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Saturday, July 13, 2024
‘This is not Disneyland’: Residents angered after two hotels approved
Marliyn Bartlett is concerned that the town is putting tourism before its residents. JULIA SACCO

Some residents are feeling unsettled and upset after the approval of two new hotels in Old Town Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Tuesday night’s committee of the whole planning meeting made way for Benny Marotta’s 129-room hotel on the old Parliament Oak school grounds, just two weeks after after Rainer Hummel’s 81-room Queen Street hotel was approved on May 28.

Resident Marilyn Barlett has been outspoken against both of the developments.

In an email last month to Alexandria Attree, the town’s administrative assistant, Bartlett said the Hummel development proposal “has significant adverse consequences for residents, who surround it on three sides, and for the unique and historic character of the town at large, the very thing that brings visitors and tourists to this town.”

Speaking to councillors on Tuesday evening, Bartlett said the town is putting tourism and employment ahead of preserving the heritage and character of NOTL.

She echoed that statement to The Lake Report in an interview Wednesday afternoon, saying she feels “sick.”

“This is a town where people live. This is not just a tourist destination. This is not Disneyland,” she said.

According to provincial policy, Bartlett said, communities should be “livable.” 

“I don’t see how two hotels within blocks of each other in the heart of the Old Town makes this community more livable,” she said.

Bartlett isn’t alone in her concerns.

Before Tuesday’s meeting, resident Robert Bader sent out an email to fellow angry residents urging them to sign up to speak out to councillors in response to the potential Parliament Oak approval.

If you thought last week’s debacle approving Hummel’s 44-foot-high monstrosity at the entrance to Old Town was bad, this worse report by staff recommends approval of Marotta’s 60-foot edifice in the centre of town on the Parliament Oaks institutionally zoned lands,” the email read. 

Hummel, whose hotel was approved during that May 28 meeting, told The Lake Report he feels positive about the Parliament Oak hotel plan.

“I think it’s going to be an absolutely first-class addition to Niagara-on-the-Lake, because everything that Benny does is first-class,” Hummel said. 

He echoed what was said during Tuesday’s meeting, which was that NOTL lacks five-star accommodations for guests.

“We need that kind of hotel in town. There’s an entire clientele that doesn’t come here because the quality they’re looking for and willing to pay for doesn’t exist,” he said.

“He is going to fill that gap.”

Bartlett said she and many other residents plan to speak on the issue of the Parliament Oak hotel at a coming meeting — but, right now she feels a bit defeated.

“I guess we have the opportunity to speak again, but I really wonder if anybody is listening,” she said.

Nonetheless, Bartlett pledges to be in attendance when the time comes. 

juliasacco@niagaranow.com

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