Like much of Canada, Niagara has hardly escaped the socioeconomic havoc wreaked by the ongoing health crisis.
Unemployment rates, food insecurity, and social isolation have all reached record highs over the past year. Niagara’s typically robust tourism, culture and hospitality industries have been particularly hard hit. As Ontario’s minister responsible for tourism Lisa MacLeod commented during a visit to Niagara Falls last month, the city has lost some 40,000 tourism-related jobs due to the pandemic.
This week the leader of Ontario’s Liberal Party made a presentation – virtually, of course – to the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce (GNCC) about his plans to govern the province, should he become premier in the next election expected to take place mid-2022.
Somewhat expectedly, the Easter long weekend proved to be a Covid-19 breeding ground in Niagara. April 6 to 12 saw a total of 813 new cases of the virus in the region, an average of 116 per day for the week. Monday, April 12 saw an active daily case count of 1,062. This represents the […]
The Niagara Region faired particularly well in Maclean’s most recent iteration of its ‘Canada’s best communities’ list. Six of Niagara’s 12 municipalities cracked the top 100, with Welland and Niagara Falls leading the pack.
In a recent opinion piece for the Globe and Mail, Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow Edward Alden argued that it’s high-time Canada’s prime minister work with his American counterparts to examine options for reopening the world’s longest land border.
Starting April 9, education workers and support staff at Niagara’s public and Catholic school boards will be able to register for the Covid-19 vaccine. Full-time, part-time, and casual teachers, administrators, library technicians, custodial staff, school bus drivers, and crossing guards are all eligible to receive the vaccination. Come Friday, some 4,000 personnel employed by the […]
The Easter weekend was not good to Niagara when it comes to new covid-19 cases.
As of yesterday, Monday April 5th, there are now 858 active cases of people with covid-19. This is the highest number of current active cases since January 16th when there was a 2020 high of 1,168. Active cases declined from that point to a low of 123 on February 25th. They have gone up virtually every day since then. The month of April has seen an average of 100 new cases per day.
After nearly a quarter-century of tilting at politico-economic giants, last week residents of West Niagara finally laid eyes on renderings of what their long-promised, oft-deferred hospital redevelopment may well look like.
The exact building design will naturally evolve as the project continues to progress, but given site constraints and the comprehensive specifications outlined in the tender package, it’s all but certain the new development will look something like the above (and below) depicted.
A week ago, Conservative leader Erin O’Toole issued a motion in Parliament, calling on the Trudeau Liberals to present a clear, data-driven plan to support a gradual, safe, and permanent lifting of COVID-19 restrictions. In a press release, he stated “Canadians need a plan for hope…a plan that shows there are better days ahead for our country.”
Twelve years after acquiring the decommissioned Canadian Niagara Power generating station, Niagara Parks is set to reopen the plant’s doors as the region’s newest tourist attraction this Canada Day.
On the heels of releasing the 2021 provincial budget last week at Queen’s Park, Premier Doug Ford along with Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy and Tourism Minister Lisa MacLeod provided new details around support for the tourism industry in Niagara.
Who gets vaccinated next was a unifying topic at Niagara Regional Council last night.
During discussion of the Public Health Committee minutes, St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik asked chief medical officer of Health Dr. Mustafa Hirji if personal caregivers of the elderly could get moved up the vaccination priority list.
Despite 2020 being an extremely difficult year for most in Niagara, local chief administrative officers (CAOs) across Niagara appeared to be exempt from any financial distress.
Particularly, Fort Erie and Port Colborne CAOs Tom Kuchyt and Scott Luey who both saw large double digit increases to their compensation last year versus 2019.
Normally, March is that time of year where the residents of Niagara come together to see which local public servants had made it into the prestigious Ontario Sunshine List: The $100k+ club.
Single-loaded building example off QEW at Casablanca in Grimsby Outside of the ongoing pandemic, the single biggest socioeconomic issue facing a majority of communities across Ontario is the high cost of housing. Costs have been increasing dramatically for several years now, driven by low interest-rates, speculation, exponentially increasing government-imposed costs, and, most importantly, an […]
The Ford government is taking major steps towards eliminating human trafficking in Niagara and Ontario while investing in support programs to help victims heal from the heinous crime.
Last week, $1.4 million was announced over the next five years to create a new community-based program to provide more young victims and survivors of human trafficking in Niagara with access to the supports they need.
Court documents that are part of a $500,000 lawsuit against the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake allege that the community’s mayor and council enacted its Interim Control Bylaw (ICBL) mainly to penalize one specific developer.
The final stage of Phase One of the provincial government’s COVID-19 vaccination plan allows newly eligible residents to schedule immunization sessions online via a centralized booking portal.
As of Monday, March 15, Ontarians aged 80 years or older, staff, caregivers and residents of retirement homes, high-priority health care workers, adult recipients of chronic home care, and all Indigenous adults non-yet vaccinated are qualified to book an appointment.
Niagara’s 12 mayors joined together to pen an open-letter to all Niagara citizens to mark the one-year anniversary of the first case of Covid-19 in Niagara. The letter comes at a time when societies around the globe are starting to feel very good about the slowing of the devastation of the pandemic because of more effective treatments but especially due to the dissemination of vaccines worldwide.
After multiple attempts by Niagara Falls Councillor Bob Gale to get some answers over the procurement of turbo blowers at the Port Dalhousie wastewater treatment plant, Gale got right to the heart of the matter this week at Public Works Committee.
Some Canadian politicians and social activists are calling it the “Genocide Games.”
The reference is to the impending Beijing Winter Olympics, and China’s alleged human rights abuses, including systematic rape and torture, against millions of Muslim Uyghurs, Tibetans, and other minorities within its borders. Throw in the suppression of democracy in Hong Kong through an oppressive program of mass surveillance, detention, and indoctrination, and the arbitrary confinement of two Canadian businessmen in China on trumped-up national security charges, and it’s easy to see why diplomatic relations between Ottawa and Beijing are at a record low ebb.
On Friday last week, Niagara’s chief medical officer Dr. Mustafa Hirji provided regional council with a COVID-19 status update.
Amongst a few other considerations, Dr. Hirji’s near-hour long presentation focused on the perceived and potential rise of viral Variants of Concern (VOCs), Niagara’s relatively robust rollout of vaccines to date, and the health unit’s phased vaccination plan for 2021.
Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley was unequivocal in his praise to the Ford government’s announcement last week providing Niagara’s municipalities an additional $16.5 million in COVID-19 support.
In total, Niagara is slated to receive $16,486,587 and of the funding announced, the top three recipients were the Niagara Region, St. Catharines and Niagara Falls having received $6.6 million, $2.9 million, and $1.9 million respectively.
Regional councillor Tom Insinna insists that his motion will achieve the most desirable result. Political hopeful and social crusader Steven Soos begs to differ.
Niagara’s Regional Chair Jim Bradley flexed his procedural might on Thursday over a call for an Integrity Commissioner investigation into the source of recently leaked confidential information to the local media. Lack of professionalism in this regard has plagued regional council for years as councillors often go into ‘in-camera’ meetings to discuss sensitive information that is supposed to remain confidential, only to have some of that conversation leaked just moments after the meeting has ended. Under the Municipal Act, items like real-estate, legal issues and human resources are supposed to be dealt with in ‘closed-session’ or ‘’in-camera.
It’s undeniable: Canadian post-secondary students are suffering.
According to the latest available statistics from the National College Health Assessment survey, 52 per cent of students enrolled at Canadian colleges and universities in 2019 reported feeling so depressed that, at some point in the 12 months preceding the study, “it was difficult to function.”
Consider the colour grey, associated with business suits, sophistication, and wisdom (think grey hair.) It’s a diplomatic color, negotiating the distance between black and white. Mark Zuckerberg’s grey t-shirt has become his trademark, his sartorial stance. Given the Facebook CEO’s billionaire status, one might assume it’s also the colour of success.
More information required was the name of the game during Wednesday’s meeting of corporate services committee at the Niagara Region.
On the docket Wednesday was a discussion over accessing more information regarding ongoing legal expenses initiated by the Niagara Region and a report outlining options to establish a lobbyist registry.
The Leader of Canada’s Official Opposition Erin O’Toole didn’t pull any punches when discussing Canada’s poor performance in its rolling out of the COVID-19 vaccine. In an exclusive Niagara interview with The Niagara Independent O’Toole was frank in his assessment of the Liberal government’s handling of the situation. “The federal government is responsible for vaccines and last I checked this country was in 40th place. It’s Justin Trudeau’s fault,” said O’Toole during a weekend interview.
Andrews Moses has grown up around the property rental business. His family has been involved for years and Moses himself rented out his first property not that long ago. It didn’t go very well. Turned out the renter was arrested for armed robbery and his tenants were growing marijuana illegally in the basement. “I didn’t know what was happening. It was a crash course in property management,” said Moses who arrived in Canada in 2009 as an international student at Brock University where he earned his MBA.
When the Perseverance rover landed on Mars yesterday, Mariek Schmidt will be ready to search for signs of ancient life — albeit from millions of miles away.
In a letter issued to a variety of business owners including bars, restaurants, wineries and shopping malls, Niagara’s acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Mustafa Hirji has put them on notice he is issuing orders under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act that will add “modest restrictions” to local businesses.
With Niagara roughly one year into the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines in scarce supply from the federal government, the novel coronavirus is continuing to increase tensions within the Niagara community. Upon the recent provincial announcement that Niagara would remain in the grey ‘lockdown’ zone, a social media post was circulating calling for the firing […]
Grades have long been considered essential markers for student academic performance in our universities. But would students slack off if the grade point average (GPA) system disappeared? Would their quality of learning be compromised, or perhaps enhanced?
Two Niagara women are competing for the chance to be on the cover of a magazine. But they aren’t competing against each other. Lisa Jeffrey of Niagara-on-the-Lake and Sarah Blain of Vineland are doing something they’ve never done before and are raising money for charity while doing it.
With transmission and positivity rates on a downward trend along with fewer Ontario residents being hospitalized for the COVID-19 virus the Ford government announced yesterday that a plan to ease back into a more normal state of living will be rolled out; albeit slowly.
Niagara’s elementary and high school students will be heading back to the classroom on Monday much to the celebration of many parents who’ve been trying to work from home and help home school their kids at the same time; particularly parents with younger children.
The President and CEO of a global corporation is voicing his frustration over Niagara Region’s procurement process and he looks forward to making his case face-to-face at the March Public Works Committee meeting.
It’s safe to say that there is no corner left unaffected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic here in Niagara or abroad; particularly so when it comes to businesses and agencies having to adapt to the new reality in order to serve their client base.
Niagara’s United Way is no different.
While a motion to have a company air their grievances in front of Regional council regarding on-going procurement issues was eventually withdrawn, APG-Neuros looks like they will get to have their say in front of Public Works Committee this coming March. In a brief exchange between Councillor Bob Gale and Regional Clerk Anne-Marie Norio, it was indicated by the clerk that APG-Neuros could speak at the committee level.
Niagara Health is hoping to land their share of new recruits at an upcoming job fair as the health system tries to add employees in a number of disciplines both clinical and non-clinical.
From registered nurses to clerical medical administration, Niagara’s largest employer will be hosting their annual job fair on-line this year due to the COVID-19 restrictions. Taking place on Thursday, Feb. 4 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. hundreds of hopefuls will look to join the Niagara Health team.
Regional Council has given their stamp of approval for its 2021 budget that will result in the regional portion of the tax bill rising 1.8 per cent.
The Region says for the average property assessed at $278,764, homeowners will see the regional portion increase by $29, totalling $1640 for 2021. Local and education taxes make up the remaining portions of the total bill.
Whether you are taking a bite out of Karma Kameleon’s lobster grilled cheese sandwich or savouring Treadwell’s homemade pappardelle, it’s a reminder that the Niagara region is a blessed culinary destination.
Local restaurants, reeling from another shut down, have had to pivot to survive, leaving customers with a learning curve about how important and fragile the industry is right now.
While some Niagara politicians, doctors and local media have aimed their sights squarely at the provincial government for Niagara not receiving enough COVID-19 vaccines, two of Niagara’s federal members of parliament say the province can’t supply what it doesn’t have.
Monday marked the 35th annual observance of MLK Day in the United States. The federal holiday, celebrated on the third Monday of every January, commemorates the birth of Black civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
The Niagara region had a rollercoaster ride this week when it came to the COVID-19 pandemic and all that surrounds it. Emotions went from frustration to jubilation to disappointment and even anger.
The feeling of frustration could be felt throughout Niagara from public health officials to frontline healthcare workers to politicians and regular taxpaying citizens as residents watched the daily COVID-19 case numbers climb well into the hundreds with constant reporting from public health of more citizens dying due to the virus. Yesterday’s numbers were 136 new cases with 1,538 active cases across the region.
It may be a new year but that isn’t stopping Niagara Falls Regional Councillor Bob Gale from continuing his laser focus into Niagara Region’s procurement regime.
At Tuesday’s meeting of the Public Works Committee, Gale probed specific portions of the Port Dalhousie wastewater treatment plant upgrade contract. The total contract was awarded by Regional Council in December at a value of $36.8 million despite concerns raised by the veteran councillor.
Niagara residents have been waiting for the arrival of the vaccine. That wait is supposed to end today.
Billed by Niagara Health and Niagara Public Health as a “turning point in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Niagara” the Pfizer vaccine will be administered shortly after arrival. “We expect delivery of the Pfizer vaccine in Niagara on Tuesday or Wednesday, and we are prepared to get doses into arms as soon as the shipment arrives,” said Niagara health officials in a statement released yesterday.
It’s no secret that YMCAs have struggled to adapt their business model in order to compete with the numerous fitness clubs that pop up on a regular basis in cities and towns across the country. Add to that the effects of the forced lockdowns due to COVID-19 and Niagara saw its first YMCA casualty this week with the announcement of the permanent closure of the Niagara Falls location.
Fred Bowering hasn’t had an easy ride. The 52-year-old St. Catharines resident has been through a lot to say the least. The things he’s been through would have been enough to bring any person to their knees but Bowering has soldiered on and faced his addictions and mental health demons head on. Instead of quitting he’s turned his attention to helping clean up the streets of St. Catharines.
The Niagara Region continues to work on its Official Plan, a document that the Region describes as “a long-range, policy planning document to shape Niagara’s physical, economic and social development.” Part of that document will contain policy on where new development, including housing, can take place and the environmental policy options being discussed thus far have caught the attention of many in the home building and development industry.
St. Catharines MP Chris Bittle is no stranger to sparking heated debate on social media. Not that long ago he did battle with a local business owner over the COVID-19 vaccine. Bittle went as far as to publicly post he would tell people not to shop at the place of business his social media combatant owns.
For 2021, Regional Council approved a 2 per cent combined budget increase for Niagara’s water and wastewater services and an uptick of 4.5 per cent for its waste management program.
These increases follow 2020 increases of 5.15 per cent and 9.9 per cent respectively.
There’s not much sense in spending a lot of keyboard strokes tapping out commentary on what dominated news headlines in 2020. Pretty much everything has been said about COVID-19. Unfortunately with COVID-19 distracting government officials and senior bureaucrats at all levels, not much else got accomplished in Niagara. It was a challenging year to be sure.
There’s no doubt pretty much every human being living on this planet is anxious to put 2020 behind them and then quickly walk, no flat out sprint, through the door to 2021. We’ve asked our regular Niagara Independent contributors to tell us some of their predictions for what the New Year might bring.
As a kid Tim Wiley didn’t just want to be a police officer. As someone who grew up with a family dog, Wiley’s ultimate goal was to join the K-9 unit. That dream recently came true as Wiley and his new partner Rudy graduated together from their training program.
Given the hustle and bustle of the holiday season it probably isn’t much of a surprise that Niagara’s COVID-19 case count keeps rising, the death toll continues to climb and local outbreaks are declared far too frequently.
T.S. Elliot, the great poet and playwright, wrote in his poem “Burnt Norton” that we are “distracted from distraction by distraction.” Although written more than 80 years ago, these words seem an apt description of what we are experiencing at this present moment. Right now COVID-19 is a huge distraction in our lives.
The modern Christmas tradition in North America and much of Europe is a colourful amalgam of Christian scripture, pagan lore, Dickensian adaptation, and a touch of good old-fashioned consumerism.
From the evergreen tree to advent calendar, the symbols and ceremonies we now employ every holiday season have come to us from far and wide across time and place.
Finding himself in a no-win situation Ontario’s Premier Doug Ford has put the province on notice that effective Boxing Day, Dec. 26, Ontario will be shut down for 28 days. The move was in response to COVID-19 cases continuing to climb not only in Ontario’s “hot spots” but also in parts of the province that up until recently were seeing very few cases.
The last meeting of Regional Council in 2020 saw the resurfacing of the Burgoyne Bridge forensic audit conducted by the previous term of Regional Council.
Councillors will now have access to the 2018 forensic audit to review its findings in light of the recent KPMG non-competitive procurement audit and the January 2020 procurement audits conducted by the now defunct Department of Internal Controls and Organizational Performance (ICOPS).
It’s a story that will resonate with too many Niagara residents during 2020. She had a job she loved working in a sector that she was passionate about and then the COVID-19 pandemic put an end to it all.
Joanna Gasparotto had built a solid career in tourism marketing but that sector, particularly in Niagara Falls, was essentially obliterated this past summer thanks to the global pandemic. Gasparotto, like so many others, suddenly found herself out of work. But as the old saying goes, one door closes…
The provincial government has enhanced a program that is designed to educate and train those who’ve lost their job due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yesterday, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton announced that an additional $77 million is being added to the program which will provide up to $28,000 for 2,750 people looking to develop new skills and enter a new career.
Transparency and accountability are all the rage these days, a modern-day mantra of good government.
The City of Hamilton appears to have taken this contemporary business vernacular to a new level.
The Ontario government is investing an additional $761 million to build and renovate 74 long-term care homes across the province, including $38,205,194 across the Niagara region. The additional funding is part of the province’s new funding model that helps break down historic barriers and accelerates the construction of urgently needed long-term care projects, providing seniors with the quality care they deserve.
Every year Niagara’s Police Services Board wrestles with the balancing act of public safety and affordability when reviewing the proposed annual budget submitted by its Chief. For the most part this fiscal dance goes largely unnoticed by the majority of the public. Most just want good response times if they or their family is in need of help from local law enforcement, safe communities, and officers to act kindly and professionally.
The Ontario government has given a green light to the sale of alcohol with food takeout and delivery orders and has now made that service permanent.
“Ontario’s vibrant hospitality sector and its workers have been hard hit by COVID-19 in every community across our province,” said Attorney General Doug Downey. “We’re building on the actions we took early in the pandemic to support local restaurants, bars and other businesses by providing permanent help to workers and small businesses as they face these ongoing challenges.”
There’s clearly more work to be done was the takeaway after the Regional Audit Committee turned its collective head towards the KPMG audit report which revealed a number of issues around the Region’s non-competitive purchasing regime.
The report found that 67% of the non-competitive purchasing transactions at the Region, lacked clear justification for not having a competitive process.
A local business owner making a comment online about the COVID-19 vaccine drew the ire of St. Catharines Member of Parliament Chris Bittle who took part in a heated public exchange not often seen by an elected official.
After diving into the purchasing books at the Niagara Region, independent accounting firm KPMG found that 67% of the non-competitive purchasing transactions, “were without clear justification” for choosing a non-competitive route.
In raw numbers – that meant 163 cases out of the 245 samples that were reviewed. KPMG deemed the sample size of 245 to be “a statistically significant sample size”.
Niagara Parks is getting a financial boost as the Honourable Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries announced up to $12.81 million to help ensure the region remains one of the top tourism destinations in the world during and after the COVID-19 outbreak. The province is providing the one-time funding to help protect jobs, keep some attractions open, ensure compliance with public health protocols, and continue to keep visitors safe through policing and road maintenance activities.
“Our government is proud to support the Niagara Parks Commission, one of the most spectacular tourist areas that Ontario has to offer,” said MacLeod.
Earlier this month the C.D. Howe Institute released a report called Gimme Shelter: How High Municipal Housing Charges and Taxes Decrease Housing Supply.
While there has been much discussion amongst municipal politicians in cities and regions across the country about affordable housing, very few people understand the impact of the charges and taxes, as well as policies that restrict housing supply, on the cost of homes.
Living in Toronto and being in lockdown hasn’t stopped Niagara native Amy Graham from helping out with the annual Niagara Mega Rotary TV Auction. Being a part of Rotary is something Graham has in her blood. She’s been around it for more than two decades. Her mom, Sandy, is currently the president of the Welland Rotary Club while her dad, Hugh, is currently president of the Fonthill club.
Results from a recent Niagara Independent reader’s survey will be profiled in a series of articles called “Your Say”. Responding to a recent survey conducted by The Niagara Independent, 96 per cent (499) of Niagara Independent subscribers who took part say the Niagara Region should “re-establish an independent audit team to oversee the Region’s financial […]
Niagara Regional Council is staying tight-lipped over its decision to award its troubled biosolids program to Thomas Nutrient Solutions.
A motion moved by Niagara Falls Regional Councillor Bob Gale that would have seen interim reports of the whistleblower investigation come forward and listings of the actual procurement scores and pricing be made public was considered Thursday.
Regional Council unanimously called for the end to Niagara Region acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Mustafa Hirji’s Order restricting Niagara’s restaurant tables to ‘household only’.
There’s only one catch – Hijri’s Order supersedes the authority of Regional Council.
The Order was issued under section-22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act and was in effect beginning Nov. 14, 2020. It is slated to expire January 1, 2021, at 11:59 pm. Hirji’s Order came seemingly from nowhere without the Chair of the Region’s Public Health Committee, Pat Chiocchio, being informed nor the balance of Regional Council.
Safari Niagara will be lit up this holiday season like never before. Glow Gardens has set up a three-kilometer, drive-thru Christmas lights display hosted in the outdoor park space at Safari Niagara in Stevensville.
The display officially opened earlier this week and will run until Jan. 2. Visitors will remain in their vehicles at all times on the 40-minute route, where they can tune into an exclusive holiday radio station, GLOW FM. Features include a towering three-storey light tree, an intricate Christmas castle, and 10-foot snowmen.
Niagara Region’s Integrity Commissioner Edward McDermott has submitted his findings and decision regarding a complaint he received back in July of this year involving three members of regional council.
In a letter addressed to the Region’s Clerk Anne-Marie Norio, the Integrity Commissioner said no further action or discipline is necessary and that the decision and the entire report be shared in public at Council’s next meeting.
Hundreds of Niagara’s restaurant owners are hotter than the soup of the day over Niagara’s public health department imposing more restrictions on top of the already increased restrictions the province applied after Niagara moved from yellow to orange on the provincial COVID-19 alert chart.
Seemingly out of nowhere the Region’s Acting Medial Officer of Health, Dr. Mustafa Hirji, under Section 22 of the Public Health Act, added on numerous restrictions and regulations to Niagara’s food and drink premises which according to those in the sector will only serve to shut them down under a cloud of bankruptcy.
Today marks the latest chapter in Niagara Falls’ ever-expanding economic success story, with the grand opening of Costco Niagara Falls at 7500 Pin Oak Dr.
The new store, located on the former Niagara Square site, will bring 200 new jobs to the city and anchor adjacent businesses currently in operation or under redevelopment around the Montrose Rd. retail node.
Perhaps the only thing bigger than the title that follows his name is the immense responsibility he has during a global pandemic.
Dr. Karim Ali, Niagara Health Director, Division of Infectious Diseases and Antimicrobial Stewardship Program and Lead Physician for Emergency Preparedness is on the front line of caring for COVID-19 patients who end up in Niagara Health’s St. Catharines hospital. While he’s quick to point out that it is a team effort within the hospital walls, giving credit to fellow physicians, nurses and many others who play a role in caring for COVID patients, there’s no question that as an infectious disease expert Dr. Ali shoulders a lot of the responsibility.
While alarm bells sounded over the significant spike in Niagara’s daily COVID-19 case count hitting 63 today the Town of Lincoln has released a statement saying that the vast majority of those cases – 45 – are “related to a workplace outbreak on an agricultural operation in the Town of Lincoln.” Mayor Sandra Easton and […]
Unless you’ve been hiding in a bunker for the past week, you’ve probably been inundated with articles asking “What will a Biden presidency mean for Canada?” Poor Donald Trump… no one has been willing to tell him yet that he’s lost the election, and here we are, north of the border, already imagining that we’re in 2021.
In looking at the impacts of a Biden presidency, most people are thinking nationally. For example, Biden has famously said that he will cancel the Keystone XL pipeline project, slated to run from Alberta to Texas. But while we can debate the relative merits of pipeline projects, the truth is this kind of action will have only minimal impacts on Niagara. So what will a Biden presidency mean for this region?
Niagara resident Bruce Mair has served both his country and his community. Mair enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces back in 1987 while still a teenager. The now 51-year-old is currently a sergeant with Niagara Regional Police.
Serving primarily with the Lincoln-Welland Regiment in the army reserve, Mair has done tours in Namibia and Palestine.
It was an announcement that stunned the province yesterday. General Motors is pouring $1.3 billion into their Oshawa plant that was slated to close. The car manufacturer is also pumping another $109 million over three years into their St. Catharines plant on Glendale Avenue.
In terms of the St. Catharines plant, which currently employs more than 1,000 workers, Unifor National President Jerry Dias said it will mean additional transmissions to supply the Chevrolet Equinox and a new program to build transmissions for the Chevrolet Corvette as well as engines to complement the existing portfolio. “Introducing volume to prop up the existing portfolio,” Dias said.
A private member’s bill, Bill C-218, has been put forward by the federal Conservative party which aims to legalize single-game sports betting in Canada.
Earlier this week Niagara Falls MP Tony Baldinelli spoke to the bill in the House during second reading saying he’s fully supportive. He also thanked his NDP colleague from Windsor-West Brian Masse for being “one of Parliament’s most vocal supporters for legalizing single-game sports betting.”
For 26 years, Retired Sergeant Garrick Halinen would keep all of the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to himself. It wasn’t until last year that his sister and her family came to his rescue and sought out the necessary help and medical treatment.
“I was overtaken” stated Halinen. Having to witness three friends and fellow Canadian soldiers dying in his arms during his time of service had finally taken its toll.
Niagara Falls Regional Councillor Bob Gale is once again sounding the alarm over the Region’s recent awarding of a multi-year and multi-million dollar biosolids handling contract to Thomas Nutrient Solutions.
Gale, who presented a motion on the contract award for the next meeting of Regional Council, informed Niagara Falls City Council of potential problems during his regional update last Tuesday.
Hushed, darkened, and decayed by the void of human life, relinquished to the ravenous elements: there’s something about an abandoned site, regardless of its prior life, that provokes a tandem sense of intrigue and apprehension.
Whether an insane asylum or an amusement park, once a place passes into ruin —disordered, useless, and obscure — it becomes alluringly eerie.
Niagara Region will have yet another “Acting” senior manager as Commissioner of Planning and Development Services, Rino Mostacci retires from his post today leaving another important position to fulfill. Both the Region’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and the Chief Administrative Officer have been acting positions for well over a year.
In a letter signed by four female former politicians, whose service to public life spans decades, Niagara Falls City Council is being encouraged to refocus their attention on the important issues facing the city and to stop getting bogged down on personal attacks, false allegations and expensive integrity commissioner reports.
Renaissance polymath Leonardo de Vinci once aphorized “the greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.”
Let’s give the benefit of the doubt to the City of St. Catharines’ Anti-Racism Advisory Committee, and City Council. Perhaps their motive was simply to be instructively helpful to the citizens of Haldimand County, suggesting the fashion in which the Indigenous blockades at an urban development construction site in Caledonia should be handled. Communication, not confrontation. Talk, not tasers.
Rotary clubs around the world are known for the many good things they do for their local communities but one of the most recognized good deeds is their global effort to eradicate polio.
It began in 1979 when Rotary International set out to immunize all children with a polio vaccine. That effort was so successful that the ultimate goal of eradicating the disease was set. With hundreds of millions of children being vaccinated every year and the number of world-wide cases dramatically reduced and countries such as Africa being declared this year as polio free, the efforts of Rotarians are paying off big time.
Though it may look different this year, Sleep Cheap will take place in 2020.
The annual fundraising event officially called Sleep Cheap Charities Reap, is now in its 17th year and has become a long standing community tradition. Since its inception in 2004 the event has raised over $2,150,000 for local charities.
In a letter dated June 30 of this year from both the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission (NFBC) and the Peace Bridge Authority (PBC) sent to four different federal ministers, the two organizations laid out their concerns about the impact of COVID-19 and the subsequent closing of the international crossings on their operations.
That letter has yet to even be acknowledged by the federal government.
If Alex Trebek’s Final Jeopardy answer was “the still-active grand old man of Niagara politics,” one might reasonably answer “who is Jim Bradley?,” a long-time Liberal first elected to Ontario’s Legislature in 1977, who currently sits as Regional Chair. But if chronological age is the measure, Bradley, at age 75, concedes top spot to political veteran and octogenarian Tim Rigby.
It all started in 1996, when Rigby was an insurance broker in St. Catharines. His major community focus at the time was rowing, as he was a driving force to bring the 1999 World Championships to the Henley Course (a feat he has repeated for the 2024 regatta).
The 13th Niagara Music Awards, which were originally planned to take place at the Scotiabank Convention Centre, recently took place online. There were 26 awards handed out, with Port Colborne’s solo artist Gravely James taking home the most hardware with three wins (Blues, Folk, and Singer/Songwriter).
The 82 minute pre-recorded show featured several live off-the-floor recordings from Jukasa Studios.
There has been yet another complaint by a second company in the ongoing saga of the Niagara Region’s attempt to award a contract to operate its Liquid Biosolids and Residuals Management Program.
Last Friday Wessuc Ltd. who bid on the contract, submitted a formal letter challenging the Region’s awarding of the biosolids contract to Thomas Nutrient Solutions which has held the contract since 2013 and had already received a three-year renewal in 2017.
It’s a process that began five years ago, has undergone name changes, countless studies, appeals, reviews and public meetings and now the Riverfront Community project has cleared another hurdle after Niagara Falls City Council voted overwhelmingly in favour of a revised plan that incorporated several council-instructed changes to the original staff report from 2018.
GR (Can) Investment Co. Ltd., has been planning the $1.5 billion tourism and housing development that will include a mix of residential and retail south of Niagara Falls, near Dorchester Road, the hydro canal and Chippawa Parkway.
Medical experts are pleading with Ontario residents to keep the number of chairs around the Thanksgiving dinner table to a minimum this year.
Yesterday saw Ontario hit a new single day high of COVID-19 cases with a reported 797. There were four new deaths.
Niagara will soon be home to a new renewable natural gas (RNG) facility, which will create local jobs and stimulate regional economic development, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The Niagara Falls Renewable Natural Gas plant will be the largest of its kind in Ontario and will generate enough clean renewable energy from landfill waste to heat 8,750 homes across the country and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 48,000 tonnes.
Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development gave nearly 100 personal support worker (PSW) students a huge surprise yesterday morning in St. Catharines. The Minister was at Lifetime Learning, the District School Board of Niagara adult education centre that is running the training program to announce a half-million dollar investment that will pay for the tuition fee the students would otherwise have to fund on their own.
“It was amazing to see the students today and the looks on their faces when they found out there training will be covered,” said Minister McNaughton. While the government has been criticised by some, ironically mostly conservatives, for spending too much money, McNaughton said the spending on training is specific and “laser focused” in order to educate people for the jobs that are available.
Walker Industries has a long tradition of helping out community organizations, particularly those in the healthcare sector. The company has come through yet again.
Walker has pledged to donate $1.5 million to Hospice Niagara towards development of two new Hospice Palliative Care Centres of Excellence in Fort Erie and Welland. Each of the proposed centres will provide a home-like setting with 10 private rooms for people and their families to spend quality time during the final stages of life.
In just over two weeks residents of Niagara will be adjusting to a garbage collection regime that costs more and delivers less.
For residents of Fort Erie, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Pelham, St. Catharines, Thorold, Wainfleet and West Lincoln, their garbage will be collected the week of October 19. The bi-weekly pickup schedule means the following week these residents will need to hang on to their garbage.
Last year at this time, organizers of the Niagara Music Awards were getting ready to host the 12th annual awards ceremony at the Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls – a venue that is ideal for hosting live performances with outstanding sound, amazing lighting, and ample seating.
Fast forward to 2020, and organizers were faced with the decision of whether or not to have the Niagara Music Awards take place at all.
A pair of high-ranking Niagara Region staff members may not be onstage performers, but their “acting” roles are getting noticed.
Ron Tripp, formerly the Commissioner of Public Works, assumed the CAO’s duties in December 2018, and has been in an “acting” capacity ever since. His predecessor, Carmen D’Angelo, had gone on medical leave, and formally left the Region’s employment in February 2019. One of Tripp’s first acts was to fire four key managers linked to controversial events and the CAO selection process at the Region. A restructuring of staff and departments followed soon thereafter.
What a difference a year makes.
After coming off of one of the best years in terms of attendance in the more than four decades of hosting its annual Ball’s Falls Thanksgiving Festival, the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA), will be hosting a virtual festival this Fall.
The Niagara Parks Commission did their due diligence on a proposal to affix a Ramsar designation to the Niagara River and in the end withdrew as a potential nominator of the designation.
A Ramsar designation is acquired when advocates are successful at having property owners, agencies, and local and provincial governments agree to designate a wetland, lake, river, bog or some other water-based ecosystem as a Ramsar site. The proposed sites only need to meet one of nine defining criteria. The name and regime behind the designation stem from the Ramsar Convention signed by number of countries in Ramsar, Iran in 1971.
At a special meeting of council Thursday, Regional Council awarded a multi-year and multi-million dollar contract to Thomas Nutrient Solutions to run its biosolids program.
The meeting proved to be contentious after Niagara Falls Regional councillor Bob Gale began fervently speaking against awarding the contract to Thomas due to an open whistleblower investigation and indications that Thomas was not the lowest cost option.
Niagara Regional Council turned their attention to the issue of decriminalization and legal regulation of all drugs in Canada following a recent St. Catharines City Council endorsement of a report issued by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.
The report noted that evidence suggests that “decriminalization for simple possession as an effective way to reduce the public health and public safety harms associated with substance use.” It also included a recognition that the criminal justice system “could be enhanced using health care diversion approaches proven to be effective.”
The suspense only lasted 15 minutes.
Last Tuesday night’s election polls closed at 8 pm in Pelham’s Ward 1. A quarter-hour later, the Town’s website transmitted the unofficial results, which proclaimed retired executive Wayne Olson the winner by a wide margin, garnering more than twice as many votes as his closest competitor.
The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed yet another large event. This time it’s the Canada Summer Games originally scheduled to take place in Niagara, August of 2021. That’s not happening.
Games’ organizers issued a media release Wednesday afternoon stating the Games will be delayed for one year. An exact date for the 2022 Games has not yet been announced.
“It’s unreal. It’s unacceptable. The money, what you could do with a quarter million dollars – you could build a homeless shelter on city property right now for that.”
That’s what Niagara Falls Councillor Mike Strange had to say when presented with a report outlining the fact that nine integrity commissioner complaints and two workplace harassment investigations since 2015 have cost the city $273,000.
Located only a stone’s throw west of the town’s famous horse racing track, Fort Erie’s Fleet — in one corporate incarnation or another — has been manufacturing aerospace structures and components along Gilmore Rd. for the better part of a century.
From its humble beginnings at the outset of the Great Depression up to the present day, Fleet has employed thousands of Niagara residents and done a great deal to help buttress the local economy. Throughout the years, the company has weathered numerous labour strikes, changes in ownership, and out-and-out closure.
With a slight increase over the past few days in the number of Niagara residents testing positive for COVID-19, Niagara’s regional councillors will be discussing whether or not to extend its region-wide mask bylaw which is set to expire Oct. 1. The current by-law has been in place since July.
Monday saw seven new Niagara cases while there were five reported on Sunday and two cases reported Saturday. All seven of yesterday’s cases were in St. Catharines and it was reported that at least six of those were people who had returned from international travel.
Niagara Regional Council’s corporate services committee was asked this week to pony up $14 million for the new West Lincoln Memorial Hospital, a project that has been in the planning stages since the early 2000s. The current hospital is nearly 80 years old.
In a presentation to the committee, West Lincoln Memorial Hospital Foundation board chair Kevin Antonides outlined the financial breakdown and what services the new hospital will provide for Niagara.
Newly elected leader of the federal Conservative Party of Canada Erin O’Toole announced his shadow cabinet earlier this week and Niagara Falls MP Tony Baldinelli was among the 43 names on the list.
“I am proud to present the Conservative government in waiting that will defeat Justin Trudeau’s corrupt Liberal government in the next election,” O’Toole said in the release.
Del Rollo, vice president of industry and government relations for Arterra Wines Canada, is the new chair of Niagara College’s Board of Governors and Wendy Wing, senior vice-president of finance and administration for Rankin Construction Inc. and Port Colborne Quarries Inc., and president of Rankin Renewable Power Inc., is the new vice-chair.
The pair officially began their board leadership roles Sept. 1.
The Town of Lincoln (population 24,000) as it is known today is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary and while a lot has changed, a lot has remained the same.
The Niagara Independent sat down with the town’s mayor Sandra Easton just prior to the COVID-19 outbreak to chat about where the town has come from and where the Mayor Easton sees it going.
From elementary schools to high schools, Niagara College to Brock University, Niagara’s students are gearing up to return to the classroom next week amidst significant COVID-19 related changes.
The District School Board of Niagara announced on Tuesday its decision to allocate an additional 1%, or $4.5 million, to hire 60 to 70 additional teachers so that elementary school class sizes can be reduced for the upcoming school year.
Labour Day weekend marks the unofficial end of summer for most Canadians. While this year may be a little different, many will still pack up the family vehicle and head out for some late-season fun in the sun.
Naturally, some trips will necessitate a stop at the gas station: today, a fairly banal experience at an undistinguished row of pumps.
Rehearsing, recording, and performing are the usual routines for musicians.
Over the past six months, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, things are not as routine as they used to be for area music artists.
Online bullying, particularly against local elected officials, has been in the news recently as politicians at all levels, including many here in Niagara, continue to be personally attacked on social media. Several are speaking out now, citing a number of negative, insulting and sexist messages they have received during their time in office.
Niagara Falls mayor Jim Diodati even released a brief video expressing his frustration over the same issue and declaring he has established a social media “neutral zone” that will be home to respectful dialogue.
While many parents and children alike are excited to finally be back to school in a matter of days there is still some worry around infection prevention and control. School will look different and one thing that will change is the sharing of school supplies between classmates.
Due to COVID-19, the need for students to have their own school supplies is more important than ever and United Way wanted to make sure every student has the tools for successful learning online or at school.
Erin O’Toole won a third ballot victory over initial frontrunner Peter MacKay in the race to become the new federal Conservative Party of Canada leader.
On the final vote, after Derek Sloan and third place finisher Leslyn Lewis dropped off the ballots, O’Toole finished with 57% of the votes cast to MacKay’s 43%. In all, 174,404 votes were cast in the largest leadership election in Canadian history.
Last Thursday, Niagara Regional councillors were told that Niagara residents are able to pay higher taxes. According to a KPMG sustainability report received by Council, despite a lower level of household income than other Ontario municipalities, the average regional residential taxes per household is among the lowest. Oscar Poloni of KPMG was on-hand to provide […]
Dried and packaged cannabis at an undisclosed location. OPP PHOTO A large-scale illegal cannabis production and distribution network has been shut down by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and partners after a 12-month investigation. Several residents of the Niagara Region and GTA are facing numerous charges, according to an OPP statement released Friday, August 21. […]
The shutting down of Canada’s parliament during a national economic crisis and a global health crisis isn’t sitting well with Niagara’s two Conservative MPs.
Just when more and more questions about the WE charity scandal are being asked, Finance Minister Bill Morneau resigns and heavily redacted documents are being and were about to be released, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prorogued parliament.
The Nitsopoulos family has been in the hospitality business for decades. Owning the majority of St. Catharines’ hotels as well as a number of restaurants over the years, they’ve seen ups and downs in the business cycle but nothing could have prepared them for the crushing financial blow that COVID-19 has delivered the family business over the past six months.
Regional Council received another staff recommendation to sole source a large purchase, this time for its Niagara Recycling facility – a facility the Niagara Region may end up selling.
The recommendation was for $450,000 of public funds to purchase new equipment that would assist the facility in removing recyclable materials from transparent plastic bags.
In a marathon meeting lasting, in total about six hours, Niagara Regional Police Chief Bryan MacCulloch answered questions, provided context and educated regional councillors to the many improvements the force has made to better serve its community.
In the end, council approved a motion moved by St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik, to essentially forward a St. Catharines City Council motion on to the province. The St. Catharines motion passed last week, had a list of recommendations St. Catharines councillors want to see implemented to improve race relations between the NRP and Niagara’s minority citizens.
The position of hockey goalie has changed dramatically over the years from the modernization of the equipment making it lighter and sleeker, to the physical style of play. Now, thanks to research conducted at Brock University, hockey goaltenders could have another new competitive advantage in stopping the puck thanks.
The first round of cash to support Niagara’s municipalities and its regional government through the COVID-19 pandemic has arrived. Not surprisingly Niagara’s two largest municipalities – St. Catharines and Niagara Falls received the most funding; $7,473,509 and $4,263,658 respectively. The Region received $12,794,293. In total Niagara received more than $28 million.
The provincial and federal governments are providing up to $4 billion in one-time assistance to Ontario’s 444 municipalities. Municipalities will be provided with up to $1.6 billion as part of the first round of emergency funding under the Safe Restart Agreement. The funding is designated to help municipalities deliver critical public services.
Earlier this week St. Catharines City Council opted to call on the Niagara Region and the Police Services Board – the civilian body that oversees the Niagara Regional Police – to “re-assess ‘adequate policing” requirements.
As if the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t cripple Niagara’s wineries enough but add to that the archaic provincial tax system that punishes Ontario’s craft wineries financially and now a deal with Australia that will add 50 cents per bottle tax to Ontario wine producers, the vast majority already operating on razor thin profit margins.
Niagara-on- the-Lake Town Council dealt with an updated draft noise bylaw last night that would have quieted the Town to almost a whisper.
The draft changes to the existing bylaw proposed to outlaw any noise above 55dB between 7:00 am and 11:00 pm while cutting that threshold to 50dB between 11:00pm and 7:00am. During last night’s meeting councillors were confused as to where the 50dB number came from.
The Niagara Independent has learned that a number of whistleblower complaints involving the troubled bio-solids contract worth $14 million were submitted under the Niagara Region’s first ever whistleblower policy and went unaddressed by senior staff for months.
Multiple sources at the Niagara Region confirmed that Regional Council discussed the troubling matter during a special meeting of Council held on July 30. Citing the need to maintain confidentiality due to an open tendering process, sources did not disclose the substance of the complaints, what actions Regional Council opted to take, who was responsible for overseeing the investigation and why no action had been taken to date.
It’s the kind of partnership, innovation and forward thinking that the provincial government has been hoping to see happen since they took office.
Earlier this week Premier Doug Ford was in west Niagara to announce a $2million investment into Beamsville manufacturers Clean Works Medical and Pure Life Machinery. The cash injection is expected to create 19 more jobs. The Premier was joined by Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, Niagara West MP Sam Oosterhoff, Lincoln Mayor Sandra Easton and Mark VanderVeen, president of Clean Works.
Last week St. Catharines City Council endorsed a recent call by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police for the decriminalization of personal possession of illicit drugs.
Jennifer Johnston, co-founder of ‘Niagara Area Moms Ending Stigma, or NAMES voiced her support for the motion. NAMES was formed four years ago after a number of individuals banded together to support each other having lost a child to substance abuse.
Flying under the radar of the daily news cycle in this country is the upcoming Federal Conservative Party of Canada’s leadership election. With a global pandemic, WE scandal rocking the governing Liberal party, back-to-school plans announced and a myriad of other national and global events taking place, the leadership contest has primarily gone unnoticed to many Canadians.
Monday saw St. Catharines City Council deal with a motion that would kick off a consultation process over a proposal to relocate the Watson monument off of City Hall property.
Council received four delegations regarding the motion to move the Watson monument due to its association with the North-West Rebellion of 1885, a hallmark of anti-Metis and Indigenous sentiment and policy by the federal government at the time.
Weekend GO train service to the Niagara region will begin to roll once again starting on August 1. New schedules with four trips to and from Niagara Falls and St. Catharines each Saturday, Sunday and holiday will provide more service than in previous years and enable day or overnight trips, either in Niagara or Toronto.
The Ontario government announced today that it will be back to school for children across Ontario come September and not surprisingly teachers and their unions weren’t happy.
Education minister Stephen Lecce unveiled a plan that has increased health and safety measures, and provides school boards with “unprecedented” resources and flexibility, while accommodating regional differences in trends of key public health indicators.
The Town of Pelham became the first Niagara municipality to have its 2019 Financial Information Return (FIR) approved by the Government of Ontario this month; something CAO David Cribbs said is proof that Pelham is making progress at getting its financial house in order.
“[This is] the direct result of hard work by the entire corporate services team,” Cribbs said.
The lobbying and threat of closures and reduced services by many of Ontario’s municipal politicians has paid off – to the tune of $4 billion.
The funding includes $777 million from the federal government and $1.22 billion from the province in support for municipalities.
With an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, regional finances bursting at the seams and a recent decision to not hear from local employers representing over 2,000 employees, Niagara Regional Council spent 44 minutes of its 167 minute meeting dealing with complaints put forward by local left-leaning political activist group A Better Niagara and dealing with councillors insulting and apologizing to their fellow councillors as well as being bogged down on numerous procedural issues.
A journalist who has spent five years researching and reporting on the WE Organization was attacked by St. Catharines MP Chris Bittle Wednesday during a committee meeting studying the WE Charity scandal currently rocking the Trudeau Liberal government.
“I found it unusual that I saw a reporter was agreeing to testify at a committee,” Bittle told Jesse Brown, publisher of the online news outlet Canadaland. “What expertise are you bringing to the table beyond what you’ve reported based on other people’s stories?”
According to many of the largest tourist operators in Niagara Falls, heading into Stage 3 today really doesn’t change much. With the exception of being able to add additional seating inside restaurants, not much else will be different.
One thing that will change for all Niagara residents is having to wear a mask. Last night the Regional council voted to enact a mandatory mask by-law which comes into effect July 31.
Yesterday, Premier Doug Ford announced that Niagara would be entering Stage 3 of the province’s reopening plan beginning at 12:01am Friday morning.
Along with Niagara, Ford announced that Durham, Haldimand-Norfolk, Halton, Hamilton, Lambton, and York regions will also be entering Stage 3 Friday.
It’s not much of a surprise that the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) has seen a significant increase to their properties over the past few weeks given Ontarians have been locked down in their own homes with limited access to the great outdoors. But now that things have slowly started to open up the NPCA says visitors to their green spaces still need to follow the regulations and guidelines to ensure public safety.
Niagara’s two casinos are beginning preparations to welcome back customers as the region inches towards entering Stage 3 of the provinces economic reopening. Not a die has been thrown nor a card dealt since the Fallsview Casino and Casino Niagara closed their doors back in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Niagara’s two largest cities have taken wildly different approaches to the controversial issue of implementing a mandatory mask bylaw due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Niagara Falls City Council on Tuesday delayed discussion of the item to allow the Niagara Region, which is responsible for public health initiatives in Niagara, to determine whether a Region-wide order is necessary.
It’s been a hotly debated topic for the past several weeks; to wear a mask or not to wear a mask? While public health experts initially flipped-flopped on whether or not wearing a mask actually did much to prevent the spread of COVID-19, most have now landed on the general consensus that indeed wearing a mask is beneficial, especially in closed areas where proper social distancing is tough to do. If one needed further proof, even U.S. President Donald Trump was seen wearing a mask late last week.
It was around 2011 that Niagara EMS noticed a significant rise in call volume. Up until that time they were seeing the standard 2-3% increase but into 2011 that number started to climb to 5 -6% and even 8%. It was cause for concern for those responsible for delivering Niagara’s land ambulance service.
It was 15 years ago that Niagara Emergency Medical Services (EMS) first launched a pilot project, with the blessing of the provincial government, to operate its own dispatch system. At that time dispatch for land ambulance services was run out of a central Hamilton location which had some advantages but also proved to have many disadvantages as well. Over the years, the pilot project has proved to be a major success and has lead to system improvements that weren’t even originally on the radar.
The only thing that became clear after almost five hours of discussion at Wednesday’s special meeting of Regional Council, was that elected officials are deeply divided on the issue of implementing mandatory masks in Niagara to limit the spread of COVID-19.
When the issue came to a vote, Regional Council was divided 15-15 between implementing the bylaw or taking more time for study.
There has been a significant reaction to the abrupt dismissal of a presentation last week to Regional Council by E.S. Fox president Spencer Fox. A number of residents and business owners took to social media to condemn the way council referred the presentation to a budget committee meeting that wasn’t even scheduled. In a close […]
Yesterday, St. Catharines City Council directed staff to prepare a by-law requiring individuals over the age of two to wear masks or face coverings while in enclosed spaces due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Now going on nearly two years the continuing saga of the hiring of former Niagara Region CAO Carmen D’Angelo has taken a couple of important steps forward. Earlier this week the OPP stated that they have closed the books on any criminal wrong doing. There have also been two Ombudsman’s investigations into the matter.
Recently, the defendants – Alan Caslin, Robert D’Amboise and Jason Tamming – have filed their statement of defence with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
While Major League Baseball continues to try and salvage some form of a season, Minor League Baseball announced earlier this week that the 2020 season for all of its clubs, including the Buffalo Bisons, has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Canada Day will certainly be different this year. There will be no parades, concerts or celebrations in parks as precautions are still being taken to avoid the spread of COVID-19. This year Niagara residents will have to go online to enjoy their Canada Day entertainment as the 12 local municipalities, the Niagara Region and Niagara Parks Commission have banded together to offer Canada Day, The Niagara Way.
After a series of Niagara job creators called on the Niagara Region and local mayors to do their part and cut costs in order to blunt future COVID-19 tax increases, Regional Council referred the issue to the Region’s budget committee without any discussion.
Except that according to the Niagara Region website, no meeting of the Region’s budget committee is currently scheduled.
The federal and provincial Governments announced a significant invest in Niagara’s public and active transportation infrastructure yesterday. As a result Niagara’s public transport will be revamped as well as transportation throughout the region. The money will be used to make transport more accessible to residents all around the area. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, politicians from the region were unable to meet in person and held a zoom conference call to make the funding announcement.
It was shaping up to be one of the best seasons yet for both Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours and Hornblower Niagara Cruises. Now, both businesses are hoping to do, at best, 50 per cent of what they normally would do.
But both of the iconic nautical tourist attractions are full steam ahead to make the best of a difficult situation. It all starts Canada Day, July 1.
With the snip of a blue ribbon by Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati and Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries reopened – in part – Niagara’s economy. The minister and the mayor were joined by Sandie Bellows, Chair of Niagara Parks Commission, Joel Noden, Chair of Niagara Falls Tourism and Rebecca Mackenzie, President and CEO of Culinary Tourism Alliance, for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially welcome people back to the Niagara Region as part of Stage 2 of the province’s reopening plan.
While the federal Liberal government has rolled out a long list of funding subsidies for businesses and individuals negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Niagara’s MPs say they are still getting numerous calls on a daily basis from constituents struggling or confused by how to access funding or gravely concerned that their existing funding is about to run out and they aren’t back to work yet.
Developers know that not everything is going to go perfectly during a construction project. There will inevitably be change orders, cost overruns and a few unforeseen hiccups. But when Sally McGarr and development partner Rainer Hummel joined forces with FirstOntario Credit Union to put a shovel in the ground back in September 2018 to develop a property McGarr’s been wanting to build something special on for years, nobody predicted a global pandemic. That isn’t just a hiccup.
It’s not what you would call a “grand opening” but for Niagara’s business owners, particularly those in the tourism capital of Niagara Falls, they’ll take what they can get.
Today marks the first day of Niagara moving into Stage 2 of the province’s economic reopening plan. This means stores, patios, hair salons and more can open their doors for business. It also means that tourism operators can finally call staff back to work and welcome tourists back to Niagara.
The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) is preparing to re-open its parks to the public. Although the Niagara region will remain in phase one until this Friday, campgrounds and conservation areas were allowed to re-open earlier. After yesterday’s announcement by the government, locals can not only continue going on hikes and participate in passive recreation but will soon be able to experience more of what the NPCA properties have to offer. The NPCA operates a total 41 properties including some well known conservation areas like Balls Falls, Long Beach and Chippawa Creek.
The Niagara Independent has learned that the Region’s Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Mustafa Hirji has recommended to the Provincial Medial Officer of Health Dr. David Williams that Niagara proceed to Stage 2 reopening.
In his letter Dr. Hirji says, “I appreciate the opportunities I’ve had to speak with you and understand the data and process with which the province is using to make evidence-informed decisions on moving public health regions to Stage 2 of reopening, as well as the opportunity to provide my contextual, local perspective. In follow up to those conversations, I’d like to restate the local data and context, and articulate why I believe it indicates that Niagara is ready to proceed to Stage 2.”
Niagara’s tourism sector got a much-needed boost this week when the province’s Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries Lisa MacLeod announced via a Zoom news conference that her Ministry will be providing one million dollars to help market the region’s attractions and destinations.
On Monday, the province announced the list of Region’s allowed to move to Stage 2 reopening. While 24 regions were on the list to reopen, 10 were denied. Among the 10 was Niagara.
Police forces around the globe are under the microscope now more than ever and many citizens have taken to social media criticizing everything from the size of police budgets to the equipment they use. Some citizens have even sated police forces are no longer needed and that the public can police themselves.
You could practically hear the frustration from Niagara’s business leaders when they realized the words “Niagara Region” weren’t on the province’s list of areas that can proceed to stage two of reopening the economy.
Home prices in Niagara have gone up. That may shock some people as the common sentiment is that the real estate sector, like practically every other one, has been hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak. In some ways that holds true particularly this past April which saw a nose dive in sales and listings but prices have continued to creep up in Niagara.
St. Catharines City Councillor Mat Siscoe introduced a motion at its Wednesday Council meeting calling on the Niagara Region and the Police Services Board to immediately begin implementing body cameras for Niagara’s front line police officers.
Hilary Pearson, a recognized Canadian leader in philanthropy and community engagement, will become Brock University’s new Chancellor this fall the University announced yesterday.
University President and Vice-Chancellor Gervan Fearon, said Pearson accepted the invitation to serve a three-year term after her nomination was unanimously endorsed by Brock’s Senate, following a comprehensive nominating process.
The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically impacted tourism in Niagara Falls. Restaurants, hotels, entertainment attractions and other tourist activities remain closed or are continuing to run at low capacity. Niagara is a city that thrives on travelers coming to visit and spend their money. Businesses have faced drastic negative impacts from the forced shutdown. Niagara Falls has always been a top-of-mind destination for tourists. People from around the globe come to experience everything Niagara has to offer. With the recent restrictions on travel and social gatherings, Niagara tourism has suffered, missing out on what could have been a busy summer season.
While Niagara and the rest of Ontario look to return to normal, signs that the general public must continue to deal with the effects of COVID-19 remain apparent.
On Monday, Niagara Region’s Public Health department confirmed a COVID-19 workplace outbreak at Pioneer Flower Farms in St. Catharines. 20 employees are confirmed to have the novel coronavirus and like other outbreaks discovered in Niagara, the Public Health department is facilitating testing of other employees who have symptoms or are at increased risk. It is unknown where the original employee was infected. The greenhouse was devastated back in August 2019 by a fire that ripped through the facility.
The Niagara Region is taking the lead on asking the provincial and federal governments to pony up some cash to help the Region and its 12 municipalities offset the costs incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first year of university is perhaps one of the most important years of a student’s academic experience. Whether moving away from home or taking the first steps towards reaching career goals, the first year of University is where it all begins.
Niagara Region’s acting medical officer of health Dr. Mustafa Hirji released municipal specific COVID-19 data Thursday after being ordered to do so by Regional politicians.
The data shows Welland, Pelham and Niagara Falls experienced the most COVID-19 cases per 10,000 population in the Niagara Region, although each municipality has experienced those cases differently. Welland has the highest rate at 37.5 cases per 10,000 population with roughly 74% being attributed to health care facility outbreaks. Pelham is experiencing 18.3 cases per 10,000 but unlike Welland and Niagara Falls, 85% of the cases were found in the general public. Niagara Falls sits at 17.3 cases per 10,000 population with 60% of them due to health care facility outbreaks.
There’s no question that the global pandemic has hammered business owners but thankfully some have managed to not just survive but thrive. The popularity of online shopping continues to rise while the bricks and mortar retail shops were closed to patrons. Shoppers, now more than ever, are searching the internet for clothes and other items from online stores. While some Niagara businesses have resorted to curbside pickup, others are using their online presence to market their items and sell their products using home delivery.
Three prominent Niagara residents have recently been appointed to key provincial boards. Jessica Friesen, CEO of Gales Fuels was appointed to the Niagara Parks Commission Board while recently retired Niagara MP Rob Nicholson is now Chair of the Niagara Escarpment Commission and Niagara businessman Dragan Matovic has a seat on the Board of the LCBO.
Craft beer has gained popularity over the last few years. Many consumers love to indulge in finely crafted beer produced by microbreweries. Breweries, located in the Niagara region, were obtaining a larger share of the beer market. Locals could enjoy brewers such as Decew Falls Brewing Company, Lock street, and Bench. These companies are expanding their business to grocery and liquor stores across Ontario. However, amid a global pandemic, businesses have been negatively affected by economic restrictions, and the brewery business is no exception.
The Ontario government announced yesterday that more businesses will be able to reopen in the next week provided the overall provincial health indicators continue to trend positively.
These businesses must comply with strict health and workplace safety measures to be permitted to reopen.
Lynn Wells, an accomplished scholar and academic leader, will be Brock University’s new Provost and Vice-President Academic, effective July 1, 2020.
Brock President Gervan Fearon made the announcement Monday, May 11, welcoming the scholar and researcher to Niagara. Wells is currently the Associate Vice-President, Students and Teaching at MacEwan University in Edmonton, and previously served as the Provost and Vice-President, Academic, and Acting President at the First Nations University of Canada, in Regina. She has many years experience as a professor, teacher and researcher in the Department of English, including scholarly work in contemporary British fiction.
There were a lot of Niagara residents looking skyward on Sunday. They weren’t looking for the sun although you couldn’t blame them for wondering where it went after making a brief glorious appearance nearly a week ago. No, tens of thousands of Niagara residents stood on their driveways, sidewalks, back decks or in the middle of the road hoping to catch a glimpse of one of the most popular military flight demonstration teams in the world – Canada’s 431 Air Demonstration Squadron; Otherwise known simply as the Snowbirds.
During these unprecedented times, it is essential to support regional businesses and remain connected to the Niagara community. With the new social distancing measures resulting in events cancelling or postponing to a later date, Niagara’s leading hospitality and event centre, Club Italia Centre is currently offering curbside take out every Wednesday and Friday. This has provided an opportunity for Club Italia to modify their business during this time, to continue to serve meals and bring positive experiences to locals around the Niagara region in a convenient and safe environment.
On Wednesday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced that all retail stores with a street entrance will be permitted to provide curbside pickup and delivery, as well as in-store payment and purchases at garden centres, nurseries, hardware stores and safety supply stores.
Like many businesses around the province and across the country Niagara’s wineries have had to adapt, pivot and get creative to simply maintain a certain level of business. And while business would certainly be better in a non-pandemic environment, hard work and determination is keeping Niagara’s wine sector in a glass-half-full kind of state.
The Ontario government has opened the door a tiny crack to slowly getting the provincial economy back on track by allowing some businesses to reopen. Premier Ford announced Friday that a select few businesses sectors will be allowed to open providing they follow strict public health guidelines. The Premier was quick to caution the public however that a continued trend downwards of the number of new COVID-19 cases will need to happen before the door is swung fully open.
They are truly the unsung heroes of healthcare. Rarely in the spotlight, quietly going about their job with a smile and friendly hello to patients and other staff, these essential workers have a very important job; stop the spread.
On Wednesday and in response to an emergency order issued by the provincial government, Niagara Health is taking new action to further support Niagara’s long-term care and retirement homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
New measures include clinical consultation, supporting retirement and long-term care home staffing needs and assistance in managing outbreaks to help stabilize care and the environment for residents and staff.
It was Easter long weekend when Niagara Falls resident Tiffany Aello had heard that those who had no place to call home found themselves in even more of a tough spot. With arenas, libraries, coffee shops and other facilities closed, the homeless had nowhere to go to warm up or clean up. “I got a phone call asking if I had any tents,” said Aello explaining how she got involved with a project that now consumes her life seven days a week. “I thought it was for one person, I didn’t realize there were 15,” she said.
Instead of a hard date many had expected, Premier Ford along with several key ministers outlined criteria that Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts will use as a basis to begin a staged reopening of Ontario.
There has been a lot written and a lot discussed about the impact of social isolation on people’s mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. From elite athletes to business leaders to stay-at-home parents who aren’t used to their significant other working from home, the new normal is wreaking havoc on motivation levels, focus and overall mood.
Niagara MPs Dean Allison and Tony Baldinelli are, like the rest of Canadians, trying to get accustomed to what has become the new normal. It’s a pretty big adjustment when you are used to spending most of the day in a large room with 337 other people, in constant communication, travelling back and forth from Niagara to Ottawa, attending grand openings, business roundtables and the many other events Members of Federal Parliament attend on a daily basis. Throw in the fact that you are part of the official opposition trying to hold a minority government to account during a national crisis and things are anything but normal.
As far as anyone can remember it’s the first time in the Shaw Festival’s history that the entire slate of season opening performances has been cancelled. To date the Shaw has had to cancel more than 180 shows in total. The first production was set to hit the stage on April 2. “We were days away from Charley’s Aunt being on stage,” said Shaw’s Executive Director Tim Jennings.
The COVID-19 pandemic may have peaked in Ontario according to the Ontario Government’s health experts.
Yesterday, the Government of Ontario released updated COVID-19 modelling, which shows that the enhanced public health measures, including staying home and physically distancing from each other, are working to contain the spread of the virus and flatten the curve.