Our wee town shows well and, for a variety of reasons, it is highly ranked as a primo place to visit.
The vineyards and wineries, the mighty Niagara River, Lake Ontario nearby, famous and awesome Niagara Falls, the Shaw Festival, the list goes on and on.
And, with some 110 million people living within a nine-hour drive, the tourism market is huge.
We provide most of the amenities that visitors want and need. Accommodation, eateries, historical factoids, theatre and culture, a safe environment, and friendly residents eager to welcome strangers.
So, people arrive here for an hour or a few days. Our main street shows well, with the uniquely located cenotaph and the historic Court House. And the landscaping is almost indescribable during the warmer months.
I have loved living here for 28 years and the changes have been subtle but substantial.
The tourists walking on Queen Street get younger each year. Last weekend, warm as it was, brought many young people pushing baby carriages, speaking many different languages.
All were delighting in what we take for granted.
So many cutey-patooty babies to smile at. Multi-generational groups, with many grandparents having a wonderful day out with family.
It’s lucky the visitors are younger, as they at least have a fighting chance of figuring out our parking meters.
It almost seems to be a cunning ploy to make it confusing and frustrating, to provide targets for our determined and conscientious parking enforcement officers.
Don’t have the Honk Mobile app? (Seriously, that’s what it’s called.) Then go to a local shop or the Chamber of Commerce office and hope they have change to feed the parking meter.
Each week, I read all the area newspapers. An independent and honest press is essential in a free and democratic society. And our NOTL is certainly a target-rich environment for controversial issues and stories.
We are still trying to build the totally-paid-for “welcome garden” and wall at the corner of Queen and Mississagua.
A generous citizen donated the necessary funds some three years ago. But perhaps someone can tell me why the good folks at the Willowbank School of Restoration Arts weren’t recruited to help with the planning and construction of this project?
They have the expert instructors and students, and the proper stone is apparently available at a very fair price.
But I digress.
At that corner, the bump out continues to cause anxiety and uncertainty. Confusing signage and the three-way stop signs all contribute to uncertainty, especially for bicycle riders and speeding cyclists in their Spandex gear.
Just wait until the garden and wall are completed. Visitors will want to stop and take pictures. They better be nimble on their feet – and extra cautious.
The many traffic signs at that corner neglect to direct visitors to historic Chautauqua, which is just the type of local neighbourhood that travellers seek out. And how about a sign to help tourists find Ryerson Park and the lovely sunsets?
Weather permitting, a picnic with some local Niagara wines is just what the doctor ordered in our challenging world. Bring a blanket and folding chairs. Meet a NOTLer or two. Or three.
Let me ramble back downtown now for some ice cream from Cows or Dairy Queen, a la Yana or Devesh? Or gelato at Nina’s or Alia’s, or Il Gelato di Carlotta, among others. Perhaps a locally made gourmet popsicle.
Make it a mini Road Trip, Road Trip out to Stewart Road to Niagara’s own famous Avondale Dairy Bar. Such great ice cream at this local institution and so many hard working young Niagarans. When did you last enjoy their banana split?
Spring is here and the Leafs are struggling in the second round of the playoffs. Such is life.
Take a walk down to Queen’s Royal Park for world-class views. And trust me, there is a Canadian flag flying down there. Hurry on down, before the trees totally hide our famous Maple Leaf flag. (I know, I know, “Let it go, Ross.”)
We are just so fortunate, eh?
Enjoy our town and its character. And characters.