Tag Archives: Heritage

Heritage Lives: Ghosts Of The WRCC

Part 2: DEVELOPING A GOVERNANCE MODEL

By Terry Hughes

WELLAND – One of the major criticisms of the WRCC (Welland Recreational Canal Corporation) by the city was the efforts of the board to operate and make decisions without council approval. There is a precedent for this issue when examining the minutes and notes of the Welland Canal Parkway Development Board from 1994-6 to develop a possible governance model that supports this approach by the WRCC. Let’s see how this idea evolved. 

(Photo and graphic by Joe Barkovich)

The reactivation of the Welland Canal Parkway Development Board in 1994 would include a number of issues that had developed on the canal. Water safety in terms of power boat operations had been highlighted by Coun. Joe Spadafora. A report titled, Well and Safe on the Recreational Waterway, expressed concerns about how people were operating vessels of all kinds, as well as the fatality that occurred at the Division Street Bridge involving two motorized craft. The Regional Police Maritime Division was just created and they shared with us the heavy responsibility they had inherited and the lack of watercraft to patrol the waters surrounding the region. We rejected efforts by “Sea Do owners” (a group that represented people who own and operate Sea Dos who wanted to have a “say” in where and how they operate their water craft) for representation on this board.

Several development opportunities were noted in the board minutes. Along with a possible campground development, a proposal was made by two local sponsors promoting the creation of a marina next to the Cross Street Pool. Fortunately, Public Works Canada and the regional government nixed the idea stating that environmental issues were at issue due to the location of the intake for city water was close by. 

For several years before the Welland Canal Parkway Development Board was reactivated, the city had been involved with the federal government in negotiating a deal for transferring the canal lands to us. The 1995 budget cuts had killed the federal deal with the city and further negotiations were not going anywhere. In the meantime, our Member of Parliament, Gib Parent, had alerted us to begin developing a model for a board that would take control of the canal lands. Such an undertaking was an ominous task  –   it was an overwhelming job because we lacked the legal talent to develop a document. We decided to not reinvent the wheel but to use existing models – the Niagara Parks Commission, Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority and Welland Canal Parkway Development Board from 1981-84.  

One of the obvious similarities was the fact that each of these organizations was responsible to a parent-governing institution. However, it was also apparent that they exercised autonomy to initiate ideas to satisfy their purpose in serving the public. This idea was introduced to Mayor Damian Goulbourne at the beginning of his administration with positive results as will be noted in a future article. 

Another issue that was considered was who should serve on this board. It was felt that this organization should have local representation with some members from council. To ensure that local politics not interfere with its operation, city representatives were to not chair any sub committees nor the board as a whole. The money received from the federal government for the taking over of the canal lands was to be controlled by the city.       

Next in the ‘Ghost’ series: Incorporation and comparing canal lands development by two city administrations. 

(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.)

Welland’s Central Station Project In The Spotlight

By Wayne Campbell

WELLAND – A project to preserve and to use the 100-year-old Welland Central Fire Station will form part of the opening episode of Historical Niagara’s Second Season on YourTV Channel 10.

Central Fire Station, which the city closed in 2007, will be featured with historic fire stations throughout Niagara.

The Central Station Education Initiative, a not-for-profit group, leases the Central Fire Station from the City of Welland. It plans to turn the three-storey classic 1920 fire station into a lively centre.

On the first floor, it will celebrate local firefighting history by creating a heritage display using the available firehall equipment including a classic fire truck, hose tower, dispatch room, alarm reception board and other items.

The second and third floors of the heritage-designated building, to help sustain the project financially, will serve as rental space for community groups.

With support from city council, Central Station Education Initiative is working on a major federal grant to mark the centennial of the unique classical building. The grant will assist in the upgrading of the building to meet current standards.

For more information about the Central Fire Station and about ways to donate to assist the project, see its website, www.centralfirehall.ca.

Peter Sacco, Niagara filmmaker and author, created Historical Niagara to spotlight the Niagara Region’s history, legends, myths and facts as well as the enigmatic, obscure places and tidbits of history that are less well-known to people, especially residents of the Niagara Region.

During its first eight episodes, Historical Niagara touched on local museums, the story of wine country, Niagara’s four historic forts, and, the communities of Grimsby, Queenston, Ball’s Falls and Port Robinson.

The opening episode of the second season will air:

Wednesday, Sept. 16 at 10:30 p.m. on YourTV Channel 10;

Sunday, Sept. 20 at 11 a.m. on YourTV Channel 10;

Sunday, Sept. 20 at 6 p.m. on YouTube channel.

(Wayne Campbell, a member of the Central Station Education Initiative, is a retired journalist living in Welland and occasional contributor to the blog.)

Prime-Time TV For Former Fire Station Project

/Supplied photo

WELLAND – The former Central Fire Station in downtown Welland and a heritage preservation group’s plans for it will get some prime time coverage on the local community cable channel.

Plans of the Central Station Education Initiative “to revitalize and reuse this one of a kind Heritage treasure of Canadian firefighting history” will be highlighted in the program, Historical Niagara. 

Air dates are: Wednesday, September 16, 10:30 p.m., and Sunday, September 20, 11 a.m.,  on Your TV Channel 10. It will also be shown Sunday, September 20, 6 p.m. on You Tube channel.

More to follow.