of the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce (GNCC), today released the following statement:

Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce CEO Mishka Balsom

“Over the past few months, the GNCC conducted extensive provincial budget consultations with businesses across Niagara to determine the key pressure points for our economic recovery and growth. Our members identified significant inflation concerns, labour shortages, ongoing supply chain interruptions amplified by war, red tape challenges, and the housing crisis. Continue reading

City Nature Challenge Starts in St. Catharines this April 29th, Runs Through Weekend

‘The challenge is an opportunity for residents to enjoy nature while making important discoveries that will help scientists to better understand and protect nature.’

News from the City of St. Catharines in Niagara, Ontario

Posted April 28th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

St. Catharines residents are set to take on one of the world’s largest citizen science events by joining the iNaturalist City Nature Challenge once again this spring. 

From April 29 to May 2, residents will participate in an intense weekend of biological surveying as they join citizens from across the globe in the four-day bio blitz.  

The challenge is an opportunity for residents to enjoy nature while making important discoveries that will help scientists to better understand and protect nature. Participants will record and submit as many species as possible within the St. Catharines boundary followed by a week of identifying what was found using the free iNaturalist app.    Continue reading

Join A Workshop On How to Run for Municipal Office in Niagara and Win!

The Niagara-wide, non-partisaan citizens group, A Better Niagara, will be holding candidate training sessions for the upcoming (October 2022) municipal elections

An Invite from A Better Niagara

Posted April 28th, 2022 on Niagara At large

Passionate about your community? Want to make a difference?

If you are considering running in the next Municipal election, here’s your chance to get valuable information to help you make an informed decision.

Join us for a municipal election workshop this coming Tuesday, May 3rd7 to 8:30 p.m.

In this pre-election workshop you will hear from those who have successfully run for office about what managing a campaign and being an elected representative is like. Continue reading

Ontario’s Ford Government Has Kept Just 37 Per Cent of Its 2018 Campaign Promises

Province’s NDP Leader Promises to Restore Integrity in Government

“It’s time for a government that works for you and your family — not for themselves and their buddies.”                                                       – Andrea Horwath, Ontario NDP Leader

News from Ontario’s New Democratic Party

Posted April 26th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

Doug Ford made promises and enough Ontarians believed him to elect him once. Polls suggest they will elect him again. Now there is something to laugh about.

TORONTO – Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath is committing to a number of changes to restore integrity in Ontario’s government.

“It’s been a rough few years. People who are looking for an affordable place to live have been hurt by a government helping developers who donate to their party, instead of families who need a home. People who are calling for investment in autism services have to watch millions in public dollars go out the door to fund partisan ads.”

We all have to watch and worry as the line between being a lobbyist and being a senior advisor to Doug Ford has been wiped away,” said Horwath.

“It’s time for a government that works for you and your family — not for themselves and their buddies.” Continue reading

Rising COVID-19 Patient Load Causes Niagara Health to Ramp Down Surgical Program

Niagara Health surgical program temporarily ramping down to 70% capacity

Patients who are impacted will be contacted by their surgical team

News from Niagara Health, Niagara, Ontario’s amalgamated system of hospitals

Posted April 25th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario  – We are experiencing growing pressures with patient volumes and staff and physician illness, resulting in the need to adjust our operations to ensure we can provide emergency, critical and acute care to our patients using the resources available to us.

Today (this April 25th), our surgical program needs to temporarily ramp down to 70% capacity. This measure will allow Niagara Health to use these beds to care for COVID-19 positive patients and other patients with urgent needs. Continue reading

Niagara College Goes the Distance to Help Students Impacted By War in Ukraine

“We all recognize that students from Ukraine and many other countries, including Russia, are victims of this circumstance and it is critical that we illustrate to our students that we stand with them and are here to support them through this terribly tragic and stressful time.”                                                                                       – Gary Torraville, Director of Niagara College’s International Division

A News Release from Niagara College

Posted April 20th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – They have travelled across the world to study at Niagara College, now the College is going an extra mile for them.

NC is assisting international students impacted by the war in Ukraine with a range of supports – both financial and emotional – to help them through this challenging time.

Gary Torraville, Niagara College’s international division director. Photo courtesy of Niagara College

Whether they need financial assistance to help cover expenses, or emotional support as they struggle with anxiety over the safety of their loved ones in a war zone, Niagara College is demonstrating that they may be far away from home, but they are not alone. Continue reading

Brock University Opens ‘Seed Library’to Help Build a Diversity of Native Plants in our Communities

Seeds Now On Loan To Community At Brock Library

‘Seed libraries are an effective mechanism for collecting and distributing a variety of rare, endangered, native and/or culturally important seeds. They aim to protect genetic diversity in our food system and promote public access to seeds.’

News from Brock University in Niagara, Ontario

Posted April 19th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

Master of Sustainability candidate Alexandra Cotrufo helped to create Brock University’s seed library launching Tuesday, April 19. Photo courtesy of Brock University

Niagara, Ontario – The list of items you can borrow from the Brock University Library is growing.

On Tuesday, April 19, the James A. Gibson Library will open the Brock University Seed Library to the community.

The initiative, which allows people to “borrow” seeds for planting, was the brainchild of Brock Master of Sustainability candidates Alexandra Cotrufo and Madison Lepp.

When the pair learned about WWF-Canada’s Go Wild School Grants, they decided to apply in hopes of bringing their vision for a community seed library to life.

The WWF-Canada Go Wild School Grant program funds projects that are focused on protecting or restoring nature in schools and on campuses. While most recipients receive grant amounts of $1,000, Cotrufo and Lepp were fortunate to receive $2,500 to plan, build and execute their project. Continue reading

Milestone Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement Turns 50

Is it Really a Time for Celebration?

“If we pollute the air, water and soil that keep us alive and well, and we destroy the biodiversity that allows natural systems to function, no amount of money will save us.”                                       – David Suzuki, Canadian scientist, environmental activist and host of the CBC TV program ‘The Nature of Things’

“It is never too late to go quietly to our lakes, rivers, oceans, even our small streams, and say to the sea gulls, the great blue herons, the bald eagles, and the salmon, that we are sorry.”                         – American novelist and nature writer Brenda Peterson

A Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper, followed by a Statement from the Canadian and U.S. governments on the 1972 signing of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement

Posted April 18th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

A News Commentary by Doug Draper –

The Great Lakes, the largest source of fresh, drinkable water in the world, if we have the sense to look after them.

By the time citizens gathered in cities and towns around the world for the very first Earth Day in April, 1970, the Great Lakes and so many of the rivers and creeks flowing into them were on just about every environmental scientist who was paying attention critical list.

These massive reservoirs of fresh water – home to tens-of-millions of humans and a rich diversity of wildlife – were by then so seriously contaminated with petro-chemical waste from a multitude of sources on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border that fish-eating birds, from gulls to bald eagles, were dying off and at least one river flowing to the lower Great Lakes from Ohio literally caught fire.

Scientist were examining fish from the lakes and the watersheds feeding them that were suffering from exterior tumors the size of those marbles kids played with on the schoolyard.

At the same time, mats of rotting algae were washing up and stanching Great Lakes shores.

Great Lakes fish, washing up the shores in lethal mats of rotting algae

A product of nutrients (mostly phosphorus and nitrogen agents entering the lakes from farmlands treated with chemical fertilizers, and from urban sewers, the algae choked the lakes of the oxygen they needed to sustain fish life.

Lake Erie, the shallowest of the lakes and therefore the most vulnerable to growths of this oxygen-robbing plight, was declared in front-page headlines across North America to be “on the verge of dying.”

Two years after the first Earth Day, on April 16, 1972, then Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau (father of the current prime minister) and then U.S. President Richard Nixon set aside the beefs they had with each other on so many other issues and signed a binational Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement aimed at saving the lakes from those threats and more.

U.S. President Richard Nixon (second from left) and Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau (right) in April. 1972,, signing the Canada/U.S. Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement

Through two revisions of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, in 1978 and 1987, and through the first 25 or 30 years of its initial signing, a great deal of progress was made by the two federal governments, by the Province of Ontario and the U.S. states bordering the lakes, and by municipalities and other bodies in both countries to bring these vital, life-sustaining water bodies back from the brink. Continue reading

Niagara Centre MPP’s Motion to Keep Full Services at Welland Hospital Receives Full Ontario Legislature Approval

“Niagara families are counting on us to provide the resources needed to keep emergency and acute care services running at the Welland Hospital. It’s critical that we keep the hospital services we have, and keep building capacity to serve Niagara families.”  – Jeff Burch, NDP MPP for the Riding of Niagara Centre in Niagara, Ontario

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

Posted April 13th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Centre NDP MPP Jeff Burch

QUEEN’S PARK – MPP Jeff Burch’s motion to keep the Welland Hospital’s emergency department and acute care services open passed after debate in the legislature on Tuesday evening.

“Families who rely on the Welland hospital deserve timely access to emergency and acute care when they need it,” said Burch.

“Our community is growing and our health care system needs to keep pace. While we’re looking forward to the new Niagara Falls hospital, we can’t afford to lose these critical services that Niagara families rely on.” Continue reading

Bertie Historical Society and Saving Waverly Woods

Join the Bertie Historical Society and Community Voices of Fort Erie for Meetings on the History of Erie Beach and Waverly Woods

An Invite and Update from Marcie Jacklin and Community Voices of Fort Erie

Posted April 13th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

Dear friends of Waverly Woods/Erie Beach in Fort Erie, Ontario

Please join us for some in person meetings about the history of Waverly Woods/Erie Beach.

Community Voices of Fort Erie is partnering with the Bertie Historical Society to present Counting Back to Erie Beach (Waverly Woods) on April 13 at the Centennial Library at 6 p.m. and again at the Crystal Ridge Library at 6 p.m.  Continue reading

Big Birds Sighted in High Numbers this Spring Over Niagara Escarpment

‘This year’s (raptor) count was off to a good start in March, with a total count (in the skies above the Niagara Escarpment and  Beamer Memorial Conservation Area in Grimsby, Ontario) of 4,860 birds- the highest total since 2012, spread over 12 species.’

A News Release from the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority

Posted April 12th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

A red-tail hawk, one of the species of raptors, flying in healthy numbers along the Niagara Escarpment this spring

This year’s annual spring migration raptor count began March 1st and goes until May 15, with volunteers from the Niagara Peninsula Hawkwatch (NPH) group visiting the site to count sightings daily.

Although access to the viewing platform is limited to NPH volunteers only due to COVID-19, visitors and aspiring counters are welcome to join to learn more about the importance of this annual work.

This year’s count was off to a good start in March, with a total count of 4,860 birds- the highest total since 2012, spread over 12 species. Continue reading

Helping More Canadians Drive Electric Vehicles

“One of the best ways to cut pollution is getting more clean cars on the road. That’s why we’re making it easier and more affordable for Canadian families to make their next vehicle purchase an electric one.”                                                                         – Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

A News Release from the Office of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Posted April 11th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he wants more Canadians driving electric vehicles

Canadians have been clear about what they want: clean air, good jobs, a healthy environment, and a strong economy. That’s why the Government of Canada is making it easier and more affordable for Canadians across the country to drive zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), while helping the auto sector to build them right here in Canada.

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today highlighted key measures included in Budget 2022: A Plan to Grow Our Economy and Make Life More Affordable to help Canadians make the switch to zero-emission vehicles. Continue reading

We Put Off  the Need to ACT NOW on Climate Change at Our Peril

By Not Acting Now, We also Waste Away the Right to a Good Life for our Children

“The jury has reached a verdict and it is damning.  We are on a fast track to climate disaster. … It is time to stop burning our planet and start investing in the abundant renewable energy all around us.”                                                                                                   – an excerpt from  a message from United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

A  Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper, followed by the latest climate emergency report released by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Posted April 10th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

Of all the pressing problems we now face in this world – from affordable housing and galloping inflation to COVID-18 and the war crimes in the Ukraine – there is one that will continue to ravage life on this planet for generations to come if we don’t take decisive action to solve it now.

That problem is climate change and in yet another detailed report released this April 4th by scientists working under the umbrella of the Unite Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on climate change, we have been presented with one of the starkest warnings yet that we are on the road to a global meltdown if we continue to deny, delay or lie our way out of addressing this most perilous or problems.

Canada’s west in these recent years of unprecedented wildfires. Yet too many of our politicial leaders are willing to risk more of this over taking decisive action to deal with the causes of climate change.

As we approach the 52nd anniversary of Earth Day on this coming Friday, April 22nd, one of this aging environment reporter’s worst fears is that other pressing problems like the pandemic and the war Putin ignited in eastern Europe has put all of the attention and energy that the climate crisis finally began to receive before the COVID-19 plague began on the backburner. Continue reading

Canada Pledges Support for Global ‘Stand Up For Ukraine’ Campaign

Stand Up For Ukraine – 9.1 billion euros ($12.4 billion) pledged in support of internally displaced and refugees

“Whether it’s food, water, shelter, or medical aid – we will continue to have your backs and provide the assistance you need at this time. We are standing  up for Ukraine.”                                        – A message to the people of Ukraine from Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

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

Posted April 10th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

The “Stand Up for Ukraine” global pledging event and campaign has raised 9.1 billion euros ($12.4 billion) for people fleeing the Russian invasion, inside Ukraine and abroad, including €1 billion from the European Commission.

On top of that, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has announced an additional €1 billion in loan to cover the needs of the people displaced by the invasion.

Out of these €10.1 billion in pledges and EBRD funding, €1.8 billion are for internally displaced persons and €8.3 billion for refugees in frontline EU Member States and countries, like Moldova. Continue reading

Budget 2022 Signals “Canada Is Back” As a Full Great Lakes Partner

“Investing in the Great Lakes fishery is good for the “triple bottom line” –  the fishery contributes $8 billion in economic return each year, the fishery is integral to our culture, and a healthy fishery means a healthy environment.”                                                                             – Vance Badawey, Niagara Centre MP and Co-Chair of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Taskforce

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

Posted April 8th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Centre Liberal MP and Co-Chair of Great Lakes St. Lawrence Taskforce, Vance Badawey. file photo

OTTAWA, ON – Vance Badawey Member of Parliament for Niagara Centre and Co-Chair of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Taskforce, was pleased to see our Liberal Government has made a decisive decision to be the first Federal Government in forty years to fully fund the binational treaty organization Great Lakes Fishery Commission in (this April 7th’s) budget.

Canada and the United States co-fund the Commission’s work under a treaty of 1954 called the Convention on Great Lakes Fisheries.

The Commission’s program protects and improves the $8 billion Great Lakes fishery and Canada, before today, had been providing less than what the treaty requires. Today’s budget will ensure Canada makes essential investments to sustain the fishery, which we share with the United States. Continue reading

Passionate Birder & Champion in Fight to Save Fort Erie’s Waverly Woods to Receive Time-Honoured Nature Award

Marcie Jacklin is one of the citizen leaders in a David vs. Goliath battle to keep developers from destroying one of Niagara’s  natural jewels

A News Release from the Niagara Falls Nature Club in Niagara, Ontario

Posted April 7th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario naturalist, citizen activist and leading member in fight to save Waverly Woods in Fort Erie to receive time-honoured award

Niagara, Ontario – Local Fort Erie resident, Marcie Jacklin, will be receiving the R.W. Sheppard Award on Monday, April 11th, 3:00 pm, at Waverly Beach Park in the Town of Fort Erie.

The award is being presented by representatives from the Niagara Falls Nature Club who originally chose her as the recipient in 2020.  Traditionally the award is presented at the group’s annual dinner in April, but COVID-19 resulted in the cancellation of this and other live events.

Now that restrictions are lifted, an outdoor presentation has been planned to allow for safe distancing and masking, if preferred.

Roy W. Sheppard, for whom the award is named, was the first honourary president of the Niagara Falls Nature Club.  He joined the club in 1966 and was an active member until his death in 1985.  He was internationally known as a naturalist and published scientific and nature articles. Continue reading

Niagara’s Major Business Group Applauds Federal Government’s “Growth-Oriented Budget”

“With unemployment projected to remain low, and with supply chains and inflation now the biggest economic challenges, a growth-oriented budget makes sense at this time. Prudent governments have reinvested the rewards of growth in diversification and social programs, and this budget represents a step in that direction.”

A News Release from the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce in Niagara, Ontario

Posted April 7th. 2022 on Niagara At Large

The Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce offers its views on the 2022 federal budget

Niagara, Ontario – The Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce (GNCC) notes that the Government of Canada, reacting to a booming economic rebound, has opted to re-invest in housing, green energy, and other forward-thinking projects and programs.

Much of this is wisely targeted at known economic pain points such as housing and supply chains.

Simultaneously, while the era of extraordinary COVID-19 relief is coming to an end, the last five weeks in Ukraine have shown that peace and security cannot be taken for granted. That being the case, heightened defence spending was inevitable, particularly as Canada currently funds its military at a low rate compared to NATO peers. Continue reading

Ontario Liberals Call For Mask Extension And Expansion To Schools, Pharmacies And Grocery Stores

“Ford’s Conservatives are still planning to end all mask mandates in long-term care homes and hospitals on April 27th – this is a huge mistake.”                                                                                             – Ontario Liberal Party Leader Steven Del Duca

A Statement by Steven Del Duca, Leader of Ontario Liberal Party

Posted April 7th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

TORONTO — Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca has issued the following statement:

“With COVID case counts now skyrocketing, Ontarians deserve science, not silence from their provincial government. Doug Ford’s Conservatives must stop muzzling the Chief Medical Officer of Health and restore his regular media conferences that ended over a month ago. Continue reading

G7 Nations – Canada and the United States Included – Tighten Screws on Putin

“We underscore that those responsible for war crimes and violations of international humanitarian law, including the indiscriminate use of force or attacks intentionally targeting civilians, must be held accountable and brought to justice.”

A Statement from the Group of Seven (G7), released by Canada’s Office of the Prime Minister

Posted April 7th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

“We, the Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7), condemn in the strongest terms the appalling atrocities by Russian armed forces in Bucha and other Ukrainian towns. We continue to stand in full solidarity with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.

 

The murder of civilians and non-combatants is categorically prohibited under international humanitarian law.

We support the UN Secretary General’s call for an independent investigation that leads to effective accountability for these atrocities. We underscore that those responsible for war crimes and violations of international humanitarian law, including the indiscriminate use of force or attacks intentionally targeting civilians, must be held accountable and brought to justice. Continue reading

An Urgent Call-Out – Make Sure You Have Your Say in Planning the Way Niagara Grows

Region’s Proposed Official Plan Will Impact Niagara’s Urban and Green Spaces for Decades to Come

A Notice from Niagara’s Regional Government, with a Foreword by Doug Draper

Posted April 5th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

A Foreword by Doug Draper, reporter/publisher, NAL

After years of discussion and debate, and of  drafting and redrafting a new Official Plan for Niagara, the Region’s Council is hoping to give the Plan final approval before this term of the council ends in the fall.

An Official Plan, as Niagara’s Regional Government explains it, “includes land-use policies that cover topics like Niagara’s natural environment, land needs, growth allocations, housing, transportation, urban design, employment lands and agriculture.”

Thjis image, first posted months ago by the region-wide citizens coalition Biodiversity and Climate Action Niagara, speaks to the importance of this Official Plan in protecting what is left of Niagara’s natural heritage.

In a nutshell, it sets the framework for how and where our communities grow, both inside and outside urban boundaries for decades to come. Continue reading

Ontario’s Ford Government Cutting Gas and Fuel Taxes For Six Months “To Provide Relief For Businesses and Families”

Government to Introduce Legislation to Cut Gas Tax by 5.7 Cents per Litre and Fuel Tax by 5.3 Cents per Litre

“I am proud that I am part of a government, under the leadership of Premier Doug Ford, that continues to lower the cost of living in our region and across the province.”     – Niagara West Ford Government MPP Sam Oosterhoff

Now Ford’s Finance Minister Wants to See Trudeau Government to Cut Carbon Tax it Introduced to Fight Climate Change

A News Release from the Constituency Office of Niagara West Conservative Party MPP Sam Oosterhoff

Posted April 4th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

TORONTO – As part of its plan to keep costs down for Ontario families and businesses, the Ontario government is introducing legislation that would, if passed, cut the gas tax by 5.7 cents per litre and the fuel tax by 5.3 cents per litre for six months beginning July 1, 2022.

Vehicle owners in Ontario would see significant direct savings from this proposed gas tax cut and the recently announced elimination of licence plate renewal fees, with households benefitting from an average combined savings of about $465 in 2022.

Ontario Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy

“Ongoing supply chain challenges and geopolitical conflicts are pushing up the cost of living from gas to groceries,” said Hon. Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance.

“With these added pressures, families and businesses need extra help to keep costs low.  That is why our government is bringing forward legislation to provide tax relief at the pumps and put money back into people’s pockets.”

Niagara West Ford government MPP Sam Oosterhoff

“A key concern for many residents in Niagara West is affordability and cost of living,” said Sam Oosterhoff, MPP for Niagara West.

“I am proud that I am part of a government, under the leadership of Premier Doug Ford, that continues to lower the cost of living in our region and across the province by putting money back in the pockets of working families.”

Effective July 1 until December 31, 2022, the gas tax rate would be cut from 14.7 cents per litre to 9 cents per litre, representing a cut of 5.7 cents per litre.  The fuel tax rate, which includes diesel, would be reduced from 14.3 cents per litre to 9 cents per litre, representing a cut of 5.3 cents per litre.

The Ontario government is also continuing to call on the federal government to help families and businesses in the face of rising costs by cutting the carbon tax, which increased to 11.05 cents per litre on gasoline and 13.41 cents per litre on diesel on April 1, 2022.

“Ontario is getting stronger, and with this proposed legislation, our government is doing its part to support workers and families,” said Minister Bethlenfalvy.

“Now is the time for the federal government to join us in providing relief for hard-working Canadians by cutting the carbon tax.”

Ontario’s plan to cut gas and fuel taxes is part of a broader package that will provide immediate cost-of-living relief, including:

  *   Cutting costs for millions of Ontario vehicle owners by refunding licence plate sticker renewal fees paid since March 2020, and eliminating licence plate renewal fees and plate stickers on a go-forward basis, saving vehicle owners $120 a year in southern Ontario and $60 a year in Northern Ontario for passenger and light commercial vehicles.

*   Permanently removing tolls on Highways 412 and 418, effective April 5.

  *   Providing tax relief for workers, families and seniors through the Low-Income Workers Tax Credit, the Seniors’ Home Safety Tax Credit, the Ontario Jobs Training Tax Credit and the Ontario Child Care Tax Credit.

  *   Reaching an agreement with the federal government for $13.2 billion of funding for a Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care System, providing Ontario families with children five years old and younger in participating licensed child care centres with up to 25 per cent in savings, to a minimum of $12 per day, retroactive to April 1, 2022. This agreement will deliver an average of $10-a-day child care for eligible children by September 2025.

Quick Facts

  *   Vehicle owners in Ontario would see a significant direct savings from this proposed gas tax cut and the recently announced elimination of licence plate renewal fees. For example, a family in Southern Ontario who owns two cars and drives regularly would save about $815 in 2022.  Households that do not own vehicles are expected to benefit from the impact of the proposed gas tax cut in the prices paid for taxis, food delivery and consumer products.

  *   The price paid at the pump is made up of the cost of crude oil, wholesale margins, retail margins, federal excise tax, the federal carbon tax, Ontario gasoline/fuel tax and HST.

  *   This proposed tax cut would be effective July 1, 2022 to provide the industry – including manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers – the required time to adjust their systems and business processes.

  *   In 2018, the government passed legislation to eliminate the previous government’s cap and trade carbon tax to reduce gas prices by 4.3 cents per litre.  When combined with the savings from the government’s proposed legislation, the reduction in provincial taxes and charges on gas would total 10 cents per litre.

  *   Ontario’s Gas Tax program supports public transit in municipalities across Ontario by providing two cents per litre of provincial gas tax to improve and expand transit. The Ontario government will ensure that this funding would not be impacted by this proposed cut.

Additional Resources

  *   Working with Industry to Provide Tax Relief to Ontario Workers and Ontario Families<https://news.ontario.ca/en/backgrounder/1001936/working-with-industry-to-provide-tax-relief-to-ontario-workers-and-ontario-families>

  *   Gasoline Tax<https://www.ontario.ca/document/gasoline-tax>

  *   Fuel Tax<https://www.ontario.ca/document/fuel-tax>

See a related story posted by CBC by clicking on – https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ontario-gas-tax-1.6407385

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

Action Needed Now on Affordable Housing Crisis – Niagara Centre NDP MPP Jeff Burch

“If we are to properly represent our constituents, I’m urging this House to take real substantive and timely action to address the soaring cost of living and shortage of affordable places to live.”        – Niagara Centre MPP Jeff  Burch

From the Constituency Office of Jeff Burch, NDP MPP for the Niagara Centre Riding in Niagara, Ontario

Posted April 4th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

(A Note from Niagara At Large – The following statement by Niagara Centre MPP Jeff Burch was made in the Ontario legislature this past March 30th and is very much in line from what NAL hears many people – especially younger people – in our Niagara region and elsewhere in the province saying. That is why NAL is posting it.)

A Statement by Niagara Centre MPP Jeff Burch –

Niagara Centre NDP MPP Jeff Burch

“In my riding of Niagara Centre, there is a severe lack of affordable housing, wages are stagnant, but the price of gas, groceries, and housing continues to rise.

A modest one bedroom in Welland is going for $1400 a month. A basement one-bedroom apartment in Port Colborne is $1300. According to Niagara’s Workforce Planning Board in March 2020,Niagara’s average home price was $450,000. In March 2021, this price increased by 37.2% to over $620,000.This annual increase in local housing costs outpaces wage increases of the average worker by five times. Continue reading

Niagara Region’s Council Loses Strong Voice for our Green Heritage

A  News Commentary by Doug Draper

Posted April 3rd, 2022 on Niagara At Large

What a downer!

Now former St. Catharines Regional Councillor George Darte

George Darte was there – not all that long ago – speaking out for the preservation of Niagara’s green spaces.

Then, suddenly y, he was gone.

The St. first-term St. Catharines Regional Councillor, who had already earned a reputation as a solid voice for protecting and preserving what is left of Niagara’s farmlands, woodlands and wetlands, informed fellow councillors via email this past March 30th that he was vacating his council seat for “private” reasons and effective immediately.

Callouts by Niagara At Large to obtain even a clue about what led to Darte’s decision came up dry.

So all that those of us who care about protecting what remains of Niagara’s natural heritage are left with is that we have lost a good ally on the Region’s council. Continue reading

Niagara Health Issues Important Update about Another Rise in COVID-19 Cases

Cases of COVID-19 are rising again in Ontario, including at Niagara Health, driven by the BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron.

A Message from Niagara Health, Niagara, Ontario’s amalgamated system of hospitals

Posted April 1st, 2022 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – We anticipated this increase in cases in the hospital as public health measures lifted and people started spending more time together.

We are well prepared to manage hospital activity and want to recognize the extraordinary commitment of our staff and physicians to provide patients and families with safe, quality care.  Continue reading

Trudeau Comments on Pope’s Historic Apology to Canada’s Indigenous Peoples

“Today’s apology is a step forward in acknowledging the truth of our past. We cannot separate the legacy of the residential school system from the institutions that created, maintained, and operated it, including the Government of Canada and the Catholic Church.”                                                                                        – Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

A Statement by Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Posted April 1st, 2022 on Niagara At Large

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today (this April 1st, 2022) issued the following statement on the apology from His Holiness Pope Francis for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the residential school system in Canada:

“I acknowledge His Holiness Pope Francis’ apology to Indigenous Peoples for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in operating the residential school system in Canada. Today is about the Survivors, their families, and those who never came home. Continue reading

Trudeau’s Latest Climate Action Plan ‘Continues To Fall Short’

“Canada is still not spending what it takes to successfully scale up proven climate solutions and transition the country towards a clean energy future.”

From Environmental Defence, , a nation-wide citizens advocacy group for a greener, cleaner future in Canada

Posted March 30th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

A Statement from Keith Brooks, Programs Director for Environmental Defence – 

The government of Canada’s Emissions Reduction Plan provides the most comprehensive national climate action roadmap to date.

It is an improvement from previous climate plans, which largely ignored the two most polluting sources of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada: road transportation and the production of oil and gas.

Unfortunately, the level of ambition reflected in this plan continues to fall short.

Most importantly, this plan lets the oil and gas sector off from doing its fair share. Avoiding catastrophic climate change requires winding down production of oil and gas over the next decade. Continue reading

Canada’s Trudeau Government Unveils Plan for Addressing Climate Crisis

“Taking real climate action that is not only ambitious, but also achievable, is key to building a strong economy in the 21st century.”  – Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

News from the Government of Canada

Posted March 29th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

Delivering clean air and a strong economy for Canadians

Canadians have been clear about what they want: clean air and good jobs, a healthy environment, and a strong economy. Today, the Government of Canada delivered a plan that outlines the next steps to continue delivering on those priorities for everyone.

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today (March 29th, 2022) announced the release of the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan: Canada’s Next Steps to Clean Air and a Strong Economy. The plan is an ambitious and achievable sector-by-sector approach for Canada to reach its new climate target of cutting emissions by 40 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, and to put us on track toward our goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Building on the actions of millions of Canadians, Indigenous Peoples, businesses, provinces, territories, and municipalities, the Government of Canada is continuing to take action to fight climate change, create jobs, and ensure that Canadians are global leaders in the transition to clean industries and technologies. Continue reading

Pre-Election Spending Spree Makes Doug Ford “The $6 BILLION MAN”

“It is going to take more than billions of dollars in cynical pre-election announcements for voters to forget the cuts Doug Ford’s Conservatives made.” – Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca

A News Release from Ontario’s Liberal Government

Posted March 30th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

In 2019, the Doug Ford Conservatives pledged to “end March madness spending”

QUEEN’S PARK – Doug Ford’s Conservatives have made well over $5.6 billion in pre-election expenses in the month of March alone according to a list compiled from government news releases by the Ontario Liberals (https://ontarioliberal.ca/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/March-Madness-Backgrounder-2.pdf) .

For Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his Conservatives, this spring’s election race is already on as many of the programs they cut or ignored over the past four years are now getting buried in pre-election funding.

“Everyone knows the real Doug Ford is a cutter, not an investor. It is going to take more than billions of dollars in cynical pre-election announcements for voters to forget the cuts Doug Ford’s Conservatives made during the full four years of their government,” Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said. Continue reading

Niagara Region’s Current Councillors, Staff Have Worked to Restore Public Confidence in Regional Government – Jim Bradley

Some Stand-Out Words from Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley’s 2022 State of the Region Address, with a Foreword by Doug Draper

A Foreword by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper

Posted March 29th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

In early December, 2018, former St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley reads oath of office before beginning his new role as Chair of Niagara Regional Council. Many members of the public were breathing a sigh of relief after four years of Al Caslin and his enablers at the helm.

After reading through the entirety of Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley’s 2022 State of the Region address this March 29th, there was one section in it unlike any I have ever read in a State of the Region address before – and in my more than 40 years as a journalist in Niagara, I have read quite a few of these addresses.

State of the Region addresses, delivered before an audience made up of largely business representatives from across Niagara and, regardless of who delivers them– are typically a fairly dry, nuts-and-bolts presentations of the Regional government’s “accomplishments” over the past year, with some mention of work that is still in progress.

I can never recall one of these addresses speaking to disturbing conduct that has occurred in the ranks of regional council or staff in the past. These speeches usually leave negative stuff like that locked away in the attic. Continue reading

Niagara Regional Chair Uses Annual Address to Highlight Steps Made to Meet Major Challenges

Bradley’s 2022 State of the Region address focuses on teamwork, respect and results

“I have never been more confident that we will overcome our challenges together. … Niagara is a community that has demonstrated, time and time again, that when we work together there is nothing we cannot accomplish.”                              – Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley

News from Niagara’s Regional Government

Posted March 29th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – In his State of the Region address on March 29 (2022), (Niagara) Regional Chair (Jim) Bradley delivered a speech focused on the themes of teamwork and respect, while also discussing numerous accomplishments that have been delivered by this term of council.

Appearing before a sold-out audience at the Balls Falls Conservation Area, and countless more online as part of the hybrid event, Chair Bradley reflected on his time in office and the strength of the team that comprises Regional Council. Continue reading

$10-A-Day Child Care For Families In Ontario (Is Finally A Reality)

(NAL Note – Ontario’s Ford Government is Last Province in  Country to Sign on to this Widely Popular, Historic Child Care Agreement with  Feds)

“With the signing of today’s (March 28th, 2022) agreement, we’re making $10‑a‑day child care a reality for families across country. Today’s announcement will save Ontario families thousands of dollars each year.                                                              – Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

A News Release from the Office of the Prime Minister of Canada

Posted March 28th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and the Premier of Ontario, Doug Ford, today (March 28th) announced an agreement that will deliver affordable, inclusive, and high-quality child care for families in Ontario.

This Canada-Ontario early learning and child care agreement is a five-year deal to reduce child care fees in the short term, deliver $10-a-day child care for Ontario families, and create 86,000 new licensed early learning and child care spaces in the province. Continue reading

A Disturbing Cyber Attack Only Strengthens Resolve of Waverly Woods Supporters

A Message to all Friends and Supporters of Waverly Woods from Marcie Jacklin, President of Community Voices of Fort Erie in Niagrar, Ontario

Posted March 28th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

Thank you Fort Erie and Saving Waverly Woods

Dear friends

Niagara, Ontario – On Thursday night we experienced a targeted attack on our zoom Information night meeting.

The attack consisted of hate messages and pornography. I want to take the time to thank the strong, caring people of Fort Erie. Your reaction has been amazing.

We have received emails, Facebook messages, and phone calls supporting us. Signatures to our petition are increasing by the minute.

Thank you for being strong, everyone. Thank you for rising up and standing up for your community. Continue reading

Biden Delivers Powerful Speech in Poland for Democracy over Tyranny Everywhere

“For God’s sake, This Man (Putin) Cannot Remain In Power” – U.S. President Joe Biden

“Russians Are Not Our Enemy.”

We Will Have A Different Future, A Brighter Future, Rooted In Democracy And Principles, Hope And Light, Of Decency And Dignity, Of Freedom, And Possibilities,”

A Brief Commentary by Doug Draper, followed by Biden’s full speech in Warsaw, Poland

Posted March 26th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

U.S. President Joe Biden gives a pickup and hug to a young girl from Ukraine in a refugee camp near Warsaw, Poland where he later talks about the spirit and courage of those he met in the camp

Joe Biden’s powerful speech Warsaw, Poland was not over for a couple of minutes before cable media outlets in his own country said – “Did you listen to that? He’s calling for regime change!”

They kept saying it over and over again as if to accuse Biden of wanting a hit squad from his country and/or others in the NATO coalition to go in and take the monster in the Kremlin out.

But if you listen to Biden’s entire speech and place that part of it in context, there is a segment where the U.S. president makes it clear he is trying to get through to the Russian people – people he also makes clear he has no beef with – and hopes that they will take him out of power, one way or another.

To that I say shouldn’t anyone of sound mind hope the same! Continue reading

Stand Up for Ukraine – European Commission And Canada Team Up With Global Citizen To Support Refugees

“Today, our message to the Ukrainian people is this: we are standing with you. Whether you need food, water, shelter, or medical aid – we are rallying the world to continue to have your backs.”                                                                                   – Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

A  News Release from the Government of Canada

Posted March 26th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

(This March 26th),  the European Commission and the Government of Canada announced the launch of a global campaign to raise funding in support of people fleeing the invasion of Ukraine, in partnership with international advocacy organization Global Citizen.

The President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on the international community on behalf of his citizens who have been displaced by the war, saying: “On 9 April, the biggest online event ‘Social Media Rally’ will support people who were forced to flee Ukraine. I’m inviting everybody: musicians, actors, athletes, businessmen, politicians, everybody. Everyone who wants to join this movement and ‘Stand Up for Ukraine’.” Continue reading

Remembering Aretha Franklin on the 80th Birthday of One of the Greatest Voices Ever Recorded

By Doug Draper, a life-long Aretha fan

Posted March 25th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

Aretha Franklin in the mid-1960s – young, gifted and already wowing millions of us around the world.

It was a warm evening in late June, 1994 when my wife Mary and I walked through the gates of Artpark in Lewiston, New York. And we knew, before we took our seats that we were in for something every special.

The performer that evening was Aretha Franklin, who had already cemented her legacy as “The Queen of Soul” and the greatest female singers of her generation.

We sat there in awe as her voice seemed to ring out over the audience and onward to the Niagara River. It would not have surprised me if you could still hear her at Queenston Heights on the other side.

What got me too was how effortlessly, even in the most raucous of numbers like “Think” or “Respect” every note rang out. “Her voice was all-powerful and all-consuming,” read a review in The Buffalo News the following day.” Continue reading

Our World Loses a Much-Needed Voice for Democracy

Madeleine Albright Recently Left Us a Must-Read Book – Fascism, A Warning

“The real question is: who has the responsibility to uphold human rights? The answer to that is: everyone.” – Madeleine Albright, from her 2018 best-selling book, Fascism, A Warning

A Statement from Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, with a Brief Foreword by Doug Draper at Niagara At Large

A Foreword by Doug Draper

Posted March 24rth, 2022 on Niagara At Large

“Fascism draws energy from men and women who are upset because of a last war, a log job, a memory of humiliation, or a sense that their country is in steep decline,” wrote the former and now-late U.S. Secretary of State and foreign affairs scholar Madeleine Albright in her 2018 best-selling book Fascism, A Warning. “The more painful the grounds for resentment, the easier it is for a Fascist Leader to gain followers by dangling the proposect of renewal or by vowing to take back what has been stolen.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If what Albright, who died of cancer this March 23rd at age 84, describes in those opening lines from this important and timely book sound familiar, think of Trump and his millions of followers across the border in the United States or, more recently, the so-called “Freedom Convoy” organizers and their enablers, who wreaked so much havoc in Ottawa and at Canada-U.S. border crossings.

Albright know of what she speaks. As a very young girl, born in Eastern Europe, she ultimately made her way to the United States with her parents, in the shadow of two of the most notorious Fascists of the last century, Hitler and Stalin. (Two 20th Century prototypes of Putin.)

Margaret Atwood, one of Canada’s and the world’s greatest contemporary writers and author of a book that rivals George Orwell’s 1984, the dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale, said in an interview a few years back that if you only have time to read one book on the subject of Fascism, read Albright’s. Continue reading

Bob Gale Can Take My $240 and Shove It!

A Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper Posted March 23rd, 2022 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Falls regional councillor Bob Gale – a current Doug Ford Conservative candidate in the Niagara Falls Riding – wants to see us get back  money/ And why not – especially during an election year like this, where we have a provincial vote this spring and a municipal election in the fall..

What an ingrate I am.

Here is Bob Gale, a Niagara regional councillor from Niagara Falls and long-time retailer in gas, wanting to give me and every other property tax payer across Niagara who rakes in less than $160,000 a year a $240 cheque out of the Regional Government’s reserve fund.

What a magnanimous gesture on Bob Gale’s part.

And I don’t want to take it!

Of course, I am sure that Gale’s generous proposal has nothing to do with the fact that he is also running in the Niagara Falls Riding (covering all of Niagara Falls and most of Fort Erie and Niagara-on-the-Lake) as a Doug Ford Conservative candidate in this spring’s provincial election, Continue reading

A Target of Greedy Developers – Niagara’s Waverly Woods Receives CBC Attention as a “Priceless” Place of Green

Why Aren’t Governments at All Levels Doing More to Save this Precious Place in Fort Erie, Ontario? Could it Be that They Don’t Really Care?

A Brief News Commentary by Doug Draper

Posted March 23rd, 2022 on Niagara At Large

“It’s disturbing actually … there are some things that are priceless,” Marcie Jacklin, a Fort Erie resident, national award-winning naturalist and head of an ever-growing citizens group called Community Voices of Fort Erie was quoted saying in a CBC story this March 23rd story.

Inside the canopy of Waverly Woods, a well-worn path winds through. How long will it last?

Unfortunately, what most other polical representatives at the local, regional and higher government levels had to say about the possible loss of this great treature – Waverly Woods – to a 10-storey condo building was weak and feckless. Continue reading

Niagara Region Public Health Strongly Recommends Continued Mask-Wearing

“In recent days, that decline has ended and hospitalizations have increased again. More generally, COVID-19 continues to circulate widely and there is still substantial risk.” – Public Health, Niagara, Ontario

A Message from Niagara Region’s Public Health Department

Posted March 22nd, 2022 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – Thanks largely to our community’s hard work around limiting social interactions and getting vaccinated, we’ve seen COVID-19 hospitalizations decline in our community, allowing the reopening that we are now enjoying.

However, in recent days, that decline has ended and hospitalizations have increased again. More generally, COVID-19 continues to circulate widely and there is still substantial risk at this time. Even with limitations on testing, we are seeing large numbers of cases every day; the true number of infections is likely still higher than in any previous wave. Continue reading

Springtime in Niagara, Ontario Means Destroying More Trees and Green Places

As Niagara Possibly Leave the Pandemic, the Old Norm of Destroying More of Our Natural Heritage Returns

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

Posted March 21st, 2022 on Niagara At Large

Welcome to the first full day of spring in Niagara – a day when some of us celebrate a season of renewal that includes the budding of trees and the nesting of birds and other wildlife.

How silly, How naive of us.

What a  bunch of “tree huggers,” “eco freaks,” “dickie bird lovers” and (even worse in this world of upside down, alternative realities we now live in) what a bunch of “conservationists and (ever worse than that) “environmentalists.”

Forces for developers move in earlier this March and bulldoze down trees in Niagara Falls’ Thundering Waters Forest. Might as well get it started now with nesting time here.

Please God, this spring,- in the year 2022, in this Niagara region of Ontario, don’t call us conservationists or environmentalists. Continue reading

Face Coverings No Longer Required In Town Of Lincoln Facilities Starting March 21, 2022 

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

Posted March 21th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

Lincoln, Ontario  – Following the guidance of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Town of Lincoln will no longer require visitors to wear face coverings when visiting Town of Lincoln facilities, effective Monday, March 21, 2022.


Here are some of the key changes coming into effect on March 21, as outlined in Statement from Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health: Continue reading

Fort Erie Updates Mask Mandates At Town Facilities

Town is Planning to Keep Most Health Requirements in Place Until  March 31st

A News Release from the Town of Fort Erie in Niagara, Ontario

Posted March 21th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

FORT ERIE, Ontario – The Province has announced that it is lifting the mask requirement in most settings as of March 21, 2022.

To enhance the safety of our staff, the Town of Fort Erie is extending its current safe work standards and policies for Town staff and in most municipal facilities (such as Town administration offices and the Fort Erie Historical Museum), including wearing masks, until March 31, 2022.

The Emergency Operation Committee (EOC) will be meeting again on March 24th to review information and data that becomes available to determine any next  steps. Continue reading

Hey Putin, Ban Us All. Who In Hell Would Want to Go to Russia Now?

By the Way, When is Trudeau Going to Kick Putin’s Ambassador to Canada out of Our Country?

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

Posted March 17th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

Putin tells our elected leaders – Stay out of Russia! As if anyone would want to go.

I guess the federal MP in Niagara Centre – the riding in Niagara, Ontario where I live – won’t be going to Russia any time soon.

Not that Vance Badawey,  the person of decency and sound mind that I think he is, would be planning a vacation to Russia anyway – not under circumstances where the mad leader of that country continues murdering and making life hell on earth for more than 40 million people in neighbouring Ukraine.

In the wake of a stirring address Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, delivered to members of Canada’s House of Commons and Senate in Ottawa this past March 15th, Niagara’s four MPs – Liberals Badawey and St. Catharines MP Chris Bittle, and Conservatives Tony Baldinelli (Niagara Falls and Dean Allison (Niagara West) – and all other members of Canada’s House of Commons have been banned by Putin and his fellow war criminals from setting foot on Russian soil. Continue reading

THE MUSH HOLE Uncovers The Trauma Of Canada’s Residential Schools – This Tuesday, March 22nd in St. Catharines

“Something Dark And Hidden Is Being Brought Into View, Impossible To Ignore.” – Karen Fricker, The Toronto Star

A News Release from the FristOntario Performing Arts Centre in downtown St. Catharines/Niagara

Posted March 17th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

Created from Survivor testimonials, The Mush Hole)  is a story about hope and finding light in dark places. This theatrical dance performance, produced by Santee Smith and Kaha:wi Dance Theatre, tells the true stories of the brutal legacy of residential schools in Canada.

The Mush Hole hits particularly close to home as it shares the shameful history of abuse that took place at Canada’s first residential school –  the former Mohawk Institute – located in Brantford and just down the highway from Niagara. Continue reading

A Happy St. Patrick’s Day to All – Even if You are Just Irish for a Day

A Brief Message from Doug Draper at Niagara At Large

Posted March 17th, 2022

For many years now, my wife and I have crossed the border to Buffalo to enjoy its great St. Patrick’s Day Parade (back on track and scheduled for this coming Sunday, March 20th at 2 p.m.), even though my Italian-born wife and I hardly share enough Irish blood between us to wet the bottom of a thimble.

That doesn’t stop us from pinning on these great big “Irish for a Day” button and celebrating the contribution so many Irish immigrants have made to life in Canada and the United States. Continue reading

Ontario Liberals Promise to Bring Back Incentive for Purchasing and Leasing Electric Vehicles

Incentive On Electric Vehicles And Charging Stations To Save Ontario Families Thousands While Fighting Climate Change

A News Release from the Liberal Party of Ontario

Posted March 16th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

TORONTO – An Ontario Liberal government will undo the cut Doug Ford made to Ontario’s incentive programs for electric vehicles by providing families up to $8,000 on the purchase or lease of eligible zero emissions vehicles and $1,500 on charging equipment, Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said this March 16th..

“Electric vehicles are the future it’s long past time the provincial government helped Ontarians make the move to protect themselves from the rising cost of gasoline. An Ontario Liberal government would ensure Ontario is again a leader in the fight against the climate crisis,” Del Duca said.

“Doug Ford’s Conservatives hit drivers twice, not only did Ford break his promise to cut the gas tax by 10 cents, but they also made it harder for Ontario drivers to choose the long-term cheaper and cleaner option of electric vehicles over their gas-guzzling alternatives,” Del Duca added. Continue reading