Monday, July 28, 2014



Bullet News is reporting that the sale of the racetrack will be finalized in the next few days.

We already mentioned that Thibert has followed the Sarah Palin Play Book by going to the press with his story of being plotted against by members of the current council.  This is the guy that decided to sue Councillor Lubberts for conflict of interest on behalf of himself. Bwah. In another Palinesque move, Thibert has taken to Facebook to announce the forthcoming sale of the race track lands to a Buffalo-based group.  Since his ill-advised suit, he has been relegated to the sidelines on this latest effort to sell the track. Way to go, Thibert.  Just like Sarah, you have to go to extreme measures to get the attention you crave.

Next, he'll be talking about "Blood Libel" in reference to comments about him on my blog. Just like Sarah, he takes no responsibility for the effects of his words or actions. And like the former failed vice-presidential candidate, Jim Thibert cannot let something go by without commenting on it to the press or his close circle of friends.

We found it hilarious that he shares his innermost thoughts via quickly typed up e-mails with none other than that old Dinner Hound, Greg Bonito. You remember him; he's the guy who wrote a glowing review of the restaurant that cheese smuggler Bernie Polino is associated with.  Lately, he has donned a costume and writes a cartoon blog where he reports things hot off the tongues of town hall snitches.

And, boy, was Jimmie upset that the council voted to have the acting CAO and the town solicitor take a look at the MOU and by-laws regarding the Economic Development and Tourism Corporation of which Jim Thibert is the general manager when he's not running the Fort Erie Racetrack.

Oh, he's livid, calling the councilors liars (what?) and making some vague reference to Machiavelli. Word Salad was what it was and it revealed more about Thibert's personality than his usual, more carefully edited pronouncements from behind the curtain.  Bullet News took some of his comments and used them in an article titled: Thibert Thinks Council Has Plot Against Him. How rich is that from the guy who just served a council member with papers alleging that Don Lubberts was in conflict of interest over a possible land purchase by the town.  Oh, and Thibert helped put together the conflict of interest lawsuit against the four councilors that also has Mayor Martin's fingerprints all over it.

Jim can always count on someone like James Culic from The Post to cherry pick the facts that bolster his own view, rather than write an in depth article, combined with real investigative reporting.  If he did, he might find out about a slush fund financed by certain developers that has been rumoured to be in existence.  Said slush fund is alleged to be available for use by certain people in important positions in the town.  Look into it, Mr. Culic. Could win you a prize.

In a classic case of "projection" Thibert accuses the four councils of thinking of themselves as sophisticated Machiavellians, adding "buy (sic) the way, they were poisoned by their families." Really? I would have thought that Jim carries a worn copy of The Prince everywhere; his mentor and hero found in the pages of the book.

Well, we've watched Sarah Palin's star fade despite her efforts to remain relevant. Mostly she crashes and burns. Jim Thibert must realize his star is fading; he's even saying nice things about Kathleen Wynne.

Hopefully, the track has been sold and its future secure as a horse racing venue.  It remains to be seen if the Liberal government in Ontario will continue to subsidize the track which has run in the red for several years. 

BTW, Adam Joon, the MBA holding executive development official at the EDTC has resigned to take a job with the region.  Seems that Harry Schlange is putting together a team consisting of Fort Erie staff.  Even heard a rumour that Rino Mostacci may soon join Team Schlange.


Friday, July 25, 2014


There were other issues and discussions on Monday night, but let's just get to the last act of this dramedy and talk about Paul Collard's request that the new Acting CAO and the new town attorney take a look at the MOU and a couple of by-laws regarding the Economic Development and Tourism Corporation and its difficult relationship to town council.  It is evident to anyone who pays attention to these things that there is a problem between the profane and egotistical head of the arm's length separate entity known as the EDTC, Jim Thibert, and certain members of the current council.  It goes back a long way - way back to the previous council when then Ward 6 Councilor Ann Marie Noyes asked for certain updates and information from the EDTC but was denied.  She eventually took it to the Freedom of Information Tribunal, lost then won the right to certain documents, some of which are still outstanding.

Council, under a new balance of power, once brought the EDTC issue to the forefront, but eventually backed down using the tough economy as the reason for not attempting any changes.  Jim Thibert took the lame duck period between the election and the installation of the new council to initiate a tax-payer-paid lawsuit against me for slander. He has since been quite involved in the Conflict of Interest lawsuit against four councillors and initiated a recent one against Councillor Don Lubberts.

It only stands to reason that the Memo of Understanding and certain by-laws be examined to ascertain whether Thibert was acting in good faith as the corporation's general manager when he initiated lawsuits against his perceived enemies.  It would also seem that Thibert is riding a thin line because of doing double duty as the CEO of the Fort Erie Race Track.

Questions that do need answers as well as the need for the EDTC to report regularly to council with its financial information. It was mentioned that Bob Gaye famously challenged to Niagara Parks Commission to open its meetings to the public.  The fallout from his complaints caused many changes in how the NPC does business, including meetings open to the public.

Of course, I and many others would like to see Jim Thibert fired for a number of reasons, but he believes he is invulnerable and well-protected from scrutiny or accountability.  He operates in his own world of playing golf in the afternoons followed by cocktails at the Tiki Bar at the racetrack.

Nice.  Too nice for the taxpayers to have spent close to a million dollars each year to support. How many jobs has our Development Czar brought to Fort Erie? He did manage to save the race track for another season, probably its last, at a cost of over $5 million to the taxpayers topped off with a $500,000 gift from the town's taxpayer's Reserve Fund, built up of tax savings.

If anyone out there just accepting the carefully crafted bovine excrement coming from Jim Thibert's fevered imagination, they need to take a good look (if they ever get the opportunity to do so) at the financials of the EDTC.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Where does one begin when there's a treasure trove of topics to discuss revolving around the Monday, July 21st Regular Council Meeting? "From the sublime to the ridiculous," as my mother would say.

OK. Let's start with the ridiculous: Mike Cloutier, the sometime newsman, decided to speak out about something he is passionate about - the proposed closing of Mishner-hic-Road. His delegation was quite rich, considering that Cloutier's only means of transportation is a bicycle, but he slurred his way through and made some valid points - points that had been expressed by many others since staff recommended the closure of one small part of the road as a "cost-cutting measure."  Mike came to the end of his presentation and said he had a "couple more pages" to read but was denied extra time as no one on council thought that Cloutier had anything more pertinent to say.  There was a smattering of applause coming from the back of chambers after he finished. He did want it to "go on record" that he was not allowed to finish his speech. Not to worry, Mike. Council voted to drop the proposed road closure, probably in spite of your delegation. Feel free to ride your bike through Mishner Road all the way to Sherkston Beach if you like.

Then it was Leslie Burrison's time to speak on the future site of an new amalgamated elementary school for Ridgeway-Crystal Beach. She identified herself as a  spokesperson for the Children and Advocacy Group that had formed over opposition to the proposed giveaway of parkland on Rebstock Road to the Niagara District School Board for construction of a new school. (In February, 2014, council decided to offer a portion of the Kinsmen Club donated land to the NDSB for the build. Since February, parents and stakeholders came forward to protest the loss of greenspace when the DSBN has numerous properties in Ridgeway that could be used for a new school. On June 16, council voted unanimously to rescind the offer after hearing from these concerned citizens.)

Ms. Burrison began by offering sincere thanks for council's vote to rescind the offer of the land on Rebstock Road and to not revisit that offer again.  She referred to a petition presented to the town with over one thousand signatures of those against the land offer. After her well-presented speech, the audience applauded. Lame Duck Mayor Martin chided the audience :"No applause please; this is a council meeting. Please, no applause." All righty then.

When Passero got the chance to question Ms. Burrison, he adopted his superior I'm-running-for-mayor-voice* and said something to the effect that there's no other councillor but him who has had as much experience in the Accomodation Review and consolidation process as he went through it in his ward and served on the ARC Committee, so the question was: "Are you aware that the funding for the new school comes from the Ministry, not the DSBN?"

The answer was a simple "yes." Ms. Burrison agreed that the people would all like to see a brand new, state-of-the-art school for the Ridgeway-Crystal Beach students.

Passero served up a morsel of his superior knowledge by explaining that the ministry looks at the municipal involvement when it comes to allotments of funds for a new school. He hinted that, "if we don't pursue the Rebstock Road site, this may not make it to the top of the list for funding." (/badly-veiled threat)

Ms. Burrison countered with the fact that, on the list of 79 schools that will share $700 million alloted for new school buildings and improvements, neither the Ridgeway Crystal Beach HS/Fort Erie HS amalgamation nor the Ridgeway-Crystal Beach amalgation appears on that list that will be in effect until 2017.  "Why the push for a September 30 deadline to decide?" she asked. She also pointed out that the successful rebuild of the former General Vanier School to the Peace Bridge School next to a town park did not require that the town give up any of its public greenspace.

Passero pointed out that a business plan had not been submitted to the province about either of the plans as they were awaiting public input. "Do you see any harm to looking at this again? Are you looking for this to be Dead in the Water?" he asked. Then to throw her off, he remarked that he saw some in the audience nodding in agreement with him.

"I don't purport to be a voice for everyone in the room. I'm speaking only for myself. You asked if I would like this 'dead in the water?' The answer is, 'yes!'

You saw the value and wisdom in rescinding the offer... Let them move forward and build in the direction they were originally going before the Rebstock Road offer. We don't need to balance the school board's budget for them."

Passero tried to save face by ending with, "If you'd like to give me a call, I can answer those questions. I can't answer those now in this type of setting." (WTF?)

Sublime!  Game, set and match to the over one thousand people who signed the petition. Council voted to NOT revisit the Rebstock Road offer.

* Passero announced his intention on Tuesday, July 22, 2014 to seek the mayor's seat in the October 27 municipal election. About time. He's been sniffing around that seat for almost four years.

(Editor's Note:  there is a lot more that went on Monday night. I will continue my commentary later.)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


OK. It's not really "Breaking News."  It's BREAKING RUMOUR but that title doesn't look very good.  Here goes:

A very reliable source has revealed that the actual transcript of the cross examinations of Rick Shular, Stephen Passero and Doug Martin from the Conflict of Interest case against the four councillors (Bob Steckley, John Hill, Don Lubberts and Paul Collard) will soon be made public.  If that happens, the public can then read for themselves just how and why this suit was created.  It is rumoured to have explosive, under-oath testimony by at least one councillor who claimed that he was told what to do regarding the lawsuit by none other than the current EDTC and FELRC head, Jim Thibert.  This information may become available as soon as Monday.  This would make transparent just how far certain town officials went to destroy the reputations of four duly-elected councillors.  Stay tuned.

Before we go back to the Pettit Road Situation, I'd like to point out a recent example of what can happen if a dispute goes to the Ontario Municipal Board.

Dominion Road resident Shirley Belanger is expected to speak at Monday night's regular council meeting about an OMB ruling that has been ignored by the town.  Once again, good friend of and campaign donor to Lame Duck Mayor Doug Martin, developer Ed Lenchyshyn figures prominently in the scenario.

According to Ms. Belanger's Letter to the Editor that appeared in the Fort Erie Times on June 26, she and a dozen other neighbours in the area near the Old Fort on Dominion Road appeared at town council last September with a petition signed by 43 citizens protesting the proposed "variance to the town by-law which would allow Ed Lenchyshyn to change the frontage on a (72 foot) lot so he could squeeze two houses on the lot instead of one."

Ms. Belanger, being closest to the lot in question, appealed to the OMB in January with the decision coming down on March 25.  The "OMB ruled that the variance could be granted with the condition that a tree preservation plan be prepared by a certified arborist to the satisfaction of the Town to protect existing trees along the vacant lot," according to her letter.

She continued: "An arborist report was prepared, however, the town didn't require Mr. Lenchyshyn to abide by the requirements set out by the OMB, otherwise he would not have been allowed to build the second house on the property." She went on to recount her visit to the planning department "Abandon All Hope, Ye Regular Folks Who Enter Here," and the Lame Duck Mayor himself who said that Mr. Lenchyshyn would be fined for "not upholding the ruling" (BFD) Basically, the town did not feel itself responsible for upholding the OMB ruling against the mayor's good friend, campaign donor and braggart that he could "get anything he wanted in Fort Erie as long as he ...."

So, Ms. Belanger has now become aware of what many have reluctantly become aware of: the planning department only "listens" to developers - even when residents and neighbours in large numbers express their displeasure in the town's favouritism towards developers' whims.  Two houses now sit on the lot that was originally supposed to have only one - and the arborist's report was ignored.

Of course this all played out already over the past few years in the "plan-that-will-not-be-named" at a certain beach down the road. Mr. Lenchyshyn has a number of "questionable" development plans; plans that seem to ignore the neighbours or the ideals of good planning.  Why would he care anyway? He doesn't live in Fort Erie and he has made a lot of money in Fort Erie with the help of a very co-operative planning department.


In what seems like another case of the planning department not listening to the people, Monday night's Council in Committee Meeting of Fort Erie Town Council featured a report from the planning department about an amendment to a previously accepted site plan for Verona Homes'  Spears Gardens on the east side of Pettit Road, north of Garrison (Hwy. 3)  

The original plan called for 95 single, detached houses in the development.  The new request is for zoning changes to allow for 27 townhouse units that will bring the total residences up to 100.  It also calls for a large rainwater storage lagoon on the property. It would also include increased lot coverage in the four blocks of townhouses resulting in reduced lot frontage and side yard borders. According to Mr. Kernahan from the town planning department, the development would still adhere to the Spears-Highpoint Secondary Plan that dictates that the maximum density be 16 units per hectare. In addition, the townhouse heights would be raised to three stories, still within the parameters of the plan. 

Nearby residents weren't necessarily against those aspects of the zoning amendments, but they were upset that the developer wants to tear down a house he owns at 1220 Pettit Road to create an access/egress point for the development. This new road would form the main road into and out of the development and it would empty right onto Pettit Road which is currently heavily traveled and dangerous because of a blind hill near the proposed new road. 

Carmela Agro, speaking on behalf of the firm that planned the development, Upper Canada Consultants, explained the reasoning for the plan modification as "giving more options" in housing to potential buyers. She made rather vague references to possible "east-west road connections" in the plan, but failed to give specifics as to exactly where other roads might be placed other than a smaller road for emergency vehicles.  She did promise that a Traffic Study would be concluded in less than a month from that night and the results would be sent to council for further information.

Now, this is where the Statuary Public Meeting over the amendments to the site plan took a rather bizarre turn:

Dean Dimezio, former President of the Fort Erie Chamber of Commerce and insurance broker whose office is on the south side of Garrison at Daytona Drive, got up to speak IN FAVOUR OF THE PROPOSED CHANGES TO THE SITE PLAN.  Except he didn't.  He started out on the right note: "I'm in favour of development!" Then he went on a long-winded account of traffic problems at the corner of Pettit Road and Garrison Road and the other corner of the traffic light, his insurance office and Daytona Drive. He asked, "How will 100 homes help the situation?"  He went on to complain that the intersection was "too small right now as it is."  He hoped that council wouldn't just "push this through" as "this isn't going to get any better with 100 more houses."

He ended with the following warning: "If you approve this, please take a heavy look at the traffic. It's not all fun and games like they're making it out to be."

Whoa. That sure was an interesting take on the concept of speaking "in favour" of plan changes.  Remind me next time we need someone to speak "in favour" of some hare-brained idea from the planning department.

To show just how out-of-touch the planning department is about how things work in Fort Erie, a Pettit Road resident, who did speak against the road plan for 1220 Pettit, pointed out that at a public meeting on July 8, he talked to someone from the planning department about the already problematic situation for school buses dropping kids off along Pettit Road.  The planner suggested "moving the bus stop" not realizing that there are no bus stops along Pettit; kids are dropped off in front of their homes. Another resident asked that the Traffic Study be conducted once the kids are back to school to factor in the school buses into the busy traffic patterns on Pettit Road.

Bob Steckley came up with a suggestion that appears to have been way on the back burner for the development planners: extend planned cul de sacs to Florence, then Albion Road then ultimately to Benner Road to access Garrison. Also suggested is creating a north exit onto Bertie Road. The planner reluctantly said that those options could be considered.

So, the report was for information reasons only and will be re-visited at least once more before it is voted on. Unfortunately, Don Lubberts had to declare a pecuniary interest because the firm he works for, Riel Electric, has done work for the developer in the past.  He left council chambers while the discussion went on.  Lame Duck Mayor Martin was a late arrival to the proceedings as he was attending a United Way Event.

Stay tuned on this one.  Could end up at the OMB if council does not sort out the traffic problem to the residents' satisfaction.

Monday, July 14, 2014


Maybe there was other stuff going on in Fort Erie, but Crystal Beach was sure swinging this weekend.  On Saturday, July 12, Queen's Circle came alive with the sounds, smells and tastes of the Crystal Beach Amusement Park as the twenty-fifth anniversary of its closing was commemorated with a "Memories Day."  Put together by local historians Paul Kassay and Rick Doan with a big dollop of help from the Crystal Beach Business Improvement Area and the Friends of Crystal Beach, the event attracted hundreds who came to view the artifacts and pictures from the fabled amusement park.  It was a chance to enjoy the legendary Hall's Suckers, Sugar Waffles and other treats once found only at the park. 

And, one of the Park's most popular features was celebrated on Sunday evening with a return appearance by the popular Toronto All-Star Band playing the Big Band music offered once-upon-a-time at the iconic Crystal Beach Ballroom that formerly played host to the greats of the Big Band Era. The concert was held at the Waterfront Park, just a stone's throw from the former site of the park's famous Comet Roller Coaster.  It is estimated that well over five hundred people attended the early evening concert that coninued through numerous encores. The concert featured a dedication to the late Janet Truckenbrodt who worked so hard to preserve the memories of Crystal Beach.  Earlier rain gave way to warm sunshine for the concert on the waterfront.


STARTS AT 7:00 P.M. Bring a lawnchair and enjoy!

You see folks: Crystal Beach is alive and well and getting better every day. Bay Beach was packed on Saturday and people of all ages enjoyed the memories of the once great Crystal Beach Amusement Park as well as the free concert at the Waterfront Park.

All these great events could not have taken place without the strong community spirit and co-operation of the Crystal Beach BIA and the Friends of Crystal Beach. These groups and all the hard-working volunteers are committed to making Crystal Beach a great place to live and visit.  (Here's another factoid the naysayers often omit: not all people in these groups agree on the "condo issue."  They do however agree that Crystal Beach is home and they love it.)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


 "I am the general manager of the Fort Erie Economic Development and Tourism Corporation and the Chief Operating Officer of the Fort Erie Live Racing Consortium. I have been involved in the potential sale of the Fort Erie Racetrack property currently owned by Nordic Gaming to David Kompson."

As some might know, David Kompson is a well-known developer who is interested in buying the racetrack property - all except a parcel of 14.31 acres on Industrial Drive. Jim Thibert, in his capacity as head of the EDTC and the racetrack is going beyond the scope of his authority and it trying to broker a side deal with a potential buyer of the race track.

UPDATE: It has been rumoured that the deal is off the table for the potential sale of the piece on Industrial Drive. Now Thibert is trying to convince council to buy two other parcels, considered to be wetlands near the track. Cannot confirm this but it may come up in Monday's Council in Committee Meeting.

Isn't that a conflict of interest in itself? In true Thibert style, he goes on the attack against the very thing he might be guilty of.  In order to take attention away from his possible conflict, he misdirects attention to Don Lubberts whose employer may have done business with Kompson in the past. 

Why is the EDTC/FELRC involved in this sale anyway? Since when does the EDTC/FELRC enter into negotiations on behalf of Nordic?  It doesn't. It wants to make the deal easier by bonusing-er-helping the possible purchaser.  Why would it be a conflict of interest for Don Lubberts to participate in a discussion about the feasibility of bonusing/helping the sale when the man presenting the option does not even have the authority to do so? Just who is he representing anyway? Hard to figure out, yet he seems to know a conflict when he sees one - except the one staring at him in the mirror.

One thing that must be done by whomever becomes the next leader of this community is the repatriation of the EDTC back to town hall as a department, answerable to council.

This may well be the last year for the Fort Erie Race Track. Does anyone think that Kathleen Wynne will throw money at a losing proposition after the way she was treated by certain town officials? I would bet that David Kompson has his own reasons for wanting to just buy the land that is useable for development. He is not interested in the wetlands or the industrial lands in the package.  He wants only what can be developed. Can't blame him. Race track land is highly suitable for development, maybe even a gated community. LOL

Further Update from Way-back Machine.

Back in 2013, the Fort Erie Race Track was once again up for sale. This is a quote from Thibert in the Horse-Canada site:

“It’s my job to do something with that property regardless,” he explained. “It is developable land convenient to the Queen Elizabeth Way and is across the Niagara River from the United States. However, it is also easier to keep what is currently there than to find a new investor to purchase it…. I’ve tried to get someone to come in and buy the property, let us keep the track running, and use that as a major attraction.”

It looks like Thibert is merely looking for a finder's fee from someone, anyone who wants to buy the property. This statement infers that, even over a year ago when the track looked like it would close for good.  Another massive infusion of money from the province saved it as it was this year.  Certainly would like to know the attendance figures on this year's meet. Purses look pretty grim that's for sure.

Monday, July 7, 2014


You'd think that the parking lot on the South side of Erie Road from Derby to Ashwood was public property the way some people are carrying on about its recent sale.  Next, they'll be appealing to the OMB and putting up yellow signs saying, "Keep Our Parking Lot in Steve Boyd's Hands." Can we also expect a petition and many delegations to council?

Oh wait, let's have a study to see if this is a good idea! And, if we don't like the results, let's have another!  I see a pattern here and it isn't pretty.  How dare the Molinaros and the DiCenzos sell their parking lot to a bunch of Americuns!  (Rich Americuns at that.)  It is our birthright to have that parking lot there for Steve Boyd to make money and sometimes the beautification committee too. 

Yessiree, we can not tolerate that. Now it will be gated off like the Point Abino Lighthouse and people will have to park their cars elsewhere. Nevermind that the original plan was to build townhouses on the land until the "developer" ran out of cash. Nevermind that the Molinaros/DiCenzos had plans to develop the land should the condo deal have gone through.

Does anyone really think that its fate was to remain a parking lot in perpetuity? The same people who were all for eliminating the public parking lot area on the south side of Erie Road at Bay Beach, which was bringing in money through parking fees, are now upset that the privately owned space that was used as a parking lot will now become a private parking area for residents of the Crystal Beach Tennis and Yacht Club and the Hill Association.

Why don't these whiners ask the town why it didn't buy the lot?  Seems the town is in the property business of late, trying to buy some vacant industrial land in a Bonusing Bonanza to prop up the doomed race track for another season or two. 

Poor Steve Boyd.  Just when he thought he could continue his little side business, someone pulls the rug out from under him and he will be permanently out of business in September.  From his now deleted remarks on Facebook, he had a bad summer last year, barely broke even.  (That was before he realized that such undeclared income might be problematic in his run for councillor in Ward 5 and he erased those remarks and said his son runs the parking lot.)  And he declares every cent he makes in the parking lot. Sure.

See folks, it's just like Joni Mitchell sings: "You don't know what you've got 'til its gone. They paved paradise and put in a parking lot."

Saturday, July 5, 2014


I'm getting tired of a small minority blaming everything that is wrong with Fort Erie on four councilors. These uninformed zombies of the internet take their talking points from a couple of local scoundrels and pass them along with all the authority they can muster from their basement command centres.

I have spent a lifetime educating myself about politics and trends. There is obviously a lot more to Fort Erie's woes than the fight to save a public beachfront property from development. It became an issue because Rino Mostacci mistakenly thought that the people of the area would roll over to his vision of a condo parade on Bay Beach. He managed to convince the mayor and a foolish councilor or two that his great idea would be a catalyst for change and improvement over Crystal Beach's and the town's economic future.  Too bad he didn't take into account the demographics and the trends going on in Crystal Beach before he unveiled his dream and roped the Molinaros into an untenable project.

So, let's talk about what's going on in Crystal Beach and elsewhere in Fort Erie.  The one that no one talks about: what's really happening to many of our young people in Fort Erie.  We've heard it before, the ads and the pronouncements that we're losing our young people because they move away to get educated and then they find jobs elsewhere. What does anyone expect when there are so many young people choosing a life on the dole rather than to make the effort to become self-sufficient?  I can bet that everyone reading this knows of at least one "teen mom" living in Fort Erie.  It's pretty predictable what will happen: the young women will probably not finish high school; will not marry; will not find a job or will end up in a low-paying job; or they will have at least one more out-of-wedlock child. One thing is that they will remain supported by the taxpayers while they grapple with the realization that having a baby is not such a fun thing to do.  The Baby-Daddies usually fare no better as they are often cast aside or lose interest as time goes on and they realize that they must be a part of their child's life for the next several years. Many choose not to get "real" jobs as they will then be financially responsible for the baby. I have seen this up close and personal where I now live and it literally keeps me up at night.

Far be it from me to put down social assistance. I was on it a couple of times myself. Out of work or laid off, it is a life-saver.  I was briefly on disability but chose to get a job and get off it as soon as I was able.  I hated the fact that it was necessary for me to accept welfare. Never in my life thought it would happen to me.  I am grateful for the help I received. I also see many who abuse the system. It seems like a "career choice" for some in the area. For a while Crystal Beach was a dumping ground for those on social assistance, many sent down from Toronto to live in the cheap cottages that were snapped up by slum landlords after the amusement park closed. No wonder Crystal Beach went into a tail spin. Redlined and home to welfare recipients, what chance did Crystal Beach have?  If it weren't for the remaining summer residents, the Beach would have been a ghost town, inhabited by the poor and the disadvantaged. 

Then something happened: people started hearing about the cheap houses in Crystal Beach and started buying and fixing up the run-down buildings. People from Toronto came down, not as welfare recipients, but as retired or near-retired people looking for a cheap getaway place.  Soon the Beach started to come back to life; the beautification committee worked hard to make the streetscape more welcoming and colourful; Bay Beach Properties were bought by the town with the thought that it would serve as a public park on the public beach for the future; and developments began to spring up in the area.  The one glaring mistake was the gated community built on the property where the amusement park once stood. It was a slap in the face to the whole community, grabbed away by a dodgy developer and gated off. Right in the middle of the village.

But we still have the remains of the previous Beach - the place where teen moms go to live and be supported by the taxpayers because, it seems that mistakes are forgiven and encouraged in Ontario.  Look at what's happened recently in politics: gross mismanagement of funds and drunken, drug-addled behavior are celebrated as the perpetrators of these excesses are celebrated and win elections. If a community can forgive Rob Ford, then it surely will not shame those teen moms on Mothers' Allowance. 

And that is the real problem.  Everyone is expected to accept and welcome this new generation of young people and wish for their success, even though they are statistically doomed to failure. I'm sure there are many who know the exceptions to the statistics, but I'm also fairly sure that they also know that most such situations do not end well for the mother or the child(ren.) 

So, what can be done?  Perhaps parents of teenagers are afraid to lay down the law and place high expectations on their children.  I admit that I was raised in a different era, one where teen-aged pregnancy was not tolerated and those who did get pregnant were either forced into marriage or sent away to have their babies and give them up for adoption. Back then, we also did not have access to birth control or legal abortions. Although I am personally against abortion, I do feel that it should be the choice of the woman to determine if she has an abortion. I am inclined to think that teenaged pregnancies are a matter of choice these days. The casual acceptance of a teen pregnancy is also problematic. Add a reality show highlighting teen moms and one comes away with the impression that it's the thing to do to be cool.

So this is what has been bothering me lately while I observe the local political scene. How are we to expect that people will make reasonable choices in their voting when the entire social fabric is ass-backwards? Until we can keep children from making foolish, life-altering choices, we will be no better off.  The ones who go away to university are the ones who decided that education was more important than having babies. They took precautions if they were sexually active; they placed a higher value on themselves; and they planned for their future.  It's unfortunate that they had to escape Fort Erie, sometimes permanently, to achieve their dreams. What we have left is a lot of people without dreams and pride, who are hostages to their prejudices and lack of critical thinking. These people resent those who move to the area and have new ideas.

This is Fort Erie's present and future. I hope I'm wrong.

Editor's Note: I offered this opinion piece because it is a real issue in Fort Erie as it is in places all over.  I did read the study referenced by a reader and found it very interesting, although it seems to have been done about ten years ago.  The problems brought up in various information sessions conducted seem to be still with us, certainly not a good sign.  Teenagers themselves want better access to alcohol and drug counselling; birth control advice and mental health services.  The on-going lack of transit options is still a major problem, although it has improved in the past couple of years. One thing that they all asked for was a movie theatre in Fort Erie. Too bad that the one movie theatre in Ridgeway, The Boutique Theatre has closed.  I suspect this was not the kind of movie theatre the youth wanted.  Too bad the one in the mall in Fort Erie closed years ago.  (I do wish that every young person in town had a theatre like we had when I was growing up in Buffalo.  The North Park Theater was the place where the kids spent their Saturdays in the school year. Wonderful place that has now been restored to its original elegance.)  Makes me think that somehow the former Gypsy Theatre location would have been a perfect place for a movie theatre that could be enjoyed by all ages.  Those surveyed said that the beach is one of the good things about Fort Erie, along with the safety and decent neighbourhoods. However, they all agreed that drugs were a big issue all over Fort Erie and it was mentioned that teen pregnancy is a big problem.  Most did not want to move away and hoped to return to jobs after university. 

So, the same problems were discussed over a decade ago and few positive improvements came as a result of the study.  There is a skateboard park, so those who enjoy that activity have a place to go - if they can get there.  No one mentioned the Kinsmen Pool which was in operation at the time. For socializing, it was the beach (no particular beach was pointed out, just "the beach.")  Too bad for the kids in Stevensville; there is still no transit available to them.  What is the Youth Advisory Committee doing anyway? 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Flush This!

As many already know, I have a history of bowel problems. I have often been told that I'm full of s#%t. With that in mind, I followed up on a suggestion by my doctor to have a colonoscopy. In fact, it is recommended that anyone over the age of fifty have such a screening. 

First, to back up a little: I come a family that has a long history of mishaps of the bowels. Perhaps that was our ancestors' real name and they changed to the sweet-smelling name Bowers out of embarrassment.  Whenever such an event happened to a family member, it was reported and embellished to a treasured anecdote shared amid much laughter. ( I might add that I was raised with three older brothers who gleefully added each new story to their comic repertoire.). When I shared my Friendship Trail mishap,  I had hoped people would find it amusing as I did - after the fact.  But my "comic" story was used against me. 

But I gotta share this one because it was funny. Please continue reading only if you have a scatological sense of humour or you want to know about colonostomies from aaa veteran. 

The day started off well enough. Until we hit the dog. My BFF was driving me to Welland Hospital for the procedure. Just as passed through the red light at the water tower, a Beagle ran right in front of the car and we heard a thump. I screamed and covered my eyes while BFF watched the dog, seemingly unhurt continue running toward the cemetery. So we spent the next half hour looking for the dog with no luck. We both felt sick over it. Fortunately or unfortunately my stomach (and bowels) were empty due to the purge that had taken place the day before. It is by far the worst part of the whole experience. 

I took two doses of what might call Bowel Drano and spent the greater part of the day and night on the toilet. No food allowed; only clear liquids. Gatorade is recommended. I call it the 
Black Fast, which really refers to a Lenten ritual of an Irish friend who gave up booze from Ash Wednesday to Easter. 

So, I was cleaned out and ready. Finally got to the hospital and went through the sign-in process. After that, a wonderful volunteer led me through the maze of corridors to a small waiting room where others awaiting the same fate were talking about their purge and now lightheaded-ness. We all became "fast" friends, like many who experience a shared trauma. Maybe we became friends because we all knew that the others were going to their anuses probed. Shared embarrassment can be a real ice-breaker. 

Then the wait began ( doctor running late.) Someone came in carrying a big box of donuts from Timmie's as if to torture us. She moved quickly towards the back room as if she was afraid of six or so pairs of hungry eyes that had latched onto the box of donuts. 

Finally, my name is called. I strip down and put on a backless gown (how appropriate) and lie down on a gurney to wait. Nurse has trouble finding a good vein (and no I've never used intravenous drugs; I just have hard-to-find veins.)

So I waited some more with my saline drip and then they took me to the room where the procedure is done. The nurse (?) added the tranquillizer to the mix and I was soon off to la-la land. I woke up back in the recovery room. Missed the whole thing. They could have put a microchip or a drone up my ass and I would never know. Then came the gas. Lots of it. Didn't care; let it loose. Now I have tell my "only in Canada" part of the story: I was almost fully recovered when one of my new waiting room friends was put in the bay next to mine, just back from her colonoscopy.  While the nurse bustled around trying to make her more comfortable, she politely asked,"I have a lot of gas. Is it alright if I pass wind?"  The nurse just said, "let 'em rip, honey."  Only in Canada would someone be that polite. 

So BFF found me a little dazed and we got lost in the maze on the way out. 

Waiting for me in her car was a Triple Triple and chocolate cream donut. What a great friend!

Sure hope that dog is OK.