New York State Senator Asks Niagara’s Regional Council to Join Americans in Celebrating Niagara River

“An (internationally recognized) Ramsar designation is exciting and something to be proud of; we are lucky to live near and share an ecological setting like the Niagara River Corridor worthy of such an honor.”                                                                       – New York State Senator Sean Ryan

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

Posted March 22nd, 2021 on Niagara At Large

In an open letter to Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley, a New York State senator has expressed his hope that the people of Niagara, Ontario will finally join their American neighbours in celebrating the designation of the Niagara River as “a wetland of international importance.”

The letter from New York Senator Sean Ryan is dated March 10th and has been included in Niagara Regional Council’s agenda package before members o fhe council meet this coming Thursday, March 25th to vote on a motion for such a designation under a framework 170 nations around the world, including Canada, signed in Ramsar, Iran in 1971.

Since the signing of what has become known as the “Ramsar Convention,” more than 2,300 waterbodies around the world have been designated as “wetlands of international importance,” including the United States side of the Niagara River where representatives from federal, state and municipal governments gathered with citizen groups on the American side of the in October of 2019 to celebrate the designation. Continue reading

It’s Still Far from Safe Enough to Fully Open Canada-U.S. Border Crossings

‘A vaccination passport should be a necessity to travel to ANY other country (including to Canada or the United States) or attend certain mass gatherings. No passport, no entry.’

A Commentary by Linda McKellar, a retired nurse living in the Niagara Town of Fort Erie, Ontario

Posted March 22nd, 2021 on Niagara At Large

I’m in no rush (to cross the Canada/U.S. border).

The stats say eight per cent are vaccinated in Canada vs 23 per cent  in the United States.

That is FAR from the preferred minimum herd immunity required of @70% and there are lots of morons refusing the vaccine.

Why do they think they no longer get polio or smallpox? Fairy dust?

Thank you U.S. President Biden for the AstraZeneca. Sadly it is not currently recommended for those over 65, but better safe than sorry. Continue reading

Ontario’s Ford Government is All In on Privatizing Our Water

Province’s NDP Environment critic demands Ford government block the sale of Ontario’s water rights to American private equity investors

A News Release from Ontario’s NDP Official Opposition Party

Posted March 22nd, 2021 on Niagara At Large

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

Nothing surprising here.

If Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his Conservative government have their way, ever more of the water we are drinking will be treated, tested and sold by private corporations.

If anything is crystal clear about Ontario’s Ford government by now it is this. If there is a false choice Premier Doug Ford can manufacture between protecting our environment and shoveling more dollars into the pockets of his private-sector donor supporters and friends, he will pave over a wetland to please his private sector buddies every time.

And when I say no surprising here, this is one of the reasons why.

It must be remember that one of Ford’s friends and mentors – former Tory Premier Mike Harris, who is in line to be awarded an Order of Ontario of Ontario citizenship award for God knows what reasons – moved to sell off some of our water from the Great Lakes to private concerns more than two decades ago.

Many environmental groups protested at the time but Harris and company, including one of his Tory ministers, then Niagara MPP Tim Hudak, could care less, and they simply wrote people off who are about the environment as “special interests” and went ahead and did it anyway. Continue reading

One Year On, Our Beloved Cross-Border Places and Friends Remain So Close, Yet So Far Away

A Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper, followed by a limerick from a U.S. friend of mine who is also a friend of Canada

Posted March 21st, 2021 on Niagara At Large

The Peace Bridge crossing between Fort Erie, Ontario and Buffalo, New York, loaded with trucks and cars, in the times before COVID-19

One full year now!

Can you believe it – a whole year has gone by since the federal governments in Canada and the United States closed our border crossings from coast to coast to everyone but “essential” traffic, whatever essential means in the eyes of a Canadian government that doesn’t seem to mind Canadian “snowbirds” hopping on a helicopter or plane to have their cars delivered to them on the other side of the border.

The skyline of Buffalo,New York from Ontario – so close and yet now so far away.

I am in my 60s going on 70 years old and I don’t think I don’t think there has been a time in my life that a whole year has gone by without crossing the border from Niagara, Ontario to the U.S.A.

On recent hikes with friends along the Ontario side of the Niagara River, I now look across the water at places like Buffalo or Lewiston, New York and think – “So near, yet so far away.Continue reading

A Call for a Full Reopening of Canada-U.S. Border Crossings This Summer

Buffalo, New York area Congressman Says Vaccine Progress & Collaboration Should Allow for US-Canada Border to Fully Reopen this Summer

This March 21st Marks One-Year Anniversary of Northern Border Shutdown

Buffalo, New York area Congressman Brian Higgins

“Vaccine manufacturing and distribution in the US is way ahead of schedule making it possible to help Canada without compromising distribution in the US. Now is the time to move aggressively in a bilateral way on a plan to reopen the border.”  – Buffalo, New York area Congressman and Co-Chair of the Northern Border Caucus, Brian Higgins

A News Release from the Office of U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins

Posted March 20th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Buffalo, New York – U.S. Democratic Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) is continuing to push for a full reopening of the border between the U.S. and Canada by July and encouraging a partial reopening, including additional exemptions to allow families to reunite, much sooner. March 21, 2021 marks the one-year anniversary of the northern border closing to non-essential travel.

Could we get back to anything like this – a line-up of cars on the U.S. side of the Peace Bridge border crossing – this summer?

Higgins, who serves as Co-Chair of the Northern Border Caucus, said, “A great deal of positive developments have occurred over the last several months. The U.S. and Canada are collaborating in a meaningful way again.

Vaccine manufacturing and distribution in the US is way ahead of schedule making it possible to help Canada without compromising distribution in the US. Now is the time to move aggressively in a bilateral way on a plan to reopen the border. It can be done with appropriate safety measures. Let’s get the border open.” Continue reading

Here’s To The First Day of Spring!

Let’s All Work Together – with masks, social-distancing and vaccines – to Collectively Celebrate a Healthier, Happier Summer of 2021

A Brief Comment by Doug Draper

Posted on this first day of spring, Saturday March 20th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

“Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter,” read one of the first lyrics in the late Beatles’ George Harrison’s song ‘Here Comes The Sun’, and it is hard to imagine a longer, lonelier winter than the one we’ve just been through with COVID-19.

There is hope for better days for all of us though.

This March 20th, 2021 marks the first day of spring and in our region of the world, the sun is out, the temperatures are rising, and I saw a pair of robins in my backyard – the same pair, I think, that have been coming back to our backyard for at least the last two or three years.

I wish us all better times that will only come if we continue to remain vigilant in observing all of the recommended health measures that need to be followed to finally beat this killer virus.

In the meantime, I leave you with a Youtube version of George Harrison’s great song, ‘Here Comes The Sun’, recorded by American solo artist Brian Fennell, who records under the name SYML, which reportedly means “simple” in Welsh.

To watch the video for this great song of spring, click on the screen immediately below –

 

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 Falls MPP Lays Out Our Niagara’s Urgent Needs in this coming week’s Ford Government Budget

“This budget can give people hope. … It has the chance to tell people in Niagara that there is a light at the end of this tunnel and that we’re going to invest in your healthcare, in your jobs and in keeping our seniors safe.”                                                           – Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates

Niagara Falls, Ontario NDP MPP Wayne Gates

NIAGARA FALLS, Ontario  — MPP Wayne Gates (Niagara Falls) laid out what he called ‘urgent priorities’ for the Niagara Region that must be included in Ford’s upcoming budget.

“Now, more than ever before, we need a budget that prioritizes healthcare in Niagara, getting people back to work safely and fixing the nightmare that we know our long-term system has become for our seniors,” said Gates.

“Our hospitals were overcrowded before this pandemic began, now we see why that cannot be standard operation. We’re ready for the New Niagara Falls Hospital, so this budget needs to get shovels in the ground. The budget needs to get that hospital built and move to ensure that we’re quickly clearing out the backlog of surgeries, cancer screenings and MRI screenings – that can be done easily if it’s prioritized.”

Gates also discussed the urgent need to get people back to work.

“People have been out of work for almost a year now, we need the supports to get them back to work safely, especially at our casinos. I’ve talked to the workers, they want to work, I’ve talked to the management and they have a safety plan – now we need the Province to prioritize those discussions,” said Gates.

A poster produced by the citizens group Ontario Families for Public Education in response to one of the Ford government’s earlier budget, almost always cutting funding for frontline public services, and giving our money to their well-healed private sector supporters.

Gates said he’s also raised the issue of small businesses directly with the Premier, “I’ve tried to show him where these supports are falling short and where more investment is needed so our small businesses not only don’t go bankrupt, but don’t have to go into debt either.”

“This budget can give people hope, and tell them we will be there for them until this pandemic ends. It has the chance to tell people in Niagara that there is a light at the end of this tunnel and that we’re going to invest in your healthcare, in your jobs and in keeping our seniors safe. If this budget does not get our hospital built, save local businesses, get people back to work and pass the legislation we’ve tabled to protect seniors then it is a missed opportunity,” said Gates.

Gates has also put forward a number of bills he is hoping will become reality. Two of the bills legislate safety protocols for injured workers and would give frontline workers WSIB coverage if they contracted COVID on the job.

Gates has also tabled a tourism tax credit that he believes will supercharge the domestic tourism industry once the pandemic ends, an industry that provides tens of thousands of jobs across Niagara. The Official Opposition has also legislation before the House that would mandate four hours of hands on care for seniors in long-term care and give LTC staff permanent raises.

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 is Forcing Most Citizen Reps Off Conservation Authority Boards with Help of Math Trick

Citizen Members on Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority Among Those with Targets on their Backs

The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority’s board of directors in session during one of its 2020 meetings shortly before the COVID-19 lockdown. File photo by Doug Draper

News from Citizens at City Hall, a Hamilton, Ontario-based citizens watchdog group

Posted March 19th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Nearly all volunteer citizen representatives are being forced off the boards of Conservation Authorities across Ontario as further impacts of last December’s provincial legislation take effect.

 

The Ford government now has proclaimed the governance section of Bill 229 that amended the Conservation Authorities Act and which now requires that a minimum percentage of members of Conservation Authority (CA) boards have to be mayors or councillors.

Many current boards include significant numbers of volunteer citizen members who fully share in the decision-making of the CAs. But the new provincial rules say as of 2023 municipalities must select elected politicians for at least 70 percent of their allotted seats. One of the effects will be fewer persons of colour on these boards. Continue reading

Ontario’s Liberal Leader Should Step up to the Plate on Climate

It’s time for Steven Del Duca to become a climate leader

A News Release from the Ontario Clean Air Alliance

Posted March 18th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Steven Del Duca and the Ontario Liberal Party are asking for ideas on how to improve life in Ontario. As part of their efforts to develop a compelling platform for the next election they are calling on the people of Ontario to weigh in on what their priorities should be.

A look at some of the statements on the party’s consultation website makes it clear that the Liberals need to hear from you, especially on two subjects: Continue reading

Ford’s Niagara West MPP Embraces Group Comparing  Abortion to Hitler’s Jewish Holocaust

Self-Proclaimed “Right to Life” Niagara West MPP Same Oosterhoff, serving as  Parliamentary Assistant to Ford Government Minister of Education – still plans to headline controversial anti-abortion event

A News Release from Ontario’s NDP Official Opposition Party

Posted March 17th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Ontario Premier Doug Ford allowing Sam Oosterhoff’s anti-abortion event to go ahead

Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Education still plans to headline controversial event

Ford government Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff featured on poster for anit-abortion even by organizers comparing abortion to Holocaust

QUEEN’S PARK, Ontario — Premier Doug Ford was slated to talk to MPP Sam Oosterhoff two days ago about his plan to headline Wednesday (March 17ths’) night’s hateful anti-choice event where the hosts have compared abortion to the Holocaust.

Since Oosterhoff is still scheduled to lead that event, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is asking: is Oosterhoff fired, or is Doug Ford condoning his anti-choice crusading?

“It’s clear that Doug Ford has given his MPP the green light to attend an event that compares every woman’s right to choose to the horrors of the Holocaust. Doug Ford promised to take action, but instead of firing him from his Parliamentary Assistant role immediately, Doug seems to have given his approval,” said Horwath. Continue reading

Marottta Development Group Abandons Rand Estate Court Challenge in Niagara-on-the-Lake

The Marotta group has abandoned its court challenge of the legality of the Town’s heritage designation bylaws for the Rand Estate, paying $170,000 in costs in order to walk away from the appeal

A News Release from SORE (Save Our Rand Estate), a citizen’s group in Niagara-on-the-Lake

Posted March 17th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario – SORE is pleased to report that the Marotta group has abandoned its court challenge of the legality of the Town’s heritage designation bylaws for the Rand Estate.

One of a number of rallies, held by SORE and its supporters over the past five or six years, in support of preserving the historic Rand Estate in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario as a heritage site for now and future generations.

 Our supporters will recall that in January of 2019, Benny Marotta’s new lawyers launched a court challenge to the legality of the Town’s August 2018 Notices of Intent to Designate the four Rand Estate properties under the Heritage Act.   The Marotta group lawyers first contested SORE’s application to be made a party to that court challenge. Continue reading

For All of You Who Are Irish – Even for Just This One Day – HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY!

Please Stay Safe and We Will All Live to Gather at St. Patrick’s Day Parades and Celebrations in 2022

Niagara Falls to be Illuminated Green in Celebration of St. Patrick’s Day

The world-renown Horseshoe Falls in Niagara Falls, illuminated in green lights for St. Patrick’s Day. file photo courtesy of the Niagara Parks Commission

A Message from the Niagara Parks Commission in Ontario and the Niagara Falls Illumination Board

Posted March 16th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Falls, Ontario and New York – The Niagara Falls Illumination Board will be illuminating both the Canadian Horseshoe and American Falls in green for 15-minutes at the top each hour, beginning at 8:00pm this Wednesday, March 17th  in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.

The illumination is carried out each year on March 17th as part of Tourism Ireland’s “Global Greening” initiative which sees hundreds of iconic landmarks from around the world lit in green to mark the occasion. Continue reading

Bob Gale Running for Ford Tories in Niagara Falls Riding

Niagara Falls Regional Councillor Bob Gale to run as the Ford Tory in Niagara Falls Riding in 2022 Ontario election

The Well-Known Gales Gas Bar Man and Niagara Falls Regional Councillor will Run Against NDP MPP Niagara Falls Riding Incumbent Wayne Gates in 2022 Ontario Election

A Brief News Commentary by Doug Draper at Niagara At Large

Posted March 16th, 2022

Well, okay, I guess.

But there is no guessing about this.

We are certainly in for  one hell of a  race (and possibly even a race from hell) come the winter and spring of 2022, when Bob Gale – known, at the very least, for a chain of Niagara area gas stations with his family name on them – and a member of Niagara Regional Council for the City of Niagara Falls for a few terms, runs for a provincial government seat against incumbent Wayne Gates in next year’s Ontario election.

Bob Gale, making another point at a Niagara Regional Council meeting.

Gale – I tend to think of him as “the  gas man” – was reportedly acclaimed a few days by Ford Conservative Party faithful in the Niagara Falls, Fort Erie and Niagara-on-the-Lake area which constitutes the Niagara Falls riding to run as Ford’s candidate in the 2020 provincial election.

His major rival will be incumbent Wayne Gates, the NDP representative and a former Niagara Falls city councillor and union leader, who has had a rock solid base of support in the riding for many years. Continue reading

Some in Niagara Seem to Have a Problem with Smart, Out-Spoken Women

So They Turn to Belittling and Harassing Them. And That Has Got To Stop!

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

Posted March 16th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Some angry, hate-filled trolls can’t stop sending ugly messages to St. Catharines Regional Councillor Laura Ip and other strong-voiced women in Niagara.

Niagara, Ontario – I picked up a copy of The St. Catharines Standard this March 16th and there was a headline on the newspaper’s front page that has become all too familiar across Niagara in recent years.

This one read; ‘Harassment is hitting new low, Ip says.’

In this case, Ip is St. Catharines Regional Councillor Laura Ip, but the headline might just as well have highlighted the name of any one of a number of higher profile women in public life in Niagara who have been subjected to everything from insults meant to belittle or demean them, to menacing message that smell like threat to them or members of their families.

Just to get back to this most recent headline, there may be no surprise that Laura Ip, who has a record of taking strong positions of issues – positions considered objectionable or controversial to some – might draw strong criticism from those same people. Continue reading

Ontario’s NDP Demands Ford Revoke Legislation That Puts Our Environment In The Hands Of Developers

“The fight to save our environment from Doug Ford is not over. The Ford government is still threatening the environment throughout the province, and rigging the planning system in favour of well-connected developers and PC donors.”

A Brief Foreword Note from Niagara At Large – WILL THUNDERING WATERS FOREST in Niagara Falls, Ontario BE NEXT in Ford’ development-at-any-cost assault on our natural heritage across our province?!!!

News from Ontario’s NDP Official Opposition Party
Posted March 15th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Don’t let Ontario Premier Doug Ford and the worst in the development industry take out places like this – provincially significant wetlands in the Thundering Waters Forest in Niagara Falls, Ontario. What is left of our natural heritage and the health benefits natural spaces offer are worth far more than the narrow-mindedness of far too many in government and a predatory development industry in Ontario..

QUEEN’S PARK – Official Opposition NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is demanding the Ford government immediately revoke the Minister’s Zoning Order (MZO) that threatens to destroy the Duffins Creek wetland, and to repeal legislation Doug Ford is using to re-write laws to allow developers to bulldoze over protected areas.
On Friday (march 12th, 2021), Amazon announced it would not build a giant warehouse on the site, and the City of Pickering called for a pause on the development of this wetland. Now the developer says it won’t alter the wetland, but the NDP is looking for province-wide protection.

Continue reading

Ontario Launching Provincial Booking System for COVID-19 Vaccines

Individuals 80 Years of Age and Older Will Be Able to Schedule Appointments

“The introduction of these booking systems puts in place the final piece in the  province’s infrastructure to rollout its vaccination program.” – General  (Ret’d) Rick Hillier.

A News Release from Ontario’s Ford Government

Posted March 15th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

TORONTO, Ontario  — The Ontario government is launching a provincial booking system and  customer service desk to support COVID-19 vaccination appointment bookings. The portal will be live on Monday, March 15 at 8:00 a.m. and will be accepting  appointment bookings at mass immunization clinics, starting with individuals aged 80 and older.

“We are making steady progress in the execution of our vaccine distribution plan, and the launching of the online booking system is another major milestone,” said Premier Doug Ford. Continue reading

Almost 4,000 Dead in Ontario’s Long-Term Care Homes as We Approach End of Wave 2

And Thanks to Ford Government Failures, Wave 2 Deaths Exceed Wave 1

A News Release from the Ontario Health Coalition, a non-profit advocacy group for quality public health care in Ontario

Posted March 12th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Toronto, Ontario  – As the devastation of the second wave of COVID-19 abates, we are left with certainty that Ontario failed to adequately prepare its health care setting despite months of warning.

Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates, left, with St. Catharines NDP MPP Jennie Stevens immediately to his right, and over at the right side of the photo, Niagara Health Coalition leader Sue Hotte, at the July 3rd, 2020  shout-out in St. Catharines for more public resources for long-term care homes like this one at the privately owned and operated Garden City Manor in St. Catharines. File Photo by Doug Draper

The Ontario Health Coalition has been tracking COVID-19 outbreaks in health care settings since mid-March, and released a new report today on large outbreaks in health care settings, including long-term care, hospitals and retirement homes.

The new report can be found here. <https://www.ontariohealthcoalition.ca/index.php/report-tracking-the-spread-of-covid-19-large-outbreaks-in-health-care-settings-summary-report-over-two-thousand-dead-in-long-term-care-as-we-approach-end-of-wave-2-data-updated-to-march-3/>

Check out what privately run home is at the top of this list, compiled by the Ontario Health Coalition.

As of March 3, the second wave of COVID-19 has 53% more infections and 14% more deaths in residents, patients, and staff than the first wave. Continue reading

Niagara Residents Should Be Included In Vaccine Pilot Projects, Not Denied Vaccines Again

St. Catharines MPP says local pharmacists and doctors are ready to put shots in arms

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

Posted March 11th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

St. Catharines NDP MPP Jenniie Stevens

QUEEN’S PARK – NDP MPP Jennie Stevens (St. Catharines) demanded answers from the premier Thursday on why Niagara is yet again being treated unfairly by the Ford government, after the region was excluded from vaccine pilots for pharmacies and family physicians.

Despite Niagara being uniquely vulnerable to COVID-19, with one of the oldest populations in the province, and one of the highest rates of COVID-19 in the province, Niagarans who desperately need these life-saving shots are now being told they have to wait even longer.

“We can’t turn back time, but when you diverted 5,500 Moderna doses of life-saving vaccines from Niagara we were in the middle of a crisis where we had one death every three and a half hours over the span of a week. We can’t change the past, but you can consider Niagara now,” said Stevens during question period Thursday at the Ontario legislature. Continue reading

It Was One Year Ago Today, and More Than 22,000 Canadian Deaths Later …

A National Day of Observance for a Pandemic That Brought on One of the Longest, Darkest Years in Modern Times

A Brief One from Doug Draper at Niagara At Large

Posted March 11th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

On this 1st anniversary of a the declaration of a global pandemic by the World Health Organization, suffice to say it has been a very hard year for virtually all of us – with the exception of those who live the alternative reality that COVID-19 is a hoax or is something overblown by liberals or socialist using it as another way to harness their freedoms.

For my part, I have had my ups and downs, and no end of mood swings around soldiering on with keeping this Niagara At Large independent news and commentary project going.

I never envisioned this site, which I always hoped would place focus on building better communities and healthier environments, to become a venue for all of the news that necessarily had to be posted on a killer virus. Continue reading

Niagara Region’s Drinking Water Plants Exceed Expectations With 100% Rating from Ontario’s Environment Ministry

A 100 per cent rating demonstrates  Region’s commitment to go above and beyond the multi-barrier, health-based drinking water quality standards mandated by the province. The results were presented to the Niagara Region on March 9th

News from Niagara’s Regional Government in Niagara, Ontario

Posted March 10th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

A Brief Foreword by Doug Draper at Niagara At Large –

Niagara Region’s Decew Water plant in Niagara, Ontario. Photo courtesy of Niagara Region

With so much negative news involving Ontario’s Ford government assaulting environmental protection programs these days, it is heartening to get some news that is positive.

And this news is no small deal because it is about the quality of water that comes out of taps in homes across Niagara, Ontario.

This news is about a top rating Ontario’s Ministry of Environment has once again given for the high quality of water Niagara’s Regional Government treatment plants pump to homes across the region that receive their water from one of these plants.

When I worked as a full-time environment reporter for The St. Catharines Standard through the 1980s and 90s, I visited the Region’s Decew water treatment plant in St. Catharines a number of times and there was a very dedicated person running that plant at the time named Andy Forbes. Continue reading

Ford Government Rejects Life-Saving Proposals In Long-Term Care Because Of Cost

New expert testimony at LTC Commission reveals Ford didn’t want to spend the money

“Imagine how families whose loved ones got sick or died in long-term care will feel when they learn that Doug Ford could have done more to protect their parents and grandparents, but he chose not to spend the money.”                                                               – Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath

A News Release from Ontario’s NDP Official Opposition Party

Posted March 9th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

QUEEN’S PARK, Ontario — Doug Ford’s government rejected proposals that could have saved lives in long-term care homes because of the cost, according to newly revealed expert testimony at Ontario’s Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission.

Official Opposition NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said it’s despicable that the Conservatives would make such a cold, cruel financial calculation when Ontarians’ parents and grandparents were getting sick and dying from COVID-19 in long-term care homes. Continue reading

A Warning to Us All – With Rising Temperatures, Navigating Ice on Our Rivers and Lakes is Unsafe

St. Catharines Fire Services warns no ice is safe ice after Sunday, March 7th Rescue

A Message from from the St. Catharines Fire Department in Niagara, Ontario

Posted March 9th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Please stop venturing out like this on our rivers and lakes. The ice is melting and it is getting very danderous.

Niagara, Ontario — The experience of two teens who became trapped on a Lake Ontario ice shelf, one of them eventually ending up in the frigid water, is serving as a reminder to residents to stay off frozen water bodies as the temperature warms.
St. Catharines Fire Services responded to a call Sunday evening after two teens ventured out onto an ice shelf at the end of Geneva Street.

Continue reading

In Letter to Niagara Regional Council, A Large Coalition Area Citizens Urges a Post-Pandemic End to Low-Density Residential Sprawl

“Low density residential development is an economic disaster, as well as an environmental one. Our current infrastructure deficit will only grow as we continue to build out into greenfields, constructing new roads, water and sewer infrastructure and all the public services that citizens need but that existing taxpayers cannot afford. …”                                                                                          – from the letter that groups of citizens and individual citizens across Niagara, Ontario sent to members of Niagara’s Regional Council

Posted March 8th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

A Brief Foreword by Doug Draper, a veteran environment reporter and publisher of Niagara At Large –

I can understand why any news that Niagara’s Regional Government is in the process of updating its Official Plan may not bring a tingle to very many fingers.

An Official Plan process? Seems pretty boring, right? It sounds like he kind of thing that someone would only get their rocks off on if they were a policy wonk.

But revising Niagara, Ontario’s Official Plan is a a very huge deal in that it sets the guidelines and rules for how our communities across this region grow for decades to come.

The very economic and environmental health of our communities, for generations to come, can and will be impacted on how our municipal, provincial and federal governments lay plans for how our communities grow. Continue reading

More Than 22,000 Canadian Deaths Later, Our Long, Dark Day  into a COVID-19 Night Began A Year Ago This March

“On this day – this Thursday, March 11th, 2021 –  I invite all Canadians to join together in honouring the memory of those we have lost, and the people they left behind.”                                                          – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

A Statement by the Prime Minister announcing a National Day of Observance for COVID-19

Posted March 8th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Ottawa, Ontario – The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today (this March 11th) issued the following statement to announce the Government of Canada is designating March 11, 2021, as a National  Day of Observance to commemorate the people who lost their lives and the significant impacts we have all felt because of COVID-19:

“Early last year, our lives, and the lives of everyone around the world, were forever changed by the emergence of COVID-19. Today – one year after the first known death of a Canadian to the disease – we now mourn the tragic loss of more  than 22,000 parents, siblings, friends, and loved ones.

“COVID-19 has infected over 864,000 other Canadians, and has had an immeasurable impact on how we all work and learn, connect with friends and family, and live our daily lives. All Canadians have experienced sacrifice and loss over the past year. Our kids have missed birthday parties, seniors have felt isolated from the ones they love, and for far too many, this virus has meant the loss of their job or the closure of their business. Continue reading

The Struggle for Equality and Justice for Women Continues on this International Women’s Day

And When Is Canada’s Federal Government Going to Stop Just Talking, and Start Walking the Walk to Do Something About It?

A Brief Commentary from Doug Draper on Niagara At Large

Posted March 8th, 2021

This Monday, March 8th is International Women’s Day, and political leaders around the world, including Canada’s own Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – who was once audacious enough to call himself a “feminist” – want to be seen, through circulated statements, paying homage to it.

“Every day, women and girls strengthen our communities, our country, and our world. They drive our economy as business leaders, help advance our knowledge in all fields, and create opportunity and security as heads of state and government,” says Trudeau in a statement the Prime Minister’s Office released in the morning of this.March 8th. Continue reading

Ontario’s New Democrats Unveil What They Call “Ontario’s Boldest-Ever Climate Plan”

“The climate crisis is the greatest threat our world faces, but it’s also an incredible opportunity. It’s an opportunity not only to go green, but to shift to a more sustainable job-rich and just economy.”                                                                                                                – Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath

A News Release from Ontario’s NDP Official Opposition Party

Posted March 6th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

TORONTO — Andrea Horwath and the NDP are laying out the boldest, most effective and achievable climate plan Ontario’s ever had.

In Climate. Jobs. Justice. A Green New Democratic Deal Horwath’s NDP commits to a comprehensive strategy to make Ontario net-zero by 2050, and orchestrate a just transition including the creation of 100,000 permanent jobs from an ambitious building retrofit program, and as many as one million total jobs throughout the life of the deal.

“The climate crisis is the greatest threat our world faces, but it’s also an incredible opportunity. It’s an opportunity not only to go green, but to shift to a more sustainable job-rich and just economy,” said Horwath during the unveiling of the climate plan this March 6th.

“We’re already paying a price for the climate crisis, and the price our children and grandchildren could pay is unthinkable. No family should have to evacuate again and again because floodwaters keep rising. No one should worry that the air outside isn’t safe enough for kids to go out to play. No one should worry about next generation because of our planet’s uncertain future. With the NDP’s plan, there’s hope.” Continue reading

GTA Governments Challenging Ontario Ford Government’s Climate-Threatening Policies

“Of particular issue are new rules that sharply curtail local control over how to respond to growth by requiring that housing plans be determined using a “market-based” approach with no climate considerations.”

A Report from the public watchdog group Citizens at City Hall (CATCH) in Hamilton, Ontario

Posted March 6th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Major municipal governments across the GTA (Southern Ontario’s Greater Toronto Area) are challenging more of the climate-threatening policies of (Doug Ford’)  provincial government.

Mississauga has joined other municipalities seeking federal intervention on the proposed Highway 413 recently revived by the Ford administration, while Halton regional council is pushing back against pro-development rule changes that force municipalities to accept more sprawl on prime agricultural lands.

The Halton move is particularly significant to Hamilton whose planners are grappling) with the same rules and deadlines on how to accommodate provincially predicted population growth over the next 30 years. Continue reading

New Evidence Shines Light on Ford’ Ongoing War on Ontario’s Natural Heritage

New law and secret document show Ford government scheming to destroy the Duffins Creek wetland (in the Greater Toronto Area) for developers

Niagara Centre NDP MPP Jeff Burch

The Ford government must be stopped from bulldozing over our environment, ignoring their constitutional obligations, steamrolling over the will of municipalities and First Nations.”   – Niagara Centre NDP MPP and Municipal Affairs critic Jeff Burch

A News Release form Ontario’s NDP Official Opposition Party

Posted March 5th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Memo shows Duffins Creek MZO (Minister’s Zoning Order) likely illegal, Ford issues late-night order to pave over it by March 12

QUEEN’S PARK, Ontario – A Ford government bill retroactively rewriting planning laws is a dangerous move that will give unchecked power to their developer friends and donors to pave over precious wetlands, protected areas and woodlands, says the NDP.

An internal government document (https://mcusercontent.com/353019c4e982ae7eb8ea53150/images/0c178227-f370-4244-bd35-14004b65dcca.jpeg) obtained by the NDP proves the Ford government is making the law change because its lawyers say Ford’s unilateral decision to pave over the wetlands at Duffins Creek is illegal, and the courts could stop it.

“The Ford government is bent on the destruction of greenspace and wetlands to make a smoother path for developers,” said the local NDP MPP Jennifer French (Oshawa). “They are re-writing the rules to protect themselves from lawsuits, and hand more unchecked power to their greedy developer friends and PC party donors to destroy the environment and muzzle every effort by local communities to stop them.” Continue reading

Niagara Health To Begin Vaccinating Hospital Patients 80 Years And Older Against COVID-19

News from Niagara Health, Niagara, Ontario’s amalgamated system of hospital services

Posted March 5th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – In the coming days, Niagara Health will begin booking appointments to vaccinate patients who are 80 years of age and older and are currently admitted to a hospital bed or have been admitted and stayed overnight in the last six months.

This will include patients at all sites of Niagara Health and at Hotel Dieu Shaver Health and Rehabilitation Centre.

“We are taking this interim measure, while Niagara Region Public Health completes planning for mass vaccination sites, to get vaccines into the arms of our community’s most vulnerable at the earliest opportunity,” said Linda Boich, Niagara Health Executive Vice President, Quality and Mental Health & Addictions, Executive Lead for Integrated Care and the Niagara Health COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic. Continue reading

Ford Government Moves Forward With Plans to Destroy Ontario’s Wetlands, Farmlands and Forests for its Predatory Developer Friends

A News Release from ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE, ONTARIO NATURE and ECOJUSTICE

Posted March 4th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

A Statement from Environmental Defence, Ontario Nature and Ecojustice on Bill 257 regarding legislation to exempt MZOs from planning laws and policyld allow environmentally destructive projects to go forward even if they contravene basic planning rules

We might be kissing provincial significant wetlands like this one in the Thundering Waters Forest in Niagara, Falls, Ontario goodbye if the Ford Government gets its way.  Photo by Lori Monroe

Toronto, Ontario – Today (this Marth 4th, 2021), the Government of Ontario placed provincially protected wetlands, farmland and forests across Ontario in line for development, as the Province launched yet another sneak legislative attack on environmental protection and public participation rules.

Hidden within a Bill entitled “Supporting Broadband and Infrastructure Expansion Act, Bill 257” are proposed changes to the Planning Act that will allow Minister’s Zoning Orders (MZOs) to override key provisions of the Planning Act . Continue reading

Niagara Falls MPP Still Pushing Province For  Fair Share Of Vaccine In Niagara

“Our Medical Officer of Health, and that group of local doctors, have confirmed they were told we would receive 5500 Moderna doses, but on January 5th it was diverted. Still, to this day they don’t know where they were sent.”                                                         – Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates

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

Posted March 4th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Falls, Ontario NDP MPP Wayne Gates

QUEEN’S PARK – NDP MPP Wayne Gates is keeping up the pressure on the Ford government to provide Niagarans with their fair share of COVID-19 vaccines.

“The most important issue in Niagara today is access to vaccines. We have not been spared the pain and tragedy that COVID-19 brings to communities. COVID took the lives of nearly 400 people in Niagara-a loved one in our community dying every three and a half hours at its peak,” said Gates.

 “This government diverted lifesaving Moderna vaccines from Niagara, and to this day the government will not tell Niagara where those vaccines went.” Continue reading

A Sprawling Disaster – Doug Ford’s Plan For Ontario

“Now is the time to push back and call for the (Ford)  government to stop enriching developers and start tackling affordable housing, greenhouse gas emissions, the loss of significant wetlands and habitats and the loss of some of the best agricultural lands in Canada.”

A Commentary submitted by Jane Fogal, Councillor for Halton Hills and Halton Region, Ontario

Posted March 4th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

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

This article originally appeared in the media venue, Oakville News, on February 21st. Some of Niagara At Large’s readers emailed it to me as a “must read.”

I read it and I agree. And with the permission of its author, Halton Region councillor Jane Fogal, we are reprising it here as it is as relevant to planning challenges facing Niagara as it is to those facing Halton or any other region in Ontario.)

Now here is the commentary by Hilton Region councillor Jane Fogal – 

The Ford Government, through a rapid fire series of decisions and legislation has successfully rewritten the rules for municipal planning in a manner that is very favourable to developers and very unfavourable to municipalities that are trying to build healthy, complete communities and address climate change.  Continue reading

Niagara Region Public Health Prepares For Rollout of Large-Scale Vaccination Later This March

Recognizing the size of our region, Niagara will have vaccination clinics in all parts of the region to ensure no one in any of the 12 municipalities needs to travel far to get vaccinated. Coordination with the local municipalities is well underway and further details will be shared soon.’

News from Niagara Region, Ontario’s Public Health

Posted March 3rd, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – With vaccination supply increasing later this month and the AstraZeneca vaccine now approved as a third vaccine in Canada, Public Health has plans ready to deliver vaccine on a large scale to protect the Niagara community as soon as vaccine has arrived.

Some parts of Ontario received initial COVID-19 vaccine shipments in December, a month earlier than Niagara.

Some of these regions have begun limited vaccination of persons 80 years of age or older, while Niagara finishes vaccination of our highest risk population. As the provincial portal launches on March 15, and as vaccine becomes more plentiful later in March, Niagara is poised to be delivering mass vaccination at the same time as the rest of the province. Continue reading

Ford Government Pressed to Include Province’s Hot-Spot Neighbourhoods and People With Underlying Health Conditions in its Vaccine Priority

“Local public health units are doing the best they can on their own, building their own systems and getting vaccines into arms. But they need the Ford government to fix the priority list, put a system in place, and direct doses to the most at-risk groups.”                   – Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath

A News Release from Ontario’s NDP Official Opposition Party

Posted March 3rdm 2021 on Niagara At Large

QUEEN’S PARK — Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath is calling on the Ford government to include disproportionately-impacted neighbourhoods in the vaccine priority list, as well as adults with serious underlying health conditions.

“Vaccines are the light at the end of a very long tunnel,” said Horwath. “Local public health units are doing the best they can on their own, building their own systems and getting vaccines into arms. But they need the Ford government to fix the priority list, put a system in place, and direct doses to the most at-risk groups.”

Ontario’s own science table recommended including the highest-risk postal codes in the priority group, and the National Advisory Committee on Immunizations (NACI) recommends including people with high-risk conditions in the priority group with the oldest seniors. Continue reading

Canada’s Trudeau Government Urged to Join American/European Allies in Sanctioning Russian Officials Over Poisoning and Jailing of Alexei Navalny

“The Liberal government talks about working multilaterally and upholding the rules-based international order, but when given the chance they fail to act.”

A News Release from the Conservative Party of Canada

Posted March 3rd, 2021 on Niagara At Large

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

I have been receiving news releasesfrom Canada’s Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the past four or more years with warm, fuzzy messages about caring about  justice and human right around the world. 

So when is Trudeau going to join the new U.S. Biden administration and other European allies around the world in growing a pair on this one, damn it?

Don’t know about you, but I have just about had it with the soupy B.S. from this prime minster.

-Doug Draper- Ni9agara At Large)

Russian opposition leader Alexis Navalny has reportedly been poisoned by the Putin regime and is now been sent off to a notorious hard labour camp in that country. When is Canada’s Trudeau going to stop rotating on his you-know-what and join the United States and other Western democracies in slapping sanctions on this terrible regime?

Ottawa, Ontario – The Hon. Michael Chong, Conservative Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, issued the following statement regarding the US and EU sanctions announced on Russian officials for the poisoning and jailing of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny:

“For months, Conservatives have been calling on the Liberal government to work with our allies to impose sanctions on Russian officials responsible for poisoning Alexei Navalny. The Trudeau Liberals have sat on the sidelines while the United States and the European Union have taken action.

“Yesterday (this March 2nd, 2021), the United States announced sanctions on seven Russian officials and more than a dozen businesses for their role in the attempted assassination of opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his imprisonment. The European Union also imposed sanctions on four senior Russian officials over his jailing. This follows sanctions the European Union imposed on Russian officials last October for their role in Alexei Navalny’s poisoning. Continue reading

Ontario’s NDP Launches Province-Wide Campaign for Paid Sick Days

“A paid sick day is what would keep a personal support worker with a cough from going into the homes of vulnerable seniors, or stop a sick factory worker from accidentally starting a massive outbreak. Paid sick days are not only the right thing to do for working folks. Paid sick days will help stop the spread, and end the lockdowns.”                                                                                           – Ontario NDP Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath

News from Ontario’s Official Opposition Party

Posted March 2nd, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Ontario NDP MPP Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath want’s Ford Longterm-Care Home Minister’s head.

QUEEN’S PARK — Andrea Horwath’s NDP is launching a campaign Tuesday to ramp up its fight to secure paid sick days for every worker in the province.

Doug Ford’s Conservatives have blocked the expedited passage of NDP MPP Peggy Sattler’s Stay Home If You Are Sick Act three times in as many weeks, and then voted against the bill at second reading Monday. But Horwath said New Democrats have been fighting for paid sick days for years, and they’re more important now than ever.

“A paid sick day is what would keep a personal support worker with a cough from going into the homes of vulnerable seniors, or stop a sick factory worker from accidentally starting a massive outbreak,” said Horwath. “Paid sick days are not only the right thing to do for working folks. Paid sick days will help stop the spread, and end the lockdowns. Continue reading

Canada’s PM Appears On One of America’s Major TV News Programs – ‘Meet The Press’

You Can Click on a Link to That Interview Here

A Brief One from Doug Draper at Niagara At Large

Posted March 1st, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Canada’s Prime Minister on the U.S. NBC network’s Meet The Press with Chuck Todd

This past Sunday, February 28th, 2021, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was interviewed on the long-running American, NBC news program ‘Meet The Press’.

The interviewed followed Trudeau’s one-on-one, virtual meeting earlier in the week with recently-inaugurated U.S. President Joe Biden, and covered a broad range of issues form climate change to working together to defeat the COVID-19 and re-opening Canada/U.S. border crossings etc.

I will not comment now on the content of this interview with Canada’s Prime Minister on a major American news venue. If you wish to, be our guest and offer yourviews in the space below.

For now, to watch this Meet The Press interview, click on the screen immediately below –

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

In Trump’s America, They Still Worship Golden Idols

Canadians Need to Consider the Possibility that “Trumpism” and All of the Hate,  Rage and Violence  it Represents is Still Barking at our Border

Don’t let your guard down Canadians! This orange man has not gone away! Thanks to tens-of-millions of Republicans in the United States, he is still president and has not gone away. “Our movement,” says Trump to adoring Republican fans, ” has only just begun.”

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

Posted March 1st, 2021 on Niagara At Large

I don’t know how many of you may have heard news from this U.S. Republican Party fest called CPAC in Orlando. Florida these past few days of February, but it was made clear there that Trump is still the U.S. president, because he had the election stolen from him, and that Republicans must continue storming the ramparts for – as Texas Senator Ted Cruz sceamed – is FREEDOM!!!!!

During this Republican Party love-fest for Trump, his faithful ushered in a full-size, golden monument to their “god” – Donald Trump. It looked like about the tackiest thing I have ever seen but we have to remember. This a country where more than 70 million Americans, just last November, voted for a second term for Trump, and many of the, according to many polls, still believe the presidency was “stolen” from him. Continue reading

‘Zuck Facebook’! Visit Niagara At Large at www.niagaraatlarge.com

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

Posted February 28th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

This little creep – Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook – has done more than almost anyone else in the last couple of decades to destroy real community news outlets, spread misinformation, including hate and anti-democratic garbage, and just generally poison public dialogue …. Zuck him. Niagara At Large is cutting out.

Niagara, Ontario – Niagara At Large is saying ‘Zuck Off’ to Facebook and will have more to explain about this decision which, yes, we know, may be a killer for NAL,  in the days ahead.

In the meantime, all you have to do is go on Google or whatever search engine you use to key in http://www.niagaraatlarge.com to visit and support our independent, online news and commentary site for our Greater Niagara Region on both sides of the Niagara River, and for issues that impact the people of our region in the world beyond.

And for all of the many possibly  thousands of you who may be wondering where Niagara At Large has been on Facebook over the last week or so of this February, 2021, now you know.

If you still care to follow and support Niagara At Large, please just take a second or three to key it in at www.niagaraatlarge.com  .

  • Doug Draper, Niagara At Large

If you would like a brief hint as to why I want to get away from Facebook as a venue for posts on Niagara At Large, please watch the following, by clicking on the screen immediately below, from one of my favourite commentators, Bill Maher, from HBO’s Real Time –

More on what we are prepared to accept as a possibly killer for Niagara At Large in the days ahead.

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

One Last Song for Black History Month – 2021

A Brief One from Doug Draper at Niagara At Large

Posted February 28th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

This being the final day of Black History Month, I thought I would end our Niagara At Large honouring of it  with one more song.

There are so many great songs of struggle against racial hatred and for the civil rights that defeats it to choose from, but I decided to go with one from one of the most fearless American musicians and activists over the past 50 or 60 years – the late Nina Simone.

She was an accomplished classical pianist, as well as a great writer and performer of jazz, gospel and R&B oriented songs, along with being a magnetic singer. So here is a song that became an anthem for the civil rights movement.

You can hear and watch Nina Simone delivering a life performance of it by clicking on the screen immediately below –

If you can find a way of calling it up on NETFLIX or getting a copy of it, there is also a wonderful documentary on the brilliant, yet tragic life of this great artist called ‘What Happened, Miss Simone?’

Meanwhile, let’s do our best to live together. On that note, here is an encore  song for the road –

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 Expands COVID-19 Vaccinations For Healthcare Workers Across Region

A News Release from Niagara Health in Niagara, Ontario

Posted February 26th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Teams of medical researchers around the world are working on a vaccine.

Niagara, Ontario – Across Niagara, 20,265 COVID-19 vaccines have now been administered to long-term care and retirement home workers and residents, essential caregivers, and hospital staff and physicians.

Niagara Health’s vaccination clinic at the Seymour Hannah Sports and Entertainment Centre in St. Catharines will begin vaccinating community healthcare workers identified in the highest and very high priority groups as set out by the Ministry of Health in its risk-based guidance document<https://www.ontario.ca/page/ontarios-vaccine-distribution-implementation-plan>.

This work will take place over the next several months. Continue reading

Niagara Falls MPP Grills Ford Government Over Recent Shortfall in Vaccine for Niagara Residents

MPP Wayne Gates turns up the heat, but ministers still denying what Niagara’s doctors are saying

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

Posted February 25th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Ford government won’t reveal the truth about what happened to Niagara’s vaccines – Wayne Gates

Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates. File photo

NIAGARA FALLS, Ontario — Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates continued to press the Ford government for answers Thursday (Feburary 25th, 2021)  on why vaccines were diverted away from Niagara, and demanded to know when the region will get its fair share of both Moderna and Pfizer shots.

Gates reminded the Ford government that Niagara has the third oldest population by average age in the entire country, which means it’s critical to get vaccines to Niagara urgently without more delays.

“Given that they Niagara is such a high-risk zone and given the over 200 outbreaks we’ve had across the region with over 350 deaths, it makes sense that Niagara would be given its fair share of both the available vaccines. Yet in early January we found out that a shipment of the lifesaving Moderna vaccines were diverted away from Niagara and sent elsewhere at the expense of healthcare workers and seniors,” said Gates during question period Thursday at Queen’s Park. Continue reading

The Gifts of Health Our Wetlands Provide to Our Lives, and the Urgent Need to Save What’s  Left of Them in Niagara

“Niagara and its surrounding areas have seen significant wetland losses, currently approaching 90 per cent. That losss, coupled with the increased storm frequency and intensity caused by climate change, is causing large volumes of stormwater to be generated which is overwhelming infrastructure and causing flooding that is reaching disastrous proportions.”                                                         – from an article from Brock News at Brock University in St. Catharines/Niagara, Ontario

“All remaining Canadian wetlands, if used wisely, can sustain biodiversity and ecosystem services for future generations.”                 – from an article from Brock News at Brock University in St. Catharines/Niagara, Ontario

A Report from Brock University, originally published in the St. Catharines, Ontario’s newspaper in October of 2020

Posted February 25th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

(A Brief Foreword from Doug Draper at Niagara At Large –

This Brock University report on the benefits of wetlands to the health of our communities and to our health as individuals has been sitting on our desktop at NAL for almost four months now, and it has been there because I have always intended to post it.

Thanks to Niagara Falls, Ontario Mayor Jim Diodati and a majority on his council, and a China-based development group, this provincially significant wetland in the Thundering Waters Forest and Niagara River watershed is at risk of being degraded or lost forever. Photo by Lori Monroe

So much else, including the ongoing blizzard of COVID-19 reports, and the Holiday Season seemed to get in the way of a right time to post this piece,  but maybe the right time is now.

This Thursday, February 25th, starting at 6:30 p.m., Niagara Ontario’s Regional Council is holding a full meeting (virtually, of course) and one of the items on the agenda – again – is whether or not to designate the Canadian side of the Niagara River a globally significant wetland under an international Ramsar agreement that has seen more than 2,300 sites around the world receive such a designation already. Continue reading

‘The Last Walrus’ – A Film Exploring the Issues Around a Last Walrus at the captive animal fun park Marineland in Niagara Falls, Ontario – to Premier on CBC’s ‘The Nature of Things’

“Friends of the Walrus – I am happy to announce that *CBC’s The Nature of Things: The Last Walrus *is going to air in Canada on *March 12 at 9pm ET* on CBC and CBC Gem.”                                          – the film’s creator Nathalie Bibeau

A News Release from Bunbury Films, presenter of the documentary, ‘The Last Walrus’ Posted February 24th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

The Last Walrus premieres on the 60th Season of CBC’s The Nature of Things March 12 Award-winning filmmaker Nathalie Bibeau goes behind the battle lines of an explosive debate about marine mammals in human care

 

Toronto, Ontario – Killer whale kisses and walrus waves have been iconic experiences in modern childhood. Marine parks have long tickled the imagination of animal lovers around the world, but a seismic shift in public opinion on the captivity of marine mammals has upset the status quo

In The Last Walrus, filmmaker Nathalie Bibeau dives deep into the debate on how – and whether – to hold marine mammals ‘in human care’. Presented by Bunbury Films, the documentary premieres March 12th at 9 p.m. (9:30 NT) on CBC and CBC Gem on The Nature of Things.

Former Marineland trainer and Niagara resident Phil Demers, still faced with a SLAPP suit launched by the Niagara Falls amusement park,  being interviewed by film producer Nathalie Bibeau during production.

With trusted access to contrasting perspectives, Bibeau puts the animal at the centre of her narrative. She returns to her home region of Niagara, and to far-flung areas on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, to explore the complex questions around the capture, display and study of marine mammals. Continue reading

At Long Last – A Roadmap for a Renewed U.S.-Canada Partnership

“The President (Joe Biden)  and the Prime Minister (Justin Trudeau) expressed their commitment to strengthened implementation of the Paris Agreement, including by working together and with others to increase the scale and speed of action to address the climate crisis and better protect nature.”

A Statement to Canadians and Americans from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden

Posted February 24th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

(A Note from Doug Draper at Niagara At Large –

The following statement was released by Canada’s Prime Minister and the United States’ new President this February 23rd, 2021) following the first (necessarily virtual) one-on-one meeting that President Biden has held with any national leader around the world.

The fact that Biden would hold such a meeting with Canada’s prime minister first is a hopeful sign that after four years of Trump, who did incalulable damage to relations with a friendly neighbor he once even listed as a “security threat”, and who totally botched his country’s COVID response to a degree that our shared border crossings are still closed to most of us – appears to bode well for the immediate future.)

Let’s hope so.)

The Statement from the Two Leader, dated February 23rd, 2021, Ottawa, Ontario


Then-vice-president-joe-biden-with-canadas-prime-minister-justin-trudeau-during-better-days-for-canada-u.s.-relations-during-a-visit-to-ottawa-in-2018.jpg

“It is in the shared interest of the United States and Canada to revitalize and expand our historic alliance and steadfast friendship to overcome the daunting challenges of today and realize the full potential of the relationship into the future.

“The Roadmap for a Renewed U.S.-Canada Partnership announced today establishes a blueprint for an ambitious and whole-of- government effort against the COVID-19 pandemic and in support of our mutual prosperity.

“It creates a partnership on climate change, advances global health security, bolsters cooperation on defense and security, and it reaffirms a shared commitment to diversity, equity, and justice. Bound by history and geography, the partnership between the United States and Canada endures because we invest in each other’s success.”

President Joe Biden
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
February 23, 2021

Combating COVID-19

The top priority of the President and the Prime Minister is to end the COVID-19 pandemic. They agreed to strengthen comprehensive and cross-sectoral efforts to control the pandemic, collaborate on public health responses, and build resilience against future outbreaks.

The Prime Minister and the President committed to working closely together to defeat the virus, including by surging the health and humanitarian response to the global pandemic, responding to new variants, following expert advice, and supporting global affordable access to and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, including through the COVAX Facility. Continue reading

Celebrating 50 Earth Moving Years of ‘Tapestry’

A Brief Tribute to A Legendary  Musical Artist and Album  by         Doug Draper

Posted February 24th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

The Tapestry album cover, featuring Carole King at home with that heroic-looking cat in the foreground

It remains, to this day, one of the most  beloved and best-selling albums of all time.

When Carole King’s ‘Tapestry’ was released in February of 1971, it originally received “little fanfare,” according to liner notes written for one of many updated editions of it decades later.

It was multiple moments like one I remember weeks or possibly even months after the album’s release where at a house party I attended with friends, someone put the record on a turntable and said; “You’ve got to listen to this.” Continue reading

Buffalo, New York Area Congressman Weclomes Return to Canada-U.S. Collaboration

Bilateral Meeting Re-opens Dialogue on Matters of Significant & Mutual Interest

“There is work to be done to repair the relationship which suffered over the last four years but the kinship between the United States and Canada is long and strong.”                                  – Buffalo, New York area Congressman Brian Higgins

A News Release to Canadians and to his American constituents from Buffalo, New York area Democratic Party Congressman Brian Higgins

Posted February, 23rd, 2021 on Niagara At Large

U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins, representing people in the Buffalo and Niagara Falls, New York area.

Buffalo, New York – Today (this Feburary 23rd, 2021),  President Biden, Prime Minster Trudeau, and their top staff will hold a virtual meeting as the two nations begin to lay out the “US – Canada Partnership Roadmap.”

Below is the schedule released by the White House:

4:00 PM         THE PRESIDENT participates in his first bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada; THE VICE PRESIDENT also attends

5:45 PM         THE PRESIDENT and Prime Minister Trudeau give statements on their bilateral meeting

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26), who serves as Co-Chair of the Congressional Northern Border Caucus, welcomed the bilateral meeting between United States President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Continue reading

Ontario Opposition Parties All Vow Swift Restoration Of Conservation Authority Powers

Developers Who Get Permits Through A “Political Route” Would Be Left With Nothing

A News Release From The Public Interest Groups Environmental Defence, Cpaws Ottawa Valley, David Suzuki Foundation, Ontario Nature, Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition And  Wilderness Committee

Posted February 23rd, 2021 on Niagara At Large

A haven for provincially significant wetlands in Niagara Falls, Ontario’s Thundering Waters Forest are now threatened by development plans that the mayor of the city and most on his council supports. Photo by Lori Monroe

Toronto, Ontario  – Developers and landowners who want to develop on floodplains, wetlands and other hazardous or environmentally sensitive lands should think twice before using newly-created political shortcuts to circumvent or overrule Conservation Authorities.

That is the unified message sent today (this February 23rd, 2021) by Ontario’s opposition political parties.

Ontario’s Official Opposition New Democratic Party, as well as the Liberal, and Green parties, pledged to restore the powers of Conservation Authorities over development decisions. Continue reading

A Very Warm (Can You Believe This?) EIGHTIETH BIRTHDAY  to a Timeless Artist and Activist – Buffy Sainte-Marie

The Canadian-Born, Indigenous Singer/Songwriter Continues, Through Her Calls for Peace, Compassion, and Earth Care, to Offer Humans Some Redemption as a Species on this Planet

A Brief One from Doug Draper at Niagara At Large

Posted February 22nd, 2021

The incomparable Buffy Sainte-Marie, hardly looking her age.

If you have ever treated yourself to an evening of Buffy Sainte-Marie in concert, as I have three or four times, there is no way you leave without feeling totally warm inside and inspired to go out in the world and do something to improve the lives of every living species on this oh-so-fragile earth we share.

From her earliest years as a young, upcoming folksinger in Greenwich Village, New York during the heyday of the folk scene in the early 1960s, to her rise and continued success as an award-winning performer and songwriter – not to mention her many appearances on Sesame Street from 1975 to 1981, where she drew new generations of fans – Buffy Sainte-Marie remains a continued beacon of light in our lives. Continue reading

Niagara’s Hotel Dieu Shaver Launches New and Innovative Post-COVID-19 Rehabilitation Program

News from the Hotel Dieu Shaver health care complex in Niagara, Ontario

Posted February 22nd, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – Hotel Dieu Shaver (HDS) is very pleased to announce that a new and innovative post-acute COVID-19 inpatient rehabilitation program has been launched at HDS. Significant research has gone into this exciting initiative.

Already, HDS has admitted four patients to this program and expects many more to follow as awareness builds.

“As the only rehabilitation hospital in Niagara, our specialized staff and physicians pride themselves on adapting to changing needs and providing the most innovative and cutting edge care possible for our community,” says Executive Vice President David Ceglie. Continue reading

Niagara Centre New Democrats Embrace Incumbent Jeff Burch as Candidate in 2022 Ontario Election

New Democrats in Niagara Centre have selected incumbent MPP Jeff Burch to be their NDP candidate in the 2022 provincial election.

News from Ontario’s New Democratic (Official Opposition) Party

Posted February 22nd, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Centre NDP MPP Jeff Burch will run again in 2022 Ontario election

Jeff Burch chosen to be the NDP 2022 candidate in Niagara Centre

NIAGARA, Ontario  — New Democrats in Niagara Centre have selected incumbent MPP Jeff Burch to be their NDP candidate in the 2022 provincial election.

Burch served two terms as a city councillor, is the past CEO of the not-for-profit Niagara Folk Arts, and is a former union leader and representative for frontline health care workers. Since his election to Queen’s Park in 2018, Burch has served as the Official Opposition Municipal Affairs critic. Continue reading

Making Pharmacare Part of Canada’s Universal Healthcare System is Long Overdue

“Embarrassingly, Canada (is) the only country in the world to have a “universal” healthcare system that doesn’t include pharmcare.”

Find Out Below How You Can Urge Your Members of Parliament to Approve a Pharmacare Plan for all Canadians Now

A Call-Out from the Broadbent Institute, a Canada-wide public advocacy group

Posted February 20th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Fulfilling Tommy Douglas’ Vision Of Medicare

A stamp issued by Canada Post in 2012 of the late federal NDP leader Tommy Douglas, known to many across the contry as the ‘Father of Medicare’. No fault to him, the Liberal government of the day, in the 1960s, passed a universal health care plan that did not include the coverage of pharmaceutical drugs and dental care. Yet countries in Europe include that coverage in their plans.

The unfinished business of medicare in Canada has resulted in a healthcare system that provides free access to primary care (doctor and hospital visits), but excludes universal access to prescription medication.

Embarrassingly, this makes Canada the only country in the world to have a “universal” healthcare system that doesn’t include pharmacare, a key component not only in keeping people healthy but also in ensuring people don’t face undue financial hardship due to a lack of benefits and high costs of prescription drugs.

The federal government’s 2020 Speech from the Throne <https://www.canada.ca/en/privy-council/campaigns/speech-throne/info-speech-from-throne.html>, stated that the government is ready to move forward with any province who is ready and willing to implement pharmacare. Continue reading

Petitioning Ontario’s Ford Government to Save What is Left of Our Precious, Life-Sustaining Green Places

‘Once we pave over a wetland or farmland, we don’t get it back!’

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

Posted February 19th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

This week, the Ford government announced they want to start consultations for the possibility of expanding the Greenbelt and then patted themselves on the back.

 

We enthusiastically support expansion of the Greenbelt.

But we know this announcement is just a smokescreen for the harm they are doing to the environment.

Since taking office, Doug Ford has been using his power to drive through developments that pave over wetlands and farmlands for the benefit of his big donor friends. Continue reading

Re-opening Too Soon Is Risking ‘Variant Explosion’ – Ontario New Democratic Party

Province’s NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is calling on Doug Ford to hear the experts’ warnings, and increase public health protections.

“The Public Health Agency of Canada and Dr. Teresa Tam released projections Friday (February 19th, 2021) that show the spread of the variants in Canada will skyrocket without more public health measures.”

A News Release from Ontario’s NDP Official Opposition Party

Posted February 19th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

HAMILTON, Ontario  — NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is calling on Doug Ford to hear the experts’ warnings, and increase public health protections to put the pandemic’s end in sight — rather than cutting protections and opening too fast.

Ontario NDP MPP Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath want’s Ford Longterm-Care Home Minister’s head.

“The exhaustion and isolation people are feeling is painful. We all desperately want this to end,” said Horwath. “But new modelling from Dr. Teresa Tam and the Public Health Agency of Canada has put the threat of the variant into cold, terrifying reality. If we do not do more to stop the spread of the variants, we will face a longer, deeper nightmare and more lockdowns.

“We can end this. We can beat this virus. But Doug Ford’s choice to re-open too soon, including re-opening York Region, is putting politics ahead of public health. People will pay the price for that choice with a longer, deeper, deadlier third wave, driven by the variants.” Continue reading

Unveiling a New Report on Planning Smarter, More Sustainable Communities in Niagara, Ontario

Brock University’s Niagara Community Observatory (NCO) To Present Policy Brief On Land-Use Planning – Be There Virtually on Wednesdsay, February 25th, at 1 P.M., Details Below

An Invite from the Niagara Community Observatory at Brock University in Niagara, Ontario

Posted February 18th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – In an ideal situation, municipal government officials work in consultation with organizations, community members and others in land-use planning that balances environmental, economic and social concerns.

But a number of obstacles, including “an increasingly activist provincial government,” may be impacting civil society involvement in such a process, says a new policy brief produced by Brock University’s Niagara Community Observatory (NCO).

Land-use Planning in Niagara: A Study in Multilevel Governance and Smart Growth, co-authored by recent Political Science graduate Sean Giverin (BA ’18, MA ’20) and NCO Director Charles Conteh, examines how multiple tiers of government work together to take a ‘smart-growth’ approach to land-use planning. Continue reading

NPCA’s CAO Remains Optimistic about Conservation Authority’s Future

Reflections On 2020 – A Year Of Change, Resilience, And Progress At The NPCA

A Message form Chandra Sharma, Chief Administrative Officer for the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority in Niagara, Ontario
Posted February 18th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

NPCA CAO Chandra Sharma

The Year 2020 started with anticipation and hope as we embarked on a journey to continue to steer the organization in the right direction. We had an ambitious agenda ahead of us!  

By any measure, 2020 was an extraordinary year.

The COVID-19 pandemic presented unforeseen challenges to the NPCA’s day-to-day operations, our staff, communities, and our watersheds. In addition to delivering on our regular business, we had to innovate on-the-go.
With ongoing ingenuity, and the resilience of our staff and support of our Board of Directors, we easily navigated through these difficult times. Our gratitude also goes out to the strong network of municipal partners and public health agencies who continue to delivery a coordinated response to the pandemic.

Continue reading

Ontario’s Ford Government Takes Steps to Grow the Greenbelt

“The Premier has been steadfast in his commitment to protect the Greenbelt and our government will not consider any proposals to remove or develop any part of it.”                                                             – Steve Clark, Ontario’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing

News from the Government of Ontario

Posted February 17th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

TORONTO The Ontario government has launched a 60-day consultation to grow the Greenbelt <https://www.ontario.ca/page/ontarios-greenbelt> and help protect more of the province’s natural environment — including farmlands, forests, wetlands and watersheds — from future development. The consultations could result in the largest expansion of the greenbelt since its creation in 2005.

“This is truly a unique opportunity to grow the Greenbelt and protect Ontario’s environmental, groundwater and agricultural resources for future generations,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “The Premier has been steadfast in his commitment to protect the Greenbelt and our government will not consider any proposals to remove or develop any part of it.” Continue reading

In a Pandemic, It Is About Time Canada’s Tax-Dodging Wealthiest Pay Their Far Share of Taxes

While Many of Canadians Continue to Suffer,”Canada’s top billionaires have already increased their wealth by more than $50 billion during the pandemic and many large corporations are making record profits.”                                                               – from the non-profit citizens group, Canadians for Tax Fairness

A Call-Out to All Canadians to say Enough is Enough from Canandians forTax Fairness

Posted February 17th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

This is the last week in federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s public consultations to tell her what you want to see in her upcoming budget!

Budget 2021-22 will be the most important budget in decades.

 

The federal debt is at record levels, but we need public investments to recover from the pandemic and to build back better: with pharmacare, accessible childcare, long-term care and other social supports in a more  equitable and sustainable economy. Continue reading

Ford Government Can’t Be Trusted to Protect Ontario’s Greenbelt

Ontarians believe that Doug Ford wants to “chop up” the Greenbelt, because he’s told them so many times.

News from Ontario’s NDP Official Opposition Party

Posted February 17th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

QUEEN’S PARK — Ontarians believe that Doug Ford wants to chop up the Greenbelt, because he’s told them so many times.

* In February 2018, Ford assured his insider land baron friends that he would open up the Greenbelt to development in a backroom meeting, captured on video (https://toronto.citynews.ca/video/2018/04/30/doug-ford-says-he-would-open-up-greenbelt-to-development/) .

Ford called the Greenbelt “just farmer fields” and said that he wanted to “open that up and create a larger supply” of land for development. “I’ve already talked to some of the biggest developers in the country, and, again, I wish I could say it’s my idea, but it was their idea as well,” said Ford. Continue reading

Affordable Housing Urgently Needed In The Niagara Region

A ‘Letter to the Editor’ shared with Niagara At Large, from Niagara, Ontario resident Kathleen MacCarthy

Posted February 17th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

There is a great urgency for affordable housing for single and low-income individuals in the City of Niagara Falls and the Niagara Region.

Property development companies are building mega homes and sprawl on the periphery of the city that is out of the reach for the average resident.

A graphic, courtesy of Niagara, Ontario resident Kathleen MacCarthy

Worse, due to the lack of rent control, prices on rental properties are increasing beyond affordable rates. Continue reading

Stay Safe, Stay Strong & ‘Someday We’ll Be Together’

After a Few Days Off to Refuel and to Retool this Online News Site, Niagara At Large will be Back  on Tuesday, February 17th with New Posts

A Message from Niagara At Large reporter and publisher               Doug Draper

Posted February 10th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Alice, a beloved cat in my family home, knows how to lay back and cool out – even during a pandemic. I think I am going to take a cue from her for a few days before getting back ijn action. Photo by Doug Draper

Like so many other people out there, I’ve had mare share of ups and downs, physically and mentally, with an ongoing COVID-19 catastrophe that is continuing to do so much harm to people’s health and to jobs and businesses in our communities.

Layered on top of that is the relentless flow of disappointing news related to the way all levels of government – municipal, provincial and federal – are addressing or failing to address issues that are near and dear to my heart like smarter, more sustainable planning for our communities, protecting our precious natural places for present and future generations, and taking the action needed now to fight a worsening climate crisis. Continue reading

A Sneak-Peek Into The 3rd Annual Birds On The Niagara Virtual Celebration

“Everyone who participates every year from Canada, U.S. and across the world, shares the common interest and goal of protecting, conserving, and promoting the natural heritage of the Niagara River corridor.”                                 – Marcie Jacklin, Co-Chair of BON21 Canada and member of the Fort-Erie, Ontario-based Bert Miller Nature Club.

A News Release and a Call-Out from the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) for All of Us to Join this On-Line Celebration – Taking Place this Valentine Weekend, Friday, February 12th thru Sunday, February 14th

Posted February 8th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – A bi-national bird festival, and the only trans-boundary event of its kind in North America, will captivate audiences of all ages this weekend from February 12-14.

Flocks of gulls gathering over the great falls of Niagara. Photo courtesy of Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority

Guests from around the world are invited to participate in this virtual celebration, at no cost, from the safety and comfort of home.

Birds on the Niagara is an international partnership of organizations, agencies, and individuals, dedicated to promoting the conservation and enjoyment of the Niagara River Globally Significant Important Bird Area and the Ramsar Wetland of International Significance. Continue reading

Low Wages, Precarious Work & the Need for People to Live a Dignified Live

An Invite to All of Us for a Virtual Discussion from the Niagara District Council of Women

Posted February 10th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Join Us Wednesday, February 17th at 7:30 p.m. for a Public Meeting On –

Raising the Income Floor for those in Precarious Work and Poverty- as COVID-19  starkly reveals :

  • Deep fault lines in the labour market!
  • The rich getting richer & low wage precarious workers struggling to make ends meet !
  •  The need for public dialogue  about the role of governments & public policies in ensuring all people can live a dignified life and maximize their human potential  !

    SPEAKER : Simon Black

Award-winning   Brock U Assistant Professor Labour Studies

Register for Zoom meeting by e mailing 1niagaracouncilofwomen@gmail.come asap!

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 Canada-U.S. Festival of Birds On The Niagara River – Virtually

Third Annual Birds on the Niagara Festival is Coming to Us this Valentine Day Weekend – February 12th to 14th, 2021

For More Details On How You Can Enjoy this Unique Festival and Celebration of Nature in our shared Niagara River Corridor, Please Read On

A Brief Note from Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper, including Key Information and Details for Attending this International Niagara Bird Festival – Virtually –  from some of its Hosts and Supporters

Posted February 8th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Some of the wonderful birds that are drawn to the natural wonders of our Niagara River. Photo courtesy of Marcie Jacklin

Once upon a time – back in 1996 when there were still enough political and citizen leaders on both sides of the Niagara River to make such a magical thing happened – leaders from both sides came together in Niagara Falls, Ontario to celebrate the signing of an international Ramsar agreement, declaring the Niagara River a “sanctuary of global importance” for an amazing diversity of native and migratory birds.

This reporter – then still covering  environment stories full-time for the once-proud and independently owned St. Catharines Standard – was honoured to be there to cover this binational ceremony.

It was, I am  sad to say, a binational meeting of lovers of the natural wonders of this great river that might never happen any time soon, due to such a lack of interest and will on the part of too many political representatives on the Niagara, Ontario side of the river – political representatives that have turned the agenda on the Niagara, Ontario side over to predatory developers.

Yet the warm glow of that 1996 celebration has not been lost.

And thanks to a coalition of caring partners on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border,  it still finds itself glowing again in a Third Annual Festival of Birds on the Niagara River, scheduled for this coming Valentine Day Weekend , from Friday February 12th thru Sunday, February14th. Continue reading

Farewell to One of Niagara’s Finest, Most Famous Felines

A Sad Goodbye to Tigger – Everybody’s Beloved Friend At Pet Valu Thorold

From Doug Draper, Niagara At Large

Posted February 8th, 2021

One of Niagara’s most beloved cats – Tigger. All photos here courtesy of Joe Krawchuk at Pet Valu Thorold in Niagara, Ontario

Maybe it is everything else we’ve all been going through with this ongoing pandemic, but I am having an extra hard time, as a hopelessly addicted lover of cats, writing this one.

It was about eight or nine days ago, when I flipped the ‘Tigger’ calendar in my little office at home from January and February, and said to my wife Mary and daughter Sarah; ‘Oh look, the calendar says it is Tigger’s birthday on February 8th. We will have to give him a virtual pet.’

As soon as I said it there were downcast eyes in the room. ‘We’ve been wondering how to tell you this,’ said Mary, ‘but Tigger died this January.’

What?!!!

I had just given him a few pets when I was in the Pet Valu store on Pine Street in Thorold, where he is the mascot extraordinaire and everyone’s best friend who goes in there. That was just a few days before Christmas and the most recent retail lockdown, to pick up a few things for our cat, Alice, and he seemed just fine. Continue reading