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Niagara Falls
Friday, December 1, 2023
Letter: Gateway project design a waste of fine craftsmanship
Letter to the editor. File

Dear editor:

The masonry wall at the termination point of Mississagua at Queen Street has been skilfully constructed but what a waste of craftsmanship to implement such a nonsensical sign.

At best this design appears as though it’s a vestige of something that formerly had a purpose which is presently no longer known.

The arched portal is the most mystifying feature. It conveys obsolescence and suggests what is viewed as a remnant of a feature that once served as the entry for something that has vanished and is now preserved as a ruin.

It is a phony conceit.

Unfortunately the powers that be believed some fanciful elements were required to validate this assemblage of stone, and unsuccessful folly, which serves as a glorified billboard to denote the heritage district of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

This disingenuous fabrication diminishes its purpose. A simple low stone wall with higher ending piers would have sufficed although an unobstructed vista across the historic golf course would have been preferred.

Might one perceive that perhaps the opposition to this project and the criticism of the proposed plans were not anticipated by the powers that be.

Nevertheless the alterations of public spaces may entail aesthetic concerns that are deserving of significant attention.

It does not go unnoticed that the powers that be, tiring of all the din of protest, curtailed listening to any further expressions of disapproval, withdrew into obfuscation with an abrupt halt to any further reference to the controversy and in secrecy selected a sign configuration that reflected their own exasperated indifference.

The project, proceeding surreptitiously, and with a fortuitous lapse in time and its vailing during construction and its undeclared reveal, has ultimately presented a disturbingly fraudulent and inappropriate feature along the Queen streetscape.

This poorly conceived signage has incorporating with it a bump-out that abuses the historic integrity of Queen Street’s military dimensions surveyed during the final decade of the 18th century, allowing for the movement of troops and their equipage now impinges upon the movement of essential service vehicles.

These mistakes in purpose were preceded by the inappropriate design of the Voices of Freedom Park.

The park should have commemorated the release of the oppressed from subjugation within the tranquil beauty of a nurturing garden haven that comforted and refreshed the soul.

There should have been trees installed to provide soothing shade and fragrant flowering plantings to heighten and delight the senses. The park should have included a focal point such as a fountain suggesting rejuvenation or a realistic statue representing release from bondage.

Either would have welcomed a prolonged respite allowing for contemplation. One is confounded that this park displays a cut and perforated and warping assemblage of oxidizing steel sheets. It looks like an industrial waste site has been placed within the historic district.

This design’s reflection of the colossal brutalism and intimidation expressed in the sculptures fashioned by Richard Sera would serve more appropriately as a memorial commemorating the devastation caused by a nuclear armageddon.

This installation is ominously unsettling and threatening and subliminally uninviting with an implied regulatory procedure by which the visitor is ushered in and through and out of its confines and does not seem to indulge the contemplation the site is intended to render.

There is an odd dissonance between the concept’s intention and the physical representation it has been given.

The errors that are manifested in these cited projects add two more assaults on the dwindling charms of Niagara-on-the-Lake, which continues to be jeopardized by the aesthetic insensitivity of those wielding greater powers, the entitled and domineering elite movers and shakers.

Peter Babcock


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