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May. 8, 2021 | Saturday
Editorials and Opinions
Ross' Ramblings: A tough battle, but we must try to smile and laugh
These six young ladies from the GTA, Halifax and Zimbabwe enjoyed an elegant bachelorette luncheon in Ryerson Park last August. It would be totally within the various rules of the proposed NOTL parks pylaw. No fire, no loud noise, no booze and over by 10 p.m. What’s not to love about this tableau? (Ross Robinson)

Ross Robinson
Special to The Lake Report

As we continue to wrassle with COVID-19, we must retain our ability to smile. As importantly, we must retain our desire to laugh.  

On a recent Friday evening at Betty's Restaurant in Chippawa, before the latest lockdown, I joined four friends for two physically distanced hours of great food and Niagara wine, engaging banter, and some tearfully funny stories. We laughed and loved, in the face of the global pandemic. Someday, a new normal will release us into the fresh air and allow us to visit more often. Concerts at Jackson-Triggs.

We arrived for fish and pie after a lovely drive along the Niagara Parkway, enjoying the world-famous views of the Falls, determined to have fun. Fun can still be done, as so many of us know.  

We read about new walking groups, we see more dogs walking their owners, and so many more cyclists on the streets and along the Niagara River Recreational Trail. Online yoga and aerobics have taken off.

Let's be tolerant and abide the good people who enjoy a macho drive on a motorcycle or in their vintage or souped-up cars. They pay taxes, work hard and are courteous, respectful visitors.  

Could there be a better place to be battling a global pandemic than here in our magnificent Niagara region?  Last week, an Expedia user survey named NOTL the third-most friendly town in Canada. It seems to me that in spite of ourselves, we have been described as being warm, hospitable and friendly to each other and to visitors to our small town.  

This is where I get confused sometimes. And I hope we can somehow simultaneously pull and push in regards to tourism. As folks report how much they enjoy spending time here, our town council adopts a parks bylaw "as crowds begin to appear at parks." There is no easy answer to the current dilemma. I can almost hear my mom saying to me, "So, you want to have your cake and eat it too?"

Our town facilities, amenities and parks, including those operated by Niagara Parks, are first class because of funding from local taxpayers, Niagara regional contributions, and provincial and federal dollars. And, when tourists spend money here, a portion of the taxes are spent right here, locally. It seems to me, therefore, that our parks are everyone's parks. Just like when we travel and enjoy their parks. Logical?

We have all chosen to live here for different reasons. Culture, mild weather and short winters (for Canada), wineries and agricultural land, recreational amenities. and so little traffic congestion. Now, throw in the friendly and helpful locals, including you and me, lovely parks and beautiful landscaping displays.  Seriously, what's not to like?

Wait patiently until our various festivals return, along with almost nonstop theatre, concerts and heritage events. Hats off to the determined and talented people who have been skilfully and enthusiastically providing Zoom lectures and online entertainment. Sure, it's not perfect, but it's so much better than nothing. Keep up the enthusiastic work, and know we appreciate your efforts.

Let's not be tiny minded. Different people enjoy different things. As we small-town folk enjoy an occasional visit to a big city, those big-city folk enjoy a visit to rural and small town Canada.  

Welcome them with a smile or wave, respect their space, and understand that some wild and crazy people enjoy enjoying a park after dark. Star gazing, the silence and bigness of a dark sky moon, the cool breeze off a lake or river. Maybe even a dip in the fresh water. Yikes, after 10 p.m.?  What is more pure than seeing someone reading a book in one of our parks, as the sun comes up? Yikes, before 7 a.m.?

Allow people to cook their favourite foods on a hibachi. With only rare exceptions, they leave the area clean.

And hey, we spend millions to grow our unique cool climate grapes and skilfully blend different wine varietals. Then our wineries spend big bucks and do their best to market and sell the products. Now you want to tell us we can't enjoy a pleasant Chardonnay or Merlot in our parks? Or, a craft-brewed Oast House Barnraiser?

But I ramble on ...

Yes, we have a parking problem in a few areas of NOTL, for perhaps 300 or 400 hours a year. Think of the lucky people who live near Fenway Park or the Montreal Canadiens' home rink. What about the country folk who live within a few kilometres of Merrittville Speedway? Va-room, Va-room. Go to the stock car races this summer. Expand your minds. The fastest dirt track in Canada, on our doorsteps. A really fun Saturday summer evening. Trust me.

Our professional town staff will solve the parking issue, and enforce any new rules. Let's share the love with our bylaw officers, as they ease into the new regulations.

And let us all treat each other with kindness and friendliness, as we enjoy our Niagara and NOTL.  

The visitors are a-coming. Let's be thankful we live in such a popular and "quaint" town.  

We are so fortunate to live in Canada... in 2021.

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