Search for new top doctor could soon be underway in Niagara

by Nicholas Tibollo

Mayor of Wainfleet Kevin Gibson (right) will table a motion Thursday night at regional council to initiate the search for a permanent medical officer of health. Dr. Mustafa Hirji (left) has served in an interim capacity at the head of Niagara Public Health since the retirement of Dr. Valerie Jaeger in January 2018.    After […]

Dr Hiriji and Mayor Gibson

Testing requirement to temper border reopening, local bridge authorities

by Nicholas Tibollo

The Peace Bridge connecting Fort Erie and Buffalo. Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Frank Gunn   In the year before the pandemic, nearly three-quarters of all visits to the U.S. from Canada, about 32 million trips in all, were made by vehicle. A large portion of that traffic traversed Niagara’s four international bridge crossings.  According to […]

Peace Bridge

IKEA’s new ‘Design Studio’ in Oshawa. St. Catharines will have its own Design Studio at the Pen Centre within the next few weeks. Photo credit: IKEA Canada   While many businesses have shut down over the past two years, St. Catharines will soon be welcoming an IKEA store back to the city.  On Wednesday, October […]

Ikea storefront

U.S. reopening land border to fully vaccinated Canadians, but questions remain

by Nicholas Tibollo

Photo credit: Toronto Star/Marcus Oleniuk   After nearly 20 months of its land ports of entry being closed off to all non-essential travel, the United States will once again allow Canadians to drive across the border for discretionary purposes.  Starting next month, fully vaccinated travellers from Canada and Mexico will be permitted to enter the […]


Niagara College announces new chair, vice-chair of governing board

by Nicholas Tibollo

Photo credit: Facebook/Niagara College   Ahead of its October 2021 meeting on Thursday, Niagara College’s board of governors announced the election of its new chair and vice-chair, along with the appointment of four new members.  Wendy Wing will lead the school’s governing board as chair for the 2021-22 academic year, having served as vice-chair the […]

Niagara College, Welland campus

Temporary road test centre opening in Niagara Falls to help alleviate backlog

by The Niagara Independent

The provincial government is taking tangible steps to reduce the significant backlog of drivers trying to complete licencing requirements by opening additional road test locations.  On Wednesday, the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) announced it was opening three temporary test centres in Ottawa, Sarnia, and Niagara Falls. “Opening a temporary road test centre in Niagara Falls […]

driving test

Niagara mourns loss of leading citizen Sandie Bellows

by The Niagara Independent

Sandie Bellows (seated in center) cuts the ceremonial ribbon at the grand opening of the Niagara Parks Power Station, July 28, 2021. Bellows died of cancer late Sunday evening. Photo credit: The Niagara Independent   On Sunday, Oct. 10, Niagara lost one of its leading citizens in Sandie Bellows. Bellows, who at the time of […]

Sandie Bellowes

Members of the Ontario Health Coalition protest out front of Queen’s Park, Oct. 4, 2021. Photo credit: Facebook/Ontario Health Coalition   On Wednesday last week, the Ford government announced the allocation of $270 million this fiscal year to help Ontario’s long-term care (LTC) homes address staffing needs. The funds will allow for the hiring of […]

Ontario Health Collation outside of Queen's Park

Bronze statue stolen from cemetery holds high artistic value, worth little as scrap

by Nicholas Tibollo

The granite platform where the sculpture of Gen. Drummond by Ralph Sketch stood for at least three decades. The statue was stolen from Drummond Hill Cemetery last week. Photo credit: The Niagara Independent/Nicholas Tibollo   Sometime between the early morning hours of September 27 and the morning of September 29, a roughly three-by-three-foot, 330 lbs. […]

West Lincoln Memorial Hospital enters final stage of community fundraising

by The Niagara Independent

  An artist’s rendering of the new WLMH site in Grimsby. Photo credit: Hamilton Health Sciences   On Wednesday, the West Lincoln Memorial Hospital (WLMH) held a virtual launch for the final leg of its ‘Take it to the Finish, Building a Healthy Community’ campaign. The campaign, which began five months ago, was launched with […]

Brock continues to rank high in student satisfaction

by Nicholas Tibollo

Brock University main campus in St. Catharines. Photo credit: Brock University   Maclean’s Magazine released its annual university rankings for 2022 on Thursday. St. Catharines’ Brock University ranked 12 overall in the comprehensive category, placing high in several subcategories and rising one spot overall from 2021. For the fourth straight year, Brock earned the top […]

Local Indigenous leader calls Trudeau’s Tofino trip “appalling”

by Nicholas Tibollo

Karl Dockstader, executive director of the Niagara Regional Native Centre and co-host of the radio show ‘One Dish, One Mic’, emcees a National Day of Truth and Reconciliation event in front of St. Catharines city hall, Sept. 30, 2021. Photo credit: Twitter/City of St. Catharines   Last Thursday, Canada marked the first National Day of […]

Karl Dockstader

Lincoln celebrates grand opening of new museum with fun-filled weekend

by Nicholas Tibollo

New Lincoln Museum and Cultural Centre in Jordan. Photo credit: Town of Lincoln   Unveiled and initially made accessible to the public at the end of July, the brand-new Lincoln Museum and Cultural Centre had its formal grand opening this past weekend.  Three days of events ushered in the museum’s latest chapter, including a gala […]

lincoln museum

‘Exhaustive’ CAO search turns up familiar face

by Nicholas Tibollo

Ron Tripp has served as acting CAO of Niagara Region since December 2018. He will take up the chief administrator role in a permanent capacity starting Monday next week.    At a special council meeting on Wednesday, Niagara Regional Council formally appointed the municipality’s new permanent Chief Administrative Officer (CAO).  After a 10 month “exhaustive”, […]

Ron Trip

Young entrepreneurs wrapped in red tape

by Don Rickers

Owner of Archives Wine and Spirit Merchants Robbie Raskin offers a toast to a group of whiskey aficionados. Raskin and his partner have been forced to jump through hoop after hoop by the City of St. Catharines to bring their tasting business to fruition. Supplied photo.   Robbie Raskin and his friend and business partner […]

Robbie Raskin

Niagara joins elite collection of Canadian regions working to attract foreign dollars

by Nicholas Tibollo

Photo credit: Facebook/Niagara Parks    The Niagara Region has formally joined a select group of regions from across the country working together to attract foreign investment to Canada.  The Consider Canada City Alliance (CCCA) unites 14 of Canada’s largest municipal regions “to build a sustainable and globally competitive national economy built upon the collective strength […]

Niagara Falls in red

Province provides funding to help local anti-human trafficking efforts

by Nicholas Tibollo

From left to right: Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Education and Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff, Minister of Francophone Affairs Caroline Mulroney, Executive Director of Centre de santé communautaire Hamilton/Niagara France Vaillancourt, and Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues Jane McKenna, Sept. 27, 2021. Photo credit: Centre de santé communautaire Hamilton/Niagara    On […]

Centre De Sante

Seven in a row for Niagara West’s Dean Allison

by Don Rickers

Newly re-elected Conservative MP for Niagara West Dean Allison. Photo credit: Facebook/Dean Allison   When the election dust settled in Niagara West early Tuesday morning, no one was surprised at the result. The pollsters, and the historical record, had pointed to a landslide win for Conservative Dean Allison, and that’s exactly what happened. Just over […]

Dean Allison MP

Officials on both sides of border react to continued closure of land crossings into U.S.

by Nicholas Tibollo

Photo credit: CNN Travel Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) once again extended the country’s nationwide ban on non-essential land travel from Canada and Mexico. “To minimize the spread of [COVID-19], including the Delta variant, the United States is extending restrictions on non-essential travel at our land and ferry crossings with […]

U.S. border closed

Four familiar faces headed back to Ottawa for Niagara

by Nicholas Tibollo

Returning Conservative MPs from Niagara Falls and Niagara West Tony Baldinelli (left) and Dean Allison (right). Both incumbents, alongside returning Liberal MPs Chris Bittle and Vance Badawey, were successful in their bids for re-election Monday night.   In an election deemed largely unnecessary by a majority of the population, Niagara returned all four incumbent candidates […]

Baldinelli MP and Allison MP

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole closes out campaign in Niagara

by Nicholas Tibollo

O’Toole speaking at Steelcon in St. Catharines on Friday, Sept. 17, 2021. Photo credit: CPAC   With Canadians set to hit the polls Monday, Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole made one last campaign stop before the final weekend of the 2021 federal election in Niagara on Friday night. Speaking before a capacity crowd outside of […]

Erin O'Toole

With vote days away, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh stops in Niagara

by Nicholas Tibollo

Left: NDP leader Jagmeet Singh poses for a photo with Niagara Falls federal NDP candidate Brian Barker and current Ontario NDP MPP for Niagara Falls Wayne Gates at a campaign stop in Welland on Wednesday. Right: Singh poses for a photo with St. Catharines federal NDP candidate Trecia McLennon at the same event. Photo credit: […]

Singh in niagara

Awards continue to pour in for Niagara College’s brewing program

by Nicholas Tibollo

 Niagara College Teaching Brewery head brewer George Eagleson with students Laura Park and Nigel Findlay. The school’s Bitter 101, Bock 101, and Strong Ale 101 all won gold medals at the recent U.S. Open Beer Championship held in Oxford, Ohio on Sept. 6. Photo credit: Niagara College    For the second consecutive year, Niagara College […]

niagara college brewing program students

Committee chair commits to “thorough investigation” into biosolids program

by The Niagara Independent

On Wednesday morning, Corporate Services Committee chair Rob Foster committed to conducting a “thorough investigation” into the issues recently raised by Niagara Falls regional councillor Bob Gale regarding the Region’s multi-million-dollar biosolids program. The move came after Gale revealed a 2016 provincial investigation concluded that an employee from Thomas Nutrient Solutions had fabricated environmental data […]

NIagara Region HQ

Hardly a Conservative adjunct, PPC drawing support from diversity of sources

by Nicholas Tibollo

People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier at a recent campaign stop. Photo credit: Twitter/Maxime Bernier   The latest federal public opinion polls have the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) capturing anywhere from 4 to 8 per cent of the popular vote. For a party that received a mere 1.6 per cent of all ballots […]

Maxime Bernier

Could the Conservatives sweep Niagara? Current modelling shows it’s possible

by The Niagara Independent

St. Catharines Conservative Party candidate Krystina Waler. According to the political prediction site 338Canada, Waler is one of four Conservative candidates in Niagara currently in the lead or tied for the lead in their respective riding.    According to the latest projections from the popular political forecasting website 338Canada, Conservative Party candidates currently lead or […]

Trudeau’s campaign stop in Welland marred by PPC protestors

by Nicholas Tibollo

Trudeau chats with local workers at Valbruna ASW in Welland, Sept. 6, 2021. Photo credit: CBC Radio Canada/Laurence Martin   Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau and University-Rosedale candidate Chrystia Freeland were in Welland for a Labour Day campaign stop on Monday.  Speaking from the factory floor of Centre Street’s Valbruna ASW, Trudeau pledged that if […]

Creekside Kitchen and Grocery almost too good to share

by Sherri Haigh

One of Creekside’s delicious grilled-to-go offerings. Supplied photo.   Sometimes you want to keep something a secret, especially when it comes to dining. It’s a place so peaceful and relaxing that you don’t want it overrun with tourists.  Creekside Kitchen and Grocery in Jordan is one of those places and I’m being a bigger person […]

creekside food

Local candidate discusses recent rescue mission of Canada-bound allies by Ukraine

by Nicholas Tibollo

The daughter of one of the Afghan translators who helped Canada during the War in Afghanistan stands on the tarmac in Kyiv, Ukraine on Aug. 28, 2021. After several failed missions to bring the Canada-bound translators and their families to safety, Ukrainian special forces successfully escorted the group – 19 in all – on foot […]

little girl on tarmack

No-shows don’t dampen debate organizer’s spirits

by Nicholas Tibollo

True Politics host Steven Soos holds up a branded hat. Photo credit: Facebook/Steven Soos   Even though only three of the five registered candidates showed up, the first debate of the 2021 federal campaign for the riding of Niagara Falls was, according to its host and organizer, a successful event that represented another “big win […]

Steven Soos

Niagara sees significant dip in new business openings

by Nicholas Tibollo

Photo credit: Pexels/Artem Beliaikin   On Monday, Statistics Canada released its latest monthly report regarding business openings and closures across the country. According to the agency’s most recent estimate, Canada added 39,049 new businesses and reported 40,447 closures in May 2021, for a total monthly loss of 1,398 businesses nationwide. The latest figure represents the […]

closed sign

Biosolids are the “end product” of a sewage treatment plant that are transported to landfills or lagoons. The contractor the Region most recently selected to transport the product was under investigation by the province for alleged offences under multiple Acts while the tendering process was underway. At least some of regional staff were aware of […]

ron tripp

Affordability key issue in Niagara’s enflamed housing market

by Don Rickers

Photo credit: Reuters/Mark Blinch   Some explain it as a classic case of supply and demand. Property costs have risen dramatically over the past decade, despite government measures to increase the housing supply and reduce demand. But many economists and housing experts question whether recent proposals by the federal Liberals are sufficient to restore affordability […]

for sale sign

Grimsby manufacturer makes history with Royal Caribbean contract

by Nicholas Tibollo

Royal Caribbean’s ‘Oasis of the Seas’. The theatre stage at the rear of the vessel is one of the many designed, built, and installed by local company Handling Specialty. Photo credit: Royal Caribbean   Last month, it was announced that Grimsby-based Handling Specialty was awarded its largest fixed price contract in company history.  The contract, […]

Screenshots of Niagara Falls and St. Catharines Liberal candidates Andrea Kaiser and Chris Bittle reposting a tweet by Chrystia Freeland that contained a surreptitiously doctored video Twitter flagged as “manipulated media”.    On Sunday, Liberal candidate Chrystia Freeland tweeted out an edited campaign video that Twitter flagged as “manipulated media”.  The video featured a year-old […]

bittle freeland tweets

Is Niagara home to the garlic capital of Canada? It very well could be

by Don Rickers

Jerry Winnicki and a flatbed-full of his garlic crop. Photo used by permission from the Voice of Pelham.   Jerry Winnicki is a farmer, not a doctor, but he is happy to dispense free health advice—at least when it comes to the nutritional and medicinal power of the humble garlic. It was the ancient Greek […]

jerry winnicki

American tourists and cottagers return to Niagara’s south shore

by Don Rickers

Elco Beach, part of Sherkston Shores Beach Resort and Campground. Located at the border between Port Colborne and Fort Erie, Sherkston, like Crystal Beach and many other areas on Niagara’s south shore along Lake Erie, is a popular destination for vacationing Americans throughout the warmer months. Photo credit: Toronto Life Canadian border crossings reopened to […]

In their own words: an interview with Mayor Bill Steele of Port Colborne

by Kaitlin Gibson

Mayor Bill Steele (centre) with his wife and three sons. Photo credit: WordPress/Bill Steele  Even though Mayor Bill Steele of Port Colborne has had more than his fair share of talking about the pandemic, it’s still top of mind and in the forefront of everything he’s done over the past year and a half. “I’m […]

Mayor Bill Steele andfamily

  Krystina Waler (left) and Trecia McLennon (right). Waler and McLennon are the 2021 federal Conservative and NDP candidates for St. Catharines, respectively. While direct political competitors, both agree – along with several other local candidates – that Justin Trudeau’s recent decision to call a snap election was ill-considered. The pair will challenge incumbent Liberal […]

Waler and McLennon

Leader of Canada’s Official Opposition Erin O’Toole speaks to a small gathering in Welland, Aug. 10, 2021. Pictured in back is Niagara Centre federal Conservative candidate and current Welland city councillor Graham Speck. Photo credit: Facebook/Graham Speck   Earlier this week, Canada’s Leader of the Official Opposition and head of the federal Conservative Party Erin […]

Erin O'Toole MP and Graham Speck

 Strada West on Lundy’s Lane in Niagara Falls. Like so many restauranteurs in the region, Strada West proprietor Tom Roberto has had difficulty securing staff because of the pandemic and associated government measures. Photo credit: The Niagara Independent   Ontario’s Minister for Labour, Training, and Skills Development Monte McNaughton was in Niagara last week to […]

strada west restaurant

Photo credit: AP/John Locher   On Thursday, just as news broke that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will ask the governor general to dissolve parliament this weekend, Liberal Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti announced from Niagara’s Fallsview Casino Resort changes to the Criminal Code which will legalize single event sport betting. […]

sports bar

In their own words: an interview with Mayor Walter Sendzik of St. Catharines

by Kaitlin Gibson

Mayor Walter Sendzik. Supplied photo.    St. Catharines is the Niagara’s largest city with a population of nearly 140,530. As such, it makes sense that one of the main goals of Mayor Walter Sendzik is to increase its sense of community and inclusion.  “We are a progressive community…we look at compassion as a way of […]

Mayor Sendzik

A local woman’s campaign to save Canada’s Afghan allies

by Kaitlin Gibson

Major Richard Raymond (right) from the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team (KPRT) speaks, with the help of his interpreter, to Afghan kids about their situation in Kandahar city, April 2008. Photo credit: Canadian Forces Combat Camera/Cpl. Simon Duchesne Wendy Long wasn’t looking for a project to get involved with or a cause to support. But five years […]

Major Richard Raymond

Hirji raises eyebrows with decision to delay second dose

by Nicholas Tibollo

  Screenshot of Dr. Hirji’s August 6 tweet regarding his second vaccine dose. Photo credit: Twitter/Mustafa Hirji On Friday, Niagara’s acting medical officer of health Dr. Mustafa Hirji posted to Twitter that he went to a mobile pop-up clinic to receive his second dose of COVID-19 vaccine.  “Thrilled to join @NRPublicHealth teammates at the Rykert […]

Hirijii tweet

In their own words: an interview with Mayor Dave Bylsma of West Lincoln

by Kaitlin Gibson

Mayor Dave Bylsma. Photo credit: Facebook/Dave Bylsma Getting life back to normal is a matter of utmost importance for West Lincoln mayor David Bylsma. When it comes to getting life back to normal post pandemic, he is a firm believer that the best way to do so is to get businesses and the economy open […]

Mayor Bylsma

Province invests millions to help Niagara youth enter IT sector

by Nicholas Tibollo

Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton (fifth from left) in Vineland with some of the beneficiaries of the provincial funding announced Thursday. Photo credit: Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development On Thursday, Ontario’s Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton joined Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff and Lincoln mayor […]

Case against former executives of Pelham pot grower pushed to late September

by Don Rickers

Former Pelham mayor Dave Augustyn (centre, black shirt) with CannTrust executives at the official opening of the cannabis producer’s Fenwick facility, June 2018. Three of the company’s former executives are currently facing a litany of charges related to alleged illegal growing efforts in 2018 and 2019. Photo credit: (c) 2018 The Voice of Pelham. Used […]

augustyn ribbon cutting

Bradley blasted by fellow councillors for hosting exclusionary “private meeting”

by Nicholas Tibollo

Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley. Photo credit: YouTube/Niagara Region At the most recent Niagara Regional Council meeting, Chair Jim Bradley and his senior staff were upbraided by several council members for hosting what Pelham regional representative Diana Huson called a “private meeting” that excluded most regional councillors and went forward without public notice.  According to […]

Jim bradley

Crime rates dip across country, as Niagara remains one of Canada’s safest metro areas

by The Niagara Independent

Photo credit: Facebook/Niagara Regional Police Service Last week, Statistics Canada published its annual survey of police-reported crime, as measured by the Crime Severity Index (CSI), for the year 2020. Unsurprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic had a profound impact on crime rates across the country, ushering in the first year of decreases in both violent and non-violent […]

nrps vehicle

In their own words: Mayor Frank Campion of Welland

by Kaitlin Gibson

Mayor Frank Campion. Photo credit: Niagara Region Mayor Campion has a clear message for the residents of Welland: get vaccinated. The second term mayor emphasizes the need for Welland residents to protect themselves against COVID-19, noting that locally the town has hit a plateau in the rate of vaccinations. “The biggest thing we can do […]

mayor campion's headshot

Revamped Niagara Parks Power Station opens to the public

by Nicholas Tibollo

Niagara Parks CEO David Adames welcomes guests to tour the agency’s newest attraction following the ceremonial ribbon-cutting on Wednesday. Also pictured are chair of the Parks Sandie Bellows (seated, centre), Minister Lisa MacLeod (behind Bellows, left), and Regional Chair Jim Bradley (behind Bellows, right). Photo credit: The Niagara Independent After several months of assessment, planning, […]

CEO NPC Adames welcomes guests

Mountainview’s Mark Basciano “an everyday hero”

by Don Rickers

Mountainview president Mark Basciano.  Talk to director of philanthropy and public relations at Pathstone Mental Health Kim Rossi about Mountainview president Mark Basciano the builder and she can speak volumes, without ever mentioning his successes in the construction industry. She references Mark Basciano the community builder, the man who learned from his father that creating […]

Mark Basciano

Regional council supports another tax increase for services beyond mandate

by Bruce Timms

Niagara Region headquarters in Thorold. Photo credit: The Niagara Independent On July 14, the corporate services committee discussed and recommended adding another $1 million to the property tax levy, an additional 0.25 per cent to the previously established 4.1 per cent increase: for a total increase of 4.35 per cent for the 2022 tax levy.  […]

niagara region HQ sign

Niagara wines wow at national championships

by The Niagara Independent

Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery in St. Davids. Ravine was one of about a dozen Niagara wineries to earn multiple medals at this year’s All Canadian Wine Championships. Photo credit: Facebook/Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery Two weeks ago, the All Canadian Wine Championships held its annual competition in Picton, Ontario. The 2021 installment saw 217 wineries from […]

Ravine Winery

Democratic representative for New York’s 26th congressional district Brian Higgins speaks at the University of Buffalo, March 29, 2018. Congressman Higgins has arguably been the loudest and most consistent advocate for reopening the U.S.-Canada border both ways throughout the pandemic. Photo credit: University of Buffalo/Meredith Forrest Kulwicki Last week, just days after Canada announced it […]

Brian Higgins

Date set for twinning of Garden City Skyway

by Nicholas Tibollo

Garden City Skyway. The bridge connects Niagara-on-the-Lake to St. Catharines. Built in 1963, it will soon be one of two bridges to carry QEW traffic across the Welland Canal. Photo credit: The Niagara Independent  With work well-underway along the QEW in Niagara-on-the-Lake transforming the Glendale Avenue exit/intersection into Canada’s only third ever diverging diamond interchange, […]

skyway bridge in st catharines

In their own words: an interview with Mayor Jim Diodati of Niagara Falls

by Kaitlin Gibson

Mayor Jim Diodati. Photo credit: City of Niagara Falls After speaking to Mayor Jim Diodati at length, it’s very clear that he fully believes in the saying, ‘every cloud has a silver lining.’ More often than not, answers to questions about the economy, COVID-19, or the future of the city were sparkled with moral takeaways […]

Mayor Jim Diodati

South Niagara Hospital site at the corner of Montrose and Biggar roads in Niagara Falls. What was for many years just a sign and an unused farmer’s field will soon see shovels in the ground, as the more than $1 billion project is set to commence fall 2022. Photo credit: Niagara Health On July 21, […]

south niagara hospital site

Homelessness on the rise in Niagara, long-term solution needed

by Don Rickers

A homeless encampment in Centennial Gardens off Gale Crescent in St. Catharines. Photo credit: Julia McLaren  Homelessness is an urgent problem in Niagara.  A study conducted by the Region in March provided a snapshot of the dire situation. The third annual Niagara Counts homelessness Point-in-Time (PiT) determined there are at least 665 people (including 121 […]

tent encampment

Vehicles cross the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls from the U.S. into Canada. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons  On Monday, the federal government announced its plan to reopen Canada’s international border. Starting August 9, fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents currently living in the U.S. will be able to travel to Canada for non-essential purposes […]

Rainbow Bridge

Local museums excited to welcome back patrons

by Nicholas Tibollo

On Friday, July 16, Ontario entered the final phase of its three-step reopening framework.

Expectedly, most are excited about once again being able to dine indoors, hit the gym, or attend a summer festival. But another activity now available to Ontarians that has somewhat flown under the radar, but is an integral part of Niagara’s tourism and culture industries, is visiting a museum or historic site.

Niagara-on-the-Lake museum

In their own words: an interview with Mayor Marvin Junkin of Pelham

by Kaitlin Gibson

“It was everything I thought it was.”
A phrase that has been used to describe countless life events like weddings, but rarely used in the world of politics. But Pelham’s mayor Marvin Junkin thinks it describes his first two and a half years in office quite well.

Mayor Junkin

Province gives DSBN green light to go forward with new $50 million Beamsville high school

by The Niagara Independent

On Thursday, Ontario’s Minister of Education Stephen Lecce joined his Parliamentary Assistant and MPP for Niagara West Sam Oosterhoff in Lincoln to announce that the provincial government has given the District School Board of Niagara (DSBN) approval to award the tender for the new West Niagara Secondary School in Beamsville.

politicians and students in beamsville

Just who is Dr. Hirji? The local public health official pulling all the strings

by Nicholas Tibollo

Niagara Region’s current acting medical officer of health Dr. Mustafa Hirji (bottom left) in a campus newspaper montage of student union presidential candidates at the University of Alberta, March 2005. Photo credit: University of Alberta Libraries/The Gateway Back in February, when Niagara qualified to move out of ‘Grey – Lockdown’ into the less restrictive ‘Red […]

Conservative MP for Niagara Falls Tony Baldinelli (left) meets with Del Rollo, Secretary of Wine Growers Canada and VP of Industry and Government Relations of Arterra Wines, at Jackson-Triggs Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake, October 2020. Photo credit: Facebook/Tony Baldinelli On July 7, Niagara Centre MP Vance Badawey and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and […]

MP Baldinelli at Jaackson Triggs

Niagara hotels look to post-pandemic recovery

by Don Rickers

An online survey of 22 Canadian hotel executives, representing 127 hotels and over 20,000 hotel rooms across Canada, was conducted by Nanos Research in May and June of 2021. The survey was conducted in an effort to capture the pulse of the Canadian hotel industry during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

holiday inn

Province provides Grimsby $16 million to support community infrastructure project

by Nicholas Tibollo

Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure Kinga Surma joined Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff in Grimsby on Thursday to announce $16 million in provincial funding to expand and renovate the town’s Peach King Centre.

peach king centre

In their own words: an interview with Mayor Sandra Easton of Lincoln

by Kaitlin Gibson

Lincoln mayor Sandra Easton says that the dominant theme of the first two and a half years of her term has been, obviously, the COVID-19 pandemic. “You can’t think of anything except that.” The mayor of nearly 24,000 residents has been taken back by the scale of the pandemic and calls it her biggest challenge in office to date.

Mayor Sandra Easton

On Monday, July 5, the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable, in collaboration with local political and business leaders, held a press conference at the Niagara City Cruises lower landing on the Canadian side of the gorge in Niagara Falls.

mayor jim diotdati

The idea of modernizing Niagara Regional Council to have representatives serve as both upper and lower-tier councillors has been around for some time. The latest effort came from the City of Niagara Falls.

niagara region HQ sign

Niagara’s shortage of hospitality workers hinders pandemic recovery

by Don Rickers

Niagara’s economy is more reliant on the tourism and hospitality industry than probably any other region in Ontario, with an estimated 60,000 jobs pre-pandemic. And no industry has been harder hit.

Cliffton Hill from above

In their own words: an interview with Mayor Terry Ugulini of Thorold

by Kaitlin Gibson

According to Mayor Terry Ugulini, the new GTA is right here is in Niagara: the ‘Greater Thorold Area’.
Thanks to an influx of growth spurred on by Torontonians finding refuge from their fast-paced lives in Thorold’s quieter setting, the city’s mayor is outwardly confident about Thorold’s future prospects.

Mayor Terry Ugulini on a chair with his dog

At Monday evening’s regular council meeting, St. Catharines council announced that, as a municipality, it would not commemorate the 154th anniversary of Canadian Confederation.

Councillor Miller and Mayor Sendzik

Education funding in Ontario unfair and in need of reform

by Don Rickers

Trustees of the District School Board of Niagara (DSBN) and Niagara Catholic District School Board (NCDSB) just rolled out their 2021-22 budgets: $523 million and $268 million respectively, which will serve a total of approximately 60,000 students, at an average cost to the taxpayer of just under $13,000 per enrollee.

aerial shot of buildings

Housing board hands authority over to Regional Council

by Bruce Timms

Regional Council has become the sole voting member of Niagara Regional Housing (NRH), the not-for-profit agency responsible for providing low-income social housing to Niagara residents in-need.

apartment building

Minister of tourism and task force chair release pandemic recovery report

by Nicholas Tibollo

On Wednesday, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries Lisa MacLeod was on hand at the Shaw Festival Theatre in Niagara-on-the-Lake to release a report put together by the Tourism Economic Recovery Ministerial Task Force.

Minister MacLeod

In their own words: an interview with Mayor Wayne Redekop of Fort Erie

by Kaitlin Gibson

From revitalizing parks to restructuring the public transit system, it can be said that the Town of Fort Erie has a lot on the go. And that’s in part due to the town’s eager and ambitious mayor, Wayne Redekop. Over the past two and a half years he’s even created a website, called ‘Let’s Talk Fort Erie’, where residents can look up projects on the go. Some of his projects include investing in infrastructure, maintaining and protecting the town’s historical landmarks, and bringing new doctors into Fort Erie.

Mayor Redekop

Welland by-election attracts sizable slate of candidates

by Don Rickers

The Rose City is abloom in political aspirants.

Welland’s Ward 3 by-election has attracted a total of six candidates, all eager to fill the seat left vacant by Lucas Spinosa. Spinosa resigned in February, citing a pattern of harassment and threats against him. Nancy Dmytrow-Bilboe, Phill Gladman, John Mastroianni, Steven Soos, Douglas Thomas, and Cathy Connor have all filed nomination papers in the hopes of joining Welland city council come August.

Region accepts 4.1 per cent tax hike strategy, despite massive surplus

by Bruce Timms

The most significant Niagara Region budget meeting of the year was held by Zoom Thursday, June 17.

The meeting set the strategy for staff to use while working out the details of a budget for consideration in October.

Niagara Region HQ sign

Hirji wrestled with Niagara’s restaurants prior to pandemic

by Nicholas Tibollo

Despite Ontario entering Step 1 of its phased reopening plan on June 11, Niagara’s Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Mustafa Hirji continues to impose pandemic-related restrictions over and above provincial regulations.

Dr Hiriji

The small town of Niagara-on-the-Lake has a reputation that proceeds itself for being subtle and reserved. But there are no reservations on the part of Lord Mayor Betty Disero when it comes to the admiration she has for her constituents.

Disero headshot

A recent Toronto Star headline broadcasted, “Awash in vaccines, Canada plans to share with other countries.” But COVID-19 vaccine supplies in Niagara have not kept pace with the demand, as many thousands of Niagara residents have been shut out from online registration for second doses. As the highly transmissible Delta variant spreads rapidly throughout Ontario, border-city mayors are lobbying hard for creative solutions to get their communities vaccinated, including accessing surplus American vaccine doses which are currently filling New York and Michigan dumpsters.

diodati and redekop headshots

When Ontario entered Step One reopening on Friday, Niagara residents were delighted at the opportunity to return to restaurant patios. However, while those in other regions, including Hamilton and Toronto, were allowed to dine on patios with any four people, Niagara patio tables remained restricted to those of the same household.

niagara falls hotel-patio

Niagara names new top planner

by Nicholas Tibollo

With efforts to update Niagara’s Official Plan well underway, the Region has secured a new head of planning and development.

Michelle Sergi’s appointment was approved at a special council meeting on Thursday, June 10. It follows a thorough, nation-wide, recruitment process undertaken by an independent staffing agency.

Michelle Sergi headshot

In their own words: an interview with Mayor Kevin Gibson of Wainfleet

by Kaitlin Gibson

When it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Kevin Gibson of Wainfleet has faith that his community will prevail.

“We’re resilient people. We’re used to hardship.”

Mayor Gibson

Local MPs weigh in on border reopening, vaccine passports

by Don Rickers

The Canada-U.S. border’s land crossings were closed in March of 2020 to nonessential travel in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 and have remained closed ever since – but that may be changing soon.

MP Tony Baldinelli and MP Dean Allison

Quick guide to Canada Summer Games satellite venues around the region

by Michael H. Willoughby

In just over a year, Niagara welcomes the nation for the 2022 Canada Summer Games. Over 5,000 young athletes from all 13 provinces and territories will converge in several towns and cities around the region to compete.

rendering of rowing facility

New York Congressman Chris Jacobs (right) with separated families at the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge in Niagara Falls, June 6, 2021. Jacobs recently added his name to a growing list of high-profile public officials actively campaigning to see the Canada-U.S. land border reopen. Photo credit: Twitter/Chris Jacobs On Sunday, June 6, U.S. Congressman Chris Jacobs held a […]

Congressman Chris Jacobs

It’s hiring season for Niagara’s municipal CAOs

by Don Rickers

Elected municipal politicians have one employee to hire and fire: the chief administrative officer (CAO). It’s an important chair to fill, since all municipal employees report to the CAO, who is charged with making important decisions about hiring employees, planning budgets, and managing operations. The CAO is also the primary member of municipal staff to interact with the elected council, and to implement its policies. Undoubtedly the CAO’s greatest responsibility is in the preparation and submission of the annual budget and, following council approval, the administering of that financial plan on behalf of the municipality.

David Oakes and Jason Burgess

In their own words: an interview with Mayor Jeff Jordan of Grimsby

by Kaitlin Gibson

More than halfway through his first term as mayor of Grimsby, Jeff Jordan maintains an upbeat attitude, looking back on what has been an undoubtably challenging term.

“It’s certainly been overall a very positive experience. I really feel that I’ve been able to, along with Council, do something for all of Grimsby, and move Grimsby forward.”

Mayor Jordan and company

Niagara lawyer appointed Ontario Superior Court judge

by Michael H. Willoughby

A Niagara lawyer has been appointed to the province’s Superior Court of Justice.
In a press release, Federal Justice Minister and Attorney General David Lametti announced Wednesday the appointment of Leanne Standryk.

Leanne Standryk

In the past year, the agenda package for regular Niagara Regional Council meetings have contained, on average, 950 pages of content. And that’s just for regular council meetings. Factor in special council sessions, committee material, and other council correspondence, and Niagara’s upper-tier elected officials are having to absorb well over 1,000 pages of complex, technical information per month.

niagara region HQ sign

Don’t expect tax breaks from Niagara Region’s $96 million surplus

by Don Rickers

Niagara’s 2020 consolidated financial statements, independently audited by the financial mavens at Deloitte, were recently approved by the Region’s audit committee. A cursory reading of the report might lead one to believe that the coffers are flush, given a reported $96 million in surpluses.

Niagara Region HQ sign

On May 18, Brock University in St. Catharines announced that its president, Gervan Fearon, would be resigning his post, having accepted an offer to become president of George Brown College in Toronto. On the face of it, it’s an unusual career move for a top administrator working in the status-obsessed world of academia: Brock is a large public research university, while George Brown is a college that caters mostly to continuing-education students pursuing vocational programs.

Sir Isaac Brock statue

Niagara COVID-19 update – the downward trend continues

by The Niagara Independent

On Monday, Niagara Region Public Health reported just 33 new active cases of COVID-19 across the region. This was the lowest single day number of new cases since March 25, when just 24 new cases were reported.

Niagara is down to 992 total active cases, the lowest number since April 12 (946 cases).

covid dashboard

The life and legacy of local historian E.A. Cruikshank

by Nicholas Tibollo

On May 21, 1921, exactly 100 years ago last Friday, no less than nine historic sites from Niagara were officially added to the National Historic Sites of Canada (NHSC) registry. Among the additions were Fort George, Navy Island, and the Ridgeway Battlefield.

Ernest Alexander ‘E.A.’ Cruikshank

Mike Thorne ruminated on the expression “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure” and figured that there might also be treasure in simply moving the junk.

Mike Throne in front of a blue van

At its most recent meeting on May 12, Niagara Region’s Planning and Economic Development Committee endorsed a staff recommendation to establish a region-wide ‘Natural Environmental System’.

The system, if approved by council on May 20, could become part of the Region’s Official Plan next year.


Is illegal dumping on the rise in Niagara?

by Nicholas Tibollo

Last week, The Niagara Independent published a piece arguing that the COVID-19 pandemic is, in all likelihood, more responsible for the perceived change in local waste disposal habits than the Region’s relatively recent shift to every-other-week garbage collection.

dumpster overflowing

Brock’s fiscal position solid

by Don Rickers

Laurentian University in Sudbury saw its tuition revenue grow by 74 per cent in the last decade.

Good news, right?

Sir Issac Brock statue

Provinces continue to badger federal government to tighten international borders

by The Niagara Independent

Provincial governments of every political stripe continue to detect COVID-19 variants arriving in their provinces via loopholes in the federal screening and quarantining systems at their airports and land borders. On multiple occasions the premiers have asked the prime minister to clamp down on these loopholes.

man in mask at the bridge

Earlier this week, Niagara Region’s Public Works Committee received an impact analysis report regarding the effectiveness of last year’s shift to every-other-week curbside waste collection.

woman holding a bag

Niagara recently achieved an impressive milestone in its ongoing battle against COVID-19: 200,000 vaccine doses delivered.

A total of 40 per cent of the region’s residents are now at least partially vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, with 2.7 fully vaccinated.

Dr. Hirji , Premier Ford

Is Niagara set to surpass the half million mark?

by Nicholas Tibollo

With May 11 officially dubbed Census Day 2021, most Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast have completed or are in the process of completing the latest federal enumeration of the country’s population.

downtown Niagara-on-the-Lake

Schumer comes to Niagara Falls to push border reopening plan

by The Niagara Independent

Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer, the newly installed Senate Majority Leader and highest-ranking federal politician in the State of New York, held a press conference at the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls, New York on Wednesday.

Senator Chuck Schumer

Falls to be illuminated red in honour of fallen firefighters

by Nicholas Tibollo

On Tuesday, Niagara’s famous Falls and Toronto’s CN Tower will be illuminated red in honour of all the firefighters worldwide who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

Both the Canadian Horseshoe and American Falls will resemble the red of fire-engines and fire-houses the world over from 10:00pm to 10:15pm.

Niagara Falls in red

Buffalo begs for Biden to give Canada more vaccine

by The Niagara Independent

Former President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed accelerated not just the development of vaccines by companies like Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson, it also assured that when ready the U.S. would be able to acquire vaccine in huge amounts at a rapid pace.

vials of Moderna vaccine

Regional councillors not happy with continued leaks, establish task force

by The Niagara Independent

Last week, Niagara’s Regional Council once again had to discuss the ongoing issue of confidential information being leaked to local media.

As per corporate policy and proper governance, organizations must go in-camera to discuss certain matters like personnel issues or real estate business, among others. Leaks from such closed sessions were a big problem for regional council last term and have continued into this term.

Niagara Region

Properly locked down borders today will help Niagara open up for good tomorrow

by The Niagara Independent

After immense pressure put on by the provincial premiers, on April 22 the federal government finally announced a ban on direct commercial and private flights from India and Pakistan. The federal government belatedly moved on the ban after dozens of cases of B.1.617, the dominant strain of COVID-19 in India, showed up in B.C., Quebec, and Alberta.

empty airport terminal

MP Dean Allison sponsors local social advocate’s petition on mental health

by Don Rickers

Niagara West MP Dean Allison (left), July 2018. Photo credit: Facebook/Dean Allison “Mental health is a human issue, not a [political] party one. It touches the lives of Canadians and Niagara residents from all walks of life.” With this statement as a guiding principle, Welland-based social advocate Steven Soos has crafted a petition calling on […]

Dean Allison MP

Regional chair calls for more subsidies to support media

by Catherine Swift

Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley. Photo credit: YouTube/Niagara Region An odd statement came from Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley last week, as he called for the federal government to do even more to protect the news media sector than it is already doing. Bradley claimed that as the industry continues to struggle, and many local […]

Overwhelmed Niagara Health continues to take in patients from outside region

by The Niagara Independent

Despite last Monday issuing a press release and a widely circulated social media warning about the St. Catharines critical care units being over capacity, as late as Friday St. Catharines hospital was still accepting COVID-19 patients from other overwhelmed regions.

st catharines ospital

Family’s plea to premier goes viral, as calls to reopen golf courses grow

by Nicholas Tibollo

Last week, the Ford government put forward several new restrictions and regulations in its most recent effort to curb the spread of Covid-19 in Ontario. While some of the more draconian elements of the preventative order were quickly walked back following widespread backlash, most of the new measures made it past public outcry: including the closure of golf courses.


Case rates continue to rise in Niagara, plus another anti-lockdown rally

by The Niagara Independent

Photo credit: The Niagara Independent The week of April 13 to 19 saw a total of 1,176 new cases of COVID-19 in the region, an average of 168 per day for the week, compared to an average of 116 new cases per day last week. Monday, April 19 saw an active daily total case count […]

computer screen with covid dashoboard

Opioid crisis “out of control” in Niagara

by Don Rickers

Glen Walker isn’t apologetic about sounding the clarion call.

As executive director of Positive Living Niagara, Walker is responsible for staff and volunteers who provide support, education, and advocacy for individuals affected by a number of blood-borne infections such as HIV and Hepatitis C. The organization’s deep involvement with AIDS-related drug users has spilled over to opioid addiction and overdose, which is currently at a critical juncture in Niagara.

spoon and lighter

United Way Niagara helped over quarter of region’s population in 2020

by Nicholas Tibollo

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.

volunteer carrying a box

Liberal leader speaks to Niagara chamber

by Catherine Swift

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.

Delduca MPP

Local pandemic update, plus St. Catharines council reacts to rally

by The Niagara Independent

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 […]

computer with Covid -19dashboard

Niagara posts stellar showing in latest ‘best communities’ ranking

by Nicholas Tibollo

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.


Should the Canada-U.S. border be reopened to those with proof of vaccination?

by Nicholas Tibollo

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.

rainbow bridge

Niagara teachers and school staff moved up in vaccination queue

by Nicholas Tibollo

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 […]


Niagara Covid Update

by The Niagara Independent

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.

reading on the train

Updated plans for West Niagara hospital sent for final approval

by Nicholas Tibollo

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.

West Lincoln Memorial Hospital rendering

The pandemic’s affect on the mental health of Niagara’s youth

by Don Rickers

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.”

Former generating station to start new life as tourist attraction

by Nicholas Tibollo

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.

power station

Premier Ford comes to Niagara with support for tourism

by The Niagara Independent

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.

Premier Ford walking through vaccine clinic

Region urges province to move teachers up the vaccination priority list

by The Niagara Independent

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.

a teacher cleaning desks in a classroom

$100k+ Club: City Hall top dogs steal the show

by The Niagara Independent

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.

St. Catharines City Hall

Niagara’s $100K+ club grows during pandemic

by The Niagara Independent

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.

niagara region

Despite rhetoric, affordable housing apparently low priority for St. Catharines

by Nicholas Tibollo

  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 […]

apartment building

Ford Government steps up to combat human trafficking in Niagara

by The Niagara Independent

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.

human trafficking

Developer suing Niagara-on-the-Lake over bylaw

by John Chick

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.

Hummel Properties buidling

Local clinics set to open as vaccine rollout ramps up

by Nicholas Tibollo

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.

covid 19 injection

Mayors send joint letter to Niagara on one-year anniversary of Covid Pandemic

by The Niagara Independent

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.


Companies testimonies confirm region procurement problems

by The Niagara Independent

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.

APG Neuros building

An Olympic dilemma: boycott Beijing? Local MPs weigh in

by Don Rickers

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.

Olympic flag

Diodati points out the positive, calls recent COVID-19 update “encouraging”

by Nicholas Tibollo

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.

Dr. Mustafa Hirji & Mayor Jim Diodati

Bradley praises Ford Government for additional COVID aid

by The Niagara Independent

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.

Jim Bradley

Regional councillor Tom Insinna insists that his motion will achieve the most desirable result. Political hopeful and social crusader Steven Soos begs to differ.

boy with mask

This Regional Council needs a plumber too

by The Niagara Independent

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.

council chambers

Province provides Niagara post-secondary schools increased funding for mental health

by The Niagara Independent

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.”

Brock University aerial shot

Grey Zone has Niagara residents seeing red

by Don Rickers

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.

closed due to covid sign

Region committee seeks more info on legal expenses, lobbyist registry

by Kevin Vallier

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.

niagara region HQ

COVID Vaccine: Trudeau failed Canadians says O’Toole

by Kevin Vallier

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.

Erin O'Toole MP

Designing a game changer for rental industry

by Kevin Vallier

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.

Andrews Moses

Brock Earth Sciences professor lands Mars mission role

by The Niagara Independent

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.

mars rover

Hirji re-issues orders for shopping and dining

by Kevin Vallier

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.

an empty restaurant

COVID 19 continuing to drive tension in Niagara

by Kevin Vallier

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 […]

closed due to covid sign

Pandemic prompts universities to offer optional gradeless assessment

by Don Rickers

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?

Mcmaster University building

Niagara women vie for cover girl win while raising money for charity

by Kevin Vallier

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.

Lisa Jefferey and Sarah Blain

Possible light in the COVID tunnel

by Kevin Vallier

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.

covid asssessment centre

Back to school…again

by Kevin Vallier

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.

a teacher cleaning desks in a classroom

CEO speaks out against Region’s procurement process

by Kevin Vallier

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.

APG Neuros building

In a tough year, United Way invests record amount

by Kevin Vallier

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.

Peter Partridge Jr. and United Way CEO Frances Hallworth holding a sign sign

Company to have their day in front of Regional committee

by Kevin Vallier

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.

APG Neuros building

Hundreds expected to attend Niagara Health virtual job fair

by Kevin Vallier

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.

niagara health team

Provincial-Federal funding bails out Region at budget time

by Kevin Vallier

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.

council chambers

World of gourmet cuisine at Niagara’s doorstep despite lockdown

by Sherri Haigh

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.

plates of food on a table

MPs: Feds failed at vaccine procurement leaving Niagara short

by Kevin Vallier

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.

covid vaccine and a syringe

Martin Luther King and Canada

by Nicholas Tibollo

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.

Russel Small, Rev. Martin Luther King, Rev. Theodore Boone, Walter Perry

A crazy COVID week in Niagara

by Kevin Vallier

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.

nurse getting the covid-19 vaccine

Gale continues to probe procurement at Region

by Kevin Vallier

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.

water treatment plant

Niagara is ready for arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine

by The Niagara Independent

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.

YMCA Niagara Falls not financially fit to stay open

by Kevin Vallier

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.

YMCA gym

One man’s mission to clean up St. Catharines

by Kevin Vallier

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.

sharps containers in park

Land restrictions drive up cost of housing

by Kevin Vallier

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.

construction site

MPs battle of border opening

by Kevin Vallier

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.

Tony Baldinelli MP

Niagara Region ups 2021 budgets for water and waste

by Kevin Vallier

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.

water treatment plant

Niagara – looking back, moving forward

by Kevin Vallier

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.

niagara falls fireworks

Predictions and thoughts from TNI contributors on what 2021 might look like

by The Niagara Independent

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.

crystal ball

Man’s best friend – on and off the job

by Kevin Vallier

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.

Officer Tim Wiley with his partner Rudy

Niagara under siege with rising COVID cases

by Kevin Vallier

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.

greater Niagara General hospital

Distracted from distraction by distraction

by Bishop Gerard Bergie

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.

Most Reverend Gerard Bergie, D.D.

How Christmas lights came to be

by Nicholas Tibollo

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.

christmas lights

Boxing Day becomes Lockdown Day for Niagara and Ontario

by Kevin Vallier

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.

Premier Ford and Minister Elliott

Region’s Burgoyne Bridge Forensic Audit Resurfaces; CAO Recruitment Begins

by Kevin Vallier

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).

niagara region council chambers

One door closes…

by Kevin Vallier

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…

Joanna Gasparotto

Enhanced program aims to get people back to work faster

by Kevin Vallier

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.

Minister McNaughton in a classroom

Hamilton Auditor raises the bar for Niagara Region

by Don Rickers

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.

Hamilton city hall

Niagara’s long-term care homes get massive funding boost

by Kevin Vallier

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.

Jonathan Zwier, Director of Finance and Administration, Shalom Manor; John Peneycad, CEO, Shalom Manor; Sam Oosterhoff, MPP for Niagara West, and Carolyn Bilson, Architect with MMMC Architects.

Your Say: Readers say “No” to defunding police

by Kevin Vallier

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.

police car

Province gives permanent green light to the sale of alcohol with food takeout

by Kevin Vallier

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.”

take out booze

Audit Committee directs more study into Region’s purchasing woes

by Kevin Vallier

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 desktop with a laptop

St. Catharines MP calls local businessman “pro-death” over vaccine spat

by Kevin Vallier

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.

store of Gibby's Electronics Supermarket

KPMG: Two thirds of Region’s non-competitive purchases lacking justification

by Kevin Vallier

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 region council chambers

UPDATED: Tourism Minister makes back-to-back funding announcements in Niagara

by Kevin Vallier

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.

politicians in front of west lincoln town hall

The hidden fees that drive up housing costs

by Kevin Vallier

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.

residential development land

Rotary TV auction is all in the family for these Rotarians

by Kevin Vallier

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.

Your Say: Niagara Region should re-introduce independent audit team

by Kevin Vallier

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 region

Niagara Region remains tight-lipped over biosolids contract

by Kevin Vallier

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.

council chambers

Regional Council calls for end to local restaurant restrictions

by Kevin Vallier

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.

an empty restaurant

Massive Christmas lights display arrives at Safari Niagara

by Kevin Vallier

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.

Christmas lights display

Sincere apology more than satisfies Integrity Commissioner

by Kevin Vallier

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.

niagara region

Restaurant owners steaming over additional rules imposed by public health

by Kevin Vallier

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.

mark wood

Costco move from St. Catharines to Niagara Falls complete

by The Niagara Independent

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.

costco storefront

On the front line of caring for COVID patients

by Kevin Vallier

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.

dr ali

Majority of today’s COVID cases linked to Lincoln

by The Niagara Independent

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 […]


What Biden could mean for Niagara

by Brock Dickinson

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?

Serving country and community

by Kevin Vallier

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.

Bruce Mair


  • Politics

  • Sports

  • Business