Fort Erie Mayor Wayne Redekop discusses Fort Erie infrastructure gap

by The Niagara Independent

Fort Erie is facing an infrastructure gap of $29.2 million. Pictured: Fort Erie Mayor Wayne Redekop. Photo Credit: Town of Fort Erie.  The newly-released asset management plan for the Town of Fort Erie, prepared by GEI Consultants, indicates Fort Erie is facing an infrastructure gap of $29.2 million. An infrastructure gap is the gap between […]

Twenty-eight of the approved convenience stores are in Niagara Falls, five are in Welland, two are in Niagara-on-the-Lake and one is in St. Catharines. Photo Credit: iStock.  As the province-wide LCBO union strike reaches its two-week mark, corner stores across Niagara are preparing to sell alcohol. Provincial rules will now permit corner stores to sell […]

Despite the fact that more than 70 of the 500 other Canadian municipalities that applied were granted extensive federal funding, Niagara Falls was not a recipient. Photo Credit: iStock. In 2023, the federal Housing Accelerator Fund (HAF) was introduced through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The program has been providing funds from a […]

Canada-wide rents experienced a 0.8 per cent month-over-month increase and a rather significant 7.0 per cent year-over-year increase. Photo Credit: iStock.  The average one-bedroom rent in St. Catharines was up 2.9 per cent month-over-month to $1,728 in June 2024, according to the latest market update. However, one-bedroom rents are up just 0.9 per cent […]

The Rotary Club of Fonthill is excited to match exchange students with families with whom they can stay. Pictured:  Incoming student Maria from Brazil. Photo Supplied.  It may be the dog-days of summer, but preparations for the 2024-25 school year are already well underway. Here in Niagara, the Rotary Club of Fonthill is excited to […]

Last month, 541 homes were sold in Niagara Region. That compares to 609 homes in June of 2023. Photo Credit: iStock.  The Niagara Association of Realtors (NAR) released its June market update on the local housing market, noting that fewer homes were sold last month than during the same month in 2023.  Last month, 541 […]

Ontario government taking action to help newcomers pursue health careers

by Nick Redekop

The In-Demand Skills stream of the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program will now recognize fifty-six occupations (up from twenty-two), allowing more highly-skilled workers to join the workforce in a shorter period of time. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock Images.  As Ontario’s public health-care system seeks to grapple with rapidly expanding needs, the demand for qualified industry professionals […]

Vape detectors coming to Niagara Region schools

by Jay Goldberg

Thirty per cent of youth between the ages of 15 and 19 tried vaping in 2022, at an age when they’re not allowed to legally purchase any tobacco products. Photo Credit: iStock. Major changes for Niagara Region’s schools are in the works while students are gone for the summer, as plans are underway to install […]

Niagara Falls Councillor seeks to strengthen property standards by-law

by Nick Redekop

Councillor Mona Patel believes that action must be taken to ensure that grass and weeds are kept under control on both residential and corporately owned properties. Pictured: Councillor Mona Patel. Photo Credit: City of Niagara Falls.  The City of Niagara Falls is a world-renowned tourist destination. The municipality is known for its natural beauty, proximity […]

Lord Mayor Gary Zalepa was among those who voted in favour of the proposal both times. Pictured: Niagara-on-the-Lake council. Photo Credit: City of Niagara-on-the-Lake.  A major new development was approved by Niagara-on-the-Lake councillors despite councillors having recommended the rejection of the same application when meeting as the planning committee just two weeks prior.  When council met […]

Liberals could lose all Niagara area seats in next election: Expert

by Jay Goldberg

If the 25-point swing in Toronto-St. Paul’s were to occur in Ontario in next year’s federal election, the Liberals would be left with no seats in the Niagara area or in Hamilton. Pictured: Liberal MPs Chris Bittle and Vance Badawey. Photo Credit: Vance Badawey/X.  In a stunning upset last week, Conservative candidate Don Stewart won […]

Howells Farm opens early for 50th season

by Nick Redekop

As July begins, the farm is currently employing 6-8 staff members. With peak season just around the corner, however, Howell says that number will soon grow exponentially. Photo Credit: Howells Farms.  Niagara residents and tourists are being afforded a special treat this year. Howells Farm, the beloved destination for Autumn fun in Fonthill, has opened […]

Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours launches innovative Historical Freedom Tour

by Nick Redekop

School is out and the dog days of summer are on the horizon. As locals and tourists alike consider which of the various local attractions to visit, there is a new experience available to them. Photo Credit: Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours. Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours, which began serving the public in 1992, has once again […]

Niagara Region’s property taxes some of the highest in Canada: Report

by Jay Goldberg

The average property tax levied on a home worth $500,000 in Niagara Region is $7,421. That’s nearly $1,000 more than nearby Waterloo and Kitchener. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock Images.  Niagara Region residents pay some of the highest property taxes in Canada, according to a new report by Zoocasa. The average property tax rate for a […]

The complex will be located on a 0.25-hectare site west of Allendale Avenue, on the south side of Main Street, and will provide accommodation options for middle-class families. Pictured: Rendering of 20-story development. Photo Credit: City of Niagara Falls Staff Report.  As the City of Niagara Falls continues to experience rapid population growth, the need […]

St. Catharines is the 26th most expensive city to rent a one-bedroom unit out of the 35 Canadian cities examined. Photo Credit: iStock.  The average one-bedroom rent in St. Catharines was up 0.5 per cent month-over-month to $1,663 in May 2024, according to the latest market update. However, one-bedroom rents are down 0.5 per […]

Local author pens children’s book about living in Welland

by Nick Redekop

Welland Chief Engagement Officer Marc MacDonald recently wrote a children’s book, entitled Wonders of Welland, which showcases life in the locale throughout the year.  The City of Welland, like so many municipalities across southern Ontario, is experiencing exponential population growth. This is happening as potential residents identify terrific opportunities for career growth, as well as […]

Region to review flag raising policy following Israel-Gaza conflict

by Jay Goldberg

Recommended changes will be considered by council at a meeting next week, on June 28. Pictured: Regional Chair Jim Bradley. Photo Credit: Niagara Region.  Niagara Region’s Corporate Services Committee is recommending that Niagara Regional Council change its policies to prevent the flying of foreign flags after controversy broke out when an Israeli flag was raised […]

Over 70 arrests have been made over the past three years throughout the country for so-called grandparent scam crimes, including at least one in every Canadian province. Photo Credit: Facebook/Niagara Region Police Service.  The Niagara Regional Police Service (NRPS) is warning local seniors about so-called “Grandparent Scams” after receiving a number of complaints throughout the […]

The Ontario government recently committed $624,788 to improve Seniors Active Living Centres and their programming throughout Niagara. Pictured: Minister of Seniors and Accessibility Raymond Cho. Photo Credit: Raymond Cho/X.  As the benefits of an active lifestyle to overall health and vibrance continue coming into focus, there is a growing need to provide opportunities for senior […]

Aspiring tradespeople will be able to access instruction and mentorship from seasoned professionals. Pictured: Associate Minister of Energy and Niagara West MPP Sam Ooosterhoff. Photo Credit: Sam Oosterhoff/X.  The need for skilled trades has never been greater in the province of Ontario or the Niagara Region. With this reality in mind, the Ontario government has […]

Niagara real estate market shows signs of slowing compared to 2023: Report

by Jay Goldberg

The benchmark price for May was $653,900. That’s up from April, but it’s also nearly $10,000 lower than the $663,800 benchmark price was in May of 2023.  The Niagara Association of Realtors (NAR) released its May market update on the local housing market, noting that fewer homes were sold last month than during the same […]

Oosterhoff reflects on cabinet appointment

by Nick Redekop

Oosterhoff was appointed as the province’s new associate minister of energy last week. Pictured: Sam Oosterhoff. Photo Credit: Sam Oosterhoff/X.  Last week, Premier Doug Ford tapped Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff as the new Associate Minister of Energy for the province of Ontario. The appointment, which was part of Ford’s most recent cabinet shuffle, took […]

Breaking down the threat of CBSA job action

by Nick Redekop

The key demands of CBSA include higher wages, enhanced retirement plans and more opportunities to work remotely. Photo Credit: Shutterstock.  Summer has arrived for border communities across Canada and the United States. Businesses in municipalities such as Niagara Falls and Fort Erie have been looking forward to another opportunity to recover from the pandemic by […]

Oosterhoff appointed to cabinet in Ford’s latest shuffle

by The Niagara Independent

Oosterhoff becomes the associate minister of energy-intensive industries, reporting to the minister of energy and electrification. Pictured: Sam Oosterhoff. Photo Credit: Sam Oosterhoff/X.  Premier Doug Ford has shuffled his cabinet, with local MPP Sam Oosterhoff joining the ranks of Ford’s inner circle. Oosterhoff has been the Member of Provincial Parliament from Niagara West since 2016. […]

The motion was in support of a policy change being advanced by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. Pictured: Welland City Council. Photo Credit: City of Welland.  Welland councillors passed a motion last week calling on the Ford government to update the municipal code of conduct and strengthen enforcement measures.  The motion was in support […]

Council is not in complete agreement about the amount of space needed for parking. Photo Credit: City of Niagara Falls. For many years, Lundy’s Lane in Niagara Falls has been home to the Super Putt miniature golf course, a destination that attracted families celebrating birthdays and other occasions, as well as tourists visiting the area […]

Niagara school board joins lawsuit targeting social media giants

by Jay Goldberg

Social media use, so says the lawsuit, has altered students’ mental wiring and damaged their ability to learn and fully participate in school. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock Images. The District School Board of Niagara has joined with several other Ontario school boards in filing a lawsuit against a handful of social media giants. The lawsuit […]

Annual walk to end ALS taking place in Niagara this weekend

by Nick Redekop

The event aims to raise awareness and funds for a rare and debilitating condition impacting thousands of families across the country. Photo Credit: Walk to End ALS Ontario. On Saturday, June 1, hundreds of Niagara residents will come together at the St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canals Centre Lock 3 to embark on a five […]

Presentation pitches redevelopment partnership for Toronto Power

by Jay Goldberg

Pearle Hospitality, an Ontario-based hospitality company, is pitching a $200-million plan to develop and restore Toronto Power. Photo Credit: Niagara Parks.  At last week’s Niagara Regional Council meeting, Niagara Parks Chair Bob Gale and CEO David Adames provided an update on the state of Niagara Parks as an organization and the plans it has for […]

Province building new Catholic elementary school in Niagara Falls

by Nick Redekop

This cutting-edge educational institution will create 363 spaces for elementary-aged students and will be located at Kalar and McLeod Road. Pictured: MPP Sam Oosterhoff talking with students on the grounds of the future elementary school. Photo Credit: Sam Oosterhoff/X.  Another major construction project is commencing in Niagara Falls as the government of Ontario has announced […]

Niagara Region budget process receives poor grade from C.D. Howe Institute

by Jay Goldberg

Niagara Region received a D grade, only marginally better than the F received by Hamilton, London and Windsor. Pictured: Niagara Region Chair Jim Bradley. Photo Credit: Niagara Region.  A major Canadian think tank gave Niagara Region a D grade when it comes to its 2023 budget process, criticizing the budget’s lack of transparency and lateness. […]

Diodati leads push for dynamic parking pricing

by Jay Goldberg

At Diodati’s behest, Niagara Falls City Council will discuss the idea of dynamic parking pricing at its May 28 meeting. Photo Credit: iStock.  Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati is leading a new push to implement dynamic pricing in public parking areas. Diodati says that after hundreds of thousands flocked to Niagara Falls to watch and […]

The skilled trades are coming back into leading focus at both the secondary and post-secondary levels. Photo Credit: Facebook/Niagara Catholic District School Board The need for skilled tradespeople is rapidly growing across the Niagara Region. With this reality in mind, the Niagara Catholic District School Board (NCDSB), Niagara College (NC) and the Niagara Home Builders […]

City of Niagara Falls hosting free Touch-a-Truck event for families

by Nick Redekop

Admission to Touch-A-Truck is free. Photo Credit: City of Niagara Falls.  This week is National Public Works Week across Canada and the United States. It presents a unique opportunity to provide the public with first-hand knowledge of the important role that public works careers play in maintaining essential services and continuously improving quality of life […]

Niagara economic growth may outpace province and nation in coming years

by Nick Redekop

Niagara Region’s Blake Landry is bullish that the economic development and growth of the region could outperform both Ontario and Canada over the next couple of years. Photo Credit: The Niagara Independent.  Earlier this month, Blake Landry, Economic Research and Analysis Manager for the Niagara Region, delivered his forecast for the coming months and years […]

Photo Credit: X/Fordnation   On Tuesday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford visited Niagara for a landmark announcement. Asahi Kasei Corporation, a world renowned Japanese chemical company, shared their plans to operate a cutting-edge battery component plant in the City of Port Colborne. The facility will cost $1.6 billion to construct […]

Niagara City Cruises celebrates 10th anniversary

by Nick Redekop

Photo Credit: Facebook/Niagara City Cruises  As families across Canada gear up for the unofficial kick-off to summer this weekend, one of the nation’s most famous tourist attractions is marking a significant milestone. Niagara City Cruises, led by Niagara native businessman Mory Di Maurizio, celebrated 10 years of providing boat tours for Niagara falls visitors on […]

Honda selects Port Colborne for first-of-its-kind EV separator plant

by The Niagara Independent

Lakeside community’s economy set for a supercharge. Photo credit: Facebook/City of Port Colborne   In the latest chapter of Canada’s big push to make the country a global-leading electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing hub, Honda has chosen Port Colborne as the location of its new lithium ion separator plant.  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Premier Doug Ford, […]

Niagara Falls Exchange grand opening slated for Saturday, May 18th

by Nick Redekop

The first 100 people to attend the inaugural day of operations will receive a Niagara Falls Exchange tote bag. Photo Credit: The Exchange    This Saturday will be a historic day for Niagara Falls as The Exchange, the city’s new cultural hub and home of the Farmer’s Market, opens its doors to the public. The […]

Midwives across the province will now be able to complete more prescriptions and administer new medications, among other changes. Photo Credit: iStock.  The Ontario government is taking more action to reduce patient wait times and ensure that medical care is provided with maximum efficiency. Midwives across the province will now be able to complete more […]

There were 602 sales in Niagara Region last month. That’s up from 560 sales in April of 2023.  The Niagara Association of Realtors (NAR) released its April market update on the local housing market, noting that more homes were on the market last month than a year prior. In April, 1,396 residential properties were on […]

The final sale was valued at $35 million and marks the conclusion of an extensive process of consideration that began in the summer of 2021. Photo Credit: City of Welland.  As the city of Welland continues to experience rapid growth, negotiations between the municipality and prospective land developers have been heating up.  The most recent […]

Campion and DiMarco clash at Welland council meeting

by Jay Goldberg

DiMarco ultimately left the meeting partway through, having participated virtually. Pictured: Welland Mayor Frank Campion and Councillor Tony DiMarco. Photo Credit: Niagara Region/City of Welland.  Fireworks were flying at an April 23 council meeting in Welland as Mayor Frank Campion clashed with Councillor Tony DiMarco (Ward 4). This followed a tiff between the two at […]

Rotary seeks to provide practical contributions that will enhance the academic and extracurricular endeavors of students. Pictured: Crossley rowing team members: front, left to right with cheque, Coach Patrick MacNally, Carolyn Mullin, Carole Irwin, Katie Irwin E.L. Crossley’s Secondary School Rowing Program and the FirstOntario Performing Arts imPACt Education Series received special recognition this spring […]

Proceeds from the fundraiser will be utilized to provide direct assistance to children with health challenges and special needs. Pictured: Justin and Courtney De Caire with children Andrew and Connor at Niagara Children’s Centre’s 2024 Help Kids Shine launch event. Photo Supplied On Wednesday May 1st, the Niagara Children’s Centre kicked off its 2024 Help […]

Bob Gale appointed Niagara Parks Commission Chair

by Nick Redekop

Bob Gale’s term as NPC Chair is scheduled to end on April 10, 2025. Pictured: Incoming NPC Chair Bob Gale. Photo Credit: Niagara Region.  Ontario Premier Doug Ford has appointed local businessman and Niagara Falls Regional Councillor Bob Gale as the next Chairman of the Niagara Parks Commission (NPC). Gale, a lifelong Niagara resident, will […]

Integrity Commissioner finds Grimsby Councillor violated Code of Conduct

by Nick Redekop

While the Integrity Commissioner did not find Councillor Veronica Charrois culpable of harassment, it was his view that she did clearly violate the Code of Conduct for Town Council. Pictured: Grimsby Mayor Jeff Jordan and Ward 3 Councillor Veronica Charrois. Photo Credit: Town of Grimsby.  A long-standing confrontation between Grimsby Mayor Jeff Jordan and Councillor […]

Two back-to-back theft cases in Wainfleet

by Jay Goldberg

Crime in Niagara Region remains a concern for many. Photo Credit: Facebook/NRPS. On Monday, the Niagara Region Police Service put out two news releases dealing with theft: in one case, an ATV was stolen, while in another, a suspect was charged with breaking and entering. The ATV incident occurred on Saturday, April 20. At just […]

Tim Hortons Smile Cookie campaign to benefit local charities

by Jay Goldberg

Tim Hortons’ smile week will run from April 29 to May 5 this year. Smile Cookies cost $1.50 and proceeds are given to local charities across the country. Photo Credit: Tim Hortons.  Tim Hortons launched its Smile Cookie program back in 1996 as a way of raising funds for charities. It started with raising funds […]

Ford government announces refurbishment of Niagara Falls’ hydroelectric dams

by Jay Goldberg

Combined, the Sir Adam Beck dams provide about nine per cent of the province’s electricity, which is the equivalent of powering 1.7 million homes. Pictured: Ontario Energy Minister Todd Smith. Photo Credit: Todd Smith/X.  The government of Ontario has announced it is spending $1 billion to extend the lifecycle of the province’s largest hydroelectric dams, […]

Fonthill Rotary Club prepares to reward community builders and volunteers

by Nick Redekop

Residents are encouraged to consider nominating deserving community members prior to the deadline for this year’s intake on April 30. Pictured: 2023 Paul Harris Fellow Recipients. Left to Right: Michael Jacques, Marcelle Jacques, Paul Snack, Ann Harrison, Zachary Snack, Carol Berkhout. The Fonthill Rotary Club is looking forward to once again honouring the contributions of […]

Fourplex spat between Queen’s Park and Ottawa has local implications

by Jay Goldberg

Given the federal requirement for funds, more municipalities may choose to embrace fourplexes in the months to come. Pictured: Ontario Premier Doug Ford. Photo Credit: Doug Ford/X.  Premier Doug Ford has been in a recent back-and-forth with the Trudeau government in Ottawa about whether the province should force all municipalities to allow for the construction […]

Garden City Skyway expansion taking shape

by Nick Redekop

The Ontario Government hopes that the construction phase of the twinning project will commence in 2026. Photo Credit: Mayor Mat Siscoe/Facebook  Earlier this month, the Ontario government officially requested proposals to proceed with the Garden City Skyway expansion on the Queen Elizabeth Highway. The news has been heralded as a major step forward in the […]

Valdez and Badawey announce new housing policies in Niagara Region

by Jay Goldberg

Many of the Trudeau government’s critics suggest that all this announcement will do is lead to Canadians taking on even more debt and does nothing to solve the housing crisis. Pictured: Minister of Small Business Rechie Valdez and MP Vance Badawey. Photo Credit: Vance Badawey/X.  Canada’s Minister of Small Business, Rechie Valdez, was in Niagara […]

Niagara sees ‘alarming growth’ in number of residents using food banks

by The Niagara Independent

New Brock University policy brief reveals several municipalities experienced an over-50 per cent increase in food bank usage between 2022 and 2023. Photo credit: Pexels/Julia M Cameron   In a trend that “does not show any signs of slowing down,” Niagara’s food banks are being stretched thin.  According to a new policy brief from Brock […]

Construction of new school completed in Beamsville

by Nick Redekop

The new school provides 1,533 new secondary spaces for local students. It also includes a community theatre and greenhouse. Photo Credit: Sam Oosterhoff/X.  The community of Beamsville received $50.4 million from the provincial government to build the new West Niagara Secondary School. The project is now complete, and the grand opening ceremony was held last […]

Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati noted that Regional Chair Jim Bradley’s emergency declaration made tourists nervous about coming to Niagara Falls. Pictured:  Mayor Jim Diodati (left) Niagara Region Chair Jim Bradley (right). Photo Credit: Niagara Regional Municipality.  The number of visitors to Niagara Falls for the eclipse was less than expected, and Niagara Falls Mayor […]

The total solar eclipse, which has been anticipated by celestial enthusiasts for years, attracted approximately one million people to the city of Niagara Falls alone. Photo Credit: Steven Levitt Monday, April 8, 2024, provided much of North America with an astronomical spectacle that will not recur in this century. The total solar eclipse, which has […]

In March, 1,167 residential properties were on the market, compared to 1,046 in 2023. The average sale time was 43 days last month, slightly longer than it was one year ago. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock Images.  The Niagara Association of Realtors (NAR) released its March market update on the local housing market, noting that more […]

Guinness Book of World Records in Niagara Falls for solar eclipse

by Nick Redekop

The goal is to have the greatest number of people dressed up as the sun at one time. Photo Credit: CIty of Niagara Falls The April 8, 2024, solar eclipse will be a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon. It will be, in fact, the only time that a complete solar eclipse will be visible in the Greater Toronto […]

Across the province of Ontario, 300,570 government employees were on the sunshine list for 2023, which is an increase of more than 10 per cent from the total in 2022. Pictured: Former Niagara Region Police Chief Bryan MacCulloch. Photo Credit: NRPS.  Ontario’s sunshine list of government employees earning more than $100,000 was released last month […]

Niagara residents rally to ‘axe the tax’

by Nick Redekop

Conservative Finance Critic Jasraj Singh Hallan is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to dissolve Parliament call an election, arguing that Canadians should be able to directly weigh-in on Trudeau’s carbon tax plan. Pictured: Conservative Finance Critic Jasraj Singh Hallan and Conservative candidate Fred Davies. Photo Supplied.   On March 27, local residents from various […]

A St. Catharines take on Mulroney’s legacy

by Nick Redekop

In the weeks since Mulroney’s passing, former MP Kenneth Atkinson has been thinking back to many fond memories from his time serving as a Conservative Member of Parliament. Pictured: Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Photo Credit: Parliament of Canada.  Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s state funeral took place in Montreal on Saturday, March 23, with […]

After significant debate, Councillor Diana Huson’s motion was narrowly defeated in a 14 to 12 vote. Pictured: Regional Councillor Diana Huson. Photo Credit: Diana Huson/X.    Niagara Regional Council is narrowly divided over whether to publicly side with the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) and against the Ford government over a disagreement about whether subsidies for […]

How Ontario’s 2024 budget impacts Niagara

by The Niagara Independent

More money for primary care, increased GO service, and a big boost for local winemakers. Photo credit: LinkedIn/Doug Ford.   Earlier this week, the Ford government released its 2024 budget.  The plan, entitled Building a Better Ontario, represents the provincial government’s attempt to balance fiscal responsibility in uncertain economic times with the need to continue […]

Local churches prepare for Easter

by Nick Redekop

As the young church has gotten up and running, Pastor Liam Wilson says that the leaders and congregants of Harbour have been extremely supportive every step of the way. Photo Credit: Pony Church. With Easter weekend commencing across the country, local churches have once again been holding services and ministering to the community throughout holy […]

Niagara gearing up for generational solar eclipse event

by Nick Redekop

The event, which will span the entirety of the afternoon and peak around 3pm ET, will result in pitch black conditions, and will be a once in a lifetime experience. Photo Credit: Wikipedia   On April 8, citizens across North America will be treated to a rare astronomical spectacle as a total solar eclipse takes […]

In February, 1,073 residential properties were on the market, compared to 817 in 2023. The average sale time was 48 days last month, the exact same as it was one year ago. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock Images. The Niagara Association of Realtors (NAR) released its February market update on the local housing market, noting that […]

Addressing Niagara Region’s doctor shortage

by Nick Redekop

Niagara Region alone needs an additional 81 family doctors to address the system’s shortcomings. Photo Credit: Shutterstock.   As the population of Niagara continues to grow, the need for quality, accessible medical care has never been greater. It is estimated that roughly 30 per cent of residents currently do not have their own family physician, […]

Top-up funding for municipalities through the More Homes Built Faster Fund will amount to $1.2 billion over three years. Pictured: Welland Mayor Frank Campion. Photo Credit: City of Welland.   The city of Welland received $1.72 million through the province of Ontario’s More Homes Built Faster top-up fund for far exceeding its housing targets for […]

Wilkinson defends carbon tax in Thorold visit

by Jay Goldberg

If taxpayers think the carbon tax is unaffordable now, things will get a whole lot more expensive unless the carbon tax is frozen or scrapped. Pictured: Energy and Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson. Photo Credit: Jonathan Wilkinson/X.   In a visit to Thorold earlier this month, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson defended the […]

 The Building Faster Fund is a three year program that began in late-2023. Over this designated period, $1.2 billion will be distributed from the province to designated municipalities to facilitate a resolution to the housing crisis. Pictured: MPP Sam Oosterhoff, Minister Paul Calandra and Mayor Mat Siscoe. Photo Credit: Paul Calandra/X. In recognition of it […]

Lord Mayor Gary Zalepa argued that any additional pay raise should be considered at committee as an earlier part of the budget process, “not on the floor of a committee budget meeting.” Photo Credit: Don Mitchell/Global News.    Councillors in Niagara-on-the-Lake have iced a proposal to give themselves a 4.9 per cent pay raise, which […]

Worth $10,000 each, the scholarships will be awarded to one exceptional student from Niagara College as well as one student from Brock University, to further a research-based experiential learning opportunity in the health sciences sector. Pictured: Niagara Health President and CEO Lynn Guerriero. Photo Credit: Niagara Health. On Monday, March 11, it was announced that […]

Police Board appoints two new Deputy Chiefs of Police

by Jay Goldberg

These two appointments mean the Niagara Regional Police Service’s new leadership team is finally in place. All three top roles changed hands this winter. Photo Credit: Facebook/Niagara Regional Police Service. Niagara Region officially has two new Deputy Chiefs of Police. Both men, Superintendents Todd Waselovich and Luigi Greco, have served with the Niagara Regional Police […]

Conservatives nominating local candidates ahead of next federal election

by Nick Redekop

The period for nominations in St. Catharines has not yet closed and there is much speculation about additional big-name candidates joining the race in the coming days. Pictured: Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre. Photo Credit: Pierre Poilievre/X.    As Canadians anticipate a new federal election cycle, the Conservatives are preparing to nominate candidates for the upcoming […]

Niagara Region needs 81 new family doctors in order to fill the region’s shortage. Niagara’s population is also growing and is projected to hit 694,000 by 2051, making the need for more family doctors even more acute. Photo Credit: Chris Young/The Canadian Press.    Experts estimate that there are currently 147,000 residents in the Niagara […]

Niagara leaders pay tribute after Mulroney’s passing

by Nick Redekop

While his parliamentary accomplishments are prestigious, the earned respect that Mulroney received from his predecessors, peers and successors is, perhaps, his crowning achievement. Pictured: Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Photo Credit: Getty Images.  On Thursday, Feb. 29, Canadians from coast to coast learned that Brian Mulroney had died at the age of 84. Mulroney, who […]

Grimsby’s 2024 budget passed by Council

by Jay Goldberg

Council endorsed a spending plan that includes $30.6 million in gross operating expenditures and a $17.8 million net levy. Photo Credit: Town of Grimsby.    The Town of Grimsby has passed its budget plan for 2024. Council endorsed a spending plan that includes $30.6 million in gross operating expenditures and a $17.8 million net levy. […]

Fonthill Rotary Club exchange program enriching lives of local teenagers

by Nick Redekop

The exchange program is open to outstanding young people between the ages of 15 and 18. It provides them with a unique opportunity to spend at least three months living and studying in a country that is culturally distinct to their own. It is open to 8,000 successful applicants, annually.  As young people and their […]

Councillor Diana Huson, who proposed the motion, says her goal is to have council better address how to interact with the public and how to best ensure the public can participate in debates at council in the future. Photo Credit: The Niagara Independent. Niagara’s regional council is bringing in the integrity commissioner to review what […]

Funding announced for new Niagara Falls school

by Nick Redekop

Once the school has been built, it will provide 608 elementary spaces as well as 49 licensed childcare spaces. The project will be backed by an investment of $28.8 million, including $12.9 million in additional funds. Pictured is Ontario Minister of Education Stephen Lecce. Photo Credit: X/Stephen Lecce.   As the municipality of Niagara Falls […]

Niagara Region sees soaring housing prices, need for stronger supply

by Jay Goldberg

The average price of a home in Niagara Region increased from $229,800 in 2013 to $629,700 in 2023. That’s an increase of 174 per cent over just a ten-year span. Photo Credit: The Canadian Press/Nathan Denette.   Zoocasa recently released a report showing that Niagara Region has seen some of the highest increases in the […]

Baldinelli speaks out about ArriveCan app disaster

by Nick Redekop

The long-term solution for the industry, Baldinelli argues, is the election of a new Conservative government, led by Pierre Poilievre as Prime Minister. Photo Credit: Tony Baldinelli.    While Parliament is out of session this week, the House did not recess for its mid-winter hiatus before the Auditor General delivered a scathing report, which focused […]

St. Catharines slashes development fees for affordable housing

by Jay Goldberg

Instead of having non-profits or charities make presentations and jump through a number of hoops just to see if council is willing to waive fees on a case-by-case basis, non-profits and charities will now have certainty about municipal costs before proposing or moving forward with an affordable housing project. Photo Credit: City of St. Catharines.  […]

Arrests made in Niagara area for human trafficking

by Jay Goldberg

According to the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), Niagara is one of the epicentres of human trafficking and sexual exploitation in all of Canada. Its location near the Canada-United States border plays a major role, as does easy accessibility to major highways. Photo Credit: NRPS.  A case of human trafficking made waves in Niagara Falls […]

Niagara Children’s Centre recognized with international award

by Nick Redekop

CARF was reportedly not only pleased by the efficiency and vibrance of Niagara Children’s Centre programs, but also with the tangible impact that these services are having on the lives of clients and their families   The Niagara Children’s Centre has been recognized with a three-year accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities […]

Grimsby budget tabled for 2024

by Jay Goldberg

Council approved the 2024 operating levy unanimously, with some minor amendments, at the end of the council meeting, which lasted nearly four hours. The budget and its by-laws will see a final vote on Feb. 20. Photo Credit: Town of Grimsby.    The Town of Grimsby has released its budget plan for 2024. Mayor Jeff […]

Fonthill Legion receives Trillium Foundation funding for accessibility

by Nick Redekop

The renovations, when completed, will include an improved front entrance with automatic doors, enhanced lighting and a more seamlessly usable outdoor walkway. Photo Credit: Fonthill Legion. As the Fonthill Legion, Branch 613, continues to serve local veterans and their families, the need to enhance user accessibility has never been greater. With this objective in mind, […]

The Ontario government has announced that it will be providing the municipalities of Niagara with an additional $280,000 to accomplish the objective of managing abandoned oil and gas wells. Photo Credit: Sam Oosterhoff.     Municipalities across the country are seeking to utilize innovative technologies to realize environmental stewardship. As a result, there is a growing […]

The bridge will cost an estimated $14 million to replace, with costs shared equally between the Region and CN Rail. The divestment would occur after reconstruction is complete. Photo Credit: The Niagara Independent.    Niagara Region’s Public Works Committee met last week to begin to determine the fate of the St. Paul Street West Canadian […]

Cogeco purchases Niagara Regional Broadband Network

by Nick Redekop

Cogeco Communications Inc. is purchasing Niagara Regional Broadband Network (NRBN), it was announced on Feb. 5. The deal will see Cogeco expand its footprint in the region, as growing populations and industry accelerate the demand for the fast and reliable delivery of telecommunications services. Photo Credit: Donatello Trisolino via Pexels.    Cogeco Communications Inc. is […]

Ford touts record and takes aim at Crombie at Niagara conference

by Jay Goldberg

Ford encouraged Progressive Conservative members to continue to be optimistic and focus on an agenda of optimism in seeking to maintain strong support from Ontario voters as the Tories look ahead to the next general election cycle in 2026. Pictured: Ontario Premier Doug Ford. Photo Credit: Doug Ford/X.    Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives flocked […]

New emergency call handling system introduced in St. Catharines

by Nick Redekop

The City of St. Catharines is launching a brand new state-of-the-art emergency call handling system. The next generation server, called (NG-911), will be the first of its kind to begin servicing residents in Niagara.    The City of St. Catharines is launching a brand new state-of-the-art emergency call-handling system. The next generation server, called (NG-911), […]

The Tax Increment Grant (TIG) Program, which was used to approve the property tax deferral for these two sites, can be used for new housing projects for up to 10 years following the project’s completion. Photo Credit: City of Port Colborne.    The city of Port Colborne will provide tax deferral grants to two new […]

Meet Niagara’s new police chief

by Jay Goldberg

A swearing-in ceremony has not yet been announced, but there will be a formal ceremony. Now that Fordy has been selected as chief, the search begins for a replacement for now-retired Deputy Chief Brett Flynn and a replacement for Fordy in his former role. The Police Services Board expects to select a candidate by the […]

Niagara Parks launches consultations on two landmark restoration projects

by The Niagara Independent

Late last year, Niagara Parks announced two major restoration projects of landmark attractions in the region. The first, it was officially revealed on Nov. 27, is the historic Toronto Power Generating Station located in Niagara Falls. The second, as confirmed on Dec. 13, is the old Miller’s Creek Marina, located in Fort Erie. Photo Credit: […]

The Rotary Club noted that Newton and the UCC-Niagara work with the community to help find employment, get documentation, and make use of translation services for Ukrainian newcomers, as well as support Ukrainian children settling into new schools.   The dawn of 2024 has seen local charities anticipating a busy year. The Fonthill Rotary Club […]

Niagara Region police chief set to retire

by Jay Goldberg

Niagara Region is set to get a new police chief as Bryan MacCulloch prepares to retire after decades of service. He will officially retire on Feb. 1. MacCulloch has been serving as Niagara Region’s chief of police since September 2017. Photo Credit: NRPS.    Niagara Region is set to get a new police chief as […]

Bateman’s controversial Israel-Gaza motion taken off council agenda

by The Niagara Independent

At the beginning of the meeting, Councillor Mat Siscoe moved that council remove Councillor Haley Bateman’s motion from the agenda entirely. Council voted to overwhelmingly support Siscoe’s proposal, leading to protests from many of Bateman’s supporters attending the meeting and forcing Regional Council Chair Jim Bradley to call for a recess. Photo Credit: Niagara Regional […]

Local entrepreneur launches Kickstarter campaign for hockey tabletop game

by Nick Redekop

Morrison shared that Hockey Hardware has all the standard components that would be expected in a quality board game, including dice, various types of cards and the ability to play with numerous players. A single game includes three periods and can be fully completed in less than one hour.    With another hockey regular season […]

Diodati presents budget proposal to Niagara Falls City Council

by Jay Goldberg

The budget reflects the priorities of Mayor Jim Diodati, who is required to formally present a budget plan to council under Ontario’s strong mayor legislation no later than Feb. 1. Photo Credit: City of Niagara Falls.    Niagara Falls city staff are recommending a 3.5 per cent property tax increase for the 2024 tax year. […]

Three Niagara companies increasing investment after taxpayer cash infusion from Ford government

by The Niagara Independent

The government of Ontario recently announced it is collaborating with three Niagara Region manufacturers to secure $65 million in economic investments by those companies. Photo Credit: Vic Fedeli/Twitter.    The government of Ontario recently announced it is collaborating with three Niagara Region manufacturers to secure $65 million in economic investments by those companies. Ontario taxpayers […]

Mayor Siscoe presents his 2024 St. Catharines budget

by Jay Goldberg

Siscoe says his budget exercised considerable spending restraint because he heard from taxpayers that council needs “to do more with less” and try “new ways of doing things to see if there are savings to be had.” Pictured is St. Catharines Mayor Mat Siscoe. Photo Credit: Mat Siscoe/Twitter.   St. Catharines Mayor Mat Siscoe has […]

Ford government announces new pediatric funding for Niagara Region

by Nick Redekop

As municipalities across Niagara continue to experience population growth, more families are accessing pediatric services for children and youth. In order to meet accelerating needs, the Ontario government is dedicating an additional $2.3 million to pediatric health. Pictured include Ontario MPPs Dawn Gallagher Murphy, Nolan Quinn and Sam Oosterhoff.   As municipalities across Niagara continue […]

Blood drive at Niagara hotel a major success

by Nick Redekop

While Canadian Niagara Hotels began advertising for the event at the beginning of December, it was the sharing of personal stories which point to the life-saving impact of blood donations that dramatically increased interest and support.    It was a significant day in Niagara Falls on Jan. 11, as Canadian Blood Services held their first […]

The Conference Board of Canada expects the St. Catharines-Niagara economy will grow by an estimated 1.5 per cent in 2024, which is roughly on pace with what is anticipated for the overall national economy. Growth is expected to accelerate to 2.5 per cent by 2025, as inflation pressures begin to ease and interest rates begin […]

Confronting the housing crisis by fostering home sharing

by Nick Redekop

Home sharing brings together people who may not have the opportunity to pool resources with family members but are still looking to replicate the financial benefits. Photo Credit: Niagara College.    With the Canadian housing crisis continuing to impact millions of residents across southern Ontario, the need to ensure that students have adequate and affordable […]

Niagara housing costs soar for homeowners and renters

by Jay Goldberg

Homeowners in Niagara are feeling the pinch. Higher rates have led to more houses being put on the market, as some homeowners simply cannot afford to renew. Photo Credit: The Canadian Press/Evan Buhler.    Like much of Ontario and Canada, the Niagara region is facing a mortgage and debt crisis spurred on by over-borrowing and […]

Niagara Falls Exchange nearing completion

by Nick Redekop

After more than three years of construction and several delays, the brand-new Niagara Falls Exchange is nearing completion. Photo Credit: DTAH Designs.    After more than three years of construction and several delays, the brand-new Niagara Falls Exchange is nearing completion.  Located on Sylvia Avenue, The Exchange will serve as the city’s new cultural hub. […]

Niagara Region Transit fares won’t rise in 2024

by Jay Goldberg

Niagara Region residents won’t be facing a fare increase when using transit in 2024, despite attempts by the Niagara Transit Commission to increase fares. Photo Credit: CPTDB Wiki.   Niagara Region residents won’t be facing a fare increase when using transit in 2024, despite attempts by the Niagara Transit Commission to increase fares.  The Region’s […]

New Year’s leeves make return to Niagara region

by Nick Redekop

Levees have a long and rich history in Canada. They provide opportunities for local military, appointed and elected officials to engage with their constituents and neighbours. Photo Credit: Niagara-on-the-Lake Local.    With the dawn of another year upon us, Canadians across the country are enjoying the return of more annual traditions. One notable example can […]

Last Updated: Friday, January, 5, 2024, 10:32am Niagara’s regional government is increasing its property tax burden at a faster rate than any other regional council in Ontario. Pictured is Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley. Photo Credit: Niagara Region.   Niagara Regional Council is imposing the highest regional property tax increase in all of Ontario in […]

Niagara College’s trailblazing beer-making program ends the year with another set of medals

by The Niagara Independent

The Teaching Brewery continues to shine on the local, national, and international stage. Several of the school’s grads now head-up award-winning breweries across the province. Photo credit: Niagara College   In many fields of practice, greatness is not defined by or as a single, spectacular moment. Rather, greatness is defined by consistent, exceptional output over […]

Things to do in Niagara this New Year’s Eve

by The Niagara Independent

For decades now, Niagara Falls has been considered Canada’s place-to-be when the clock strikes midnight on January 1. Photo credit: Niagara Parks   While revellers will go another year without a marquee outdoor concert along the waterfront in Niagara Falls, there’s still lots to do in the “Times Square of Canada” this New Year’s Eve.  […]

Niagara 2023: A year in review

by Nick Redekop

In 2023, Niagara, Canada, saw game-changing developments: the announcement of the University of Niagara Falls Canada promised downtown revitalization, while LocoMobi’s AI production relocation signalled tech sector growth. The groundbreaking for the South Niagara Hospital set the stage for future healthcare advancements, hinting at a transformative landscape ahead. Photo credit: X/Doug Ford   As another […]

Local initiative teams up with country musician Tim Hicks to bring musical gifts to Niagara schools and students this holiday season. Photo Supplied.   Schools and students across Niagara are receiving the gift of music this Christmas season. Marz Homes, The Niagara Conservatory of Music and local artists are partnering to spread holiday cheer for […]

Fonthill Rotary Club’s ongoing dedication to advancing STEM education in the Niagara Region continues as they pledge $1,500 to support the ‘Scientists in School’ program. This generous donation bolsters initiatives aimed at nurturing the curiosity and skills of young minds in science and technology. Photo Supplied   As local communities seek to facilitate careers for […]

Parks announces plans to redevelop marina along Niagara Parkway in Fort Erie

by The Niagara Independent

The agency is pouring nearly $20 million into reviving the prime waterfront site over the next three years. Photo credit: Niagara Parks   After nearly two decades of fits and starts, speculation, promises, and planning, Miller’s Creek Marina in Fort Erie is finally set for a revival. In a press release on Wednesday, the Niagara […]

Niagara Region Budget Committee Agrees to 6.9% Levy Increase for 2024 Budget

by Nick Redekop

Regional councillors express apprehensions over the long-term fiscal strategies and deferrals proposed in Niagara’s 2024 budget planning, citing concerns about their impact and efficacy. With the end of the year fast approaching, Niagara Regional Council is focusing much of its efforts on completing the 2024 budget. The Budget Committee, chaired by Fort Erie Mayor Wayne […]

Welland residents to see an increase of 3.15 per cent in 2024

by Nick Redekop

Mayor Frank Campion expresses satisfaction with the finalized 2024 budget, emphasizing its focus on city services, infrastructure improvements, and affordability following the conclusion of the City of Welland’s budget review process. Photo Credit: Wikipedia    City of Welland councillors recently concluded a review of Mayor Frank Campion’s proposed 2024 budget. The process involved meticulous considerations […]

Niagara bakeries to get that all-important dessert this Christmas

by Mary Spinks

If you’re not one for making your own holiday treats, check out one of the local establishments below for something sweet this Christmas. Photo credit: Facebook/Pie Guys Bakery   With just under three weeks until Christmas, planning and preparations for the biggest meal of the year are sure to be well underway in most households. […]

F.A.R.M.S. President reflects on 2023 growing season, readying for 2024

by Nick Redekop

Amidst challenges posed by weather vagaries and escalating expenses, Ken Forth sheds light on the resilience of Canadian farmers, as they prepare for a fresh start in 2024. Photo Credit:  F.A.R.M.S. website While the 2023 Canadian growing season has come and gone, farmers and leaders in the agricultural sector are taking stock of the season […]

Local spots to pick up a fresh cut Christmas tree this holiday season

by Mary Spinks

Gallagher’s Farm Market in Fenwick (pictured) is one of several Niagara tree sellers to check out this year. Photo credit: Facebook/Gallagher’s Farm Market   Choosing a fresh Christmas tree to bring home to decorate is a tradition for many families in Ontario. Artificial trees have become more popular in recent years, however, there are many […]

Heddle Shipyard investing $107 million in St. Catharines manufacturing operations

by Nick Redekop

Heddle Shipyards’ $107 million investment at Port Weller Dry Docks set to create 30 jobs in Niagara; Ontario Government extends $3.4 million support. Photo Credit: Facebook/Sam Oosterhoff   Heddle Shipyards, the biggest ship repair and construction company located on the Great Lakes, has announced a $107 million investment into advancing initiatives at Port Weller Dry […]

Rotary Auction Niagara giving back to the community at Christmas

by Nick Redekop

Rotary Auction Niagara heralds the Christmas season with online bidding, marking significant changes to the long-standing tradition. Six Rotary Clubs unite for community support as residents donate items for bidding, supporting local service initiatives. Photo: Facebook/Rotary Niagara Auction   Rotary Auction Niagara is heralding the arrival of another Christmas season! People across Niagara’s municipalities have […]

Ontario’s largest RNG facility set to open in Niagara Falls

by The Niagara Independent

The facility, located at Walker Industries’ site along the border of Niagara Falls and Thorold, will provide enough energy to power close to 9,000 homes. Pictured left to right: Enbridge’s Heidi Bredenholler-Prasad, Mayor of Thorold Terry Ugulini, Ontario Minister of Energy Todd Smith, Ontario Minister of Environment, Conservation and Park Andrea Khanjin, Walker President and […]

Niagara College alumni nominated for Ontario Premier’s Award celebrate diverse achievements across industries and communities. Photo Supplied   Niagara College (NC) is celebrating seven alums who have been nominated to receive the prestigious Premier’s Award. “The Premier’s Awards have been honouring outstanding Ontario college graduates since the early ’90s and have elevated many Niagara College […]

Niagara Parks and Pearle Hospitality team up for a $200 million overhaul of Toronto Power Generating Station, aiming to create a world-class visitor experience. Photo Supplied: Niagara Parks   Niagara Parks and Pearle Hospitality have agreed to a transformational private sector investment to restore the Historic Toronto Power Generating Station.  “Niagara Parks is proud to […]

Niagara Regional Transit’s 2024 Budget faces upheaval due to proposed service cuts and fare hikes. Photo: Facebook/Niagara Regional Transit   As 2023 concludes in the coming weeks, plans for 2024 are taking shape on municipal and regional councils. One of the public services that has been drawing a lot of attention is Niagara Regional Transit […]

Local Christmas markets to get you in the spirit this holiday season

by Mary Spinks

Niagara Pumphouse Arts Centre in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Photo credit: Niagara Pumphouse Arts Centre   Christmas markets are happening throughout Niagara over the coming weeks, with vendors looking to share their crafts and art with eager Christmas shoppers. A selection of these holiday markets is provided below. Pelham The Niagara Fresh Market will be hosting its first […]

Annual Celebration of Lights Christmas fundraiser returns, uniting the Niagara community to support healthcare at Niagara Health Foundation. Photo: Facebook/Niagara Health Foundation   The Celebration of Lights Christmas Fundraising Campaign is returning for another season, the Niagara Health Foundation. The event began on Nov 13 and will run through Jan 7, 2024, with the motto […]

Niagara residents to see another significant increase to their water bills next year

by The Niagara Independent

Last week, regional councillors approved a 7.95 per cent increase to Niagara’s water and wastewater budget, rejecting several options to save taxpayers’ money.    When times are really tough, many governments find cost savings and choose to cut or keep taxes level for struggling ratepayers.  Niagara’s regional government? Not so. At its Budget Review Committee […]

Welland councillors divided on regional speed enforcement cameras

by Nick Redekop

Speed enforcement camera located on Rice Road in Welland has been vandalized several times. Photo: Facebook    While Welland City Council is divided over the proposed 2024 Budget, another key issue is also being intensely debated: Regional Speed Cameras. So far, four speed cameras have been installed across the Niagara Region as part of its […]

Ann Harrison, former President of Rotary Club Fonthill and Principal of E.L. Crossley Secondary School, talks about reviving the school’s Rotary Interact Club post-pandemic. The club’s ‘Halloween 4 Hunger’ initiative aided Pelham Cares, with more projects in the pipeline. Photo Supplied   After multiple years of pandemic-related disruptions, the Rotary Interact Club at E.L. Crossley […]

Minister Neil Lumsden foresees record breaking turnout as Hamilton hosts spectacular Grey Cup Festival: Over 40 events set to mark historic weekend. Photo Credit: Peter Power/The Canadian Press   Minister Neil Lumsden spoke to The Independent about the big game The Grey Cup has arrived in Hamilton. The physical trophy arrived via Lake Ontario aboard […]

Christmas kicks off this weekend in Niagara Falls

by Mary Spinks

City will hold its annual Santa Claus parade and tree lighting ceremony on Saturday, with the celebrated Winter Festival of Lights starting the same day. Various other parades and festivals being held around the region in the weeks to come. Photo credit: HOCO Entertainment   Christmas festivities are already gearing up across Niagara, with several […]

Famed Fort Erie chef’s hometown restaurant ranks high on list of Canada’s best new eateries

by The Niagara Independent

Matty Matheson opened Rizzo’s House of Parm one year ago. Photo credit: Facebook/Rizzo’s House of Parm   Earlier this month, Air Canada’s enRoute magazine released its 2023 Best New Restaurants ranking, with one Niagara eatery making the top 10.  Coming in at number four on the list was famed Fort Erie chef Matty Matheson’s hometown […]

Hydro One and ACT Foundation celebrate three million students trained in CPR and AED usage. Photo Supplied   On Thursday, Hydro One visited Welland’s Notre Dame College, alongside the Advanced Coronary Treatment (ACT) Foundation. The two organisations joined with more of their community partners to celebrate CPR month, as well as three million Ontario students […]

New Welland CAO excited by strategic opportunities facing City in coming years

by Nick Redekop

Newly Appointed Welland Chief Administrative Officer Rob Axiak outlines the vision for the city’s growth and priorities following the mayor’s announcement of strategic leadership change. Credit: Facebook/City of Welland   On November 1, 2023, Welland Mayor Frank Campion announced Rob Axiak as the City’s next Chief Administrative Officer.  “As the City enters a critical period […]

Pair of Niagara West creations voted official red and white wines of Queen’s Park

by The Niagara Independent

King and Victoria Winery’s 2020 Cabernet and Watchful Eye Winery’s 2021 Chardonnay will be served at all of the Legislative Assembly’s formal functions throughout 2024. Pictured are Speaker Ted Arnott and Tracey and Joe Schenck from King and Victoria Winery. Photo credit: Legislative Assembly of Ontario/Nokomis O’Brien via The Grower   MPPs, staff, and guests […]

Familiar Faces Program reducing wait times at Niagara Health

by Nick Redekop

Photo Credit: Niagara Health   As local health departments across Canada continue to grapple with demand beyond their capacity, the need to develop innovative solutions for the delivery of care is immense. The emergency room is no exception.  Niagara Health recently announced the new Familiar Faces Program, which will seek to address emergency room wait […]

Niagara Regional Council weighs drafting Citizen’s Code of Conduct

by Nick Redekop

As polarization grows, municipalities weigh citizens’ code of conduct in response to disrespect and threats towards elected officials.   As the levels of polarisation and divisiveness in western societies intensify, the impact is being felt locally. Specifically, representatives of municipal and regional governments are contending with an uptick in aggressive, abusive behaviour when interacting with […]

Port Colborne Woodmaker carves lawn poppies for Remembrance Day

by Nick Redekop

Niagara Woodmaker honours veterans with wooden lawn poppies for Remembrance Day. Photo Credit: Facebook/Kevin Farris    Another Remembrance Day is almost here. While communities across Canada are donating to the Royal Canadian Legion, as well as preparing for memorial services to honour our soldiers of past and present, a new tradition is gaining traction in […]

Remembrance Day around the region

by The Niagara Independent

One local commemoration this year includes a special visit from Sophie, the Duchess of Edinburgh. Pictured is Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum’s annual poppy display. Photo credit: Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum   Poppy campaigns are underway and local Legions are gearing up in preparation of Remembrance Day. In addition to ceremonies, there are also local fundraisers for Legions and visual […]

A big October leads into ReuKnighted at Niagara College

by Rod Mawhood

Niagara College celebrates major sponsorship and largest fall graduating class, leading to ReuKnighted alumni event. Photo Credit: Niagara College/Facebook   Niagara College continues to grow and prosper.  Look no further than two big announcements made by the college last week – all leading into an alumni event this week.  First it was Simplii Financial sponsoring […]

Province announces plan for new school gym construction in West Lincoln

by Nick Redekop

Ontario Government Invests $3.8 Million in New Gymnasium for Gainsborough Public School in St. Anns. Photo Credit: Facebook/Sam Oosterhoff   On October 26th, the Ontario government announced a $3.8 million investment to build a new school gymnasium for the students of Gainsborough Public School in St. Anns. Sam Oosterhoff, who currently serves as the Member […]

Province, federal government make major investment in Niagara’s fruit farming industry

by The Niagara Independent

Local, provincial, and federal officials, alongside industry stakeholders, gathered at Hipple Farms in Lincoln on Monday, October 30, to celebrate $8 million in provincial-federal funding. Photo credit: Twitter/Sam Oosterhoff   On Monday, officials from the governments of Ontario and Canada, along with industry stakeholders, gathered at Hipple Farms in Lincoln to announce a joint provincial-federal […]

Welland Canal reopens, as St. Lawrence Seaway and Unifor reach tentative deal

by The Niagara Independent

Vote to ratify agreement set to take place in the coming days. Vital waterway was shut down for a full week. Photo credit: Facebook/City of Port Colborne   Ships are once again traversing the Welland Canal, after the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation and Unifor reached a tentative agreement on Sunday.  St. Lawrence Seaway workers […]

A.I. Revolution coming to Niagara in full-force

by Nick Redekop

Pioneering A.I. Innovator Grant Furlane, plans to revolutionize city living and transportation with LocoMobi world’s cutting-edge technology. Photo Credit: Pexels    Health crises, economic woes and the threat of global conflict seem to be dominating the 2020s. While these challenges are immediate and far-reaching, the opportunities of the future are also immense. Niagara resident Grant […]

Welland Canal brought to standstill as UNIFOR workers go on strike

by The Niagara Independent

No vessels passing through multiple-billion-dollar shipping corridor. Photo credit:    A growing number of ships are marooned at either side of the Welland Canal, as the vital passageway remains closed due to workers walking off the job this weekend. In a press release on Sunday, the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) – which […]

This year marks 20 years since the initiative launched. Over the last two decades, Sleep Cheap Charities Reap has raised over $2.4 million for local charities. Photo credit: Niagara Falls Tourism   As the height of the 2023 tourist season comes to a close for the City of Niagara Falls, a significant event is still […]

Proposed 81-room hotel in Niagara-on-the-Lake in jeopardy

by Nick Redekop

Proposed building will not only include hotel rooms, but also multiple restaurants, comprehensive lounge/entertainment areas, as well as spas. Pictured is downtown Niagara-on-the-Lake. Photo credit: Expedia   As Niagara’s tourism economy continues to expand, there is a growing need to build strategic infrastructure, such as restaurants, entertainment venues and hotels. To this end, Van Riesen […]

Niagara realtor reflects on current state of housing market

by Nick Redekop

 It’s become ‘very typical’ for homes to take three or four months to sell.    As another turbulent economic year draws to a close, the local housing market has taken a sharp turn. The Niagara Association of Realtors (NAR) recently confirmed that the region is now in a “buyer’s market.” Fort Erie real estate agent […]

Sunshine Express Garden Centre celebrates 35th anniversary season

by Nick Redekop

The Niagara-on-the-Lake garden centre grows 95 per cent of what it sells on site. Photo credit: Facebook/Sunshine Express Garden Centre   As the blustery winds of autumn roll in, garden centres across Niagara are reflecting on the season that has been, and already planning for next year. This is a particularly special year for Sunshine […]

Latin American Heritage Month in Niagara

by Alejandro Vasquez Coronado

This year marks the sixth year Canada has officially recognized October as ‘Latin American Heritage Month’. Photo credit: Getty Images   According to the Niagara Priority Profiles: Ethno-Racial & Immigration, in 2021 the Niagara Region was home to approximately 7,000 residents who identify as being from Latin American origin. This is 1.49 per cent of […]

Escalation in the Middle East to have reverberating effects locally

by Nick Redekop

From further straining already strained resources to spiking local gas prices, expect the developing Israeli-Palestinian conflict to have a number of tangible effects on the Niagara community. Photo credit: AP   As a devastating week in the battered nation of Israel comes to a close, the ensuing war threatens to wreak great havoc far beyond […]

Spooky walking tours around Niagara to get you in the Halloween spirit

by Mary Spinks

Travel by candlelight through the dark stone fortifications of Old Fort Erie, home to Canada’s bloodiest battlefield. Photo credit: Niagara Parks   It’s October and Friday the 13th, which to the superstitious might bode bad luck, while to others is a perfect time to consider which Halloween events to attend this month. Niagara is known […]

City of Niagara Falls launches ‘Cyber Seniors’ technology training program

by Nick Redekop

Sessions designed to help Niagara’s seniors build digital knowledge, connect socially, address cyber-safety, and more. Photo credit: Senior Planet/AARP   As the world enters the second generation of personal computing and internet-based technology, the need to help elderly citizens utilise these powerful tools is growing. That is why this fall, the Municipality of Niagara Falls […]

Collection of community groups, clubs, and businesses come together to give big to new hospital

by The Niagara Independent

Local community clubs and leaders give collective $1,375,000 to new Niagara Falls hospital. Photo credit: Niagara Health   The future of healthcare in Niagara got another major financial boost last week.  On October 6, the Niagara Health Foundation announced that the It’s Our Future fundraising campaign in support of the new South Niagara Hospital received a collective […]

Niagara Falls Soup Kitchen provides respite for community’s most vulnerable

by Nick Redekop

With food insecurity at an all-time high, the Kitchen’s services are more important than ever.    As Thanksgiving arrives and the Christmas season approaches, local charitable organisations are busy providing for the community’s most vulnerable members. Judy Todd currently serves as co-chair for the Niagara Falls Soup Kitchen.  “Our mission is to feed the hungry,” […]

HOPA Ports, BMI Group announce Niagara Falls expansion project

by Nick Redekop

Standing in front of the old Canadian Ohio Brass Company location on Thorold Stone Rd., Mayor of Niagara Falls Jim Diodati (third from right) cuts a ceremonial ribbon alongside personnel from HOPA Ports and the BMI Group. Photo credit: City of Niagara Falls   As the largest re-industrialization in North American history takes shape, small-medium […]

Niagara West MP weighs in on government’s latest diplomatic difficulties

by Nick Redekop

Long-time local Conservative MP Dean Allison talks federal government inviting a Ukrainian veteran who fought alongside the Nazi regime to Parliament and the country’s souring relationship with a key trading partner in India. Photo credit: Facebook/Dean Allison   Last weekend marked the conclusion of another odd month in Canada’s Federal Chambers. From India, to Ukraine, […]

Michael and Jana Katz give $1 million to new Niagara Falls hospital

by The Niagara Independent

Over a dozen local donors have now contributed substantial gifts toward the community’s local share of the project. Artist rendering of the future hospital site. Photo credit: Niagara Health   The local private sector has once again stood up tall for the public good.  Last week, the Niagara Health Foundation announced yet another seven-figure gift […]

Spooky Awards return for another year of eerie Halloween displays

by The Niagara Independent

Niagara Falls launched the home decorating competition in 2020 in response to pandemic restrictions. Registration for this year’s contest opens Wednesday, October 4. Photo credit: City of Niagara Falls   Halloween season is back, and so is Niagara Falls’ Spooky Awards.  First held in October 2020 as a pandemic-friendly outdoor offering, the Spooky Awards is […]

Forty Creek pays homage to Niagara’s fruit belt with new reserve

by Nick Redekop

Forty Creek’s Cherrywood Reserve Whisky won gold at the 2023 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Photo credit: CNW Group/Campari Group Canada   Forty Creek Distillery is a multi-award-winning whisky maker located in the town of Grimsby. Bill Ashburn is the Master Blender behind many of the distillery’s innovations, including its limited release Cherrywood Reverse Whisky.  […]

University of Niagara Falls Canada set to welcome first students in new year

by Nick Redekop

University now accepting applications for winter 2024 term. Photo credit: Pexels/ICSA     As of Wednesday, September 27, the brand-new University of Niagara Falls Canada (UNF), located on Queen St. in the city’s downtown core, is accepting applications for its inaugural semester starting in January 2024. Cyndi McLeod currently serves as Chief Executive Officer of […]

Embrace the outdoors this autumn with pick-your-own pumpkins

by Mary Spinks

Niagara is home to a number of iconic pumpkin farms, including Howells Farm in Fonthill (pictured). Photo credit: Howells Farm   Fall is officially here and with the fall season comes pumpkins! Whether the pumpkins are for decor or pie, there are several excellent pick-your-own and pre-picked pumpkin farms in Niagara to visit. Bry-Anne Farms […]

Niagara Falls Lions Club celebrates 101 years of community service

by Nick Redekop

Dwindling membership doesn’t stop one of Canada’s oldest clubs from being there for the community, and planning for the future. Photo credit: Niagara Falls Lions Club   The City of Niagara Falls may have seen a lot of change over the past 100 years, however, there are some things that have remained constant. The Niagara […]

Niagara communities prepare to be ‘Saved by the Beep’

by Nick Redekop

With its name inspired by the famed television show Saved by the Bell, Saved by the Beep encourages residents across Ontario to check their homes’ fire alarms. Photo credit: First Alert via PRNewswire   Communities across Ontario will have the opportunity to update their knowledge of fire prevention and safety over the next couple of […]

Pictured left to right: Bryan Bebas, production control manager at Highland Ridge; Edwin de Jonge, Nick de Jonge, and Fred de Jonge, leadership team at Highland Packers; Sam Oosterhoff, MPP for Niagara West; and Marinus and Janneke de Jonge and Janet DeVries, leadership team at Highland Packers. Photo credit: Sam Oosterhoff   Highland Packers, a meat processor […]

Niagara College connects students to careers

by Nick Redekop

Career and Co-op Services director chats upcoming school year and bridging the gap between classroom and employment. Photo credit: Niagara College   Career and Co-op Services director chats upcoming school year and bridging the gap between classroom and employment. Photo credit: Niagara College   The 2023-24 school year is well underway at Niagara College. Whether […]

Local farms to find the family turkey this Thanksgiving

by Mary Spinks

Kent Heritage Farms, Littlefoot Farm, and Silmaril Farm all offer local, free-range/run turkeys for your holiday dinner. Photo credit: Monstera Production   With both Thanksgiving and Christmas on the horizon, it is a good time to start planning where to get your family’s turkey. In Niagara, there are several farms that offer local turkey to […]

St. Catharines MP who helped usher in Liberal ‘censorship laws’ exits Canadian Heritage

by The Niagara Independent

Chris Bittle (left) has been named Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities. Niagara Centre MP Vance Badawey (right) given new secretarial role at Transport Canada. Photo credit: Government of Canada   Following what many deemed to be an ineffective cabinet shuffle earlier this summer, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shook up his […]

Brock chaplain looks forward to exciting year at Faith and Life Centre

by Nick Redekop

Christian Reformed chaplain and chair of Brock’s Faith and Life Centre Zack DeBruyne. Photo credit: Brock University   As students at Brock University settle into the 2023-24 school year, a wide variety of extracurriculars and clubs are starting back up, including faith-based groups and activities. Zack DeBruyne currently serves as the Christian Reformed chaplain and […]

Co-op, Career and Experiential Education director Cara Krezek. Photo credit: Brock University/The Brock News   As post-secondary institutions return to school this month, the Co-op, Career and Experiential Education (CCEE) department at Brock University is eager to support students in realizing their professional goals. Cara Krezek currently serves as director of CCEE.  “It’s been great […]

Fall fairs and festivals to check out around Niagara this season

by Mary Spinks

The annual Ball’s Falls Thanksgiving Festival takes place from October 6 to 9. Photo credit: Ball’s Falls Thanksgiving Festival   Just like that, the fall festival season is here in Niagara. From pumpkins and apple cider, to music and crafts, there are so many options to embrace harvest time and support the local community.  Here […]

‘Ready at a moment’s notice’: Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station

by Nick Redekop

Located just over the border in Niagara Falls, New York, the 914th Refuelling Wing maintains a close relationship with its Canadian counterparts. Photo credit: Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station   As a turbulent decade continues, the need for democratic allies to collaborate on defence is as important as ever. Oftentimes, local military bases play a […]

Local education directors talk start of new school year

by Nick Redekop

With local students returning to class last week, The Niagara Independent caught up with Warren Hoshizaki of the District School Board of Niagara and Camillo Cipriano of the Niagara Catholic District School Board. Photo credit: Pexels/RDNE Stock Project   As September marches on, a new school year is taking shape for students, educators. and administrators […]

Province increases funding for Niagara offloading nursing program

by Nick Redekop

Pictured is MPP for Niagara West Sam Oosterhoff and Niagara Regional Council Char Jim Bradley. Photo credit: Sam Oosterhoff   The Niagara Region will receive an additional $1.8 million in specialized health-care funding over the next three years, the provincial government announced Thursday, September 7.  The investment, which is part of a broader $51 million […]

 ‘After several seasons of capacity limits and border closures, it’s been a really important opportunity for us to rebound’. Photo credit: Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours   As the nights get colder, school returns to session, and the signs of the season turn to football, migrating birds, and pumpkin-spiced lattes, it is a critical time for […]

Niagara apple picking season is here

by Mary Spinks

Plenty of orchards around the peninsula to bring the kids for some family fun. Photo credit: iStock    September is the peak of the pick-your-own apple season in Niagara. Apple orchards are full and ready for those looking to get in the autumn spirit.  According to the Apple Growers of Ontario, the Great Lakes region […]

Annual ‘Big Move Cancer Ride’ takes place this weekend

by Nick Redekop

Event marks decade and a half of fundraising success. ‘Every pedal rotation and every dollar raised holds profound significance.’ Photo credit: Facebook/Big Move Cancer Ride   On Sunday, September 10, more than 500 participants in the annual Big Move Cancer Ride will gather at White Meadows Farm in Pelham.  “For the past 15 years, the […]

Brock welcomes new cohort of Badgers to campus

by The Niagara Independent

Along with students’ families and friends, a ‘small army’ of Brock employees and volunteers helped the university’s 2,700 eager arrivals move in over the weekend. Photo credit: Brock University   Brock University’s St. Catharines campus was abuzz with new and return arrivals over the weekend. In preparation for the start of the fall semester on […]

Information collected from the Majestic Monarchs program will be used to determine the number of monarchs in the area, understand their migration south to Mexico, and provide data that will be considered in the further protection of the species. Photo credit: Britannica   Niagara Parks is hosting a free educational program, Majestic Monarchs: Annual Species […]

Niagara College launching four-year registered nursing degree

by The Niagara Independent

First intake set for fall 2024. New program to build off of college’s existing two-year diploma in practical nursing. Photo credit: Niagara College   This time next year, Niagara College will welcome its first cohort of 60 students into its brand-new, stand-alone Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) program.  On Wednesday, the college announced that […]

Scrumptious local ciders to try this fall season

by Mary Spinks

Typically lauded for its wine, the Niagara Peninsula also produces some of the best hard ciders in the country. Photo credit: Facebook/Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery   As summer comes to a close, fall activities and events are beginning to ramp up around Niagara. One fall festive activity is to partake in a glass of hard […]

Investment will help create 30 new jobs. Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry Graydon Smith (third from left) was on hand last Thursday with local officials and representatives from the company to announce the funding. Photo credit: Twitter/Graydon Smith   Last week, the province announced it is investing $1.8 million to help Smithville’s Niagara Pallet […]

Festivals around the region this Labour Day weekend

by Mary Spinks

This Labour Day weekend be transported to Greece with the sights, sounds, and food of Hellas at the Niagara Greek Festival in St. Catharines. Photo credit: Niagara Greek Festival   The upcoming long weekend is a final chance for families to get out and enjoy the summer before school resumes and warm weather turns to […]

Sheridan College prepares to welcome students to Fort Erie satellite campus

by Nick Redekop

Minister of Colleges and Universities Jill Dunlop (centre right) joined Mayor of Fort Erie Wayne Redekop (right) and school officials for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new campus last week. Photo credit: Facebook/Jill Dunlop   As students and educators return to the classroom after Labour Day, many post-secondary applicants will soon have a new and […]

Province readies to name regional facilitator to review Niagara governance structure

by The Niagara Independent

Minister Steve Clark (pictured) said the facilitator will be announced by September 11. Photo credit: Twitter/Steve Clark   After months of waiting, Niagara will soon know who, exactly, will lead a long-anticipated review of the region’s governance system on behalf of the province.  Speaking at the annual Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference earlier […]

St. Catharines’ TAG Art Gallery, which closed its doors last fall, has made a sizable donation of historically significant artwork to the museum. Photo credit: City of Niagara Falls/Niagara Falls History Museum   Last week, the City of Niagara Falls announced that the Niagara Falls History Museum has received what it is calling an “unprecedented” donation […]

Province provides Niagara College over $800,000 to offer free pre-apprenticeship training

by The Niagara Independent

Funding will help address regional labour shortage. Photo credit: Niagara College   On Monday, the Ontario government announced it has invested $812,775 at Niagara College to boost pre-apprenticeship training for in-demand jobs in the skilled trades. The funding is part of the province’s record investment in nearly 100 free pre-apprenticeship programs around Ontario. “Ontario’s skilled trades […]

Zappitellis give ‘transformative’ $1 million gift to new Niagara Falls hospital

by The Niagara Independent

Over a dozen philanthropists have now contributed substantial gifts toward the community’s local share of the project. Artist rendering of the future hospital site. Photo credit: Niagara Health   On Thursday, August 17, the Niagara Health Foundation announced the latest benefactor on its growing list of ‘Founding Donors’ supporting the South Niagara hospital project.  Tony […]

Niagara Falls named ‘most magical’ place in Canada

by The Niagara Independent

Title determined based on online activity via Instagram hashtags and Tripadvisor reviews. Photo credit: Tourism Partnership of Niagara   The magic and majesty of Niagara’s world-famous falls remains unrivaled across the country. According to a new report from BonusFinder, Niagara Falls is Canada’s “most magical” place.  “Situated on the Niagara River, it is known for […]

Hotel Dieu Shaver receiving $2.5 million from province for strategic expansion

by Nick Redekop

Pictured left to right: Rick Mauro, Board Chair, Hotel Dieu Shaver Foundation; Sister Louise Dillon, Director of Mission and Pastoral Services, Hotel Dieu Shaver; Jim Bradley, Chair, Niagara Region; Sam Oosterhoff, MPP Niagara West; Lynne Pay, Chief Executive Officer, Hotel Dieu Shaver; Tracy Geoffroy, Executive Director, Hotel Dieu Shaver Foundation; Betty-Lou Souter, Trustee, Hotel Dieu […]

Nearly 10,000 students in Niagara not up to date on mandatory vaccinations

by The Niagara Independent

Of the over 68,000 students enrolled in schools across the region, 14 per cent currently hold incomplete immunization records. Photo credit: Blue Cross Blue Shield   With the 2023/24 school year set to start in exactly three weeks, Niagara Region Public Health (Public Health) is reminding parents and caregivers to get up to date on […]

Three West Niagara municipalities hold joint meeting to discuss regional governance

by The Niagara Independent

West Lincoln, Lincoln, and Grimsby appear to be signalling that, should the province bring change to Niagara’s governance structure, they hope to stick together. Pictured is West Niagara Agricultural Centre and Fairgrounds, where representatives from the municipalities met on Wednesday. Photo credit: West Niagara Agricultural Centre and Fairgrounds.   In a shared news release earlier […]

Though only very slightly, prices increased for a fifth consecutive month in July.   After tumbling down for the better part of 2022 into early 2023, and then surging in the spring and remaining steady for the past few months, housing prices in Niagara effectively flatlined in July. According to the latest statistics from the […]

Cities of St. Catharines and Thorold sent letters to federal government demanding answers and change. Their pleas, according to the Conservative MP from Niagara Falls (pictured), went unanswered. Photo credit: Tony Baldinelli   In a recent media release, Conservative Party MP for Niagara Falls Tony Baldinelli blasted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and local Liberal members […]

The lion’s share will be dedicated to advancing patient care directly, with portions going toward the Walker Family Cancer Centre (pictured) and the new Niagara Falls hospital. Photo credit: BH Architects   This week, the largest donation in the history of Niagara Health was presented by philanthropists Greg and Diane Slaight. The family committed a […]

The agency’s iconic incline railway cars. Photo credit: Niagara Parks   Niagara Parks is looking to revamp the way in which visitors get around its main tourist hub in Niagara Falls. In a press release Tuesday, Niagara Parks announced that it has officially launched a call for proposals for a new visitor transportation system “that […]

Mountainview LemonAID Day raises over $100,000 for FACS Niagara

by The Niagara Independent

Funds will help send hundreds of local children to camp. President of the event’s title sponsor Mark Basciano (second from right) was on-hand for a reveal party earlier this week, pictured here alongside Thorold mayor Terry Ugulini (right), St. Catharines mayor Mat Siscoe (third from left), and members of the FACS team. Photo credit: Mountainview […]

Two top cops leaving Niagara police early next year

by The Niagara Independent

Chief of Police Bryan MacCulloch and Deputy Chief Brett Flynn set to retire on Feb. 1, 2024. Photo credit: NRPS   Over 73 years of experience: that’s what the Niagara Regional Police Service (NRPS) will lose when both Chief of Police Bryan MacCulloch and Deputy Chief Brett Flynn simultaneously retire on Feb. 1, 2024.  Chair […]

Thorold mourns loss of former long-time councillor, two-term mayor

by The Niagara Independent

Ted Luciani served on the city’s council from 2000 to 2018. Photo credit: City of Thorold   Former Thorold mayor Ted Luciani has passed away. The municipality announced Luciani’s passing in a press release on Friday, July 28. “On behalf of City Council, staff and residents of the City of Thorold, our heartfelt condolences, thoughts […]

Long-time Toronto educator Richard Bilkszto, pictured here at a May 2023 appearance on TVO’s The Agenda, was a former Town of Lincoln councillor. Photo credit: TVO   Toronto principal and former Town of Lincoln councillor Richard Bilkszto took his own life earlier this month. Bilkszto was an educator for over two decades. He was 60 […]

Hydro One investing $1.3 million to help Pelham meet energy demands

by Nick Redekop

Pictured centre are Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff, Mayor of Pelham Marvin Junkin, and Hydro One Executive VP Teri French. Photo credit: Hydro One   Hydro One is investing $1.3 million to add a third power line to the Pelham Centre Distribution Station, the organization announced Wednesday.  Teri French currently serves as Executive Vice President, […]

Councillors unanimously pass set of ‘progressive’ new strategic priorities

by The Niagara Independent

Climate change, equity among priorities set to guide Niagara Region into 2026. Photo credit: The Niagara Independent   At its special council meeting last Thursday, July 20, Niagara Regional Council unanimously approved four new strategic priorities that will help guide the municipality’s decision-making over the next four years.  As outlined in “Growing Better Together: Council […]

Niagara College named grand champion at U.S. beer competition

by The Niagara Independent

The school’s Teaching Brewing was recently named Grand National Champion at the 2023 U.S. Open College Beer Championship, nabbing five medals in the process. Photo credit: Niagara College   If you need any more evidence that Niagara College Teaching Brewery is one of the best post-secondary institutes in North America to study the art and […]

Officials take part in a ground-breaking ceremony at the future Siltech site at 1700 Pettit Rd. Pictured left to right are Maple Reinders president Harold Reinders, Siltech project engineer Mark Marynowicz, Niagara Falls MP Tony Baldinelli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade Vic Fedeli, Siltech CEO Rick Vrckovnik, Mayor of Fort Erie Wayne […]

Poilievre takes ‘Bring It Home’ tour across Niagara

by The Niagara Independent

On Wednesday, July 19, the Conservative Party leader visited Niagara Falls, Port Colborne, and Thorold, before ending the day at a huge rally featuring some 1,600 supporters in St. Catharines (pictured). Photo credit: Pierre Poilievre   As part of his coast-to-coast Bring It Home campaign tour this summer, Canada’s Leader of the Official Opposition Pierre […]

Shovels in the ground for brand new South Niagara Hospital

by Kevin Geenen

 Several public officials, including Premier Doug Ford, were on hand for the official ground-breaking ceremony on Tuesday, July 18, 2023. Photo credit: Twitter/Doug Ford   On Tuesday, July 18, Ontario Premier Doug Ford was in Niagara to break ground on the region’s new state-of-the-art $3.6 billion hospital: Niagara Health’s South Niagara Site. Ford was joined […]

Pictured left to right are Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority Chair and Lincoln Regional Councillor Rob Foster, Mayor of Lincoln Sandra Easton, MPP for Niagara West Sam Oosterhoff, and Coastal Science Coordinator for Niagara Coastal Community Collaborative Kiersten McCutcheon. Photo credit: Sam Oosterhoff   The Ontario government is investing $6 million to support 30 multi-year projects […]

Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake, and Port Colborne all offer outdoor walking tours throughout the summer months. Photo credit: Facebook/Niagara Falls Museums   Niagara is known for its rich history and landmarks but many of these sites can be overlooked as they now blend into the modern landscape. Fortunately, many local museums offer guided walking tours that […]

Niagara Falls City Council pledges $30 million for new local hospital

by Nick Redekop

Artist rendering of the future Niagara Falls hospital at the corners of Montrose and Biggar roads. Photo credit: Niagara Health   The City of Niagara Falls has officially committed to provide $30 million dollars to the construction of a cutting-edge hospital for residents of South Niagara. Lynn Guerriero currently serves as President and CEO of […]

Splashtown opened for its second season off Nickel Beach two weeks ago. Photo credit: Splashtown   Splashtown Water Parks has reopened for summer fun at Nickel Beach in Port Colborne.  The inflatable water park has slides and an obstacle course just a short swim from the shoreline. The attraction is family friendly — encouraging all […]

Average Canadian rent price reaches record high

by The Niagara Independent

Average asking rents in Canada have increased 20 points in two years. St. Catharines saw a month-over-month increase above the national average, yet remains one of more affordable medium- to large-sized cities in Canada.   With increased immigration and rising interest rates putting more and more pressure on investors and landlords, rental prices continue to […]

Niagara one of safest large urban areas in Canada, new study suggests

by The Niagara Independent

Website Rentola looked at the 34 largest census metropolitan areas in Canada. Photo credit: City of Welland   The St. Catharines—Niagara census metropolitan area (CMA) is the eighth “safest” metro area in Canada, according to a new study by rental search engine website Rentola. The study ranked Canada’s 34 largest CMAs for “overall security and […]

Pace of price increase slows below one per cent. Average number of days houses on market remains steady at 30.    After tumbling for the better part of 2022 into early 2023, the Niagara real estate market continues its slow and steady climb back up. For the fourth month in a row, home prices across […]

Niagara’s Shaw Festival Theatre celebrates half century of entertainment

by Nick Redekop

While the Shaw Festival is currently in its 61st season, the organization’s main theatre in Niagara-on-the-Lake officially opened its doors 50 years ago on June 28, 1973. Photo credit: Shaw Festival   As the calendar turned to July last weekend, the 2023 season at Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake was already well underway. However, this is […]

Frozen confections around the region to keep you cool this summer

by Mary Spinks

Celebrate the hot weather and Niagara’s small business community by visiting one of the locations below. Pictured is Chef and Bub in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The small-batch popsicle maker has another location in Thorold. Photo credit: Facebook/Chef and Bub   Summer is in full swing, and with the hot weather it’s always nice to indulge in a […]

Niagara Health provides further insight into decision to reduce urgent care hours

by The Niagara Independent

Starting this Wednesday, the urgent care centres in Fort Erie (pictured) and Port Colborne will shift from 24/7 operations to exclusively running from 10:00am to 8:00pm. The change is ultimately the result of a “human resources issue”, not inadequate funding. Photo credit: Google Maps   Following a torrent of backlash from residents, municipal leaders, and […]

Niagara College tripling on-campus housing over next four years

by The Niagara Independent

To accommodate growth and address existing housing shortage, school adding new living spaces for approximately 1,000 students at its Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake campuses. Photo credit: Niagara College   Driven by its uber-successful, innovative programs in the food and beverage, horticultural, and advanced manufacturing industries, over the last decade or so Niagara College has quickly transformed from […]

Canada Day celebrations across Niagara

by Mary Spinks

From fireworks over the Falls, to free concerts, parades, and a variety of food vendors, Niagara communities across the peninsula have a lot on offer this Canada Day. Photo credit: Niagara Falls Tourism   There’s plenty of things going on around the region this Canada Day long weekend. Below is a selection of some of […]

Rooted Hair Studio showcases local entrepreneurial spirit

by Nick Redekop

Colleen Slappendel (pictured, centre) opened her Pelham hair salon at the height of the pandemic in October 2020. Despite the inherent challenges in starting a small business, plus the added pressures of recurrent lockdowns and restrictions, she and her business prevailed, and continues to grow. Photo credit: Rooted Hair Studio   2020 was undoubtedly one […]

Niagara Falls MP Tony Baldinelli, Mayor of Fort Erie Wayne Redekop comment on possible tax that would increase costs for Canadians who own property in the U.S. Pictured is the Peace Bridge, which connects Fort Erie, ON and Buffalo, NY. Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Frank Gunn   In response to a generational crisis in housing […]

Pair of Niagara police officers awarded province’s highest honour for bravery

by The Niagara Independent

Mike Delano (right) and Christian Gifford (left) were honoured with the Ontario Medal for Police Bravery at a ceremony in Toronto on Thursday, June 22. Pictured in-between Delano and Gifford is NRPS chief Bryan MacCulloch. Photo credit: Twitter/Bryan MacCulloch   At a ceremony at Queen’s Park in Toronto last week, the Ontario government honoured 21 […]

The award-winning market is set to move from the MacBain Community Centre parking lot (pictured) to the brand-new Niagara Falls Exchange Cultural Hub and Market on Ferry Street later this summer. Photo credit: Facebook/Niagara Falls Farmers’ Market   The 2023 season at the Niagara Falls Farmers’ Market is well-underway. This year, however, is particularly special. […]

Local school boards’ budgets continue to balloon

by The Niagara Independent

The DSBN’s annual budget has increased nearly $100 million since the 2019-20 school year. Photo credit: VNIS Education   Just in time for the start of summer break this week, Niagara’s public and Catholic school boards have approved of their respective 2023-24 budgets.   For the fifth consecutive year, the District School Board of Niagara (DSBN) […]

Sixth year in a row the Parks Canada fort, which typically serves as a War of 1812 reenactment site, will play host to World War I commemorations. Photo credit: Fort George National Historic Site   Fort George, in Niagara-on-the-Lake, is most renowned for its depiction of daily life during the War of 1812. For one […]

Niagara cleans up at Ontario Wine Awards, with nationals just around the corner

by The Niagara Independent

Peller Estates’ Katie Dickieson (pictured) awarded ‘Winemaker of the Year’. Domaine Queylus’ Brooke Husband named Paul Pender Memorial ‘Rising Star’ for 2023. Photo credit: ARTiculation Group/Joseph Chan   Earlier this month, the winners of the 2023 Ontario Wine Awards were announced at a ceremony hosted by Niagara College. Katie Dickieson of Peller Estates was named […]

Province helping McNally House significantly expand care capacity

by The Niagara Independent

Left to right: Mayor of Grimsby Jeff Jordan, Mayor of West Lincoln Cheryl Ganann, Mayor of Lincoln Sandra Easton, MPP for Niagara West Sam Oosterhoff, McNally House Executive Director Pamela Blackwood, and McNally House President and Board Chair Murray Bain. Photo credit: Sam Oosterhoff   The provincial government is providing funding to help McNally House […]

Niagara Catholic board receives unidentified threat

by The Niagara Independent

Put in place Monday in response to the threat, hold and secure order now lifted as of Tuesday morning. All schools back to normal. According to police, threat likely originated from outside of Canada. Photo credit: Google Maps   A hold and secure order at all elementary and secondary schools across the Niagara Catholic District […]

The Niagara Folk Arts Multicultural Centre (pictured) is set to receive $100,000 to implement its solution focused on increasing health literacy, raising awareness about colon-friendly healthy diets, and enhancing accessibility to colorectal cancer screening and primary care. The centre aims to not only educate but also normalize the discussion around colorectal cancer, creating the tagline […]

Diodati, Siscoe set to get strong mayor powers from province

by The Niagara Independent

Mayor of Niagara Falls Jim Diodati (centre) and Mayor of St. Catharines Mat Siscoe to be granted increased decision-making capabilities July 1. Photo credit: Twitter/Jim Diodati   The heads of council for Niagara’s two largest cities have been granted ‘strong mayor powers’ by the province. In an announcement Friday morning, Minister of Municipal Affairs and […]

The Conservative MP for Niagara Falls (pictured) also put forward a unanimous consent motion on Monday to immediately return Bernardo back to a maximum-security prison. The Liberals rejected the motion.   Local MP for Niagara Falls Tony Baldinelli has taken concrete steps to guarantee mass murderers like Paul Bernardo are kept in maximum-security for their […]

Several pick-your-own experiences around the region to choose from. Pictured is Fenwick Berry Farm. Photo credit: Fenwick Berry Farm   Strawberry season in Niagara officially kicks off this weekend with the 38th annual Strawberry Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake.  The festival, which takes place on Saturday, June 17, will be held on the grounds of St. Andrew’s […]

The Pie Guys Bakery and Café (pictured) opened its new production facility at the corner of King and Minto St. six weeks ago, expanding its local footprint and helping fill a commercial vacancy on one of the city’s main thoroughfares. Photo credit: Facebook/Pie Guys   If you’ve driven down King St. in Port Colborne recently […]

Back on May 9, Mayor Mat Siscoe outlined a “laundry list” of issues St. Catharines (pictured) is dealing with in relation to homelessness, drug abuse, and violence. Photo credit: City of St. Catharines   Last month, Mayor of St. Catharines Mat Siscoe painted a bleak picture of a downtown core overrun by hard drug abuse, […]

Niagara Falls MP Tony Baldinelli (pictured, front) set to sponsor and introduce legislation this week that will return serial killer back to maximum-security prison and keep him there for life. Baldinelli and Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre announced their plan to reverse the decision to transfer Bernardo at a press conference on Sunday, June 11. […]

Staff installed warning signs in front of four school safety zones earlier this week, officially kicking off the 90-day notice period required by law to allow for automated speed enforcement. Photo credit: Facebook/Niagara Region   Municipal staff were out in the field on Wednesday installing “coming soon” signs in anticipation of program launch for Niagara […]

Local MPP Sam Oosterhoff (pictured) sponsored the private members’ motion, which nabbed unanimous, all-party support earlier this week. Photo credit: Sam Oosterhoff   On Monday, June 5, Ontario lawmakers from all parties unanimously passed a private members’ motion from Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff calling for the inclusion of multi-faith chaplaincy work on the province’s […]

Niagara West MP Dean Allison (pictured), who previously served as shadow minister of international development and international trade as well as director at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, said the CCP has “inundated” many of Canada’s largest and most powerful institutions, and most Canadians aren’t even aware of the severity of the […]

Local housing prices rose another 1.3 per cent last month, with number of sales increasing 22 per cent from April to May. Photo credit: AP/Steven Senne   For the third consecutive time, home prices across Niagara ticked up last month.  According to the latest statistics from the Niagara Association of Realtors (NAR), the regional Home […]

Niagara Parks celebrates Seniors Month with two-for-one offer throughout June

by The Niagara Independent

Every Wednesday, seniors aged 60 and over get one free admission for every entry purchase at all of Niagara Parks’ attractions and heritage sites. Photo credit: Niagara Parks   Along with National Indigenous History Month, Italian Heritage Month, and a bevy of other month-long observances, June represents Seniors Month in Ontario: “a time to honour […]

On Wednesday, May 31, it was announced that Niagara’s two urgent care centres in Fort Erie and Port Colborne would shift from operating 24/7 to exclusively running 10:00am to 10:00pm. Pictured are mayors of Fort Erie and Port Colborne Wayne Redekop (left) and Bill Steele. Photo credit: Niagara Region   Earlier this week, Niagara Health […]

Ambassador families, sponsors, community donors, dignitaries, and staff from Niagara Children’s Centre celebrated the 2023 fundraising campaign with a water illumination at Niagara Falls Wednesday night. Photo credit: Niagara Children’s Centre   Niagara Children’s Centre is celebrating a historic fundraising campaign.   Last month, the St. Catharines-based youth rehabilitation facility raised a record-breaking $325,487 as part […]

Marineland denies any wrongdoing related to care of black bear cubs

by The Niagara Independent

The Solicitor General’s office charged the Niagara Falls park with three counts of failure to comply with an order on Tuesday. Photo credit: Facebook/Marineland   On Tuesday, May 30, Ontario’s Ministry of the Solicitor General laid charges against Marineland Canada for three counts of allegedly failing to comply with an order related to the care […]

Fort Erie and Port Colborne urgent care centres to switch from remaining open 24 hours a day to operating exclusively from 10:00am to 10:00pm, seven days a week. Photo credit: Google Maps   In the face of “unprecedented challenges relating to health human resources”, Niagara’s regional healthcare provider is set to halve operational hours at […]

E.S. Fox and Aecon revealed a new teaming agreement at the former’s Port Robinson facility on Tuesday, May 30. Pictured from left to right are E.S. Fox VP of Business Development Frank Pepers, Minister of Energy Todd Smith, Ontario Power Generation Chief Supply Officer Karen Fritz, Aecon VP Greg Thede, and E.S. Fox President Spencer […]

Trustees voted 5-2 to uphold a by-law that prevented board members from discussing the policy change at its May 23 meeting. The motion will be reviewed at the board’s June 20 meeting. Photo credit: Twitter/WRDSB   A pair of Niagara Catholic District School Board (NCDSB) trustees recently tried to discuss development of a policy that […]

Business community celebrates Niagara’s best and brightest under 40

by The Niagara Independent

Business Link hosted its 20th annual 40 Under Forty awards in Niagara Falls on May 25. Pictured (left) is Fort Erie’s Katie Clarkson of R2G Construction, one of last week’s 40 winners from across Niagara. Photo credit: Business Link Media Group   Last Thursday, May 25, Business Link Media Group hosted its 20th annual 40 […]

Niagara scores C on annual fiscal accountability report card

by The Niagara Independent

Niagara’s regional government finished tied for 20 out of 32 municipalities assessed by the C.D. Howe Institute. Photo credit: The Niagara Independent   When it comes to fiscal accountability, the Niagara Region is one of the country’s poorest performing municipalities, new analysis from leading think tank C.D. Howe Institute suggests. In its annual study on […]

Mass retirements and more building projects means there will be tens of thousands of good-paying jobs available over the coming decade and beyond. Photo credit: Niagara College   As the demand for new infrastructure increases, technology advances at an unprecedented rate, and the baby boomers retire in droves, the need for skilled trades people is […]

Niagara Health launches new, better integrated diagnostic imaging system

by The Niagara Independent

Deputy Chief of Diagnostic Imaging Dr. Amit Mehta. Photo credit: Niagara Health   As part of its ongoing efforts to improve patient care and outcomes via implementation of an integrated, fully digital information system, Niagara Health has launched a new diagnostic imaging platform.  The software system, called Sectra Enterprise Imaging Solutions, allows healthcare providers in […]

Marineland reports ‘successful’ start to season

by The Niagara Independent

Despite protests and uncertainty surrounding the park’s future, site officials purportedly saw massive year-over-year increase in opening weekend attendance. Photo credit: Marineland   Despite a crowd of “100 or so” protestors outside its park entrance in Niagara Falls on Saturday, Marineland said it had a “successful” opening weekend to kick off the 2023 tourist season.  […]

Ontario’s Solicitor General visits with Niagara first responders

by The Niagara Independent

Alongside local MPP Sam Oosterhoff, Minister Michael Kerzner met with firefighters and law enforcement in Niagara Falls on Tuesday. Photo credit: Twitter/Michael Kerzner   Minister Michael Kerzner, the province’s Solicitor General, met with some of Niagara’s finest on a trip to the region Tuesday.  Hosted by Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff, Kerzner, whose ministry oversees […]

The premier made the remarks in response to a reporter’s question in St. Catharines on Friday last week. Niagara currently has 126 elected officials for a population of just 485,000. Photo credit: Twitter/Doug Ford   In a tandem announcement last week, the Ontario government revealed both that it will dissolve the Region of Peel by […]

City of Welland’s HR team named one of most innovative in Canada

by The Niagara Independent

High-quality employers know how to attract the best people and keep them feeling fulfilled throughout their tenure, all while driving growth and success for the entire enterprise. Selecting talent and helping ensure job satisfaction are, in large part, the role of an organization’s human resources team. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons   In terms of hiring, […]

Applied Modern System Integration Inc. manufactures modular electrical houses, switchgear, protection and control cabinets, portable substations, and more. The company’s new facility will be located in the Town of Lincoln’s industrial park, pictured here just south of the QEW. Photo credit: Google Maps   St. Catharines-based manufacturer Applied Modern System Integration Inc. (AMSI) is moving […]

In St. Catharines on Friday, Premier Doug Ford, Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney, Associate Minister of Transportation Stan Cho, and other government officials announced that starting this weekend there will be three GO train roundtrips to and from Niagara every day of the week year-round. Photo credit: The Niagara Independent   Just in time for […]

Letter comes only weeks after province significantly increased annual support and committed $62,314,200 over next three years to help address homelessness in Niagara. Pictured are co-signatories NDP MPP for St. Catharines Jennie Stevens (left) and Ward 4 city councillors Robin McPherson (top right) and Caleb Ratzlaff. Photo credit: Facebook/Jennie Stevens and City of St. Catharines […]

Things to do around the region this Victoria Day long weekend

by Mary Spinks

From fireworks in Niagara Falls and Welland to a festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, there’s something for everyone. Several heritage sites and tourist attractions open for the season this weekend as well, including Niagara Parks’ Old Fort Erie (pictured) and Happy Rolph’s Animal Farm in St. Catharines. Photo credit: Niagara Parks   The Victoria Day long weekend […]

Province set to dissolve Peel Region, Niagara among next to be assessed

by The Niagara Independent

Ontario government set to name facilitator who will review whether Niagara Region ‘continues to be relevant’ and if its 12 lower-tier municipalities ‘are mature enough to pursue dissolution.’ Photo credit: The Niagara Independent   It’s official: come Jan. 1, 2025 the Region of Peel will be no more and it’s three constituent communities of Mississauga, […]

Niagara College distillery in high ‘spirits’ after nabbing three international medals

by The Niagara Independent

Head Distiller David Dickson (left) and Assistant Distiller Ian Bickle hold up the college’s award-winning craft spirits. Photo credit: Niagara College   Niagara College’s School of Wine, Beer and Spirits continues to haul in the hardware for its high-quality, innovative creations in the alcohol sphere.  In its latest impressive showing on the international stage, the […]

Niagara Region Transit launches blitz to catch fare evaders

by The Niagara Independent

Riders not paying their transit fare is a growing issue around Ontario. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons   In an effort to reduce fare evasion across its network, Niagara Region Transit (NRT) is undertaking a regionwide proof-of-payment blitz. Agency officials started checking passengers’ NRT fare cards, student cards, prepaid fares, paper tickets, mobile tickets, and transfers […]

Lincoln restaurant ranks fifth best in Canada

by The Niagara Independent

Second year in a row Jordan Station’s Restaurant Pearl Morissette has finished in the top five of Canada’s 100 Best annual restaurant ranking. Only Niagara eatery to make the list. Photo credit: Canada’s 100 Best/Sarah Annand   Local residents looking to try one of the top restaurants in Canada this year don’t have to travel […]

Students, staff, and faculty from Niagara College in front of the newly installed doors at the Welland Museum. The doors mimic the original set that would have secured the building’s entrance in 1923. Photo credit: Niagara College   The elaborate, time-consuming architecture of the past sometimes seems like a lost art in today’s fast paced […]

Region to consider former St. Catharines CAO as head of Public Works

by The Niagara Independent

Commissioner Bruce Zvaniga (pictured, left) set to leave next month. CAO Ron Tripp (right) putting forward former colleague from St. Catharines Dan Carnegie to ‘temporarily’ fill role. Photo credit: Niagara Region   The Region’s current Commissioner of Public Works Bruce Zvaniga is leaving his $216,000-salary post for another municipality.  According to sources familiar with the […]

New facility located at 118 Main Street East in Grimsby. Photo credit: Strive Niagara   Strive Niagara, a local learning support organization for young families, opened the doors to its new Margaret Jarrell Centre last Thursday, May 11. Tracy Belcastro currently serves as Executive Director for Strive Niagara.  “The Margaret Jarrell Centre is one of […]

Program graduates at the Niagara Folk Arts Multicultural Centre in St. Catharines. Supplied photo.   Last year, the Niagara Folk Arts Multicultural Centre (NFAMC) debuted the Healthcare Navigator Training Program for Internationally Educated Healthcare Professionals (IEHPs). The program consisted of trained professionals supporting newcomers when they accessed Ontario’s healthcare system and sought to help integrate […]

Encampment in Centennial Gardens off Gale Crescent near downtown St. Catharines. Image from July 2021. Photo credit: Julia McLaren    Downtown St. Catharines has become a hellscape of hard drug use, public defecation, and intercourse in open view, according to the city’s mayor.  Speaking at Niagara Region’s public health and social services committee on Tuesday, […]

Due to excess bacterial pollution, the water quality at Queen’s Royal Beach in Niagara-on-the-Lake (pictured) was designated “impaired” and unsafe for swimming in 1993. Photo credit: NPCA    It turns out that the Canadian side of the Niagara River didn’t need an ultra-stringent environmental designation that subjects local authorities to the whims of international regulators […]

Are residents of Niagara’s cities unhappy?

by The Niagara Independent

Recent report from Point2 analyzed happiness in communities around Canada. Niagara’s three most populated municipalities all ended up in the bottom fifth of the country’s 100 largest cities. Pictured is St. Catharines, which ranked 87. Photo credit: Flickr/Ontario Municipal Affairs and Housing   A new study suggests Niagara’s Big Three municipalities are among some of […]

Niagara-on-the-Lake set to host Doors Open Ontario day this fall

by Mary Spinks

Currently, six sites, including the Niagara Pumphouse Arts Centre (pictured), are participating in the October 21 event. This year’s theme centres around Ontario’s culinary and agricultural heritage. Photo credit: Niagara Pumphouse Arts Centre   Late last month, the annual Doors Open Ontario campaign began its 2023 season to celebrate the architectural, cultural, and natural heritage […]

Pictured is the International Railroad Bridge that connects Fort Erie, Ontario and Buffalo, New York. Three individuals were caught by U.S. officials on the bridge trying to illegally enter the U.S. last Thursday. According to U.S. Border Patrol, agents have captured 24 non-citizens in the last 60 days trying to enter the country in the […]

Niagara home prices rise across the board, second monthly increase in a row

by The Niagara Independent

April was the first month in over a year in which housing prices rose in every municipality within the Niagara Association of Realtors market area. Photo credit: The Globe and Mail/Matthew Sherwood   Homes in Niagara are once again starting to sell for more, more quickly. After rising for the first time in exactly a […]

Marotta family donates $10 million to new South Niagara Hospital

by The Niagara Independent

It’s the largest gift ever given to the Niagara Health Foundation. Pictured left to right at a celebration event at Two Sisters Vineyards last Thursday are Benny Marotta, Louise Marotta, Simona Marotta, Angela Marotta, Melissa Marotta-Paolicelli, Giuseppe Paolicelli, and Chiara Marotta. Photo credit: Niagara Health Foundation   As residents, officials, and stakeholders of every kind […]

Held every other year, the Niagara Home Builders’ Association (NHBA) hosted its 2023 Awards of Excellence gala at Club Roma in St. Catharines on April 14. Pictured is the team at Mountain Building Group. Photo credit: Mountainview   The Niagara Home Builders’ Association (NHBA) held its biannual Awards of Excellence gala in St. Catharines last […]

Plenty of places around Niagara to celebrate coronation next weekend

by Mary Spinks

Events taking place in Port Colborne, Niagara Falls, St. Catharines, and Thorold. For most Canadians, it’s the first royal coronation of their lifetime. Pictured is the Roselawn Mansion in Port Colborne, which will be hosting a celebratory high tea on Sunday, May 7. Photo credit: Facebook/Friends of Roselawn Centre   Spring is a time of […]

Local chambers excited for return of ‘Niagara Networks’

by Nick Redekop

The South Niagara Chambers of Commerce is excitedly preparing for the return of its blockbuster networking conference and tradeshow later this month at the Niagara Falls Convention Centre (pictured). New this year is a series of sector specific roundtables. The event, held annually prior to the pandemic, last took place in 2019. Photo credit: Niagara […]

Ontario’s longest-serving director of education retiring from DSBN after 18 years

by The Niagara Independent

Warren Hoshizaki (pictured, right) spent almost half of his over 40-year career in education leading Niagara’s public school board. Photo credit: Twitter/DSBN   After nearly two decades at the helm of the District School Board of Niagara (DSBN), Director of Education Warren Hoshizaki is calling it a career at the end of this calendar year.   […]

Hirji passed over for permanent medical officer of health position

by The Niagara Independent

Region selects current associate medical officer of health Dr. Azim Kasmani (pictured) to lead Niagara’s public health efforts moving forward. Photo credit: Niagara Region   After an epic year and a half-long recruitment process, Niagara Region has finally landed a permanent medical officer of health and commissioner of Public Health and Emergency Services. And while […]

Self-proclaimed mandate ‘leader’ among Ontario universities, Brock drops mask requirement

by The Niagara Independent

Students and faculty no longer have to wear masks in instructional settings on campus. Photo credit: Brock University   In a move that brings it in line with the vast majority of post-secondary institutions across North America, Brock University has finally dropped its on-campus masking mandate.  As of Monday, April 24, Brock students, faculty, and […]

The 68-kilometre infrastructure project, finished in December, brings broadband access to nearly 700 homes and businesses in south Pelham. SWIFT (Southwest Integrated Fibre Technology) is a non-profit municipally-led broadband expansion project created to improve internet connectivity in underserved communities and rural areas across Southwestern Ontario.    Only weeks after the Town of Lincoln secured a […]

The consortium alleges Woodbine has worked to monopolize the horse racing industry in Ontario and believes the Toronto track has intentionally exacerbated tensions with Fort Erie and its partners. Photo credit: Facebook/Fort Erie Race Track   Attempts to resolve a long-standing dispute between Fort Erie Live Racing Consortium (FELRC) and Woodbine Entertainment regarding the shipping […]

Region raises price of garbage tags 14 per cent

by The Niagara Independent

The hike is just the latest in a long line of price increases related to waste management in Niagara from recent years. Photo credit: Town of Pelham   In October 2020, Niagara Region started collecting residents’ garbage every other week instead of once a week.   The move to bi-weekly pickup was originally touted as a […]

Pelham one of seven Ontario communities selected for EV charging stations

by The Niagara Independent

The town will receive between six to 10 Level 2 charging stations through a program launched in partnership between Aviva and Earth Day Canada.    In a media release earlier this week, insurance provider Aviva Canada announced that the Town of Pelham is one of the first seven communities that will receive Level 2 EV […]

Niagara Parks investing in repair, preservation of Niagara’s south shore

by The Niagara Independent

Breakwall damage along the Niagara River in Fort Erie. Photo credit: Niagara Parks   A number of unusually strong storms have wreaked havoc on Niagara Peninsula’s south shore in recent years, including the Christmas-cancelling blizzard that pounded Fort Erie, Port Colborne, and Wainfleet this past December. All that ice, water, and wind has taken its […]

Niagara Health’s new digital platform provides patients better surgical care experience

by The Niagara Independent

Monitored by a “nurse navigator”, the app allows patients to give and receive real-time feedback on their post-surgical outcomes without the need for an appointment or hospital visit. Photo credit: Facebook/SeamlessMD   Only months after Niagara Health announced its plan to replace all of its paper-based records and outdated electronic processes with a more modern, […]

Niagara’s newest post-secondary institute to welcome first students start of next year

by The Niagara Independent

The University of Niagara Falls Canada (UNFC) is set to launch its first two programs in data analytics and management in January 2024. Pictured are Mayor of Niagara Falls Jim Diodati (front-right), city councillors, and representatives from UNFC (including Cyndi McLeod, front-left) at a community social event hosted by WeinLokal this past Saturday, April 15, […]

Atura Power eyes 2024 grand opening for Niagara Hydrogen Centre

by Nick Redekop

Concept illustration of the Niagara Hydrogen Centre. According to Atura, construction of the new facility on the Niagara River will generate an estimated $67 million of GDP, $31 million of labour income, and $4 million of tax revenues at the provincial level, plus tens of millions more over its 30-year operating life. Photo credit: Atura […]

The increased funding from the Ford government amounts to $62,314,200 over three years. Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff (pictured, centre) made the announcement alongside Mayor of Niagara Falls Jim Diodati (right) and Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley (front-left) earlier this week. Photo credit: Sam Oosterhoff   The Niagara Region will receive an additional yearly $20,771,400 […]

Local MP Tony Baldinelli responds to Liberal minister’s tour of Niagara

by Nick Redekop

Canada’s minister responsible for trade and economic development Mary Ng (pictured, left, at Ravine Vineyard) was in town last Thursday to tout the federal government’s recent budget. Photo credit: Twitter/Mary Ng   Mary Ng, federal Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development, visited Niagara on Thursday, April 6. Alongside fellow Liberal […]

It will be two decades before Canada sees another total solar eclipse, and no less than 82 years before Ontario experiences the phenomenon again. Multiple reasons, including the lengthy duration of totality on the peninsula, will likely coalesce to attract countless spectators to Niagara. Photo credit: AccuWeather/McKinley Museum   In almost exactly one year’s time, […]

Holy Week reflections with Niagara’s Father Corso

by Nick Redekop

The Parochial Vicar at Niagara Falls’ Our Lady of the Scapular Church shares his thoughts on the holiest time of the year for Christians and provides some practical ways in which the faithful can participate and find peace this weekend. Photo credit: Facebook/Our Lady of the Scapular Church   As Holy Week culminates this weekend […]

Niagara housing prices rise for first time in a year

by The Niagara Independent

The local monthly HPI benchmark price increased more than two percentage points in March, following several months of deceleration in decreases. In January and February, prices effectively flatlined, decreasing a mere 0.4 and 0.25 per cent. Photo credit: Bloomberg/Cole Burston   For the first time in exactly one year, local housing prices in Niagara went […]

Pattison pledges $5 million toward South Niagara Hospital

by The Niagara Independent

 Interior concept illustration of the new Niagara Falls hospital. Photo credit: Niagara Health    Only a few months away from construction start, the South Niagara Hospital project has received yet another major private-sector donation. On Thursday, April 6, the Niagara Health Foundation announced that renowned philanthropist and business mogul Jim Pattison has pledged $5 million […]

Committee endorsement brings local red light cameras one step closer to reality

by The Niagara Independent

The initiative now just needs full council approval. Installation of the new technology is part of Niagara Region’s broader Vision Zero traffic strategy and could come as soon as September. Pictured is a red light camera warning sign in Sudbury. Photo credit: CBC/Jonathan Migneault   After a “wholesome discussion” on the matter Tuesday morning, members […]

Popular Beamsville brewery buys local cider producer

by The Niagara Independent

Pictured from left to right are Bench Brewing president and founder Matt Giffen, Niagara Cider Company co-founder Rich Houghton, Bench director of brewing and beverage operations Kaitlin Vandenbosch, and Niagara Cider co-founder Matt Dixon. Photo credit: Facebook/Bench Brewing   Two of the region’s most popular (non-wine) adult beverage makers are joining forces.  In a social […]

Province provides Niagara College, Brock with funds for new instructional equipment

by The Niagara Independent

MPP for Niagara West Sam Oosterhoff (left) tours the labs at Niagara College’s Rankin Technology Centre in Welland on Friday, March 31, 2023. MPP Oosterhoff is pictured alongside Mechanical Engineering Technology professor and program coordinator Rick Baldin. Photo credit: Niagara College   The provincial government is investing in critical teaching technology at Niagara’s two postsecondary […]

Thirty million litres of raw sewage spilled into lake from local plant during Christmas storm

by The Niagara Independent

Last December, Niagara Region’s wastewater facility in Crystal Beach failed, resulting in 30 million litres of raw sewage dumping into Lake Erie. The public was not informed. Regional Council was not informed. Pictured is the Crystal Beach Wastewater Treatment Plant. Photo credit: Google Maps   The Region of Niagara is responsible for treating wastewater prior […]

Brock remains one of best schools in world to study sports

by The Niagara Independent

Photo credit: Brock University    If you want to study the science, practice, and administration of sports in Canada, or indeed the wider world, Niagara’s Brock University is one of the best places to do so. For the third year in a row, Brock finished in the top 100 universities globally for “Sports-Related” subjects – […]

Each year, Niagara growers employ thousands of migrant workers to help fill the significant labour gaps in the local agricultural sector. The Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Services (F.A.R.M.S.) program connects seasonal workers with local producers. Photo credit: F.A.R.M.S.   As spring arrives and the days become longer and the temperatures slowly begin to rise, the […]

Chief MacCulloch one of highest paid public employees in province last year

by The Niagara Independent

Niagara’s Chief of Police Bryan MacCulloch earned over $675,000 in 2022 after receiving an early retirement payout following 35 years of service. Other big earners from the region were Niagara Health head Lynn Guerriero and Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Mustafa Hirji. Photo credit: NRPS   Cloaked by the budget it released the day […]

Welland Canal officially opens for season with top hat ceremony in Port Colborne

by The Niagara Independent

Mayor of Port Colborne Bill Steele (left) presents Captain Michael Rodaway (centre) with the 2023 ceremonial top hat. Captain Rodaway’s ship, the Florence Spirit, was the first downward vessel of the 65th navigation season to pass through the Welland Canal on Wednesday, March 22. Photo credit: Facebook/City of Port Colborne   At its annual top […]

Niagara College alum lends lighting expertise to Academy Award-winning film

by The Niagara Independent

Game Development graduate (2019) Andres Coimbra Castedo worked on Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, which won the 2023 Oscar for Animated Feature Film. Photo credit: Niagara College and Netflix   The work of Chippawa’s-own James Cameron was once again on display at the Oscar’s earlier this month, with Avatar: The Way of Water picking up four […]

United Way Niagara has record-breaking year

by The Niagara Independent

Niagara’s largest non-governmental supporter of social services raised in excess of $5,000,000 in 2022. Photo credit: United Way Niagara   United Way Niagara has set a new annual fundraising record.  In 2022, the local charity raised an incredible $5,270,000, up 11 per cent from 2021 and its largest yearly sum yet. The organization celebrated the […]

Niagara City Cruises enjoys earliest season opening in a century

by Nick Redekop

The first cruise of the year set sail last week. The iconic boat tour at the base of the Falls typically holds its inaugural excursion in April or May. Photo credit: Facebook/Niagara City Cruises   While Monday was the official first day of spring, Niagara City Cruises welcomed the new season even earlier. Mory DiMaurizio […]

Optimally employed in neighbouring jurisdictions, power of the audit underrealized in Niagara

by The Niagara Independent

Provincial legislation allows a municipality to appoint an independent Auditor General. The Auditor General is responsible for holding administrators accountable for the quality of stewardship over public funds and for the achievement of value for money in municipal operations. Hamilton has one, Niagara does not. Pictured is the Burgoyne Bridge in St. Catharines – the […]

With all pandemic restrictions at the border now lifted and international travel continuing to increase, the Niagara Parks is expecting a stellar 2023 tourist season – and the organization needs help from the community to make it a success. Photo credit: Niagara Parks   It may only be March but plans for summer 2023 are […]

Province provides funds to help connect Niagara seniors to specialized care and supports

by The Niagara Independent

The near-$300,000 in funding will allow residents with complex medical needs receive appropriate care where they live, instead of at a hospital. Pictured left to right are Minister of Long-Term Care Paul Calandra, Mayor of Grimsby Jeff Jordan, and Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff. Photo credit: Twitter/Sam Oosterhoff   Speaking at Deer Park Villa long-term […]

Half dozen Niagara events make Ontario’s Top 100 Festivals and Events list

by The Niagara Independent

Pelham contributed two festivals to this year’s list. Photo credit: Pelham Summerfest   Last week in Niagara Falls, Festivals and Events Ontario (FEO) held its annual conference celebrating the work of organizers and municipalities around the province that hosted a wide range of live entertainment and activities this past year.   Held at the Marriott on […]

Diodati calls on feds to provide plan for migrants transferred from Roxham Road

by The Niagara Independent

Niagara Falls has taken in over 4,300 illegal border crossers since the federal government started transferring people from Quebec to Ontario last June. Having rose well above the initial 87 asked for in the summer, migrants now occupy over 2,000 of the city’s hotel rooms. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons   Mayor of Niagara Falls Jim […]

McCall MacBain makes massive donation to new South Niagara Hospital

by The Niagara Independent

 John McCall MacBain (pictured) grew up in Niagara Falls. Over the years, his family and foundation have given millions to a variety of projects and initiatives around the city. Photo credit: Niagara Health Foundation   The South Niagara Hospital project has received yet another major donation. On Thursday, March 9, the Niagara Health Foundation revealed that John […]

Councillor Huson chats challenges, opportunities for Niagara Region

by Nick Redekop

Current chair of the Region’s Planning and Economic Development Committee, Diana Huson (pictured) was first elected Regional Councillor for Pelham in 2018. Photo credit: Niagara Region   As spring approaches, many initiatives will be picking up speed in Niagara’s regional government. Diana Huson serves as the Regional Councillor for Pelham.  “The first big objective we’ve […]

Local housing prices remain stable, as sales jump nearly 50 per cent from January to February

by The Niagara Independent

Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Lars Hagberg   For the second month in a row, the month-over-month decrease in local housing prices continued its halt to near zero, as the Housing Price Index (HPI) composite benchmark for the Niagara Association of Realtors (NAR) catchment area fell a negligible 0.25 per cent from $629,100 in January to […]

Niagara Regional Council delivers highest property tax bill since 1970

by The Niagara Independent

The 2023 budget includes adding approximately $36 million to regional reserves. With families struggling to make mortgage payments and put food on the table, it appears that Regional Council would rather have money in its government bank accounts rather than in the bank accounts of residents and local businesses. Pictured is Niagara Regional Council Chair […]

The funds will help Stanpac purchase new equipment to make more sustainable food packaging, like its new paper-based bulk ice cream container. Photo credit: Facebook/Stanpac   On Monday, government officials were on hand in West Niagara to announce a $5 million investment in local manufacturer Stanpac.  The money, sourced from the FedDev Ontario fund, will […]

Buffalo Congressman blasts Trudeau for ‘discriminatory’ tax on underused homes

by The Niagara Independent

This isn’t the first time Democratic representative for New York’s 26th congressional district Brian Higgins has criticized the Trudeau government’s policies. Photo credit: Facebook/Brian Higgins   Few American politicians were as critical of Justin Trudeau’s “draconian” COVID travel policies as Democratic Congressman for Buffalo and Niagara Falls Brian Higgins.  Throughout the pandemic, Higgins, who co-chairs […]

At present, there are thousands of asylum claimants occupying some 2,000 hotel rooms in Niagara Falls. The migrants crossed into Canada from the U.S. via Quebec’s Roxham Road (pictured). Photo credit: Global News   As winter drags on, the migration crisis facing Canadian border communities is intensifying. Niagara is no exception. “Our local service organizations […]

$3.6 billion contract awarded for South Niagara Hospital

by The Niagara Independent

The multibillion-dollar Niagara Falls facility will be one of the single largest design, build, finance, and maintain investments for a new healthcare project in provincial history. Artist rendering of the new hospital’s ‘Oakes Family’ main entrance. Photo credit: Niagara Health   Niagara residents south of St. Catharines are one step closer to finally realizing a […]

As initially proposed back in August 2022, Fort Erie would exit the current riding of Niagara Falls, while the newly formed district of ‘Niagara South’ would become the peninsula’s most populous riding. Photo credit: Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Ontario   Back in August 2022, the three-member Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Ontario proposed a number of […]

Niagara-on-the-Lake withdraws Randwood Estate appeal

by The Niagara Independent

The withdrawal ends a yearslong legal saga with developer Benny Marotta. Pictured is the entrance to the Randwood Estate property on John St. East in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Photo credit: Google Maps    After over four years, untold energy and resources, and thousands of tax dollars wasted, it appears an ongoing legal saga between the Town-of-the-Lake and […]

The regionwide transit service launched on Jan. 1, 2023. Carla Stout heads up the commission in charge of making sure the new system runs smoothly. Photo credit: CPTDB Wiki   After several decades of planning, designing, and securing long-term investment, the newly amalgamated Niagara Region Transit system is up and running.  Carla Stout is the […]

Councillors continue to debate one of highest property tax bills in Niagara history

by The Niagara Independent

  At a time when just about everything costs more and people are already holding on by a thread.   Get ready for your 2023 double-digit property tax bill. As recommended by regional staff last week, and approved by the budget review committee Thursday night, the 2023 property tax bill will be one of the […]

Hamilton Centre provincial by-election set for March 16

by Kevin Geenen

Seat vacated following now-Mayor of Hamilton Andrea Horwath’s re-entry into municipal politics. Veteran police sergeant Pete Wiesner (left), representing the Ontario PCs, takes on NDP candidate and well-known anti-police activist Sarah Jama (right). Photo credit: Ontario PC Party and Facebook/Sarah Jama   The Ontario Government has officially announced the date of the Hamilton Centre provincial […]

Local researcher trying to help patients get back pain diagnosed faster, from anywhere

by The Niagara Independent

Brock University Kinesiology graduate student Carl Alano and his thesis supervisor, Assistant Professor of Kinesiology Shawn Beaudette (standing), review video data being used to develop a telehealth screening tool for diagnosing back pain. Photo credit: Brock University    Whether acute or chronic, many adult Canadians have experienced lower back pain at some point in their […]

Niagara grape growers experience ‘small’ 2022 harvest, with yield half of previous years

by The Niagara Independent

Wet, cold weather to blame for quanity issue, but quality said to be ‘exceptional’. Low supply should mean increased demand for 2022 vintage in years ahead. Photo credit: VQA Ontario   According to VQA Ontario’s latest Vintage Report, 2022 was a bad year for the province’s grape yields, and thus a bad year for Niagara […]

Province recognizes Niagara College faculty and staff for community work, accessibility project

by The Niagara Independent

Niagara College culinary instructor Olaf Mertens accepts an Award of Excellence from Minister of Colleges and Universities Jill Dunlop on Feb. 6, 2023. Photo credit: Niagara College   Niagara College continues to have an outsized positive impact on the Niagara community and beyond.  Earlier this week, college faculty and staff were presented with Minister’s Awards […]

Members of the collaborative team changing over foam mattresses and stretcher pads to gel alternatives at all five Niagara Health sites. Photo credit: Niagara Health   It may seem like a small change, but it will no doubt make a big difference in the lives of many –if even for a short while.   As announced […]

Prices actually slightly increased in six of the Niagara Association of Realtors’ 10 market areas. Only Fort Erie and Port Colborne/Wainfleet saw sizeable month-over-month reductions in property value. Photo credit: CBC/Francis Ferland   Though Niagara’s housing market finished off 2022 on an overall low-note, statistics from the first month of 2023 may indicate prices have […]

Reimagined Gilmore Lodge eyes January 2024 grand opening

by Nick Redekop

The new facility on Garrison Road will replace the Gilmore Road home and double its capacity to 160 long-term care beds. The three-storey facility will be situated close to Albany Street, providing sight lines to Lake Erie. Photo credit: Niagara Region   A central component of the Niagara regional long-term care system is on the […]

Two-term Niagara Regional Councillor David Barrick served as CAO of the City of Brampton from 2019 until his termination in February 2022. He was accused of contravening municipal policies and procedures. Multiple “independent third party investigations” recently cleared Barrick of any wrongdoing.    Earlier this week, former Deputy Mayor of Port Colborne, two-term Niagara Regional […]

Store dedicated to non-alcoholic alternatives makes move to Fort Erie

by The Niagara Independent

Soberlicious launched in 2021. Currently online-based, the store plans to open a brick-and-mortar shopfront on Dominion Road in Fort Erie for the summer tourist season.   In 2016, the Canadian Cancer Society launched Dry Feb, a fundraiser that challenges Canadians to go alcohol-free during the month of February. The purpose of the 28-day dry-out is two-fold: to […]

Budget committee green-lights Niagara police budget increase

by The Niagara Independent

The 5.7 per cent bump from 2022 will allow an already-stretched service to hire and retain members, invest in mental health support, and contend with rising costs of operational necessities like fuel. Photo credit: Twitter/Bryan MacCulloch   Despite continued calls to “defund the police” across North America, and the recent efforts of local activist groups, […]

Niagara College top in Ontario for research funding, second in Canada

by The Niagara Independent

One of the myriad measures that make a quality post-secondary institution is adequate research funding to help students and faculty inquire, innovate, explore and, ultimately, make a difference in the wider world. Pictured lab tech Brock Husak sets up a Fortus 900 3D print machine for an industry partner at Niagara College’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing […]

Oosterhoff believes productive year lies ahead for Ford government

by Nick Redekop

Niagara’s lone PC Party MPP – pictured, left, alongside Grimsby mayor Jeff Jordan – talks health care, housing, and Greenbelt. Photo credit: Facebook/Sam Oosterhoff   Sam Oosterhoff, Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Niagara West, is preparing for a significant year at Queen’s Park. “I believe this will be a big year for this government, […]

Marineland may soon be up for sale, lobbyist registration suggests

by The Niagara Independent

In an integrity commissioner application filed earlier this month, a lobbyist for the Niagara tourist attraction listed sale of the park and zoning changes to allow for development as items he intends to talk to the provincial government about. Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Tara Walton   What was only rumour for the last few years […]

Last Friday, Niagara Health and local NDP MPP Jeff Burch both posted threads to social media regarding the present and long-term fate of Welland hospital, as well as if proper information about the site has been circulated to date. Photo credit: Google Maps   Niagara Health and NDP MPP for Niagara Centre Jeff Burch appear […]

 According to the most recent monthly report from, rent went up 10.9 per cent across the country last year. However, in relative terms, St. Catharines maintained the 13th cheapest rent of 35 medium to large-size Canadian cities in December 2022. Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick    Hot off a recent study that suggested […]

Located in Fort Erie, Ray Rosettani is a long-time veteran of the real estate industry. Photo credit: Facebook/Ray Rosettani    Canadian real estate has seen rapid changes and sharp turns over the past several years. The pandemic, inflation and broader market instabilities have contributed to price and inventory numbers that many home buyers and sellers […]

Four local home builders nominated for national excellence awards

by The Niagara Independent

Winners will be announced during Home Building Week next month. Mountainview Building Group earned two nominations for the Penthouse Suite at its Port Dalhousie “The Beaches” development (pictured). Photo credit: Quartek Group Earlier this month, the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA) released its list of finalists for the 2023 National Awards for Housing Excellence. According to […]

Despite new legislation, NPCA proposes 17 per cent budget increase and tripling of permit fees

by The Niagara Independent

In a seemingly desperate attempt to thwart pending provincial legislation aimed at building more homes, at the last Board of Directors meeting of the previous term’s tenure, the NPCA pre-approved a 17 per cent increase to the 2023 budget and tripled some of their permit fees. Pictured is NPCA headquarters at 250 Thorold Rd. in […]

Local four-year-old slipped into coma after eating mother’s cannabis gummies

by The Niagara Independent

Last Thursday, a St. Catharines court heard how the Niagara Falls girl and her older sister consumed several of their mother’s cannabis-infused edibles, thinking they were candy. Their story of severe sickness is only one of hundreds from across Canada since the legalization of recreational cannabis. Photo credit: CBC   Children across Canada, including here […]

 Over the next few years, the government will allow more procedures to occur in private community facilities. Local Opposition MPPs accused the premier of deliberately underfunding public healthcare in order to privatize Ontario’s system. Photo credit: Twitter/Doug Ford In an effort to eliminate surgical backlogs and reduce wait times, the provincial government announced on Monday […]

Feds help fund Francophone community centre in Welland

by The Niagara Independent

Niagara Centre MP Vance Badawey (centre-left) and Minister of Official Languages Ginette Petitpas Taylor (centre-right) were in Welland on Tuesday, January 10 to announce the funding. Photo credit: Twitter/Ginette Petitpas Taylor   The Government of Canada is providing Foyer Richelieu Welland, a Francophone long-term care facility in central Niagara, an additional $2.7 million in support to […]

Port Colborne wharves to undergo major revitalization, as partners announce $45.3 million project

by The Niagara Independent

Federal and municipal officials were in town Wednesday for the announcement. Pictured (front) is Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra. Pictured in back from left to right are president and CEO of the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation Terence Bowles, Mayor of Port Colborne Bill Steele, and Niagara Centre MP Vance Badawey. Photo credit: Twitter/Omar Alghabra […]

The team of 16 Goodman School of Business MBA students fended off powerhouse teams from York, McMaster, and a dozen other universities to take home the Queen’s Cup for the first time since the competition started in 1988. Photo credit: Brock University   It’s a time-honoured tradition among Canadian business schools: the annual MBA Games.  […]

St. Catharines homeowners pay second lowest shelter costs in Ontario, new study suggests

by The Niagara Independent

A recent report from Point2 indicates Niagara’s most populous municipality is one of the province’s, and country’s, cheapest places to own or rent. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons St. Catharines remains one of the most affordable cities in Canada to maintain housing, according to yet another third-party report.  A recent study by Saskatoon-based online real estate […]

New initiative aims to open up vital hospital space and get people back home faster

by The Niagara Independent

The program will leverage community supports, ensuring individuals receive the appropriate care they need outside of a hospital setting.    It’s been the story of the last few years: hospitals struggling to stay afloat operating at or, more often than not, above capacity.  Emergency departments are overwhelmed, and there simply aren’t enough inpatient beds to […]

Fort Erie pursuing provincial funds to help with blizzard fallout

by The Niagara Independent

When the small lakefront community was previously slammed by a destructive storm on Halloween in 2019, the municipality successfully secured $7.4 million in disaster recovery funding from the Ford government. Photo credit: Facebook/Town of Fort Erie   The true extent of the damage done by the massive blizzard that tore across Niagara’s south coast in […]

The town’s long-time head of council said the storm that ripped across Niagara’s south coast in the days before Christmas – encasing some lakefront homes in solid ice – was the worst weather event the municipality’s seen since 1977. Photo credit: Twitter/Nick Iwanyshyn   When an extratropical cyclone took more than half of North America […]

Niagara housing prices finish off 2022 with another monthly decrease

by The Niagara Independent

The local Housing Price Index composite benchmark has dropped an overall 23.5 per cent from peak in March 2022. Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Graeme Roy   After making historic gains throughout the latter half of the pandemic, Niagara’s housing market has collapsed back down to early 2021 levels. On Tuesday, the Niagara Association of Realtors […]

Elite student-athlete academy opening campus in Port Colborne

by The Niagara Independent

TPH Academy currently has campuses across the U.S. from Phoenix to Fort Lauderdale. The company’s new Niagara branch will operate out of Port Colborne’s Vale Health and Wellness Centre (pictured).   One of North America’s top dual athletic-academic sports development programs is coming to Niagara. This spring, U.S.-based TPH Academy is expanding operations in Canada […]

Niagara Icewine Festival back with full slate of festivities

by The Niagara Independent

Events take place all across the region during the last three weekends of January. Photo credit: CNW Group/Wine Marketing Association of Ontario   Niagara’s Icewine Festival is back in full force for the first time in three years.  Marketed as the largest icewine festival in the world, the 2023 celebration will take place over three […]

Local pharmacy owner Sean Simpson (pictured, left) said the provincial government’s recent move to provide pharmacists the ability to prescribe medication for 13 common ailments represents a “big change” that will positively impact healthcare in Ontario. Photo credit: Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy    As of January 1, 2023, Ontario pharmacists are now able to prescribe […]

Niagara Falls silent this New Year’s Eve

by Mark Hardwick

 Despite all Covid restrictions being fully lifted, why did Canada’s top leisure tourism destination have such a humdrum holiday season? Photo credit: Niagara Falls Tourism   Music and Niagara Falls on New Year’s Eve had at one time been synonymous. For many years, the City of Niagara Falls, the Niagara Parks Commission and local tourism […]

Power restoration efforts in Fort Erie, Port Colborne ‘substantially complete’

by The Niagara Independent

Some residents were without power for a full week after a once-in-a-generation blizzard ripped through Niagara’s south coast last Friday and Saturday. Photo credit: Canadian Niagara Power   It’s been a long week without power for many residents of Fort Erie and Port Colborne, but the tireless efforts of hydro crews across the region have […]

Niagara police’s holiday RIDE program results in one arrest, five licence suspensions

by The Niagara Independent

Pictured NRPS, OPP, and Niagara Parks Police officers take part in a joint spot check operation in Niagara Falls the night of December 3, 2022. In all, over 2,500 cars in six Niagara communities were stopped across four nights this past month. Only one driver was arrested for registering a Blood Alcohol Concentration above 0.08. […]

Christmas-cancelling blizzard slams Niagara’s south coast

by The Niagara Independent

Wind gusts topped 120km/h in certain areas. Driving was virtually impossible in Fort Erie and Port Colborne for much of Friday and Saturday. Pictured is a Niagara Regional Police Service (NRPS) cruiser that slid off the road in Fort Erie, Dec. 24, 2022. Photo credit: Twitter/NRPS   While perhaps not quite as destructive and widespread, […]

One of Brock’s top administrators leaving university for similar role at nearby college

by The Niagara Independent

After only three years on the job, associate vice-president of advancement and external relations Gord Arbeau is leaving the St. Catharines university to become vice-president of advancement at Niagara College. He’s not the first top administrator in recent years to leave the large research university to take up effectively the same position at an applied […]

Niagara-on-the-Lake brewery buys out one of Ontario’s original craft beer-makers

by The Niagara Independent

Josh Graham of Virgil’s Silversmith Brewing and Ken Woods of Etobicoke’s Black Oak Brewing share a beer. The two craft breweries recently joined forces under ownership of Silversmith. Photo credit: Silversmith   One of Niagara’s most iconic craft breweries is expanding its business. Virgil’s Silversmith Brewing, located in an 1890s church on Niagara Stone Road […]

Santos is the senior pastor at Redeemer Bible Church in Niagara Falls.    This past year has brought with it no shortage of change, much of which has made a weary Canadian population even more uneasy. As 2022 concludes, however, many holiday traditions are returning for the first time since 2019.  Reverend Carl Santos serves […]

Local fundraising project has record-setting year

by The Niagara Independent

Project Plaid raised over $143,000 for youth mental health. This year’s campaign received support from several local organizations, including the Niagara IceDogs, who once again hosted ‘Plaid Night’ to help raise funds. Photo credit: Facebook/Meridian Credit Union   After Shanta Rangaratnam lost her 18-year-old daughter Amelia Durocher to suicide in February 2019, the St. Catharines […]

Brock LINC launches NAVIGATE, a new program for early-stage entrepreneurship

by Alejandro Vasquez Coronado

Inside the Rankin Family Pavilion. Photo credit: Brock University   Located in the Rankin Family Pavilion, Brock LINC is the centre for creativity, innovation, research, and entrepreneurship at Brock University.  Nearing its three-year anniversary since it opened, Brock LINC continues to expand and provide unique opportunities to the Niagara region. This time, to entrepreneurs with […]

EllisDon selected to lead construction on new Niagara Falls hospital

by The Niagara Independent

Once contract details are finalized over the coming weeks, construction on the over-$1 billion project will begin. Photo credit: Niagara Health    The South Niagara Hospital project officially has a builder.  On Monday, Infrastructure Ontario and Niagara Health named EllisDon Infrastructure Healthcare (EDIH) as the preferred proponent to design, build, finance, and maintain the brand-new […]

Thorold Multimodal Hub doubles footprint overnight

by The Niagara Independent

The industrial hub along the Welland Canal now boasts 400 acres of land and over 1 million square feet of indoor space. Photo credit: HOPA Ports   Just days after one of its tenants received a joint-investment from the provincial and federal governments to the tune of $11.3 million, it was announced the Thorold Multimodal […]

Vineland Estates Winery Restaurant (pictured) was one of four Niagara establishments named to OpenTable’s top 100 list for 2022. Photo credit: Facebook/Vineland Estates Winery    Earlier this month, online restaurant review and reservation website OpenTable released its 2022 list of Canada’s 100 “most beloved” restaurants, based on more than one million ratings.  The website analyzed […]

Province, federal government invest big in Thorold facility set to make energy from woody biomass

by The Niagara Independent

CHAR Technologies’ first-of-its-kind Thorold facility will convert bark, shavings, and sawdust – largely viewed as waste in the forestry sector – into 10,000 tonnes of biocarbon fuel per year. Pictured from left are CHAR Technologies CEO Andrew White, Ontario Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry Graydon Smith, and MPP for Niagara West Sam Oosterhoff, Dec. […]

Niagara Health to enter modern era of hospital information, go fully electronic

by The Niagara Independent

Lynn Guerriero, president and CEO of Niagara Health, signs a 10-year agreement with healthcare information system technology-provider Oracle Cerner. Photo credit: Niagara Health   If one walks into a Niagara hospital today, he or she may experience a triage nurse fumbling about with paper-based forms or repeating questions one would think, given how many times […]

Local company starts early work on historic, first-of-its-kind in Canada nuclear project

by The Niagara Independent

Premier Doug Ford with E.S. Fox employees announcing the start of early work on Canada’s first grid-scale small modular reactor at the Darlington nuclear site, Dec. 2, 2022. Niagara-based E.S. Fox is building the necessary infrastructure to prepare the site for deployment. Photo credit: OPG   A Niagara-based company is literally laying the groundwork for […]

Niagara housing prices dip less than two per cent for second-straight month

by The Niagara Independent

Though prices have now dropped a consecutive eight months in a row, October and November 2022 both saw decreases markedly tamer than the several months prior. Of note, only 335 housing units changed hands last month. Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Evan Buhler   With the Bank of Canada’s quixotic journey to bring inflation back down […]

St. Catharines regional councillor Laura Ip (pictured) is one of three regional representatives who will sit on the seven-member board for the next four years. Photo credit: Niagara Region   At Niagara Regional Council’s December 1 meeting, members selected representatives to serve on a number of local agencies, boards, commissions, and committees for the new […]

Diodati predicts 2023 ‘year of the great recovery’

by Nick Redekop

Four-term mayor (pictured) eyes ‘grand reopening ceremony’ for North America in Niagara Falls this spring. Photo credit: Facebook/Jim Diodati   Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati is exhilarated to begin his fourth term, following a landslide victory in October’s municipal elections.  “Sometimes I’m almost pinching myself when I think about all the amazing things that are […]

Auditor General’s scathing report on OLG confirms City’s and Region’s worst fears

by The Niagara Independent

According to the recently released value-for-money audit, when it came to selecting a new entity to run the region’s two casinos a few years back, the OLG chose the casino operator for Niagara that proposed the least amount of capital investment and “brought less economic and financial benefit to the province than if OLG had […]

Province’s new agri-food strategy good news for Niagara economy

by The Niagara Independent

One the strategy’s stated objectives is to increase both the consumption and production of food grown and prepared in Ontario by 30 per cent over the next 10 years – good news for a region that relies on food production as a major source of jobs and is a large contributor to local GDP. Photo […]

Harry Schlange leaving Town of Grimsby as CAO

by The Niagara Independent

The municipal administrator previously served as CAO for Niagara Region and the Town of Fort Erie. Pictured is Grimsby town hall. Photo credit: Town of Grimsby   The Town of Grimsby and its top bureaucrat have agreed to part ways.  In an announcement Thursday, Grimsby revealed that as of Dec. 5, 2022, Harry Schlange will […]

Construction on new West Niagara Secondary School making ‘steady progress’

by Nick Redekop

The new high school (pictured), which was originally supposed to open in September 2022 but was delayed due to the pandemic, will amalgamate and retire Grimsby Secondary School and Beamsville District Secondary School. If all goes to plan, the school could welcome students before the end of the academic year. Photo credit: Twitter/DSBN   Families […]

Pair of Niagara College graduates honoured with prestigious Premier’s Award

by The Niagara Independent

It was the first time in school history two alumni were presented with the accolade in the same year. Pictured are award winners Murray Brewster and Erica Williams. The pair stand alongside school president Sean Kennedy (centre) at the Colleges Ontario Higher Education Summit awards gala in Toronto, Nov. 28, 2022. Photo credit: Niagara College  […]

Niagara Health, DJB among small group of region’s 2023 ‘Top Employers’

by The Niagara Independent

Niagara Health made the annual list for the fifth-straight year. DJB was named a Top Employer for the third time in four years. Photo credit: Facebook/Niagara Health    A total of eight of Niagara-based workplaces have made this year’s ‘Hamilton-Niagara Top Employers’ list.  Published annually since 2008 by Mediacorp Canada, the competition is organized by […]

Niagara Catholic trustees hold inaugural meeting of new term, Di Lorenzo elected chair

by The Niagara Independent

Pictured from left to right are trustees Larry Huibers, Doug Joyner, Jim Marino, Paul Turner, Chair Danny Di Lorenzo, Vice-Chair Rhianon Burkholder, student trustees Steffan Zylstra (back) and Charlotte Johnstone, trustee Joe Bruzzese and trustee Natalia Benoit. Photo credit: Facebook/Niagara Catholic   Niagara Catholic District School Board held its first inaugural of the 2022-2026 term […]

Despite short and long-term challenges, future for Niagara business bright

by Nick Redekop

Executive Director of the South Niagara Chambers of Commerce Dolores Fabiano pointed to widespread labour shortages as the most significant challenge facing local employers at the moment, but said Niagara is especially good at attracting talent and uniquely positioned to succeed moving forward. Photo credit: The Niagara Independent    The pandemic, inflation, labour shortages and […]

Province provides Niagara police funding to help address local auto theft

by The Niagara Independent

The near-$2 million grant will be used to upgrade the police force’s Automated Licence Plate Recognition (ALPR) technology. Photo credit: Facebook/Niagara Regional Police Service   The Ontario government is providing the Niagara Regional Police Service (NRPS) $1,956,419 to help combat auto theft in the region.  The NRPS will use the funding to enhance existing Automated Licence Plate Recognition (ALPR) […]

CP Holiday Train rolling into nearby Hamilton next week

by Kevin Geenen

Back for the first time since 2019, the Christmas-themed locomotive will travel through neighbouring Steeltown on Tuesday, November 29. Photo credit: CP   The Canadian Pacific (CP) Holiday Train has returned for 2022 after a brief two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. The train will be in Hamilton on Tuesday, November 29 from 7:30PM to […]

The twice-weekly event offers “students who identify as Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC)” free tutoring, tailored resources, and snacks in an exclusive study space. Photo credit: The Niagara Independent   As first reported by the Western Standard and True North Centre last week, St. Catharines-based Brock University recently introduced a racially segregated study […]

Health care facilities in Niagara get over $2 million from province for upgrades, repairs

by The Niagara Independent

The funds will be used to address infrastructure renewal needs, such as roofing repairs or window replacements. Pictured is Port Colborne Urgent Care Centre, one of five Niagara Health sites around the region. Niagara Health received $1.3 million in funding for the 2022-23 fiscal year. Photo credit: City of Port Colborne   The province is […]

Bradley back as chair, as province set to reassess Niagara’s two-tier governance model

by The Niagara Independent

Reappointed chair to provide “continuity and stability”, Bradley will work hand-in-hand with a provincially selected “facilitator” who will review the municipality’s two-tier governance system. Led by Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark (pictured), the province wants to reduce duplication and cut red tape in order to, among other things, address the housing crisis. […]

Niagara students exceed provincial testing standards across most categories, grade levels

by The Niagara Independent

Grade 3 and 6 DSBN students did particularly well in math, posting double-digit scores above the provincial standard at both levels. Photo credit: Pexels/Pixabay   It’s been a few years since Niagara students took the EQAO (Education Quality and Accountability Office) test – which was paused following the 2018-2019 academic year due to the pandemic […]

Niagara producers post strong showing at first-ever Canada Beer Cup

by The Niagara Independent

Professor and head brewmaster at Niagara College’s Teaching Brewery Jon Downing stands with the school’s two gold medal-winning creations. The Teaching Brewery was one of three local craft beer producers to take home hardware at last month’s competition, where Beamsville’s Bench Brewing landed on the overall Best-in-Show podium for its plum sour. Photo credit: Niagara […]

Winter Festival of Lights celebrating four decades with news displays, trails, and free family fun

by The Niagara Independent

The annual Niagara Falls lights show is Canada’s largest outdoor illumination festival. Photo credit: Facebook/Winter Festival of Lights   The Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights officially kicked off the 2022 season on Saturday. The elaborate lights show, which runs a full 101 nights until February 20, is celebrating 40 seasons of dazzling displays this […]

Practical ways you can help support our veterans

by Nick Redekop

Before, on, and after Remembrance Day, there are myriad ways Niagara residents can make a difference in the lives of our country’s finest. Photo credit: Facebook/Royal Canadian Legion Branch 124   Remembrance Day is here again. The annual observance provides a special opportunity for Canadians to honour the sacrifice made by our armed forces, both […]

St. Catharines City Council held its final regular meeting of the 2018-2022 term on Monday. Members narrowly passed a motion to once again display the nativity scene featuring baby Jesus outside of city hall this year, following a two-year hiatus. One of the more vocal opponents of the scene’s reinstitution was outgoing councillor Karrie Porter […]

Since first taking office in 2019, Niagara Falls MP Tony Baldinelli has been a vocal advocate for local winemakers. At a recent committee meeting, Baldinelli asked Minister of International Trade Mary Ng if the Liberal government will continue to share revenue from the government’s newly reimposed excise tax on wine with producers into the future. […]

Niagara housing prices drop seventh straight month, but pace of decrease slows dramatically

by The Niagara Independent

The local Housing Price Index (HPI) benchmark dipped 1.3 per cent between September and October. Photo credit: HouseLogic/Liz Foreman   As the Bank of Canada continues on its campaign to crash the Canadian economy by aggressively raising interest rates in order to bring inflation back down into its arbitrary target range, local housing prices once […]

Rumours of who’s running to be Niagara’s next regional chair

by The Niagara Independent

Last term’s head of council Jim Bradley only confirmed candidate to date, with several hopefuls speculated. Photo credit: The Niagara Independent   While all seems quiet on the municipal front, there is currently a lot of noise going on behind-the-scenes amongst newly elected regional councillors.  In less than three weeks, Niagara Regional Council will internally […]

While the current season is now well underway, the club is always accepting new members of every size and skill level. Photo credit: Facebook/Niagara Falls Curling Club   After three disrupted seasons, Sean Ford, manager of the Niagara Falls Curling Club, believes brighter days are ahead.  “We have seen a significant uptick in numbers”, said […]

Local developer Rainer Hummel (pictured) launched a lawsuit against the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake after the municipality froze all development across a large swathe of the community for the better part of two years. A lower court judge dismissed Hummel’s suit in 2021. However, in a historic ruling last week, Ontario’s Court of Appeal summarily rejected […]

 Win or lose, Niagara residents appear to be on the hook for sizable sum. Pictured is former Regional Chair Alan Caslin.    The Region of Niagara is suing former Regional Chair Alan Caslin for ‘public malfeasance’ related to the 2016 hiring of Carmen D’Angelo as CAO; a conclusion, to note, not reached by either the […]

Average voter turnout drops nearly nine points across the region

by The Niagara Independent

On average, only 33.5 per cent of eligible voters showed up to the polls across Niagara’s 12 respective municipalities for this year’s municipal elections, down 8.7 per cent from 2018. As they did four years ago, St. Catharines, Thorold, and Welland led the pack in terms of lowest turnout. Photo credit: The Niagara Independent   […]

Ichabod Crane: a Niagara-born Halloween legend

by Nick Redekop

Most North Americans are familiar with the story of the headless horseman, but few realize its creator and protagonist’s namesake have deep Niagara roots. Pictured is The Headless Horseman Pursuing Ichabod Crane (1858) by 19th-century American painter John Quidor. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons/Google Art Project    On Monday, people throughout Canada and the United States […]

Everything you need to know about Niagara’s 2022 municipal elections

by The Niagara Independent

A rundown of some of the top headlines and key results from around the region. Photo credit: Twitter/Jim Diodati   NIAGARA FALLS – Diodati earns fourth term As expected, incumbent mayor of Canada’s Honeymoon Capital Jim Diodati once again swept into office with relative ease, securing nearly 70 per cent of the vote (his nearest […]

Niagara elections strangely silent on governance reform

by The Niagara Independent

There are a few exceptions, however. Former St. Catharines regional councillor Bruce Timms is spearheading third-party efforts to push for double duty councillors. While Kevin Maves, former DSBN trustee and current regional council candidate in Niagara Falls, has put forward a proposal that would cut politicians in Niagara from 126 down to 66. Photo credit: […]

South Niagara Hospital project enters final phase of proponent selection process

by The Niagara Independent

 Infrastructure Ontario and Niagara Health will evaluate RFP submissions over the coming months and announce a successful proponent in early 2023, with construction expected to start shortly thereafter. Two teams are vying to design, build, finance, and maintain the over-$1 billion project. Photo credit: Niagara Health   Last week, Infrastructure Ontario announced closure of the […]

Foster, Greenwood among most excessive in filing expenses at Niagara Region

by The Niagara Independent

Lincoln’s Robert Foster (left) and Niagara Falls’ Barbara Greenwood (right) were among a small, select group of regional councillors in the ‘over-$8,000’ club this past term of government. Photo credit: Niagara Region   Over the last term of Regional Council, January 2019 to October 2022, the council predominantly met by videoconference due initially to pandemic […]

Where the St. Catharines mayoral candidates stand on three key issues

by The Niagara Independent

Property taxes, service fees, and community improvement programs are all hot topics this election cycle. Pictured is mayoral candidate Mike Britton. Britton is one of three candidates vying to replace outgoing incumbent mayor Walter Sendzik, the other two being Mat Siscoe and Nick Petrucci. Photo credit: Mike Britton    The three candidates for mayor in […]

Niagara Falls set to get university, will welcome first students in 2024

by The Niagara Independent

Bringing a post-secondary institute to the Honeymoon Capital has been a goal of Mayor of Niagara Falls Jim Diodati (pictured, centre at podium) for several years. Photo credit: LinkedIn/Jim Diodati   Following over a decade of hard work behind the scenes with multiple stakeholders and several levels of government, Mayor Jim Diodati’s dream of bringing […]

Oakes family pledges $5 million toward new Niagara Falls hospital

by The Niagara Independent

Through the generosity of local private sector donors like the Oakes family, the South Niagara hospital fundraising campaign has secured over $27 million of its $40 million community goal. Pictured right to left are board chair of the Niagara Health Foundation (NHF) Albert Iannantuono, Mayor of Niagara Falls Jim Diodati, president of HOCO Harry Oakes, and […]

MP Baldinelli awarded major critic file, named shadow minister for tourism

by The Niagara Independent

The two-time Conservative MP previously served as Special Advisor on Tourism Recovery and Shadow Minister for Manufacturing and Export Promotion. Pictured are Baldinelli (left) and new Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre. Supplied photo.    Earlier this week, Conservative MP for Niagara Falls Tony Baldinelli was named the Official Opposition’s Shadow Minister for Tourism by newly-elected […]

Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake infringed upon Marotta’s Charter right to a timely trial

by The Niagara Independent

The decision was handed down by an Ontario Justice of the Peace last month and was recently made public. Pictured is the entrance to developer Benny Marotta’s Randwood Estate property on John St. in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Photo credit: Google Maps   In the ongoing Randwood Estate legal saga being fought on the taxpayers’ dime between the […]

Now six months from peak, Niagara home prices continue downward spiral

by Nicholas Tibollo

After reaching $825,300 in March 2022, Niagara’s Housing Price Index (HPI) benchmark has fell a full 20 points down to $661,900. Photo credit: ABC News   The Bank of Canada’s aggressive interest rate hike campaign and uncertainty around the future state of Canada’s economy continue to cool what was a red-hot housing market across much […]

Hall of fame pitcher Fergie Jenkins files suit against his own St. Catharines-based charity

by The Niagara Independent

After the organization allegedly refused to return memorabilia, Fergie Jenkins “had no choice but to commence litigation” against the Fergie Jenkins Foundation, which, along with its accompanying museum, is headquartered in St. Catharines. Pictured is Jenkins at the MLB ‘Field of Dreams’ game, Aug. 11, 2022. Photo credit: Twitter/Chicago Cubs   Legendary Canadian baseball hall-of-famer […]

What’s in a name?

by The Niagara Independent

Are the two Steeles running for Port Colborne mayor related? Yes. Is the Tony Baldinelli running for city council the same Tony Baldinelli who currently serves as MP for Niagara Falls? No. Confused yet? So are we.    Niagara area voters can be forgiven this municipal election if they are a little confused by some […]

 Spencer Bellows-De Wolfe (left), son of late community leader Sandie Bellows, is running for St. Catharines City Council in the 2022 municipal elections. Photo credit: Twitter/Spencer Bellows-De Wolfe   Spencer Bellows-De Wolfe is one of six candidates vying for two city council spots in St. Catharines’ St. Patrick’s Ward this October. A teacher by trade, […]

  Minister of Energy Todd Smith made good use of his time in Niagara on Tuesday, visiting E.S. Fox Ltd. in Niagara Falls, launching the province’s Clean Home Heating Initiative in St. Catharines, speaking to the Women in Nuclear conference, and more. Pictured is Minister Smith (centre) at E.S. Fox’s Niagara Falls facility on Tuesday, […]

Councillor Brian Heit collaborated with CAO in complaint against colleague, documents suggest

by The Niagara Independent

Emails seem to indicate that the St. Catharines regional councillor (left) sought and received assistance in filing an unfounded Integrity Commissioner complaint against fellow councillor Bob Gale (right) from Niagara Region CAO Ron Tripp. Photo credit: Niagara Region   Last Thursday, at Niagara Region’s final regular council meeting before Ontario’s municipal elections, councillors reviewed the […]

Niagara Falls named world’s ‘best-loved landmark’, despite considerable room for improvement

by The Niagara Independent

While it is clear that Mother Nature has gifted Niagara with one of the most spectacular landmarks in the world, one wonders if the custodians of the area have kept pace to provide ancillary product for visitors.    An international luggage storage company, Bounce, which serves tourists in over 1,000 locations in cities around the […]

Allison lays out priorities for fall session

by Nick Redekop

The long-serving Niagara MP said cost of living and labour shortages currently top of mind for Canada’s Opposition.   Niagara West MP Dean Allison says he and his federal Conservative colleagues are ready to get back to work. “There are a lot of big issues that need addressing this fall”, Allison told The Niagara Independent […]

The Parks is hoping to emulate the wild success of its adaptive reuse of the former Canadian Niagara Power Generating Station last year. Pictured is the interior of the Toronto Power Generating Station. Photo credit: Niagara Parks Commission   Earlier this month, the Niagara Parks Commission (NPC) concluded stage two in a three-stage proposal process […]

St. Catharines rental prices increase month-over-month, but remain mid-tier nationwide

by Nicholas Tibollo

The median price for a two-bedroom unit in the city stayed just below $2,000 per month in August. Pictured are the Crown Tower Apartments in St. Catharines. Photo credit: Homestead   According to Zumper’s latest Canadian Rent Report, St. Catharines remains middle-of-the-pack in terms of rental affordability in Canada.  Released last Thursday, the monthly report […]

Port Colborne native gives largest single gift to the liberal arts in Canadian history

by McMaster University

The $50 million donation from businessman and philanthropist L.R. “Red” Wilson, who was born and raised in Port Colborne, will create a unique leadership college at Hamilton’s McMaster University. Photo credit: McMaster University   McMaster University is launching Canada’s most comprehensive leadership college with a $50-million gift from Chancellor Emeritus Lynton “Red” Wilson and the […]

Niagara home prices experience fifth straight monthly decrease

by Nicholas Tibollo

Once again, the region’s HPI composite benchmark fell by more than four points last month. Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Jonathan Hayward   Inflation, interest rate hikes, and uncertainty around the current and future state of Canada’s economy continue to chill what was once a red-hot housing market across much of the country throughout the latter […]

Pierre Poilievre dominated the field of contenders to take the Conservative Party leadership Saturday evening, winning nearly 70 per cent support on the first ballot. Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Adrian Wyld    The sky is still blue, and so is the Conservative Party of Canada.  After what can only be described as the most lackluster […]

News of Queen Elizabeth II’s death came mid-afternoon eastern time Thursday. Photo credit: Royal Family   On Thursday, September 8 at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II passed away age 96 as the longest-reigning British monarch in history.  Across the country, tributes to the Queen of Canada poured in from far and […]

Niagara police hold annual back-to-school safety blitz

by Nicholas Tibollo

Though nearly 100 tickets and written warnings were issued Tuesday, for the most part, participating officers advised that the majority of motorists were using caution around school zones. Photo credit: Twitter/Niagara Regional Police Service    Local law enforcement was out en masse Tuesday for the Niagara Regional Police Service’s 22nd annual back-to-school safety blitz and […]

Town of Pelham awarded $5.4 million in funding for new Fonthill library

by Nicholas Tibollo

Officials made the announcement Friday, Sept. 2, 2022 at the Meridian Community Centre. Pictured from left to right: Councillor Bob Hildebrandt, Councillor Marianne Stewart, Regional Councillor Diana Huson, Councillor John Wink, town treasurer Teresa Quinlin-Murphy, Niagara Centre MP Vance Badawey, Mayor Marvin Junkin, St. Catharines MP Chris Bittle, Lincoln Pelham Public Library (LPPL) CEO Julie […]

Announced a week before start of the term, Brock University will require all staff and students to wear masks in instructional spaces across campus this fall. The decision was made in consultation with the Brock University Faculty Association, the same organization that supposedly “pressured” administrators back in March to maintain the school’s pandemic protocols after […]

Who will be the next Lord Mayor of Niagara-on-the-Lake?

by The Niagara Independent

Current regional councillor Gary Zalepa (pictured left) and retired businessman Vaughn Goettler (right) are challenging incumbent Betty Disero this October.    With the municipal election to be held on October 24, three candidates have registered to become Lord Mayor for the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. The three candidates include incumbent Betty Disero, current regional councillor Gary […]

First scheduled to open in June 2019, and then in April 2020, the newly dubbed ‘OLG Stage at Fallsview Casino’ is now set to host its inaugural shows “later in the fall”. Photo credit: HOCO Entertainment   It’s been a long road, but the 5,000-seat Niagara Falls entertainment centre at the corner of Stanley Avenue […]

The local MP (right, pictured alongside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau) was roundly criticized for his reckless implication. Bittle has a history of exploiting social media to cast baseless aspersions. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons   About two weeks ago, news broke that the Liberal government had hired a consulting firm to roll out an anti-racism initiative […]

After several delegations spoke in opposition to the procedural by-law amendment at regional council’s August meeting, the matter was referred to next month. Photo credit: The Niagara Independent   At Niagara Regional Council’s July meeting, members approved a procedural by-law amendment that would permit Niagara’s top-level bureaucrats, in consultation with the regional chair or a […]

Province bringing back year-round daily GO train service between Niagara and Toronto

by Nicholas Tibollo

The service was originally introduced at the end of 2019 but was suspended due to the pandemic. Direct rail service on weekends was restored for spring and summer 2022, but was set to expire mid-October. Friday’s announcement extended the direct weekend service year-round. From left to right: Metrolinx president and CEO Phil Verster, Minister of […]

Mandatory use of ArriveCAN is only exacerbating the issue. Steve Richardson, general manager at Rainbow Bridge’s Niagara Duty Free (pictured), revealed the local situation is dire. Photo credit: Duty Free Canada   It has been another tough summer for Duty Free stores across Canada, with ample vaccine supply and loosening restrictions not enough to overcome […]

Fresh-off a competitive second place showing in June’s provincial election as the Ontario PC candidate for Niagara Falls, Bob Gale (pictured, left) is one of the early and obvious front-runners in the 2022 race. Other notable candidates running for one of the city’s three coveted Niagara Regional Council spots are former MPP Kim Craitor (right), […]

MPP Wayne Gates’ recent attack on Niagara EMS unfounded, according to Region

by The Niagara Independent

The Niagara Falls MPP rose in the legislative assembly last week to blast the Ford government, and by extension Niagara EMS, for allegedly telling an injured resident she would have to wait six-hours for an ambulance. Per the Region, EMS informed medical alert service provider Lifeline of the worst-case scenario, but in the end a […]

Come the next federal (and provincial) election, some Niagara residents will be casting their vote in a brand-new riding. Among other shifts, Fort Erie is expected to join the newly formed riding of Niagara South, Niagara West is set to gain over 20,000 new residents, while half of Grimsby is anticipated to move over to […]

Mighty Niagara Film Fest returns for second year

by Alejandro Vasquez Coronado

The event takes place at various venues around the region this Wednesday to Saturday. Leading the 2022 line-up is a two-part series by St. Catharines’ own Richard Kerr, one of Canada’s most influential experimental film makers. Pictured is a screening from last year’s festival outside the Riverbrink Art Museum in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Photo credit: Adam CK […]

Both Liberal Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino and Conservative Shadow Minister of Tourism Michelle Ferreri (pictured, far left) were in Niagara Falls Wednesday morning. The former went to a repeat of a demonstration he viewed two weeks ago. While the latter met with local stakeholders, surveyed tourism operations, and spoke with visitors in the […]

Familiar foes, Britton and Siscoe set to square off in St. Catharines for mayor

by The Niagara Independent

The pair of regional councillors were entangled in a political controversy at the end of last year when Siscoe (left) was elevated to Niagara Regional Council over rightful appointee Britton (right) in direct contravention of St. Catharines municipal policy. Years prior to the controversy, the two were council colleagues from 2014 to 2018. As city […]

Brock names Lesley Rigg new president and vice-chancellor

by Nicholas Tibollo

The university began searching for a new top administrator in June 2021. Rigg represents the first woman to hold the role of president on a permanent basis in the university’s near-60-year history. Photo credit: Brock University    Following an international, 14-month search, Brock University has hired Dr. Lesley Rigg as the institution’s next president and […]

Niagara Brewing Company opens second location inside Fallsview Casino

by Nicholas Tibollo

The new site inside the Galleria Shops at the casino (pictured) is just a stone’s throw away from the brewery’s flagship location on Clifton Hill. Photo credit: Niagara Brewing Company    On Friday last week, Niagara Brewing Company, one of the region’s newest and most popular craft breweries, opened a second location in the city […]

The high praise came from federal Minister of Sport Pascale St-Onge in discussions with host society chair Doug Hamilton. St. Catharines regional councillor Laura Ip, however, believes organizers have made “errors” along the way related to Indigenous involvement, recently renewing a call for more details about a reported dispute with the Mississaugas of the Credit […]

Ontario home builders release plan to address housing shortage

by Nicholas Tibollo

Photo credit: Shutterstock    Earlier this week, the Ontario Home Builders’ Association (OHBA), in collaboration with local partners including the Niagara Home Builders’ Association, released its five point action plan to increase the province’s housing supply.  Based on the February 2022 recommendations put forth by the province’s Housing Affordability Task Force, which was led by […]

Niagara school boards welcome early decision from province on classroom protocols

by Nicholas Tibollo

This week, the provincial government verified that mask-wearing will remain optional for students and teachers when schools reopen in early September. Niagara’s public school board said students and parents are now “accustomed” to masks being a personal choice. Photo credit: Facebook/DSBN   On Monday, Ontario’s Ministry of Education confirmed with multiple sources that pandemic-related protocols […]

Niagara real estate prices see near five-point drop in July

by Nicholas Tibollo

Last month was the fourth in a row the local Housing Price Index (HPI) benchmark decreased. Photo credit: AP/Reed Saxon   Interest rate hikes from the Bank of Canada, escalating inflation, and growing fears of an impending recession continue to cool what was once a red-hot housing market across much of the country over the […]

Pathstone receives $2 million gift from local couple

by Nicholas Tibollo

The agency’s leadership team celebrates the massive donation. The money will help Pathstone hire more staff, and thereby help more children. The multi-million-dollar gift is Greg and Diane Slaight’s second in the last two months. In July, the pair gave an identical donation to United Way Niagara. Photo credit: Pathstone Foundation   The incredible of […]

The government announced last week that residents with accentuated French names can now apply to have their health cards changed to reflect proper spelling, free of charge. Niagara hosts a sizeable Francophone population of over 15,000. Photo credit: University of Ottawa   Last Wednesday, the Government of Ontario made a small, but significant cultural announcement […]

Niagara wineries clean up at 2022 nationals, take home every spot in Ontario top 10

by Nicholas Tibollo

St. Catharines’ 13th Street Winery earned the distinction of Ontario’s best wine producer and finished second in all of Canada. Pictured left to right: winery co-owners Doug and Karen Whitty, head winemaker Jean Pierre Colas, and June and John Mann, 13th Street’s other co-owners. Photo credit: Facebook/13th Street Winery   If one needed any more […]

 Niagara is closing in on five years without a permanent medical officer of health. Dr. Mustafa Hirji (pictured) has served in an interim capacity since January 2018. According to an April memo from CAO Ron Tripp, a candidate is “expected” to be selected “no later” than Sept. 22, 2022, just before the upcoming municipal elections […]

Two recently released reports from the Canadian and American governments will guide discussion at the forum, including the State of the Great Lakes 2022 Report, which indicates drinking water across all five lakes is “good”.   The fourth triennial Great Lakes Public Forum will take place at the historic Crowne Plaza Fallsview Hotel in Niagara […]

Emancipation Day in Ontario and Martin Luther King Jr.

by Nicholas Tibollo

Monday doubled as the August Civic Holiday and Emancipation Day in Ontario. Pictured from left to right: Russel Small, Rev. Martin Luther King, Rev. Theodore Boone, and Walter Perry on Emancipation Day in Windsor, Ontario. August 5, 1956. Photo credit: Windsor Star Files   Since 2008, the provincial government has officially recognized August 1 as […]

Ridgeway, Fonthill golf courses once again rank among best in country

by Nicholas Tibollo

Cherry Hill Club (pictured) and Lookout Point Country Club, both celebrating a century in operation this year, were Niagara’s only two representatives on SCOREGolf’s 2022 list of Canada’s best golf courses. Photo credit: Cherry Hill Club   Earlier this week, sports website and magazine SCOREGolf released its biennial ranking of Canada’s top 100 golf courses.  […]

The Landscape of Nations memorial park at Queenston Heights in Niagara-on-the-Lake (pictured) is one of over 50 unique sites, monuments, and activities highlighted on the new digestible digital platform. Photo credit: Niagara Parks   The areas that surround and encompass the 56-kilometre Niagara River corridor between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario comprise easily one of […]

Another Niagara business owner makes multi-million-dollar pledge to new hospital

by Nicholas Tibollo

Domenic DiLalla (centre left) of Centennial Construction and Contracting with Niagara Health Foundation president and CEO Andrea Scott (far left), It’s Our Future campaign co-chair and Mayor of Niagara Falls Jim Diodati (centre right), and DiLalla’s niece and nephews. Photo credit: Niagara Health Foundation   As it does time and again, Niagara’s private sector has […]

The organization is asking the public to practice patience when accessing services and to avoid hospital sites unless serious, immediate care is required. Photo credit: Facebook/Niagara Health   Like other neighbouring health units, Niagara Health is struggling with severe staffing shortages that are having an outsized impact on service delivery. According to a media release […]

Chair and vice-chair of regional council’s procedural by-law review committee Kelly Edgar (left) and Laura Ip (right). The committee’s recommendation to give the CAO, clerk, and legal counsel the authority to deny delegation requests based on mere suspicion someone may be “unreasonable or offensive” was passed by regional council last Thursday. As Edgar put it […]

All but one incumbent Niagara mayor seeking re-election this fall

by Nicholas Tibollo

Only current St. Catharines mayor Walter Sendzik (pictured left) will not be on the ballot when Niagara voters hit the ballot box in October. With less than a month left in the nomination period, currently six of the 11 registered incumbents are unopposed, including Lincoln mayor Sandra Easton (centre). Popular Niagara Falls mayor Jim Diodati […]

Work began at the former Shickluna Shipyard, located along Twelve Mile Creek in the shadow of Burgoyne Bridge, in 2019. The project is led by Dr. Kimberly Monk (left, pictured on-site alongside field student Miranda Gardner). Photo credit: Brock University   After a two-year pandemic-induced hiatus, a team of researchers led by maritime archaeologist and […]

Re-development plans for the 80-acre waterfront property in Lincoln began shortly after it was sold to FBH Group in 2016. Photo credit: Town of Lincoln    After six years of planning and labourious collaboration between multiple levels of government, various stakeholders, and members of the local community, officials formally broke ground at the Prudhommes Development […]

The month-over-month decrease comes after a 6.5 per cent uptick for one-bedroom units between May and June. According to analysts, however, last month’s flattening doesn’t represent the start of a long-term downward trend. Photo credit: AP/Gerry Broome   Just as it got slightly more affordable to purchase a home locally last month, so too did […]

Photo credit: Tony Baldinelli   Between long delays for passport renewal, long lines at the country’s international airports, and the continued mandatory use of the ArriveCAN app at the border, the federal government has made the process of travel to and from Canada a living nightmare, says local Member of Parliament Tony Baldinelli.  Baldinelli, who […]

Pictured left to right: Niagara Centre MPP Jeff Burch, Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates, St. Catharines MPP Jennie Stevens. Photo credit: Member Website/Jeff Burch, Facebook/Wayne Gates, Facebook/Jennies Stevens   Last Wednesday, interim leader of the Ontario NDP and head of the Official Opposition Peter Tabuns named his shadow cabinet in the provincial legislature.  All 31 […]

Record number of babies born at Niagara Health in 2021, continuing upward trend

by Nicholas Tibollo

Between April 2021 and March 2022, 3,629 babies were born at Niagara Health. While registered during the pandemic, the new record for annual births was not caused by pandemic-related factors, according to obstetrics head. Demographic changes, site transfers, and capacity and function upgrades explain increase. Pictured are team members of Niagara Health’s newly expanded Neonatal […]

DSBN trustees approve $546 million budget, $24 million higher than previous year

by Nicholas Tibollo

Growth in enrollment, in part, necessitated the 4.6 per cent increase. Pictured: Greater Fort Erie Secondary School (GFESS). Photo credit: Twitter/Steve Rambajan    For the fourth consecutive year, the District School Board of Niagara (DSBN) has increased its annual budget by well over $20 million from the year prior.  On Tuesday, July 12, the school […]

 In a community survey conducted at the end of last year by regional staff, 24 per cent of respondents – the fourth most of any category – said that they were previously discriminated against because of their vaccination status. However, in the Region’s new, set-for-approval Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan, which uses the community […]

 In a letter released Monday, Chief R. Stacey Laforme said, “we are unable to see a clear path forward with regards to the Canada Summer Games.” Pictured: Just last week, the host society announced Meridian Credit Union and Niagara College as sponsors of the Games’ robust schedule of Indigenous programming. Photo credit: Niagara 2022 Host […]

New ranking names Niagara Falls among country’s top five small cities

by Nicholas Tibollo

Resonance Consultancy released its inaugural list of Canada’s 25 ‘Best Small Cities’ earlier this week. Niagara Falls placed fourth. St. Catharines, Niagara’s only other municipality to make the list, rounded out the top 25. Photo credit: Facebook/City of Niagara Falls   Turns out, Niagara Falls is not just one of the country’s best places to […]

For third straight month, local housing prices fall

by Nicholas Tibollo

Niagara’s Housing Price Index (HPI) composite benchmark dipped by 4.7 per cent on a month-over-month basis in June. Photo credit: Bloomberg/Daniel Acker   Interest rate hikes and fears of an impending recession continue to cool what was a red-hot housing market across much of the country for the past few years. Inventory continues to rise, […]

Ready for next challenge, Davies throws name in hat for regional council

by Nicholas Tibollo

Local businessman Fred Davies – who owns and operates San Marco’s Ristorante and Breakwall Brewing Company in Port Colborne – ran for the Ontario PC Party in Niagara Centre in June’s provincial election, coming within 2.1 per cent of beating out NDP incumbent Jeff Burch. Supplied photo.    Hot on the heels of his impressive […]

Buffalo congressman Brian Higgins said continued restrictions at land border “are breaking the U.S.-Canada relationship”. Pictured: Peace Bridge connecting Fort Erie, ON to Buffalo, NY, as seen from the Canadian side. Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Frank Gunn   Last Wednesday, the federal government announced it was extending border measures for all travellers entering Canada, regardless […]

The region’s newly adopted Official Plan – which will steer local land-use policy and planning through to 2051 – sets extraordinarily rigid environmental protocols for development well above provincial standards. Photo credit: The Niagara Independent   Discussions around housing affordability in Ontario often focus on the role played by the federal and provincial government in […]

MPP for Niagara West Sam Oosterhoff is sworn in as parliamentary assistant to the newly created Minister of Red Tape Reduction at Queen’s Park, June 29, 2022. Photo credit: Twitter/Sam Oosterhoff   Premier Doug Ford is a big proponent of cutting back on bureaucratic red tape, to say the least. His entire 2018 election campaign […]

Former principal puts name forward for school board trustee

by Nicholas Tibollo

 Newly retired, former secondary school principal Danny Di Lorenzo (pictured) hopes to represent Port Colborne, Fort Erie, and Wainfleet as a Niagara Catholic District School Board trustee. Di Lorenzo most recently headed up the administration at Denis Morris in St. Catharines and Lakeshore Catholic High School in Port Colborne, where he lives. Supplied photo.   […]

Annunziata retiring after nearly three decades in public service

by Nick Redekop

Anna Annunziata at the constituency office of MP Tony Baldinelli on Jarvis Street in Fort Erie. Supplied photo.    After dedicating the past 27 years of her life to her community, Anna Annunziata, Fort Erie constituency office manager for MP Tony Baldinelli, will be retiring at the end of this week.  Anna’s career in public […]

The novelist behind Fonthill’s newest pet store

by Special to TNI

From detectives to doggies, Toronto-transplant John McFetridge (pictured) writes new future with Global Pet Foods store in Pelham. Supplied photo.    “Look at this,” said Global Pet Foods owner John McFetridge, holding up a packet of dog treats. “Lobster. Some pets enjoy lobster more often than their owners.” McFetridge opened his 2000-square-foot store in March, […]

Rankin family makes $2 million commitment to new Niagara Falls hospital

by Nicholas Tibollo

Tom and Beth Rankin. Photo credit: Niagara Health Foundation   Niagara’s private sector has once again proven itself to be fully committed to the public good.  On Thursday, June 23, the Niagara Health Foundation revealed that the Rankin family has pledged $2 million toward the new South Niagara hospital It’s Our Future fundraising campaign. The Rankin family […]

Employees stand in front of stacked rows of lettuce at Vision Greens’ vertical farm facility in Welland. The company just raised $7 million to build out the other half of its current production system, the first of five full systems the start-up intends to construct before 2024. Photo credit: Mama Earth/Vision Greens   Canada is […]

 The trials were supposed to take place at the brand new $107 million Canada Summer Games Park in Thorold (pictured) on July 2 and 3. However, facilitators from Team Ontario made a last-minute decision to move the qualifying competition to York University. Photo credit: Facebook/Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games   Late last week, Athletics Ontario […]

Niagara College takes home trophy for best bubbly in Canada

by Nicholas Tibollo

Head winemaker at Niagara College’s Teaching Winery Gavin Robertson raises a glass of the 2022 All Canadian Wine Championships’ ‘Best Sparkling Wine of the Year’: Balance Brut (NV). Thirty Bench Wines, another Niagara-area vintner, also took home ‘Best White Wine of the Year’ at the 2022 competition. Photo credit: Niagara College   Anyone looking for […]

Another tourism season is under threat as Americans hoping to avoid “uncertainty and hassle” of mandatory border measure look elsewhere to spend travel dollars. Public officials and businesses from border communities across Canada held a press conference Wednesday, June 15 (pictured) to plead with the governing Liberals to heed their concerns and scrap the ArriveCAN […]

Gates confirms interest in Ontario NDP leadership bid

by Nicholas Tibollo

 At 70-years-old, the Niagara Falls MPP would likely be the oldest competitor in a tough field of relatively young and hungry leadership challengers, all vying to revive a party that traditionally relies on its youthful appeal. Photo credit: Facebook/Wayne Gates   Amongst the many political casualties of Premier Doug Ford’s second majority victory earlier this […]

Nik Wallenda returning to Niagara Falls to commemorate historic high wire stunt

by Nicholas Tibollo

Wednesday, June 15 is the 10-year anniversary of the daredevil’s momentous tightrope walk directly over Niagara’s world-famous falls. To celebrate, Wallenda will be in town for a special ceremony at the Table Rock Centre, where he will give remarks and officials will unveil a limited-time commemorative display. Photo credit: Reuters/Mike Cassese   This Wednesday marks […]

The clip’s creator, Joshua Bigger (pictured), has been making amateur comedy videos online for several years. Last week, a company representative from Bigger’s Lincoln-based roofing business told blogTO that the video “was just a joke” and they were “honestly surprised” so many people thought it was real.    Over the weekend, a video of a […]

 Students and faculty from Westlane Secondary School at the Sir Adam Beck I Generating Station in Niagara Falls, June 7, 2022. Photo credit: OPG   The greenspace around the Sir Adam Beck I Generating Station in Niagara Falls recently received a floral facelift thanks to a group of local high school students.  Last Tuesday, a […]

Annual DSBN Special Olympics set to go

by Rod Mawhood

Now in its 16th year, and back in-person following two years of virtual competition, the event gives student athletes the chance to test their mettle against participants from 70 schools around the region. Photo credit: Twitter/DSBN   What started as a few schools and a couple of dozen athletes is now 70 schools and 700 […]

ArriveCAN is a mobile and website application all travellers, regardless of citizenship, vaccination status, or trip length, must download and use to provide personal and travel information before entry into Canada. Its mandatory use is believed by many to be both discouraging and delaying cross-border travel. Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Jonathan Hayward   Conservative MP for […]

Photo credit: City of Thorold   On June 7, the City of Thorold took a giant step forward in dealing with a problem that has affected the region for years. A unanimous vote towards a state of emergency was called for mental health, homelessness, and addiction.  “There is a mental health, homelessness and addictions crisis […]

Niagara housing prices decrease for second month in a row

by Nicholas Tibollo

Between April and May the local HPI benchmark price dropped by 3 per cent. Photo credit: Shutterstock/Laura Gangi Pond   After falling for the first time since July 2021 the month before last, between April and May 2022 the local Housing Price Index (HPI) composite benchmark dipped by 3 per cent, going from $814,600 to […]

Despite the Progressive Conservative Party securing another majority mandate last week, three of Niagara’s four provincial ridings voted in members of the non-governing NDP. Sam Oosterhoff (pictured voting with son on election day) will thus once again be the region’s lone PC representative at Queen’s Park. Photo credit: Facebook/Sam Oosterhoff   Ontario PC candidate Sam […]

With province once again painted blue, much of Niagara remains orange

by Nicholas Tibollo

All four of the local incumbents – including three members of the Ontario NDP – were returned to Queen’s Park Thursday night. In the only local race that came close to a change in representation, Niagara Centre incumbent NDP candidate Jeff Burch (pictured back-centre) edged out PC challenger Fred Davies by a mere 2.1 per […]

Gold medalists Abby Bruneel and Tommy Friesen (pictured) were two of five participants from Niagara to medal at the national skills competition last week. Photo credit: DSBN   The 2022 Skills Canada national showcase wrapped up four days of competition and festivities last Saturday.  Between May 25 and 28, approximately 350 post-secondary students, secondary school […]

The Ontario PC Party leader spent a total of three days in the region this election campaign, travelling across the ridings of St. Catharines, Niagara Centre, and Niagara Falls. Pictured Premier Ford (left) and Niagara Centre PC candidate Fred Davies (right) look under the hood of a vehicle getting maintenance at Mike Knapp Ford in […]

As the 2022 provincial election comes to a close, all three of Niagara’s non-incumbent PC Party challengers – Sal Sorrento (left), Fred Davies (centre), and Bob Gale (right) – are encouraging local voters to deliver representatives of the party in power to Queen’s Park and give Niagara a greater voice in government over the next […]

Ford holds massive rally in Hamilton, with election just days away

by Kevin Geenen

Candidates from across Hamilton, Niagara, and Halton region were in attendance. Typically seen as an NDP stronghold at the provincial level, polling shows PCs in position to win three of Hamilton’s five ridings. Photo credit: Twitter/Doug Ford   Ontario PC Party leader Doug Ford held a rally in Hamilton on Thursday, May 26 at the […]

Niagara labour leader reaffirms union’s support for PC Party, labour minister

by Nicholas Tibollo

Mark Cherney (right) meets with Ontario PC labour minister Monte McNaughton (centre), April 21, 2022. Cherney is vice-president of the International Brotherhood Of Electrical Workers Construction Council of Ontario (IBEW CCO) and business manager at Niagara Falls-based IBEW Local 303. IBEW CCO is one of several unions formally endorsing Doug Ford and the Ontario PC […]

Butera family pledges $2 million to new Niagara Falls hospital

by Nicholas Tibollo

Angelo Butera (centre) stands with Mayor of Niagara Falls Jim Diodati (centre-right), president and CEO of the Niagara Health Foundation Andrea Scott (centre-left), and family at Panoramic Properties headquarters in Niagara Falls. Photo credit: Niagara Health Foundation   Niagara’s private sector has once again stepped up to help the public in a big way.   On […]

Seven Niagara students set to compete in Skills Canada Competition this week

by Nicholas Tibollo

Top-earning gold medalists in last month’s virtual Skills Ontario Competition, five hail from the District School Board of Niagara, two from Niagara College. Pictured is Niagara College welding technician student Jake Boekestyn, who won gold in welding at the provincial level and will compete at the national competition later this week. Photo credit: Niagara College […]

Fort Erie International Academy opening doors to students from Ukraine

by Rod Mawhood

The Central Avenue private school will bring in 20 students to start, providing free tuition and room and board. Photo credit: Twitter/Fort Erie International Academy    Since Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine, millions of people from around the world, including thousands here in Niagara, have supported the Ukrainian people in some way.  The latest locally […]

Doug Ford poses with Ontario PC Party candidate for Niagara Falls Bob Gale (right) and Mayor of Niagara Falls Jim Diodati (left). While in Canada’s top tourism destination on Friday, Diodati formally endorsed Ford for premier. Photo credit: Twitter/Doug Ford   After spending much of the day in St. Catharines on Thursday, Ontario PC Party […]

The Niagara Independent wins alternative media award

by Nicholas Tibollo

The publication was recognized alongside a short list of other non-mainstream media outlets from around Canada at a Toronto gala Wednesday.    The Coalition of Concerned Manufacturers and Businesses of Canada (CCMBC) held its first post-COVID ‘Game Changer of the Year’ gala at the Guild Inn Estate in Scarborough on Wednesday.  The event brought together […]

In Niagara, Ford talks infrastructure and tours St. Catharines robotics facility

by Nicholas Tibollo

Doug Ford tours the FSD Robotics factory floor alongside Ontario PC candidate Sal Sorrento (centre-right) and company president and CEO Dave Burgess (centre-left). Photo credit: Twitter/Doug Ford   Ontario PC Party leader Doug Ford was in Niagara-on-the-Lake and St. Catharines on Thursday as part of a two-day campaign tour of the region. Speaking at McNab […]

Hudlický passed away “unexpectedly” in Prague on May 10. He was 72. Photo credit: Brock University   A Storied Career Few faculty members at Brock University brought the school more awards, research dollars, scientific citations, and reputational prestige than Professor of Chemistry Tomáš Hudlický.  Recruited by the St. Catharines institution in 2003 from the University […]

Metrolinx to resume weekend GO Train service between Niagara Falls and Toronto

by Nicholas Tibollo

Roundtrip tickets are available for only $25. Three roundtrips will be made each day. Photo credit: Metrolinx    Weekend GO Train service between Toronto and Niagara Falls resumes this Saturday, May 21.  Metrolinx will make three roundtrips between Union Station and the popular tourism hotspot every Saturday, Sunday, and holiday Monday.   Round-trip tickets are available […]

Freedom Tour stops in Niagara, holds two days of festivities

by Bruce Timms

The ‘Live from the Shed’ transport truck arrives at the Niagara Regional Exhibition in Welland over the weekend. Photo credit: Rosa Stewperian   The Niagara Regional Exhibition grounds in Welland played host to the Freedom Tour’s “Unity Truck Show” this past Friday and Saturday.  With little promotion beyond social media and the tour’s website, the […]

Spurred on, in part, by society’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, between 2019 and 2021 syphilis rates in Niagara tripled, while HIV rates doubled. Pictured is the Niagara Falls Sexual Health Centre, closed for in-person services over much of 2020 and 2021. Photo credit: The Niagara Independent/Nicholas Tibollo   A variety of knock-on effects from […]

Photo credit: Mohawk College   The Niagara Folk Arts Multicultural Centre is a not-for-profit organization that has been a pillar of the St. Catharines community since 1970. The charitable centre offers a variety of programs to support newcomers and helps them integrate into the local community. The centre recently launched a pilot Healthcare Navigator Training […]

Niagara sees slight dip in housing prices

by Nicholas Tibollo

April was the first time in nearly a year that regional prices didn’t tick up on a month over month basis. Photo credit: Rodnae Productions   For the first time since July 2021, housing prices in Niagara decreased last month. According to statistics aggregated by the Niagara Association of Realtors, the local Housing Price Index […]

Bridge authorities say they have been informed by the federal agency that required use of the app is to be “made permanent.” Federal Liberals set aside $25 million in most recent budget to help the CBSA maintain the pre-entry requirement. Photo credit: The Niagara Independent/Nicholas Tibollo   Speaking in the House of Commons last Thursday, […]

Niagara gets provincial funds to expand palliative care across region

by Alejandro Vasquez Coronado

Hospice Niagara began around 30 years ago and continues to grow and meet the needs of the Niagara Region. The new funding will help the organization expand from 10 to 30 hospice beds. Pictured are Sam Oosterhoff, MPP for Niagara West, and Carol Nagy, Executive Director of Hospice Niagara.    Today, people are living longer and […]

St. Catharines to be another nail-biter

by Nicholas Tibollo

Ending in one of the closest contests of the previous election, the riding of St. Catharines appears to have no clear favourite once again, with the PCs, Liberals, and NDP all in a position to win.    Of Niagara’s four provincial ridings, none finished the 2018 election as close as St. Catharines. The contest was […]

 Affirmed as not another government cash grab, ticket revenues from the traffic safety program will be used to offset implementation costs, with any profits set aside for community education. Pictured is a red-light camera sign recently installed in downtown Windsor. Photo credit: CTV Windsor/Chris Campbell   After twice rejecting plans to install red-light cameras and […]

First cruise ship of season stops in Port Colborne

by Nicholas Tibollo

The Viking Octantis sat moored for around seven hours at the city’s Snider Dock across from West Street on Sunday, May 1. Photo credit: The Niagara Independent/Nicholas Tibollo   With a loud, low bellow of its deep-pitched foghorn, the first cruise ship of the 2022 sailing season entered Lock 8 at the south end of […]

St. Catharines selected for provincial clean heating pilot program

by Nicholas Tibollo

The Garden City was one of four Ontario communities picked to test the government’s clean energy initiative. Photo credit: Niagara Economic Development   In a joint letter posted to social media Monday afternoon, provincial Minister of Energy Todd Smith announced that St. Catharines was one of four Ontario communities selected to be part of the […]

Officials break ground on new West Lincoln Memorial Hospital

by Nicholas Tibollo

Pictured left to right: Andrew Smith, Chair, Take It To The Finish Campaign; Kevin Antonides, Chair, West Lincoln Memorial Hospital Foundation; Tony Joosse, Co-Chair, Save and Rebuild Campaign; Sandra Easton, Mayor, Town of Lincoln; Sam Oosterhoff, MPP Niagara West; Rob MacIsaac, President and CEO, Hamilton Health Sciences; Mary Volk, Board Member, Hamilton Health Sciences; Jeff Jordan, Mayor, Town of […]

Historic hydroelectric generating stations one step closer to redevelopment

by Nicholas Tibollo

The Niagara Parks is now actively searching for private sector proponents to reimagine and readapt the two former power stations on its property in the heart of the Niagara Falls tourist area. Pictured is the front façade of the former Toronto Power Generating Station, located at the brink of the Horseshoe Falls at the edge […]

Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games less than 100 days away

by Alejandro Vasquez Coronado

The national sports competition will take place at various venues around the region from August 6 to 21. Pictured: officials cut the ceremonial ribbon at the Walker Sports and Abilities Centre, Apr. 22, 2022. Photo credit: Twitter/Brock University   The Walker Sports and Abilities Centre and the Canada Games Park in Thorold are now officially […]

Back row left to right: Paul O’Melia, Principal, Quaker Road Public School; Sue Barnett, Trustee for Welland and Chair, District School Board of Niagara; Sam Oosterhoff, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Education and MPP for Niagara West; Frank Campion, Mayor, City of Welland; and Warren Hoshizaki, Director of Education, District School Board of Niagara. Front row are […]

Provincial agency partners with Lincoln, NPCA to expand local trail network

by Nicholas Tibollo

The proposed expansion would see a new trail built along the Ontario Heritage Trust’s Ellis property (pictured) in Jordan. Photo credit: Ontario Heritage Trust   On Monday, the Ontario Heritage Trust announced it was partnering with the Town of Lincoln, Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA), and the Bruce Trail Conservancy on a new project to […]

Niagara Parks Foundation officially launches

by Nicholas Tibollo

Chair of the freshly launched foundation’s board of governors Debbie Whitehouse (left) and Niagara Parks Commission chair April Jeffs (right) plant a ceremonial tree at the Butterfly Conservatory on April 24, 2022. Photo credit: Niagara Parks   At an Earth Day ceremony at the Butterfly Conservatory in Niagara Falls last week, officials from the Niagara […]

Poilievre fires up Niagara

by Nick Redekop

Well over 1,500 people showed up to see the leadership hopeful speak at the Holiday Inn in St. Catharines Thursday evening. Photo credit: Twitter/Pierre Poilievre    “We will tackle inflationary taxes… and I will axe the consumer carbon tax.”  Pierre Poilievre rolled into St. Catharines last night and addressed a packed house at the Holiday […]

Fox pledges $5 million for South Niagara Hospital

by Nicholas Tibollo

The new Niagara Falls hospital will break ground later this year. Pictured are Niagara Health Foundation president and CEO Andrea Scott, E.S. Fox Ltd. president Spencer Fox, and Mayor of Niagara Falls Jim Diodati. Photo credit: Niagara Health Foundation   Large-scale community projects require large-scale community support, and that’s precisely what the ongoing fundraising effort […]

Backrow starting third from left: Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton, Mayor of Lincoln Sandra Easton, and MPP for Niagara West Sam Oosterhoff stand with a cohort of Youth Skills Studio program participants. The province previously gave $2.1 million to help fund the 2021 iteration of the program. Photo credit: Twitter/Monte McNaughton […]

Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton tries his hand at securing roof shingles as MPP for Niagara West Sam Oosterhoff and student Jihye Lee look on at Niagara College’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Centre in Welland, Apr. 19, 2022. Photo credit: Niagara College   On Tuesday, officials from the provincial government, Niagara College, […]

Brown was in town, and no one seemed to notice

by Nicholas Tibollo

Don’t expect the same hushed reception when Pierre Poilievre (right) rolls into St. Catharines later this week. Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Chris Young and Radio-Canada/Benoit Roussel   If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Alternatively, if a federal Conservative leadership candidate attends […]

Joyner joins Niagara West provincial race as Liberal candidate

by Nicholas Tibollo

 The former West Lincoln mayor will face off against his longtime regional council colleague Dave Augustyn, who is running for the NDP, and incumbent MPP for Niagara West, representing the Ontario PC Party, Sam Oosterhoff. Photo credit: Twitter/Douglas Joyner   The provincial race in Niagara West will feature another familiar face.  Doug Joyner, the two-time […]

In representing the Ontario PCs in Niagara, Davies (pictured with wife Monica) joins incumbent MPP for Niagara West Sam Oosterhoff, businessman, philanthropist, and two-term Niagara Falls regional councillor Bob Gale, as well as two-term St. Catharines city councillor and longstanding community volunteer Sal Sorrento. Supplied photo.    Last week, the Ontario PC Party announced its […]

The six projects are part of a group of 144 community water infrastructure projects across Ontario to receive money from the provincial and federal governments. Officials (pictured) announced the funding in Welland on Thursday, Apr. 14. Photo credit: Twitter/City of Welland   Municipal, provincial, and federal government officials met along The Boardwalk in downtown Welland […]

The region’s acting medical of health responded to and reposted a fake comment purported to be from the premier last Wednesday. Nearly one week (and over 1,000 likes) later, Hirji still hasn’t deleted the erroneous tweet.   Throughout the pandemic, Niagara’s acting medical of health Dr. Mustafa Hirji has warned and worried about the spread […]

General Motors donates dozen transmissions to Niagara College motive power program

by Nicholas Tibollo

Pictured left to right: GM St. Catharines plant director Gary Athoe, dean of Media, Trades & Technology Vincent Shaikh, Niagara College Vice-President, Academic Fiona Allan, associate dean of School of Trades Jeff Murrell, Motive Power Technician student Ashley Davey and program coordinator Wayne Toth, April 6, 2022. Photo credit: Niagara College   At a time […]

Goats help OPG’s Niagara Operations achieve gold certification

by Nicholas Tibollo

The animals were used to clear invasive species and overgrown vegetation in areas around Niagara’s hydroelectric power sites. Photo credit: OPG   Bees, birds, turtles, and goats: Ontario Power Generation’s Niagara Operations are abuzz with biodiversity, and once again earning international recognition for environmental excellence. On Thursday, April 7, it was announced that OPG’s Niagara […]

Niagara home prices continue upward trajectory, dip elsewhere around province

by Nicholas Tibollo

The HPI benchmark price for homes in the Niagara Association of Realtors market area increased by 3.4 per cent in March. In comparison, prices dipped by 2.7 in neighbouring Hamilton-Burlington, decreasing even further in other Ontario markets. Photo credit: AP/David Zalubowski   Though neighbouring and nearby real estate markets such as Hamilton-Burlington, Mississauga, and Toronto […]

Brock University is the only Ontario college or university set to uphold medical restrictions until the end of summer, further extending the exclusion and suffering of numerous faculty members, staff, and students. Photo credit: The Niagara Independent   Voices of unsupported and affected Brock University faculty, staff and students have yet to be fairly raised […]

Digital rendition of the facility. The pilot project would expand the province’s hydrogen production capacity eight-fold. Photo credit: Atura Power   Speaking to a small crowd of dignitaries and media at the Niagara Parks Power Station on Thursday morning, government officials and industry stakeholders announced that Niagara has been selected as the preferred site of […]

Council instructed staff to “expediate” the recruitment process back in October 2021. Dr. Mustafa Hirji has served as Niagara’s ‘acting’ medical officer of health for over four years. Photo credit: The Niagara Independent    Just over two weeks ago, The Niagara Independent revealed in an article that, despite the Region claiming the search for a permanent […]

Brock reportedly ‘pressured’ by union to maintain mask, vaccine mandates

by Nicholas Tibollo

 All other colleges and universities in Ontario that have made an announcement regarding mandates to date, including Niagara College and McMaster University, have said they will be ending on-campus masking and vaccination requirements by the end of April or beginning of May. Photo credit: The Niagara Independent   The decision to maintain mandates Last week, […]

Niagara’s acting medical officer of health told members of the media Monday he would “try to align” with provincial guidelines, but he wouldn’t rule out “more aggressive actions” if deemed necessary. Photo credit: The Niagara Independent   Precisely one week to the day that the province lifted mandatory mask mandates in most settings across Ontario, […]

Pelham wins second straight national award for financial reporting

by Nicholas Tibollo

Mayor Marvin Junkin. Since Junkin took over from Dave Augustyn in 2018, Pelham has gone from perhaps the most opaque to the most financially transparent municipality in the Niagara Region. Photo credit: Town of Pelham   After a highly tumultuous time under the leadership of former mayor Dave Augustyn – a period that saw Pelham’s […]

Regional council down a member, as George Darte resigns seat

by The Niagara Independent

The first-term St. Catharines regional councillor informed his colleagues by way of email late Wednesday, March 30. Photo credit: The Niagara Independent    On Wednesday evening, St. Catharines regional councillor George Darte emailed the regional clerk and his fellow councillors with his immediate resignation from Niagara Regional Council as of March 30. In his message, […]

Region says no to property tax rebates, yes to massive salary increases for staff

by The Niagara Independent

Though seemingly able to afford millions in salary increases year over year, Niagara Regional Council pushed off a proposal by Regional Councillor Bob Gale to give some money back to taxpayers in the form of a $240 rebate. Photo credit: The Niagara Independent   The 2021 Sunshine List came out last week and Niagara Regional […]

Another fibre-optic network under construction in rural Niagara

by Nicholas Tibollo

The fourth and final Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) network planned for the region, the new development will provide high-speed internet to an additional 765 premises in west Niagara. Pictured from left to right at the announcement of the project last Friday are Lincoln regional councillor Rob Foster, West Lincoln mayor Dave Bylsma, Niagara West […]

Niagara Conservative MPs sound off on Trudeau’s ‘power grab’

by Nicholas Tibollo

Niagara West MP Dean Allison (left) and Niagara Falls MP Tony Baldinelli (right) claim the deal struck between the federal Liberals and NDP earlier this week could be very costly for Canadian taxpayers.   Late Monday night, news broke that the federal Liberal Party and NDP had reached a governance agreement that would keep Justin […]

Shipping season gets underway with official opening of Welland Canal

by Nicholas Tibollo

The City of Port Colborne welcomed the first downbound vessel of the 2022 shipping season into the Welland Canal at its annual top hat ceremony on Thursday, Mar. 24, 2022. Photo credit: Twitter/City of Port Colborne   The first vessels of the 2022 navigation season travelled up and down the Welland Canal on Thursday.  Officially […]

Staff were directed by Niagara Regional Council five months ago to “expedite” the hiring process. Last week, The Niagara Independent revealed that staff had yet to even finalize a job description. Pictured are Niagara Falls regional councillor Bob Gale (left) and Mayor of Pelham Marvin Junkin (right). Gale and Junkin were the only two councillors […]

Photo credit: Facebook/NRPS   In recent years, there’s been a renewed call for crisis workers to be sent to certain mental health and addiction situations in place of or addition to police officers, in an effort to deescalate tense scenarios without having to involve force or criminal charges.  Seizing on this collective push to offer […]

Starting next month, Canada will no longer require COVID-19 testing at international crossings for fully vaccinated travellers. However, a number of measures will remain in place, including pre-arrival testing for unvaccinated entrants. Western New York representative Brian Higgins wants to see all measures removed. Photo credit: Bloomberg   On March 16, the federal government announced […]

Metrolinx confirms feasibility of future GO station in Beamsville

by Nicholas Tibollo

 The proposed site would be strategically located between the planned and existing stations in Grimsby and St. Catharines. Photo credit: Metrolinx   After a year and a half delay due to supplementary consultation with key stakeholders, Metrolinx released its Initial Business Case (IBC) for a new GO train station in Beamsville on Tuesday.   The preliminary […]

Niagara allocated nearly 900 new, upgraded long-term care beds

by Nicholas Tibollo

Construction on the various projects will commence over the next few years.   In a virtual press conference Thursday morning, Minister of Long-Term Care Paul Calandra announced that the provincial government is adding 329 new long-term care beds and upgrading an additional 543 at five LTC locations around the Niagara Region. The commitment is part […]

An aerial view of Port Weller. The property in question is situated in the centre of the image, east of the canal and shipyard, south of the road leading to the canal crossing.    Quick question: what does Niagara, and St. Catharines in particular, need more of right now?  Empty, unused industrial land? Housing options?   […]

Dr. Mustafa Hirji entered into his fifth year as Niagara’s acting medical officer of health a few months ago. Photo credit: The Niagara Independent   Back at the beginning of November, Niagara Region human resource staff said that finding a permanent medical officer of health was a “top priority” for regional CAO Ron Tripp.  Yet, […]

Province announces another boost for upcoming games in Niagara

by Nicholas Tibollo

At her second engagement in the region in four days, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries Lisa MacLeod announced another $1.1 million in funding for the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games on Monday. Pictured is competition mascot Shelly. Photo credit: Facebook/Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games   Last week, when local officials commented that […]

Shaw Fest finishes another pandemic year in the black

by Nicholas Tibollo

Aerial view of the Shaw Festival’s flagship theatre complex on Queen’s Parade in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Photo credit: Facebook/Shaw Fest   Despite another year of pandemic-related challenges, Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Shaw Festival managed to exit 2021 at a profit, just as it did for the 2020 fiscal year. At its annual general meeting earlier this month, it was announced […]

Niagara Falls-based E.S. Fox Limited is set to commence work on the first phase of site preparation and support infrastructure for OPG’s Darlington New Nuclear Project later this year. Site location pictured. Photo credit: OPG   In December 2021, it was revealed that Ontario Power Generation (OPG) struck a deal with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy […]

Niagara home prices soar seven points in one month

by Nicholas Tibollo

The HPI benchmark price for Niagara rose by nearly $50,000 from January to February of this year. Local realtor association president Doug Rempel said that NIMBYism, helping maintain low supply, is partially to blame for the rapidly increasing prices. Photo credit: Reuters/Mark Blinch    Fueled by a dearth of existing inventory and a lack of […]

Tourism minister announces major ‘staycation’ tax credit for Ontario travellers

by Nicholas Tibollo

Speaking outside Boston Pizza on Clifton Hill in Niagara Falls Thursday, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries Lisa MacLeod (pictured at podium) outlined a provincial tax incentive that will provide Ontarians up to 20 per cent back on eligible accommodation expenses for leisure travel this year. Photo credit: The Niagara Independent/Nicholas Tibollo   […]

The region’s acting medical officer of health said that he still “encourages everyone to wear masks past March 21”. Photo credit: The Niagara Independent    To the delight of many Ontarians late Wednesday morning, the province’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Kiernan Moore announced that, effective Mar. 21, 2022, mandatory masking would no longer […]

MP Tony Baldinelli said federal restrictions have had a “devasting impact” on the local tourism industry.    Rising in the House of Commons this past week, Conservative MP for Niagara Falls Tony Baldinelli implored the federal government to drop all COVID-19 test requirements at the Canada-U.S. border, effective immediately.  “The 2022 summer tourism season is […]

Niagara adds millions more to regional bank account, as taxpayers continue to struggle

by The Niagara Independent

After factoring in reserve payments and encumbrances, Niagara Regional Council approved a total of $61.4 million in overcharges to property taxes over a two-year period, as taxpayers struggled throughout the pandemic. All the while, the government’s top bureaucrats received large pay raises. Photo credit: The Niagara Independent   This term of Niagara Regional Council has […]

EllisDon wins contract to build new West Lincoln Memorial Hospital

by Nicholas Tibollo

Artist rendering of the new WLMH site in Grimsby. Photo credit: Hamilton Health Sciences/WLMH   On Monday, Hamilton Health Sciences and Infrastructure Ontario announced EllisDon Infrastructure Healthcare (EDIH) as the preferred proponent to design, build, and finance the West Lincoln Memorial Hospital (WLMH) redevelopment project. The EDIH team is made up of the following entities:   […]

  It’s not the first time the region’s acting medical officer of health has been at odds with the province. Photo credit: YouTube/BrockTV   On Tuesday, Mar. 1, palliative care physician Dr. Amit Arya posed a question to his over 26,000 Twitter followers.   The Mississauga doctor asked: “Who else agrees that Ontario’s decision to drop […]

The Rainbow Bridge connecting Niagara Falls, Ontario to Niagara Falls, New York. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons   A group of 15 border community mayors from across Canada penned a joint letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday, urging for an immediate end to COVID testing requirements for fully vaccinated travellers at the U.S.-Canada border. […]

Republican congressman Chris Jacobs (left) and Democratic congressman Brian Higgins (right), both from Western New York, have been vocal about easing cross-border measures throughout the pandemic.    Currently, Canadians travelling to the U.S. via land ports of entry have to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and provide proof of vaccination upon arrival.  Though less stringent […]

Patrons peruse the main generator floor of the Niagara Parks Power Station. Photo credit: Niagara Parks    In a virtual ceremony on Thursday, Feb. 24, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario Elizabeth Dowdeswell and Chair of the Ontario Heritage Trust John Ecker presented projects, organizations, and individuals that made exceptional contributions to heritage conservation in 2021 with the […]

Masking indoors effectively last public health measure in place. Photo credit: The Niagara Independent/Nicholas Tibollo   The Niagara Region and Province of Ontario are finally on the same page in terms of pandemic restrictions.  Early Monday, Niagara Public Health (NPH) announced that as of Mar. 1, 2022, all local section 22 orders and letters of […]

Niagara rallies in support of Ukraine

by Nicholas Tibollo

Hundreds gathered in St. Catharines on Saturday to protest Vladimir Putin’s ongoing, unprovoked attack against the Ukrainian people. Photo credit: The Niagara Independent/Nicholas Tibollo   A sea of blue and yellow flags whipped in the biting winds while repeated shouts of “Slava Ukraini!” echoed across the courtyard at Saints Cyril and Methodius Church in St. […]

Putin a ‘war criminal’: local Ukrainian Canadian community leader

by Nicholas Tibollo

One of the many injured Ukrainians following Russia’s nationwide assault early Thursday. Photo credit: Anadolu Agency/Wolfgang Schwan   Early Thursday morning Moscow time, after weeks of buildup and suspicion, Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered a “special military operation” into Ukraine.  In a state-televised address, Putin “ridiculously” alleged that the Russian-speaking residents of Ukraine were being […]

Power station enters home stretch of multi-million-dollar two-unit replacement project

by Nicholas Tibollo

Technicians work to install one of two new generating units at the Sir Adam Beck I Generating Station in Niagara Falls. The $128-million project will be complete later this year. Upgrades to a third generator at the plant were finished in 2021. Photo credit: OPG   Currently in its 100th year of operation, the Sir […]

 Regional staff from the transportation department will give their twelfth and final presentation to Port Colborne council Tuesday, in an effort to convince the municipality to sign on to the Region’s ‘Vision Zero’ road safety initiative. Grimsby voted down the proposed project last month, which needed unanimous consent from all 12 lower-tier municipalities to proceed […]

Certain charges against former town CAO date back to his time in Pelham

by Don Rickers

Darren Ottaway (right) sits next to former Pelham mayor Dave Augustyn during a November 2017 council meeting. Ottaway was Pelham’s chief administrative officer from 2012 to 2019 and worked closely with Augustyn to fulfill council’s East Fonthill development plans, including overseeing a controversial land-for-credits scheme. Photo used by permission from the Voice of Pelham.   […]

Provincial investment in pair of Niagara manufacturers to create 45 local jobs

by Nicholas Tibollo

Minister Vic Fedeli (left) tours Valbruna ASW’s Welland facility with company president Tim Clutterbuck (centre) and MPP for Niagara West Sam Oosterhoff, Feb. 16, 2022. On Wednesday, the province announced a $4.4 million investment at Valbruna ASW, along with a $480,000 investment at nearby Quick Plug CA Inc. in St. Catharines. Photo credit: Office of […]

Designed for students already holding a diploma or university degree in any field, the new graduate certificate will complement the college’s existing advanced business diploma in supply chain and operations management. Photo credit: Niagara College   A consequence of the pandemic, shifting consumer behaviour, border blockades, and boats stuck in the Suez Canal, severe supply […]

President of the Niagara branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Irene Newton (left) and the organization’s national president Alexandra Chyczij (right) speak at a rally against Russian aggression in Niagara Falls last month. Photo credit: Facebook/Ukrainian Canadian Congress Niagara   With the eyes of the world seemingly fixed upon the “occupation” in Ottawa, and the […]

Multicultural minister meets with local community leaders

by Nicholas Tibollo

 The province is providing faith-based and cultural organizations with funding to help deal with a rise in hate crimes. Minister Parm Gill (front right) and Councillor Sal Sorrento (back right) greet community leaders at the Niagara Folk Arts Multicultural Centre, Feb. 10, 2022.    Last Thursday, St. Catharines city councillor and Ontario PC candidate Sal […]

Niagara Region set to increase waste management fees

by The Niagara Independent

Despite running multi-million-dollar surpluses and posting a fourth straight year of property tax increases, the Niagara Region wants to make it more expensive for local residents and businesses to take out the garbage.    In 2020, according to Niagara Region’s financial documents, the waste management division generated $1.5 million in budget surplus. In other words, […]

Supporters of trucker convoy set to descend on Peace Bridge

by Nicholas Tibollo

The international crossing that connects Fort Erie to Buffalo is the third busiest commercial bridge in North America. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons   A bi-national contingent of anti-mandate truck drivers and their supporters are expected to crowd both sides of the Peace Bridge this weekend.  Departing from New York City and Tennessee, the ‘Convoy to […]

Niagara home to one of Canada’s fastest growing communities

by Nicholas Tibollo

The City of Thorold increased its population by 26.7 per cent between 2016 and 2021, making it the eighth fastest growing municipality over 5,000 inhabitants in the entire country, and the fourth fastest in Ontario. Photo credit: Thorold BIA   The numbers are in, and Niagara is growing fast. On Wednesday, Statistics Canada released population […]

Council asks for update on contaminated GM lands

by Nicholas Tibollo

A significant amount of PCB material was removed from the site at the end of last year.    Last Monday, the City of St. Catharines unanimously passed a motion seeking an update and timeline from the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks regarding split test results and further cleanup plans for the former General Motors […]

Ottawa police seize fuel from Freedom Convoy demonstrators Sunday night. Photo credit: Daily Mail/Pedro Colo   It’s been nearly two weeks since the ‘Freedom Convoy’ rolled into the nation’s capital and took up position around Parliament Hill. And despite an accumulation of bad press from the legacy media, an increasingly discontented local population, threats of […]

Niagara’s Conservative MPs weigh-in on O’Toole ousting

by Nicholas Tibollo

MP for Niagara West Dean Allison (left) voted to remove O’Toole. MP for Niagara Falls Tony Baldinelli (right) declined to comment on specifics regarding internal caucus matters, but said the party moves forward “united”.    In a closed-door virtual caucus meeting Wednesday morning, federal Conservative MPs voted 73-45 to remove Erin O’Toole as leader of […]

Local gym welcomes back community members, as province begins gradual reopening

by Nicholas Tibollo

General manager of Simply Fit in Niagara Falls Roy Ramonal. Ontario gyms reopened at 50 per cent capacity earlier this week. Photo credit: The Niagara Independent/Nicholas Tibollo   When general manager of Simply Fit Health Club Roy Ramonal pulled up to the Drummond Rd. gym in Niagara Falls at 4:45 a.m. on Monday, there were […]

In all, over $2.2 million will be distributed to nine Niagara entities via the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Pictured clockwise at Thursday’s virtual announcement: Minister Lisa MacLeod, Branch 393 poppy chair Kathey Putman, MPP Sam Oosterhoff, Branch 612 poppy chair Terry Miller.    In a virtual announcement Thursday, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries […]

Niagara truck driver talks ongoing demonstration in Ottawa

by Nicholas Tibollo

 Local operator John Doppenberg and his wife Anita have been in the nation’s capital since the convoy arrived on Saturday. Photo credit: AFP/Lars Lagberg   Nearly a week after helping lead the region’s trucker convoy out of Niagara, local big rig owner and operator John Doppenberg and wife Anita are still in the nation’s capital […]

According to Ed Smith, executive director of the community activist group A Better Niagara, Mayor of St. Catharines Walter Sendzik was in a conflict of interest when he helped clear the way for the recent appointment of Ward 4 councillor Robin McPherson. McPherson was a core member of Sendzik’s campaign team and was subsequently hired […]

Province chips in to help local seniors stay active, avoid social isolation

by Nicholas Tibollo

Six community projects, including one ran by the Port Colborne Historical and Marine Museum (pictured), will receive provincial funding to operate programs for Niagara’s over 65 population. Photo credit: Facebook/Port Colborne Historical and Marine Museum   On Monday, the province announced nearly $72,000 in funding to help Niagara seniors stay both physically and mentally active […]

With momentum building, truckers depart Niagara for nation’s capital

by Nicholas Tibollo

Part of the ‘Freedom Convoy’ in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Jan. 26, 2022. Photo credit: The Canadian Press/David Jackson   On route to Ottawa for a mass demonstration this weekend, the Niagara contingent of the ‘Freedom Convoy’ passed through the region Thursday morning.  Hundreds of well-wishers supporting truckers in their fight against the federal government’s vaccine […]

CFL hall-of-famer, former head of Brock sports named PC candidate for Stoney Creek

by Nicholas Tibollo

The Ontario PC Party officially named Neil Lumsden (pictured, 2016) its 2022 candidate for Hamilton East-Stoney Creek on Wednesday. Photo credit: Brock University   Inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2014 after a successful university career with the Ottawa Gee-Gee’s and a decade in the Canadian Football League (CFL), Neil Lumsden has […]

Niagara College brewmaster honoured with provincial award of excellence

by Nicholas Tibollo

Winner Jon Downing (pictured) has been with the college’s groundbreaking teaching brewery since its establishment over a decade ago. He’s one of three staff members at the school to be presented with a Minister’s Award of Excellence this year. Photo credit: Niagara College   Niagara College (NC) brewmaster Jon Downing has won a 2021 Minister’s […]

Protestors pack Fort Erie parking lot in support of countrywide ‘Freedom Convoy’

by Nicholas Tibollo

Pictured (right) is Kayla Bennett, who made the trip from Wainfleet to participate in the rally, Sunday, Jan 23, 2022. Photo credit: The Niagara Independent/Nicholas Tibollo   On Sunday morning, several hundred protestors packed the Walmart parking lot on Garrison Rd. in Fort Erie to show support for the thousands of previously exempt cross-border truck […]

Jeffs appointed new chair of Parks

by Nicholas Tibollo

Newly appointed chair of the Niagara Parks Commission April Jeffs. Photo credit: Niagara Parks   Former two-time Niagara regional councillor and mayor of Wainfleet April Jeffs was officially named chair of the Niagara Parks Commission (NPC) last Friday.  First appointed vice-chair of the provincial agency in Jan. 2019, Jeffs takes over as head of the […]

Bethesda Community Services named one of Niagara’s top employers

by Alejandro Vasquez Coronado

Since 1937, the Thorold-based organization (main facility pictured above) has offered a wide range of supports and services to individuals with developmental disabilities. Photo credit: Quartek Group Inc.   Five employers from the Niagara Region were included in the 2022 list of Hamilton-Niagara’s Top Employers: Fort Erie’s Airbus Helicopters, Brock University, Durward Jones Barkwell & […]

In a leaked letter from last week, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore (pictured) told Niagara’s acting medical officer of health Dr. Mustafa Hirji that he was concerned Hirji’s excess “will lead to increased harms to the children and youth in the Niagara region”. Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Tijana Martin   Late […]

Concept illustration of Abatement Technologies’ new Fort Erie manufacturing facility. The project broke ground last year. Photo credit: Abatement Technologies    On Thursday, it was announced that Fort Erie’s Abatement Technologies was awarded $2.5 million in provincial funding to help support the company respond to increased demand.  Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Abatement […]

Niagara Region effectively suing itself, and thereby taxpayers, in case against Caslin

by The Niagara Independent

In Jan. 2020, Niagara Regional Council launched $850,000 worth of civil lawsuits against former Chair Alan Caslin (pictured) and his two staff members for their role in the allegedly tainted recruitment and hiring of Carmen D’Angelo. The Niagara Independent has recently learned that all three are covered by the Region’s own corporate liability insurance, protecting […]

City stands down, Port Colborne resident able to keep up flag critical of Trudeau

by Nicholas Tibollo

After flying the flag without issue for several weeks, homeowner Melissa was issued a formal notice by city by-law to remove the banner in Nov. 2021. Supplied photo.    Dissatisfied with the result of September’s federal election, a local Niagara resident decided to exercise her constitutionally-protected right to freedom of expression and hang a flag […]

Niagara Falls finds permanent lawyer to represent city, head up legal department

by The Niagara Independent

Nidhi Punyarthi replaces acting city solicitor Ed Lustig.    The City of Niagara Falls continues to build out its senior administration and management team with another top-tier hire. Last week, the city announced that Ms. Nidhi Punyarthi will be joining the municipality as city solicitor and director of legal services. Punyarthi joins the city after […]

After a short delay to the start of 2022, Niagara staff and students will be back in the classroom for face-to-face instruction next week. Photo credit: Pexels/Rodnae Productions   Monday marks the return to in-person learning for Ontario’s two million elementary and secondary school students.  And despite some hesitancy on the part of certain parents, […]

User samples one of Norgen Biotek’s innovative COVID-19 saliva-based test kits. Photo credit: Twitter/Norgen Biotek Corp.   With COVID-19 tests becoming scanter across Ontario, a local manufacturer has stepped up to the plate and partnered with the province to create several million more PCR test kits.  On Thursday, it was announced that Thorold-based Norgen Biotek […]

St. Catharines MP faces backlash after another social media spat

by Nicholas Tibollo

 Liberal MP for St. Catharines Chris Bittle (left) attacked Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre (right) for simply retweeting a comment from Dr. Jordan Peterson on social media. Photo credit: iPolitics/Matthew Usherwood   A local politician no stranger to social media flubs was back at it again earlier this week.  On Monday, Liberal MP for St. Catharines […]

Are officials considering reclosing the U.S.-Canada land border?

by Nicholas Tibollo

A recent letter sent to President Joe Biden and the DHS from two local congressmen and New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand appears to imply another border closure may be in the works. Photo credit: Agence France-Presse/Lars Harberg    Late last week, high profile Democratic U.S. senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Western New York congressmen Brian Higgins […]

Community comes together to bid farewell to local tourism leader

by Nicholas Tibollo

Charlie Burland passed of cancer at the age of 54 in December. Photo credit: The Niagara Independent/Nicholas Tibollo   Frigid temperatures and biting winds couldn’t stop hundreds of family members, friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and former employees from lining up along Clifton Hill Monday afternoon to honour local tourism leader Charlie Burland. Burland, who was president […]

With scuttled internal audit division, Niagara Region buries another audit report

by The Niagara Independent

In addition to burying a report of homelessness, staff at Niagara Region continue to cancel scheduled Audit Committees. The Niagara Independent has learned another audit report, this time on garbage collection, was also withheld from the Audit Committee and the public. Photo credit: North Middlesex   In November, The Niagara Independent reported that regional staff […]

Only six regional councillors voted to oppose the recommendation from the City of St. Catharines to appoint Mat Siscoe (left): Leanna Villella from Welland, Bob Gale from Niagara Falls, Marvin Junkin from Pelham, Dave Bylsma from West Lincoln, Barbara Butters from Port Colborne, and Tim Whalen from Thorold. Based on policy and precedent, Mike Britton […]

Niagara Health’s St. Catharines site. Photo credit: Infrastructure Ontario   Overwhelmed by increased demand and an ever-growing staff shortage fueled by the recent rise in COVID-19 cases, Niagara Health has taken dramatic action to maintain adequate levels of care at its facilities.  On Tuesday, the organization announced it was temporarily closing Fort Erie’s urgent care […]

Conservative MP for Niagara West Dean Allison was not pleased by Premier Ford’s recent decision to reinstate a number of COVID-19-related restrictions. However, the seven-time member of parliament said that Prime Minister Trudeau (right) and his government can take away the main issue used to justify reinstating lockdown measures by adequately funding healthcare. Photo credit: […]

Local emergency services under strain

by Nicholas Tibollo

Photo credit: Twitter/Niagara EMS   COVID-19 is putting immense pressure on Niagara’s emergency departments and medical care and transport services. However, it doesn’t appear to be the virulence of the virus itself causing the strain. Late last week, both Niagara Health and Niagara EMS put out public statements claiming that elements of their respective operations […]

The decision from the City of St. Catharines to recommend Mat Siscoe (left) over “next place finisher” Mike Britton (right) to fill a government vacancy has come under immense scrutiny in recent weeks, leading to a petition, community pushback, a legal challenge, and now formal conflict of interest complaints.    As reported by The Niagara […]

Fort Erie physician goes above and beyond call of duty to offer daily COVID-19 testing

by Alejandro Vasquez Coronado

Dr. R.J. Kamatovic tends to a line-up of cars behind his Fort Erie medical clinic, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021. One of the few doctors to offer regular PCR COVID-19 testing to the community throughout the pandemic, Dr. Kamatovic and his team meet patients at their cars Monday to Friday, rain, snow, or shine. Photo credit: […]

Current St. Catharines city councillor Mat Siscoe (left) and former city councillor Mike Britton (right). As the ‘next-place-finisher’ in the 2018 St. Catharines regional councillor race, precedent and policy would have seen Britton selected to fill the regional seat vacated by the passing of Sandie Bellows. However, St. Catharines city council – in contravention of […]

Great Wolf Lodge closes due to rise in COVID-19 case numbers

by Nicholas Tibollo

Less than five months after reopening following a year and a half-long closure, the popular Niagara Falls resort has once again shut its doors to patrons. Photo credit: iHeartRadio   Families hoping to spend New Year’s 2022 amid the log cabin bunkbeds and twirling waterslides at Great Wolf Lodge were emailed an unpleasant surprise earlier […]

Niagara community mourns loss of local tourism leader Charlie Burland

by Nicholas Tibollo

The Burland family has owned and operated numerous properties (right) on the north side of Clifton Hill for nearly a century. Charlie (left) took over the family business in the 1990s. He would have been 55 in January.    Niagara lost one of its most prominent local tourism leaders with the passing of Charlie Burland […]

Niagara Health bans visitors

by The Niagara Independent

Niagara Health facility in St. Catharines. Photo credit: Infrastructure Ontario   On Dec. 28, Niagara Health implemented a series of restrictions at its facilities.  Visitors are no longer permitted at hospitals. All Essential Care Partners (ECPs) must be fully vaccinated and will only be permitted at the bedside with patients with a length of stay […]

Christmas message from community faith leader

by Bishop Gerard Bergie

Most Reverend Gerard Bergie, Bishop of St. Catharines.   Life is full of signs and symbols that can either teach, warn, or inspire us. Some are familiar and easily recognized. Others are more obscure and require greater reflection. A very few are mysterious and require deep contemplation. We find an example of this at Christmas. […]

Home of St. Catharines councillor targeted by vandals

by Nicholas Tibollo

 It’s the third of three similar incidents to occur to a public official in St. Catharines in the last four months. Photo credit: Twitter/Karrie Porter    The private residence of a St. Catharines city councillor was reportedly targeted by vandals earlier this week. On Wednesday, Dec. 22, St. Patrick’s Ward councillor Karrie Porter awoke to […]

Fort Erie to receive $7.4 million in disaster recovery funding

by Nicholas Tibollo

Part of the Waverly Beach boardwalk in Fort Erie. A 2019 storm caused significant damage to municipal infrastructure around the community, including the boardwalk. Photo credit: Pixabay   Christmas came early for the Town of Fort Erie, thanks to the Ford government.  In a bulletin released Wednesday, the province announced that Ontario is providing the […]

Mayor’s tie-breaking vote triggers community dissent and legal concerns

by The Niagara Independent

Mayor of St. Catharines Walter Sendzik (right) broke a council tie on Dec. 13 that ultimately led to current councillor Mat Siscoe (right) being recommended to fill a regional vacancy. The move went against policy and precedent, initiating a petition and a legal challenge from the staff-advised candidate.     As previously reported by The Niagara […]

Local chambers of commerce see significant uptick in demand for rapid tests

by Kaitlin Gibson

In partnership with the Government of Ontario, the South Niagara Chambers of Commerce offers local businesses free rapid antigen COVID-19 testing kits. The last few weeks have brought a significant increase in demand. Photo credit: CTV News   In a perpetual bid to keep the local community safe against the ongoing threat of COVID-19, the […]

Prior to the pandemic, nearly half of all annual passengers at Buffalo Niagara International Airport (pictured) were Canadian. It was recently announced that the airport would receive $7.3 million in federal funding as part of the U.S. bipartisan infrastructure bill passed last month. Photo credit: Facebook/BNIA   On Nov. 15, 2021, President Joe Biden signed […]

More residents and businesses in rural Niagara gaining access to high-speed internet

by Nicholas Tibollo

Local officials announced the initiative at Accipiter Radar Technologies in Fenwick, Dec. 16, 2021. Pictured from left to right: Wayne Olsen, councillor, Town of Pelham; Marvin Junkin, mayor, Town of Pelham; Sam Oosterhoff, MPP for Niagara West; Robert Foster, councillor, Niagara Region; and Dr. Tim Nohara, president and CEO of Accipiter Radar Technologies. Supplied photo. […]

Still image from livestream of St. Catharines council’s most recent meeting. Mayor Walter Sendzik listens to Councillor Karrie Porter argue in favour of selecting her ward colleague Mat Siscoe to fill the vacant seat at Regional Council. Sendzik broke the initial tie that denied staff’s recommendation to select the appropriate candidate based on established city […]

Casino Niagara at the centre of the Niagara Falls skyline. The casino turned 25 on Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021. Photo credit: Public Domain Pictures   Last Thursday, Dec. 9 represented exactly 25 years since Casino Niagara officially opened its doors to the public, becoming Ontario’s second-ever casino, preceded only by its cross-border cousin in Windsor.  […]

Regional government set to raise taxes and fees for fourth consecutive year

by The Niagara Independent

Niagara residents already pay among the highest property levies and water rates in southern Ontario.   Last week, Niagara Region Council voted to increase property taxes and water rates, shouldering the costs of a bigger regional government on both residents and businesses. This is the fourth consecutive year of property tax increases, placing Niagara amongst […]

Photo credit: The National Post   On Monday, Dec. 13, Niagara Regional Police (NRP) issued charges against Marineland for use of “captive cetacean (dolphins and whales) for performance for entertainment purposes without authorization”.  The charges came after detectives commenced an investigation into allegations made against the Niagara Falls theme park in October of this year.  […]

McNally House receives additional provincial funding to help offset COVID costs

by Nicholas Tibollo

From left to right: Mayor of Lincoln Sandra Easton; executive director at McNally House Pamela Blackwood; Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Health Robin Martin; Mayor of Grimsby Jeff Jordan; MPP for Niagara West Sam Oosterhoff; board chair at McNally House Murray Bain; and Mayor of West Lincoln Dave Bylsma. Dec. 10, 2021. Supplied photo.  […]

Niagara readies to resettle two dozen Afghan families who escaped Taliban

by Kaitlin Gibson

Afghan refugees who supported Canada’s mission in Afghanistan prepare to board buses after arriving at Toronto Pearson International Airport, Aug. 24, 2021. Niagara will accept 24 refugee families by March 2022. Photo credit: MCpl. Genevieve Lapointe/Canadian Forces Combat Camera   While the journey has been long for so many Afghan refugees who fled the takeover […]

Culinary students at local college serve out 3,000 meals to those in need

by Nicholas Tibollo

Culinary Management students at Niagara College work to create Christmas meals for Niagara’s vulnerable population. Photo credit: Niagara College   When it’s all said and done, by the end of the fall semester Niagara College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute (CFWI) will have dished out 3,000 free meals to those in need across the local […]

Charity commits $75,000 towards children’s education space at Lincoln museum

by Nicholas Tibollo

Lincoln Museum and Cultural Centre, where the new education space will be built. Photo credit: Town of Lincoln   On Wednesday, it was announced that the St. Catharines-based Wise Guys Charity Fund committed $75,000 to creating a children’s education space at the newly opened Lincoln Museum and Cultural Centre: Home of the Jordan Historical Museum […]

Despite Region’s massive reserves, no relief in sight for Niagara taxpayers

by The Niagara Independent

This term of Niagara Regional Council is poised to continue with its consecutive increases in property taxes and fees and, as a result, will be pocketing millions in surpluses.     For 2020, Niagara Region reported a budget surplus of $96 million. After removing budget adjustments related to Public Sector Accounting Standards (PSAS), the regional government […]

After recent hiring spree, Welland insurer looking for another 80 new recruits

by Nicholas Tibollo

 It’s the third time in 18 months Scoop Insurance has sought to expand local operations. Photo Credit: Anthony Gallaccio – Source: Discover Welland.   Though the pandemic has forced countless companies in Niagara to downsize, not all local businesses have suffered a loss of personnel. In fact, some companies – such as Welland-based Scoop Insurance […]

Niagara’s homeless gaining greater access to primary care with provincial support

by Nicholas Tibollo

Executive director of REACH Niagara David van Velzen (left) and MPP for Niagara West Sam Oosterhoff pose with REACH’s mobile health clinic. Supplied photo.    The Ontario government is providing increased funding to community service providers who help the local homeless population access high-quality primary health care where and when they need it. Working in […]

Shadow minister for manufacturing talks new role, challenges facing the industry

by Kaitlin Gibson

Niagara Falls MP Tony Baldinelli was named Shadow Minister for Manufacturing and Export Promotion at the beginning of November. Pictured is Baldinelli (centre) at Hamill Machine Co. in Niagara Falls, Sept. 5, 2020.    Barely a month in and Niagara Falls MP Tony Baldinelli said he is thoroughly enjoying his new critic position.  On Nov. […]

Regional staff ignore homelessness crisis in Niagara, allegedly ‘bury’ audit report

by The Niagara Independent

Photo credit: Pexels/Harrison Haines   As reported to the Region’s Public Health and Social Services Committee on Jun. 15, 2021, regional staff identified 665 people experiencing homelessness in Niagara. Of that number, 18% were children (aged 0-15 years), over 10% were youth (16-24 years) and 5% were seniors (greater than 65 years). Yet, despite the […]

Concept illustration of the new West Niagara Secondary School in Lincoln. The new school will merge Grimsby Secondary School, Beamsville District Secondary School, and the former South Lincoln High School.   All good things must come to an end. And what an end it was for the Grimsby Secondary School varsity boys football team.  “Bittersweet […]

Tweets sent out by the District School Board of Niagara and Niagara Region Public Health on Tuesday, Nov. 23. Both warn of the spread of “misinformation” concerning parental consent for vaccination at schools.    Just as Ontario parents got the go-ahead to book vaccinations for youth under 12 on Tuesday, the District School Board of […]

Black Friday brings back local shoppers

by Kaitlin Gibson

Part of the Seaway Mall’s Christmas display, a gingerbread family greets patrons hunting for holiday deals at the Welland shopping centre. Photo credit: Facebook/Seaway Mall   It’s that time of year again. Yes, the time where families put up lights, decorate trees, and light menorahs. But more specifically, the time of year when shoppers frantically […]

Despite uncertainty, Shaw Fest excited for historic season ahead

by Kaitlin Gibson

Next year represents the iconic Niagara-on-the-Lake theatre company’s 60th season. Pictured is Kyle Golemba as Ted Hanover, Vanessa Sears as Lila Dixon, and Kevin McLachlan as Radio Host in a performance of Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn, on now until Dec. 23 at the Shaw. Photo credit: Facebook/Shaw Festival   Just like Christmas carols, pine trees, […]

Accountability at Niagara Region: “senior management is not interested”

by The Niagara Independent

A general disinterest in maintaining financial accountability amongst top administrators is the message being delivered by professional and experienced internal auditors who were once with but have recently left Niagara Region.    With multiple project failures and associated lawsuits, the previous 2014-2018 Niagara Region Council approved a management plan to increase accountability and transparency in […]

Regional budget review: part one – the $96 million surplus

by The Niagara Independent

This is the first in a three-part series on the 2022 Niagara Region Budget. Part one focuses on tax surpluses, part two concentrates on water rates and capital budget, while part three reports on the general levy and the impact on property taxes.   The $96 Million Surplus The Region of Niagara continues to collect […]

One of Canada’s premier gaming, pop culture, and tech magazines moves to Niagara

by Nicholas Tibollo

Entrance to Comics and Gaming Magazine’s new office space in St. Catharines. Previously headquartered in Toronto, the company now has some 6,000 sq. ft. to grow and create. Supplied photo.   Another up-and-coming business has left the costly, crowded confines of the GTA for greener pastures in Niagara. Founded in 2010, Comics and Gaming Magazine […]

Controversial former mayor of Pelham on ballot for provincial NDP

by The Niagara Independent

Former Pelham mayor Dave Augustyn with leader of the Ontario NDP Andrea Horwath in Fenwick, Nov. 12, 2021. Photo credit: Don Rickers   Like the mythical phoenix, former Pelham mayor David Augustyn is attempting to rise from the electoral ashes and return to public office. At a media event held last Friday in front of […]

Niagara Top Team’s Teshay Gouthro (right) in his pro MMA debut against Paul Fisher at BTC 6: Night of Champions, Jun. 1, 2019. Gouthro and a handful of other Niagara fighters will participate in Saturday evening’s BTC 13: Power at the Meridian Centre. The event will be the first large stadium MMA show in Ontario […]

Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole speaks to the media in Quebec City on Aug. 18, 2021. Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Ryan Remiorz   In a statement released Friday, Canada’s Leader of the Official Opposition Erin O’Toole asked Primer Minister Justin Trudeau and the governing Liberals to further ease travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada […]

 Aerial view of Brock University’s main campus in St. Catharines. Photo credit: Brock University   As Niagara’s post-secondary institutions approach the end of the 2021 fall term, which featured a successful partial return to in-person classes, students and the community are wondering: will the winter term bring any changes?  Niagara College (NC) saw very high […]

Quartet of local students creates inspiring song to commemorate Remembrance Day

by Kaitlin Gibson

The four students at Jeanne Sauvé French Immersion Public School were helped by their teacher and local singer-song writer Kathryn Sinopoli.    While arguments are often made that young people don’t respect or care about Remembrance Day, four local students made a conscious effort to prove nay-sayers wrong. Abby C., Kathryn K., Allie V., and […]

Baldinelli named manufacturing and export critic

by Nicholas Tibollo

Tony Baldinelli is sworn in as MP for Niagara Falls, Oct. 25, 2021. Photo credit: Facebook/Tony Baldinelli    Earlier this week, head of Canada’s Conservative Party and Leader of the Official Opposition Erin O’Toole named his shadow cabinet for the 44th Parliament. Many of the party’s most prominent MPs returned to former portfolios, with Candice […]

Burgoyne Bridge costs continue to rise, while its developers continue to win contracts

by The Niagara Independent

The Burgoyne Bridge in St. Catharines. Photo credit: Canam-Bridges   A decade later, the Burgoyne Bridge costs continue to escalate at regional taxpayers’ expense. Back in 2010, the price tag to build the new Burgoyne Bridge in St. Catharines was $59 million.  The cost was to be split three ways between the federal, provincial, and […]

Niagara Falls History Museum adorned with thousands of hand-knit poppies as part of the city’s Remembrance Day ‘Poppy Project’. Photo credit: Niagara Falls Museums   After a year of hosting virtual and private invite-only ceremonies, many of Niagara’s municipalities and veteran organizations are back offering in-person, open-to-the-public events this Remembrance Day. From West Lincoln to […]

From left to right: Janice Gardner-Spiece, Executive Director of Community Addiction Services of Niagara, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Michael Tibollo, MPP for Niagara West Sam Oosterhoff, and MPP for Haldimand Norfolk Toby Barrett. The group announced provincial funding for a new local mobile mental health clinic at the Community Addiction and Mental […]

Plaza outside Niagara Parks Power Station renamed in honour of Sandie Bellows

by Nicholas Tibollo

Premier Doug Ford and Minister Lisa MacLeod stand with friends and family of Sandie Bellows in a small ceremony at the Niagara Parks Power Station on Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021. Photo credit: The Niagara Independent   At a ceremony Thursday evening outside the new Niagara Parks Power Station, Premier Doug Ford and Ontario’s Minister of […]

Finding permanent medical officer of health ‘top priority’ for Niagara CAO

by Nicholas Tibollo

Niagara’s current acting medical officer of health Dr. Mustafa Hirji. It will be four years in January since Hirji took up the interim role at the Region.   It’s official: Niagara Region is actively on the hunt for a permanent medical officer of health.  At Regional Council on Oct. 21, a motion put forward by […]

Curling club prepared to enter new era with major mechanical upgrade

by Kaitlin Gibson

The new chiller and pumps arrive for installation at the Niagara Falls Curling Club, Oct. 27, 2021. Photo credit: Facebook/Niagara Falls Curling Club    After the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the Niagara Falls Curling Club’s ability to stay open this past season, the organization is ready to welcome back members; but not before some […]

Another senior DSBN administrator headed for directorship role, third in two years

by Kaitlin Gibson

Helen McGregor (left) is the third DSBN superintendent to be scouted to lead the administration at a school district outside of Niagara since 2020. She takes up her new role at the Vancouver District School Board (headquarters pictured right) in January.    The District School Board of Niagara (DSBN) must be doing something right.  Last […]

Canada’s ambassador to the U.S. Kirsten Hillman (left) and U.S. Representative for New York’s 26th congressional district Brian Higgins (right). The pair met on Oct. 27, 2021 to discuss a variety of binational issues, including testing requirements to cross the border. Photo credit: Twitter/Kirsten Hillman   On Monday, Western New York congressman Brian Higgins penned […]

Shortlisted teams invited to submit proposals to design and build new South Niagara Hospital

by The Niagara Independent

The new hospital location at the corner of Montrose and Biggar roads in Niagara Falls. From left to right: Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff, president and CEO of Niagara Health Lynn Guerriero, Ontario’s deputy premier and minister of health Christine Elliott, and provincial minister of infrastructure Kinga Surma.    On Oct. 28, Infrastructure Ontario and […]

Niagara Falls resident Wendy Long. Long is the founder of Afghan Canadian Interpreters, a group dedicated to helping rescue and resettle Afghan translators who helped Canadian Forces overseas from 2001 to 2014. Supplied photo.    A lot can change in two months. Wendy Long of Niagara Falls has lived out those words since August.  In […]

Regional Council votes down discussion on declaring mental health state of emergency

by Nicholas Tibollo

Regional councillors Rob Foster and Tom Insinna. The representatives from Lincoln and Fort Erie, according to local mental health advocate Steven Soos, chose “political stunts” over helping people suffering from mental health, homelessness, and addiction by shutting down debate on declaring a formal state of emergency. However, according to Foster, the matter was thoroughly dealt […]

Niagara runners-up reflect on federal campaign, talk future

by Kaitlin Gibson

 Local federal election Conservative candidates Graham Speck (left) and Krystina Waler (right). Photo credit: Facebook/Graham Speck and Facebook/Krystina Waler   Last Wednesday, Oct. 20 marked exactly one month since the country voted in the 44th General Election. Canadians largely voted in favor of the status quo, returning Justin Trudeau and the Liberals back to government […]

Historic sculpture stolen from cemetery found intact, but heavily damaged

by Nicholas Tibollo

The granite platform where the sculpture of Gen. Drummond stood undisturbed for over three decades. The statue was stolen from Drummond Hill Cemetery at the end of September and was found, severely damaged, on Oct. 8, 2021. The City of Niagara Falls just recently gained repossession of the sculpture. Photo credit: The Niagara Independent/Nicholas Tibollo […]

Niagara College conducting pioneering research into edible cannabis products

by Nicholas Tibollo

Food scientist Dr. Zhengtao Zhao (right) and research assistant Umar Sher work inside the labs at the CFWI Innovation Centre on method development for the determination of active cannabis compounds. Photo credit: Niagara College   Once again leading the way in real-world innovation in the food and beverage industry, Niagara College has launched an applied […]

Policy and precedent take the politics out of filling vacant council seat

by The Niagara Independent

While the Niagara Region is often plagued with policies that have more loopholes than a fisherman’s knot, in the case of filling a vacant seat on Regional Council, the legislation and policy on the books is straightforward.    With the death of beloved St. Catharines Regional Councillor Sandie Bellows, regional and city officials will be […]

Historic barn sets the scene for new culinary attraction in Niagara

by Sherri Haigh

The Grist Craft Kitchen and Brewery, located on Four Mile Creek Road in St. David’s.    It’s hard to know where to begin when you step through the doors of the newly opened Grist Craft Kitchen and Brewery. A historic barn originally owned by the Fedorkow Family as a farm packing shed in St. David’s, […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

‘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”, […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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: […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

  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 […]

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 […]

 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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

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 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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

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 […]

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.

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.

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.

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 […]

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.

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.

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.

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.

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’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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.”

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.

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.

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 […]

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 […]

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.

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 […]

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.

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.

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.

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 […]

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

$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.

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.

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 […]

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 […]

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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…

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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”.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Major investment shocks Ontario’s auto sector

by Kevin Vallier

It was an announcement that stunned the province yesterday. General Motors is pouring $1.3 billion into their Oshawa plant that was slated to close. The car manufacturer is also pumping another $109 million over three years into their St. Catharines plant on Glendale Avenue.

In terms of the St. Catharines plant, which currently employs more than 1,000 workers, Unifor National President Jerry Dias said it will mean additional transmissions to supply the Chevrolet Equinox and a new program to build transmissions for the Chevrolet Corvette as well as engines to complement the existing portfolio. “Introducing volume to prop up the existing portfolio,” Dias said.

Conservative bill hopes to score big with sports betting

by Kevin Vallier

A private member’s bill, Bill C-218, has been put forward by the federal Conservative party which aims to legalize single-game sports betting in Canada.

Earlier this week Niagara Falls MP Tony Baldinelli spoke to the bill in the House during second reading saying he’s fully supportive. He also thanked his NDP colleague from Windsor-West Brian Masse for being “one of Parliament’s most vocal supporters for legalizing single-game sports betting.”

Veteran gives back to help other Vets

by Shawn McCart

For 26 years, Retired Sergeant Garrick Halinen would keep all of the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to himself. It wasn’t until last year that his sister and her family came to his rescue and sought out the necessary help and medical treatment.

“I was overtaken” stated Halinen. Having to witness three friends and fellow Canadian soldiers dying in his arms during his time of service had finally taken its toll.

Gale sounds alarm over Region’s award of multi-million dollar contract

by Kevin Vallier

Niagara Falls Regional Councillor Bob Gale is once again sounding the alarm over the Region’s recent awarding of a multi-year and multi-million dollar biosolids handling contract to Thomas Nutrient Solutions.
Gale, who presented a motion on the contract award for the next meeting of Regional Council, informed Niagara Falls City Council of potential problems during his regional update last Tuesday.

Six abandoned sites to get you in the Halloween spirit

by Nicholas Tibollo

Hushed, darkened, and decayed by the void of human life, relinquished to the ravenous elements: there’s something about an abandoned site, regardless of its prior life, that provokes a tandem sense of intrigue and apprehension.

Whether an insane asylum or an amusement park, once a place passes into ruin —disordered, useless, and obscure — it becomes alluringly eerie.

Niagara’s head of Planning and Development leaves strong legacy

by Kevin Vallier

Niagara Region will have yet another “Acting” senior manager as Commissioner of Planning and Development Services, Rino Mostacci retires from his post today leaving another important position to fulfill. Both the Region’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and the Chief Administrative Officer have been acting positions for well over a year.

Former female councillors address misogyny allegations

by Kevin Vallier

In a letter signed by four female former politicians, whose service to public life spans decades, Niagara Falls City Council is being encouraged to refocus their attention on the important issues facing the city and to stop getting bogged down on personal attacks, false allegations and expensive integrity commissioner reports.

Haldimand mayor feels undermined by St. Catharines “leftist agenda”

by Don Rickers

Renaissance polymath Leonardo de Vinci once aphorized “the greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.”

Let’s give the benefit of the doubt to the City of St. Catharines’ Anti-Racism Advisory Committee, and City Council. Perhaps their motive was simply to be instructively helpful to the citizens of Haldimand County, suggesting the fashion in which the Indigenous blockades at an urban development construction site in Caledonia should be handled. Communication, not confrontation. Talk, not tasers.

Local Rotarians pedal for polio

by Kevin Vallier

Rotary clubs around the world are known for the many good things they do for their local communities but one of the most recognized good deeds is their global effort to eradicate polio.

It began in 1979 when Rotary International set out to immunize all children with a polio vaccine. That effort was so successful that the ultimate goal of eradicating the disease was set. With hundreds of millions of children being vaccinated every year and the number of world-wide cases dramatically reduced and countries such as Africa being declared this year as polio free, the efforts of Rotarians are paying off big time.

Annual ‘Sleep Cheap Charities Reap’ event returns

by The Niagara Independent

Though it may look different this year, Sleep Cheap will take place in 2020.
The annual fundraising event officially called Sleep Cheap Charities Reap, is now in its 17th year and has become a long standing community tradition. Since its inception in 2004 the event has raised over $2,150,000 for local charities.

Bridges now 16 weeks without a response from feds

by Kevin Vallier

In a letter dated June 30 of this year from both the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission (NFBC) and the Peace Bridge Authority (PBC) sent to four different federal ministers, the two organizations laid out their concerns about the impact of COVID-19 and the subsequent closing of the international crossings on their operations.

That letter has yet to even be acknowledged by the federal government.

Regional Council’s senior statesman

by Don Rickers

If Alex Trebek’s Final Jeopardy answer was “the still-active grand old man of Niagara politics,” one might reasonably answer “who is Jim Bradley?,” a long-time Liberal first elected to Ontario’s Legislature in 1977, who currently sits as Regional Chair. But if chronological age is the measure, Bradley, at age 75, concedes top spot to political veteran and octogenarian Tim Rigby.

It all started in 1996, when Rigby was an insurance broker in St. Catharines. His major community focus at the time was rowing, as he was a driving force to bring the 1999 World Championships to the Henley Course (a feat he has repeated for the 2024 regatta).

And the winner is… Niagara’s musicians honoured at annual awards

by Shawn McCart

The 13th Niagara Music Awards, which were originally planned to take place at the Scotiabank Convention Centre, recently took place online. There were 26 awards handed out, with Port Colborne’s solo artist Gravely James taking home the most hardware with three wins (Blues, Folk, and Singer/Songwriter).

The 82 minute pre-recorded show featured several live off-the-floor recordings from Jukasa Studios.

A second company takes issue with the Region’s biosolids contract

by Kevin Vallier

There has been yet another complaint by a second company in the ongoing saga of the Niagara Region’s attempt to award a contract to operate its Liquid Biosolids and Residuals Management Program.
Last Friday Wessuc Ltd. who bid on the contract, submitted a formal letter challenging the Region’s awarding of the biosolids contract to Thomas Nutrient Solutions which has held the contract since 2013 and had already received a three-year renewal in 2017.

Riverfront Community development in Niagara Falls clears yet another hurdle

by Kevin Vallier

It’s a process that began five years ago, has undergone name changes, countless studies, appeals, reviews and public meetings and now the Riverfront Community project has cleared another hurdle after Niagara Falls City Council voted overwhelmingly in favour of a revised plan that incorporated several council-instructed changes to the original staff report from 2018.
GR (Can) Investment Co. Ltd., has been planning the $1.5 billion tourism and housing development that will include a mix of residential and retail south of Niagara Falls, near Dorchester Road, the hydro canal and Chippawa Parkway.

Enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with household only

by Kevin Vallier

Medical experts are pleading with Ontario residents to keep the number of chairs around the Thanksgiving dinner table to a minimum this year.
Yesterday saw Ontario hit a new single day high of COVID-19 cases with a reported 797. There were four new deaths.

Innovation leads to cleaner environment and economic boost for Niagara

by Kevin Vallier

Niagara will soon be home to a new renewable natural gas (RNG) facility, which will create local jobs and stimulate regional economic development, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The Niagara Falls Renewable Natural Gas plant will be the largest of its kind in Ontario and will generate enough clean renewable energy from landfill waste to heat 8,750 homes across the country and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 48,000 tonnes.

Personal support worker students receive surprise announcement from Minister

by Kevin Vallier

Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development gave nearly 100 personal support worker (PSW) students a huge surprise yesterday morning in St. Catharines. The Minister was at Lifetime Learning, the District School Board of Niagara adult education centre that is running the training program to announce a half-million dollar investment that will pay for the tuition fee the students would otherwise have to fund on their own.
“It was amazing to see the students today and the looks on their faces when they found out there training will be covered,” said Minister McNaughton. While the government has been criticised by some, ironically mostly conservatives, for spending too much money, McNaughton said the spending on training is specific and “laser focused” in order to educate people for the jobs that are available.

Walker Industries has a long tradition of helping out community organizations, particularly those in the healthcare sector. The company has come through yet again.
Walker has pledged to donate $1.5 million to Hospice Niagara towards development of two new Hospice Palliative Care Centres of Excellence in Fort Erie and Welland. Each of the proposed centres will provide a home-like setting with 10 private rooms for people and their families to spend quality time during the final stages of life.

October 19: Niagara to see more expensive bi-weekly garbage pickup

by Kevin Vallier

In just over two weeks residents of Niagara will be adjusting to a garbage collection regime that costs more and delivers less.
For residents of Fort Erie, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Pelham, St. Catharines, Thorold, Wainfleet and West Lincoln, their garbage will be collected the week of October 19. The bi-weekly pickup schedule means the following week these residents will need to hang on to their garbage.

Niagara Music Awards will be virtually possible

by Shawn McCart

Last year at this time, organizers of the Niagara Music Awards were getting ready to host the 12th annual awards ceremony at the Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls – a venue that is ideal for hosting live performances with outstanding sound, amazing lighting, and ample seating.

Fast forward to 2020, and organizers were faced with the decision of whether or not to have the Niagara Music Awards take place at all.

A pair of high-ranking Niagara Region staff members may not be onstage performers, but their “acting” roles are getting noticed.

Ron Tripp, formerly the Commissioner of Public Works, assumed the CAO’s duties in December 2018, and has been in an “acting” capacity ever since. His predecessor, Carmen D’Angelo, had gone on medical leave, and formally left the Region’s employment in February 2019. One of Tripp’s first acts was to fire four key managers linked to controversial events and the CAO selection process at the Region. A restructuring of staff and departments followed soon thereafter.

Tradition continues with Thanksgiving Festival

by Kevin Vallier

What a difference a year makes.
After coming off of one of the best years in terms of attendance in the more than four decades of hosting its annual Ball’s Falls Thanksgiving Festival, the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA), will be hosting a virtual festival this Fall.

Niagara Parks declines Ramsar designation

by The Niagara Independent

The Niagara Parks Commission did their due diligence on a proposal to affix a Ramsar designation to the Niagara River and in the end withdrew as a potential nominator of the designation.

A Ramsar designation is acquired when advocates are successful at having property owners, agencies, and local and provincial governments agree to designate a wetland, lake, river, bog or some other water-based ecosystem as a Ramsar site. The proposed sites only need to meet one of nine defining criteria. The name and regime behind the designation stem from the Ramsar Convention signed by number of countries in Ramsar, Iran in 1971.

Region awards large contract despite open investigation

by Kevin Vallier

At a special meeting of council Thursday, Regional Council awarded a multi-year and multi-million dollar contract to Thomas Nutrient Solutions to run its biosolids program.
The meeting proved to be contentious after Niagara Falls Regional councillor Bob Gale began fervently speaking against awarding the contract to Thomas due to an open whistleblower investigation and indications that Thomas was not the lowest cost option.

Regional Council considers decriminalizing and legalizing all drugs

by Kevin Vallier

Niagara Regional Council turned their attention to the issue of decriminalization and legal regulation of all drugs in Canada following a recent St. Catharines City Council endorsement of a report issued by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.
The report noted that evidence suggests that “decriminalization for simple possession as an effective way to reduce the public health and public safety harms associated with substance use.” It also included a recognition that the criminal justice system “could be enhanced using health care diversion approaches proven to be effective.”

Wayne Olson wins big in Pelham by-election

by Don Rickers

The suspense only lasted 15 minutes.

Last Tuesday night’s election polls closed at 8 pm in Pelham’s Ward 1. A quarter-hour later, the Town’s website transmitted the unofficial results, which proclaimed retired executive Wayne Olson the winner by a wide margin, garnering more than twice as many votes as his closest competitor.

Canada Summer Games delayed one year

by Kevin Vallier

The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed yet another large event. This time it’s the Canada Summer Games originally scheduled to take place in Niagara, August of 2021. That’s not happening.
Games’ organizers issued a media release Wednesday afternoon stating the Games will be delayed for one year. An exact date for the 2022 Games has not yet been announced.

Niagara Falls councillor Ioannoni disciplined… again

by The Niagara Independent

“It’s unreal. It’s unacceptable. The money, what you could do with a quarter million dollars – you could build a homeless shelter on city property right now for that.”
That’s what Niagara Falls Councillor Mike Strange had to say when presented with a report outlining the fact that nine integrity commissioner complaints and two workplace harassment investigations since 2015 have cost the city $273,000.

How a chance encounter and a fatal plane crash brought Fleet to Fort Erie

by The Niagara Independent

Located only a stone’s throw west of the town’s famous horse racing track, Fort Erie’s Fleet — in one corporate incarnation or another — has been manufacturing aerospace structures and components along Gilmore Rd. for the better part of a century.

From its humble beginnings at the outset of the Great Depression up to the present day, Fleet has employed thousands of Niagara residents and done a great deal to help buttress the local economy. Throughout the years, the company has weathered numerous labour strikes, changes in ownership, and out-and-out closure.

Region to debate extending mask bylaw

by Kevin Vallier

With a slight increase over the past few days in the number of Niagara residents testing positive for COVID-19, Niagara’s regional councillors will be discussing whether or not to extend its region-wide mask bylaw which is set to expire Oct. 1. The current by-law has been in place since July.
Monday saw seven new Niagara cases while there were five reported on Sunday and two cases reported Saturday. All seven of yesterday’s cases were in St. Catharines and it was reported that at least six of those were people who had returned from international travel.

Region asked for its share of new West Niagara hospital funding

by Kevin Vallier

Niagara Regional Council’s corporate services committee was asked this week to pony up $14 million for the new West Lincoln Memorial Hospital, a project that has been in the planning stages since the early 2000s. The current hospital is nearly 80 years old.
In a presentation to the committee, West Lincoln Memorial Hospital Foundation board chair Kevin Antonides outlined the financial breakdown and what services the new hospital will provide for Niagara.

Niagara Falls MP part of O’Toole shadow cabinet

by Kevin Vallier

Newly elected leader of the federal Conservative Party of Canada Erin O’Toole announced his shadow cabinet earlier this week and Niagara Falls MP Tony Baldinelli was among the 43 names on the list.
“I am proud to present the Conservative government in waiting that will defeat Justin Trudeau’s corrupt Liberal government in the next election,” O’Toole said in the release.

Del Rollo, vice president of industry and government relations for Arterra Wines Canada, is the new chair of Niagara College’s Board of Governors and Wendy Wing, senior vice-president of finance and administration for Rankin Construction Inc. and Port Colborne Quarries Inc., and president of Rankin Renewable Power Inc., is the new vice-chair.
The pair officially began their board leadership roles Sept. 1.

Lincoln celebrates a half century

by Kevin Vallier

The Town of Lincoln (population 24,000) as it is known today is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary and while a lot has changed, a lot has remained the same.
The Niagara Independent sat down with the town’s mayor Sandra Easton just prior to the COVID-19 outbreak to chat about where the town has come from and where the Mayor Easton sees it going.

COVID-19 roundup: what to expect when schools open

by The Niagara Independent

From elementary schools to high schools, Niagara College to Brock University, Niagara’s students are gearing up to return to the classroom next week amidst significant COVID-19 related changes.
The District School Board of Niagara announced on Tuesday its decision to allocate an additional 1%, or $4.5 million, to hire 60 to 70 additional teachers so that elementary school class sizes can be reduced for the upcoming school year.

Port Colborne’s little-known National Historic Site

by The Niagara Independent

Labour Day weekend marks the unofficial end of summer for most Canadians. While this year may be a little different, many will still pack up the family vehicle and head out for some late-season fun in the sun.

Naturally, some trips will necessitate a stop at the gas station: today, a fairly banal experience at an undistinguished row of pumps.

Niagara musicians not singing the blues during pandemic

by Shawn McCart

Rehearsing, recording, and performing are the usual routines for musicians.
Over the past six months, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, things are not as routine as they used to be for area music artists.

The nasty world of politics and social media

by The Niagara Independent

Online bullying, particularly against local elected officials, has been in the news recently as politicians at all levels, including many here in Niagara, continue to be personally attacked on social media. Several are speaking out now, citing a number of negative, insulting and sexist messages they have received during their time in office.

Niagara Falls mayor Jim Diodati even released a brief video expressing his frustration over the same issue and declaring he has established a social media “neutral zone” that will be home to respectful dialogue.

United Way continues backpacks for kids

by Kevin Vallier

While many parents and children alike are excited to finally be back to school in a matter of days there is still some worry around infection prevention and control. School will look different and one thing that will change is the sharing of school supplies between classmates.

Due to COVID-19, the need for students to have their own school supplies is more important than ever and United Way wanted to make sure every student has the tools for successful learning online or at school.

New Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole fared well in Niagara voting results

by Kevin Vallier

Erin O’Toole won a third ballot victory over initial frontrunner Peter MacKay in the race to become the new federal Conservative Party of Canada leader.

On the final vote, after Derek Sloan and third place finisher Leslyn Lewis dropped off the ballots, O’Toole finished with 57% of the votes cast to MacKay’s 43%. In all, 174,404 votes were cast in the largest leadership election in Canadian history.

Region told residents can afford higher taxes

by Kevin Vallier

Last Thursday, Niagara Regional councillors were told that Niagara residents are able to pay higher taxes. According to a KPMG sustainability report received by Council, despite a lower level of household income than other Ontario municipalities, the average regional residential taxes per household is among the lowest.  Oscar Poloni of KPMG was on-hand to provide […]

OPP busts “significant” illegal cannabis network

by The Niagara Independent

Dried and packaged cannabis at an undisclosed location. OPP PHOTO A large-scale illegal cannabis production and distribution network has been shut down by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and partners after a 12-month investigation. Several residents of the Niagara Region and GTA are facing numerous charges, according to an OPP statement released Friday, August 21. […]

Local MPs react to prorogued parliament

by Kevin Vallier

The shutting down of Canada’s parliament during a national economic crisis and a global health crisis isn’t sitting well with Niagara’s two Conservative MPs.

Just when more and more questions about the WE charity scandal are being asked, Finance Minister Bill Morneau resigns and heavily redacted documents are being and were about to be released, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prorogued parliament.

Local politicians try to make their pitch to province on-line

by Kevin Vallier

The Nitsopoulos family has been in the hospitality business for decades. Owning the majority of St. Catharines’ hotels as well as a number of restaurants over the years, they’ve seen ups and downs in the business cycle but nothing could have prepared them for the crushing financial blow that COVID-19 has delivered the family business over the past six months.

Another Regional sole source questioned by council

by Kevin Vallier

Regional Council received another staff recommendation to sole source a large purchase, this time for its Niagara Recycling facility – a facility the Niagara Region may end up selling.
The recommendation was for $450,000 of public funds to purchase new equipment that would assist the facility in removing recyclable materials from transparent plastic bags.

Police Chief praised for progress

by Kevin Vallier

In a marathon meeting lasting, in total about six hours, Niagara Regional Police Chief Bryan MacCulloch answered questions, provided context and educated regional councillors to the many improvements the force has made to better serve its community.
In the end, council approved a motion moved by St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik, to essentially forward a St. Catharines City Council motion on to the province. The St. Catharines motion passed last week, had a list of recommendations St. Catharines councillors want to see implemented to improve race relations between the NRP and Niagara’s minority citizens.

Brock research could be a game-changer for goalies

by The Niagara Independent

The position of hockey goalie has changed dramatically over the years from the modernization of the equipment making it lighter and sleeker, to the physical style of play. Now, thanks to research conducted at Brock University, hockey goaltenders could have another new competitive advantage in stopping the puck thanks.

Phase One funding flows to Niagara

by Kevin Vallier

The first round of cash to support Niagara’s municipalities and its regional government through the COVID-19 pandemic has arrived. Not surprisingly Niagara’s two largest municipalities – St. Catharines and Niagara Falls received the most funding; $7,473,509 and $4,263,658 respectively. The Region received $12,794,293. In total Niagara received more than $28 million.
The provincial and federal governments are providing up to $4 billion in one-time assistance to Ontario’s 444 municipalities. Municipalities will be provided with up to $1.6 billion as part of the first round of emergency funding under the Safe Restart Agreement. The funding is designated to help municipalities deliver critical public services.

St. Catharines Council calls for “De-Funding” of local police

by Kevin Vallier

Earlier this week St. Catharines City Council opted to call on the Niagara Region and the Police Services Board – the civilian body that oversees the Niagara Regional Police – to “re-assess ‘adequate policing” requirements.

Loss of tax exemption could put most Niagara wineries out of business

by Kevin Vallier

As if the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t cripple Niagara’s wineries enough but add to that the archaic provincial tax system that punishes Ontario’s craft wineries financially and now a deal with Australia that will add 50 cents per bottle tax to Ontario wine producers, the vast majority already operating on razor thin profit margins.

Now hear this! Outcry over NOTL noise bylaw

by Kevin Vallier

Niagara-on- the-Lake Town Council dealt with an updated draft noise bylaw last night that would have quieted the Town to almost a whisper.
The draft changes to the existing bylaw proposed to outlaw any noise above 55dB between 7:00 am and 11:00 pm while cutting that threshold to 50dB between 11:00pm and 7:00am. During last night’s meeting councillors were confused as to where the 50dB number came from.

Exclusive: Region Staff Ignored Whistleblowers on $14M Biosolids Contract

by Kevin Vallier

The Niagara Independent has learned that a number of whistleblower complaints involving the troubled bio-solids contract worth $14 million were submitted under the Niagara Region’s first ever whistleblower policy and went unaddressed by senior staff for months.

Multiple sources at the Niagara Region confirmed that Regional Council discussed the troubling matter during a special meeting of Council held on July 30.  Citing the need to maintain confidentiality due to an open tendering process, sources did not disclose the substance of the complaints, what actions Regional Council opted to take, who was responsible for overseeing the investigation and why no action had been taken to date.   

Beamsville manufacturing company gets funding boost from Province

by Kevin Vallier

It’s the kind of partnership, innovation and forward thinking that the provincial government has been hoping to see happen since they took office.

Earlier this week Premier Doug Ford was in west Niagara to announce a $2million investment into Beamsville manufacturers Clean Works Medical and Pure Life Machinery. The cash injection is expected to create 19 more jobs. The Premier was joined by Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, Niagara West MP Sam Oosterhoff, Lincoln Mayor Sandra Easton and Mark VanderVeen, president of Clean Works. 

St. Catharines Council Endorses Decriminalization of Illicit Drugs

by Kevin Vallier

Last week St. Catharines City Council endorsed a recent call by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police for the decriminalization of personal possession of illicit drugs.
Jennifer Johnston, co-founder of ‘Niagara Area Moms Ending Stigma, or NAMES voiced her support for the motion. NAMES was formed four years ago after a number of individuals banded together to support each other having lost a child to substance abuse.

Conservatives set membership sales record

by Kevin Vallier

Flying under the radar of the daily news cycle in this country is the upcoming Federal Conservative Party of Canada’s leadership election. With a global pandemic, WE scandal rocking the governing Liberal party, back-to-school plans announced and a myriad of other national and global events taking place, the leadership contest has primarily gone unnoticed to many Canadians.

A monument on the move?

by Kevin Vallier

Monday saw St. Catharines City Council deal with a motion that would kick off a consultation process over a proposal to relocate the Watson monument off of City Hall property.
Council received four delegations regarding the motion to move the Watson monument due to its association with the North-West Rebellion of 1885, a hallmark of anti-Metis and Indigenous sentiment and policy by the federal government at the time.

GO gets going again

by Kevin Vallier

Weekend GO train service to the Niagara region will begin to roll once again starting on August 1. New schedules with four trips to and from Niagara Falls and St. Catharines each Saturday, Sunday and holiday will provide more service than in previous years and enable day or overnight trips, either in Niagara or Toronto.

A September back to school for Niagara students

by Kevin Vallier

The Ontario government announced today that it will be back to school for children across Ontario come September and not surprisingly teachers and their unions weren’t happy.
Education minister Stephen Lecce unveiled a plan that has increased health and safety measures, and provides school boards with “unprecedented” resources and flexibility, while accommodating regional differences in trends of key public health indicators.

Pelham first in Niagara to file financials with province

by John Chick

The Town of Pelham became the first Niagara municipality to have its 2019 Financial Information Return (FIR) approved by the Government of Ontario this month; something CAO David Cribbs said is proof that Pelham is making progress at getting its financial house in order.
“[This is] the direct result of hard work by the entire corporate services team,” Cribbs said.

$4 Billion to Support Municipalities and Transit

by The Niagara Independent

The lobbying and threat of closures and reduced services by many of Ontario’s municipal politicians has paid off – to the tune of $4 billion.
The funding includes $777 million from the federal government and $1.22 billion from the province in support for municipalities.

With an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, regional finances bursting at the seams and a recent decision to not hear from local employers representing over 2,000 employees, Niagara Regional Council spent 44 minutes of its 167 minute meeting dealing with complaints put forward by local left-leaning political activist group A Better Niagara and dealing with councillors insulting and apologizing to their fellow councillors as well as being bogged down on numerous procedural issues.

MP Chris Bittle berates journalist at committee investigating WE scandal

by Kevin Vallier

A journalist who has spent five years researching and reporting on the WE Organization was attacked by St. Catharines MP Chris Bittle Wednesday during a committee meeting studying the WE Charity scandal currently rocking the Trudeau Liberal government.
“I found it unusual that I saw a reporter was agreeing to testify at a committee,” Bittle told Jesse Brown, publisher of the online news outlet Canadaland. “What expertise are you bringing to the table beyond what you’ve reported based on other people’s stories?”

Not much changes for Stage 3 in tourism sector

by Kevin Vallier

According to many of the largest tourist operators in Niagara Falls, heading into Stage 3 today really doesn’t change much. With the exception of being able to add additional seating inside restaurants, not much else will be different.
One thing that will change for all Niagara residents is having to wear a mask. Last night the Regional council voted to enact a mandatory mask by-law which comes into effect July 31.

Niagara to enter Stage 3 on Friday

by Kevin Vallier

Yesterday, Premier Doug Ford announced that Niagara would be entering Stage 3 of the province’s reopening plan beginning at 12:01am Friday morning.
Along with Niagara, Ford announced that Durham, Haldimand-Norfolk, Halton, Hamilton, Lambton, and York regions will also be entering Stage 3 Friday.

NPCA properties a hot spot for large gatherings

by Kevin Vallier

It’s not much of a surprise that the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) has seen a significant increase to their properties over the past few weeks given Ontarians have been locked down in their own homes with limited access to the great outdoors. But now that things have slowly started to open up the NPCA says visitors to their green spaces still need to follow the regulations and guidelines to ensure public safety.

Casinos ready to roll the dice on opening

by Kevin Vallier

Niagara’s two casinos are beginning preparations to welcome back customers as the region inches towards entering Stage 3 of the provinces economic reopening. Not a die has been thrown nor a card dealt since the Fallsview Casino and Casino Niagara closed their doors back in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A tale of two cities: Mandatory masks

by Kevin Vallier

Niagara’s two largest cities have taken wildly different approaches to the controversial issue of implementing a mandatory mask bylaw due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Niagara Falls City Council on Tuesday delayed discussion of the item to allow the Niagara Region, which is responsible for public health initiatives in Niagara, to determine whether a Region-wide order is necessary.

Politicizing the mask debate

by Kevin Vallier

It’s been a hotly debated topic for the past several weeks; to wear a mask or not to wear a mask? While public health experts initially flipped-flopped on whether or not wearing a mask actually did much to prevent the spread of COVID-19, most have now landed on the general consensus that indeed wearing a mask is beneficial, especially in closed areas where proper social distancing is tough to do. If one needed further proof, even U.S. President Donald Trump was seen wearing a mask late last week.

Innovation key to running efficient ambulance service

by Kevin Vallier

It was around 2011 that Niagara EMS noticed a significant rise in call volume. Up until that time they were seeing the standard 2-3% increase but into 2011 that number started to climb to 5 -6% and even 8%. It was cause for concern for those responsible for delivering Niagara’s land ambulance service.

The transformation of Niagara’s ambulance service Part I

by Kevin Vallier

It was 15 years ago that Niagara Emergency Medical Services (EMS) first launched a pilot project, with the blessing of the provincial government, to operate its own dispatch system. At that time dispatch for land ambulance services was run out of a central Hamilton location which had some advantages but also proved to have many disadvantages as well. Over the years, the pilot project has proved to be a major success and has lead to system improvements that weren’t even originally on the radar.

Regional council split on mask issue

by Kevin Vallier

The only thing that became clear after almost five hours of discussion at Wednesday’s special meeting of Regional Council, was that elected officials are deeply divided on the issue of implementing mandatory masks in Niagara to limit the spread of COVID-19.
When the issue came to a vote, Regional Council was divided 15-15 between implementing the bylaw or taking more time for study.

Business community, councillors disappointed with dismissal of presentation

by Kevin Vallier

There has been a significant reaction to the abrupt dismissal of a presentation last week to Regional Council by E.S. Fox president Spencer Fox. A number of residents and business owners took to social media to condemn the way council referred the presentation to a budget committee meeting that wasn’t even scheduled. In a close […]

Yesterday, St. Catharines City Council directed staff to prepare a by-law requiring individuals over the age of two to wear masks or face coverings while in enclosed spaces due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Former Regional Chair and staff file defence statement

by Kevin Vallier

Now going on nearly two years the continuing saga of the hiring of former Niagara Region CAO Carmen D’Angelo has taken a couple of important steps forward. Earlier this week the OPP stated that they have closed the books on any criminal wrong doing. There have also been two Ombudsman’s investigations into the matter.
Recently, the defendants – Alan Caslin, Robert D’Amboise and Jason Tamming – have filed their statement of defence with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

Bisons’ season shut down

by Kevin Vallier

While Major League Baseball continues to try and salvage some form of a season, Minor League Baseball announced earlier this week that the 2020 season for all of its clubs, including the Buffalo Bisons, has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Niagara’s virtual Canada Day celebration

by Kevin Vallier

Canada Day will certainly be different this year. There will be no parades, concerts or celebrations in parks as precautions are still being taken to avoid the spread of COVID-19. This year Niagara residents will have to go online to enjoy their Canada Day entertainment as the 12 local municipalities, the Niagara Region and Niagara Parks Commission have banded together to offer Canada Day, The Niagara Way.

Region says employers in survival mode “Not on our Agenda”

by Kevin Vallier

After a series of Niagara job creators called on the Niagara Region and local mayors to do their part and cut costs in order to blunt future COVID-19 tax increases, Regional Council referred the issue to the Region’s budget committee without any discussion.
Except that according to the Niagara Region website, no meeting of the Region’s budget committee is currently scheduled.

Feds and Province announce major funds for Niagara transit projects

by Anne-Marie Iemmolo

The federal and provincial Governments announced a significant invest in Niagara’s public and active transportation infrastructure yesterday. As a result Niagara’s public transport will be revamped as well as transportation throughout the region. The money will be used to make transport more accessible to residents all around the area. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, politicians from the region were unable to meet in person and held a zoom conference call to make the funding announcement.

Welcome aboard: Niagara’s beloved boating attractions launch July 1

by Kevin Vallier

It was shaping up to be one of the best seasons yet for both Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours and Hornblower Niagara Cruises. Now, both businesses are hoping to do, at best, 50 per cent of what they normally would do.
But both of the iconic nautical tourist attractions are full steam ahead to make the best of a difficult situation. It all starts Canada Day, July 1.

Back in business – Niagara gets its first weekend of Stage 2 under its belt

by Kevin Vallier

With the snip of a blue ribbon by Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati and Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries reopened – in part – Niagara’s economy. The minister and the mayor were joined by Sandie Bellows, Chair of Niagara Parks Commission, Joel Noden, Chair of Niagara Falls Tourism and Rebecca Mackenzie, President and CEO of Culinary Tourism Alliance, for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially welcome people back to the Niagara Region as part of Stage 2 of the province’s reopening plan.

Gap in CERB funding concern to constituents say MPs

by Kevin Vallier

While the federal Liberal government has rolled out a long list of funding subsidies for businesses and individuals negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Niagara’s MPs say they are still getting numerous calls on a daily basis from constituents struggling or confused by how to access funding or gravely concerned that their existing funding is about to run out and they aren’t back to work yet.

Building up through COVID crisis

by Kevin Vallier

Developers know that not everything is going to go perfectly during a construction project. There will inevitably be change orders, cost overruns and a few unforeseen hiccups. But when Sally McGarr and development partner Rainer Hummel joined forces with FirstOntario Credit Union to put a shovel in the ground back in September 2018 to develop a property McGarr’s been wanting to build something special on for years, nobody predicted a global pandemic. That isn’t just a hiccup.

Keeping it clean – Niagara readies itself for tourists

by Kevin Vallier

It’s not what you would call a “grand opening” but for Niagara’s business owners, particularly those in the tourism capital of Niagara Falls, they’ll take what they can get.
Today marks the first day of Niagara moving into Stage 2 of the province’s economic reopening plan. This means stores, patios, hair salons and more can open their doors for business. It also means that tourism operators can finally call staff back to work and welcome tourists back to Niagara.

NPCA phases in opening of nature areas

by Anne-Marie Iemmolo

The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) is preparing to re-open its parks to the public. Although the Niagara region will remain in phase one until this Friday, campgrounds and conservation areas were allowed to re-open earlier. After yesterday’s announcement by the government, locals can not only continue going on hikes and participate in passive recreation but will soon be able to experience more of what the NPCA properties have to offer. The NPCA operates a total 41 properties including some well known conservation areas like Balls Falls, Long Beach and Chippawa Creek.

Exclusive: Recommendation made for Niagara to enter Stage 2

by The Niagara Independent

The Niagara Independent has learned that the Region’s Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Mustafa Hirji has recommended to the Provincial Medial Officer of Health Dr. David Williams that Niagara proceed to Stage 2 reopening.

In his letter Dr. Hirji says, “I appreciate the opportunities I’ve had to speak with you and understand the data and process with which the province is using to make evidence-informed decisions on moving public health regions to Stage 2 of reopening, as well as the opportunity to provide my contextual, local perspective. In follow up to those conversations, I’d like to restate the local data and context, and articulate why I believe it indicates that Niagara is ready to proceed to Stage 2.”

Niagara tourism gets funding boost

by Kevin Vallier

Niagara’s tourism sector got a much-needed boost this week when the province’s Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries Lisa MacLeod announced via a Zoom news conference that her Ministry will be providing one million dollars to help market the region’s attractions and destinations.

Niagara’s frustration of Second Stage Re-opening denial heats up

by Kevin Vallier

On Monday, the province announced the list of Region’s allowed to move to Stage 2 reopening. While 24 regions were on the list to reopen, 10 were denied. Among the 10 was Niagara.

“It’s not a tank” – Misconceptions around NRP rescue vehicle

by Kevin Vallier