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December 2019 Year in Review

The Thorold News looks back at December, 2019.

Windle Village expansion proposed

If approved, this spring could see 40 new single-detached dwellings spring up on Hodgkins Ave. in Windle Village, which will be extended to Allanburg Road.

Thorold commits to Canada Summer Games facility

After a marathon four-hour council meeting—which included several Thorold groups and residents speaking in favour, and one resident arguing against—councillors voted Tuesday night to proceed in a four-way partnership with the city of St. Catharines, the Niagara Region, and Brock University to build the multi-use Canada Summer Games facility on Brock land in Thorold.

The motion passed, with Mayor Terry Ugulini and Councillors Sentance, Dekker, Neale, Kenny, and Wilson voting in favour of the facility, while Councillors Longo, DeRose, and Handley voted against it.

Allanburg Community Centre under the microscope

The fate of the Allanburg Community Centre is being determined, following a city staff report estimating necessary renovations to the aging facility pegged at $1.2 million. The matter will be addressed in the city’s Parks & Recreation Master Plan, in a report expected to be released in 2020.

Accident sends two to hospital

On Dec. 6, a pickup truck collided with two elderly pedestrians at the corner of Front and Clairmont streets, sending them to hospital. The 58-year-old Thorold male was later charged under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act with Turn not in Safety.

Front Street Makeover

Council voted to move ahead with the downtown streetscaping project, since it’s already been pre-approved in the budget.

“We want to get this out for RFPs and move the project forward in a timely manner,” explained Mayor Terry Ugulini, which will enable the city to get “better pricing” on construction.

Director of finance Maria Mauro said that funds have been set aside in the city’s capital budget, with $1.54 million allocated for road reconstruction, $515,000 for storm sewers, $1,030,000 for sanitary sewers, and $515,000 for waterworks. The majority of funding comes from federal gas tax and the city’s reserves.

Penguins praise Gluckstein Lawyers

Wheelchair athletes and coaches Jim and Loretta Davis were among the crowd of people celebrating a Business After 5 holiday event at Gluckstein Lawyers in Thorold in December.

“Gluckstein is a big supporter of the Penguins,” Jim told the Thorold News, “and we are so appreciative. They help support the 50 Penguins and give them the opportunity to excel at sports, and interact with their peers.”

“It helps kids gain self-confidence,” added Loretta. “Kids get more involved in the community they love and gain self-esteem.”

The Brock Niagara Penguins group offers parasports for youth and adults, including wheelchair basketball, hand cycling, wheelchair racing, bocce, swimming, sitting volleyball, and summer camp, among others. According to founder Karen Natho, “Most of our athletes have physical disabilities. Some have cognitive disabilities. We’ve had a relationship with Gluckstein (Lawyers) for three years,” she told the Thorold News. “They help people with court and legal battles, but after that, they help empower people with disabilities. They know how important it is to engage people in recreation and sport.”

Maria Kenny Army still marching

Maria Kenny is still leaving her merry mark on Thorold.

Realizing how difficult Christmas can be for those who barely can afford to put food on the table, years ago, the former Monsignor Clancy school teacher decided to do something about it.

Following her death in 2014, her four children—Tim, John, Rhonda and Mike—picked up the torch and carried on the tradition started years ago, in memory of their mother—whose birthday falls within Christmas week. With their families, they celebrate the occasion by donating enough food to ensure that no Thorold family has to face the bleak prospect of being hungry during the holidays.

Affectionately known as “the Maria Kenny army” by Albert Ciamarra, a volunteer with the St. Vincent de Paul Society and the Knights of Columbus—the group collects contributions of cash from family and friends to buy food for families who have registered for help at Community Care. 

This year, 70 families received non-perishables of a wide range of food items and fresh produce, as well as vouchers for turkey or ham from the Knights of Columbus, and age-appropriate gifts for youth from the CWL, at Holy Rosary Hall.

Friends of Beaverdams receive powerful Christmas present

Ontario Power Generation’s mandate encompasses more than providing power.

And they proved it in December when Jessica Polak, VP of operations for south central OPG, came to Thorold and handed Friends of Beaverdams Church president David Cowan a cheque for $10,000 for the building’s siding.

Holiday PJ party in Port Robinson

Clad in colourful Christmas PJs, kids clamoured to sit on Santa’s knee.

He and Mrs. Claus listened to kids’ whispered wishes and handed out candy canes at the Port Robinson Community Centre, following a free holiday presentation from the Heartland Forest Puppets.

Volunteers—also decked out in their finest festive sleepwear—served milk and cookies, and helped kids make crafts to hang on the Christmas tree.

Council passes stiffer penalties for breaking bylaws

One brand new and three revised bylaws will make it easier for city staff to keep order and keep costs down, said Jason Simpson.

Thorold’s chief building official presented his case for making enforcement more efficient, as well as saving taxpayers’ money, at a December council meeting.

Beaverdams—beacon of hope

An annual food drive, festive carol sing and old-fashioned Christmas get-together took the chill off a cold Saturday in Beaverdams.

“It’s like a beacon of hope in the community,” Donna Cowan told the Thorold News at the Friends of Beaverdams Church’s annual holiday celebration. “How many communities have a building that’s been around for so long?”

“Nearly 200 years ago, people came and met and shared” at the rural church, Friends vice president Melanie Battell told the gathering in the rustic weathered pews.

“This heritage project will ensure that we enable them to continue for future generations.”

Politicians lead songs, stories at Library

Kids of all ages enjoyed a festive slant to story time at the Thorold Library, where Mayor Terry Ugulini and Niagara Centre MP Vance Badawey read beloved holiday tales. While listening to stories, kids sipped on hot chocolate and enjoyed cookies, handed out by the Friends of the Library.

Following story time, a special free screening of Toy Story 4 was shown in the Library.

Housing Forum to brainstorm local housing solutions

The Thorold Age-Friendly committee and the city are hosting a Housing Forum on Jan. 30, 2020 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Thorold Seniors Centre.

The event will feature developers, architects, planners, realtors, financial advisors, and Thorold city staff, as well as representatives from the Thorold Municipal Non-Profit Housing (TMNPH) and Niagara Regional Housing brainstorming solutions for better housing.

The forum will include presentations by CMHC, Life Leasing Initiatives and other housing programs, as well as roundtable discussions on housing alternatives and streamlining programs to make it easier to move through the city’s system.

Affordable housing, accessibility, and green initiatives will also be addressed, and how to incorporate those into our bylaws.