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There is no “Code of Conduct’ cure for this Niagara regional council

 ‘The Horror. The Horror’

A Brief News Commentary by Doug Draper

Posted May 19th, 2017 on Niagara At Large

Something’s going on here, and you don’t know what it is, do you Mr. Jones?” – a lyric from the Bob Dylan song,                        Ballad of a Thin Man

Niagara, Ontario – Siting there, watching the regional council dong whatever they were doing during this past May 18th, meeting of council was like taking another trip to ‘Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness,’ and listening to that character whispering in your ear at the end; “the horror, the horror.’

The irony of this photo of the reginal council, taken a couple of years ago with council meeting holding up signs saying; “Bulliying – Just Stop it!”, speaks for itself

There was a point earlier on in the meeting, that droned on for more than four hours with code of conduct stuff, when Sandra Eaton, the mayor for the Town of Lincoln and one of the more decent people sitting on the council, got up with what looked like a bewildered, searching look on her face and asked the Region’s recently re-assigned integrity commissioner, John Mascarin, what might be done and what he might be able to do about whatever is going on there. Continue reading

Giving Communities a Stronger Voice in Development – News from the Ontario Government

Ontario to Overhaul Land Use Planning Appeals System

A News Release from the Ontario Government

Posted May 8, 2017 on Niagara At Large

Ontario is taking action to overhaul the province’s land use planning appeals system to give communities a stronger voice and ensure people have access to faster, fairer and more affordable hearings.

The old Port Mansion in an Ontario designiated “heritage district” in the St. Catharines/Niagara community of Port Dalhousie became a proposed site for a high-rise condo, theatre and other development a decade ago, and finally went before the Ontario Municipal Board where local heritage activists opposed the condo plan

In the coming weeks, legislation will be introduced to create the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, which would, if passed, replace the Ontario Municipal Board. The new tribunal would be mandated to give greater weight to the decisions of local communities, while ensuring that development and growth occurs in a way that is good for Ontario and its future.

This would be achieved by eliminating lengthy and costly “de novo” hearings for the majority of planning appeals. The term “de novo” has been used to describe how the Ontario Municipal Board deals with appeals of municipal land use planning decisions, by considering the same issue that was before the municipality as though no previous decision had been made. Continue reading

U.S. Congress moves to roll back rules meant to prevent invasive species from plaguing Great Lakes 

A News Statement from the U.S.-based citizens group,  Alliance for the Great Lakes

Posted May 18th, 2017 on Niagara At Large

Canada and America’s shaired Great Lakes from outer space. The world’s larges source of fresh water is here. Let’s all do our part to protect and preserve it!

A Brief Foreword Note from NAL publisher Doug Draper – The new Trump administration in the United States is moving to virtually gut out of existence rules and programs that have been in place for decades for working in tandem with Canadian efforts to protect and preserve Great Lakes waters and environments for some 40 million U.S. and Canadians citizens who need them for the healthy survival of our communities.

Citizens on both sides of the Canada- U.S. border should press our federal, provincial and state representatives to do everything possible to stop Trump from taking actions that jeopardize the security of the entire Great Lakes region.

Now here is the statement from the good citizens working for the Alliance for the Great Lakes –

Zebra mussels, an invasive species, transported to the Great Lakes in the ballast of ocean-going ships, have done untolled damage to municipal and private sector water lines and other infrastructure, and to other domestic species in the lakes. There are ways of controlling their numbers. Will Trump gut them? He’s trying.

This May 18th, the U.S. Senate’s Commerce Committee voted to move the U.S. Coast Guard Authorization Act out of committee and to a full vote in the Senate.

The bill includes a provision, the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA), that would eliminate U.S. EPA’s authority over ballast water pollution and roll back rules that protect the Great Lakes from invasive species. In response, the Alliance for the Great Lakes issued the following statement.

“Invasive species, like zebra mussels and round gobies, have wreaked havoc on the Great Lakes. Brought in via ballast water tanks on ocean-going ships, invasive species out-compete native species and destroy habitat. They also cost people in Great Lakes communities hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

Unfortunately, the shipping industry has convinced some Senators to try to roll back the rules that protect the lakes from these harmful critters.

Despite knowing of the threat posed by invasive species since the early 1980s, it has taken two acts of Congress, a lawsuit, and states passing their own rules to get federal requirements for actual ballast water treatment systems onboard ships in place in 2008.

But even after the U.S. EPA and Coast Guard started that process, excessively long timelines for phasing in the regulations mean most ships on the Great Lakes still do not have ballast water treatment installed.     Why has it taken so long for Congress and federal agencies to act?

Shippers have asked  for special treatment and exemptions from U.S. law over and over. And it is happening again.   New invasions are all too real. In 2016 a new species of zooplankton was found in Lake Erie.

Given that this critter is from the other side of the planet, researchers say that ballast water is a likely way it entered the lakes.  Yet rather than installing treatment technology to stop these invasions as quickly as possible, shippers are staying busy convincing Senators to roll back existing rules.

Several members of the Great Lakes Congressional delegation aren’t buying it, and are working hard to fight off this bad ballast bill. But we need all of them. We urge the Senate to remove these harmful provisions from the U.S. Coast Guard Authorization Act.

We heartily applaud the efforts of Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Gary Peters (D-MI), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), all members of the Senate’s Commerce Committee who voted no on this bill because of VIDA.”  -Jennifer J. Caddick | Vice President, Communications and Engagement

For more information on and from the Alliance for the Great Lakes, click on – |  or call 312-445-9760,  mailing address –  150 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 700 | Chicago, IL 60601

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

Creating Vibrant, Complete Communities in Niagara and the Greater Golden Horsehoe – News from the Ontario Government

Updated Land Use Plans to Protect Quality of Life for Generations to Come

A News Release from the Government of Ontario

Posted May 18, 2017 on Niagara At Large

The Greater Golden Horseshoe in green

Ontario has released four updated land use plans that will help grow the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) in a way that protects the environment, while creating vibrant communities that are healthy and sustainable.

The changes to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the Greenbelt Plan, the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan and the Niagara Escarpment Plan are the latest step in the government’s reform of Ontario’s land use planning system. The plans work together to: Continue reading

Pelham One of Fastest Growing Municipalities in Niagara

A Column by Town of Pelham Mayor Dave Augustyn

Posted May 18th, 2017 on Niagara At Large

Pelham Mayor Dave Augustyn

Since Statistics Canada recently released additional information from the 2016 Census, I thought I would write here about the demographics of Pelham. And, since they also provide information for communities from the 2011, 2006, 2001 and 1996 Census, one can compare the make-up and changes of our population over a twenty-year period.

As you may know, Pelham is among the fastest growing communities in the Niagara Peninsula. Since our formation in 1970, we have grown from 9,855 to 17,110 in 2016. That’s a 74% increase!

Other large population increases include Grimsby at 80%, West Lincoln at 76%, and Lincoln also at 74%; compare this with the entire Region’s population which grew by only 33% during that period. Continue reading

Highly Respected Niagara Regional Councillor Quits NPCA Board in Wake of Board Move to Censure Him

‘The environment at the NPCA has been very difficult on myself and my family, and I have to think of my family and my health.” – Lincoln Regional Councillor and now former NPCA board member Bill Hodgson

A News Commentary by Doug Draper

Posted May 17th, 2017 on Niagara At Large

Bill Hodgson, Lincoln regional councilor, off to one of his last NPCA board meeting this spring before resigning this May 17th. File photo by Doug Draper

Well now they won’t have Bill Hodgson to kick around anymore.

For those of you who have not been following the scary clown show, the “they” I am referring to are the honchoes running the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority and Bill Hodgson is Lincoln regional councillor and now a former member of the NPCA’s board of directors.

This May 17th, before the this month’s morning meeting of the NPCA’s board got underway, Hodgson tendered his immediate resignation from the board – just two weeks after a majority on the board, including a number of other regional councillors and mayors of local municipalities in Niagara, angered citizens across the region with news that they had decided to censure him for conduct related to his months long call for a third-party, independent audit of the NPCA’s operations. Continue reading

Ontario’s Niagara Parks Celebrates Victoria Day Long Weekend – May 20th – 22nd

 An Invite to All from the Niagara Parks Commission

Posted May 17th, 2017 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Falls, Ontario – Established during the reign of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, Niagara Parks and Queen Victoria Park, are the perfect venues to enjoy the fresh blossoms and glorious sunshine this Victoria Day long weekend.

Join us as we celebrate the occasion with a fantastic lineup of activities, combining time-honored favourites, such as the Falls Fireworks display, with brand-new attractions and programming.

Victoria Weekend Fireworks over the Horseshoe Falls and Niagara River Gorge in Niagara Falls, Ontario

Falls Fireworks Display
Queen Victoria Park
Niagara Parkway, Niagara Falls, ON

Canada’s longest-running fireworks series, showcasing the illuminated beauty of Niagara Falls at night, is set to return with a bang on Friday, May 19 at 10:00 p.m.
Continue reading