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Trump’s Gutting of Environmental Rules for Wetlands and other Water Bodies Threatens All of Us – in Canada and the U.S.

Some of the Trump Juggernaut’s Most Recent Attacks on Water Protection Rules Post Risks for 36 Million Americans and Canadians Living in the Great Lakes Basin

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

Posted January 20th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Since the celebration of the first Earth Day 50 years ago this coming spring, Canadians and Americans have both had their share of weak federal, provincial and state governments when it comes to doing what is right to protect the water and air we collectively share and count on for our health and prosperity.

Yet none – I believe it is safe to say- come close to matching the current administration of U.S. President Donald Trump when it comes to the hyper level of abandon and psycho-like relish it employs as it eviscerates so many of environmental protections that generations of citizens, scientists and government agencies have worked so hard, with their counterparts in Canada and other regions of the world, to put in place.

Trump is moving to rip apart water protection rules that would protect wetlands like this one, which many citizens in Niaara and other regions of Ontario are fighting to save in Thundering Waters Forest in Niagara Falls.

According to some of the latest reports in major American media outlets, Trump and his all-too-many supporters and followers are now hard at work – outside any consultation they should be doing with knowledgeable scientists in what is left of what was a world-class Environmental Protection Agency before they began hollowing out it – rolling back policies and programs for protecting wetlands and other critical bodies of water. Continue reading

In the United States and Canada, Martin Luther King’s Dream Has Yet To Be Fully Realized

Racism Remains a Cancer to Contend with  in Both Countries

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” – from the iconic address that the late American Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King Jr. delivered during the Civil Rights Movement’s historic March on Washington in August of 1963

A Brief Commentary by  Doug Draper on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the United States

Posted January 20th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

When the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. became a leader of the American Civil Rights Movement in the 195os, many Black people in his own country were forced to endure segregated schools, washrooms and water fountains, had to sit at the back of the bus and had a difficult, if not impossible time exercising their right to vote in elections.

Today, more than 50 years after his assassination, much progress has been made in eliminating those and other racial barriers. Continue reading

Niagara’s NDP MPPs Urge Ontario Housing Minister to Offer Region’s Homelessness Services a Fair Deal

“Thousands of our residents are in shelters or emergency hotel accommodations, unable to find affordable housing. We have heard stories of people in our community forced to sleep under bridges.”

News from Niagara Centre MPP Jeff Burch, St. Catharines MPP Jennie Stevens and Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates

Niagara MPPs Jeff Burch, Wayne Gates and Jennie Stevens

Posted January 20th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

QUEEN’S PARK  NDP Official Opposition MPPs Jeff Burch (Niagara Centre), Jennie Stevens (St. Catharines), and Wayne Gates (Niagara Falls) have issued an open letter to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

The letter, posted below, highlights the devastating impact of the unfair funding formula under the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative (CHPI) that fails to provide the resources needed for Niagara.

The MPPs are calling for a new funding model that matches local demand for homelessness services and ensures equitable allocation.

Open Letter to  Steve Clark, Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing –

Dear Minister Clark:  

We are sending you this letter on behalf of the people of Niagara. Niagara is facing a critical issue of housing and homelessness. Continue reading

Calling on You to Help Shape a Strategy to Improve Business in Thorold’s Downtown

“All residents and visitors are invited to shape the Thorold Business Improvement Area’s vision because our Downtown is for everyone.”                                                                                               – Serge Carpino, Thorold Business Imrovement Area (BIA) Chair

News from Thorold’s Business Improvement Area

Posted January 20th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Thorold’s downtown, featured in national heritage magazines and winner of a prestigious Prince of Wales heritage prize.

Thorold, Ontario – People with ideas to improve business in Downtown Thorold can have a part in shaping the community by participating in a 2020 survey to help form a flourishing future in downtown Thorold. 

The public survey sponsored by the Thorold Business Improvement Area along with other community stakeholders including Thorold Tourism and the Thorold Public Library will be open to all people in an online format.  Continue reading

Whether or Not He ‘Deserved’ to Lose his Seat as NPCA’s Chair, David Bylsma Had To Go

Niagara’s Conservation Authority Needs Leadership that Takes the Science of Climate Change Seriously

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

Posted January 17th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

When West Lincoln Mayor Dave Bylsma made what turned out to be hisill-fated  pitch to fellow members of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority’s board of directors this January 15th to serve for a second one-year term as the board’s Chair, he finished by motioning an arm in the direction of the entrance to the NPCA’s Ball’s Falls Conservation Centre.

Some of the protesters who greeted NPCA board members, including David Bylsma, outside the Conservation Authority’s Annual General Meeting this January 15th.

It was there, at the Conservation Centre’s entrance way, where a number of citizens staged a protest earlier on, urging him to step down.

Welland resident Robert Milenkoff joined in call for David Bylsma’s resignation from NPCA board’s Chair post. Photo by Doug Draper

“I have held every member of this board and every staff member in the highest respect,” said Bylsma as he was about to make his arm gesture.

“I do not deserve that,” he said, his voice slightly quivering.  “I have been a good Chair.”

Talk that he should not be Chair, Byslma may or may not know, was always there, looming in the background, going back a full year ago, when a majority of fellow board embers first appointed him to that position. 

It lingered with people who, rightly or wrongly, also wanted to give him a chance … give him the benefit of the doubt, , in spite of whatever off the rail views he may hold on the issue of climate change.

But the calls caught fire during the first week of this New Year when  For Our Kids  Niagara – a recently organized group made up mostly of young parents concerned about their children’s future – circulated an open letter highlighting one of Bylsma’s other roles as president of the Christian Heritage Party, a fringe political organization that characterizes climate change as a “phony crisis” and accuses  United Nations science bodies and individuals  like former U.S. vice-president Al Gore, who won a Nobel Prize for his part in raising public awareness about climate change, of engaging in dangerous propaganda. Continue reading

Ford Government Moving to “Exempt Projects” from Environmental Assessment Review

Ontario Environment Minister Jeff Yurek (left) with Premier Doug Ford at his back. File photo

“Ontario Helping to Build Healthier, Safer Communities Faster” – Claims Doug Ford Tories

“Reducing delays and duplication through proposed changes to Class Environmental Assessments”

News from the Ford Government’s Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks

Posted January 16th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

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

During a conference with mainstream media outlets in Niagara this January 16th, Ford’s Environment Minister Jeff Yurek announced that the government is now moving to make changes to Ontario’s Environmental Assessment process – to environmental protection legislation  that took citizen groups have past governments many years to enact for the betterment of our air, waters and lands – in order to “exempt  projects” from a thorough review.

The full range of projects the government has in mind, and how  and who would do the exempting is not entirely clear, except to stress, as Ford’s Environment Minister did in his announcement, that “this is an example of how our government is looking at smarter, more modern ways of doing business to remove unnecessary costs and delays for important public services and infrastructure projects.” Continue reading

Niagara’s Conservation Authority begins the New Year with a New CAO, a New Chair and a New Vice-Chair

NPCA’s Board of Directors Holds Its 2020 Annual General Meeting at Balls Fall’s Conservation Centre

January 15th Meeting is First for Chandra Sharma as NPCA’s new CAO, and first for Board Members Brenda Johnson of Hamilton and Bruce Mackenzie of Grimsby in their new roles as Chair and Vice-Chair, Respectively

A News Release from the Niagara PeninsulaConservation Authority 

Posted Jauary 15th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) held its Annual General Meeting of 2020 at its Ball’s Falls Centre for Conservation.

Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority’s new CAO Chandra Sharma, left), and the new Chair of the NPCA’s board of directors, at the table during the Conservaton Authority’s 2020 Annual General Meeting this January 15th. An NPCA photo

The Business portion of the meeting was called to order by CAO, Chandra Sharma, who conducted the election of officers for 2020. Ward 11 Councillor for the City of Hamilton, Brenda Johnson, was elected as Chair, and Board Member for Grimsby, Mr. Bruce Mackenzie was elected as Vice-Chair. Continue reading