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Saturday, October 1, 2022
Letter: NOTL growth is exploitation, not progress

Dear editor:

When Niagara-on-the-Lake residents speak out about development plans that they find inappropriate, it's not because they are scared of progress.

We once were a town of multigenerational families. For instance, my aunt is the partner of the great uncle of the owner of The Lake Report, and I knew his grandfather and am friends with his cousins.

We were all connected through families for generations. When we grew as a community, the schools grew, too. 

We all went to school together for generations. 

More houses popped up, yes, but with mostly the same names on the mailboxes.

All of our schools are now gone but three, and there is no high school left. 

I don't care if they build on the old Parliament Oak school site. It's over for NOTL. They've wrecked it. It's mostly a retirement village and a wine-soaked amusement park for middle-aged yuppies from other places. 

Our main street actually was for people in town 20 years ago.

We actually had a police station below the Court House. Our library was right beside it. Our hospital was there in the middle of the night. There were two banks on the main street. A pharmacy, a gas station, and so much more.

The tourists were here and they mostly went to Fort George, the Shaw Festival and dined at a few hotels. I'm not talking about 1970; I'm talking about 1998. 

The biggest changes really started happening around the early 2000s and just gained momentum around 2010 onward. 

If people really knew what we had here, and if you grew up here, you would understand what we've lost and you wouldn't call this progress.

It's not worth fighting over though, as it is truly a lost cause. 

Most of us moved away because we are fed up. My family on my mom's side has had a tie to this town since 1858. They left Old Town and moved to the Virgil area just before Christmas. 

It's over and it's never going to go back to what it was.

But that's not progress – it's just exploitation and it has proved profitable for some developers and proprietors.

Alan Plut
St. Catharines