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Aug. 3, 2021 | Tuesday
Editorials and Opinions
Opinion: Parliament Oak development is the kind of housing NOTL needs

A young person’s perspective on the need for change in her hometown


Molly Bowron

Special to The Lake Report

Change can be hard to swallow, evoking fear in individuals who have remained stagnant in their ways.

On the other hand, change can bring hope and inspire individuals to adapt faster and experience life without hesitation or the drawbacks that come with not accepting change.

Niagara-on-the-Lake has been my home for 21 years and I am grateful to have grown up in this beautiful town, where people feel safe and there is a welcoming community.

I believe that some people in this town need to keep an open mind in regards to change and think about the younger generations instead of just themselves.

A very special part of my life in this town was attending and graduating from Parliament Oak Public School.

Parliament Oak was not just a place of education; it was also where I met lifelong friends and enjoyed my childhood. The friendships I made in kindergarten at Parliament Oak are like family and will last a lifetime.

It’s sad to walk by the abandoned school where my friends and I spent so much time together. In saying this, I am happy that I was able to experience it before the school closed.

One memory that often crosses my mind is recalling my friends and I walking downtown on our breaks for lunch. Although this may seem like a normal event, I remember being so excited to head downtown and visit the main street, with tourists flowing and the small-town feeling when I crossed paths with my neighbours and family friends.

Now, as a young adult in Niagara-on-the-Lake, my hopes and goals for the future include one day coming back to my hometown. I am currently a student at Brock University, studying communications and media with a minor in philosophy, and from there I hope to go away to a master’s program in journalism.

Unfortunately for me and many others, this seems like a dream rather than a realistic goal. This is a very special place to me and thinking about not being able to live here again doesn’t sit well.

I am not saying that I won’t be successful, I am just trying to be realistic, and living in this town won’t be easy with the shortage of affordable housing.

I am sure, if you have read this far you might see where I am going with this ... and yes I am talking about the plans to make Parliament Oak a place for new housing.

The proposal for the new development includes a three-storey apartment building with 80 units. This town has few places that can accommodate people who are in need of more affordable homes and rentals, which has meant many younger people are unable to come back to their hometown or even consider living in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

The Parliament Oak development could offer a place for younger families, people who work in town and even support young people such as myself.

A lot of articles and opinions have been shared in recent weeks by older people regarding this issue — but this town is not just a place for retirement. Young people want to live here too.

I have heard mixed feelings expressed throughout the town about this plan. When looking at some of the opposing views, many people say that a farmers' market or a park would be nice and, yes, I agree those would be nice.

But there literally are three very beautiful parks within walking distance. Also, I heard that some of the original murals and footprints of the school will be preserved. Sounds pretty considerate to me.

My hope for the future, when looking at this plan, is that Niagara-on-the-Lake can embrace change instead of looking in disgust and refusing to acknowledge how housing is a positive thing – especially for anyone from my generation planning on one day coming home.

Molly Bowron is a member of Parliament Oak's graduating class of 2014.