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Niagara Region’s Council Squandered Chance to Affirm Stand Against Racism

It Appears that for  Many Regional Councillors, “Ignorance” is Bliss, Says Niagara-wide citizens watchdog group

A News Commentary from a Better Niagara, a region-wide citizens watchdog group on government affairs

Posted August 4th, 2020 on Niagara At Large (originally posted July 24th on A Better Niagara’s Facebook page

In June, West Lincoln Mayor Dave Bylsma managed to score a hat-trick of bigoted comments during a radio interview that offended members of Niagara’s black, indigenous and LGBTQ communities, not to mention the majority of Niagara’s citizens who believe in an inclusive, welcoming Region.

Niagara’s Regional Council could have used the opportunity at its July 23rd  meeting to affirm that racism has no place in our community. They could have assured the public that they will work proactively to ensure that all community members feel safe, respected and welcome. Instead, they squandered the opportunity. Continue reading

On this Emancipation Day in Canada, Some Inspiring Words from the Late Civil Rights Giant John Lewis

“Though I am gone, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe.”                           – the late American civil rights icon and U.S Congressman John Lewis, in a message he wrote to all of us, shortly before his death  on July 17th, 2020

John Lewis crosses the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama for the last time on July 26th, 2020, shortly after his death from cancer at age 80. 

A Brief One from Doug Draper, Niagara At Large Posted August 1st, 2020

This August 1st is Emancipation Day in Canada, in commemoration of 186 years since a law was signed on August 1st, 1834, abolishing slavery across Canada and all other nations then part of the British Empire.

John Lewis, during a return to the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma Alabama, where in 1965 he was almost beaten to death by police during a march for voting rights.

As a little way of honouring Emancipation Day and all that it stands for here, I want to put on a video of the late, great civil rights activist John Lewis delivering a commencement address at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia in 2014. In place of delivering a tribute of her own (she delivered a moving eulogy later at John Lewis’s funeral), U.S. Congresswoman and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi chose to play an audio version of this address this July 28th, while John Lewis body lay in state in the U.S. Capital building rotunda. Continue reading

Ontario’s Ford Government and Anglers All Ginned Up for Shooting War On Great Lakes Cormorants

Province Setting Stage for “Fall Harvest” Aimed At Blowing Away Fish-Eating Birds

Double-Crested Cormorants being Scapegoated again for Depleting Fish Populations in Great Lakes


A  Foreword by Doug Draper at Niagara At Large followed by a New Release from Ontario’s Ford Government

Posted July 31st, 2020 on Niagara At Large

A Foreword by Doug Draper –

Well, here we go again.

Evidence shows there are a good deal more fish in the Great Lakes dying from algae pollution traced to human activities than from fish-eating birds. Yet the Ford government is not laying a glove on polluters. So let’s blow away fish-eating birds.

It was about 25 or so years ago while I was still working as a full-time environment reporter at The St. Catharines Standard, that I attended a meeting in a banquet room of the Beacon – a restaurant around Jordan Harbour overlooking Lake Ontario – that was packed with anglers and hunters, all ginned up to kill a bird on the Great Lakes called double-crested cormorants.

Their argument, over and over again, was that these birds are “stealing our fish,” and they were doing it to a point, in their view, that there were very few fish in the Great Lakes left for them to catch. Continue reading

Region-Wide Mandatory Face Coverings By-law NOW IN EFFECT in Niagara, Ontario

A Public Advisory from Niagara Region Public Health

Posted Friday, July 31st, 2020 on Niagara At Large

WHO: Niagara Region Public Health

WHAT: Niagara Region Mandatory Face Coverings in Enclosed Public Places By-law

WHERE: All Niagara region municipalities

WHEN: By-law now in effect (as of Friday, July 31, 2020)

WHY: Don’t forget your face covering! Wearing a face covering is now required when inside an enclosed public place and on Regional and municipal public transit in Niagara. This is in accordance with the Regional Face Coverings By-law.A non-medical mask or face covering should cover the nose, mouth, and  chin, and can be cloth or disposable. This by-law does not apply to children under the age of five and those who are unable to wear a face covering as a  result of a medical condition or disability.

For more information visit


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

It’s Back to School in Ontario – THIS SEPTEMBER. … Are you all ready for this?

Ontario Government Releases Plan for Safe Reopening of Schools in September

Province Providing Critical Investments and Resources to Keep Students and Staff Safe

A News Release from the Office of Ontario Premier Doug Ford

Posted July 30th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

TORONTO — The Ontario government is announcing the safe reopening of schools for in-class instruction beginning this September.

The government has unveiled a plan that prioritizes the health and safety of students and staff, and provides school boards with unprecedented resources and flexibility, while accommodating regional differences in trends of key public health indicators. This plan was developed in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the COVID-19 Command Table and paediatric experts.

Details on the safe restart of the 2020-2021 school year were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, and Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health. Continue reading

Buffalo Area Congressman Brian Higgins Remembers John Lewis

Higgins Reflects on the late Congressman and Civil Rights Icon as a Man of Courage, Goodness & Grace

A Few Words of Tribute from Buffalo, New York area Congressman Brian Higgins

Posted July 30th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

As the late Honorable John Robert Lewis, who served in the House of Representatives for 33 years, made a final departure from Washington, D.C. on July 29, 2020, his colleagues on the House Ways and Means Committee paid tribute to the civil rights legend.

John Lewis, during a return to the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma Alabama, where in 1965 he was almost beaten to death by police during a march for voting rights.

On the House floor Congressman Brian Higgins remarked on John’s childhood visits to the City of Buffalo and hailed his presence of mind and courage to act on inspiration. Continue reading

Ontario Government Invests in Supportive Housing for Niagara Region’s Most Vulnerable

New Oakdale Commons Development in St. Catharines will support those at risk of being homeless

News from the Government of Ontario

Posted July 30th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark

St. Catharines, Ontario ― The Ontario government is investing over $2.2 million in supportive housing to give those who are most at risk of homelessness in Niagara Region the housing and support services they deserve.

The new 24-unit Oakdale Commons development in St. Catharines will include 15 supportive housing units, four of which will be fully accessible.

The new building will include a community room, kitchen, public washroom and laundry facilities for residents, as well as a large community garden and access to a city-operated playground beside the site. A high contrast colour palette will also be used throughout the building to assist people with visual impairments.

“Communities across the province are facing housing challenges, which have been heightened by COVID-19. Our government is proud to be working to ensure that every Ontarian has a place to call home,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Continue reading

Bill That Would Address Harmful Algal Blooms in our Great Lakes Passed by U.S. Congress

Buffalo, New York area Congressman Brian Higgins Announces Approval of Water Resources Development Act

Bill Includes Higgins’ Text Addressing Algal Blooms

A News Release from the Buffalo, New York Office of U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins

Posted July 29th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Toxic Aglal blooms in the Great Lakes is a threat to general water quality and a billion-dollar fishery on both sides of the border.

Buffalo, New York – Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced the House of Representatives approved the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), a bill providing authority for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to carry out water projects, studies, and Civil Works missions.

Higgins said; “Protecting our fresh water and maintaining waterways is important to our environment, economy, safety and future. The historic decline and recent rise of the Buffalo River provides lessons in protecting and maintaining valuable water resources.”

“Harmful algal blooms pose a threat to our waterways and must be addressed proactively. The professionals at the Army Corps of Engineers, particularly in the Buffalo District, are skilled stewards of our water.” Continue reading

Ontario Government Launches Independent Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission

Findings Will Help Protect Residents and Staff from Future Outbreaks

News from the Office of Ontario Premier Doug Ford

Posted July 29th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

TORONTO — The Ontario government launched an independent commission into COVID-19 and long-term care.

Three commissioners will investigate how COVID-19 spread within long-term care homes, how residents, staff, and families were impacted, and the adequacy of measures taken by the province and other parties to prevent, isolate and contain the virus.

The commission will also provide the government with guidance on how to better protect long-term care home residents and staff from any future outbreaks. Continue reading

City of St. Catharines Undertaking Broad Consultation On Relocation of Contentious Statue

Talks Will Focus on Relocating 134-year-old Pte. Alexander Watson Statue from City Hall Lawns

A News Release from City of St. Catharines

Posted July 29th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

What to do now with  the 134-year-old statue of Private Alexander Watson, involved in brutal military campaigns against Indigenous peoples in western Canada, currently located on thegrounds of St. Catharines City Hall.

St. Catharines, Ontario — The City will take a broad, consultative approach, in determining the details of relocation for a monument that has stood in front of City Hall for over 134 years.

On Monday evening July 27th, 2020)  City Council voted unanimously to consult several organizations in the development of a relocation plan for the statue of Pte. Alexander Watson that currently stands in front of City Hall.

As a militia volunteer Watson died in 1885 from wounds sustained during the Battle of Batoche. He was one of 8,000 soldiers sent by the Canadian government to stop the North-West Resistance headed by Metis leader Louis Riel.

Debate has been ongoing in the City related to the legacy of the statue, both related to its possible importance as a historical landmark, but also as it relates to a centuries-long history of racism and persecution in Canada.

Individuals have recently petitioned for its removal citing its relation to these historic wrongs. Continue reading

A Niagara, Ontario Man’s First-Person Account of a Hellish Encounter with Police

The Weekend ‘Security Forces’ Went Rogue in the Streets of then-Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Canada

By John Pruyn, with a Brief Foreword by Niagara At Large publisher Doug Draper

Posted July 8th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

A Foreword by Doug Draper

A recent photo of John Pruyn and his wife, Susan, now living in the Niagara, Ontario municipality of Pelham

Imagine sitting on the lawns of a legislative building – a place government leaders inside had assured members of the public was a “safe zone” where people could gather without being set upon by police decked out in riot gear.

Then, while you are sitting there, under the shade of a tree, listening to a series of speakers talking about health care and environmental issues, and better wages and jobs for working people, an army of heavily armed police, looking like Darth Vaders, descend upon you and others on those lawns.

In the case of one man sitting on the lawn – a 57-year-old amputee – police grab him, pull off his prosthetic leg, and proceed to drag him with his hands tied behind his back – all while his daughter pleads with them to let him go.

Separated from members of his family and denied requests to make a phone call, the man is imprisoned for a weekend in a warehouse full of make-shift cages, before finally being let go with no charges filed against him, and no explanation.

This incident did not happen in North Korea or Turkey or Saudi Arabia or Putin’s Russia, or in Trump’s America, for that matter.

It happened just 10 years ago, right here in our Canada – in Toronto, Ontario, during a week in late June, 2010 when world leaders gathered for a G20 Summit there. Continue reading

Buffalo, New York Area Congressman Calls for ‘Clear Guidance for Patient Caregivers to Cross Canada-U.S. Border

U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins Urges U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to Create Guidance on Caregiver Crossings with US-Canada Border Travel Restrictions

Patient Caregivers Met with Uncertainty at Northern Border

A News Release from the Buffalo, New York office of U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins

Posted July 28th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Buffalo, New York area Congressman Brian Higgins has been advocating for plans to one day ease restrictions for Americans and Canadians to cross border

Buffalo, New York – Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) is calling for the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to establish clear guidance for patient caregivers when crossing the U.S.-Canada border to give better certainty to families and the medical institutions providing care.

In a letter to the CBP’s Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan, Higgins writes, “At a time when families are contemplating very difficult decisions about the health of their loved ones, whether a caregiver can legitimately cross the border should not be a concern,” continuing on to say “Families who are trying to manage care of a devastating disease should have the support network available to provide the comfort and create the healthy environment needed to recover.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, travel across the border has been restricted with limited exceptions for travel deemed essential, including that for travel that is medically necessary. Continue reading

Canadians Must Be Open To Meaningful Reforms To Defend Black lives

Change must come at every level – from checking our own personal actions and biases to rebuilding institutions that are failing to keep racialized communities safe.

By Mike Schreiner, Leader of the Ontario Green Party

Posted July 28th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Ontario Green Party Leader Mike Schriener

The death of George Floyd in the United States has sparked a global movement to end police brutality against racialized communities.

The deaths of D’Andre Campbell, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, Chantel Moore, Ejaz Choudry and others during encounters with the police tell us that this conversation is urgent in Canada as well. 

The roots of colonization and oppression run deep in our country and cannot be denied. Some of our institutions were founded on racist ideas – built to serve white settler communities, while dominating Indigenous people.

For years, racialized communities have demanded an end to the systemic racism that continues to harm them, from aggressive acts of violence to structural barriers and subtle forms of discrimination. 

We have not done enough to deliver justice and meaningful change. Continue reading

City of St. Catharines Beaches Now Restricted to Niagara Residents Only

Increased parking fines on the way for beach areas

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

Posted July 28th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario — After another weekend of problematic behaviour at its beaches the City will move to restrict access to Niagara residents only, effective immediately.

Lakeside Park Beach in the Port Dalhousie area off Lake Ontario in St. Catharines. file photo by Doug Draper

The temporary restrictions in response to the COVID-19 state of emergency, will come into effect today, July 28. The move coincides with the introduction of stepped up seasonal fines for illegal parking in the areas surrounding beaches and Morningstar Mill. Fines will increase from $30 to $100. Continue reading

NPCA Confirms Chandra Sharma As Permanent Chief CAO & Secretary Treasurer

First six months have marked significant organizational change

Chandra Sharma, CAO, Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority

“I am honoured to serve the communities of Niagara, Haldimand, and Hamilton, leading an organization that works to protect our precious natural resources. The role of conservation authorities has never been as important as it is now to conserve our watersheds, provide the much needed green infrastructure to our communities, engage our future generations, and support our municipal partners to address the challenges of growth and climate change.”                                          – Chandra Sharma, now ‘permanent’ CAO, Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority

News from the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority

Posted July 28th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) is pleased to announce that the Board of Directors has offered current CAO-Secretary Treasurer, Ms. Chandra Sharma, a permanent tenure with the organization.

This critical decision was based on feedback from board members as well as senior staff. Continue reading

Weekend GO Train Service Resumes in Niagara Region

Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley on resumption of weekend Go Train service

“We are pleased to see the return of seasonal weekend GO Train service into Niagara as we continue to take steps to recover from the effects of COVID-19. … This announcement is a positive step in the right direction. I am confident that those coming to Niagara will take all necessary precautions to slow the spread of the virus, including adhering to the recently passed mandatory mask by-law, as they enjoy all the best that Niagara has to offer.”                                     – Jim Bradley Niagara Regional Chair

News from the Government of Ontario

Posted July 28th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Falls, Ontario — The Ontario government is resuming weekend GO train service to  the Niagara region beginning on August 1st.

New schedules with four trips to and  from Niagara Falls and St. Catharines each Saturday, Sunday and holiday will provide more service than ever before and enable convenient day or overnight  trips, either in Niagara or Toronto.

“By increasing service to the Niagara Region, GO is once again connecting people  with some of the finest parks, attractions and destinations in Ontario,” said  Minister Mulroney. “As most of the province enters Stage 3 of our reopening,  it’s a great time for people to safely and responsibly experience the region.” Continue reading

Historic Agreement Delivers up to $4 Billion to Support Ontario Municipalities and Transit

Safe Restart Agreement Represents New Funding for Many Priority Programs across Ontario

(Niagara At Large will update with news when it is determined how much of the funding will flow to municipalities in Niagara.)

News from the Office of Ontario Premier Doug Ford

Posted July 27th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Toronto — The Ontario government, in partnership with the federal government, is providing up to $4 billion in urgently needed one-time assistance to Ontario’s 444 municipalities.

This funding will help local governments maintain the critical services people rely on every day, including public transit, over the next six to eight months. Details on specific allocations will be provided in the coming weeks. This funding is part of the province’s made-in-Ontario plan for renewal, growth and economic recovery.

The announcement was made (this July 27th)  by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford

“By working together, we have united the country in the face of the immense challenges brought on by COVID-19 and secured a historic deal with the federal government to ensure a strong recovery for Ontario and for Canada,” said Premier Ford.

“I want to thank Ontario’s 444 local leaders who supported us through our negotiations with the federal government and through each stage of reopening. We will continue to be a champion for our municipal partners as they safely reopen their communities and ensure people can get back to work.” Continue reading

COVID-19 Outbreak Declared at Hotel Dieu Shaver Heathcare Site in St. Catharines

Patient visiting has been cancelled until such time that the outbreak is cleared by Niagara Public Health.

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

Posted July 27th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – At Hotel Dieu Shaver (HDS) a second healthcare worker in as many weeks has tested positive for COVID-19. The workers are self-isolating at home.

At this point, there are no cases within the hospital involving patients, but the second case involving a healthcare worker has caused Niagara Public Health to classify the situation as an outbreak.

Following Public Health direction, our Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) team have enhanced the monitoring of patients and staff. To the extent possible, communication is being made with family members of patients who have been placed in precautionary isolation. Continue reading

Sixteen Million Cases and Counting, ‘COVID-19 Has Changed Our World’

“It has brought people, communities and nations together, and driven them apart.It has shown what humans are capable of – both positively and negatively.”

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom’s opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 – 27 July 2020

Posted July 27th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Dr. Tedros Adhanom, Director-General , World Health Organization

“Good morning, good afternoon and good evening.

This Thursday marks six months since WHO declared COVID-19 a public health emergency of international concern.

This is the sixth time a global health emergency has been declared under the International Health Regulations, but it is easily the most severe.

Almost 16 million cases have now been reported to WHO, and more than 640,000 deaths.

And the pandemic continues to accelerate.

Continue reading

Anti-Racism Group Urges Removal of Statue at St. Catharines City Hall

Niagara Region Anti-Racism Association Calls For Private Alexander Watson Statue to be Removed Permanently as Symbol of White Supremacy and Militarism

A News Release from the Niagara Region Anti-Racism Association, a citizens group in Niagara, Ontario

Posted July 27th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Should the 134-year-old statue of Private Alexander Watson, involved in brutal military campaigns against Indigenous peoples in western Canada, continue to have a place on the grounds of St. Catharines City Hall

St. Catharines, Ontario  – On Monday, July 27, 2020 the Niagara Region Anti-Racism Association made the following written submission to the St. Catharines City Council, urging it to remove the Private Alexander Watson statue permanently, not just relocate it, as it is ultimately a symbol of white and Anglophone supremacy and militarism and therefore should not stand anywhere:

Dear Mayor and Councillors,

The statue of Private Alexander Watson is ultimately a symbol of identification with white and Anglophone supremacy and militarism and therefore has no place anywhere other than the dust bin of history. It should not be relocated but should be disposed of and destroyed.

Any heritage value of the statue is tainted by the living heritage of racism, and to overlook this is to overlook the systemic inequity that the North-West Rebellion’s defeat brought forward, which Private Watson died contributing to.

The defeat of the Metis and First Nations in the North-West Rebellion reverberated across Canada and was a high water mark in establishing not only white and Anglophone supremacy but specifically the systematic oppression of Canada’s Indigenous peoples that served as the model for Apartheid in South Africa and elsewhere, such as the Pass System. Continue reading

Congratulations Buffalo – You’ve Now Got the Toronto Blue Jays for Home Games

Enjoy It, For As Long As It Lasts

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

Posted July 24th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

These COVID times are strange ones, indeed.

For however long, the Toronto Blue Jays will be playing their home games here – at the very nice Coca-Cola Field in downtown Buffalo, New York

I am old enough to remember all of the lobbying in Buffalo, New York when doors opened in the late 1970s  for a home for a new Major League baseball team somewhere in this region of the continent.

As it turned out, Toronto won the bidding war and became home in 1977 to the newly minted Blue Jays, while baseball fans in Buffalo were left driving to Buffalo, Cleveland, or if they didn’t mind putting in a few more hours, Detroit or Pittsburgh for major league games. Continue reading

Brock U. President to Discuss Corporate Responsibility in Era of Black Lives Matter

You Will be able to

Follow the Discussion On-Line – Wednesday, July 29th at 11 a.m. See Details Below

An Invite from Brock University in Niagara, Ontario

Posted July 24th, 2020 on Niagara At Large


Brock UniversityPresident Gervan Fearon to speak on ‘Black Lives Matter’ and corporate responsibility

he Black Lives Matter movement has opened the world’s eyes to the systemic barriers affecting those who are Black, Indigenous and People of Colour. It has already led to some movement and dialogue around advancing change for more inclusion and equity initiatives within society.

During this time of social movement, what role should corporations play?

This question will be at the core of a discussion led by Brock University President and Vice-Chancellor Gervan Fearon on Wednesday, July 29 at 11 a.m. as part of the Business Breathers<> webinar series.

The free weekly series is facilitated by the Goodman School of Businesses’ Goodman Group and features 30 minutes of live industry and faculty expert-led discussions, followed by a 15-minute question-and-answer period. Topics focus on leadership, management and innovation, as well as the financial and social impacts of trending topics. Continue reading

Anti-Racism Group Says Niagara Region Missed Opportunity for Real Police Reforms at Special Meeting

“Programs described by (Niagara Regional Police Services Chief McCullough) for diversity tours and community relations are nice but are ultimately about public relations. Diversity and community relations are not the same as anti-racism training lead by experts from equity seeking groups.”                                      – Saleh Waziruddin, a member of the Niagara, Ontario citizen group, Niagara Region Anti-Racism Association

A Message from the Niagara Region Anti-Racism Association (NRARA)

Posted July 24th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario  – the Niagara Region Anti-Racism Association (NRARA) criticized the Niagara Region Council for missing the opportunity at its special meeting on Thursday, July 23, 2020 to pass meaningful and specific reforms of the Niagara Regional Police Service (NRPS).

Saleh Waziruddin, who spoke as a delegate at the special meeting representing NRARA, said; “Regional Council had an opportunity to pass actual reforms which have been long called for such as ending street checks, which was done by Vancouver just the previous night and which even the NRPS’s presentation has shown had dwindled down to zero stops. This was easy to do.

“Instead Regional Council only “continued the conversation” which is just a public relations exercise for the NRPS if it does not result in any action in the near future.” Continue reading

Ontario’s Ford Government Building New School in Wainfleet

Province Approves Construction of New Joint Elementary School in Wainfleet to Strengthen Student Learning and Increase Access to Child Care

News from the Constituency Office of Niagara West Ford Government MPP Sam Oosterhoff

Posted July 23rd, 2020 on Niagara At Large

The Ontario government announced (this July 23rd)  it is investing over $500 million to build 30 new schools and make upgrades to 15 existing facilities.

The province has given the District School Board of Niagara and the Niagara Catholic District School Board approvals for a new Joint Elementary School in Wainfleet.

From left to right Doug Newton, DSBN (District School Board of Niagara) Trustee, Kevin Gibson, Mayor of Wainfleet, Sam Oosterhoff, MPP Niagara West, Dino Sicoli, NCDSB (Niagara Catholic District School Board) Vice-Chair. Photo courtesy of Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff’s Constituency Office

The investment will provide a new, quality learning environment for the students of Wainfleet, as well as new child care rooms. This project is part of the province’s capital investment program to support students with better learning spaces. Continue reading

Niagara Regional Council Passes Mandatory Mask Bylaw

Region-Wide Mask Bylaw takes effect Friday, July 31 and covers All Indoor Public Spaces and Municipal Transit. More Updates To Come

By Doug Draper

Posted July 23rd, 2020 on Niagara at Large

In the City of Toronto, signs like this have now become commonplace. They have also become commonplace in St. Catharines, which implemented a mandatory mask requirement for indoor places a few weeks ago. Niagara’s Regional Council has now voted in favour to taking a similar step for the whole region. Stay tune for more details on when, where and how the mask rule will be implemented in Niagara.

Following a lengthy discussion this July 23rd, a majority of Niagara Regional Councillors have voted in favour of having residents across Niagara where masks in indoor places where social distancing is not always possible.

The vote to approve some form of mandatory mask wearing during the continued COVID-19 health crisis comes two weeks after the Council held a special meeting to consider the issue and decided, by a slim margin at the time, to give it further review.

Niagara At Large will post details on when, how and where this mandatory rule will apply as soon as we get them from the Region. We assume that the Region will be circulating information to the news media and public on how this rule will be administered as soon as possible.

Stay Tuned.

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

Ten Years Gone, Hobbs the Cat is Reunited with his Niagara, Ontario Home

Francis and Hobbs the cat, together again for the first time in 10 years.

“I was dumbfounded! No Way! It’s been 10 years!”  – Niagara resident Frances, Hobbs the Cat’s ‘Mom’

“This reunion really signifies the importance of microchipping your pet. We scan every animal that comes into our shelter and are seeing more and more of these happy reunions”                            – Kevin Strooband, Executive Director of the Lincoln County Humane Society.

Some Good News from the Lincoln County Humane Society in St. Catharines, Ontario

And Couldn’t We Use a Little Good News, for a Change

Posted July 23rd, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Hobbs back at home with ‘mom’ Frances

Niagara, Ontario – After 10 years and untold stories of adventure, “Hobbs” the cat is back.

In 2010, Frances lost her beloved HOBBS from her home in Smithville, Ontario. She searched for her now 14 year-old, male, grey, possible Maine coon-cross cat, but had no luck and could not find him – until now.

Yesterday morning Hobbs turned up at the Lincoln County Humane Society (LCHS), in St. Catharines, after being turned over by a resident who found the cat around his house in Jordan Station, in the Town of Lincoln (over 25 kms away)

He brought him to the LCHS shelter, but lost him in the parking lot. After working to find wayward Hobbs throughout the day, the LCHS caught him and moments later staff scanned a microchip implanted in Hobbs and traced his owner. Continue reading

You Call this ‘Crushing the Curve’ in Niagara Falls, Ontario?

Then How Do You Explain What Looks Like a Petri Dish for COVID-19 Up On the Honeymoon City’s Clifton Hill?

No, this isn’t Florida or Georgia or Texas. This is Clifton Hill in Niagara Falls, Ontario earlier this July. Might just as well open that Canada-U.S. border and let everyone in!

A Brief Commentary by Doug Draper

Posted July 23rd, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Falls Jim Diodati, whose flair for media promotion brings to mind a master of that craft south of the border, managed to make the local daily newspapers in Niagara again recently with a photo of himself with Doug Ford, offering the Ontario Premier one of his “Crush the Curve” campaign’s caps and t-shirts.

Here is a photo of that moment in COVID-19 history, which popped on social media and made the local daily papers, only a few days ago.

Meanwhile, back in Diodati’s city’s, a freelancer shot some video that continues trending on social media as I post this commentary, showing hordes of tourists, most of them looking like they are almost glued together without masks, over the past weekend.

If you haven’t seen this video yet, you can watch it by clicking on the screen immediately below and while you do, ask yourself if ‘crushing the curve’ was on anyone’s mind here –

I don’t know about you, but this scene angers the hell out of me.

Collectively, as individual citizens, as private businesses, and as frontline workers in the private and public sectors across this region and province, we have been through hell in the last four or five months with this virus.

And as much as the curve has been flattened, it continues to cause that has continued to cause suffering and death, and cost jobs and the economy.

Maybe it’s time for a reality check people! If we are not careful, we could be back to where we were this past winter and spring.

So what in hell is this in Niagara Falls, Ontario. The people in this video are not only potentially endangering themselves. They then spread out in the community and potentially endanger all of us.

What in hell gives with this, happening right here, on the Canadian side of the border?

You would think that Trump is running the place!

To read a July 20th story in the St. Catharines Standard on Niagara Falls, Ontario Mayor Jim Diodati getting his much-sought ‘Crush the Curve’ meeting with Ontario Premier Doug Ford, click on –

NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post in the space following the Bernie Sanders quote below.

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

Niagara Region on Cusp of Making Critical Decisions on Fate of Our Natural Heritage

“The decisions (Regional) Council will make on what Natural Heritage System option to support may be the most important decision this Council makes — one that will either protect Niagara’s natural legacy for future generations or lead to its inevitable loss.”                                                                                           – Liz Benneian, resident of Lincoln and Executive Director  and Manager of Environmental Education for Ontariogreen, a province-wide organization dedicated to improving public knowledge on environmental issues

A fall season look inside Waverly Woods in Fort Erie, an area of south Niagara now targeted for urban development. File photo courtesy of  Community Voice of Fort Erie

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

Posted July 22nd, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Hiking along the Bruce Trail in the NPCA’s Woodend Conservation Area. Thanks to past visionaries this piece of our natural heritage is being protected. Photo by Doug Draper

Liz Benneian is right about the importance of decisions Niagara’s Regional Council soon has to make on how much care and respect that we as a community of municipalities, will show for our watersheds, our woodlands, our wetlands, and our green fields and meadows – of what is alarmingly little is left of Niagara’s natural heritage.

Do we protect and preserve what is left of it? Do we work to restore and replace at least some of what has been lost? Or do we continue to employ weasel words and phrases like “open for business” and “we need to strike a balance” to forever destroy more of it with low-density urban sprawl?

These are questions our Regional Councillors, including the mayors of Niagara’s 12 municipalities who share a seat on the Region’s Council, are now coming face to face with as they make decisions about how much weight protection, preservation and restoration of our natural heritage will have in a revised Official Plan that will guide the way the Region, in partnership with private parties and the public, develops and grows our communities in the future. Continue reading

Our U.S. Neighbours Finally Seem Resigned to Border Crossings Staying Closed

“The good old days of easy cross-border travel are likely over, at least for the next several years – and that fact could change habits and damage businesses on both sides of the border.”           – from a story in the Sunday, July 19th, 2020 edition of The Buffalo News

The skyline of Buffalo, New York from Fort Erie, Ontario. So close and now, so far away.

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

Followed by a link to an informative article published this past July 19th in The Buffalo News on the ongoing border crossing issue

Posted July 21st, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Some Introductory Comments by  Doug Draper – 

The normally busy Peace Bridge between Buffalo, New York and Fort Erie in Niagara, Ontario is almost empty of traffic now, except for the odd car and truck driven by those deemed to be involved in “essential” travel.

On the American side of the Canada-IU.S. border – at least in the Western New York area – reality seems to have set in with respect to the ongoing closing of border crossings to all but mostly commercial traffic deemed to be essential.

“I think we’re looking at the border being closed until the end of the year,” Buffalo, New York area Congressman Brian Higgins was quoted saying to The Buffalo News in a lengthy story on the issue, published in the newspaper this July 19th.

It may not have been easy for Higgins to come to terms with the sad reality of the situation around border crossings, and to say those words. Continue reading

Ford Government on Verge of Hollowing Out Ontario’s Environmental Proteciton Legislation

By this Tuesday, July 21st, Ford’s Mission to gut more of Ontario’s environmental protections through the passage of Bill 197 – the government’s so-called Economic Recovery Act – may be accomplished.

A Message from Ontario Green Party Leader  Mike Shreiner

Posted July 20th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Ontario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner

Today (Monday, July 20th) I got my elbows up with the Environment Minister over Bill 197, the so-called _COVID Economic Recovery Act.

In my final Question before the legislature closes for the summer, I asked the government why it is taking another hammer to Ontario’s environmental laws.

Bill 197 tells us everything we need to know about Ford’s Conservatives. Their COVID recovery plan is an environmental destruction plan.

Continue reading

Niagara Falls MPP Slams Billionaire Tourism Baron for Cutting Staff Wages

“At Ripley’s Believe it or Not on Clifton Hill – front-line staff were told that their wages were being slashed when they returned.”        – Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates

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

Posted July 2oth, 2020 on Niagara AtLarge

Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates

QUEEN’S PARK – Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates is asking that Premier demand that billionaire Jim Pattison reverse severe wage cuts to front-line Niagara Falls tourism workers.

“I rise today to call out corporate greed in my community.” Speaking about front-line staff Gates added “We have a reputation for going above and beyond and delivering the vacation of a lifetime. The reason we have that reputation is because of the front-line staff, it is those front-line workers who risk their health every single day so they can keep these attractions open and ensure our guests remain safe.” Continue reading

Niagara Among Ontario Regions Now Moving to State 3 Re-Opening

More Businesses and Services, Including Indoor Bars, Restaurants and Gyms, Across the Province Can “Safely Re-Open’ this coming Friday, July 24th

News from the Office of Ontario Premier Doug Ford

Posted July 20th, 2020

TORONTO — The Ontario government is allowing seven more regions to enter Stage 3 on Friday (july 24th), increasing the number of businesses and public spaces that will reopen across the province.

This decision was made in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and is based on positive local trends of key public health indicators, including lower or low transmission of COVID-19, ongoing hospital capacity, public health capacity to conduct rapid case and contact management, and a significant increase in testing.

The details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance. Continue reading

America – You’ve Become The All-Too Scary Neighbour Next Door

Watching What Was Once a Beacon for Democracy Morph in to a Totalitarian State

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

Posted July 20th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

To an adoring, cult-like following of millions, Trump spews his messages of division, anger and hate.

Far be it for me to write anything like an open letter to America.

I certainly don’t have the stature to do that, and I am not sure who on the planet – except maybe Greta Thunberg and those other young people pleading for a future free of climate and other calamities  – does.

Yet if I were to draft such a letter, it would be all about expressing the horror I now feel witnessing a country that is losing its breath under the knee of fascist leaders and how very scary it now is living in a Canada that, for more than a century, prided itself in sharing one of the world’s friendliest, most peaceful borders with the United States.

Before I go on though, let me put what I am trying to say in context by showing you this – a new ad that has just been put out by a group of former U.S. Republican Party operatives calling itself The Lincoln Project.

Click on the screen immediately below to watch the new Lincoln Project ad –

In the days before this ad came out, I’m sure many millions of people in other parts of the world, including this Canadian, have been watching the news of Trump and his fascist attorney general Barr crushing peaceful protesters near the White House this past June 1st. Continue reading

Time to Start Treating Climate Change like the “Ecological Crisis” That It Is!

“The last few months the world has watched with horror how the COVID-19 pandemic has hit people all over the globe. During this tragedy, we are seeing how many – not all – world leaders and people around the world stepped up and acted for the greater good of society. …

“It is now clearer than ever that the climate crisis has never once been treated as a crisis, neither from the politicians, media, business, nor finance. And the longer we keep pretending that we are on a reliable path to lower emissions, … the more precious time we will lose.”                                                                                                   – from an Open Letter to Global Leaders from Climate Activist Greta Thunberg and many others

An OPEN LETTER and DEMANDS to European Union  and other Global Leaders

From Climate Activist Greta Thunbert and a Growing List of Others, #FaceTheClimateEmergency

Read the Open Letter and Find Out How You Can Add Your Name to the List

Posted July 20th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

This letter has been sent to all European Union (EU) leaders and heads of state on 16 July 2020.

You must stop pretending that we can solve the climate- and ecological crisis without treating it as a crisis.

Here are our demands of this open letter:

Continue reading

If We Go Off-Line Now, It Is The Severe Weather

However Long It Takes, Niagara At Large Will Be Back!

A Brief Message from Niagara At Large publisher Doug Draper

Posted July 19th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

If you live in Southern Ontario and surounding regions, you may know that we have been under a severe weather watch this Sunday afternoon going in to the evening.

Should Niagara At Large, which depends on  hydro running our modems, go off line for a while, downed trees, downed  hydro wires or worse may be the reason why.

As of earlier this Sunday, July 19th Canada’s Weather Channel was warning of   possible severe wind damage in some parts of southwestern Ontario. In some areas of the province, trees have toppled down and h0use trailers, sheds and other building structures have been signifcantly damaged or  blown over. Continue reading

Doug Ford’s Bill 197 Sends Environmental Oversight across Ontario Back to the 1970s

Laura Bowman, lawyer for Ecojustice Canada

“This legislation is the latest in a series of attacks on environmental oversight in Ontario. Proposed changes to environmental assessment would exempt projects such as highways, sewage treatment expansion and removal of bike infrastructure from environmental assessment – denying the public an opportunity to express their voice and opinions.”                                                      – Laura Bowman, lawyer for Ecojustice, Canada’s largest environmental law charity

A Call-Out to All of Us from the environmental law group Eco Justice

Posted July 19th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

How about more highway building like this, through the heart of natural heritage areas in Ontario, with less environmental protection oversight, and less public sonsultation.

TORONTO, Ontario – Ecojustice, Canada’s largest environmental law charity, says the public must have an opportunity to consider and weigh in on Ontario’s Bill 197 (COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act) before it is made law. 

To speed the passage of the bill, the Ontario government has included a clause in the bill to retroactively exempt itself from the right of Ontarians to comment on environmentally significant legislation prior to third reading.  

Given the bill’s widespread impact, which includes major changes to environmental assessments in Ontario, Ecojustice says the Ontario government must allow at least 45 days for public comment on the bill and give Ontarians the opportunity to fully understand the impact of the bill. Continue reading

Goodbye to a True Warrior for Racial and Social Justice

U.S. Civil Rights Icon John Lewis Dies at Age 80, At a Time When His Country Needs the Likes of Him the Most

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

Posted June 18th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

“When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something.”                                                                                                                     – American Civil Rights Giant John Lewis

Civil Rights Icon John Lewis

He was one of the last of the great foot soldiers from the Martin Luther King era in the ongoing struggle for civil rights in America and around the world.

Inspired by Martin Luther King, John Lewis was a young “freedom rider” in the battle against racial segregation in the early 1960s.

On what became known in history books as ‘Blood Sunday’, John Lewis almost lost his life from a police on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, during a march for voting rights in 1965, lived on to fight one battle after another for the betterment of those who are oppressed in this world.

In the end though, Lewis, who went on to serve for many decades as a U.S. Congressman, lost his battle against pancreatic cancer and died late this Friday, July 17th. Continue reading

Time for Nations Around the World to Change Entire Energy System

United Nations Environment Programme director Inger Anderson

“Renewable (energy sources) are now more cost-effective than ever, providing an opportunity to prioritize clean economic recovery packages and bring the world closer to meeting the aris Agreement Goals. Renewables are a key pillar of a healthy, safe and green COVID-19 recovery that leaves no one behind.”                                                                                               – Inger Andersen, the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

As governments try to kick-start their economies, the UN is calling for recovery plans to be built around low-carbon technologies, to avoid a return to fossil fuel-based “business as usual.

A Climate Change Update from the United Nations

Posted July 17th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

In island economies, importing fossil fuels,such as oil and gas, comes at  a considerable costs. This is one of the reasons that some of them are becoming front-runners, in the bid to reduce carbon frontprints, by investing in renewable energy sources.

Mauritius, for example, is planning to generate over a third of its electricity from renewable sources within the next five years. Projects supported by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), will be an important part of this transition, bringing an additional 25 Mega Watts of solar power to Mauritius, including a mini-power grid in Agalega, one of the outer islands.

At the current pace, it would take the world forever to come anywhere near a no-carbon system. Rana Adib, Executive Director, REN21. Continue reading

Buffalo, New York Area Congressman Presses for ‘Essential Traveler Exceptions’ at Canada-U.S. Border Crossings

‘(U.S. Congressman Brian) Higgins, who serves as Co-chair of the Northern Border Caucus and U.S. Canada Interparlementary Group, has been pushing for the United States and Canada to develop further guidelines for crossing allowances related to family and property unification during a pandemic.’

Buffalo, New York area Congressman Brian Higgins is among a group of U.S. border area representatives calling for some plan to phase in re-opening of shared border crossings

News from the Office of Buffalo, New York Area Congressman Brian Higgins

Posted July 17th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Higgins’ Measure on Northern Border Travel Included in Homeland Security Appropriations Bill

Language Directs Development of Binational Strategy Related to Family and Property Reunification

Buffalo, New York – Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced (this July 16th) the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee passed the FY 2021 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill, which included report language requested by Higgins related to essential traveler exceptions at the Northern Border.

The language reads as follows: “The Committee directs the Secretary (of Homeland Security) to work with the Government of Canada to establish and maintain the following exceptions to the US – Canada non-essential travel restrictions: family reunification and travel to secure property with the appropriate quarantining measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” Continue reading

City Of St. Catharines Rolls Out Tax Relief For Homeowners

“This application-based program offers assistance to homeowners who have no other financial options and who continue to experience severe financial impacts.”                                 – St. Catharines Manager of Revenue Lisa Read

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

Posted July 15th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

St. Catharines, Ontario. Downtown area. file photo, Doug Draper

Niagara, Ontario – St. Catharines City Council has approved the implementation of a Property Tax Penalty and Interest Relief Program to provide support to St. Catharines’ homeowners who are struggling financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Residential property owners who can demonstrate financial hardship related to the COVID-19 pandemic can now apply for relief from late payment penalties or interest charges during the five-month period between July 1, 2020 to November 30, 2020. Continue reading

Green Party Fighting to Save Environmental Laws in Ontario

“The Ford government wants to take more power into its own hands to decide which projects will get an environmental assessment, and which ones will not.”

A Message from the Green Party of Ontario

Posted July 16th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Our team at Queen’s Park was shocked to read the Conservatives’ _COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act – Bill 197.

Doug Ford’s recovery plan includes almost nothing for the people most hurt by COVID-19. No changes to long-term care. No plan for education. No help for small businesses.

Instead, the recovery plan takes another hammer to the places we love. Continue reading

Support A Nation-Wide Campaign for Progressive Tax Reform in Canada


A Call-Out from Canadians for Tax Fairness, a cross-country public advocacy group

Posted July 16th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

The cost of protecting Canadians in this pandemic has pushed the federal deficit to $343 billion. While this debt is manageable for now, conservatives and right-wing lobbyists are using the number to push for cuts to public spending and austerity.

Cutting social supports that Canadians need is bad policy in normal times. During a pandemic, it would be disastrous.

Now is the time for governments to maintain and improve social supports and public services including childcare, pharmacare and elder care, to fight climate change, and rebuild a more sustainable, resilient, and fairer economy coming out of the crisis. Continue reading

For Anyone Still Not Convinced the Canada-U.S. Border Must Stay Closed!!

Maybe CNN Cable News Host Chris Cuomo – A Recent Survivor of COVID-19 – Will Help Seal if for You

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

Posted July 16th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

As the number of COVID-19 related deaths in the United States nears 138,000 and the case count soars to 3.5 million and counting, the self-described “stable genius in the White House is doing everything he can to trash the reputation of one of the world’s foremost infectious disease experts – Dr. Anthony Fauci – and saying ‘NYET’ to all of the suffering around him from the virus and a cratered economy.

Look at this? No it is not an actor doing him in an SNL skit. This photo actually popped up on Trump’s own instagram page. Now America’s ‘super spreader-in-chief’ is shilling for beans produced by one of his big supporters. Has any president in United States history ever trivialized and desecrated his nation’s highest office as much as this?

And Trump and his first daughter/girl friend Ivanka have also been buy promoting bean for a CEO billionaire who visited the White House earlier this July and showered the ‘dear leader’ with praise.

I was about to say her head is full of beans, but she may actually be smarter than her crotch-grabbing daddy. Wouldn’t be shocked if she runs for president in 2024.

Just one more of the countless reasons why it is good to see our Canadian government resist lobbying by some U.S. border-area politicians to begin loosening restrictions on who can cross the Canada-U.S. border, and why Canadians should all cheer the recent news that border crossings – for the five month in a row – will remain closed to all but absolutely essential traffic until at least the last week of August.

If you are wondering what is going on with the beans I just mentioned, listen to this commentary from CNN news host Chris Cuomo – a brother to New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo – aired this July 15th. Continue reading

St. Catharines City Council Votes To Enact Mandatory Mask By-Law, Effective Friday, July 17th

St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik

This is about protecting our entire community and ensuring we continue to limit transmission of COVID-19. While some people may feel COVID-19 isn’t prevalent in our community and that this by-law isn’t necessary, the reality is we can’t afford to take any steps back in fighting this virus.”                                                   –  St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik

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

Posted on Tuesday July 14, 2020

Signs like this will or may be there to greet all of us wishing to enter indoor venues in St. Catharines/Niagara, Ontario as of this Friday, July 17th

Niagara, Ontario – The City of St. Catharines is adding masks to its toolkit in the fight against COVID-19, with a new mandatory masks by-law coming into effect this Friday.

City Council passed a by-law Monday requiring owners and/or operators of enclosed public spaces, to require mask use by those entering their establishments, in addition to the provision of hand sanitizer at entrances.

The move comes as the City attempts to move forward with its STC Framework for Recovery, while taking steps to mitigate the risks of COVID-19 transmission associated with reopening. Continue reading

BREAKING NEWS – Canada-U.S. Border Crossings Closed for at least Another Month

Closing to All but Essential Traffic is now being extended until at least August 21st

A Brief News Commentary by Doug Draper

Posted July 14th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

This will be the seen at our border crossings for at least another month, and possibly for much longer – thanks to the mess Trump and company have made of things around this dangerous pandemic.

With the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the United States continuing to break world records and a U.S. president who continues to behalf as if he could care less, Canada has reportedly reached an agreement with the U.S. to keep shared border crossings closed to all but essential traffic for at least another month.

That bumps the new date for considering any form of re-opening to August 21st – making for a full five months of broad restrictions on whom and what can cross the Canada-U.S. border since they were first adopted in late March. Continue reading

Sign A Petition to Keep the Canada-U.S. Border Closed!

“Our shared border with America should remain closed until America has implemented a reasonable plan to control the pandemic and have shown a reasonable downward trend in cases nationally.”                                                                                          – from an Online Petition launched by Ontario, Canada resident Mark Kossek





A Petition that is Now Trending Online with Many Tens-of-Thousands of Signatures

Posted July 13th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

A Brief Foreword from Niagara At Large publisher Doug Draper –

We sure don’t need scenes like this with cars from states like Florida, George, Texas and the Carolinas . crossing the border. How much of the virus would they now be carrying across? Leave it in Trumpland, please!

If you are a recent, regular follower of news and commentary on Niagara At Large, you know that we have supported keeping the Canada-U.S. border closed to all but absolutely essential traffic for however long is necessary.

Our position is a response to the dangerous spiking of COVD-19 cases and deaths in the United States in the wake of the totally reckless and irresponsible leadership of the current U.S. president and of many U.S. governors in states like Texas, Florida, Georgia and South Dakota, who would rather lives Trump’s lies about this killer pandemic than protect the health and welfare of American people.

Now here is the petition, including a link that  you can click on to join tens of thousands of others in signing it, recently launched on by Ontario, Canada resident Mark Kossek –

Keep the Canada-U.S. Border Closed!

Members of the US Congress have urged Canada to begin reopening the Canada-US border.

The border has been shut down to all but essential travel since March 21 and the closure has been extended to July 21. Petition starter Mark wants Canada to keep the border closed beyond this date. He says: “America has not implemented the proper steps necessary to control the COVID-19 pandemic.” If you think the border should be kept closed beyond July 21, sign now in this critical moment. Continue reading

Niagara Regional Councillors to Consider Motion on Basic Income for Working People

Niagara Poverty Reduction Network Urges Councillors to Approve Motion

“As we know from the Basic Income Pilot experiment in Hamilton, basic income measures have a significant, positive impact on the health and overall dignity of recipients, especially when implemented alongside other programs and policies that create a stronger social safety net.”                                                       – from a letter the Network has sent to all members of Niagara Regional Council

Motion to be Introduced this  Tuesday, July 14, 2020 at 1 P.M. Meeting of Niagara Region’s Public Health and Social Services Committee

News from the Niagara Poverty Reduction Network (NPRN)

Posted July 12th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

NPRN Supports Basic Income Policy

NPRN is pleased to announce that the following letter to Niagara Regional Council, regarding Council support for a Basic Income policy, will be included as an official correspondence item on the agenda of the next meeting of Regional Council’s Public Health and Social Services Committee, July 14, 2020.

The letter has also been sent to each member of Regional Council.

Here is the Full Text of the Network’s Letter from NPRN Chair Aidan Johnston to Niagara Reginoal Councillors –

To the members of Niagara Regional Council Public Health and Social Services Committee:

 I am writing on behalf of our Niagara Poverty Reduction Network (NPRN), in support of the motion prepared by Councillor Laura Ip for the Public Health and Social Services Committee meeting of July 14, 2020. Continue reading

Twenty-Nine Citizen Groups Call for Ontario Gas-Fired Power Plant Phase-Out


News and a Call-Out to All Citizens across the Province  from the Ontario Clean Air Alliance

Posted July 13th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

The Ford Government wants to ramp up the greenhouse gas pollution from Ontario’s gas-fired power plants by more than 300% by 2025 and by more than 400% by 2040.

To help fuel this massive increase in fossil fuel electricity and climate threatening pollution, the provincial government recently purchased 3 gas plants (for $2.8 billion), and Enbridge hopes to build a new pipeline through Hamilton to import fracked gas from the U.S. Continue reading


Now is The Time For More Education and a Fully Committed Community Involvement to Save This Natural Treasure

This Biodiverse Gem of a Place in Niagara – Now A Target of Corporate Developers – Has Now Been Identified by the Ontario Field Ornithologists (a group of foremost experts on birds) as a “Hotspot for Birds” in the Province

A Call-Out from Marcie Jacklin and Community Voices of Fort Erie

Posted July 12th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

It is time for those who put up this sign in such an environmental rich place to call it a day and go away – Doug Draper, Niagara At Large

(A Brief Note from Doug Draper at Niagara At Large – Please read this piece by Marcie Jacklin and the citizens group and see what you can do to save this wonderful place for the sake of ours and future generations.

Post-pandemic, we can no longer afford – not that we ever could – this kind of destruction in the name of uncaring, narrow-minded and naked greed.

Let us all dedicate ourselves to saving what is left of rich places like Waverly Woods.)

Now here is the piece by Marcie Jacklin and Community Voices of Fort Erie in Niagara, Ontario 

This red-headed woodpecker is one of the many inhabitants of Waverly Woods

There are advanced plans for an extensive housing development in this location in Fort Erie, including a ten-storey condo tower. The woods will largely be destroyed if these plans are ultimately approved.

This property is too crucial during bird migration — and for hosting wildlife during breeding season — to see it disappear. According to eBird, 224 species have been recorded here.

The area is a high-quality migratory stop for many species, including wood-warblers. It is home to breeding Red-headed Woodpecker, Wood Thrush, Eastern Wood-Pewee and many other species. Waverly Woods is also significant historically. Continue reading

The Masked Face of Justice in Trumpland

And By The Way, For the All-Round Safety and Security of Canadians, Keep Those Border Crossings Closed!

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

Posted July 11th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

“Roger Stone was targeted by an illegal Witch Hunt that never should have taken place. It is the other side that are criminals, including the fact that Biden and Obama illegally spied on my campaign – AND GOT CAUGHT!”   – a tweet from America’s self-described “stable genius of a president, Donald Trump

 “Unprecedented, historic corruption: an American president commutes the sentence of a person convicted by a jury of lying to shield that very president.” – Republic Senator Mitt Romney upon finding out this July 10th that Trump granted Roger Stone clemency

Master showman that he is, a masked Roger Stone flashes his Nixonian peace signs after work came out this July 10th that his pal Trump granted him a ‘stay out of jail’ card for his loyalty to ‘dear leader’.

So here is Roger Stone, one of Trump’s long-time friends and operatives, being  granted clemency by Trump, just as he was about to go to jail after being found guilty in a U.S. court of law on a number of felony charges related to the whole Russia-interfering-in-the-2016-presidential-election affair. Continue reading

Say No to More Sprawl, and to Less Nature and Farmland across Niagara and the Greater Golden Horseshoe

“In dogged pursuit of its growth at all costs agenda, the Government of Ontario is paving the way for more sprawl development across the Greater Golden Horseshoe.”                        – Ontario Nature

Do you like what is left of Niagara’s green places? Do you like locally grown food? How much more of it are we willing to give up to an Ontario Ford government that bows to the most destructive rogues  in this province’s building and development industry? This is an Ontario Nature photo

A Call-Out from Ontario Nature, one of the province’s most repsected advocates for protecting and preserving our green lands.

Posted July 10th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

If we pave over ever more of it, where are beautiful birds like this going to live? They are part of the life web on this earth. We need them, even if the rogues in the development industry think we do not. An Ontario Nature photo

In dogged pursuit of its growth at all costs agenda, the Government of Ontario is paving the way for more sprawl development across the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH), which is home to more than 55 percent of Ontarians. 

Proposed changes to the Growth Plan will expose more natural areas, productive farmland and endangered species habitat to the bulldozers in a region stretching almost 32,000 km2 from Niagara to Simcoe and Peterborough counties.

The Growth Plan was established in 2006 to better manage growth across the GGH, one of the fastest growing regions in North America. Continue reading

Niagara’s Deputy Police Chief Saddened by ‘Disrespect Shown to Police Officers Across Country’

Niagara, Ontario’s Deputy Police Chief, Bill Fordy

“Unfortunately, I see a pattern of stereotyping all police officers based on the actions of a few. … We are human and we are not perfect, but the majority of police officers are authentic and kind-hearted people that want to make the world a better place.”                 – from an Open Letter, posted July 9th, 2020 by Bill Fordy, Deputy Chief, Niagara Regional Police

Deputy Chief Bill Fordy’s full letter is posted below, followed by a response from Erika Smith, a resident of St. Catharines, Ontario  and member of the Niagara Region Anti-Racism Association

Posted July 10th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

(A Brief Note from Niagara At Large publisher Doug Draper –  In the days ahead, Niagara At Large will be posting its own commentary on the issue of police reform, and will also be posting a disturbing first-hand account by a Niagara resident who went through a hellish experience at the hands of police at the G20 Summit in Toronto 10 years ago this summer.

By the way, I know this post is long, but I think the content is worth the read. Please get past the couple of dozen words on Facebook or Twitter, and give what is posted below a go.)

An Open Letter from Bill Fordy, Deputy Chief, Niagara Regional Police

To whom it may concern;

I have watched and listened to the general public. I would now like to add my voice to the narrative because I am disappointed and saddened by the tragedies of the past few months, the resulting media coverage, and the feelings of some towards the police. I have witnessed disrespect to police officers across the country.

In the spirit of full transparency, I am a father, a husband, and I have proudly been a police officer for 31 years. I love our country, fully respect the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and I wholeheartedly support the enshrining of all Canadians having the right and ability to express their thoughts or feelings. Continue reading

U.S. Oceanic Agency’s Lake Erie Algal Bloom Forecast Proves Need for Government Action to Save Lake

Environmental Groups Say Federal and Ontario governments Need to Step Up to Plate to Protect Lake Erie

A satellite shot taken over the past decade, showing matts of green algae choking the waters of Lake Erie

“We need governments to get serious about addressing phosphorus pollution if they want to prevent billions of dollars’ worth of damage caused by Lake Erie’s annual algal blooms.”      – Kelsey Scarfone, Water Program Manager, with Environmental Defence

A Call-Out from Environmental Defence Canada, the Canadian Freshwater Alliance the Freshwater Future Canada

Posted July 9th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Absorbing the oxygen from the water, algae threats populations of fish and other wildlife in Lake Erie

Toronto, Ontario – Today the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced its forecast for the 2020 algal bloom season on Lake Erie.

This year’s bloom is predicted to have a severity level of 4.5 with the potential to reach a 5.5. The forecast is just another reminder that current efforts to restore the health of the lake are insufficient.

“This year’s forecast shows that we’re not making nearly enough progress on saving Lake Erie,” said Kelsey Scarfone, Water Program Manager with Environmental Defence.

“We need governments to get serious about addressing phosphorus pollution if they want to prevent billions of dollars’ worth of damage caused by Lake Erie’s annual algal blooms.” Continue reading

Ontario’s Ford Government Taking Bold Action to Address Racism and Inequity in Schools

New Changes to Advance Equal Opportunity for Black, Indigenous and Racialized Students

Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce

“Every student ― irrespective of the colour of their skin, faith, heritage, and orientation ― deserves every opportunity to succeed in the classroom. … We will stand with all students on this journey to advance respect, dignity, and opportunity.”            – Stephen Lecce, Ontario Minister of Education

News from the Office of Ontario Premier Doug Ford

Posted July 9th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

TORONTO, Ontario — The Ontario government announced bold new changes to the education system that will help break down barriers for Black, Indigenous and racialized students and provide all students with an equal opportunity to succeed.

As part of this action, the province will move forward with ending Grade 9 streaming into applied and academic courses, proposing to eliminate discretionary suspensions for students, strengthening sanctions for teachers who engage in behaviour of a racist nature, and providing teachers with additional anti-racism and anti-discrimination training. Continue reading

Niagara’s Regional Council Holds the Reins on Mandatory Mask Rule

Question of Whether Face Masks Should be Mandatory Indoors, Where Social Distancing is Not Possible,              To Be Revisited at July 23rd Council Meeting

A Brief News Commentary by Doug Draper Posted July 9th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

In the City of Toronto, signs like this have become commonplace. Toronto’s council recently passed a bylaw making face masks mandatory inside places were social distancing is not possible. None of this across the Niagara Region, at least not yet. Regional Council has put a final vote on a mandatory mask bylaw for all of Niagara on hold until July 23rd.

If you are one of however many residents across Niagara who believed approval of a mandatory mask bylaw was a given at this July 8ths special meeting of Regional Council, you were as wrong on that one as I was.

At the end of an afternoon session that went on for more than four hours, regional councillors were deadlocked on the question of mandatory mask wearing for indoor places where social distancing is not possible.

Regional councillors decided, in the end, to buy more time for review before making what could be a final decision on the issue at a regular meeting of council on Thursday, July 23rd.

In recent weeks, close to 20 other municipalities across Ontario, Waterloo, Windsor-Essex, Kingston and Toronto have passed bylaws requiring people to wear masks in indoor areas where social distancing is not possible. The bylaws allow for various exemptions, including for children two years old and younger, and people with health issues that could be aggravated by wearing a mask. Continue reading

Under Cover of Ongoing COVID Crisis, Ontario’s Ford Government Moves to Gut More Environmental Protections

Rogues in Provinces’s Development Industry To Profit from More Environmental Destruction

“While other countries and our federal government are talking about a “green recovery,” Ontario is reverting back to the same old short-sighted, pro-development, pro-sprawl, red-tape cutting agenda.”

A Statement from Environmental Defence’s Programs Director, Keith Brooks, in response to the introduction of Ontatrio’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act

Posted June 8th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

It continues to appear that this is the Ontario Ford government’s “Open for Businsess” vision for what is left of the province’s green places.

Toronto, Ontario – This sweeping omnibus bill appears to be a thinly veiled attempt to package up the development industry’s wish list and pass it off as a necessary response to the pandemic and the economic impacts it has caused.

It will take some time to fully digest the impacts of this bill, which amends at least 20 different pieces of legislation. But at first glance, it appears to be highly problematic. Among the most worrying elements from an environmental perspective: Continue reading

Canada Must Say NO to Calls from U.S. Politicians for Re-Opening of Border – Phased In Re-Opening or Otherwise

Thanks to Trump and his Enablers, United States is now in flames with COVID-19 sickness and death, and we don’t need it imported to Canada

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

Posted July 8th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

The Peace Bridge between Niagara, Ontario and Buffalo, New York. Keep border crossings like this closed!

I usually have a good deal of regard for Buffalo, New York area Congressman Brian Higgins and the work he is doing to bring more jobs and prosperity to the Buffalo area, and to strengthen the economic and cultural bonds between his U.S. district and our Niagara, Ontario region.

But the Democratic Congressman had this Canadian, and I suspect many others, wondering what planet he’s recently been living on with a July 3rd letter drafted and signed by him and several other border area Congress men and women, Democrat and Republican, asking for their U.S. government and our Canadian government to set plans for a “phased re-opening” of border crossings between the two countries.

“As members representing congressional districts along the U.S. Northern Border, we understand the importance of prioritizing the safety of our communities as we all navigate the complex calculation of minimizing public health risks and resuming economic activity,” they say in their letter to acting U.S. Homeland Security Department Secretary Chad Wold and Canada’s Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister, Bill Bliar. “However, the social and economic partnership between our two nations necessitates a clear pathway forward.” Continue reading

Remembering a Beloved Feline Friend

An Ode to a Cat named Dylan and to All Fury Friends, Great and Small

A Brief One by Doug Draper

Posted July 8th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Dylan Draper, sitting on the back of one of his favourite wing chairs

From the first time he first became a member of our family and home – in the early weeks of summer 1999 – Dylan had a habit of looking right into a person’s eyes.

Whoever in the room happened to be in the room talking, there this little white guy would be, looking up to make eye contact with whoever happened to be speaking at the moment.

Dylan seemed to know instinctively that a person’s eyes are the window to their soul, and as time with him marched on, I think he came to know me and my wife and daughter as much, if not more, than we knew our selves. Continue reading

Ford Government’s Weakened Planning Rules Threaten Farmland in Neighbouring Hamilton Area

Will Farmland Outside Niagara’s Urban Boundaries be Next?

News from Catch, the Hamilton-based watchdog group, Citizens at City Hall

With a Brief Foreword by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper 

Posted July 7th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Foreword by Doug Draper – 

What does Ontario’s Ford government have against protecting and preserving our province’s farmlands for present and future generations?

Possibly nothing, unless some of Ford and company’s pals in the development industry want to buy some farmland up so they can destroy it forever with – just what we need – ever more cookie-cutter buildings and low density sprawl

“Until recently it was illegal, but Hamilton is now facing an attempt by private developers to force expansion of the urban boundary onto rural lands,” says a news report, first posted this June by CATCH, the Hamilton-based watchdog group, Citizens at City Hall .

Please read the CATCH report, reprised here in the space below, and ask yourself if farmland outside Niagara’s urban boundaries will be next.

Continue reading

Happy Birthday to Beatles Drummer Ringo Starr!

And Say It Ain’t So! A Beatle Turns 80-Years Old?

A Brief One by unabashed Beatles fan Doug Draper

Posted July 7th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

A relatively recent photo of Ringo Starr, flashing his famous peace signs.

I don’t know why I never thought the day would come when one of The Beatles turned 80 years old.

After all, if you live long enough, and the guy who always was the oldest member of The Beatles lives long enough, it is bound to one day happen. Yet it is still a bit of a mind blower.

Time sure does fly when you have spent the past more than 50 years buying up every record they ever made, first on vinyl, then on tape, then on CD, and then again on vinyl and CDs boasting higher quality sound and never-before-released bonus tracks. (Never tell me I haven’t done my part to keep these boys from Liverpool and members of their families out of the poor house.) Continue reading

Shaw Festival Cancels All August Public Events as COVID Continues to Take Toll on Arts Community

A News Release from the Shaw Festival in Niagara, Ontario

Posted July 7th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario — The Shaw Festival  is forced to cancel all public events and performances scheduled in August due to the extension of the Province of Ontario’s Emergency Orders and the continuation of the State of Emergency in the Province and Niagara.

In discussion with and under the guidance of The Shaw’s insurer, it has become clear that scheduled performances cannot proceed as originally planned.

“While we are disappointed with these further cancellations, we are focusing our energy on planning for the future so that we can safely welcome audiences back to our theatres, hopefully in September – even if in a more limited way,” said Tim Jennings, Executive Director/CEO. Continue reading

The Fight Continues for Safe Conditions for Seniors and Staff in Ontario’s Long-Term Care Homes

Do Corporate Profits and Tax Cuts Mean More than Treating our Seniors, in their final years,  with Dignity and Respect?

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

Posted July 6th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Sue Hotte, a leader of the Niagara Health Coalition, a citizen group in the region, calls out for more help for seniors and staff in Ontario’s long-term care homes, at a recent news conference in St. Catharines. Photo by Doug Draper

The push by citizen group and MPPs from provincial opposition parties for safer conditions for seniors and for those caring for them in Ontario’s long-term care homes continues.

At a July 3rd news conference outside of Grace City Manor – a privately owned, for profit long-term care home in St. Catharines where outbreaks of COVID-19 have occurred – a citizens group joined St. Catharines NDP MPP Jennie Stevens and Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates in a call for seniors and staff in LTC homes.

Among their list of concerns is Bill 175, also known as the Connecting People to Home and Community Care Act and introduced by the Ford government early this year before COVID-19 cases began their upward curve in Ontario, and disproportionately infected and, in some cases, claimed the lives of seniors in long-term care homes. Continue reading

Niagara Falls MPP Calls on Niagara’s Regional Government to Embrace Mandatory Mask Rules

MPP Wayne Gates Hoping Niagara Region will make Masks Mandatory in Places Where Distancing is Not Possible

Region’s Council to Vote on Mandatory Mask Rule at Special Meeting this Wednesday, July 8th at 3 p.m.

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

Posted July 6th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates, with St. Catharines MPP Jennie Stevens to his right – both wearing masks – at a recent Niagara Health Coalition media conference, advocating for better conditions in Ontario’s long-term care homes. Photo by Doug Draper

Niagara Falls, Ontario  – NDP MPP Wayne Gates is hoping the Niagara Region will make face masks mandatory in places that are inside and where distancing is not possible.

“This just adds one more layer of support for those who are vulnerable and will help us keep these numbers down,” said Gates.

“In the US and on farms here in Ontario we’ve seen how just a few cases of the virus can spiral out of control. We’ve worked too hard here in Niagara to go backwards, businesses will start failing if we shut down again so let’s add this measure to keep our numbers low and our residents safe.”

“We’re finally seeing our businesses opening again and bringing in much needed money – but we’re also bringing in a lot of people from outside of Niagara. This is one way we can keep Niagara safe, protect residents, and protect jobs here in Niagara,” said Gates. Continue reading

As We Move Forward from Canada Day 2020, Let’s Recommit To Those Public Programs that Make For a More Caring, Compassionate Society

“If COVID-19 laid bare the inequities and insufficiencies of our society and our social safety net, it also brought out the compassion and caring of people.”

A Message from Natalie Mehra, Executive Director, Ontario Health Coalition

Posted July 6th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

A Brief Note from Niagara At Large publisher Doug Draper –

Niagara At Large apologizes for not getting this thoughtful message posted on Canada Day.
These days there is so much we would like to post, but given the crazy times we live in, things get left behind. It doesn’t help tat we are swamped with so many news releases and public advisories related to the ongoing COVID-19 health emergency.
However, as belated as the posting of this Canada Day message is, it is well worth the read. The points the head of the Ontario Health Coalition is making here, are important for the rest of us to consider anytime.

Now here is Natalie Mehra’s message –

Natalie Mehra, Executive Director, Ontario Health Coalition

It is Canada Day and after such a challenging winter and spring, it is time to celebrate.

One of our greatest achievements as a society is public health care for all. For all of the pain and grief that COVID-19 has caused, it has also reminded us all of our interdependence. Our health relies on the health and well-being of others. We know this now, more than ever.

And now, more than ever, we have been reminded of the vital importance of our public health care system; of our public programs and services; that government can create massive new programs overnight to support people in hardship and to improve equity; that human life and caring, and not tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, must be the priority.

If COVID-19 laid bare the inequities and insufficiencies of our society and our social safety net, it also brought out the compassion and caring of people. Continue reading

Canada’s Prime Minister Appoints Bob Rae Ambassador to the United Nations

“Mr. Rae brings a wealth of experience to the role, most recently serving as Canada’s Special Envoy on Humanitarian and Refugee Issues.”

News from the Office of Canada’s Prime Minister

Posted July 6th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Meet Canada’s new United Nations Ambassador – former Ontario NDP Premier and former federal interim Liberal Leader and MP Bob Rae

Ottawa, Ontario – The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced the appointment of the Honourable Bob Rae as the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations (UN) in New York.

Mr. Rae brings a wealth of experience to the role, most recently serving as Canada’s Special Envoy on Humanitarian and Refugee Issues, building on his earlier work as Canada’s Special Envoy to Myanmar. In these positions, Mr. Rae closely collaborated with the UN and the international community to help lead Canada’s efforts to address pressing humanitarian and refugee issues around the world.

Mr. Rae will succeed Marc-André Blanchard as Canada’s Permanent Representative to the UN in New York. Mr. Blanchard, who informed the Prime Minister of his intention to leave his post earlier this year, served as a strong voice for innovation and reform at the UN. He also helped develop Canada’s leading role in international discussions on financing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, including most recently in the context of the global response to the coronavirus. Continue reading