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Niagara Falls
Sunday, February 5, 2023
Year in Review 2022: Finally, a welcome return to ‘normal’ – BONUS: A gallery of some of our favourite photos from 2022
Photographer Janice White captured this image of a fox howling in January 2022.
Reporter Evan Saunders took this image of children at the Niagara Alternative Learning Alliance, a maskless “pod” school that operated against public health mandates.
Editor Richard Harley catches a rare winter sight, kids playing hockey on the frozen One Mile Creek pond in Chautauqua. A truly Canadian scene.
Evan Saunders photographed Laryssa Droig and her daughter Alana at St. John Byzantine Catholic Church, organizing space for the copious donations coming in to help relief efforts for Ukraine.
This stunning photo of a community centre display of 1,400 hand-folded paper cranes to honour front-line and essential workers was taken by Evan Saunders.
Brad Hamilton and his dog Tanner were harassed by a coyote on two occasions in Garrison Village. Evan Saunders’ photo shows Hamilton carrying a large stick for self-defence.
The pickleball courts in Virgil are empty after a noise complaint and legal battle forces the town to shutter the racquet game, for causing too much racket. (Richard Harley)
Lake Report correspondent Steve Hardaker captures a turkey vulture soaring over the Niagara River from Queenston Heights.
Doug Ford visits NOTL as part of his kick-off for the twinning of the Skyway. He unironically hops on a steamroller and reporter Evan Saunders doesn’t miss the shot.
Allan Spencer from the City of Thorold Pipe Band pipes down the sun. (Richard Harley)
Fort George’s Fife and Drum Corps escorts the 1,000-pound Canada Day cake down Queen Street toward Simcoe Park where it will feed hundreds of celebrants. (Richard Harley)
British troops open fire on Napoleon’s army during a battle re-enactment at Fort George in July. (Evan Saunders)
Photographer Dave Van de Laar documents the excitement after the U22 Thunderhawks lacrosse team scores a goal. The team will go on to be the undefeated champions of all of Ontario for the season.
Ten-year-old Isabella Yan from team Saskatchewan returns the ball with a leap at the Canada Summer Games. (Somer Slobodian)
Reporter Somer Slobodian is there when Dylan Rumsey’s mom Sue gives him a joyous hug after he swims from Queenston to Queen’s Royal Beach to raise money for Pathstone Mental Health.
NOTL’s lord mayor-elect Gary Zalepa struts into the community centre on election night, after solidifying a big win over his two opponents. (Somer Slobodian)
The old Glendale overpass is torn down by heavy machinery to make way for the newly completed diamond diverging interchange. Richard Harley is there in the early hours of the morning to capture the shot as cars are diverted around the construction.
Volunteer Janet Guy helps set up the NOTL Museum’s poppy display at the NOTL Court House, with more than 3,000 hand-crocheted poppies. (Somer Slobodian)
A steady stream of water drips from Mountie Evan Malcolm’s hat as torrential rain soaks everyone attending Remembrance Day services at the Queenston cenotaph. (Somer Slobodian)
Fans gather at the Irish Harp Pub to watch Team Canada play Belgium in the FIFA World Cup. It’s the first time Canada qualified for the tourney in 36 years. (Somer Slobodian)
Nolan Tamby is in awe of Santa Claus during a December photo-op in support of palliative care at the NOTL Community Centre. (Julia Sacco)
Somer Slobodian illustrates the magical scene of the Christmas light display at 15630 Niagara Parkway in NOTL.

In a replay of a year earlier, life in 2022 began with more fears about COVID but great hopes for a return to normalcy. And for the most part, life did get back to “normal” – but with a heavy dose of caution for many.

With two elections – Ontario and municipal – people were engaged in meaningful issues and while opting for the status quo at the provincial level, chose change in electing a much different town council in October. That’s democracy.

But there was lots of other news in 2022. Here are some highlights from the past year: 

January

Jan. 6 edition: An outbreak of COVID-19 at Niagara Long Term Care grows to 28 cases, with 14 residents and 14 staff members testing positive for the virus.

Columnist Dr. William Brown discusses why isolation in nursing homes is a bad idea, despite the Omicron variant. It has lasting detrimental effects on residents’ cognitive faculties, among other problems.

A Niagara police officer feared for his life and was justified in fatally shooting a man who led four police forces on a five-hour pursuit a year ago, the province’s Special Investigations Unit says.

An instalment in a Lake Report in-depth series on short-term rentals suggests owner-occupied rentals, like B&Bs, are one solution worth exploring.

NOTL’s on-again, off-again accommodation tax is not dead, Coun. Norm Arsenault says. Its start date was defeated on a tie vote in December.

NOTL residents Harriet Stairs and Duff Roman are named to the Order of Canada by Gov.-Gen. Mary Simon.

A NOTL couple’s baby was one of the first newborns of the year at Niagara Health. Gabriella Barde made her grand debut at 7:14 a.m. on Jan. 1.

Jan. 13: The Polar Vortex weather system sweeps in to NOTL and spurs the annual icewine harvest at Pillitteri Estates Winery and other farms in town.

The Lincoln County Humane Society is now handling all animal-related needs in NOTL, a controversial decision that cost longtime animal control officer Ken Reid his job.

House prices in Niagara-on-the-Lake soared to record levels in 2021 and the average price now exceeds $1 million. Doug Rempel, president of the Niagara Association of Realtors, sees no sign of the trend abating.

Residents came out in force and told an online open house they are steadfast against a planned apartment development on the old Parliament Oak school site. Eventually the developer, Liberty Sites (3) Ltd., will give up, selling the site to Benny Marotta’s Two Sisters Resorts Corp. for $8 million.

Everything is in place for the new outdoor ice rink in Virgil’s Centennial Sports Park to start getting used, except some volunteers to help supervise it.

Jan. 20: Metre-high snow drifts greet NOTLers as a massive winter storm roars in. But all across town, Good Samaritans were busy helping neighbours dig out.

COVID continues. Niagara’s top doctor says parents need to get their children vaccinated, or they should have to make a legal declaration about vaccinations that could result in their child being suspended from school.

Two residents who were in palliative care and contracted COVID-19 at Niagara Long Term Care have died, as an outbreak continues at the Wellington Street care home.

The Region of Niagara’s proposed roundabout in St. Davids could really hurt businesses, owners say. They argue it’s not needed.

Jan. 27: A Lake Report investigation finds more than 50 children and volunteers are gathering every weekday in Virgil in a maskless, non-distanced private learning pod known as the Niagara Alternative Learning Alliance.

The province, region and town officials launch their own investigations as a result of our stories.

The controversial new gateway entrance to Old Town has been shrunk to meet its budget and approved for tendering by Niagara-on-the-Lake councillors. A year later, it has not been built.

Valu-mart is no more in NOTL. They’ve been upgraded to Independent Grocer franchises at both the Old Town and Virgil locations.

February

Feb. 3: Niagara-on-the-Lake’s 2022 operating budget will mean a 2.99 per cent general tax increase for property owners.

Willowbank in Queenston announces plans to sell the former Laura Secord school, noting the historic building is unused and the sale makes sense.

At the Niagara Alternative Learning Alliance there’s no homework, no tests and kids as young as eight are being taught questionable scientific subjects such as epigenetics. The Lake Report’s investigation continues.

NOTL Chamber of Commerce president Eduardo Lafforgue has a cool new job. He has resigned to take on the role of tourism director for the Yukon Territory.

The Shaw Festival celebrates its 60th anniversary with 22 new shows and a schedule that runs from Feb. 9 to Dec. 23.

Feb. 10: After an investigation sparked by stories in The Lake Report, the Ontario Ministry of Education has ordered the owners of the Niagara Alternative Learning Alliance to reduce their operation to only five children or face a $250,000 fine and potential jail time.

NOTL fire chief Nick Ruller resigns to become a platoon chief with the City of Brampton’s fire service. Later in the year, deputy Jay Plato succeeds him.

Niagara Long Term Care is COVID-free once again after an outbreak that started Dec. 27, 202, was declared over by public health.

Black history in Niagara is complex, with deep roots that encompass slavery as well as the people and events that pushed for freedom and gave safe haven as part of the Underground Railroad. The Niagara Bruce Trail Club plans a series of hikes exploring that history to mark Black History Month.

“Freedom convoy” supporters gather at NOTL’s Husky truck stop to protest ongoing COVID safety mandates.

Feb. 17: After a Lake Report investigative series, the education ministry won an injunction against a NOTL learning pod. A Superior Court judge acknowledged the operators were “sincere and well-meaning” but ordered the Niagara Alternative Learning Alliance to cease all operations in Virgil – and anywhere else.

NOTL sports and community legend Doug Garrett dies at age 94.

After lobbying by Lake Report columnist Ross Robinson, the town approves a plan to install a flapole at Queen’s Royal Park. The cost of the flagpole and its installation is being covered by Tom and Jim Caldwell of Caldwell Securities Ltd.

The Lake Report is nominated for 14 provincial awards in recognition of the newspaper’s journalism, advertising and community service – the most awards of any community newspaper in Ontario.

Feb. 24: A month after a major snowstorm hit the area, residents along Irvine Road used sandbag barriers and high-powered water pumps to save their homes from severe flooding after a huge rainfall.

Peter Warrack is receiving the Meritorious Service Cross from the Governor-General in recognition of his work to combat human trafficking in Canada and abroad.

With the upcoming March 1 removal of the proof of vaccination requirement and with capacity restrictions already lifted, NOTL restaurateurs are hopeful some economic hardship may finally be behind them.

March

March 3: In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, NOTL residents of Ukrainian heritage – like Andre Kostiuk – are thinking back on their own families and when they moved to Canada.

 The Rand Estate has officially been declared a property of cultural heritage value or interest in the town of Niagara-on- the-Lake thanks to a vote by NOTL council.

The former Parliament Oak school site at 325 King St. is officially for sale – again. Liberty Sites (3) Ltd.’s proposal for a 71-unit apartment building and a handful of semi-detached and single-family homes was met with vocal resistance.

March 10: To commemorate International Women’s Day, we bring readers stories about the four strong women leaders on NOTL council, a woman who fled Hong Kong to live in Niagara, and a 10-year-old NOTL girl who is making a big difference in the world.

A Niagara church is leading the way, collecting medical, military and cash donations to support Ukraine in the way of Russia’s invasion.

The Virgil Stampede expects to return in May after two years of COVID cancellations. (It did and it was a great weekend, as always.)

The Shaw Festival celebrated its fifth consecutive financial surplus – $114,00 – in 2021 despite pandemic limitations.

March 17: The Lake Report presents “Hotels-on-the-Lake,” an in-depth look at the implications of short-term rentals turning housing into a commodity and quickly taken over a large number of NOTL homes.

The NOTL Farmworker Hub is back and offering a free tuck shop and even health care for seasonal farmworkers.

After a heavy snowfall closed Niagara District Airport for one of the first times in its history, the federal government is kicking in $1.6 million for new snow-clearing equipment.

The arenas were packed as more than 40 hockey teams competed in the annual March Break tournament in Virgil.

March 24: Advocates, residents and migrant workers marched in front of NOTL’s town hall to call for permanent residency for all seasonal workers.

After being shut down for operating illegally, the Niagara Alternative Learning Alliance will restart operations in the old Virgil school on Four Mile Creek Road. It took steps to become a registered private school with the Ministry of Education.

Chautauqua residents are worried their community is being hollowed out by the growth of short-term rentals, the head of their community association tells NOTL council.

A Lake Report investigation learns that all the town’s beloved summer festivals plan to return this year, including the Strawberry, Cherry, Peach Festivals. Plus the Stampede, Kinsmen Car Show and Grace United Festival Market.

March 31: More than 1,400 hand-folded origami cranes are adorning the front windows of the NOTL Community Centre to honour essential workers and those who helped everyone during the pandemic.

Former NOTL canine control officer Ken Reid is suing the town after his contract was not renewed, a move that upset many local residents.

Kaleb Schriefer was crushed by the loss of his younger brother Noah in January 2021 and plans to complete the 4,400-kilometre Tour Divide ride in his sibling’s memory – from Canada to the Mexican border.

On one of the first weekends of spring, downtown NOTL business operators were happy to see visitors starting to return.

April

April 7: Garrison Village and other NOTL residents say foraging coyotes are a threat to people and pets in their neighbourhood. Experts say the problem is food being left out for easy access.

Flooding, torrential rain, windstorms and suffocating heat are just a few of the climate change-driven threats Niagara-on-the- Lake is preparing to deal with in its new climate change adaptation plan.

Members of the NOTL Arts Collective showcase their works in a new Pumphouse exhibit.

The annual Easter sunrise service returns to NOTL’s tiny, six-seat Wayside Chapel on the Niagara Parkway this year.

April 14: Despite advice from experts, some residents worried about coyotes attacking them or their dogs are carrying big sticks when out and about. The town plans a coyote information session.

The sixth wave of COVID-19 is beginning to eclipse the Omicron wave on several metrics and the time for provincial action is now, Dr. Mustafa Hirji warns.

Correspondent Linda Fritz explores the history of NOTL’s Shalamar resort and people’s fond memories of the campground on Line 8.

April 21: An egg-cellent time is had by all – especially youngsters – as the Kinsmen Club’s annual Easter Egg hunt returns.

Noise from Virgil’s popular outdoor pickleball courts has sparked a legal challenge by a neighbour who’s had enough.

The venerable Taylor’s Bakery in Old Town is becoming a Dairy Queen franchise.

April 28: The coyotes terrorizing residents of Old Town have been eating food from human sources and until those sources are addressed the problem will continue, experts tell a NOTL information session.

Despite one resident’s legal complaint about pickleball noise, many of her neighbours disagree with taking the town to court over the dispute, though they admit the sport can be loud.

Deputy Lord Mayor Clare Cameron announces she will not seek re-election, taking some of her colleagues by surprise.

The Niagara on the Green neighbourhood’s annual Earth Day spring cleanup is a huge success, collecting 25 bags of garbage and debris.

 May

May 5: Congratulations to The Lake Report, winner of 14 Ontario Community Newspapers Awards – more than any other newspaper in the province. The awards recognize our journalism, advertising and community service in NOTL.

Jim Russell and a team of technicians gathered this week at the Mississagua Street site known as the Negro Burial Ground to begin the process of locating and identifying the Black Canadians buried in the sacred plot.

Less than a year after cutting down about 400 ash and maple trees along Two Mile Creek, the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority is replanting 4,700 new saplings in the area.

Battle of the Atlantic heroism and sacrifice are remembered in a ceremony at Navy Hall.

May 12:  Control of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Golf Club changed hands suddenly and unexpectedly after a prolonged legal battle between operators John and Jill Wiens and a group of business partners.

Telling supporters she is “humbled and appreciative,” Lord Mayor Betty Disero files her nomination papers for this fall’s municipal election.

And Regional Coun. Gary Zalepa announces he is challenging Disero for the top job.

The Lake Report launches an ambitious year-long journalism project, A Year in the Life of Niagara-on-the-Lake. A team of more than 10 photographers will be out and about all year documenting life in NOTL. And as we assemble the project, we’ll publish a picture online for each day from May 1, 2022, to April 30, 2023.

May 19: It’s time for the Virgil Stampede and eager young folks anticipate fun, friends and food as the fair returns after a two-year COVID hiatus.

Niagara-on-the-Lake’s iconic clock tower cenotaph turns 100 on June 4, and the Legion and Town of NOTL are planning a celebration fit for the occasion.

A survey of 300 people conducted for NOTL’s tourism industry finds most residents are happy with tourism. But the mayor and others have questions.

May 26: The Virgil Stampede storms back, literally. There was blistering heat and heavy rain, but mostly just lots of fun.

Advance polls open for the June 2 provincial election, as incumbent MPP Wayne Gates faces challenges from Tory Bob Gale and Liberal Ashley Waters.

The Niagara Thunderhawks U22 team triumphs 12-1 as lacrosse returns to NOTL. It’s a sign of great things to come for the team, which will go undefeated all season and win a provincial championship.

June 

June 2: The Monuments Men series debuts. A massive undertaking by NOTL historian Ron Dale, it commemorates the 100th anniversary of the town’s clock tower cenotaph by retelling the stories of the men whose names are literally etched in stone.

A happy announcement: Canada Day returns with the Cake Parade, entertainment, fireworks and plenty of history.

After a court case claimed that noisy outdoor pickleball games in NOTL parks violate the town’s noise bylaw, council changes the bylaw to permit recreational noise until 11 p.m. The case is back in court soon.

It’s provincial election day and at least one poll predicts a close race. We’ll see what happens.

June 9: Oops. The NDP’s Wayne Gates retains his provincial seat by winning 48 per cent of the vote. Runner-up Bob Gale takes 36 per cent and ends up 5,800 votes behind. Gale says he’s retiring from politics, but later decides to run for regional council in Niagara Falls again.

A Good Samaritan talks about an unacceptably long wait for an ambulance to arrive after a cyclist was hurt on a rural NOTL road.

NOTL seasonal farmworkers get ready to resume their rivalry in their annual cricket match versus Vineland. NOTL has won all but two of the 26 annual matches.

June 16: Pickleball play has been banned from the town’s six outdoor courts in Virgil. A court in Welland ruled the town and the NOTL Pickleball Club violated the municipality’s noise bylaw by allowing pickleball games in Centennial Sports Park.

Caroline Polgrabia and a group of dedicated parents unveil plans to launch a youth campus for NOTL high-schoolers.

The NOTL Clippers notch their 25th victory (in 27 matches) in the annual farmworkers cricket match. A stellar record.

Hundreds flock and walkabout through town for the annual Shaw Guild Garden Tour.

June 23: NOTL’s much-debated and long-delayed municipal accommodation tax begins on July 1. It will be 2 per cent in year 1 and rise one point in 2024 and 2025.

The Canadian Navy’s oldest ship, the HMCS Oriole pays a weekend visit to the NOTL Sailing Club.

With pickleball banned on outdoor courts in NOTL, Lord Mayor Betty Disero says she is focused on finding a solution for club members.

Dylan Rumsey announces plans to swim from the Queenston boat launch to the gazebo in Queen’s Royal Park to raise awareness and money for mental health.

June 30: Bad news: Heavy rain and cold air severely damaged Niagara’s grape vines last winter, and early signs show growers could lose 50 per cent or more of their crops this year.

The beloved Virgil Stampede attracted some 10,000 visitors and had one of its best revenue years ever, organizers say.

The annual Strawberry Social was back in-person at the NOTL Community Centre for the first time in two years.

July

July 7: The mammoth Canada Day Cake created by Catherine O’Donnell of Willow Cakes and Pastries is again paraded through town as part of NOTL’s July 1 party.

NOTL’s only sign maker says he was ignored by the town when it launched its new ShopNOTL campaign. Instead, the work went to an out-of-town supplier.

The undefeated U22 Niagara Thunderhawks completed their regular season with two more wins to thrust them into the number one seed headed into the Ontario Lacrosse League playoffs.

 July 14: French and British troops relive battles as re-enactors spend the weekend staging Napoleonic clashes at Fort George.

Willowbank sells the former Laura Secord Memorial School for $2.2 million to Canadian Niagara Heritage Inc. of Niagara Falls, owned by the Shahani family.

After just six months on the job, town clerk Ralph Walton quits. The town fired his predecessor in June 2021.

The annual Cherry Festival makes a sweet return to NOTL – and the cherry pies sold out before noon.

July 21: Niagara is in the midst of a seventh wave of COVID-19 and this one has the potential to be worse than the previous one, says Niagara’s acting chief medical officer of health.

Brock develops virus-free vines that Niagara grape growers will be able to benefit from.

NOTL’s proposed transportation master plan proposes converting Queen Street into a “flex” street, with no curbs, more bikes and pedestrians, and fewer cars.

The Niagara-on-the-Lake Public Library’s “pop-up libraries” are proving increasingly popular spots for families and children to have fun together. The temporary libraries are “popping up” in neighbourhoods all summer long.

July 28: Two men on a disabled Sea-Doo were rescued after hours stranded in Lake Ontario while clinging to a green buoy at the mouth of the Niagara River.

A much-debated rainbow crosswalk will be installed at Anderson Lane and Niagara Stone Road, after council unanimously approved the plan.

NOTL businesses are facing labour shortages. “I don’t know what I’m going to do,” says one shop manager, as lack of staff forces her store to close early.

An 11-year-old girl was sent to hospital after she was struck by an SUV while riding her bike in Virgil. The unidentified girl was cycling along the sidewalk when an SUV exiting the parking lot of Phil’s Independent Grocer collided with her.

August

Aug. 4: A torch relay heralds the start of the Summer Games. Sailing and tennis will be held in Niagara-on-the-Lake Aug. 7 to 20.

The Shaw Festival’s annual preview shows generated $4,000 for NOTL charities. The recipients are: NOTL Palliative Care, the cancer society, the NOTL Soccer Club and the TD Niagara Jazz Festival.

A truck that was reported stolen last week and crashed into an unfinished pool in NOTL wasn’t stolen after all, police say. The truck’s owner faces several charges, including public mischief.

Aug. 11: In a huge week for sports in NOTL, the Canada Summer Games kick off, the Niagara Thunderhawks complete a season for the ages, going undefeated and winning a provincial lacrosse championship, and the NOTL Golf Club crowns new champions after a sweltering weekend of competition.

Dozens of no parking signs have popped up along Four Mile Creek Road for several hundred metres in either direction from the Grist restaurant in St. Davids. The owners feel “targeted” by the Region of Niagara’s move.

Niagara-on-the-Lake’s council chambers will be re- opening to the public on Aug. 22 after two years of strictly online virtual meetings.

After two years of strictly online virtual meetings, NOTL’s council chambers will be reopening to the public on Aug. 22.

Aug. 18: Calm waters and a lack of wind causes the first day of Canada Summer Games sailing competition on Lake Ontario off NOTL.

At the Summer Games, NOTL wrestler Zubin Gatta wins gold with Team Ontario to go with an individual bronze medal in the 52-kg. weight class.

Retired businessman Vaughn Goettler jumps into the mayoral race, joining incumbent Betty Disero and Regional Coun. Gary Zalepa.

Jamaican Labour Minister Karl Samuda visits NOTL farms to learn about the industry and working conditions for seasonal farmworkers.

Aug. 25: Two NOTL athletes – Kai Bartel and Zubin Gatta – competed in the Canada Summer Games and both came home with gold medals.

It took a few extra hours on the final day of competition but Canada Summer Games organizers managed to corral enough wind on Lake Ontario to finally finish off the sailing races.

Seniors are tuning into their artistic sides at Pleasant Manor and Upper Canada Lodge with pre-made art kits from the Pumphouse Arts Centre that are delivered monthly to both facilities.

NOTL adopted its new official plan almost three years ago but now the Region of Niagara is demanding “significant” changes before approving it.

September

Sept. 1: Cleaning up and containing a mysterious “organic” pill costs the town more than $650,000 but officials won’t say – or don’t know – exactly what the substance is.

Beekeepers are losing honeybees at an alarming rate, causing at least one farmer to completely reinvent his bee business.

After two and a half years of construction to completely redesign the QEW/Glendale Avenue interchange, drivers can expect to soon start using the new road.

The Terry Fox Run is back and celebrating 42 years of fundraising in NOTL.

Sept. 8: Kids all over NOTL traded in their summer gear for backpacks and lunch kits as they headed back to school this week, the first “normal” return to class in a couple of years.

More questions than answers abound regarding the mystery spill the town is cleaning up. Some NOTL residents contend town staff overreacted.

Every dollar donated to NOTL Community Palliative Care up to $25,000 will be matched by developer Rainer Hummel, the agency says.

Remembrance Day poppies will be popping up on the old Court House and elsewhere in town this year as the NOTL Museum expands its commemorative Poppy Project.

Sept. 15: A new high-tech hovercraft service aims to connect Niagara to Toronto. The company, headed by a NOTL resident, will dock in Port Weller, with a free shuttle bus to Old Town and other destinations.

It’s been four weeks since a mysterious “organic pollutant” showed up in the Cole municipal drain that runs from Line 5 to 6 in rural Niagara-on-the-Lake. Cleanup costs have hit $873,000 but little else is known about the substance.

Polo returns to the Commons, attracting about 2,500 people and raising thousands of dollars for the NOTL Museum.

NOTL residents reflect on the death of Queen Elizabeth and her historic visit to town in 1973.

Sept. 22: Thanksgiving is just around the corner and the shelves at the Newark Neighours Food Bank are empty.

There’s a new potential threat to Niagara vineyards: The invasive spotted lanternfly has been spotted just across the U.S. border.

By publicly supporting and backing certain candidates for council, Lord Mayor Betty Disero is being “divisive” and bringing a form of “partisan politics” to the race, opponent Vaughn Goettler says.

Ben Froese of Willow Lake Ventures Inc. on Line 6 in NOTL is crowned the 2022 Grape King by the Grape Growers of Ontario.

Sept. 29: NOTL’s incumbent lord mayor was critical of her two opponents during their first head-to-head encounter Tuesday night at the Royal Canadian Legion, a meeting that focused on issues and candidate platforms.

NOTL residents really stepped up on Saturday for the Newark Neighbours Porch Pick-up Food Drive and nearly bare shelves are now brimming with donations.

NOTL hikers Margaret Northfield, Rick Waters and Elaine Aldridge-Low overcame extreme altitude, vertical climbs and even illness to traverse the famed Haute Route through the Swiss Alps in an “epic” trip of a lifetime.

Now that the new diverging diamond interchange is open, construction crews have torn down the old Glendale overpass in a one-night massive demolition project.

October

Oct. 6: $3.5-million, 5,000-square-foot home on the Niagara Parkway in NOTL has been “placed under criminal restraint” as part of a massive seizure of methamphetamine and cocaine unveiled in Alberta.

Former town councillor Austin Kirkby, a tireless advocate for the agriculture community and a hard-working farmer and public servant, dies at age 79.

Mark Gaudet and Terry Weiner are retiring from the Bikes for Farmworkers program they launched in 2016.

The Every Child Matters flag was raised to half-mast in NOTL to mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30.

Oct. 13: Robert Enns, the driver who fatally struck Matthew Wilson late at night on Lakeshore Road in 2021, tells a court he thought he’d hit a deer.

NOTL seasonal farmworker Ceto Reid, 51, is expected to recover from his injuries after being struck by a car while riding his bike carrying a load of laundry back to his farm residence.

Niagara Nursery School is celebrating 50 years of operating and Tim Taylor launches an extensive series of stories documenting its history.

The town is appealing a court ruling that stayed Heritage Act charges against Two Sisters Resort Corp. and Solmar (Niagara) 2 Inc.

It appears a high-quality grape harvest is silver lining to an expected low yield for 2022.

Oct. 20: The bloody Battle of Queenston Heights is relived as NOTL steps back in time for a historic re-enactment.

Sulfate reducing bacteria – that’s the name of the substance the town vacuumed out of the Cole municipal drain in rural NOTL. It was first discovered on Aug. 17.

With three retirements and a long, hard-fought campaign wrapped up, NOTL council will have a new look after next Monday’s election.

In an op-ed for The Lake Report, retiring Coun. Clare Cameron urges people to take time to consider the candidates and the issues — and vote.

Oct. 27: Regional Coun. Gary Zalepa surges to a big victory over incumbent Lord Mayor Betty Disero, winning by almost 1,200 votes.

Finishing the town’s official plan is a key priority, the new mayor says. And voters said development, tourism and agriculture were big issues.

Voter turnout in NOTL for this year’s municipal election was just under 48 per cent, down 10 percentage points from 2018 but still the highest in the region, again.

NOTL’s quirky past was on display Saturday as Doors Open Niagara invited people to visit historic buildings for free.

November

Nov. 3: Niagara-on-the-Lake council acted illegally in 2018 when it ordered a freeze on development in Old Town, the province’s highest court has ruled. It’s a major win for developer Rainer Hummel and other builders.

Some 4,000 handmade poppies cascade from the balcony of the old Court House as part of the NOTL Poppy Project.

The historic Parliament Oak property in NOTL’s Old Town has been sold to Two Sisters Resorts Corp. for $8 million. Montreal-based Liberty Sites (3) Ltd. for $4.925 million in 2018 but its plans for the land stalled.

After 175 years of worship and 169 years in the same building, Christ Church Anglican – known locally as Christ Church McNab – has shut its doors forever.

Nov. 10: At Southbrook, orange is the new white as the winery literally steps back in time to create one of its most popular vintages.

A Lake Report investigation finds some NOTL farmers unknowingly might not be living up to federal contracts with their seasonal workers thanks to confusing rules over something most Canadians take for granted – doing the laundry.

Lord Mayor-elect Gary Zalepa is confident he can walk a tightrope and balance his work between the political and private sector during his first term in office. And he won’t give up his job in real estate.

Nov. 17: Despite pouring rain that soaked NOTL’s Remembrance Day ceremonies, veterans and residents turn out to honour the sacrifices made for our freedom.

The Lake Report is honoured by the Canadian Community Newspaper Association with 30 national awards for journalism excellence in 2020 and 2021, more than any other publication in the country.

High fuel costs and a shortage of pilots has forced FlyGTA to cancel its NOTL to Toronto air passenger service.

Nov. 24: Promising ‘more listening and less talk,’ Lord Mayor Gary Zalepa outlines his priorities at council’s inaugural meeting.

NOTL fans pack local watering holes to celebrate Canada’s return to the World Cup for the first time in 36 years.

Work has begun on the Village plaza in NOTL, with a grocery store, hotel and more retail planned.

The King Street property known as “The Wilderness” is an urban oasis and Ken Reid, who lives on it, says he is confused why the Niagara Foundation worries he might sell it for redevelopment. That simply won’t happen, he says.

December

Dec. 1: Youngsters begin receiving letters from the North Pole thanks to Santa’s helper at the NOTL post office.

NOTL conservation group the Preservation of Agricultural Land Society is sounding the alarm
over changes to the Greenbelt passed by the Doug Ford government.

At age 66, NOTL’s Margot Devlin just finished her 10th New York City Marathon, bringing her career total to 14 full marathons and 13 half-marathons, including the famous Boston and London runs.

Dec. 8: Robert Enns, the NOTL farmer whose pickup truck fatally struck Matthew Wilson late at night in April 2021 is found guilty of failing to report an accident. He’s fined $500 and sentenced to nine months of probation.

The Candlelight Stroll again draws thousands to downtown and raises about $8,000 to benefit injured farmworker Ceto Reid as well as the Farmworker Hub and NOTL Palliative Care.

There were smiles aplenty as family and friends packed the Niagara Regional Native Centre for a giant Christmas party.

Inalis Medina, 9, of St. Davids, brings toys and joy to sick children by selling 609 jars of homemade hot chocolate then distributing more than $4,000 in toys to young patients.

Dec. 15: The Lake Report’s special Christmas Edition wraps up the year (with customized wrapping paper). We take two weeks off over Christmas so our giant edition is chock full of festive news.

There’s the Christmas Parade returning after two “drive-by” years, Santa for Palliative Care, the exclusive behind-the-scenes story about a fabulous lighting display on the Niagara Parkway, the second annual Tractor Parade, plus greetings and salutations from businesses and organizations in the community – and lots more.

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