Niagara Falls Mayor says crowds at Falls were not that bad
Niagara politicians are disagreeing about the crowds that gathered at the Falls this Victoria Day weekend.
Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates says he has spoken to the Niagara Parks Commission and various local Mayors.
He says public safety is paramount and now is not the time for people to be travelling to Niagara Falls.
Gates is urging people to stay home and plans to bring the issue up at Queens Park this week.
Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati, however, feels differently.
"You've got thousands of cars coming down the QEW and they got to go somewhere, so we're asking them to practise safe visiting."
Diodati disputed the pictures circulating on social media showing long lineups of people on Saturday to use a bathroom and an apparent lack of physical distancing.
He says he was down at the Falls for several hours Saturday and all the people he observed were doing a good job at maintaining physical distancing.
“It wasn't nearly as bad as those pictures and some of those videos portrayed.”
Diodati says he held discussions with the NPC about options to stem the number of visitors into the park, however, shutting down the parkway, closing parking lots and cutting off bathroom access were found not to be viable options.
"We'd have thousands of cars in residential areas, we'd have thousands of cars parking illegally and we did close the bathrooms and found people were publicly defecating, which leads to another health problem.”
Diodati believes the Niagara Parks Commission has done a good job at discouraging people from coming and are now just trying to make things safe.
Those who don't abide by the protocols set out by our health professionals should be ticketed, the Mayor said.
"The province pivoted about a week ago. They stopped saying 'stay home'. Now, they say keep your physical distance, if you can't wear a face covering and wash your hands regularly. That's the new direction. That’s phase one of what's happening and people need to get used to that."
St. Catharines Liberal MP Chris Bittle posted his concerns on Twitter this morning.
Bittle says it's imperative that the Niagara Parks work with Niagara Region Public Health to develop a plan to ensure the safety of visitors and residents.
The Neil Peart Pavilion at Lakeside Park in Port Dalhousie