Sandie Bellows, chair of the Niagara Parks Commission, died Sunday evening after a battle with cancer. She was 60 years old.
“Sandie Bellows and I became fast-friends. Sandy was enthusiastic and her work on the commission was inclusive,” said Niagara-on-the-Lake Lord Mayor Betty Disero.
Bellows, 60, joined the commission in October 2018 and became its chair the following January. She was a municipal councillor in St. Catharines and was in her first term on regional council.
“The fresh air, humility, and dedication she brought to the Niagara Parks Commission changed the agency for the better,” Lisa MacLeod, minister for heritage, sport, tourism and culture, said in a news release.
The commission’s chief executive officer, David Adames, said Bellows’ help was invaluable throughout COVID-19 and she was able to accomplish major projects despite the pandemic.
“Under her leadership, Niagara Parks welcomed a record number of visitors and set a new benchmark for revenue during 2019-20,” Adames said in a joint statement with April Jeffs, commission vice-chair.
The project Bellows was most proud of was the opening of the Niagara Parks Power Station tourism attraction in July.
“She felt that was one of her biggest accomplishments,” Disero told The Lake Report.
Disero and Bellows became friends during Disero’s run for the office of lord mayor in 2018.
“She cared about the community and she wanted people to be involved in decision-making at the parks commission and regional council. She was always up to date on information and she was one of the people whose opinions council members valued greatly.”
Disero said she and Bellows shared a penchant for practical thinking. But there were some things they differed on.
“I know her and (her husband) Dan went out on the jet boat ride because she enjoys it. I don’t, but Sandie loved it. A lot of things that Dan liked, Sandie liked,” she said.
Disero said that even while going through cancer treatment Bellows maintained her optimism.
“She always held out hope, as we all did, that the doctors would be able to figure out what was going on and treat her and get her back in good shape. The last little while it was sad to see that her condition was not improving,” she said.
“She will be a loss for the whole Niagara Region.”