Monthly Archives: December 2018

You’ve Talked The Talk, Now’s Your Chance To Walk The Walk

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

WELLAND – How about stepping up to a place at the table?
The City of Welland is calling for applications from members of the public, to various municipal boards and commissions.
There’s a whole slew of them; one or another may be just what you’re looking for as a concerned and active member of the local community.
But time is of the essence: applications must be received in the office of the city clerk on or before 430 p.m. Friday, January 11, 2019. That’s less than a month away. Applications are readily available, online or at the city clerk’s office. Complete details will be found below.
Here’s the list:
Accessibility Advisory Committee;
Active Transportation Advisory Committee;
Arts and Culture Advisory Committee;
Committee of Adjustment and Committee of Revision;
Heritage Welland;
Market Square Advisory Committee;
Property Standards Committee and Dog Control Appeal Committee;
Senior Citizens Advisory Committee;
Town and Gown Committee;
Transit Advisory Committee;
Waterway Advisory Committee;
Welland Arenas Advisory Committee;
Welland Community Wellness Complex (WCWC) Advisory Committee;
Welland Development Commission;
Welland Public Library Board.
Citizen appointments to the committees varies in number, e.g. Heritage Welland has 5; Town and Gown Committee has 4; and Welland Public Library Board has 8. Others have fewer or more.
Applications and information is available at the office of the City Clerk or on the City’s website at:
Your application should describe what assets you bring to the Board and/or Committee that you are seeking appointment to.
Unless otherwise indicated, you must be an eligible elector in the City of Welland in order to sit on such board and/or Committee.
Unless otherwise indicated, Boards and/or Committees are the term of Council (December 1, 2018 to November 14, 2022.)

‘New Approach’ Targets Public Participation, Opinion In Budget Talks

WELLAND  – The Welland Budget Review Committee (BRC) kicked off the 2019 budget deliberations on Dec. 10, 2018, and introduced a new approach to gaining public participation and opinion. The committee looks forward to receiving public feedback on Your 2019 Budget Talks—the city’s public engagement platform—to gain a better understanding on community needs and help build a 2019 city budget that benefits everyone. The BRC is committed to preparing a sustainable budget that will support the city’s continued growth and development, and build on smart city initiatives while maintaining essential programs and services to taxpayers. Welland City Council and staff encourage residents and stakeholders to visit, learn, and provide input on the city’s public engagement platform

Your 2019 Budget Talks public engagement campaign is a user-friendly way of collecting public feedback and Public opinion. Participants simply sign-up and begin to engage on the YourChannel platform, which gives them access to valuable information on financial reports, ask staff questions, and post ideas.

“A progressive budget that is reflective of our community’s long and short-term needs is vital to our city’s future,” said Budget Chair, Councillor David McLeod. “Public input helps committee members reflect on the interests of those they serve. This year’s annual budget should be viewed as a stepping stone in achieving our city’s future. As Budget Chair, I truly encourage the public to be engaged and provide feedback, as they are the ones we are trying to uplift.”

To learn more about the 2019 Budget and join the conversation, visit and have your say on the City of Welland’s Your 2019 Budget Talks.

(Source: City of Welland news release)

This Week: Meetings In Welland

Meeting Calendar
Meetings are open to the public unless otherwise noted. Information is obtained from the applicable agency, board, committee, or commission and downloaded to this calendar as it becomes available. Information is subject to change. Please check back often for the most up-to-date information, including cancellations.

Budget Review Committee Meeting ≫
5:00 PM Monday Dec. 10  – Council Ante Room

Welland Downtown Business Improvement Area Meeting ≫
5:30 PM Monday Dec. 10  – LOCATION: Solution, 3 East Main Street

Welland Public Library Board Meeting ≫
7:00 PM Monday Dec. 10 –  Welland Public Library, Program Room, 50 The Boardwalk

Special Council Meeting ≫
6:45 PM Tuesday Dec. 11  – Council Chambers

Special Council Meeting in Committee-of-the-Whole (Closed to the Public) ≫
6:45 PM Tuesday Dec. 11  – Labour relations or employee negotiations.
– ATU (Amalgamated Transit Union) Negotiations – Council Ante Room

General Committee ≫
7:00 PM Tuesday Dec. 11  – Council Chambers

Committee of Adjustment Hearing(s) ≫
5:00 PM Wednesday Dec. 12  – Council Chambers

(Source: City of Welland website)

City Shorts, Try ’em On For Size

CITY SHORTS ART: Hot soup on a cold day in January! Hot pepper bread from Spinosa’s Welland Bakery to spice it up! See City Shorts brief, Hottest Ticket In Town, below, for ticket information. (File photo)



Compilation by Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

City Shorts

City Shorts is a compilation, from various sources (government websites, news announcements, press releases, church bulletins, advertisements, community service information and events, bulletin boards, requests, telephone requests, web postings, email requests etc.) of short items (in most cases) about matters of local interest in Welland. Want to submit an item for consideration? Please send to:

WELLAND – A public meeting is scheduled regarding the Forks Road Bridge Closure on Tuesday, December 11, at Civic Square (60 East Main St. in the Community Room) from 5pm-6:30pm. Staff will answer questions, address concerns, and present options under consideration moving forward.

WELLAND – Wednesday, Jan. 30 2019, at the Croatian National Home in Welland. Tickets are $95 each or $760 for a table of 8. Ticket price includes dinner, wine at your table, and your chance to win a share of prize money. All proceeds will support our Gifts of Extraordinary Care fund, for the purchase of urgent equipment needs such as defibrillators at Niagara Health’s Welland Site. Tickets are limited so buy now. Or call the Foundation at 905-323-3863.

TORONTO – Kanetix Ltd., Canada’s largest comparison website for insurance and financial products, will be opening an additional office in Welland in January 2019. Within the year, the move will create over 100 jobs in the area.
“We are delighted to announce our expansion into Welland,” said Igal Mayer, President & CEO of Kanetix Ltd. “Kanetix helps millions of Canadians compare financial products each year and we are eager for the Welland community to learn more about the company. We plan on being a long-term partner in the region and will be creating hundreds of jobs over the next few years.”
According to a city source, the company will set up shop in the space being vacated by Convergys at Lincoln Centre on Lincoln Street. Convergys has closed its doors after 16 years in the city. Job applicants can register at Welland Job Gym.

WELLAND – Interested in apple or cheese strudel for Christmas? Yummy! A Christmas strudel sale is taking place at the Croatian National Home, Sunday, December 16 from 10am to 1pm. Easy enough to do: Call Barb at 905-788-6991 to place your order, then pick it up on the 16th.

WELLAND – Don’t miss Christmas at the market, Saturday, December 22, 9am to 11am at the Welland Farmers’ Market, 70 Young Street, Welland. Join in for festive fun and a visit with Santa. Enjoy some holiday crafts, free face painting, colouring and winter activities.

WELLAND – Tickets for Soup’s On! are now being sold. The popular soup luncheon fundraiser is being held Friday, January 25, 2019 at St. Kevin’s Church parish hall, 303 Niagara St.
Tickets are available Monday through Friday 9am to 5pm at the parish office, before and after all weekend Masses in the foyer of the church (Saturday 5pm, Sunday, 8:30, 10 and 11:30am and 5pm), from ticket convenor Bernie Barkovich, 905-735-3562, or call for more info. Soup’s On! offers three servings: 11am, noon and 1pm.

WELLAND – Did you know Welland Public Library offers weekly access to a personal support worker who can connect you with wellness resources in the community? Karlie, from the John Howard Society, is available at the Main Branch on Mondays from 12pm-3pm. Drop-in and ask her about mental health support, housing, addiction counselling, employment counselling, anger awareness programming, and more.

WELLAND – Niagara College has recently approved an extension to the normal holiday closure to include Monday, Dec. 24. The College will therefore be closed from Dec. 24, 2018 to Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019 (Inclusive) with normal operations resuming on Wednesday, Jan. 2.
Retail stores at the Teaching Brewery, Wine Visitor and Education Centre, and the Community Employment Services office in St. Catharines will remain open to the public on Dec. 24, 27, 28 and 31. Other modified hours for the holiday break will be shared in the coming weeks.

WELLAND – Koats for Kids takes place until December 15. Needed are new or good used winter coats for men, women and children, these donations can be dropped off at any local cleaner. Koats for Kids is based at Central United church house on Young Street on Monday to Friday from 11am until 3pm to Saturday, Dec. 15. Koats for Kids is done in partnership with the Hope Centre.

WELLAND – Two locations, twice the fun. Celebrate the New Year with the family at the Welland Community Wellness Complex and the Welland Main Arena, Monday, December 31 2018. There are plenty of activities at both locations and fireworks along the canal at 5:50pm. Donations of non-perishable food items are appreciated. Time: 4-6pm. This is a FREE family-friendly event

WELLAND – Welland Public Library announces that the Seaway Mall Branch is now open on Mondays 9am-8pm. Celebrate by enjoying a tasty cup of hot chocolate and cookies while supplies last. Monday, December 10, 17, 24* *Open Dec 24 9am-2pm. Supplied by Health Wise Sponsored by Seaway Mall & Welland Public Library

WELLAND – The Winter issue of the Boardwalk Banter is full of news about events and changes happening at Welland Public Library, as well as some fun activities to participate this holiday season.
Don’t miss out on all of the exciting things taking place at your library. Available at all branches and online.

WELLAND – Welland’s Harvest Kitchen program started its 23rd season on Thursday, November 1 at Hope Centre, 570 King Street.
The weekly schedule is:
Sundays: Central United Church, 12 Young St., 5pm; Mondays: Eglise du Sacre-Coeur, 72 Empire St., 5:30pm; Tuesdays: Hope Centre, 570 King St., 5:30pm; Wednesdays: St. Kevin Roman Catholic Church, 307 Niagara St., 5pm; Thursdays 5pm for all: first Thursday of the month, Hope Centre, second Thursday, Southridge Community Church, 414 River Rd., third Thursday, Holy Trinity Anglican Church (use the market square door at the back), fourth and fifth Thursdays, Sts. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church, 300 Chaffey St. and new this season, third and fourth Fridays, 5pm: Southridge Community Church.
For emergency shelter please call 905-714-5007.

WELLAND – Put your best foot forward! Meet Mayor Campion at the Merritt Island parking lot Monday mornings at 7:30 a.m. for a 40-minute walk on Merritt Island.

(City Shorts is a weekly feature on the blog appearing most often on weekends.)

Lasting Image: Frank Sernak, A Great Voice For Radio

Frank Sernak

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

Frank Sernak was calm, cool, collected. He was suave and debonair. He was a gentleman and a gentle man. He had a shy but winning smile. That collection of memories becomes my lasting image of him.
Mr. Sernak, news director and newsreader at CHOW Radio for many years, died Sunday, December 2, aged 83.
In the Blizzard of ‘77, he and a few other employees were holed up in the station on Forks Road, isolated from everyone yet in touch – over the airwaves and by telephone – with thousands of listeners. Throughout the weekend ordeal, his voice became a steadying, calming, comforting influence during some worrisome, even frightening, hours for many.
He is also remembered for a selfless community spirit that made him part of local events especially in the 1970s and 1980s. He was a dignified master of ceremonies for several Rose Festival coronation balls, a Rose Festival parade commentator and host for Welland Winter Carnival events. This volunteerism also applied to various Port Colborne activities, likely elsewhere as well.
In the early 1970s, we covered a high profile court case in Welland, he for the station and I for the newspaper. I was impressed by his meticulous note taking and then his concise, factual on-air reports. His authoritative coverage of elections, whether municipal, provincial or federal, gave a respected professionalism to the local station that was “1470” on the AM dial.
Dave Scott, who worked with Mr. Sernak at CHOW in two stints, 1966-1970 and 1972-1974, was effusive in his praise for him.
“He cared about the community, and he cared about the people. He loved the Niagara Peninsula, he loved his hometown, he loved his neighbourhood, ” Scott said in a telephone interview from Ottawa.
Sports director at the radio station, Scott worked closely with Mr. Sernak and considered himself fortunate to do so.
“He was just a tremendous guy, I had a lot of respect for him. He was a fabulous newsman. I learned a lot from him, his technique, the way he interviewed people. He was like a mentor in a lot of ways.”

Scott, 74, worked in radio in Ottawa for many years. He did play-by-play of Ottawa Senators games for about 15 years, and the Ottawa 67’s until just recently when he retired. He was in radio more than 50 years.
He always enjoyed listening to Mr. Sernak’s newscasts: “Frank read a newscast like few could…He had that mellow-sounding voice. His voice was authoritative and at the same time it was smooth. Just a great voice for radio, distinctive.”
He had no doubt Mr. Sernak could have gone on to a larger market had he wanted, but his choice was to stay “a small market guy.”
One of his qualities was modesty, Scott said. “I don’t think he knew how good he was. A lot of guys in this business have egos. Frank never had one of those. He was a real pro, a class act. ”
Many were the comments on social media as news of Mr. Sernak’s passing got around town. Here’s a small sampling:
“Back in the day, he was our answer to Irv Weinstein.” – Perry Orosz.
“Apart from being the consummate pro that he was, Frank was also one of the kindest, warmest and most nurturing individuals one could ever hope to meet. He not only provided knowledgeable, insightful professional advice over the years, he was an amazing friend.” – George Duma (journalist).
“He was a community-minded spirit who gave tirelessly of his time with many events across Niagara. Whenever he could lend a helping hand Frank was there. God bless you, Frank.” – Claire Masswohl.
“My parents always listened to Frank!” – Karen Wallace.

“Frank was a great guy. Always gracious and kind, and willing to talk. ” – Russ Findlay (posting  from the Philippines)
“An institution!” – Stanley Szymkow.

(Lasting Image is a recurring feature on the blog. Some others in the series: Ivan Zecchini: His Countenance Glowed From Wide-Eyed Appreciation, July 18, 2018; Steve Krar: Neighbourhood Nostalgia Buff, Visionary Leader, July 11, 2018; Keith Hornibrook: Opening Doors to Addictions Recovery In Dignity, July 11, 2018; Mother Alba Puglia: Tireless Trailblazer, June 18, 2018; Don Murray: A Small Part of Local History, June 6, 2018; Martin Walsh: One Of Our Finest, March 2, 2018; Michael Santone: A Barber of King Street, January 23, 2018; Ed Tymkow: Minister of Hospitality, April 6, 2017; Jimmy Roberto: September 11, 2015; Frank Addario: February 24, 2014.)


Join A Local Christmas Bird Count This Holiday Season

Boreal owl (Photo: Nate Kohler/ Ontario Nature)

Ontario Nature member groups are hosting counts across Ontario

TORONTO – Each year, bird lovers welcome winter by joining a Christmas Bird Count. It’s a great way to explore nature while helping our feathered friends and is a part of many families’ holiday traditions.
The Christmas Bird Count began in 1900, and today it is North America’s longest-running wildlife census. The one-day bird census is conducted by volunteers of all ages and skill levels. Many local counts are organized by birding and nature clubs, and everyone is welcome to attend free of charge.

St. Catharines Christmas bird count (Photo: Nate Kohler/Ontario Nature)

This year’s Christmas Bird Count will run from December 14, 2018 to January 5, 2019. Ontario Nature member groups are organizing at least 80 counts in the province this season. Visit the Ontario Nature website ( to find a count near you. For a comprehensive list of counts happening in Canada, visit the Bird Studies Canada website (
Always fun, even when it’s chilly, every volunteer who braves the elements to take part in a count contributes to the study and conservation of birds. Scientists use the data collected to monitor the health and status of resident and migratory birds over time, and to develop conservation strategies for species in decline and their habitats. The Christmas Bird Count also teaches citizen scientists about the myriad bird species that live in and migrate through their communities.
“The Christmas Bird Count is a great way for bird lovers of all ages to help Ontario’s birds. Novices work alongside experts to collect important data that help guide work on behalf of all birds across the province. And who knows… maybe you’ll see a rare bird that no one has recorded before,” says Emma Horrigan, Ontario Nature’s Conservation Projects and Education Manager.
Last year, more than 14,000 Canadians participated in over 450 Christmas Bird Counts across the country. Participants recorded a whopping 2.4 million individual birds. In Ontario, 4,435 citizen scientists tallied 231 species and 1,277,568 individual birds throughout the province.
Here are some highlights from last year’s Ontario counts:
Highlights included red-shouldered hawks, black-billed magpies and red-throated loons;
Record numbers of snow buntings and dark-eyed juncos were counted in and around Kingston;
The first ever golden eagles and a record 30 bald eagles were recorded during the Hanover-Walkerton count;
A record 410 American goldfinches were recorded in Niagara Falls;
Unusual sightings around Lake Simcoe included two golden-crowned kinglets and a mockingbird;
Count participants tallied a record 192 hooded mergansers and 103 red-bellied woodpeckers in Hamilton;
Rare sightings in Thunder Bay included a boreal owl, a brown thrasher and a white-crowned sparrow.
What avian rarities and trends will be uncovered this year? Join a Christmas Bird Count to find out. If you’re still not convinced that participating in a count is for you, many are followed by a social gathering and pot-luck meal.

(Source: Ontario Nature news release)

Niagara Catholic Announces New Chair, Vice-Chair

ST. CATHARINES – Niagara Catholic District School Board held its Inaugural Meeting of the 2018-2022 Board of Trustees at Denis Morris Catholic High School on December 4. The inaugural meeting was preceded by a Mass and Commissioning of the trustees-elect at St. Julia Catholic Church, officiated by Bishop Gerard Bergie.
Niagara Catholic’s new board was sworn in during the meeting by the Honourable Madame Justice Jane Milanetti of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, immediately prior to the election for the Chair and Vice-Chair.


Frank Fera, trustee for Niagara Falls since 2000, was acclaimed as Chair of the Board. He served as Vice-Chair in 2009. This is his first time as Chair.
Dino Sicoli, who was elected by English-Catholic school board supporters in Port Colborne, Fort Erie and Wainfleet, was elected Vice-Chair. He previously served as Vice-Chair in 2015.
During his remarks, Chair Fera spoke about the importance of remaining focused on the mission of continuing to provide excellence in Catholic education to students in Niagara.
“As we move forward, focusing on making students as a priority, at the centre of our Board’s mandate, we must keep Catholicity at the core of our decision making,” he said. “That is what makes us unique – let us embrace it. Furthermore, we have an obligation as trustees to inspire our staff and, in turn, our students, to instill faith in them, to encourage them and to provide them with unique opportunities to walk in the footsteps of Saint Paul and become true followers of Christ.”


Vice-Chair Sicoli spoke about the opportunities a new Board of Trustees has to promote Catholic education in Niagara.
“We are in the midst of a period of transition here at Niagara Catholic,” said Vice-Chair Sicoli. “We welcome five new trustees to the Board. For many organizations, this amount of change could signify significant challenges. I choose to look at it as a time for opportunities – opportunities that will allow us to move forward in our quest to provide a quality Catholic education to our students.”
Director of Education John Crocco welcomed Niagara Catholic’s five new trustees and welcomed back returning ones, and congratulated Chair Fera and Vice-Chair Sicoli on their new roles.
“I am pleased to welcome our newest trustees to the Niagara Catholic family, and congratulations to Chair Fera and Vice-Chair Sicoli,” said Director Crocco. “We look forward to working with the new Board of Trustees, as we continue to build upon Niagara Catholic’s strong foundation and continue to the tradition of excellence in Catholic education in Niagara.
“I also extend sincere appreciation, on behalf of the entire Niagara Catholic family, to our former trustees Maurice Charbonneau, Father Paul MacNeil, Ed Nieuwesteeg, Ted O’Leary and Pat Vernal. May God continue to bless you as you embark on new paths, and I invite you to remain connected with Niagara Catholic.”
Niagara Catholic provides excellence in Catholic education to approximately 21,000 students throughout Niagara, from Kindergarten through graduation.

(Source: media release)

Heritage Lives: When Christmas Was About Family

By Terry Hughes

The illustrator Norman Rockwell created many vintage Christmas scenes. One shows a Christmas celebration of the 1940s with Grandma basting the turkey while Grandpa announces the arrival of family members in their 1940s Plymouth. Perhaps you remember it? The aromas from the other containers on the old- fashioned gas stove mixing with the turkey would be a welcome scent to the new arrivals as they enter the home. Add a real Christmas tree in the corner of the living room and this iconic scene says it all.


Whether your grandparents were known by the names Did i Baka, Ma Mere et Pere, Oma and Opa, or Nonna and Nonno, the spirit is the same. The joy and laughter could be heard in different tongues into the night. Tasty treats that took days and sometimes weeks to prepare are enjoyed by all. This setting would be repeated after celebrating whatever religious service your family attended early on in the day. While the grown-ups conversed, the children would share what present they got. After the stories about their gifts faded away, boys would talk about hockey or the latest adventures of the Lone Ranger while the girls may fuss about their doll, new dress or soap operas like Stella Dallas that they heard on the radio. Contrast the above with today where some families don’t develop close ties with each other and ignore the religious purpose of this time of the year. How many presents did they receive is what the children talk about IF they are not already engrossed in their electronic games. Sports are talked about and the new sweater that costs a hundred dollar or more will compliment the equipment required to play in a game. How about the girls getting a makeup package to make you look older and clothing that makes them look sexy. Oh yes and lets not forget about the artificial tree with trimmings that are politically correct and not reminding us about Christmas.
One of my relatives has a novel way to encourage interaction with members of the family. He has a huge bowl into which everyone must place their phones and electronic games. After a short period of shock wears off, people begin to talk to each other and the spirit of old time Christmases returns.

Have a very Merry Christmas and prosperous New Year.

Next Column: What role did the public play in the development of the new governance model of the Recreational Waterway?

(Terry Hughes is a Wellander who is passionate about heritage, history and model railroading. His column, Heritage Lives, appears on the blog once or twice monthly.)

Hot, Hot, Hot!

Hottest ticket in town? Soup’s On! Noon serving going fast, about 40 remain. Tickets on sale at St. Kevin parish office Monday through Friday 9a.m. to 5 p.m. and before/after weekend Masses in the foyer of the church (Saturday 5 p.m. and Sunday 8:30 a.m., 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.) These tickets make excellent Christmas stocking stuffers!! (Photo by Joe Barkovich)