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Niagara Falls
Saturday, March 25, 2023
Wealthy benefactor offers $250,000 to NOTL for new community gateway
NOTL's population has grown 9 per cent since 2016, the latest census data shows. (File)

A Niagara-on-the-Lake resident is willing to donate up to $250,000 to the Town of NOTL for a charitable project that could see a redone entrance into Old Town on Queen and Mississauga streets.

Gerry Kowalchuk has offered to provide the money, which would come from the Gerry Kowalchuk Family Fund through the Niagara Community Foundation.

At a Communities in Bloom committee meeting last month, Kowalchuk said for the last year he’s been considering doing a project that would be beneficial to the community and came up with the idea of redoing the entrance about five months ago.

“That’s probably the highest volume of traffic on that turn coming into town, especially on long weekends,” Kowalchuk said. “I think it’s an important focal point and I’d be very happy to have my name associated with it.”

The entrance should complement the surroundings, such as residential homes, the NOTL Golf Course and the Charles Hotel, Kowalchuk said.

Some of the proposed designs included a “more aesthetically pleasing” bulletin board, a digital sign, an evening lighting, a rotational heritage sign, a design reflecting community heritage or a relationship to the War of 1812 and a donor plaque at the site recognizing contribution by the Gerald Kowalchuk Family Fund.

“There are many possibilities,” Kowalchuk said at the December meeting, noting that these are just concepts and nothing has been confirmed yet. “I’m sure a lot of positive aspects would come out of this.”

At the same meeting, the town’s manager of parks and recreation Kevin Turcotte said the town has accepted donations for sponsorships in the past, such as for splash pads or arenas.

Kowalchuk also proposed to form a subcommittee named The Queen/Mississauga Project. Originally, the subcommittee’s membership, approved by the communities in bloom, included Nicole Cripps, Janice Johnston, Janet Trogdon, Alex Topps and Kowalchuk himself.

At the committee of the whole general meeting Monday, Jan. 13, Lord Mayor Betty Disero said she received an email from Kowalchuk asking to replace Cripps with Bill Clark and also adding a town councillor to the board.

Town’s committee of the whole approved the new membership which now includes Kowalchuk, Janice Johnston, Janet Trogdon, Alex Topps, Bill Clark and Couns. John Wiens and Wendy Cheropita.

The members of the subcommittee would also work with Parks Canada, the Town, the NOTL Golf Course and the town’s municipal heritage committee on the project.

It is an “exciting development,” Coun. Clare Cameron said Monday, expressing hope that if the project is successful, the town could have other benefactors willing to put their efforts into enhancing other “geographic gateways” into town, some of which are located at the Garden City Skyway Bridge, along Niagara River Parkway or on Four Mile Creek Road.

The subcommittee will report to communities in bloom which will also report back to council.

Councillors will make a formal decision on approving the subcommittee at the next council meeting on Jan. 20.

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