Sunday August 18, 2019
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Jackfish swim into semis

by Niagara Independent Staff

For the first time in franchise history the Welland Jackfish have eliminated a team in the post season. Tuesday night saw the London Majors come to the rose city for the fifth and as it turned out final game of the opening series. Welland defeated London by a final score of 11-7 taking the series four games to one.
“It feels great, to win a series in our first year is terrific, however we’re not done yet,” said Jackfish manager Brian Essery. “We just have to continue to play our game. Pitching, defence and team speed. It is certainly positive the way our bats have come around at the right time.”

“A significant advancement for infant care in Niagara”

by Niagara Independent Staff

Niagara’s tiniest patients will have care closer to home thanks to the addition of five new beds in Niagara Health’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
According to Niagara Health officials the NICU can now care for sicker babies after the organization received provincial government support for the beds, supporting resources and equipment. The unit, at Niagara Health’s St. Catharines Site, will be able to provide care to infants with more complex health problems, including: premature babies born at 30 weeks gestation or more (previously it was 32 weeks or more); babies requiring ventilation; and babies needing advanced intravenous therapy.

UPDATED: “Exciting news” expected for Summer Games

by Niagara Independent Staff

Premier Doug Ford was in Niagara this afternoon making an announcement at a Home Hardware store in Pelham. While the announcement, a road improvement project, is no doubt important to local residents, it was Ford’s comments in response to a question by The Niagara Independent regarding Canada Summer Games funding that perked up many ears.

The average Canadian family paid $39,299 in taxes last year

by Niagara Independent Staff

The numbers are staggering. According to a new study by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank, the average Canadian family spent more than 44 per cent of its income on taxes in 2018, more than housing, food and clothing costs combined. “Taxes—not life’s basic necessities—remain the largest household expense for families […]

Brock prof to enhance online learning with 3D classroom

by Niagara Independent Staff

Martin Danahay has led many classroom discussions in his career, but nothing quite like this.
The Brock University English professor will soon take his Life Writing course into a recently-completed online 3D space at the start of the winter term.
Students wearing virtual reality gear will gather in an experimental 3D classroom to discuss memoires, diaries and biographies, and interact with one another as their custom avatars.

Mr. D – From sandwiches to skyscrapers

by Niagara Independent Staff

He’s known affectionately by his staff as Mr. D.
Vincenzo DiCosimo arrived in Canada on July 12, 1955 to join his older brother who was already in Niagara Falls. He was just 19 years-old, had no money and didn’t speak a word of English. “I thought it was the biggest mistake I ever made. I wanted to go back right away.” History would show that it’s a good thing he stayed.

Brock Badgers score new men’s basketball coach

by Niagara Independent Staff

The Brock Badgers have reached into the powerhouse Carleton University basketball program to find the new head coach for the Brock men’s basketball team.
Willy Manigat, who has won three national university basketball titles as a player and two as a coach, will become the ninth coach in the history of the Brock men’s program. His appointment takes effect July 5.
Manigat spent the past four years with the Carleton Ravens, who have won 14 of the last 17 national championships. He served as lead assistant coach for the 2018-19 season.

Hamilton economy continues to grow with planned L3 HQ

by Niagara Independent Staff

L3 WESCAM announced this week at an official groundbreaking ceremony the construction of a brand-new, state-of-the-art headquarters facility, which will include 330,000 square feet of research and development, engineering, assembly and office space in Hamilton. By the expected move-in date in 2021, the new facility will be home to 1,200 employees.
“We are pleased to announce that L3 will continue to be a part of this region’s economic renaissance and has selected a location that embodies our mission to be the very best of the best in our industry,” said Jacques Comtois, Vice President and General Manager of L3 WESCAM. “Hamilton has a rich business legacy of transforming ideas into high-technology products and offers a skilled talent base with a deep knowledge of advanced manufacturing and applied research. We are thrilled to establish our new operations in Hamilton and continue moving forward with our growth plans.”

Trudeau fans the flames of Western Alienation

by Niagara Independent Staff

Several months ago The Niagara Independent started publishing articles from time-to-time about a piece of legislation that was getting little attention in Ontario but a lot of attention in Western Canada. Some readers thanked us for shedding light on the issue while others wondered why we cared so much about an “Alberta issue”.
Well, that Alberta issue has now become a Canadian issue which means it’s an Ontario issue. And people in this province should pay attention.

Myer baseball earns OFSAA silver

by Niagara Independent Staff

After an impeccable regular season and divisional playoffs, soaring through SOSSA, and overcoming a gauntlet of Ontario’s 18 best high school teams at OFSAA regionals, the A.N. Myer Marauders baseball squad fell just one run short of provincial gold at the final four OFSAA tournament in London on Wednesday.

“I’m really proud of the boys and their ability to grind out many moments that allowed us to achieve something very rare in an OFSSA silver medal,” said coach Dave Buchanan. “There were many players that contributed to the process. We as a program work very hard in the off-season and I believe it allowed us to get through those tough tense moments.”

Big week for Myer Baseball on and off the field

by Niagara Independent Staff

A.N. Myer’s baseball team spent the weekend in Whitby competing for a chance to play for a medal in the provincial championships later this week.
The team, coached by Dave Buchanan, was successful in their quest to play for a medal in London on Wednesday after going 4-1 this past weekend with their only loss coming to Mount Carmel in their second game which extended over two days. Tied 4-4 the game was called due to rain and play started again the following day. Mount Carmel ended up winning 6-4 to hand Myer their only loss of the tournament.

South Niagara Chambers of Commerce Welcome CannTrust CEO, Peter Aceto

by Niagara Independent Staff

On June 4 at Cardinal Lakes Golf Course in Welland, the South Niagara Chambers of Commerce will be hosting a breakfast seminar featuring Peter Aceto, CEO of CannTrust, a federally licensed and regulated global cannabis market leader. For Aceto, a noted speaker, this will be his inaugural speaking engagement in Niagara.
CannTrust is a publicly traded company that operates its approximately 450,000 square foot Niagara Perpetual Harvest Facility in Pelham and has been approved to construct an additional 390,000 square feet. of cannabis cultivation space. The company has garnered success as the 2018 Licensed Producer of the Year. The award criteria include commitment to customer service, positive feedback from employees and high standards of production.

Onex makes bid to buy WestJet

by Niagara Independent Staff

Onex Corp. has signed a friendly deal to buy WestJet Airlines Ltd. in a transaction that’s being valued at $5 billion, including assumed debt.
Under the agreement announced this past Monday, Onex will pay $31 per share for WestJet, which will continue to operate as a privately held company.
Shares in the airline jumped from $18.52 last Friday to $30.03 after the announcement.

IceDogs to play in Port

by Niagara Independent Staff

The Guelph Storm defeated the Ottawa 67s 8-3 to capture the Ontario Hockey League championship, the Memorial Cup, Sunday in game six of the best of seven series. For the third series in a row the Storm found themselves down two games to none and found a way to claw back and win the series. It’s the fourth time in franchise history that Guelph has won the Memorial Cup.
Montreal Canadiens prospect Nick Suzuki earned the Wayne Gretzky ’99’ Award as OHL Playoff MVP, leading all players with a Storm franchise record 42 points (16-26–42) in 24 games.
With the OHL season just barely wrapping up, teams from across the league are already preparing for next season, including the Niagara IceDogs who yesterday announced the team will be opening their home exhibition schedule at the Vale Health and Wellness Centre in Port Colborne.

Badgers ink women’s basketball coach to three-year deal

by Niagara Independent Staff

Brock University has shown their confidence in women’s basketball head coach Mike Rao by signing him to a three-year deal. Rao guided the lady Badgers to their first playoff berth since 2012.
This year, Rao and the Badgers improved their win total to 11 victories and reached the OUA Critelli Cup quarter-finals.
In a statement released earlier this week, Brock’s Associate Director of Sports Emily Allan said, “Mike has done a phenomenal job with the program. He has worked tirelessly from day one to improve and build a culture of excellence.” Allan went on to add, “He is continually recruiting talented student-athletes to elevate this team, and he is producing results.”

Gretzky adds beer to wine and whisky products

by Niagara Independent Staff

Wayne Gretzky Estates announced the launch of No. 99 Rye Lager, its first craft beer. The brew will be for sale across Ontario beginning this month at LCBO stores, Wayne Gretzky Estates, as well as select Ontario restaurants. The lager will be available more broadly across Ontario this fall.
“Our goal at the outset was to give hockey fans and beer fans something new to cheer about,” said John Peller. “As the name promises, No. 99 Rye Lager, brewed with rye grain delivers the crisp, clean taste of a classic lager with an extra layer of depth, zest and freshness. There’s nothing like it on the market.”
“It feels awesome to be back in the craft beer business” said Peller. Although the Peller family may be most known for their Canadian wines, Company founder Andrew Peller got his start in the beer industry. “My grandpa started his career in the 1930’s as a brewmaster at E.P. Taylor Canadian brewing, which led him to open his own brewery, Peller Brewing Company in 1947, in Hamilton, Ontario,” Peller explained.

Toyota plans to produce luxury SUV in Ontario

by Niagara Independent Staff

It was a good news announcement for Ontario’s auto sector yesterday. Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada (TMMC) announced they will begin producing their luxury SUV at its Cambridge plant moving production from Japan to Ontario. The plant will supply all of the North American market.
“Building on our recent Toyota RAV4 announcement and our recent facility modernization investments, we are excited to announce that TMMC has been selected to produce the popular Lexus NX and Lexus NX Hybrid models for the entire North American market,” TMMC President Fred Volf told Team Members and dignitaries.

Lacrosse will be part of Canada Summer Games

by Niagara Independent Staff

The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, federal Minister of Science and Sport was in St. Catharines yesterday to announce the inclusion of Lacrosse as part of the upcoming 2021 Canada Games which will take place in Niagara. While there was some hope, given the federal government was sending a cabinet minister to Niagara, the announcement would include the feds portion for infrastructure funding for the Games it nonetheless was good news for sport and in particular the lacrosse community. The federal government is kicking in $1.7 million in order to add lacrosse as a sport to the Games.
With the Lacrosse Hall of Fame as a backdrop, Minister Duncan said that the lacrosse competition, a pilot project for the 2021 Games, will be box lacrosse format, and will feature both male and female teams. Lacrosse last participated in the Canada Summer Games in 1985. Lacrosse was named Canada’s National Game by Parliament in 1859. In 1994 Parliament passed the National Sports of Canada Act which declared lacrosse to be “Canada’s National Summer Sport” and hockey became the nation’s national winter sport.

Grimsby company acquired by Horizon North

by Niagara Independent Staff

Horizon North Logistics Inc. (TSX: HNL.TO) recently announced that they have entered into a binding purchase and sale agreement with respect to the acquisition of NRB Inc. (Canada), a full-service modular construction provider based in Grimsby.
Horizon North has agreed to purchase all of the outstanding shares of NRB Canada for $16.5 million, payable in a mix of common shares of Horizon North and cash. The Binding Purchase Agreement is subject to certain conditions, including the receipt of all necessary and required consents, including those from the Toronto Stock Exchange. The transaction is scheduled to close in early April 2019.

Town of Pelham could be on the hook for millions

by Niagara Independent Staff

It’s not often that a company from one of Niagara’s quaint municipalities gets featured on a national
news program, but last week saw one of those inauspicious occasions.

Bloomberg’s “Business News Network”, Canada’s renowned 24-hour business news program, featured a Niagara company from Pelham last Monday. The network runs a one hour stock pickers program twice a day. A stockbroker, or other qualified guest, takes phone calls from the public and gives his or her informed opinion about the future of each stock.

Last Monday, an Edmonton caller asked guest Robert McWhirter, president of Selective Asset Management, about Leviathan (CSE: EPIC-CN), a local cannabis company currently endeavouring to begin construction on Foss Road in Pelham.

River Lions roster takes shape

by Niagara Independent Staff

The Niagara River Lions recently announced their thirteen selections in the 2019 Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) Entry Draft, including Canadian National Team member, Kaza Kajami- Keane as first regional round pick, followed by Kassius Robertson, Guillaume Payen Boucard and Tyrone Watson.
“I’m excited for the Niagara region to watch Kaza Kajami-Keane and Kassius Robertson play,” said Head Coach and General Manager, Victor Raso. “They are two young professionals with a lot of potential who will make our country proud.”

Falls native signs with Leafs

by Niagara Independent Staff

Niagara Falls native Mac Hollowell has done what many budding young Niagara hockey players dream about, sign a contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The 20-year-old, the 5.10, 163-lb defenceman who currently leads all Ontario Hockey League defencemen in goals (23) and points (73) with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, signed a three-year future entry-level contract. In 254 regular season games over five OHL seasons with the Greyhounds, Hollowell has collected 178 points (41 goals, 137 assists) while recording 23 points (three goals, 20 assists) in 47 playoff games.

Development in Ontario – A Delicate Balance

by Niagara Independent Staff

As part of its ongoing work to streamline government operations and reduce red tape, the Ford government recently shut down a little-known government entity called the Local Planning Appeal Support Centre (LPASC). This office was set up in April 2018 by the previous Liberal government, ostensibly to help the average Ontarian fight development projects that were “inappropriate, unreasonable, misplaced or designed without considering various planning guidelines”. One person’s “inappropriate” or “unreasonable” could very well be someone else’s perfectly “appropriate” or “reasonable”, and having such subjective goals could be seen to create problems for such an agency from the outset. Basically, the LPASC was intended to provide financial and other resources to enable Ontarians to sue their own government over development projects someone decided they didn’t like. As the office was established at a time when the Liberals had to be pretty sure they were going to voted out of office in a mere couple of months, it is tempting to think of this as just another poison pill planted by the Liberals for their likely Conservative successors, as so many other things the Liberals rushed into being late in their tenure have turned out to be.

Powerhouse Ravens end Badgers’ season

by Niagara Independent Staff

Probably the greatest Canadian university sports program continues its roll, this time right over the Brock Badgers.
The Carleton Ravens men’s basketball team nearly doubled up on the Badgers Wednesday night in the nation’s capital with a 86-44 victory in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) semifinals. The Badgers, who had a strong season with an overall record of 18-9 were simply no match for the powerhouse program at Carleton. Brock could only manage 25 first half points while the Ravens poured in 44. Carleton never let up outscoring the Badgers 24 to nine in the final quarter. The Badgers shot 27.8 per cent from the field compared to Carleton’s 46 per cent.

New radar detection system will keep boaters safer on Niagara River

by Niagara Independent Staff

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and New York Power Authority (NYPA) have launched a detection and alerting system that will help add a layer of safety for boaters around the vicinity of the International Niagara Control Works in Niagara Falls.
Boaters can at times fail to stay clear of marked exclusion zones and therefore end up exposing themselves to a real risk because of the high turbulence and very strong currents in the waters near the International Control Dam. “While this additional tool will help ensure the public’s safety, it’s important to remind boaters that they are responsible for their own navigation safety and must obey warning signs and buoys,” said Mike Martelli, OPG President, Renewable Generation.

Swimming is his life

by Niagara Independent Staff

Swimming isn’t just what Gokhan Bozyigit does for fun, or for the thrill of competing. It’s who he is.
Swimming is what brought Bozyigit to Canada, and specifically to Brock University, from his native Turkey. The sport is also what has given him clear career goals, both as an athlete and as a coach.
“Without swimming I am pretty sure I would have never thought about coming to Canada,” he said. “All I can say is swimming is my whole life. It is a part of who I am and without it I would be lost.”

Summer Games Society makes Wright choice for CEO

by Niagara Independent Staff

Doug Hamilton, Chair of the 2021 Canada Summer Games Host Society has announced a number of staff appointments as the organization begins to ramp up planning for the national amateur sporting event to be held in Niagara. Chief among the recent hiring’s is Brock University associate business professor Barry Wright as the organization’s new Chief Executive Officer. Wright will join the summer games organization as a secondment from the university.
In this role, Barry will oversee organization of the 2021 Games including human resources, volunteer programming, finance, and sport & athlete services. As the former Dean of the Goodman School, Barry brings a wealth of experience and research focused on leadership, planning, and organizational performance. Barry will join the 2021 Canada Games on May 1, 2019.

Cannabis is just another crop

by Niagara Independent Staff

After new government regulations commercialized medical marijuana in 2013, federally licensed cannabis cultivators, processors, and sellers began cropping up all across Canada.

Prairie Plant Systems Inc. in Saskatoon led the way as the first certified producer. Tweed Farms in Niagara-on-the-Lake followed closely behind.

Since that time, some 150 applicants have successfully received a federal license to grow, prepare, and/or sell cannabis.

Questions Abound on D’Angelo Departure from Region

by Niagara Independent Staff

Regional CAO Carmelo D’Angelo’s Statement of Claim, filed in a Hamilton court, outlines a concerning timeline of events that add to the intrigue surrounding his wrongly assumed departure.  The statement claims that after a summer of leaks of his personal and confidential information and a multitude of media reports of this information, D’Angelo was advised by his physician on Dec. 11, 2018 to take a medical leave from work.  The claim states, “It was envisaged that Carmelo would return to work approximately eight (8) weeks later.” 

The claim continues that just three days later the “Region replaced the acting CAO that Carmelo had arranged to act in his place during his medical leave.”  And then, “On or about Dec. 14, 2018, the region cut off Carmelo’s access to his work email account, his work voicemail and his corporate credit card.”

When will it end?

by Niagara Independent Staff

Another week, another Ford government policy announcement, another virulent public sector union-backed protest. This week the subject was autism funding. The announcement was made by Minister of Children, Community and Social Services Lisa MacLeod, and the essence of the new policy is to alter the funding model so that funds go directly to the parents of autistic children and not to the regional service providers as was previously the case. Another key – and hugely controversial – change was that funds will in future be distributed to all Ontario parents with autistic children. Currently, only about 25 per cent of affected families are receiving government funds, while the other 75 per cent – representing 23,000 children – sit on waiting lists. Overall funding would actually be slightly increased in the new policy.

Niagara College (NC) is set to host the 2019 Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Women’s Volleyball Championship.

The event will see the top eight women’s volleyball teams from colleges across Canada face off at NC’s Welland Campus Athletic Centre next month from March 6th to the 9th.

Fred Batley, CCAA Women’s Volleyball Convenor said, “With world-class athletic facilities and the Niagara area hospitality and attractions, the student-athletes, coaches and spectators will be in for an amazing and exciting National Championship.”

Bellows is new chair for Parks Commission

by Niagara Independent Staff

The province’s, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, Michael Tibollo, has appointed St. Catharines resident Sandie Bellows as the new Chair of the Niagara Parks Commission. Bellows will begin her four-year term immediately.

Bellows is in her first term as a Regional Councilor, after representing Grantham Ward as a St. Catharines city councilor during the past four years (2014-18). “I am very excited and honoured to be appointed Chair of the Niagara Parks Commission,” said Bellows. “I am looking forward to working with my fellow board members and all the amazing staff at this great organization.”

Busy shipping season on seaway

by Niagara Independent Staff

The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) recently released its figures for the past year and it was a busy one. The total tonnage on the waterway during the 2018 navigation season was 40.9 million. That’s the highest result in more than a decade. The Corporation said much of the credit for the increase can be given to healthy movements of grain which was the best on record since the turn of the century. They also pointed to the continued marketing of the seaway as “Highway H2O” as helping to serve as a catalyst to spur increased movements of a broad range of cargoes including grain, road salt, stone, cement, gypsum and refined fuels.
“We are very pleased with the results recorded over the past year” said the SLSMC’s President and CEO, Terence Bowles. “After completing the first year with Hands Free Mooring installed at all of our high-lift locks, it is gratifying to see that our efforts to boost system efficiency and heighten our competitive position are bearing strong results. This new mooring technology eliminates the need for special vessel fittings, enabling the St. Lawrence Seaway to welcome a broader range of ships from the world fleet.”

Best Whiskey comes from Niagara

by Niagara Independent Staff

In a region known primarily for its wines, Niagara-made beverages such as craft beer and spirits are gaining national and international recognition. In fact, the best whisky in Canada is an all-rye whisky, distilled 22 years ago in Grimsby at Forty Creek Distillery.

Ten independent whisky experts blind taste tested more than 100 whiskies and declared Forty Creek 22-year-old Rye as Canadian Whisky of the Year in the ninth annual Canadian Whisky Awards recently held at the Hotel Grand Pacific in Victoria, BC. The Canadian Whisky Awards recognize the very best whiskies produced in Canada.

Two of Brock University’s curlers, women’s varsity team third Jessica Humphries and freshman men’s varsity team skip Sam Steep, have won the junior provincial championships and are currently competing for their respective teams at the New Holland Canadian Junior Curling Championships in Prince Albert, SK.
Steep, a first-year recreation student at Brock, spent his holidays leading his hometown rink to the Ontario U21 championships title in Ajax.

Niagara to host Canadian wrestling trials

by Niagara Independent Staff

Niagara will be hosting another national sporting event. This time the sport is wrestling.
Wrestling Canada Lutte, the 2021 Canada Games Host Society, and the Brock Wrestling Club will host the Canadian Wrestling Trials in December of 2019.
The trials will serve as a selection event for the opportunity to represent Canada at international qualifying events for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Niagara has a strong history of wrestling and has developed significant wrestling talent that has gone on to represent Canada successfully in numerous competitions around the world.

Curlers earn berth to provincial finals

by Niagara Independent Staff

Some of the top female curlers in Ontario put their skills on display at the Niagara Falls Curling Club this past weekend. Up for grabs was the two remaining spots to compete in the provincial finals and a chance to play in the Scottie’s national women’s championship.

Six teams from around the province have already secured a berth to the provincial championships. In total, eight teams play in the Ontario final, leaving just two spots remaining. “It was very high calibre curling,” said Niagara Falls Curling Club general manager Bob Garvin.

Minister meets with Niagara tourism leaders

by Niagara Independent Staff

The province’s Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, Michael Tibollo, was in Niagara yesterday meeting with Niagara’s tourism leaders to get their feedback on the government’s tourism strategy.
Minister Tibollo was seeking the advice and input on issues affecting the tourism industry. Some of the key points discussed were the role of government in the sector, the industry workforce challenges and regulatory burdens. Ontario’s tourism sector has an economic impact of about $34 billion.

Brock hockey teams making a push to playoffs

by Niagara Independent Staff

The Brock Badgers men’s and women’s hockey programs enjoyed a strong first half to the OUA season and have begun the second half equally as impressive.

The men’s hockey team climbed into the national rankings a handful of times during the first half of the campaign. They roared out of the gate with four consecutive wins and currently sit with one of the lowest goals against in the league.

This past Saturday Brock was back in action as Ayden MacDonald scored the game-winning goal and the Brock Badgers slipped by the York Lions 4-3 on the road. The Badgers have now won four consecutive games.

“We had a great third period to find a way to win.” said head coach Marty Williamson.

Niagara curling tradition continues

by Niagara Independent Staff

For over forty years now, Niagara’s curling clubs have banded together to put on an annual Niagara Region bonspiel. For many years it was known as the Labatt’s Standard; then the Winmar but is now sponsored by Young’s Insurance and so aptly named, ‘The Youngs’.
In January teams from around the region enter the week-long bonspiel that lets curlers experience playing in the Niagara Falls Curling Club, the St. Catharines Golf and Country Club, the Welland Curling Club and the St. Catharines Curling Club in Grantham.
While the spiel used to have 64 teams and a waiting list, attendance has suffered a bit in the last few years as it competes against other competitive curling events and club nights. But the event, which also used to require that each team have on it one new curler, is a great way for curlers all around the region to play in each other’s clubs and meet other curlers. Kelly Hopkins, an organizer, sponsor and participant said this year the numbers are up. “We are at full capacity with 48 teams and a waiting list so next year I think you will see us expand the number of teams.”

Top 10 predictions for 2019

by Niagara Independent Staff

While some media outlets prefer to look at the past and compile a list of what’s already happened, writers at The Niagara Independent decided to play prognosticators. In no particular order, here is our Top 10 list of what we think is likely to happen in Niagara, Ontario, Canada and beyond in 2019.

Team Canada win first two as expected

by Niagara Independent Staff

Gold medal defenders usually get a good draw in the following years tournament and this year in Vancouver proved no different for Team Canada.  Canada started the tournament with an overwhelming defeat of an overmatched Denmark squad.  In the 14-0 affair, 18 of Canada’s 20 skaters hit the scoresheet.

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds centre Morgan Frost led early on with a quick hat trick.  He ended the game with 3 goals and two assists.  Max Comtois, expected to lead this team in all aspects, didn’t disappoint as he followed up Frost’s hot start with four goals of his own.  His linemate, the very slick centre Cody Glass, had four helpers.  Evan Bouchard led the backend with three assists of his own.

While he didn’t face many shots, just 14 in all, starting goalie Mike DiPietro was perfect throughout the night pitching the shutout.  “It was a game where I made as many saves as our team had goals, it was crazy”, said DiPietro.

As usual, this year Canada is expected to face its stiffest competition from Russia in Group A. Group B has three teams that are all highly competitive; Sweden, Finland and the U.S.A. Here’s a look at each of these four teams.

Brock’s Chancellor named to Order of Canada

by Niagara Independent Staff

It’s a Christmas she won’t soon forget. Brock University Chancellor Shirley Cheechoo, an award-winning actress, artist, playwright and filmmaker, has been awarded the Order of Canada. The announcement came on Boxing Day from Governor-General Julie Payette.
One of the country’s highest honours, the Order of Canada recognizes Canadians whose service shapes society, whose innovations ignite imaginations and whose compassion unites communities.
Cheechoo said she was shocked when she received the call notifying her she was to receive the honour. “I didn’t know what to say, it was a very moving moment,” she said earlier this week. “It’s absolutely a tremendous honour to be given the Order of Canada.”

Niagara Falls set to ring in the New Year

by Niagara Independent Staff

The Niagara Parks Commission and the City of Niagara Falls, along with its Niagara Falls New Year’s Eve event partners, will once again host Canada’s longest running New Year’s Eve festivities and concert series, taking place in Queen Victoria Park.
“New Year’s Eve in Niagara Falls is an amazing tradition. We are thrilled to offer an exciting show again this year and we want you to come and enjoy it with us,” said Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati. “We look forward to celebrating the traditions of the season, like the Winter Festival of Lights, and the true Canadian experience of a New Year’s Eve outdoor concert, complete with outstanding entertainment and ringing in the New Year.”
This year’s concert features an all-star line-up of Canadian talent and will open with Niagara Falls-based band and winner of band of the year at the Niagara Music Awards, Avenue Inn. Avenue Inn has carved a unique space in the Canadian music scene since their formation in 2012 and have carefully crafted their own alternative rock approach, with their brand-new album “Tonight”.

A Door Closed and a Window of Opportunity Opened – A Niagara Success Story

by Niagara Independent Staff

Since opening their doors in 2016, Georges Greek Village Restaurant in St. Catharines has been dedicated to bringing the highest quality and freshest authentic Greek cuisine to diners in the Niagara Region.
The journey for owner and chef George Kountourogiannis to this point has been a long but rewarding one. One full of uncompromising hard work, a passion for food passed down through his family and now the satisfaction of owning a successful restaurant that bears his namesake.
It all started in 1975 at the Pine Centre Restaurant in Thorold, where his mom and dad owned a family restaurant.

Hamilton and Haldimand shift balance of power on NPCA Board

by Niagara Independent Staff

While the new crop of Niagara regional councillors jumped into the NPCA debate with both feet at their inaugural meeting last week, passing a motion to appoint 12 regional councillors to the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) Board, their counterparts in Hamilton and Haldimand have said not so fast.
Haldimand passed a motion on Tuesday stating they would be appointing two members to the NPCA Board. Current NPCA board member Rob Shirton was reappointed. He will be joined by Bernie Corbert. Their neighbouring counterparts in Hamilton stated they will be appointing four members – two councillors and two citizens. Hamilton selected city Councillors Brenda Johnson and former MPP Brad Clark. Hamilton council will ratify that recommendation at their Dec. 19 meeting.
Johnson told Hamilton media after she was recommended for appointment at committee meeting; “If anything else there will be some sort of equalization in voting,” said Johnson. “Any time they (Niagara) wanted to approve something, against the City of Hamilton, there were 12 voters saying too bad to be you.”

Another private company has decided to invest in Niagara, this time in St. Catharines. After Welland recently announced that insurance giant, Kanetix Ltd. would be opening a new office and creating up to 100 jobs within a year, Steelcon Fabrication Inc. announced the company plans on opening a new $40 million manufacturing facility in the Garden City. The plant will produce its leading SIN-beam product for the North American market.
A family-owned company based in Brampton, Steelcon uses advanced technologies to produce construction beams that are lighter, use less steel, and have less of an impact on the environment while making construction more efficient.
“The decision on the site was an extremely smooth one. St. Catharines brims with manufacturing facilities and when you can infill a location that fits so well for Steelcon, it makes for a great transaction,” said Ralph Roselli, Partner and Sales Representative at Colliers Niagara.

Badgers bring Christmas cheer to kids in hospital

by Niagara Independent Staff

The Brock men’s hockey team had an experience so heartwarming Wednesday it could melt the ice they normally play on.
The Badgers paid a visit to the Children’s Health Unit at Niagara Health’s St. Catharines site, on a mission to bring holiday cheer to the little ones inside.
Head coach Marty Williamson accompanied forwards Jared Marino (Niagara Falls), Ryan Burton (Thunder Bay), Frankie Pucci (Sault Ste. Marie), Ayden MacDonald (Langley, B.C.) and defenceman Connor Walters (Welland) as they went room to room while handing out high-fives, Brock apparel and water bottles, but more importantly, spending time visiting with children.

The surprising, and surging, Buffalo Sabres

by Niagara Independent Staff

No one.

Not a single person could have predicted this.

From worst to first, started from the bottom – however you want to word it – the Buffalo Sabres are for real.

In fact, according to the Elias Sports Bureau the Sabres are the first team ever to finish the previous season with the worst record and then lead the National Hockey League outright in points after 25 games.

Impressive to say the least.

So what’s been the difference?

First and foremost, it starts in goal with Carter Hutton. Hutton has played like a number one goaltender, and his leadership off the ice has definitely made a difference in the Buffalo dressing room.

Ford sets Path to Deal with Red Ink and Red Tape left by Liberals

by Niagara Independent Staff

Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Finance Vic Fedeli released their first formal economic statement at Queen’s Park Thursday. Dubbed “A Plan for the People”, the statement was the first formal budgetary step in the Ford government’s implementation of its campaign commitments to provide tax relief to Ontarians, make the cost of living more reasonable, stop provincial government wasteful spending and deficits and restore trust, transparency and accountability to Ontario’s finances.
The statement was made amid the backdrop of Ontario’s auditor general, the Fiscal Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO) and the special Financial Commission of Inquiry all concurring that the previous Liberal government had not balanced the books in 2017-2018 (as they had claimed). The Commission of Inquiry pointed to a $6.7 billion deficit – and worse – that the Liberals had set the province on a path to a $15 billion deficit for 2018-2019.

Women’s Rugby Player earns National Community Service Award

by Niagara Independent Staff

U SPORTS recently presented Brock University women’s rugby player, Katelyn Heyens, with the Student-Athlete Community Service Award during the annual women’s rugby All-Canadian gala in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

“I am honoured to receive this award and am incredibly humbled by it. However, this was a team effort. I would not be here if it wasn’t for the support from all the amazing people in my life,” said Heyens. “I am truly thankful for all the people who have encouraged me to get involved, and for all those who have helped me grow as an athlete and individual over that last few years.”

Last month, the OUA also awarded Heyens the Russell Division Community Service Award.

Mobile Cancer Screening expands to Fort Erie and Port Colborne

by Niagara Independent Staff

Starting this month, the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Regional Mobile Cancer Screening Coach will begin offering free, regular cancer screening services at Bridges Community Health Centre locations in Fort Erie and Port Colborne.
The Coach has been providing cancer screening services in St. Catharines since July 2017. Expansion to Fort Erie and Port Colborne is part of the Regional Cancer Program’s efforts to increase cancer screening rates among Niagara residents who face barriers to screening.
The Coach will bring state-of-the-art breast, cervical and colon cancer screening to Fort Erie and Port Colborne for a full day each month, beginning on November 7 in Port Colborne and November 13 in Fort Erie. Going forward, the Coach will visit Port Colborne the first Wednesday of each month and Fort Erie the second Tuesday of each month.

Entire Pelham council turfed, an upset in Fort Erie, and other election happenings

by Niagara Independent Staff

Pelham While it was a night of change in several spots across the region, nowhere was this more apparent than in Pelham. Voters there, fed up with a huge debt, tax hikes, strange land deals and a tone-deaf council, took the opportunity to throw the whole lot out. Mayor Dave Augustyn, with dreams of becoming […]

The changing face of Regional Council

by Niagara Independent Staff

While a lot of voters stayed home once again this municipal election, especially in St. Catharines and Welland where turnout was a paltry 33%, those that did make it to the polls had an appetite for change.

With 8 members of the 2014 Niagara Regional Council deciding not to run in the 2018 elections, a revamped Council was assured from the get go.  Mayors Bentley (Grimsby), Maloney (Port Colborne), Augustyn (Pelham) and Jeffs (Wainfleet) all declined to seek another term as Mayor’s in their communities.  Councillors Hodgson (Lincoln), Maves (Niagara Falls), Burroughs (NOTL), Barrick (Port Colborne) and Petrowksi (St. Catharines) all also decided not to run this time around.  With a new regional councillor added for West Lincoln, 10 new faces were guaranteed.

In addition, in the politically tumultuous St. Catharines, new well-known candidates such as Jim Bradley, George Darte and Sandie Bellows all decided to run for a regional council seat.  If those three were successful, that left only three spots for incumbents Tim Rigby, Bruce Timms, Kelly Edgar, Brian Heit, the embattled Alan Caslin and the quiet Debbie MacGregor.

Walter Sendzik will return to the Mayor’s office in St. Catharines with an overwhelming victory that saw the incumbent mayor win just over 70 per cent of the vote. Sendzik’s vote total of 21,574 was more than three times that of second place finisher Richard Stephens who grabbed 5,834 total votes. Of all the Mayor’s races across the Region this one was as close to a sure bet as one could find. Despite some significant challenges with projects that never came to fruition, like the General Motors factory site cleanup, the Port Dalhousie tower still at a standstill and the compassionate city slogan that has been tarnished with multiple acts of violence, Sendzik never really faced any credible opposition during the campaign and cruised to an easy victory.

Campaign Trail Tidbits

by Niagara Independent Staff

With just three days to go until municipal Election Day there have been some interesting developments as candidates make one last push to convince voters they are the right choice to represent their respective municipalities.

Niagara Falls

Some very positive news out of Niagara Falls earlier this week when incumbent Mayor, Jim Diodati, released a statement saying his oncologist gave him very good news regarding his battle with Classical Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Diodati, who is well on his way to completing his treatments, says he is feeling good and looking forward to Election Day. “I have a great team of volunteers and we will be focused on getting out the vote.  Signs, advertising, flyers, none of it matters if your supporters don’t actually vote,” he said.

Also in Niagara Falls, former NHL player and coach, Steve Ludzik, is back in the race for a Niagara Falls city council seat. Ludzik said he was going to step aside early in the campaign but is now back in the race. Ludzik established the Steve Ludzik Centre for Parkinson’s Rehabilitation at Hotel Dieu Shaver and has done yeomen’s work to raise money and awareness for the Centre and the disease.

Friday Night Lights is back in Niagara

by Niagara Independent Staff

Last Friday night at A.N. Myer’s new turf sports field, 300 people braved the cold to sit under the lights and watch a heavily favoured Myer senior football team handily defeat visiting Grimsby Secondary.

It was eight degrees but felt like four. The grandstand was jammed; the cheerleaders were dressed for warmth but braved the elements to cheer on their home team. The home team delivered, ultimately winning handily over an overmatched Grimsby team.

Brock Men’s hockey begin Quest for Queen’s Cup

by Niagara Independent Staff

The Brock Badgers men’s hockey team is looking to build off last season’s impressive playoff run when they open their season at home tonight. The Badgers will host the York Lions at 7:15 p.m. at the Seymour-Hannah Sports and Entertainment Centre.
Brock is coming off a successful season where they posted a record of 14-9-5 and upset Guelph, York and Laurier in the playoffs. They reached the U SPORTS National Championships in Fredericton, New Brunswick, but were eliminated in the first round.

Interesting Candidates throughout Niagara

by Niagara Independent Staff

With hundreds of candidates running across Niagara in municipal, regional and school board elections – there are some interesting stories about many of the candidates. We profile a few below.

Flyboy is back in Welland
In the 2014 municipal election, Wellanders had to look up to see one candidate’s ‘lawn signs’. Graham Speck, a businessman – owner of Speck Industries, a communitarian and a Rotarian – had a unique way of getting voters’ attention for his 2014 campaign – he hand-glided above the city with his sign visible from the ground trailing behind. In the 2018 campaign, ‘flyboy’ is back, this time running for Welland City Council in Ward 5.

Niagara College opens Canada’s first Teaching Distillery

by Niagara Independent Staff

Niagara College welcomed their first batch of students into their Artisan Distilling (Graduate Certificate) program, a first-of-its-kind program in Canada.
The 2,500 square-foot state-of-the-art Teaching Distillery, housed at the Niagara-on-the-Lake campus, is directly adjacent to the college’s unique Wine Visitor + Education Centre, and is based on the college’s successful teaching winery and teaching brewery – also Canadian firsts. The fully operational distillery houses five stills, four mash tuns and ten fermenters that allow for on-site production of a wide variety of distilled products, including vodka, gin, whisky, brandy, rum and more.

Campaign Trail Tidbits

by Niagara Independent Staff

Current Regional Chairman, Alan Caslin, released a statement following his appearance on TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paiken, saying he is in favour of less government for Niagara; particularly when it comes to municipal politicians. Caslin pointed out that Hamilton has about 100,000 more people than Niagara but has just 16 politicians. By comparison, Niagara has 125 politicians.

Caslin said in his statement: “Not surprisingly, most politicians are tone deaf to residents’ shock when they are told Niagara has 125 politicians. Reducing the number of politicians in Niagara will reduce the cost of government. While this decision may not be popular with the political class or media establishment, it is the right thing to do.”

Brock research indicates strong manufacturing sector in Niagara

by Niagara Independent Staff

A recent Brock study may have just put an end to the doom and gloom scenario often painted about the Region’s manufacturing sector. Turns out there isn’t a need to plan a manufacturing funeral just yet. In fact, according to Sean Calcott and Charles Conteh there’s actually some good news.
Conteh, an Associate Professor of Political Science at Brock University and Director of the Niagara Community Observatory (NCO) admits the sector doesn’t look like it once did and it has gone through some challenging times. “But the general trend is that manufacturing has been very resilient, has stayed in the region and, in fact, has seen an upswing since 2012, so there’s a bit of a wind in our sails.”

Campaign Trail Tidbits

by Niagara Independent Staff

Things have heated up in Pelham as the election date gets closer. The town’s new arena, the Meridian Community Centre, recently had a not-so-smooth opening. The development of the facility was pushed hard over the years by Mayor Augustyn and seen as a legacy project for the Town’s Mayor. There was much discussion as to the actual cost of the celebratory grand opening pomp-and-circumstance as well as how the tickets were sold (or not sold) for a hockey game. Just three months ago the projected cost for the celebrations were pegged at $85,000. Since that time the estimated cost has gone from the original $85,000 to $70,000 to $48,000.

Public Relations and Marketing Specialist Marc McDonald was asked by the Town’s local newspaper, The Voice, to clarify the actual cost. MacDonald’s explanation was; “The net cost of the event is expected to be $48,225.”

Niagara High Schools on inflated marks list

by Niagara Independent Staff

It’s one list that Niagara’s high schools would prefer not to be on.
Global News reporter, Patrick Cain, recently broke a story on how for years, the University of Waterloo has been comparing the marks of high school graduates with their marks in the University’s engineering program. Some matched and some didn’t. What Waterloo have been finding is that marks from students coming out of three different schools aren’t reliable indicators on how those students will fair in their post-secondary studies. Some students were getting really good grades in high school and continued to do so in university while others had their marks drop as much as 30 per cent.

Region’s Police Chief Earns National Recognition

by Niagara Independent Staff

Niagara’s Chief of Police will soon don a new insignia atop his black Eisenhower jacket.

Bryan MacCulloch, who has been at the helm of the Niagara Regional Police Service for just under one year, has been awarded the Order of Merit of the Police Forces for 2017/ 2018.

The accolade is one of the top honours any police officer can receive in Canada and is only conferred upon those who illustrate “exceptional merit” and produce career-long “contributions to policing and community development”.

Regional Planning Committee unanimously endorsed Phase 1 of the Niagara-on-the-Lake and St. Catharines Glendale District Plan this week. After several public meetings, workshops, charrettes, a social media campaign and consultations, renowned planning consultants, “The Planning Partnership”, presented the results – a visioning and conceptual development plan.
The Glendale Niagara area, is the confluence between the southern boundary of St. Catharines and the west boundary of Niagara on the Lake. It is the area that currently encompasses Niagara College, the Outlet Collection mall, White Oaks and the Seaway on the west side of the QEW and two hotels, commercial and industrial employment zones, and the QEW roadside rest area.

Steel Blade Classic brings Brock Badgers back to Meridian Centre

by Niagara Independent Staff

The Brock Badgers are set to take over the Meridian Centre again for one of the biggest shows in Canadian university hockey.
The Badgers men’s hockey team, which made it to the U SPORTS National Championships last season, will open the 2018-19 pre-season with their annual Steel Blade Classic to be held Friday, Sept. 21 in downtown St. Catharines.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the tournament, a single-game, winner-take-all matchup between the Brock Badgers and Guelph Gryphons.

Waste collection

by Niagara Independent Staff

In the worst weather last winter, and again this past summer during the heatwave, many Niagara residents were frustrated by not having their garbage or recycling picked up on the appointed day.
The Region re-tendered garbage and recycling collection several years ago, and current operator Emterra Environmental won the bid. In fact, their contract saves the Region’s taxpayers over $4 million per year.
Bart Maves, Chair of the Public Works Committee at the Region explains, “Emterra has actually done a spectacular job over most of the life of their contract with the Region. It is only over the last year that they have had some issues. The core of the problem has been aging trucks that they are trying to refurbish while maintaining service, some staff turnover, and other staff issues like people calling in sick on the hottest or coldest days of the year.”

St. Catharines Hockey Legend Stan Mikita Remembered

by Niagara Independent Staff

Chicago Black Hawks and St. Catharines Teepees legendary centreman Stan Mikita died last week, he was 78 years old.
Mikita was born in Sokolce, Czechoslovakia in 1940 but moved to St. Catharines as a young boy where he lived with his aunt and uncle and took on their last name of Mikita. He was a star centre for the Teepees from 1956 to 1959. At the end of the 1959 junior season he went up and played three NHL games with the Black Hawks. He would play every season after that with the Hawks until his retirement in 1980. Only three players have played more games while playing their whole careers with the same team.

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has signed a purchase and sale agreement to acquire 100 per cent of the equity of Eagle Creek Renewable Energy LLC in the U.S.
The purchase price is US$298 million, subject to customary working capital and other adjustments on closing, OPG said.
OPG has stated that no taxpayer dollars will be used to fund this acquisition. Instead, the investment will be financed through OPG’s corporate public debt program or other available credit facilities.

Local Conservative MPs consult with Niagara business leaders on U.S. Tariffs

by Niagara Independent Staff

Over the last month, Conservative Party MPs have been meeting with business leaders, labour groups, and employees across the country to discuss the impact of Canada’s decreasingly friendly economic relationship with the U.S.

On June 1, President Donald Trump imposed a 25% tariff on imported steel and a 10% tariff on incoming aluminum.

Despite a feeble attempt to remedy the situation, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was unable to secure an exemption from the duties: unwittingly launching Canada into a trade war with the U.S.

Brock coach heading to Raptors’ organization

by Niagara Independent Staff

After leading the Brock Badgers men’s basketball team to a record setting season in terms of wins in 2017-18 and mading it to the National Championships for the first time in 10 years, head coach Charles Kissi is taking his development as a coach to the next level.
Kissi has been named an assistant coach for Raptors 905 — the NBA G League affiliate of the Toronto Raptors — by Raptors 905 head coach Jama Mahlalela and ownership group Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.

Creating a microscopic robot that has the potential to identify drug resistance to tuberculosis faster than conventional tests is something most Niagara residents would assume happens at post-secondary institutions like University of Toronto or Queen’s University or even McMaster University down the QEW in Hamilton. However, this type of game-changing scientific research and development is happening here in St. Catharines at Niagara’s own Brock University.
The Brock team’s latest technology builds on an earlier version of the microscopic robot — called the three-dimensional DNA nanomachine — they created in 2016 to detect diseases in a blood sample within 30 minutes.

Who’s in? Who’s out?

by Niagara Independent Staff

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has said there will be no general election of Regional Chairs in the upcoming municipal election, reversing a decision by the former Wynne Liberals. This news has sent Niagara politicians whirling in the last 24-hours.

In advance of what is expected to be one of the most hotly contested series of municipal elections in recent memory, the Niagara Independent examines a few of the most notable candidates registered to run (or not run) in 2018.

Canadian Open Tees Off at Glen Abbey

by Niagara Independent Staff

There will be plenty of Canadian content at this week’s RBC Canadian Open being held just down the QEW at Oakville’s Glen Abbey Golf Club.
Five players from Ontario are in the field including; Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont., Corey Conners of Listowel,Ont., David Hearn of Brantford, Ont., Ben Silverman of Thornhill, Ont., and former Master champion, Mike Weir of Brights Grove, Ontario. They are joined by fellow Canadian PGA players Adam Hadwin (highest ranking Canadian on the PGA Tour) and Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, B.C.

Lord Mayor Darte Seeks Re-Election

by Niagara Independent Staff

A lot of good things have been accomplished during the past few years in Canada’s “friendliest town” but Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Lord Mayor, Pat Darte, announced this week he’d like at least four more years to build on those achievements.

Introduced by his campaign manager, Joe Pillitteri, in front of a crowd of family and supporters, Darte said he has been recently reflecting on his first term as Lord Mayor and believes the Town is moving in the right direction. “We are expanding to meet demands while retaining the unique elements of Niagara-on-the-Lake,” he said. He stated that over a half a billion dollars of new construction has taken place and gave examples of new wineries, craft breweries, additional retail space as well as new housing development.

Tomasino Invited to Canada Summer U-18 Selection Camp

by Niagara Independent Staff

Niagara Ice Dogs’ Philip Tomasino is among forty-four of the nation’s top under-18 hockey prospects that will gather in Calgary at the end of July to compete for a chance to wear the Maple Leaf on home ice as part of Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team competing at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Edmonton and Red Deer this August.
The invitations have been extended to four goaltenders, 14 defencemen, and 26 forwards who are developing in the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) and Canadian Junior Hockey League.
Tomasino previously represented Canada Black at the World U17 Hockey Challenge last fall.

Augustyn Running for Chair’s Seat

by Niagara Independent Staff

And then there were four.

Joining Damian Goulbourne from Welland, John (Ringo) Beam of Niagara Falls and current Regional Chair Alan Caslin from St. Catharines, current Pelham Mayor, Dave Augustyn declared publicly yesterday that he too will join the race to seek the Region’s top political position.

Although he doesn’t officially begin his role as the new Director of Economic Development for the Niagara Region, Domenic Ursini is doing his homework and reaching out to partners so that he’s able to hit the ground running come his official start date of July 30.
“I’ve been holding conversations with local counterparts and members of my team,” said Ursni who brings with him a wealth of private sector experience including commercial banking, government relations and public accounting.

Niagara’s Diamond Estates Wines & Spirits acquires BC winery

by Niagara Independent Staff

Diamond Estates Wines & Spirits Inc. has acquired Backyard Vineyards Inc. of Langley, British Columbia for $3 million in stock, cash and the assumption of some debt. In what is described by the Company as a “highly strategic transaction” the acquisition transforms Diamond Estates into a national producer of VQA wines and positions the Company to build a major new winery in the internationally-recognized Okanagan Valley wine-producing region.
Diamond Estates Wines and Spirits Inc. is a producer of wines and a sales agent for over 120 beverage alcohol brands across Canada. The company operates wineries in Niagara and one in Toronto, producing VQA and blended wines under brand names 20 Bees, EastDell, Lakeview Cellars, FRESH, Dan Aykroyd, McMichael Collection, Benchmark and Seasons.

Leafs and Sabres dominate free agent frenzy headlines

by Niagara Independent Staff

Only in Canada.
Only in our home and native land, on our national birthday, on the hottest weekend in many years, could hockey occupy centre stage.
July 1 is not only Canada’s birthday but also “Free Agent Frenzy” day in the NHL. Every July 1 at noon, all NHL teams can start to sign NHL free agents. Weeks of speculation on which free agent will go where lead into the big day.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer Visits Niagara

by Niagara Independent Staff

On a sweltering hot Saturday, Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer found one of the cooler spots in Niagara to meet 300 supporters for a barbeque. Henley Island in St. Catharines provided the backdrop with a cool breeze off the water as the crowd of Tory supporters eagerly dined on burgers and Canada Day cake while lining up for pictures with their party leader.
The event was organized by St. Catharines Conservative Riding Association member and St. Catharines City Councillor Mike Britton along with the Niagara Falls Riding Association. Britton also was the evening’s emcee. “It was an honour to have Mr. Scheer here in Niagara and having such a large turnout with just a week’s notice is a testament to the support the Party has here in this Region,” said Britton.

Caslin seeking re-election as Regional Chair

by Niagara Independent Staff

Current Niagara Regional Chairman, Alan Caslin is officially seeking re-election.

Chair Caslin announced his intentions Thursday stating: “For the past four years, I have been honoured to lead a Niagara Regional Council that has repeatedly delivered for Niagara residents.” He cited the creation of 12,700 new jobs, billions of dollars in economic growth annually, the lowest unemployment rate in 18 years, and a low tax plan that included a tax freeze in 2016 as some of the accomplishments in the past four years under Caslin’s leadership.

Second German university joins Brock’s dual degree business program

by Niagara Independent Staff

A fourth European institution is joining the dual degree program that has become an international success story for Brock University’s Goodman School of Business.
The Goodman School has established a partnership with Reutlingen University’s ESB Business School in Germany for its Bachelor of Business Administration Co-op International Dual Degree program.

Welland Plans to Enhance Waterfront Experience

by Niagara Independent Staff

Welland City Council has approved phase one of a multi-phased canal redevelopment strategy focused on funding new initiatives and amenities that will enhance the city’s waterfront experience for families, individuals, and tourists. The phase one changes will be completed at the city’s Lincoln Street Docks over the next four to six weeks.

Rock Band the Size of a Dozen Symphony Orchestras to Perform in Niagara

by Niagara Independent Staff

Traditionally frequented by dog walkers and weekend cyclists, Fireman’s Park will soon play host to an upcoming historic event.

On Saturday, July 21, 1 000 amateur and professional musicians of all ages will descend on the Niagara Falls recreation area to perform a synchronized set of six classic hits.

Regional Initiative to Alleviate Poverty Turns 10

by Niagara Independent Staff

On Friday, June 15 public officials and relief agencies from across the region gathered to celebrate 10 successful years of the Niagara Prosperity Initiative (NPI).

Established in 2008, the NPI administers $1.5 million in annual funding to a variety of local organizations maintaining missions to reduce and prevent poverty.

The event was moderated by Commissioner of Community Services Adrienne Jugley and featured statements from Regional Chair Alan Caslin, Township of West Lincoln Mayor Doug Joyner, and program director at Westview Centre4Women Jane LaVacca.

Report Finds Pelham Mayor Augustyn Violated Region’s Code of Conduct

by Niagara Independent Staff

The Integrity Commissioner Office for the Niagara Region, ADR Chambers, has found Pelham Mayor Dave Augustyn in violation of the Region’s Code of Conduct, specifically the Release of Confidential Information.

Regional Councillor David Barrick brought forth the complaint in January, alleging Councillor Augustyn violated the Code of Conduct when, on Dec. 21 of 2017 he circulated documents clearly marked privileged and confidential to the Office of the Ontario Ombudsmen.

Niagara PC Candidates Urge Supporters to Have Voice at Queen’s Park

by Niagara Independent Staff

With just 48 hours until Ontario decides who will be the next leader of the province and closer to home, which Niagara candidates will be heading to Queen’s Park to represent their respective constituents, Niagara Falls riding PC candidate Chuck McShane gave one last pre-election day speech to his supporters.

At a news conference held at his Niagara Falls campaign headquarters, McShane took to the podium on Tuesday afternoon to remind his supporters and those in his riding of the importance of having a seat at the table in Toronto.

Ford: slots back at track, Welland Hospital stays open and services

by Niagara Independent Staff

Ontario PC Party Leader Doug Ford was back in Niagara for the fourth time in this 2018 provincial election which tells many political pundits that the PCs are seeing numbers that suggest they can win what have historically been NDP and Liberal seats.
In contrast, the other main party Leaders Andrea Horwath (NDP) and Kathleen Wynne (Liberal) have been in Niagara only once and not at all respectively.

GO Train – Region and Municipalities Doing Their Part

by Niagara Independent Staff

The Region has moved the full day GO TRAIN transit file forward in a solid and meaningful way with the passing of all four secondary plans for the GO Train station areas.
Niagara Region, as part of its business case, committed to ensuring that the areas around the potential stations, the so-called Transit Hubs, would be fully planned and prepared in time for the beginning of GO Train service committed for 2023.

High School Baseball: Myer vs. Myer

by Niagara Independent Staff

Myer’s Ryan Shannon rounds the bases during play in the Bullet Proof  high school baseball tournament. Photo Credit: Jeff Eidt Last week the annual Bullet Proof High School Baseball tournament was held in St. Catharines.  A.N. Myer of Niagara Falls, which has ‘threepeated’ as SOSSA champions and finished in the top five in OFSAA the last […]

Region advised to do due diligence on funding requests

by Niagara Independent Staff

Last year’s regional-municipal saga surrounding the $36 million borrowed by the Region on behalf of the Town of Pelham for Pelham’s new arena, reappeared in an Audit Committee meeting at the Region this week.  The loan request of the Region was first made in June of 2016 when the Town asked the Region to agree to grant it borrowing space of up to $36 million for aforementioned arena.  The Town stated they had no intention of borrowing the full amount, because they had a plan to fundraise and engage in land sales to cover at least $15 million of the cost.  Several Councillors balked at agreeing to have the Region borrow for the Town fearing the amount was far too much for a town of only 17,000 people, but were led to believe by previous Region staff that their non-approval would be a legal problem.  Loans like this by upper tier governments had come to be treated as ‘rubber stamps’.  After a deferral was narrowly defeated, the loan space was eventually approved, with only Councillors Bart Maves and Andy Petrowski standing their ground and voting against. 

The Town of Pelham and a few other municipalities began to pass motions at their respective Councils condemning perceived Regional government interference in municipal matters.  The Region argued that since they were liable for the debt, they had the right and the responsibility to ask for financial information from the Municipalities that would assure the Region that the municipality could actually afford the debt.

Rather than tell you who won or who lost, The Niagara Independent staff watched the first Ontario election leaders’ debate and picked out a few interesting and fun sections of the debate and have reprinted them here – in their own words.

Candidates Host a Conversation About Women in Politics

by Niagara Independent Staff

All three are single parents. All three have raised boys. All three have gone through terrible physical or emotional experiences and have come out stronger on the other side.
Now, all three of these women are running to become progressive conservative MPPs in the upcoming Ontario election. And they want to get more women interested in participating in politics.
Christine Elliott joined Niagara MPP hopefuls Sandie Bellows and April Jeffs at Johnny Rocco’s in St. Catharines Friday evening for what was billed as “A Conversation with Women – Three Strong Leaders Talking Real Change”.

Brock Basketball Rookie Named All-Star

by Niagara Independent Staff

As a rookie, Kristin Gallant figured her first year with the Brock Badgers women’s basketball team would see her play a small role and fight for playing time.
But after a busy season that saw the 18-year-old Halifax native become a young leader on her team, Gallant was named to the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) all-star game.

Miele Convinces Region to Install Four-way Stop

by Niagara Independent Staff

An accident in early 2018 at Four Mile Creek Road and Line 3 in Niagara-on-the-Lake spurred regional public works transportation staff to try and find out why so many accidents were occurring at the intersection. Traffic counts don’t warrant four-way stops at the intersection and it is a relatively plain two-way stop from Line 3 onto Creek Road.
The Regions’ public works staff accelerated their processes after another accident in late April. This accident was followed by urgent requests for a four-way stop to be installed by Niagara-on-the-Lake Town Council.

Burgoyne Bridge Investigation Spotlight Shifts to St. Catharines

by Niagara Independent Staff

The spotlight on the Burgoyne Bridge massive cost overrun has shifted to the City of St. Catharines. At issue is two years worth of city emails, 2011 and 2012, that can’t be retrieved. The 2011 email file is corrupted and the 2012 emails have completely vanished.

The committee trying to get to the bottom of the massive cost overruns was provided with an update from staff at this week’s meeting.

National Recognition for Brock Student Scientists

by Niagara Independent Staff

A Brock University student placed an impressive third overall in a national science research video contest, with two other Brock student videos among the contest’s top 15 finalists.
Science, Action! features student-produced, 60-second videos on research projects funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), one of Brock’s major research funders.

Port Dalhousie Condo Projects Await their Fate

by Niagara Independent Staff

While the ‘Port Tower’ project still hasn’t gotten off the ground in the Port Dalhousie area of St. Catharines, two new condo projects are winding their way through city bureaucracy and the court of public opinion hoping to have more success at becoming a reality than their languishing cousin down the street.

The two projects are essentially located side by side. The Port Dalhousie Harbour Club Inc. is looking to redevelop the former Lincoln Fabrics building while Royal Canadian Legion Branch 350 and Rankin Construction are planning on redeveloping the Port Dalhousie Legion building.  Somewhat similar to the port tower saga, there are both proponents and naysayers to both projects. One of the main concerns from those opposing the projects is the height of the buildings.

A.N. Myer Catcher Owen Diodati earns a spot on Canada’s Junior National Team

by Niagara Independent Staff

A.N. Myer High School’s baseball program has been having great success over the last few years.  Success that rivals that of the school’s legendary football program – whose senior team had 3 successive SOSSA Championships as well as victories at OFSAA which included the #2 ranking in Canada in 2016.

Myer baseball is on a similar streak with 3 successive SOSSA championships and 3 straight trips to OFSAA, which included the #3 ranking in Ontario going into OFSAA last year.

Niagara PC Women Get Ready for Provincial Campaign

by Niagara Independent Staff

The Progressive Conservatives are hoping two strong hard-working women will end up as MPPs at Queen’s Park after the June provincial election. Sandy Bellows, who recently received the nomination for St. Catharines and April Jeffs, who this past weekend opened her campaign office in Welland, are looking forward to the long hours and tough demands of a provincial campaign.
Both women say they are hearing the same message from voters in their respective ridings – it’s time for change. That was the message Jeffs heard at the opening of her campaign office at the Fitch Street Plaza in Welland. “The energy in this room today shows me that people are motivated and eager for a new government – a government that works for them – not against them,” Jeffs said.

Regional Councillor’s voted at last week’s meeting in favour of beginning an investigation into the allegations reported in local media regarding the hiring of CAO Carmen D’Angelo. While many observers of regional politics were anticipating a knock down drag ‘em out heated debate on this issue, councillors kept their comments respectful and constructive throughout the discussion.

By the end of the debate council ended up approving the hiring of Toronto firm, ADR Chambers, to conduct the investigation. The firm already acts as the council’s integrity commissioner.

Trudeau’s Precipitous Fall From Grace

by Niagara Independent Staff

For the longest time in Canadian politics, Justin Trudeau ascending to the office of Prime Minister just seemed to be a fait accompli. Name, looks, aura – all pointed to it.
From the time he eulogized his late father during a nationally covered address, Liberals spoke about Trudeau Junior as their Great Hope. He became an MP narrowly winning in his own riding. Then he won the Liberal leadership with over 80 per cent of Liberal party members’ vote. Even when he ran for Liberal leader in the 2015 election, Harper and the Tories offered up little resistance to the inevitable ascendancy of Trudeau and the Liberal party. After winning the majority in October 2015, the expected Trudeaumania in full force, even Tories talked about him being at least a two-term Prime Minister.

Ontario’s Economic Performance worst in Canada Study Finds

by Niagara Independent Staff

Every year when the provincial or federal budgets are introduced, the public gets bombarded with economic spin as the governments of the day seek to put lipstick on a pig.  For the public, constantly experiencing unemployment, underemployment and a seemingly ever-increasing cost of living to go along with minimal income growth – these rosy statistics put out by government Ministers just does not seem to match their own realities.

Recently Ben Eisen and Milagros Palacios, academics with the Fraser Institute, put out several economic measures about Ontario’s economy over the last decade (2007-2016) to objectively measure its performance.  Matching what most Ontarians are feeling, the results weren’t good.

Niagara News Briefs

by Niagara Independent Staff

Researchers at Brock University are going to be “all-in” to help fight against disease-carrying mosquitoes.

Brock University Professor of Biological Sciences, Fiona Hunter, and her co-investigator, Modesto Cruz, will work with additional researchers and students from the Dominican to conduct field research which involves identifying and collecting mosquitoes from sites across the country. Their project is titled “Zika Virus: Factors Influencing Vector Competence in the Dominican Republic.”

They received a $250,000 (U.S.) grant from the Dominican Republic government for a mosquito surveillance research project.

Niagara College Celebrates Achieving Dreams Campaign

by Niagara Independent Staff

Niagara College has 11 million reasons to thank those who have generously supported students through the recently completed Achieving Dreams fundraising campaign. The Achieving Dreams campaigned far surpassed its goal of $7 million, raising a total of $11,450,791. 

The campaign was launched in April 2015, with a goal of supporting student success through campus redevelopment projects; equipment and learning resources; and scholarships, bursaries, study-work abroad and student leadership development opportunities.

Thanks to donors’ generous support, 788 new student scholarships and bursaries were created, and $1.6 million of new instructional equipment was purchased to help provide students with the up-to-date equipment and support they need to excel in their studies.

Harbourtown- A Full Circle Turn for Fort Erie

by Niagara Independent Staff

Fort Erie Town Council has come full circle with their approval of Harbourtown Village subdivision.

Local MPPs Mum on Hamilton NDP Constituency Offices in Turmoil

by Niagara Independent Staff

Ontario’s New Democratic Party, known for its anti-harassment and anti-bullying stance has come under fire for exactly those allegations. All three Hamilton-area NDP members of provincial parliament – Paul Millier – Hamilton East-Stoney Creek, Monique Taylor – Hamilton Mountain and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath in Hamilton Centre have allegedly had no less than 11 workers fired, quit or bought out after filing grievances. Most constituency offices only employ a couple of employees each. The NDP constituency offices are the only ones unionized.

The story first appeared in The Bay Observer, a Hamilton- Burlington news publication, who spoke with several former staff from all three constituency offices. They all described their working environments as toxic where the MPPs sometimes intimidated and bullied them as well as demanded personal loyalty above qualifications.

Big Funding Boost for Niagara Transit Projects

by Niagara Independent Staff

Eight Niagara municipalities received funding from both the provincial and federal governments yesterday to the tune of $149 million. It’s being called the single largest transit investment in Niagara’s history.

MPs Vance Badawey and Chris Bittle were on hand at Niagara Regional headquarters to announce the federal portion of the funding which totalled $82.1 million. St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley was also on hand to announce the provincial share of $67 million. The funding is a ten year commitment and it will be up to the individual municipalities to decide which transit priorities they will spend the cash on.

Niagara Falls Ontario Liberals set to Nominate Dean Demizio

by Niagara Independent Staff

Dean Demizio of Fort Erie will be acclaimed Thursday night as the Ontario Provincial Liberal candidate in the riding of Niagara Falls for the 2018 provincial election to be held in June. Demizio was born and raised in Niagara Falls.  Along with his wife Peggy, he moved to Fort Erie in 1994 and opened a […]

Local PC Candidates Ready to Roll with Ford as Leader

by Niagara Independent Staff

Doug Ford shocked everyone, including himself, when he won the leadership of the PC Party on the third ballot on the weekend.   

“Today isn’t only about defeating Kathleen Wynne. Today is about rebuilding Ontario to be the economic powerhouse of the country. It’s about bringing new jobs, and new opportunities. It’s about showing the province, the country, and the world, what happens when a strong, united, Progressive Conservative Party focuses on a single goal,” Ford told supporters.

Federal Liberals Take War on Corporations to the Boardroom

by Niagara Independent Staff

In 1967, Pierre Trudeau, acting as Justice Minister, introduced a controversial bill in the House of Commons calling for massive changes to the Criminal Code of Canada. The bill included the decriminalization of ‘homosexual acts’ performed in private, telling the nation “there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.” 

Seems like his son Justin wasn’t at the kitchen table to hear that lecture.  The younger Trudeau  and his current Liberal government continue on their social engineering spree not only with Budget 2018, but with other sneakier pieces of legislation currently sliding under proper public scrutiny (except for one of Canada’s leading business writers, the ever vigilant Terence Corcoran).  Trudeau would like to intervene in the bedrooms, boardrooms and lunchrooms of Canadians and Canadian businesses.  Not to mention the lectures he chooses to give around the world to other governments, that if they don’t step up and buy into his socially engineered view of the world, they won’t be doing business with Canada.

Ontario PC’s are currently voting electronically this week for their next Leader. The Leader that in a few short months will lead them into an important provincial election. They should choose Christine Elliott.

We have watched the candidates throughout the process, followed the debates and attended appearances by Elliott, Ford, and Mulroney in Niagara. Elliott stands far above the others.