Something New: Heritage Lives In Pictures

By Terry Hughes

WELLAND – In addition to our ongoing HERITAGE LIVES series, we will feature from time to time two pictures about a historic spot. One photo will show a site or structure as it appears today, and the second photo will show the same site or structure as it was many years ago. A brief explanation will accompany each pair.

Our first photographs feature the buried swimming pool found today behind the Civic Centre/Library parking lot. When the pool was in use, it was the Cross Street pool.

The Heritage Committee has recommended this be designated as a historic site. The accompanying image, taken at the same spot around 1905, shows the structure functioning as the second canal aqueduct allowing boats with a ten-foot draft to sail over the Welland River that once flowed through here. 

Imagine, over eighteen thousand cut-stone blocks made up this beautiful piece of masonry!    

Next column: The Fort  Erie Race Train.

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

Driven By Mixed-Housing Unit Options, First Quarter Building Permits Signal Another Record-Breaking Year

WELLAND – The City of Welland is experiencing another record-breaking year for building permits, including a range of housing options. To date, in the first quarter of 2022, 173 permits have been issued, including the start of 309 new dwelling units in the City.

Driving the numbers are the various types of housing units under construction. Consisting  of predominantly apartments, condominiums, and accessory dwellings, options for non-traditional housing units make up the majority; townhouses and single-detached makeup only a small portion of the residential growth.

Munday

“The number of permits issued to date is surprising only because the first quarter is generally slower due to the weather and ability to begin construction,” said Grant Munday, director of planning and development services. “These numbers indicate that 2022 will be another strong year for the city in terms of growth in our community.”

The City collects development charges on building permits at the date of issuance. Those charges go toward recovering growth-related costs associated with the capital infrastructure needed to service new development and redevelopment within the city.

The seven-storey Upper Vista Welland residential condominium at 350 Prince Charles Drive South, along the Welland Recreation Canal, contributed 226 dwellings units to the first-quarter results. In addition, the project contributed $29.5 million to the overall building permit construction value.

Permits issued to date represent over $55 million. Last year, building permits issued were valued at over $236 million, generated through the construction start of 759 dwelling units of various types.

As the year progresses, building permit applications increase during months when construction is less likely to be impeded by weather. However, based on the numbers up to March 31, 2022, planning and development services have a full slate of applications to review.

(Attribution: City of Welland media release)

It’s Back: Gadabout Gardener!

A magnolia tree in Chippawa Park, Welland, wears luscious flowers nearing peak bloom. This means the time to see them in full glory is right about now!/ Photos by Joe Barkovich)

(Gadabout Gardener is a recurring feature on the blog, making its 2022 debut today. The focus is on randomly selected or recommended garden spaces in the city. Do any sights or sites come to mind as photo suggestions? Contact Gadabout Gardener at: fromareportersnotebook@gmail.com.)

Niagara College Goes The Distance To Help Students Impacted By War In Ukraine

Director, International Gary Torraville holds up his message for a display at the Welland Campus filled with notes of support for the people of Ukraine. Dedicated message boards under a banner “Niagara College hearts are with the people of Ukraine” have been filling up at both campuses since early March./Niagara College photo.

The college is a “home away from home” for many international students

They have travelled across the world to study at Niagara College, now the College is going an extra mile for them.

NC is assisting international students impacted by the war in Ukraine with a range of supports – both financial and emotional – to help them through this challenging time. Whether they need financial assistance to help cover expenses, or emotional support as they struggle with anxiety over the safety of their loved ones in a war zone, Niagara College is demonstrating that they may be far away from home, but they are not alone.

Global Emergency Relief Fund

International students who face financial challenges due to world issues that arise in their home countries or here in Canada – from war and economic crisis to the pandemic – can turn to NC’s Global Emergency Relief fund.

The fund was established in 2020 to provide financial assistance to students during the COVID-19 pandemic. More recently, the College sought to expand the fund to assist Ukrainian and Russian students impacted by the war in Ukraine. The fund provides students with scholarships and bursaries to help cover tuition or living expenses, which are distributed on a case-by-case basis, as needed.

“Students from around the world study at NC to enrich their lives and fulfill their dreams, and we are dedicated to going the distance for them,” said Vice President, International Sean Coote. “During these challenging times, we won’t let our students fall behind due to global circumstances they cannot control. We are stepping up our supports to help ensure that they succeed.”

Supports for students

Since late February, staff members from the College’s International division have been reaching out to students impacted by the war in Ukraine. Those who are experiencing financial hardships incurred due to loss of bank transfer abilities, have been offered assistance as well as flexible payment options.

In addition to assisting with financial challenges, they continue to work with students, one-on-one as needed, to ensure that the students have access to mental and emotional supports or resources.

Director, International Gary Torraville noted that, as a “home away from home” for international students, it is a priority for NC’s International Division to support them during their stay.

“As a College community, we provide more than just an education to students while they are with us. In their time of need, we become their security blanket and their main source of support and care while away from their family and other loved ones,” said Torraville.

While all international students typically experience a feeling of being disconnected from their family and friends, Torraville noted that during times of crisis – such as the war in Ukraine – this becomes amplified. Students have been experiencing escalated fear and anxiety as they hear news from back home, which can severely hamper their ability to focus on their studies.

That’s why, when the invasion began in Ukraine, NC’s International Division shifted its immediate focus on the mental and emotional well-being of its students, and pointed them to supports and resources available to help them.

The College community also responded with an outpouring of support. Employees and students alike have been filling on-campus displays with messages of hope and encouragement for the affected students. Heart-shaped blue and yellow cards with handwritten notes are on display near International’s offices at the Welland Campus and Daniel J. Patterson Campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

“We all recognize that students from Ukraine and many other countries, including Russia, are victims of this circumstance and it is critical that we illustrate to our students that we stand with them and are here to support them through this terribly tragic and stressful time,” said Torraville. “When world events occur like this current situation in Ukraine, I am always so proud of the way all areas of the College come together to show that level of care and support that NC is known for.”

Putting the ‘NC’ in community

NC’s efforts extend beyond the borders of its campuses.

To assist Ukrainian visitors who have recently arrived in Niagara and may benefit from advancing their language skills, NC is offering scholarships to its English for Academic Preparation (EAP) program. Twenty full scholarships have been offered to recently arrived Ukrainian visitors, to attend NC’s EAP program’s May start, and more opportunities will be available during the months ahead.

For information about opportunities for recently arrived Ukrainian visitors to Niagara to attend NC’s English for Academic Preparation program, contact international@niagaracollege.ca or call 905-735-2211 est. 7152.

NC also recently joined 18 colleges across Ontario, along with Colleges Ontario, and the Ontario College Application Service, with a joint donation of $200,000 to UNICEF’s Ukraine emergency fund.

Donations and support

The Global Emergency Relief Fund is supported by contributions from corporate and individual donors. CIBC recently contributed $10,000 to support the fund.

The provincial government also recently announced $1.9 to create an Ontario-Ukraine Solidarity Scholarship in Ontario’s publicly assisted colleges and universities, to be awarded to individual students through their postsecondary institutions based on merit and financial need beginning in September 2022.

“We are truly grateful for this vital support from our government and from corporate and individual donors who are making it possible for more students to overcome barriers and achieve their dreams,” said Vice President, Research and External Relations, Marc Nantel. “These much-needed financial gifts help us ensure that students who have been welcomed into the Niagara community have the support they need to succeed during critical times and we know that it will truly make a difference in their lives.”

Donate to NC’s Global Emergency Relief Fund

Niagara College welcomes donations from the community to help support students through the Global Emergency Relief Fund. Those interested in helping NC’s international students during times of crisis – including those impacted by the war in Ukraine – may donate at donate.niagaracollege.ca.

(Attribution: Niagara College news release)

For This Welland Bird Man, International Experiences Were Always A Learning Opportunity

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

Interest in birding made Brad Clements a long-distance flyer in his own right.

Like that of countless others, his passion grew from bird watching in places like parks, yards and conservation areas, but for this well known Wellander, that passion soared with an international reach.

From his first birding visit abroad, to Venezuela around 1988, Clements has jetted to about a dozen countries. Most recent was Colombia in 2019, just before the pandemic.

Birding junkets have taken him to Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, India, Myanmar, Dubai, Bahrain, Dominican Republic, Nigeria and the Netherlands.

There are about 10,000 bird species in the world and Clements said there are birders who have seen as many as six or seven thousand.

“In my own case I’m at about 2,000.”

New species of birds are still being discovered, especially in remote places, he said. On a trip to Ecuador in 2010, the birdwatchers got to see a rare species that was identified only a few years before their encounter with it. The bird’s name: Jocotoco Antpitta.

His longest expedition, as I chose to call it because of the sense of adventure it conveys, was to Peru with a group of other birders. They were there three weeks.

“We saw 700 species of birds,” Clements said over coffee at a local diner. “You couldn’t see that many in North America and Mexico in a year.”

The trip was particularly rewarding because Clements got to see a bird he had been longing to see, a Sandpiper Plover, high in the Peruvian Andes.

“I was really thrilled. When you make that much effort, when you put in that much time and you realize that it could have been so easy to miss.”

But he remembers that it took the guide accompanying their group “about 10 minutes” to find.

“It was in a field, just like so many other fields we had passed. That’s why you go out with guides, they know where they are.”

Each of the countries left Clements with specific memories he holds dear to this day. The differences in topography from one country to another were amazing, he said. And the differences in birds, particularly indigenous species, will never be forgotten.

“We went to Bahrain and Dubai to see desert birds, and we did. We were four days in Dubai and two in Bahrain. We had a guide, especially when we went looking for night birds like owls. You need guides who know what they are doing.

“I went to Goa in India because I’d never been in Asia. We saw gulls and terns that are very different from gulls and terns we see here. We saw a new family of pratincole birds, it was the first of that family that I had seen.”

He can share stories about each of the venues he has been to and memories they have left him with. Probably his most precious memory is Machu Picchu, the 15th century Inca citadel on a mountain ridge in southern Peru.

“It is so stunning,” Clements said.

There is nothing grandiose about his reasons for travelling in pursuit of bird species around the world.

“It’s just that I can feel myself growing from these experiences. I’m not into fancy cars and jewelry and clothes, I’m into experiences. This is what helps me grow as a person.”

The payoff is the “increase in knowledge and experience” he brings back with him and the peace of mind he has from it all.

“As I get older, it’s wonderful to have good memories. I can sit at home in the evening and remember birds I saw in various countries and the people I met. “

Even after birding for about 50 years, there is more to be learned about birds, Clements said.

“I can honestly say that the biggest thing I’ve learned from birding is how much we don’t know, how much there still is to learn.”

A mystery about shore birds that fly to the tundra in northern Canada just as the snow is disappearing was cited as an example.

“They build their nests, lay eggs and as soon as the eggs hatch the adults leave and fly back to South America, there they spend the winter. Their young raise themselves, feed themselves, learn how to fly on their own.

“When August comes they fly to South America where their parents are. Somehow genetically, there is something in these birds that takes them to the same place as their parents. It’s mind boggling, we can’t understand how this happens.”

Clements, 80, said he would like to go on one last international birding trip. But he said there is more thinking to do before any longing that he has takes flight.

CAPTIONS: Top left, Brad Clements with a photo of himself taken at Machu Picchu, Peru; Top right, Clements shows a photo of a Magellanic penguin, in Argentina; below, photo of the rare Jocotoco Antpitta, taken in Ecuador; bottom from left, various hummingbirds (black and red) with a Bananaquit (black and yellow); Asian Open Bill stork, from Goa, India; Masked Crimson Tanagers, photographed in Colombia.

For a previous story: See ‘Being Taken Under Wing Provided Learning Opportunities About Owls And Life’ here on the blog.