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Niagara Falls
Friday, July 12, 2024
New Queen and Mississagua gateway well worth it, Zalepa says
Lord Mayor Gary Zalepa said the picturesque archway is his favourite feature of the town's new gateway to the heritage district. JULIA SACCO
J.B. Hopkins, Lord Mayor Gary Zalepa and Gerry Kowalchuk cut the ribbon for the new gateway together, thanking everyone who was involved in its creation. JULIA SACCO
About 30 residents gathered at the Queen and Mississagua intersection for the unveiling - and to check out the new gateway. JULIA SACCO
Everyone involved in the new gateway's development came out to cut the ribbon on Thursday. JULIA SACCO

In the past, guests entering the heritage district of Niagara-on-the-Lake have been greeted sans-fanfare by the sight of the field overlooking the Niagara River, trees and historic homes.

However, now as they enter the intersection of Queen and Mississagua streets, they’ll be welcomed by a five-foot-tall brick gateway that says “Niagara-on-the-Lake Heritage District.”

“This is an important piece of Niagara-on-the-Lake. For not only the people who live here and come across it daily but for the visitors who come and enjoy the wonderful place that we call home,” said Lord Mayor Gary Zalepa said during the ribbon-cutting ceremony last Thursday for the formal introduction of this gateway.

Zalepa was joined by parks and recreation manager Kevin Turcotte and designer Gerry Kowalchuk, whose family’s foundation is responsible for funding the construction of this gateway with a donation of almost $265,000.

Around 30 residents gathered at the intersection to happily welcome in the new gateway.

The intersection was blocked off to traffic between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. for the presentation.

Before this, Zalepa told The Lake Report, the town has lacked a marker or sign to tell people when they’re entering the heritage district and historic Old Town.

“We have the great scenery, the setting — that’s all here. But we did lack the public asset to say you’re actually entering the heritage district,” he said.

Kowalchuk spoke on the design process for the entryway, which was put to a halt shortly after its start in 2019, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

He said that he was happy with the outcome of the design after four years and that it fulfilled the original vision statement for the project, which planned for a striking first impression of NOTL, a symbolic representation of the town’s visual beauty, a gateway to historic Old Town and landscape excellence. 

“As I stand here today I believe that we have accomplished the outcome of our vision statement,” Kowalchuk said. 

The road to completing the project hasn’t been without its bumps along the way.

The gateway surpassed the initially estimated price tag of $250,000, bringing the total budget to $264,890.

“It was another $15,000,” Kowalchuk said. “But we still covered it though, because I pre-funded it the month after it was approved.”

Zalepa said that the cost was more than worth it for the town.

“The first thing that jumped to me was the similarity between the tunnel access from Fort Mississauga to Lake Ontario,” he said about the design.

The gateway— which is four years in the making— had no shortage of bumps along the way, including dry mason Dean McLellan dropping out of the project after being refused a deposit from the town for his materials.

Along with beautifying the streetscape, the gateway has its own self-sustaining irrigation system and lights up at night to display a silhouette of the “heritage district” lettering.

The town is happy to take feedback from residents regarding the legibility of text and any other critiques, Zalepa added.

“If there’s improvements we can do to the material of the lettering I’m very confident we will make sure we can look at that over time,” he said.

juliasacco@niagaranow.com

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