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Niagara Falls
Thursday, June 20, 2024
Letter: Council needs to listen to its urban design experts
Letter to the editor. File

Dear editor:

Kudos to The Lake Report for providing reasoned, detailed coverage of what to me appears to be more than just “Council rejecting input from advisory committee,” (Aug. 24).

Rather it seems to be a full frontal assault to diminish the role of professional input from well-qualified volunteers who sit on advisory committees to assist council and staff in deliberating and making decisions about what is good for the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake in the context of urban design and heritage preservation.

I am unaware of any professional designations held by any member of the current council, which leads me to believe they don’t have any particular expertise in urban design or heritage issues.

Further, perhaps someone can explain what a hotel wedged into a residential neighbourhood has to do with Bill 23 and Bill 109, designed to presumably respond to the housing crisis?

To me this smacks of the same attitude Premier Doug Ford has exhibited in ignoring his own housing task force’s recommendations and forging ahead with his ill-advised and illogical approach to the housing crisis in Ontario.

He has abdicated responsibility for protecting the Greenbelt and agricultural land in favour of sweetheart deals with some very rich developers who will profit at our expense and will likely do more damage than good for the housing of Ontarians.

Citizen advisory boards are an integral part of the checks and balances we require at the local level to protect this most basic and engaging part of our democracy.

Perhaps Lord Mayor Gary Zalepa and Deputy Lord Mayor Erwin Wiens should listen a little bit more to the advice of the well-qualified volunteers on their advisory committees and ask more challenging questions of staff in protecting their citizens’ interests in responding to development proposals.

Presumably Mr. Ford and Housing Minister Steve Clark were totally unaware of what Mr. Clark’s chief of staff was handing out to their developer pals, or at least didn’t have independent advisers to alert them to the $8.2-billion boondoggle?

It is interesting that the one housing development the town was sued over in the previous administration for the delays caused by the interim control by-law is still sitting unbuilt across from the Old Winery at the entrance to Old Town.

And yet that developer has the temerity to submit a new application to modify the approvals issued for his property at Queen and Mississagua streets to allow an 81-room hotel on the site variously approved in the past for a 12-room country inn (2005) and a 24-room hotel (2007).

If our mayor and council will not stand up to the bully tactics of developers and will blithely acquiesce to Mr. Ford’s and Mr. Clark’s steamrolling over the municipal bedrock of democracy, we’re afraid of what Niagara-on-the-Lake will look like before we have another opportunity to vote them out of office.

A sad day for NOTL and the province of Ontario.

Bob Bader

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