Category Archives: Uncategorized

Join the Citizens’ Campaign to Stop Ford from Gutting Ontario’s Conservation Authorities

Stop Ontario Bill 229 Schedule 6 and Save One of Niagara, Ontario’s Great Pieces of Natural Heritage – Waverly Woods

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

Posted November 27th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Hello Everyone

It seems nature is under threat by the government of the province of Ontario. Please take some time to respond to these initiatives.

Bill 229 Schedule 6

Buried in the (Ford government’s recently tabled) budget bill for the province is Section 6 which threatens to destroy Conservation Authorities by not allowing experts to be on the Board.

The Board would be composed entirely of politicians whose mandate would be to serve their communities (not the mission of the Conservation Authorities). Continue reading

Wishing Our American Friends and Neighbours a Safe and Peaceful Thanksgiving

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

Posted November 26th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Along with all of our readers in Niagara and other regions of Southern Ontario, Niagara At Large is pleased to say that we have regular visitors to this news and commentary site from the Buffalo, New York area and other regions in the United States.

With those NAL readers across the border in mind, I want to wish all of them on this American Thanksgiving – November 26th, 2020 – a warm and peaceful Thanksgiving, and a safe and healthy one during times unlike any most of us have ever experienced before. Continue reading

Ontario’s Premier Angered Over COVID-19 Criticisms in Auditor General’s Report

Doug Ford Says Ontario Continues to have some of lowest per-capita COVID case counts on Continent

A Brief One Posted by Doug Draper on Niagara At Large

Posted November 25th, 2020

Ontario Premier Doug Ford

At a news conference this November 25th, Ontario Premier Doug Ford lashed out at a report by the province’s Auditor General, Bonnie Lysyk, accusing his government of being slow on the draw and not as transparent as it should be on responding to the COVID-19 health crisis confronting us.

Ford addressed the Auditor General’s critical report, released earlier this November 25th, after he and his Health Minister, Christine Elliott, discussed some recommendations on how citizens should navigate the coming Christmas holidays during this second wave of the pandemic, and funding his government is providing to support small businesses.

To watch the news conference, click on the screen immediately below –

To read a news piece posted on Niagara At Large earlier this November 25th on the Ontario Auditor General’s report, click on – https://niagaraatlarge.com/2020/11/25/ontarios-ford-government-response-to-pandemic-slow-compared-to-other-provinces/ .

To watch Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk’s press conference on this issue, click on the screen immediately below –

Okay, so what do you think? Ontario citizens make up the judge and jury on this one.

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

Ontario’s Ford Government Response to Pandemic ‘Slow’ Compared to Other Provinces

Ontario’s COVID-19 Response Faced Systemic Issues and Delays

‘Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health did not fully exercise his powers under the Health Protection and Promotion Act to respond to COVID-19.’                                                                                 – Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk

A News Release from the Office of Ontario Auditor General Ontario’s COVID-19 Response Faced Systemic Issues and Delays

Posted November 25th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk releases critical report on Ford government’s response to COVID-19

Toronto, Ontario –  Ontario’s Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk says the province’s response to COVID-19 in the winter and spring of 2020 was slower and more reactive relative to other provinces.

The audit looked at three areas: emergency management and pandemic response; outbreak planning and decision-making; and laboratory testing, case management and contact tracing.

It found a number of contributing factors leading to this slower pandemic response, including outdated provincial emergency plans, insufficient staff and significant changeover in leadership at Ontario’s Provincial Emergency Management Office (EMO), as well as systemic issues such as the lack of lab surge capacity and outdated IT systems. Continue reading

Welcoming America Back to the Climate Fight – And Not A Second Too Soon!

“Climate change is the number one issue facing humanity.”           – U.S. President-Elect Joe Biden

A Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper

Posted November 25th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Finally!

The world has someone taking over the White House’s Oval Office in the New Year who sounds very much like he takes the climate emergency facing life on this planet seriously.

And it could not come a moment too soon!

Most experts around this world agree that climate change is an existential threat that could have catastrophic consequences for all of us if we don’t take significant, decisive action to address it – NOW. Continue reading

City of St. Catharines Moving to Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles deliver environmental boost and cost savings

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

Posted November 25th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – New City fleet investments aren’t just delivering savings for taxpayers, they are saving the environment. This fall the City purchased its first fully electric vehicles, three 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EVs.

Manager of Equipment Maintenance Jim Thompson showcases one of three new 2020 Chevrolet Bolt Electric Vehicles purchased by the City, marking the first fully-electric additions to the City fleet. Photo courtesy of City of St. Catharines

The purchase of the vehicles, which replace the trucks that were utilized by Municipal Works supervisors, comes as the City continues efforts to reduce its carbon footprint and contribute to the fight against climate change. Continue reading

Documentary Photo Project Highlights Urgent Need to Protect Lake Erie

“When Lake Erie’s health is impacted, so are the lives of the people who live near and love the lake. We wanted to show that through this project.”                                                                                  – Keith Brooks, Programs Director with Environmental Defence

Two Niagara Region residents are featured in a new documentary photo exhibit, North of Long Tail , which explores people’s connections with Lake Erie

A News Release from Environmental Defence Canada and Documentary Photographer Colin Boyd Shafer

Posted November 24th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Our Lake Erie from space. For many decades now, it has faced serious environmental challenges. It is ultimately up to us and our governments to restore this great freshwater body to full health

Toronto, Ontario – Two people from Niagara Region are part of a new documentary photography exhibition, launched today online, which showcases Canadians’ deep personal connections with Lake Erie and highlights why the lake needs to be protected.

North of Long Tail , a collaboration between Environmental Defence and documentary photographer Colin Boyd Shafer, contains 20 stories from the north side of the lake.

“Lake Erie is more than just a body of water. So many people rely on the lake for so many things — to support their business, for drinking water, recreation, or just a place to unwind and relax,” said Keith Brooks, Programs Director with Environmental Defence. “When Lake Erie’s health is impacted, so are the lives of the people who live near and love the lake. We wanted to show that through this project.” Continue reading

Citizens Alliance Urges Incoming Biden/Harris Administration to Focus More Attention on Great Lakes and Clean Water

‘We look forward to working with President-elect Biden to create a Great Lakes region with thriving, healthy ecosystems and communities.’ – the Alliance for the Great Lakes

A Statement from the Alliance for the Great Lakes, a U.S.-based citizens coalition in the Great Lakes region

Posted November 24th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Our Great Lakes from space.

Engaging in the democratic process is one of the most powerful ways people throughout the Great Lakes region can have a voice.

The Alliance for the Great Lakes congratulates President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Now that the votes have been counted, we must respect the vote and the work of election officials who have led a fair and transparent process.

President-elect Biden, in partnership with the Great Lakes region, has the opportunity to place safe and clean water at the center of our communities and make them healthier and more equitable than before. Continue reading

You Are Invited To A Virtual Conference on Contamination Concerns at Former GM Site in St. Catharines

Join Us On Wednesday, November 25 At 7 PM. For A Virtual Public Information Session About The Situation At The Former GM Site.

Once a major industrial force and source of good-paying jobs in St. Catharines, Niagara, what is left of the General Motors plant off Ontario Street in that city, has become an unwelcome eyesore for neighbours and may also  be a source of pollution to the area, including the nearby Twelve Mile Creek, a tributary  Lake Ontario

Hosted by the citizen-based Coalition for a Better St. Catharines

Posted November 23rd, 2020 on Niagara At Large

A Call-Out from the Coalition for a Better St. Catharines

St. Catharines, Ontario – We’ve Learned A Lot About Conditions At The Former GM Site And Why It’s So Important To The Community To Clean It Up Now. We’ll Be Sharing That Information With You At A Virtual Information Session On Wednesday, November 25 At 7 P.M..

Dozens Of Highly Toxic Industrial Contaminants Are Present On And Under The Former GM Factory Site On Ontario Street. Recent Evidence Has Indicated That Some Of These Industrial Chemicals Including Pcbs And Asbestos May Be Leaking Off The Site And Possibly Exposing The Community To A Dangerous Health Hazard. Continue reading

A Big Call-Out to Trudeau Government to Strengthen Canada’s Toxic Pollution Laws

More Measures  Urgently Needed to Protect Canadians From Poisons in Commercial and Industrial Products

A News Release from Beautycounter, Breast Cancer Action Quebec, Canadian Association Of Physicians For The Environment, Canadian Environmental Law Association, David Suzuki Foundation, Ecojustice, Environmental Defence, Foundation For Resilient Health, Nature Canada And Women’s Healthy Environments Network

Posted November 23rd, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Virtual Hill Days call on federal government to keep its promise to strengthen toxics and pollution law Environmental, health and clean cosmetics groups ask for immediate reform to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

Ottawa, Ontario – Parliament must prioritize reform of the outdated Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), says a coalition of environmental, physicians, women’s health and clean cosmetics advocacy groups.

The groups are organizing Virtual Days on the Hill for a Toxic-Free and Healthy Environment this week. Hundreds of concerned citizens are joining forces to call on the federal government to fulfil its promise to reform the country’s two-decade old pollution prevention and toxic chemicals law. Continue reading

Ford Rewards Ontario’s Front-Line Health Workers With No Pay if they are Exposed to COVID-19

So much for the Ontario Premier’s B.S. Rhetoric about ‘Front-line Heroes’

“Sending front-line workers home without pay shows flagrant disrespect for their work, livelihood, and safety.”                             – from an Open Letter from Niagara Centre MPP Jeff Burch to Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s Health Minister Christine Elliot

An Open Letter to Ontario’s Ford Government from Niagara Centre NDP MPP Jeff Burch

Posted November 19th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

OPEN LETTER

Dear Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliot,

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott. How would Elliott and her Tory cronies  like it if they were sent home with no pay if they were exposed on their job, or whatever it is they do, to someone who tested positive with COVID-19?

I am writing to you today (November 19th, 2020) regarding an urgent ongoing situation within the Niagara Health System.

It has come to my attention that NHS staff are being sent home without pay when exposed to COVID-19.

It is my understanding that your Ministry has directed this change and that Niagara Health can no longer do straight pay for staff directed by the employer to go into isolation.

This practice is a marked departure from the province’s direction during the first wave, where staff in self-isolation would continue to receive their full pay.

We have heard from front-line hospital staff who report that after being exposed to COVID in the line of duty, they are sent home without pay. Continue reading

Citizens Not Getting Enough Information & Time to Respond to “Environmentally Significant Proposals – Ontario Auditor General

‘Province’s Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks Needs to Lead by Example When It Comes to Protecting Ontario’s Environment’

A News Release from the Office of Ontario’s Auditor General Bonnie Lysy

Posted November 19th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

TORONTO, Ontario – The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks needs to do more in leading by example on the environmental front by supporting, promoting and administering the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR Act) in a more fulsome manner, concluded Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk in her 2020.

Annual Report of Environmental Value-for-Money Audits and the Operation of the Environmental Bill of Rights. The report found examples by multiple government ministries of non-compliance with their responsibilities under the EBR Act that prevented its effective operation in 2019/20.

The report states some ministries are still not posting environmentally significant proposals on the Environmental Registry or giving the public enough time to respond when they do. Continue reading

Auditor General’s Report Confirms Ford Tories’ Will Destroy Climate as a Favour to Their Insiders

“(Ontario Premier Doug) Ford’s wilful ignorance about the imminent dangers of the climate crisis is already making all Ontarians less safe, and the consequences for future generations – our children and our grandchildren – will be unbearable if we don’t change course now.”                                                                       – Ontario NDP Climate Crisis Critic Peter Tabuns

A News Release from Ontario’s NDP Official Opposition Party

Posted November 18th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, right, and his Tory pal from Alberta, Premier Jason Kenney, favour the tar sands over addressing a potentially catastrophic climate emergency.

QUEEN’S PARK – Ontario NDP Climate Crisis critic Peter Tabuns and Environment critic Ian Arthur released this statement in response to the Ontario Auditor General’s report of the Ford government’s handling of the environment:

“The auditor general’s report puts into stark terms the disturbing reality that Ontarians face under the Ford government: we have a premier dragging us backwards in the fight against the climate crisis. Doug Ford is willing to destroy the environment in his quest to do favour after favour for insiders.

Ford has tried to pave over the Greenbelt three times. He cancelled Ontario’s cap and trade program illegally, and his government continues to use the pandemic as cover to ram through laws and Ministerial Zoning Orders that attack environmental protections.

Continue reading

Ontario’s Auditor General Takes a Blow Torch to Ford Government’s Deplorable Environmental Record

r Doug Ford’s Tories are continuing to spend large sums of tax dollars fighting the Ottawa’s efforts to place a price on climate ravaging carbon emissions

‘This (Ford) government has axed practically every climate program in Ontario, taken the federal government to court to block climate action, violated the Constitution with their misleading carbon tax stickers, and failed to deliver on any elements of their environmental plan intended to reduce emissions.’

‘Not only is the Ford government failing to protect natural spaces and endangered species, but they are moving to kneecap Conservation Authorities, so developers can build warehouses on wetlands.’

A Statement from Environmental Defence’s Programs Director, Keith Brooks, on the Auditor General’s scathing report on Ontario’s track record on the environment

Posted November 18th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk issues scathing report on Ford government’s environment record

Ontario continues to play pretend with its Made-In-Ontario Environmental Plan, while its actions – and lack thereof – show that the province has no intention of actually protecting the environment.

Not only is the government failing to protect natural spaces and endangered species, but they are moving to kneecap Conservation Authorities, so developers can build warehouses on wetlands.

When it comes to climate change, to say the achievement of Ontario’s 2030 target is at risk is putting it very generously. Continue reading

New COVID-19 Restrictions Announced for Welland Hospital Site

Extended Care Unit taking additional measures to protect residents

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

Posted November 18th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Health’s Welland, Ontario hospital site

Niagara, Ontario – With the Niagara region in the Orange-Restrict category of the Ontario Government’s five-stage COVID Response Framework, general visitation is no longer permitted for residents in the Extended Care Unit (ECU) at Niagara Health’s Welland Site.

This is a necessary measure to protect the safety of our residents in the long-term care home.

Recognizing the importance of our residents having support from their loved ones, families may now designate up to two Essential Caregivers per resident. Essential Caregivers provide direct care or support to the resident in the home. Continue reading

Western New York Moves Forward With Waterfront Improvements On U.S. Side of Niagara River

“This year (as we face the COVID-19 pandemic) gave us a renewed appreciation for our outdoor spaces including the mental and physical healing it provides to the public.”                     – Buffalo, New York area Congressman Brian Higgins on the benefits of improving waterfront environments for people

Buffalo, New York area Congressman Brian Higgins

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

Posted November 18th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Congressman Higgins Welcomes Big Plans to Invest $44.3 Million in Buffalo’s Waterfront Over the Next 5 Years

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) welcomed adoption of a General Project Plan (GPP) for Buffalo’s Outer Harbor by Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) at their meeting on November 9, 2020.

Higgins said, “This year gave us a renewed appreciation for our outdoor spaces including the mental and physical healing it provides to the public. 

“We have helped to deliver incremental improvements to Western New York’s waterfront but to sustain the momentum we cannot rest on what has been accomplished, there is still work ahead for this community to reach its full waterfront potential. We appreciate Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation’s focus and look forward to this continued progress.” Continue reading

Let’s Fight Together to Save Ontario’s Provincially Significant Wetlands

Ford’s Conservatives want to take legal power away from the Conservation Authorities (including the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority in our Niagara Region) who are responsible for protecting our wetlands, forests and wildlife habitat.

A Call-Out to All of Us from Ontario’s Green Party

Posted November 17th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Ford government is moving to further weaken Ontario’s environmental protections for the benefit of developers anxious to pave over more of our natural heritage

Earlier this November, we address the news about Ford’s approval of a 4-million square foot warehouse on top of a sensitive wetland in Durham.

THINGS HAVE GOTTEN WORSE.

Buried in the Ford government’s November 5th budget is a plan to do this sort of thing everywhere in Ontario.

Conservatives want to take legal power away from the Conservation Authorities (including the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority in our Niagara Region) who are responsible for protecting our wetlands, forests and wildlife habitat. Continue reading

Ford Tories Rush Through Bill to Protect Their Corporate Pals from Liability in For-Profit Long-Term Care Home Industry

“To the families who are directly impacted: we feel your heartbreak and your anger. We promise to continue to do everything we can do to improve care, protect those who rely on our health care system for their care, and finally achieve some accountability and justice for all that has happened”                         – Natalie Mehra, Executive Director, Ontario Health Coalition

A Message from the Ontario Health Coalition, a province-wide citizens group advocating for quality public health care

Posted November 17th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Ontario Health Coalition Executive Director Natalie M

Dear all members and supporters,

The Ontario Legislature just voted on Bill 218, the law that indemnifies for-profit long-term care homes among other for liability for their negligence in the pandemic. The Ford government MPPs voted for Bill 218 and the NDP and Liberals voted against it. The Bill passed.

One of the Opposition Parties requested a recorded vote: the result was 52 ayes and 38 nays.

The NDP had brought an amendment earlier in the Standing Committee to carve out long-term care and retirement homes that the Conservative MPPs used their majority to vote down.

The message to the long-term care industry is that they will not be held legally liable for negligence and that they are not required even to act with the normal requirement which, prior to this law, would have required a reasonable and competent effort to protect residents from harm from COVID-19. Continue reading

Ford Tories Moving To Shield Ontario’s Private Long-Term Care Home Operators from Liability

Ontario Health Coalition Calls for Probe  Into Ford Government’s Alleged Financial Ties With For Profit Long-Term Care Industry

A News Release from the Ontario Health Coalition, a province-wide citizens advocacy group for quality public health care

Posted November 16th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

One last urgent push to try to stop Bill 218 that indemnifies for-profit LTC from liability for negligence in COVID-19

The Ontario Ford government’s Bill 218, which makes it more difficult to sue for-profit long-term care and retirement homes, is scheduled for Third (and final) Reading in the Legislature on Tuesday but late Friday we were advised that the matter may come on for a vote as early as Monday afternoon.

We are launching a complaint to the Integrity Commissioner to look into conflicts of interest between government MPPs who have received donations from the long-term care industry.

We are also asking that the Commissioner investigate an array of Ministers, the Premier and high-profile decision makers and advisors in the Ford government and their ties to the for-profit industry and their role in pushing this legislation that makes it harder for families who have lost loved ones to sue the long-term care homes owners. Continue reading

Trump Is U.S. History’s Biggest Loser

“For the next two months (though), this Biggest Loser will hold us all hostage. …His virus will kill countless thousands. His greed will further ravage an already devastated economy. His racism will more deeply poison our national spirit. His madness will pillage our mother Earth. His complete lack of morality, compassion, and empathy will forever cheapen our national spirit. His utter depravity will threaten us all with eco-nuclear extinction.”

By Harvey Wasserman, Reader Supported News

Posted November 15th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

It’s over!!!

( … except for the next two months of residual rape and pillage.)

Donald Trump will not be re-inaugurated on January 20, 2021.

This could not have been said with certainty mere days ago. Our nation and the world have rightfully taken to dancing in the streets. We have dethroned a dictator for all to see.

For the rest of human history, the overthrow of Donald Trump can serve as a shining example of an angry public successfully disposing of a despicable tyrant. Continue reading

Changes To Ontario’s Conservation Authority Act Will Impact NPCA Watershed Protection Programs in Niagara

Provincial Changes To Conservation Authorities Act Will Impact NPCA Watershed Management Approach And Progress Made On Auditor General Recommendations

A Response from Chandra Sharma, CAO of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, to Plans by Ontario’s Ford Government to Gut & Scale the NPCA and 35 other Conservation Authorities across the Province like a Lake Trout

Posted November 14th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

NPCA CAO Chandra Sharma finally responds to Ford government’s plans to eviscerate Conservation Authorities. Is her response strong enough?

Niagara, Ontario – (The Ford government’s) Bill 229 contains new rules for Board appointments, changes to conservation authorities’ planning role and creation of new Ministerial powers

On November . 5the , the Province of Ontario tabled omnibus budget measures Bill 229, which proposes fundamental changes to the Conservation Authorities Act and to the conservation authorities’ role in land use planning.

These changes will significantly compromise and in some cases, completely change the role of conservation authorities to protect Ontario’s environment and ensure people and property are safe from natural hazards.

“The recent COVID-19 pandemic brought home the critical need for investment in green infrastructure for the health and well being of our communities. We anticipate provincial support and amendments that enable us to carry on with this important work,” says Chandra Sharma, CAO/Secretary-Treasurer at Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA). Continue reading

Doug Ford’s “Lies” Push Ontario To Disaster – Ontario Liberal Party Leader

A Statement from Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca

Posted November 13th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca

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

It’s been revealed that (Ontario Premier) Doug Ford ignored advice from Public Health Ontario, lied to us and said his plan was backed by doctors. He betrayed all of us, and he needs to take a long look in the mirror and ask himself how Ontario could ever trust him again.

Ontario is headed towards disaster, with a staggering 6,000 daily COVID cases projected by December.

Doug Ford told us he was acting on the advice of doctors, but he lied and he cost lives.

Just a few weeks ago Doug Ford was bragging about the progress his government was making. Meanwhile, he was secretly loosening restrictions while top doctors were giving him dire warnings. Thousands are now dead, with 71 deaths in nursing homes this week alone. Continue reading

A Salute to Remembrance Day, Canada/Veterans Day, U.S.A. – 2020

“Where Have All The Flowers Gone?   Long Time Passing (and) When Will We Ever Learn”

Posted by Doug Draper on Niagara At Large
November 11th, 2020

Few songs have touched more movingly on the tragedy of war than this one, written by the late great American folksinger and activist Pete Seeger. Click on the screen below to listen and watch one of literally thousands of performances of ‘Where Have All The Flowers Gone’ –

In 2018, in the last municipal  elections across Niagara , less than 50 per cent and in some cases, including St. Catharines, Niagara Falls and Welland, less than 40 per cent of eligible voters actually bothered to vote.

That same year, in a provincial election that saw Doug Ford and his Tories win a majority number of seats – enough to allow him to run Ontario like a virtual dictator – the total voter turnout was about 57 per cent, with Ford’s Tories receiving only 40 per cent of those votes.

The First World War memorial in Welland, Ontario’s Chippawa Park. File Photo by Doug Draper

Wearing a poppy for a few days each November is nice, but it is far from enough.

And it is only empty tokenism if so few people in our municipalities and province do not participating in the democratic process.

That is no way to honour those who served and sacrificed in past wars, let alone those who are serving now.

We face many challenges in this greater Niagara Region, and in the provinces and states we live in on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border.

Please make a pledge to get more involved in your communities and in the democratic systems we are blessed with, thanks to those who fought and died for them.

Lest We Forget

  • Doug Draper, Niagara At Large

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

Ford Government’s Changes to Conservation Authorities Act Trigger Red Flags for Conservation Ontario

“If nothing else, pandemic conditions this year have certainly reinforced how much we rely on a healthy environment for our own well-being. It’s important that conservation authorities are able to continue to protect our natural environment and ensure the safety of Ontario residents.”                                                             – Kim Gavine, General Manager, Conservation Ontario

A News Release from Conservation Ontario, the umbrella body for the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) and 35 other Conservation Authorities across the province

Posted November 10th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Kim Gavine, General Manager, Conservation Ontario

Conservation Ontario and the conservation authorities (CAs) are reviewing the Province’s changes to the Conservation Authorities Act (CA Act) which were released (this past November 5th) in the 2020 Ontario Budget.

“There are a number of changes that we feel could have significant impact on conservation authorities, and on their watershed management responsibilities,” said Kim Gavine, General Manager of Conservation Ontario (CO).

Conservation Ontario is the association which represents Ontario’s 36 conservation authorities. The CA Act has been under review by the Province since April 2019.

Earlier this year, the Minister of Environment, Parks and Conservation (MECP) hosted a series of five consultation meetings across the province with invited representatives primarily from municipalities, conservation authorities and agriculture, landowner and development sectors. Conservation Ontario was a presenter at these sessions. Continue reading

2020 Niagara Economic Summit Tackles Recovery And Rebuilding

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s summit will be held virtually over three separate sessions

First Panel –  including Niagara Regional Chair Jim  Bradley among panelists – scheduled for 0 a.m. this Tuesday, November 10th –  will address the current economic picture in Canada, in Ontario, and in Niagara

An Invite from the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Posted November 10th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario –  2020 is the year that everything changed, and all the forecasts and models we had built had to be abandoned in the face of a global pandemic and the resulting economic downturn.

With the world still in the second wave of that pandemic and many facts about the way it has affected our economy still coming to light, the 2020 Summit assesses where we are now, how we got there, and where we can go as we turn our thoughts to recovery and the future.

The first panel, held at 10 a.m. on November 10, will address the current economic picture in Canada, Ontario, and Niagara, as well as examining the uneven impact of the pandemic across different industries and demographic groups. Continue reading

Ontario’s Ford Government Making Disastrous Changes to Province’s Conservation Act

Ford Moves to Strip Citizen Voices from NPCA & Other Conservation Authority Boards, and Weaken Conservation Authorities’ Voice in Development Proposals

A News Commentary by Liz Benneian, a citizen activist in Niagara, Ontario, and leading member of the citizen-based groups, A Better Niagara, Biodiversity and Climate Action Niagara and Ontariogreen

Posted November 9th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Hidden in the Ford government’s budget bill(tabled this past November 5th) are changes to the Conservation Act that have special importance to the citizens of Niagara including that only elected Councillors can be appointed to the board.

In its ongoing war against environmental protection in Ontario, Ford government is moving to eviscerate our province’s Conservation Authorities, including the citizen voices on our Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority board.

That’s what we had before the last municipal election. It didn’t work out so well. The same corrupt cabal that made a mess out of our Regional government, took over the Conservation Authority, got rid of a lot of experienced, qualified staff, hired their friends and turned the organization into a rubber stamp for the development industry.

That’s why Niagara’s citizens voted them out of office. That’s why there was a very critical Auditor General’s report on the NPCA (Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority).

That’s why citizens advocated to have some citizens appointed to the Conservation Authority’s board. And the newly elected municipal and Regional Council listened. 

Continue reading

‘Democracy Is Coming to the U.S.A.’ – the late Leonard Cohen

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

Posted November 9th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Leonard Cohen

Believe it or not, four years have now passed since one of Canada’s greatest gifts to the world – poet, songwriter, singer Leonard Cohen – passed away on November 7th, 2016 at age 82.

I was thinking of Leonard just days ago, as our American neighbours and the world were waiting and waiting for enough votes to be counted to declare Joe Biden and Kamala Harris the next president and vice-president of the United States.

And hallelujah, for the sake of the United States and the world, this past Saturday, November 7th, it happened – a day that will live in history as the beginning of the end of Trump’s reign of chaos and terror, and the most monstrous presidency in close to two and a half centuries of American history. Continue reading

Canada’s Prime Minister Congratulates Joe Biden On U.S. Presidential Election Win

Then Vice-President Joe Biden with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, during better days for Canada-U.S. relations during a visit to Ottawa in 2018

A Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on the result of the U.S. presidential election

Posted November 7th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

“On behalf of the Government of Canada, I congratulate Joe Biden and Kamala  Harris on their election as the next President and Vice President of the United  States of America.

“Canada and the United States enjoy an extraordinary relationship – one that is  unique on the world stage. Our shared geography, common interests, deep personal connections, and strong economic ties make us close friends, partners, and  allies.

“We will further build on this foundation as we continue to keep our  people safe and healthy from the impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic, and  work to advance peace and inclusion, economic prosperity, and climate action  around the world. Continue reading

Ford Government Continues to Give Bum’s Rush to Renewable Energy

Ford’s Budget Offers Billion-Dollar Subsidies to  Energy Pigs

A News Release from the Ontario Clean Air Alliance

Posted November 7th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

**You’re now helping to pay the electricity bills of Ontario’s biggest companies**

Why in hell would this Trump-like clown care about energy conservation and reneable energy in the middle of a globla climate emergency

This past week, the Ontario government unveiled whopping new subsidies for large electricity consumers. Taxpayers will now be shelling out $6.2 billion a year to lower electricity rates for businesses and consumers.

This subsidy is more than double what the previous government introduced, which Doug Ford said at the time was “the wrong thing to do.”

The Ford government’s new $6.2 billion subsidy will be responsible for 16% of Ontario’s $38.5 billion provincial deficit in 2020-21. Despite these massive subsidies for electricity consumption, residential electricity rates rose by 2% at the beginning of this month to help pay for the re-building OPG’s and Bruce Power’s aging nuclear reactors.

And get ready for more increases: According to OPG, its price for nuclear energy must rise by 74% by 2025 to pay for the Darlington Re-Build; Bruce Power’s price of nuclear energy could rise by an additional 57% to pay for the re-building of six of its reactors. Continue reading

Here’s Praying Trump’s Reign of Terror on Earth’s Climate is Almost Over

Trump Administration Officially Cuts U.S. Out of Paris Climate Agreement

“In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!”                                                                                  – U.S. President Donald Trump, on December 28th, 2017, in one of the self-described “stable genius’s” all-too-many bundles of wisdom to his tens-of-millions of followers on Twitter.

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

Posted November 5th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

We were warned, weren’t we?

Everyone from successful New York City business executives who could see through Trump many years ago, when he was a con man firing everyone from Meat Loaf to Gary Busey on his reality TV show ‘The Apprentice’, to his estranged niece Mary Trump, a Ph.D psychologist and author of the best-selling book: ‘Too Much and Never; How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man’, have warned that if this self-serving wing nut sees himself going down, he may try to take everyone and everything down with him.

So why not begin – just one day after this November 3rd’ss U.S. election that hopefully means the end of his dangerous and destructive presidency – by following through on his years-old pledge to pull the United States out of a 2016 Paris Climate Agreement signed by more than 190 nations around the world, including Canada. Continue reading

Make Pandemic Pay Permanent for Ontario’s Frontline Workers

Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates is standing up for the workers on the frontlines of COVID-19 whose pandemic pay was ripped away

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

Posted November 4th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Front-line employees continue to work and risk their well-being in grocery chains like this, owned by the billionaire Weston family, which has been among those making record or near record profits during this pandemic. File photo by Doug Draper

QUEEN’S PARK, Ontario  – NDP MPP Wayne Gates (Niagara Falls) is standing up for the workers on the frontlines of COVID-19 whose pandemic pay was ripped away while they are still putting their lives on the line every day.

“The major companies, like Loblaws, that employ frontline workers called them heroes and raised their pay. However, once the cameras were off – these companies ripped away the pay increases. They make record profits while workers carry on under the same low wage conditions,” says Gates.

Continue reading

American Filmmaker, Activist Michael Moore On Nail-Biting U.S. Election

“Sadly, as to why our fellow Americans did not repudiate Trump yesterday in a massive way, as to why nearly 70 million Americans still embrace a bigot and a psychopath — well, we must have that discussion soon as to who we REALLY are.”          – Michael Moore

American filmmaker and poltical activist Michael Moore

A Commentary by American filmmaker, author and political activist Michael         Moore, from Michael Moore’s Facebook Page

Posted November 4th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

THERE IS NO CRYING IN TRUMP REMOVAL!

I am writing this at 7:45am on Nov 4 and here’s how I see it. First, I just slept like a baby in my chair with the TV blaring. For 3 hours.

That’s cause I dozed off at 4:30am knowing this: Millions of ballots — all of them from early and mail-in voting which the majority of Democrats did — had not been counted! In Pennsylvania, I knew that the majority of those 2.2 MILLION uncounted ballots were from registered Democrats.

When I fell asleep, the map of Michigan showed Flint as red! Hahaha!!

And here’s the bottom line:

Continue reading

Niagara Region Taking ‘Big Steps’ To Address Homelessness

“By knowing who is experiencing chronic homelessness we are able to better provide programs and supports for people in need.” ~ Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley

News from Niagara’s Regional Government

Posted November 4th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – Niagara Region is taking a big step toward addressing the issue of homelessness locally.

Built for Zero Canada, a national campaign to work toward an end to long-term, complex homelessness, has recognized Niagara Region for meeting all the requirements needed to achieve a Quality By-Name List. A By-Name List provides up-to-date information on people experiencing homelessness across the region.

This list provides data on clients to support coordinated access to housing resources available through providers in Niagara’s Homeless-Serving System, as well as system-level information such as the number of people actively experiencing chronic homelessness. Continue reading

Do It America. For The Sake of Your Country & the World – FIRE TRUMP!

Today is the Day to Vote this Monster Out

A Brief Comment from Doug Draper at Niagara At Large

Posted on November 3rd, 2020, Election Day in the United States

The danger that Trump poses and the carnage that he has already wrought – not only on the health and welfare of people in his own country, but to the world – is, without a word of hyperbole, heart-wrenching and mind-blowing.

From the dishevelling of democratic institutions, the overturning of truth, the total disregard for facts and science,  and the assault on fundamental human justice and decency, to the dismantling of environmental programs in ways that could harm property and lives on this planet for generations to come, the day of reckoning for this morally bankrupt con man and his legions of cultists and enablers – a day that should mark the beginning of the end of Trump’s reign of chaos, suffering, death and terror – may, at long last, be here.

It is Election Day in America and let’s hope and pray that enough of our American friends and neighbours do the right thing, and purge this monster and his crime family from our collective lives. Continue reading

Celebrating National Living Wage Week and All Those Who Believe In One in Canada

“A living wage reflects what earners in a family need to be paid based on the actual costs of living and being included in a specific community.”                                                                                                 – Aidan Johnson, Chair of the Niagara Poverty Reduction Network

A News Release from the Niagara Poverty Reduction Network

Posted November 2nd, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – The Niagara Poverty Reduction Network is celebrating National Living Wage Week from November 2-8.

As a result of the many on-going challenges related to COVID-19 the Ontario Living Wage Network has announced that all new or updated Living Wage calculations across municipalities and regions in Ontario will be suspended for 2020.

This means that the 2019 Niagara region Living Wage calculation of $18.12/hour will remain in effect until further notice. The 2019 Cost of Living and Living Wage calculations and reports can be found on the Niagara Poverty Reduction Network’s website www.wipeoutpoverty.ca Continue reading

Here Is To One Super Spooky Halloween

By Doug Draper,  with Halloween Eve  Jitters

Posted October 31st, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Off they go, to the haunted forest.

This Halloween I find myself feeling nostalgic for those Halloweens long ago when one of the most frightening things for me  was sitting in front of the TV and watching Dorothy and her friends being attached by lying monkeys during the haunted forest scene in ‘The Wizard Of Oz’.

Then there was Halloween night back in my old neighbourhood in Welland when in a group of kids dressed in our costumes, we dared each other to walk down a long driveway lined with gnarly old trees and dried up corn fields on either side to a big brick farm house to do a little trick or treating with the family that lived there, the Wilsons, who were actually quite nice. Continue reading

Popular Niagara Falls Restaurant Suffering Undue Wrath Over Oosterhoff’s Maskless Photo

Niagara West MPP and Ford Government member is being called out again for going maskless in a group photo as Ontario surges into a second wave of the pandemic

Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates defends Betty’s Restaurant in Ontario Legislature where Niagara West Tory MPP appeared early this October in a maskless group photo shoot

The Decent Thing for Niagara West Tory MPP Sam Oosterhoff to do it go back to the Restaurant – Mask On and in Front of the Media – And Issue a Public Apology to the Restaurant’s Family Owners and Staff!

A News Release from the Constituency Office of Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates, followed by some brief comments about Oosterhoff’s irresponsible conduct by Doug Draper at Niagara At Large

Posted October 30th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Falls, Ontario NDP MPP Wayne Gates

QUEEN’S PARK – Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates rose this October 29th)  to defend Chippawa restaurant Betty’s, following the controversy that arose when a photo surfaced of (Niagara West and Ford government) MPP Sam Oosterhoff and his family at the restaurant in close quarters without a mask.

“As the MPP who represents Chippawa where Betty’s Restaurant is located. I’ve seen the backlash caused by the story about the member from Niagara West this week,” said Gates.

“I want to add my voice on behalf of my community. I know the restaurant’s owner, Joe Miszk, who is a friend of mine. He’s a good man, a good father and a great community leader. I know he’s doing everything he can to keep Betty’s safe and his staff. Continue reading

On the COVID-19 Front, Canada is Looking Damn Good Compared to U.S.

“Look at the contrast (in case counts). ….. What have they (Canadians) done right?”                                                                         – Veteran American news broadcaster Brian Willians , on the MSNBC cable news channel, this October 29th, 2020

A Brief Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper, followed by a report on MSNBC’s, The 11th Hour with Brian Williams

Posted October 30th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Donald Trump Jr., seen here at right and who refers to the ongoing spike in U.S. COVID-19 cases as “almost nothing,” gets up close and personal with big daddy.

In my vast collection of bumper stickers, I have one I picked up in Cape Cod, Massachusetts last year that reads  – “Looking Good, Canada!”

The words on that bumper sticker are a generous nod from Americans to their neighbours to the north that compared to the dark and dangerous place many of them feel Trump has been taking their country, our side of the border is looking pretty damn good.

And that bumper sticker salute to Canada came at least half a year before the arrival of a pandemic that has caused so much suffering in both countries, and vastly more illness and death  in the United States where the malignant-narcissist and psycho of a leader continues to close his eyes and pretend that it isn’t there. Continue reading

Report Paints Dark Picture of Migrant Worker Treatment on Canadian Farms

Migrant care workers expose exploitation ‘Behind Closed Doors’ during COVID-19 in new report

A News Release from the Migrant Rights Network of Canada

Posted October 28th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Toronto, Ontario  — Migrant care worker organizations are releasing a report today documenting the experiences of hundreds of racialized migrant domestic workers during COVID-19.

The report, “Behind Closed Doors: Exposing Migrant Care Worker Exploitation During COVID-19”, features shocking stories of abuse including working every day without a break, thousands of dollars in stolen wages, workers being trapped in employers’ homes for months, and being laid off and evicted.

The report documents how these crises threaten workers’ ability to unite with their families and access permanent residency, and calls for full and permanent immigration status for all migrants as the only solution.  Continue reading

Our New York State Neighbour Is Saying It Right – “Wear A Mask!”

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo

“Particularly now, as the virus surges in parts of the country, it’s critical that we continue to wear masks and take the simple everyday measures that reduce the spread — stay distant and wash your hands often.”                                                                – New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo

A Brief Foreword by Doug Draper at Niagara At Large, followed by a Message from a real warrior against COVID-19, New York State’s Governor

Posted October 27th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

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

During these perilous times, as we watch an upswing – bearing all the earmarks of a second wave – in the number of daily COVID-19 case counts in our own Province of Ontario, we can also turn on cable news and watch the madness in Trump’s America where, for Republicans, wearing a mask is a sign of weakness and betrayal to the dear leader, and where COVID cases are flaming into a third wave there.

Yet not all has morphed into a sequel of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”  south of the border.

Here in Niagara, Ontario, we are blessed to have, as our nearest American neighbour, a U.S state  with a governor who has earned praise around the world (if not from Trump Republicans in his own country), for rallying citizens from Manhattan to Albany to Buffalo, New York to exercise the protective measures necessary to beat the COVID-19 curve down. Continue reading

Never Mind “Pandemic Fatigue.” Let’s Not Let Our Guard Down, Folks!

The COVID-19 Case Count Is Rocketing Up in Ontario and the Second Wave is Here

How Bad It’s Going to Be & How Long It Lasts Is Up to Us

A Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher           Doug Draper

Posted October 26th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

It’s pretty sad when you find yourself breathing a sigh of relief when the daily COVID19 case count over the past 24 hours in this Province of Ontario comes in at  851 – almost 200 lower than an all-time high of 1,042 cases recorded the day before.

That’s no “hoax” and it is not “fake news,” my fellow Ontarians.

The anti-maskers and their willing enablers out there can try to twist and bend the advice we receive from health experts all they want, but when they try to argue that two plus two does not add up to four, it is hard to argue with raw statistics.

So this  past Sunday, October 25th, as we in Canada are obviously now on the up-swing of a second wave in the more than 10-month history of this killer virus, CBC broadast news division issued the following report  – “Ontario reported a record 1,042 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, marking the first time cases have surpassed 1,000 a day since the outbreak began in late January.”

In Niagara, we can breathe some relief in knowing that on the same day of October 25th that Ontario recorded its highest overall daily case count, the count here was 23, although the highest number of new positives came from the Greater Toronto Area, and to the extent that people from there continue to visit tourist venues in the Niagara Falls area, that might pose a problem.

In the meantime, there are those basic, very simple things we can all continue doing to help stave off another round of spikes in case numbers and very costly lockdowns of private and public services here – where masks or face-coverings in indoor places, social distance and wash hands.

It is not an infringement on our liberties and freedoms. It is about looking after ourselves and each other. Never mind the nuts that cry about liberty and freedom, when what they are really doing is liberating this potentially lethal virus and demonstrating how ill-informed and selfish they are.

One of my favourite cats – a celebrity of a cat named Tigger in a local pet supply store in Thorold called Pet Valu – has a message for us all. You can see it in the photo immediately below.

Tigger, the great celebrity and mascot cat at the Pet Valu store at the Pine Plaza on Pine Street in Thorold, Niagara, is wearing his mask. What is wrong with those who don’t. Photo by Joe Krawchuk at that Pet Valu store in Thorold

To read the full CBC October 25th story on case counts in Ontario, click on – https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/covid-19-coronavirus-ontario-october-25-numbers-report-1.5776198

To keep up to date on the case counts in Niagara, Ontario, click on Niagara Region’s COVID19 page https://www.niagararegion.ca/health/covid-19/statistics/statistics.aspx

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

Ontario NDP Leader Calls Out Ford on Record-High COVID-19 Case Count in Province

Despite completing barely over 44,000 tests, Ontario has counted a record-high 978 cases of COVID-19 this Saturday, October 24th

A Statement from Ontario Official Opposition NDP Leader Andrea Horwath

Posted October 24th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Ontario NDP and Official Opposition Party Leader Andrea Horwath

TORONTO — Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath released the following statement:

“It never should have come to this.

(Ontario Premier) Doug Ford’s refusal to invest in stopping the growth of the second wave is costing us so much more – it’s costing people their health and their lives, it’s hurting small businesses and it’s making the second wave longer and deeper.

Mr. Ford is sitting on more than $9 billion in pandemic support funding. More than $7 billion of that came from the federal government to help Ontario cope with COVID-19. Mr. Ford doesn’t want to spend the money. And cases are skyrocketing as a result.

Right now we need a massive expansion of public health for testing and contact tracing in every community in the province. We need real protections in long-term care, including hiring thousands of PSWs and putting infection control experts in every home. We need a 15-student class cap in schools. People can’t afford to have Mr. Ford delay another day.”

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

Join a Virtual Brock Event – Exploring People’s Behaviour During the Pandemic

A Free Public Webinar on Tuesday, October 27 the from 12:30 to 2 P.M.

“Young adults are at the centre of this second wave. Understanding what personal and demographic factors help them cope is critical, as is understanding what measures are likely to make them take proper precautions.”                                    – Tony Volk, Professor of Child and Youth Studies, Brock University

An Invite from the Centre for Lifespan Development Research at Brock University

Posted October 24th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – Brock researchers will share their findings on how the global pandemic is shaping lives at a free public webinar on Tuesday, Oct. 27 from 12:30 to 2 p.m.

The Centre for Lifespan Development Research at Brock University will host “COVID-19 and the Community: Learning more about people’s behaviour and experiences during the pandemic.”

The live virtual event will address topics such as lying about symptoms, the effects of lockdown on active Canadians and the pandemic’s impact on young people’s lives. Continue reading

Progress Made To Restore & Protect Great Lakes At Risk Of Unravelling

As United States  Marks  48th Anniversary of Clean Water Act, Buffalo, New York Area Congressman Brian Higgins Leads Effort to Protect Its Progress

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

Posted October 23rd, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Great Lakes Task Force Members Press to Safeguard the Fresh Water System Which is Vital to the Environment & Economy

Our shared Great Lakes from space. A source of life-sustaining fresh water to tens-of-millons of Canadians and Americans, and a wealth of wildlife.

This week (October 19th thru October 25th), as the United States marks the 48th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) and colleagues on the Great Lakes Task Force warned the progress made to restore and protect the Great Lakes is at risk of unravelling.

In the letter encouraging continued investments and highlighting the threats posed by recent environmental rollbacks, the Great Lakes Task Force Members write: –

“The Great Lakes contain 84% of North America’s fresh water, see 200 million tons of cargo per year, and are home to over 30 million people in their basin. Efforts like the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement have made significant strides to revitalize the Great Lakes, reverse decades of industrial pollution, and create action plans to continue to on this course. Continue reading

St. Catharines MPP Calls On Ontario Government to Expand Testing for Toxins on Abandoned GM Property

“We must expedite this testing. Residents deserve up to date information.” – St. Catharines MPP Jennie Stevens

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

Posted October 22nd, 2020 on Niagara At Large

QUEEN’S PARK – St. Ctharines NDP MPP Jennie Stevens is urging the province to immediately expedite and expand testing of the former GM plant site in St. Catharines.

Once a major industrial force and source of good-paying jobs in St. Catharines, Niagara, what is left of the General Motors plant off Ontario Street in that city, has become an unwelcome eyesore for neighbours and is a source of citizens’ concerns about harmful contaminants possibly lurking on and migrating off the site.

The residents of St. Catharines had to wait almost six months for the results of the first round of testing which found high levels of carcinogenic PCB leaking into a creek. Stevens says the community needs the second round of testing to be analyzed without delay.

“We must expedite this testing. Residents deserve up to date information,” said Stevens at the Ontario legislature Thursday. Continue reading

Exploring the Ongoing Affordable Housing Crunch In Niagara

Why Are People Still Spending Years on a Waiting List for An Affordable Place to Live in this Region?

A Report from Brock University’s Niagara Community Observatory  in Niagara, Ontario

Posted October 22nd, 2020 on Niagara At Large

The Niagara Community Observatory’s latest brief, written by Assistant Professor of Political Science Joanne Heritz, explores factors that cause an imbalance in affordable housing supply and demand, steps being taken to increase affordable housing and whether these measures will be enough to meet future need in Niagara.

Niagara, Ontario – Anyone hoping to rent an affordable one-bedroom apartment from Niagara Regional Housing can be facing wait times of a decade or more, anywhere from nine years in Lincoln to 17 years in Niagara Falls.

And as the gap between supply and demand keeps growing, so does the number of people on the waiting list — by 20 per cent between 2017 and 2019 alone — making the search for affordable housing a frustrating experience, especially for Niagara’s poor and vulnerable.

The latest policy brief from Brock University’s Niagara Community Observatory — “Looking Ahead and Looking Up: Affordable Housing in Niagara” — explores factors that cause this imbalance in affordable housing supply and demand, steps being taken to increase affordable housing and whether these measures will be enough to meet future need. Continue reading

A Good Lovin’ Tribute to British Invasion Legend Spencer Davis

Founder of 1960s Spencer Davis Group Died This October 19th at Age 81

Spencer Davis was “like a big brother to me … He was influential in setting me on the road to becoming a professional musician, and I thank him for that.” – Steve Winwood, who rose to  stardom as lead singer and keyboard player in The Spencer Davis Group

A Brief Tribute by Doug Draper at Niagara At Large

Posted October 21st. 2020 on Niagara At Large

Spencer Davis, photographed here at the height of his fame in the 1960s

When The Beatles conquered the North American music scene in 1964, a wealth of musical talent followed in their way in what became known at the time as ‘The British Invasion.”

Among the many great groups that were part of this invasion’s first wave were The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Animals featuring Eric Burdon, The Yardbirds, featuring a young Eric Clapton and later Jeff Beck, The Hollies featuring Graham Nash, Them featuring Van Morrison, The Kinks, The Dave Clark Five and The Spencer Davis Group featuring an amazing teen singer and keyboard player, Steve Winwood.

Of course, there would be no Spencer Davis Group or venue for Steve Winwood to continue on with a successful solo career of his own if it were not for the guy who founded the group in Birmingham, England in 1963 – Spencer Davis. Continue reading

Buffalo, New York Area Congressman Calls Latest Extension of Canada-U.S. Border Closing “Heartbreaking”

Buffalo, New York area Congressman (Democrat) Brian Higgins

“As long as the U.S. President rejects scientific facts, calls medical experts ‘idiots’ and politicizes masks and other common sense health and safety protocols, coronavirus cases will rise, lives will be unnecessarily lost, and Americans will be seen as unwelcome health threat to our allies around the world.”          – Buffalo, New York area Congressman Brian Higgins

A Statement by Congressman Brian Higgins on Extension of the US-Canada Travel Ban Through November 21

Posted October 20th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Those were the days, before late March of this year when the Peace Bridge and other Canada-U.S. border crossings were closed to all but essential traffic due to the COVID-19 health crisis.

Buffalo, New York – Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) who serves as Co-Chair of the Congressional Northern Border Caucus, released the following statement in response to the continued closing of the U.S. – Canada border:

“This week Canada has extended its ban on Americans crossing the Northern border for the seventh time. It’s heartbreaking to have the door to our closest neighbor closed for eight months but easy to see why Canada continues to make this decision.

“As long as the U.S. President rejects scientific facts, calls medical experts ‘idiots’ and politicizes masks and other common sense health and safety protocols, coronavirus cases will rise, lives will be unnecessarily lost, and Americans will be seen as unwelcome health threat to our allies around the world. Continue reading

Ontario NDP Leader Calls for Getting For-Profit Corporations Out Of Long-Term Care

Andrea Horwath Is Forcing A Vote This October 20th On A Motion To Get For-Profit Companies Out Of Long-Term Care, And Replace Them With A Non-Profit And Public System

A News Release from the Office of Ontario NDP and Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath

Posted October 20th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Ontario NDP and Official Opposition Andrea Horwath in St. Catharines this August 8th to press for more resources to safeguard province’s long-term care homes

QUEEN’S PARK — This Tuesday, October 20th, Andrea Horwath will force a vote in the Ontario legislature on a motion to get for-profit companies out of long-term care, and replace them with an all non-profit and public system.

“COVID-19 revealed a disaster behind the walls of long-term care homes. More than 1,900 people have died, shattering thousands of families. And a second wave is upon us. We need to take action to protect seniors this time, and we have to do it now,” said Horwath.

“Then, after we make it out of this nightmare together, we need to fix the system for good. This pandemic ravaged long-term care homes because the system is a disaster – and it’s been getting worse for decades.” Continue reading

Ontario’s Ford Government Falls Short on its ‘Draft Blue Box Regulation’ Announcement

“As drafted, the proposed regulation locks Ontario into years of poor performance. Unfortunately, this comes as no surprise, as the province has underdelivered on every other waste regulation it has passed to date.”

A News Release from Environmental Defence, the Canadian Environmental Law Association and other Citizen Groups across Ontario
Posted October 19th, 2020 on Niagara At Large
Toronto, Ontario — The best and most important opportunities to improve recycling are missing from Ontario’s draft Blue Box regulation.

While shifting the cost of the Blue Box program to producers is vital, this regulation does little more than that.

Its narrow scope, low targets, and long transition period will mean millions of more tonnes of single-use products and packaging ending up in Ontario parks, lakes, landfills, and incinerators—an outcome that is out of step with public sentiment and the province’s own commitment to reducing litter and waste. Continue reading

Ontario Government Developing a “Stronger, More Effective” Blue Box Program

Province consulting on plan to increase recycling in more communities and help divert more waste from landfills

News from the Government of Ontario

Posted October 19th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

TORONTO — Ontario is kicking off Waste Reduction Week by unveiling regulations to improve the blue box program. The enhancements include expanding the items that can be recycled and making producers of products and packaging fully responsible for the waste they create.

“We’re creating a stronger and more effective Blue Box program that actually works,” said Minister Yurek. “By harnessing the innovation and ingenuity of industry and expanding recycling opportunities for people and businesses across the province, we can divert more waste away from landfills by finding new purposes for products and reinserting them back into the economy.” Continue reading

Key Changes to Niagara’s Waste Collection Start This Monday, October 19th

“The new waste collection contract coincides with Canada’s Waste Reduction Week and includes changes intended to help increase diversion (of household and commercial waste) from landfill.” – Niagara Region

 

 

News from Niagara’s Regional Government

Posted October 19th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – Niagara Region’s new waste collection contracts start Monday, Oct. 19, coinciding with Waste Reduction Week, a national environmental campaign to build awareness around sustainable and responsible consumption, and promote actions to divert more waste from disposal and conserve natural resources.

As part of the new waste collection contracts, Niagara Region is transitioning to a new every-other-week garbage collection frequency, which will affect next week’s curbside waste collection. Continue reading

Niagara Falls MPP Calls on Ontario Government to Fund More MRI Services in Niagara

“Our (Niagara) population requires more access to MRI services, not less. … Niagara’s MRI wait-times has severely increased and is now not in a position reasonably accommodate the residents of Niagara’s immediate medical needs leaving residents with an unreasonable wait as their health deteriorates.”                                – Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates in an Open Letter, dated October 14th, 2020, to Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott

An Open Letter from Niagagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates

Posted October 19th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

To Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier of Ontario & Minister of Health Ministry of Health from Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates

Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates

I am writing to you today regarding an urgent request from Niagara Health to fund a third MRI machine and operating hours to provide 16 hours of service, 7 days per week.

This request comes from the fact that Niagara’s MRI wait-times has severely increased and is now not in a position reasonably accommodate the residents of Niagara’s immediate medical needs leaving residents with an unreasonable wait as their health deteriorates. In 2016, the House unanimously adopted my motion to provide funding to clear Niagara’s MRI backlog.

Currently, there are only two machines that service Niagara’s population of 450,000. In 2016 the average wait-time for an MRI was 134 days. Continue reading

Niagara MPP Urges Ontario’s Ford Government to Embrace Niagara River as ‘Global Treasure’ and ‘Wetland of International Importance’

“I was shocked to see (Ontario’s) Niagara Parks Commission decided not to endorse this extremely important initiative that has been in the works for years by groups on both sides of the Niagara River.”                                                                                              – Niagara Centre NDP MPP Jeff Burch

Why can’t our public leaders in Niagara, Ontario do what our neighbours in Western New York have already done? – Approve a global desiignation on the Niagara River as an internationally important wetland. Photo by Doug Draper

This Open Letter circulated from MPP Jeff Burch’s Niagara Centre Constituency Office in Niagara, Ontario

Posted October 15th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

An OPEN LETTER from Niagara Centre NDP MPP Jeff Burch to – John Yakabuski, Ontario Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, Lisa MacLeod, Ontario Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, and Jeff Yurek, Ontario Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks

Dear Ministers Yakabuski, MacLeod and Yurek:

OPEN LETTER

Niagara Centre NDP MPP Jeff Burch

Given the drastic changes we see every day with climate change, I believe any initiative that promotes the protection of our wetlands including the Niagara River Corridor is imperative. The Ramsar Convention is a voluntary Treaty, committed to promoting the conservation and wise use of water-based ecosystems through international engagement and collaboration. 

The Treaty was signed in Ramsar, Iran; in 1971. Canada signed it in 1981, the United States in 1987.

Niagara Falls and Fort Erie endorsed the Ramsar Designation in 2015 along with the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority and Ontario Power Generation. It’s still under review by Niagara Regional Council but endorsed by its Planning and Economic Development Committee. Continue reading

Environmentalists to Province – “Stop Sprawl and Grow the Greenbelt”

Saving What is Left of Ontario’s Green Legacy Should be Part of COVID-19 Recovery

A News Release from  the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance

Posted October 15th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Ontario Regional and Provincial groups launch a new program to say to governments: COVID-19 recovery should “Stop Sprawl and Grow the Greenbelt”

Hamilton, Ontario – On the heels of York Region Council’s attempt to get the provincial government to open the Greenbelt to development, the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance (OGA) today (this October 15th, 2020) launched a program to do the exact opposite: stop sprawl-style development and bring more lands into the protected Greenbelt as part of government COVID-19 recovery plans.

Since the COVID-19 crisis began, people have been relying more and more on natural spaces and farmland to make it through the crisis,” said Lynda Lukasik, Executive Director, Environment Hamilton.

“These lands are key to our physical and mental well-being, the source of healthy, local food and the source of thousands of jobs. It’s time governments did more to better protect these lands and grow the Greenbelt.”

Continue reading

More Than 3,000 Canadians Urge American Tissue Paper Giant To Treat Ontario’s Forests With More Respect

“COVID-19 showed us that we care about toilet paper – a lot – but it doesn’t need to come directly from forests that are home to vulnerable wildlife species.”                                                                             – Dr. Julee Boan, Ontario Nature’s Boreal Program Manager based in Thunder Bay.

A News Release from Ontario Nature, a public-interest group advocating for the protection and preservation of Ontario’s green places

Posted October 13th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

In partnership with the David Suzuki Foundation, we (at Ontario Nature) sent a letter signed by more than 3,000 Canadians to Procter & Gamble in advance of its annual shareholder meeting today in Cincinnati, Ohio. The letter calls for American product companies be more responsible with Ontario’s forests.

From forests like this in Ontario …..

Procter & Gamble is an American multinational corporation with sales exceeding $60 billion per year. It is one of the largest buyers of Ontario pulp, producing a vast array of single-use, disposable products, from diapers to toilet paper. The company needs to do more to protect wildlife habitat and support Indigenous-led conservation.

Toronto / Thunder Bay, Ontario — Today (this October 13th) , a letter signed by more than 3,000 Canadians was submitted to Procter & Gamble in advance of its annual shareholder meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio. Continue reading

Let’s Give Thanks This Thanksgiving that We Live in Canada

 … And Not on the Other Side of the Canada-U.S. Border Where All Hell is Running Loose

A Brief Thanksgiving Note from Niagara At Large publisher Doug Draper

Posted October 11th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

This note might come across to at least some as sounding a bit too patriotic or ‘Pollyanna’, but I am prepared to live with that.

In my more than six decades of life on the Canadian side of the Canada-U.S. border, I have hardly ever felt more relieved and happy to be a Canadian rather than a citizens of a country that unabashedly sold itself to the rest of us as “the greatest democracy on earth.”

Well, something akin to our good friend Toto has pulled the curtains open to expose that illusion.

We now know that all it takes is a reality TV con man with a reptilian genius for stirring the latent anger, racism and love of guns and violence in far too many millions of Americans to see that so-called great democracy fall like a house of cards.  Continue reading

St. Catharines Citizens Call Out Ontario Environment Ministry’s Lack of Action on Toxic PCB Concerns

“Contaminants (including PCBs) entering Twelve Mile Creek , a tributary of Lake Ontario, is significant in terms of international efforts to protect Great Lakes habitats. (Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks testing shows) that a number of other contaminants like Poly Hydrocarbons (PHCs) and metals hazardous to human health and the environment were also leaking off the site.”

A News Release from the Coalition for a Better St. Catharines, a grassroots, citizen group  in Niagara, Ontario

Posted October 10th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – Today (this October 9th), the Coalition for a Better St. Catharines, a citizens’ advocacy group, challenged the conclusions of the Ministry of Environment Conservation and Parks (MECP) regarding contaminants leaking off the former GM Property in St. Catharines.

Once a major industrial force and source of good-paying jobs in St. Catharines, Niagara, what is left of the General Motors plant off Ontario Street in that city, has become an unwelcome eyesore for neighbours and may be a source to the Twelve Mile Creek and Lake Ontario of PCBS and other industrial poisons. Where it the government will to address it?

In a letter to Gary Wheeler, Ministry Spokesperson, the Coalition pointed out that PCBs were indeed leaking into Twelve Mile Creek from the former GM Property at levels at least 90% over the guidelines set by the Ontario government to prevent adverse effects to the environment and human health.

“MECP seems to downplay the situation at the former GM Property’, said Coalition spokesperson Dennis Van Meer,‘ despite clear evidence, to date they have not displayed any willingness to protect the environment or the community” Continue reading

Environmental Group Applauds Federal Government’s Pledge to Address Plastic Pollution

“Single-use plastics are one of the largest contributors to plastic waste and pollution in Canada, degrading ecosystems, harming wildlife, and, in many cases, are difficult to collect and recycle. It only makes sense to ban plastic items that we don’t really need and that wreak havoc on the environment.”

 

Statement from Environmental Defence’s Plastics Program Manager Ashley Wallis

Posted October 8th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Toronto, Ontario — We congratulate the federal government for announcing (this October 7th) its intention to regulate plastic production, use, and disposal using the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA).

Duck tangled in discarded plastic rings used to hold beverage cans together.

This is a critical next step in the government’s plans to address plastic pollution and is a justified response to the plastics crisis in Canada.

Industry’s demand for a new plastics law is a blatant attempt to delay or block federal action, and we applaud the federal government’s refusal to bow to the chemical lobby. Continue reading

National Poll Shows Over 40 Percent of Canadians Are Self-Described Climate Voters

COVID-19 Crisis and Climate Crisis both important,  finds Friends of the Earth

 

News from Friends of the Earth, one of the world’s longest lasting environmental organizations

Posted October 10th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

In releasing a new national poll, Beatrice Olivastri, CEO, Friends of the Earth said, “Despite COVID-19, climate is clearly on the minds of Canadians. Forty-two percent of respondents described themselves as climate voters.

The findings of this poll point to a caring Canadian society that wants immediate pandemic relief while understanding that climate action is needed now to save future generations from grave harm”

The COVID-19 pandemic is seen as the most important issue that will have long term consequences by an equal number of males (36%) and females (35%). But women put climate change at the same level of concern (34%) as COVID-19 while men (22%) see it as the second most important issue. Continue reading

Canada One Step Closer To Zero Plastic Waste by 2030

Comprehensive plan includes banning harmful single-use plastic items like bags and straws

News from Canada’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change

Posted October 7th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Plastic is polluting our rivers, lakes, and oceans, harming wildlife, and generating microplastics in the water we use and drink. Every year, Canadians throw away 3 million tonnes of plastic waste, only 9%of which is recycled, meaning the vast majority of plastics end up in landfills and about 29,000 tonnes finds its way into our natural environment.

 

 

 

Canadians expect the Government to take action to protect the environment and to reduce plastic pollution across the country.

This October 7th, 2020 , Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, announced the next steps in the Government of Canada’s plan to achieve zero plastic waste by 2030.

The plan will protect wildlife and our waters, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create jobs. Continue reading

A Possibly Once In a Lifetime Chance for Niagara Residents to Preserve Our Region’s Natural Heritage.

Niagara’s Regional Government Is Giving Citizens Until This Coming Friday, October 9th – Just a Couple More Days – to Offer Their Feedback

An Urgent Message to All of Us from Liz Benneian, a Niagara, Ontario resident and member of the Biodiversity and Climate Action Committee, a citizen-based conservation and environmental organization in Niagara

Posted October 6th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

We cannot allow vital natural resources like this, in Thundering Waters Forest in Niagara Falls, Ontario, be compromised or destroyed by narrow-minded politicians who march to the tune of the greediest in the development industry, in this Niagara region.

In the coming months, Niagara’s Regional Council will have a once in a lifetime chance to vote to preserve Niagara’s natural heritage for the future or to continue to allow it to be destroyed and paved over, leaving a devastated ecosystem to our children and grandchildren.

Niagara’s citizens also have a once in a lifetime opportunity to have their say. Given the development pressure Niagara Region is under, if the right choice isn’t made now, there will be nothing left to protect.

Public feedback on the options must be in by October 9th. Feedback can be as simple as saying you want the system that is most protective of our remaining natural environment and water resources.Feedback can be sent to Regional Planner Sean Norman at sean.norman@niagararegion.ca

As part of the Official Plan review, the Region must develop a Natural Heritage System (NHS) and a Water Resource System (WRS). The HNS and WRS plans will be brought to Council in the next couple of months. Continue reading

Discarded Black Kitten Named ‘Midnight’ is Now in Caring Hands

“While black cats are sometimes difficult to re-home, dumping a kitten in a park, or anywhere other than bringing it to someone who can provide care, is unacceptable and cruel.”                                  – Kevin Strooband, Executive Director of the Lincoln County Humane Society

A cruelly discarded kitten, now named Midnight by  rescuers. Photo from the Lincoln County Humane Society

News from the Lincoln County Humane Society in Niagara, Ontario

Posted October 1st, 2020 on Niagara At Large

A cold-hearted individual visited the Murray Street Park in Grimsby this October 1st and discarded something valuable.

Shortly after, Lisa, who lives in Grimsby, was walking her dog in the park and noticed a cat carrier.  Lisa investigated and quickly realized, a small, less than 1 kilogram black kitten, was left in the park with nothing but the cat carrier.  Lisa picked up the kitten and promptly delivered it to the Lincoln County Humane Society.  Continue reading

Could New Niagara Falls Hospital Seal Fate for Thundering Waters Forest?

If All of The Development that Unfolded Around the West St. Catharines Hospital Serves as Any Example, the Answer May be ‘YES’

Niagara’s Hospital System to Hold Zoom Webinar for Public – This Thursday, October 1st, on Plans to Move Foreword with “South Niagara Hospital”

 

 

A Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher               Doug Draper

Posted September 29th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

The original billboard, erected about seven years ago, way out at the southwest end of Niagara Falls at the proposed site for a new “Niagara South Hospital.” How many people in south Niagara really think this is a good site for a new hospital for the region’s southern tier munincipalities?

When I visited Niagara Health’s website earlier this September and read a notice that it is planning to hold an online “information session” this October 1st on the South Niagara Hospital project, my heart sank.

My first thought was this –

If Niagara Health (formerly known as the Niagara Health System (NHS), created by the former Ontario Mike Harris government to amalgamate Niagara’s system of hospitals), moves forward with this new “South Niagara Hospital” at this site – way out in the woods and fields lands in  the south-western end of Niagara Falls – all of the green areas in between that site and already developed areas closer to the upper Niagara River and Falls, will be urbanized in no time flat. Continue reading

Niagara Falls NDP MPP Introduces Bill to Support Ontario’s Wineries

Wayne Gates Introduced A Bill At The Ontario Legislature To Create An Exemption For VQA and 100 Per Cent Ontario Wine From The 6.1 Percent Basic Tax 

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

Posted September 30the, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates

QUEEN’S PARK — NDP MPP Wayne Gates (Niagara Falls) introduced a bill Wednesday at the Ontario legislature to create an exemption for VQA and 100 per cent Ontario wine from the 6.1 percent Basic Tax paid on wine sold at winery retail stores.

“The wine industry is an incredibly important part of our community here in Niagara and the economic impact of COVID-19 has dealt a massive blow,” said Gates. “This legislation is an important step in creating a level playing field and assisting our wineries and growers during a difficult time.”

Gates’ bill, the Supporting Economic Recovery and Renewal in the Niagara Region Act, would create the tax exception for all on-site retail sales of VQA and 100 percent Ontario wine for all wineries in the province. Continue reading