• It’s come a long way since the days of combing through thick books of basic information or doing a simple Google search. Today, Niagara Region staff are using a highly advanced system combining various information technology applications to gather real time data on Niagara’s businesses.
    Lead by John Docker from the Planning and Development department as well as Nicole Guglielmi from the IT Solutions department and with the help of post secondary students the Niagara Region is collecting a wealth of information that will help council make strategic decisions while providing vital information to a host of various departments from transportation to economic development to community services.

    It’s a tough election year to be carrying the Liberal party flag but that hasn’t stopped Niagara Liberal candidates from soldiering on the campaign trail.
    In St. Catharines veteran MPP Jim Bradley, first elected in 1977, attempts to extend his distinguished career while on the other end of the spectrum retired teacher Benoit Mercier takes his first run at provincial politics in the riding of Niagara Centre.

    A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on sports gambling could have a major impact right here in Niagara. America’s top court struck down a longstanding federal law that had barred most state-authorized sports betting outside of Nevada. The recent ruling now makes sports betting possible nationwide south of the border. It will now be up to individual states to decide if they want to offer sports betting.  Currently there are 16 states that have expressed serious interest.

    Experts believe that if American states move quickly to offer single-game bets, it will have an enormous impact on an industry that is already losing billions to offshore companies.

    Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati continues to lobby for the same opportunity north of the U.S. border.

    And their off!

    In an odd twist to the Niagara Falls Riding’s provincial election race, a mayor and a race track CEO joined forces with the riding’s NDP candidate to criticize PC opponent Chuck McShane for vowing to improve the Fort Erie Race Track.

    McShane made what Fort Erie Mayor Wayne Redekop and race track CEO Jim Thibert called “inflammatory” comments while introducing PC Party Leader Doug Ford at a rally in Niagara Falls earlier this week. McShane pointed out that the track has been on life support since the province pulled the plug on the track’s slot machines.

    Ford Talks Jobs on Niagara Tour

    by Kevin Vallier

    Ontario PC Party Leader Doug Ford spent yesterday making stops across Niagara during his campaign tour. Ford started his day in Niagara Falls where he was joined by Niagara Falls candidate Chuck McShane and West Niagara’s Sam Oosterhoff where the three held a photo-op next to an “Ontario is Open for Business” sign that overlooked the falls.
    The setting shifted to a third floor terrace at the Marriott Hotel where the PC Leader took to the podium to discuss his plan to improve the Ontario economy and boost job creation.

    Big Thinkers to Gather in Niagara

    by Kevin Vallier

    Inspired by one of the greatest marketing and advertising minds this country has known Innovate Niagara is hosting its second annual Big Thinkers: Innovation in Business event May 16 at the First Ontario Performing Arts Centre.

    Innovate’s CEO Jeff Chesebrough said it was through a lunch meeting with marketing legend and proud St. Catharines resident, Terry O’Malley, that the event was born. “Terry said to me that we in Niagara don’t celebrate our business success enough and we need a big event to do that and to let people know what Innovate Niagara is doing,” said Chesebrough.

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

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

    Candidates Host a Conversation About Women in Politics

    by Niagara Independent Staff

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

    The Niagara Region and Brock University have formed a partnership to evaluate the impact of the Niagara Prosperity Initiative (NPI) on Niagara’s communities. Now in its 10th year, the NPI provides $1.5 million annually to support poverty reduction and prevention activities throughout the region.
    The evaluation project is supported by $470,000 in funding delivered through the Government of Ontario’s Local Poverty Reduction Fund (LPRF). The grant, administered by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, is helping Niagara Region to support those in need by identifying the effect of the NPI over the last decade.

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

    Another Horse Track Fights to Stay Alive

    by Kevin Vallier

    n early March, Mayor Steve Parish of Ajax, received the same gut wrenching news about his community that Fort Erie received in 2002.  The Wynne Liberals informed Parrish that Ajax Downs, home of quarter horse racing, was losing its slots and the revenues and jobs that went along with it.

    “We are still in the dark,” said Mayor Parish in an interview with The Niagara Independent. “It appears that the government has signed off on the relocation of the slots but there is a provincial election coming up and we will see what, if any, impact that has.”

    Tomorrow marks the start of Overdose Awareness Week in Ontario, and Glenn Walker hopes residents will understand the serious impact of the opioid crisis in our community. The executive director of Street Works says Niagara is facing one of the highest rates of drug overdoses in Ontario and it’s not going away quickly. “We’ve had a dramatic increase in the need for services, supplies and training over the past 4 years,” says Walker. He points to the 1.6 million needles distributed in Niagara last year. “And we had a return of between 70 and 80 percent of the used needles,” he says, “which is one of the highest return rates in the province.” Over 460 Naloxone kits were distributed through the program. 

    Statistics from Niagara Regional Public Health reveal 40 deaths, 297 opioid poisoning emergency department visits and 82 hospitalizations in 2016. Death data for 2017 is still considered to be preliminary.

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

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

    National Recognition for Brock Student Scientists

    by Niagara Independent Staff

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

    Niagara Falls Hotel Tax Put to Rest

    by Kevin Vallier

    After years of angry tourists, controversy, confusion and negative publicity regarding the Destination Marketing Fee (DMF), Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati knew something needed to be done to fix the problem. That something was a standardized $2 per room, per night fee that will begin Jan. 1 and apply to all accommodations in the city. It is estimated to generate around $5 million annually. City council passed staff’s recommendation of the fee at this week’s council meeting.

    The fee will be in place for five years and will be reviewed after three years. Funds generated will support major events in Niagara Falls like the New Year’s Eve celebration, fireworks and concerts.  The newly formed Niagara Falls Hotel Association will distribute the funds.  There are currently 132 hotels/motels in Niagara Falls for a total of 13,500 rooms.

    “Doug Ford is fully committed to bringing GO train to Niagara if he forms a government in June.” This was the reassurance given to Niagara Regional Chair, Alan Caslin, during a meeting with senior policy staff, Brock Vandrick, Director of Stakeholders and Shakir Chambers, Ford’s policy advisor in Toronto on Tuesday.

    Concern arose following a comment made by Ford during a visit to Welland earlier this month. When asked for his position on GO for Niagara, Ford announced that he would need time to thoroughly review the plan drafted by the Liberal Government. This comment raised concern that he was not on board with the timetable set by Kathleen Wynne’s government. Although some reports stated Ford was not on board with supporting GO coming to Niagara, what he was actually asked was if he would commit to advancing the timeline from 2023 to 2021.

    As another tourism season approaches the Niagara businesses that rely on the influx of visitors eagerly anticipate the busy months and cross their fingers for good weather. The Niagara tourism sector has evolved over the years with some amazing success stories but like any industry there are always challenges looming around the corner.

    One of the big players in Niagara’s tourism sector is Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours. Heading into their twenty-sixth season of operation their owner John Kinney can’t help but smile with some degree of satisfaction when he remembers people saying the business wouldn’t last long.

    “When we first told people what we wanted to do they rolled their eyes and said it wouldn’t last three or four months,” said Kinney. “One boat became two, which became four which became eight.”

    Port Dalhousie Condo Projects Await their Fate

    by Niagara Independent Staff

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

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

    The St. Catharines provincial election contest is beginning to fill out its dance card. Last week the Tories selected St. Catharines City Councillor Sandie Bellows as their candidate. Shortly thereafter the NDP selected Bellows’ councillor colleague Jennifer (Jennie) Stevens as their candidate.

    Stevens is employed at Hotel Dieu Shaver Health and Rehabilitation Centre. She is married with two children and one grandchild.

    Two things may surprise a lot of people in Niagara. One is that sixty per cent of Ontario’s power is nuclear. The second is that one of the biggest players in helping to provide that power is a Niagara company that started out as a small plumbing and heating shop more than eight decades ago.

    E.S. Fox Ltd., the Niagara based contracting company and one of the largest third generation companies in Canada, is playing an important role in the refurbishment of this province’s nuclear generating stations.  In fact, the company has being doing nuclear work for over 40 years. Currently nearly half of the company’s tradespeople are working in nuclear.

    In a disturbing trend that seems to have developed over the past couple of years in Niagara, a municipal/regional council meeting was hijacked by a special interest group (in this case a group called SORE – Save Our Randwood Estate) displayed what those in attendance and local media described as rude, ignorant and disrespectful behaviour during a Niagara-on-the-Lake meeting Monday night.

    In addition, councillor Jamie King described the actions of the SORE group as “not civil, not constructive and not healthy”.

    The issue at hand is a planned development in Niagara-on-the-Lake, a town known for its not-in-my-backyard stance on practically every development proposal that comes forward. In this instance, Two Sisters Resort Corp., lead by developer Benny Marotta, has a proposal before the town for a hotel and conference centre on the Randwood Estate property located on John Street. Marotta purchased the property, which is zoned commercial, for $8 million.

    In his ascent to the top spot in the Niagara Regional Police Service, 54-year-old Bryan MacCulloch is rising to meet the challenges that come with being Chief. After serving in various roles over his 30-plus-year career, he recognizes that his view now is much more encompassing.
    Now in his seventh month at the helm, MacCulloch is seeing things up close. “We have 12 municipalities, 12 mayors, and a regional layer,” he points out; “a lot of people have a vested interest in wanting to see that policing is done right. It’s hard at times, serving all the masters, while staying focused on our function to deliver the highest quality of policing that we can, within a limited budget.”

    Niagara PC Women Get Ready for Provincial Campaign

    by Niagara Independent Staff

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

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

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

    Niagara’s Economy Better Than Ever

    by Kevin Vallier

    Despite calls for “a better Niagara” from some political hopefuls in the Region it appears one sector that is doing just fine is the regional economy. Blake Landry, Manager of Economic Research and Analysis, along with Regional Chair Alan Caslin, walked through the latest economic findings with reporters this week.

    It’s the first time in the Region’s history that such detailed economic statistics have been researched, compiled and analyzed. The results are impressive. Landry, who worked in Economic Development through the recession of 2008-2009, said he’s never seen this level of job creation in Niagara. Landry said the unemployment rate in Niagara in those dark economic years hovered around 11 to 12 percent. Now it is just over five per cent.

    While much of the focus regarding the province’s Bill 148 – Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, which contains a slew of items that has created huge cost increases to employers, has been focused on private businesses there is an entirely different sector that has been hit just as hard if not harder – the not for profit sector. A November 22, 2017 story in The Financial Post called the legislation “both a massive boon and possible job-killer for Canada’s most populous province.”

    The legislation called for implementation of a significant raise in the minimum wage, an almost immediate increase from $11.60 to $14 an hour as of January 1, 2018 (less than two months after passage), and then up again to $15 an hour as of January 1, 2019.

    It’s Not About GO or No GO

    by Kevin Vallier

    After last week’s stop in Welland and St. Catharines, Doug Ford left a flurry of transit controversy in his wake. It was being reported that the PC Party Leader was not on-side with GO train service coming to the Region after Ford made a comment in Welland at M.T. Bellies that he would need to review the plan. As one might expect, social media was on fire with politicians and residents weighing in on what this means for the future of GO train service in Niagara.

    Ford wasn’t asked if he would support GO coming to Niagara. He was asked if he could speed up the process and deliver GO by 2021. The actual scheduled timeline for the arrival of the green-and-white double-decker trains is 2023. Regional council has been lobbying the government to get that date pushed up to 2021 to have the transportation service ready for the Canada Summer Games.

    Niagara IceDogs team pastor, Moe Gillard, did a lot of reflecting over the weekend in the wake of the horrific bus crash that claimed the lives of 15 players, coaches and staff of the Humboldt Broncos Junior A hockey team in Saskatchewan.

    While watching the Sunday evening’s service, one of the comments that the Bronco’s team chaplain made resonated with Pastor Moe, as he’s affectionately known by the IceDogs’ players and staff. “Their chaplain, Sean Brandow, said that while the players play for the name on the front of their hockey jersey, he prays for the name on the back,” said Pastor Gillard.

    Niagara College (NC) officially opened its Green Automotive Technology Lab this week. The college says students in its Automotive Service Technician Apprenticeship, Motive Power Technician, and Motive Power Techniques programs will have a competitive advantage over students in similar programs thanks to new technology and facilities now available in the lab.

    As the future of the automotive industry enters a time of ever changing technology, the lab will be critical in preparing students in NC’s Motive Power programs for the rapidly evolving automotive sector by giving them access to the technology and tools that are driving that change.

    With Rocky theme song Eye of the Tiger pumping out of the ballroom speakers, Ontario PC Party leader Doug Ford took to the stage to a thunderous applause Wednesday night from more than 400 supporters. The entrance fit Ford’s boisterous and man-of-the-people personality. A rousing standing ovation greeted the former Toronto City councillor turned Ontario premier hopeful. He wasted no time firing up the party faithful.

    Ford was at M.T. Bellies in Welland earlier in the afternoon and met with local business leaders at the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce prior to his arrival at the Holiday Inn on Ontario Street in St. Catharines. He was introduced to the enthusiastic crowd by Niagara West-Glanbrook MPP, Sam Oosterhoff.

    Niagara News Briefs

    by Niagara Independent Staff

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

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

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

    The United Way of St. Catharines and District has wrapped up its final campaign, under its current governance structure, in record-setting fashion raising an unprecedented 3.8 million dollars. This marks the most successful year in the organization’s 64-year history.

    The money raised will fund more than 70 programs and special initiatives helping nearly 100,000 people in Niagara, including the most vulnerable citizens; at-risk youth, adults with disabilities, and people living in poverty.

    Province Releases Pre-Election Budget

    by Kevin Vallier

    Ontario’s Minister of Finance, Charles Sousa has presented the Liberal Government’s last budget before the June election. Although filled with a number of interesting proposals and big-spending initiatives in a variety of areas, the question remains how will it be paid for?

    Not surprisingly, local reaction by sitting MPPs, as well as candidates for the upcoming election, has been mixed. Long-time St. Catharines Liberal MPP Jim Bradley praised the budget for the number of progressive policies including a significant investment in mental health and addiction services, a provincial drug and dental program, free child-care for kids two and half years old (up to the time they start kindergarten,) and a significant investment of 822 million dollars for hospitals. “It’s a budget that reflects what we heard from people during the consultation phase,” said Bradley.

    Significant job creation, an active construction industry and the largest community consultation process the Region has ever held were three highlights of the State-of-the-Region address this past Wednesday. Regional Chair Alan Caslin delivered updates on these and other topics in his annual speech to business and community leaders held at the Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls.

    Something new for this year was the addition of municipal leader colleagues Hamilton Mayor, Fred Eisenberger, and Waterloo Regional Chairman, Ken Seiling.  Eisenberger, Seiling and Caslin participated in a roundtable discussion moderated by Niagara Workforce Planning Board CEO, Mario De Divitiis.

    Niagara College Celebrates Achieving Dreams Campaign

    by Niagara Independent Staff

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

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

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

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

    The Wynne Liberal government, continued their post-throne speech tour across Ontario ahead of the formal provincial budget to be held March 28th.  On Friday they made a multi-year funding announcement for the Ontario horse-racing industry.  They have pledged over 100 million dollars per year for 19 years, conveniently starting in 2019 after the next election.  Not surprisingly, many are seeing this as a cynical attempt to buy votes by putting yet another bauble in the window. 

    In Niagara, it is reminiscent of the 2014 election promise to build a brand new, state-of-the-art hospital in south Niagara Falls, a promise that came complete with billboard and on-site press conference.  The billboard is still there, but no hospital. 

    A Decade of Innovating Niagara

    by Kevin Vallier

    It was nearly a decade ago, April 8, 2008, that Jeff Chesebrough walked into One St. Paul Street with his own personal laptop, no staff, no board, no policies and no money. He couldn’t have been more excited. It was the start of a bold new initiative for Niagara. It was the start of trying to shift the mindset of a traditionally blue-collar industrial region into a high-tech, start-up, job-creating machine.

    From market intelligence-research companies, to video-game developers, Innovate Niagara and its network of incubators: iHub, The Generator at One, BioLinc (Brock University), Vineland Research Station and Research & Innovation (Niagara College) have spawned one success story after another. The hip office space is abuzz with activity. You can feel the energy as you walk through the halls watching bright young minds turn concepts into reality.

    Niagara residents crossing the Peace Bridge for a Sabres game, or a pound of wings, will have noticed some significant construction taking place on the international crossing.

    A 186-million-dollar, three-year rehabilitation project to the Peace Bridge in Fort Erie is two-thirds of the way complete, and according to officials things are moving along nicely.  After a somewhat rocky beginning in which original plans called for an actual twinning of the bridge, the capital project has moved along relatively smoothly. Improvements include a rebuild of the U.S. customs plaza, a widening of the bridge approach on the U.S. side, and a complete restructuring of the bridge-deck including widening of the sidewalk for pedestrian and bike traffic, a new overlook, railings and lighting.

    The project is fully self-financed. There are no tax dollars involved.

    As Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati prepares for his annual state of the city address there is one area of concern that he won’t let go without a fight. Despite well articulated arguments by local politicians at all levels and from all parties, as well as experts from the gaming industry, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation continues to move forward with its request for proposal (RFP) on new operators for Niagara’s two casinos.

    The process made headlines several months ago when it was speculated that the current RFP, as it is written, could potentially result in the loss of 14 hundred jobs. Some argued it was fear-mongering, but as the process played out and Diodati and others dug deeper into the numbers, it appears the job losses could very well be a reality.

    Local MPPs Mum on Hamilton NDP Constituency Offices in Turmoil

    by Niagara Independent Staff

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

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

    A century after it first opened its doors at a ferry landing in Fort Erie, customs brokerage and logistics company, Willson International, is celebrating its 100th anniversary helping clients navigate cross-border trade between Canada and the United States.

    While the fourth-generation, family-owned and operated business has grown and diversified its services significantly over the decades, its primary goal remains the same today as it did when it began in 1918 — helping companies across North America manage their supply chains so they can focus on the day-to-day challenges of running their businesses.

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

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

    Niagara Falls Ontario Liberals set to Nominate Dean Demizio

    by Niagara Independent Staff

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

    Local PC Candidates Ready to Roll with Ford as Leader

    by Niagara Independent Staff

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

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

    Police Chief Buyout – Why the High Cost?

    by Kevin Vallier

    Former Niagara Regional Police Chief Jeff Maguire and the current Police Services Board agreed to part ways in June of 2017. It wasn’t until early this year that the cost of that “buyout” was made public causing the typical social media firestorm anytime public money is used in a manner in which armchair politicians deem inappropriate.

    What hasn’t been discussed however is how the Chief ended up with a three-year contract extension by the previous Police Services Board, seemingly going unnoticed, just before they turned things over to the incoming Board. McGuire became Niagara’s top cop in 2012 when he arrived from Toronto and his contract was to run to 2017.