Tag: liberal government

    Closing casino Niagara comes with a hefty price

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    From the Niagara Falls Review:

    If the Liberal government decides to close Casino Niagara, it will likely cost them tens of millions of dollars.

    Canadian Niagara Hotels, which owns the building Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation leases for the original Niagara Falls casino, said Thursday the 15-year lease extension signed in 2010 has no early-exit clause.

    That means if Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty decides to shutter Casino Niagara, which opened in 1996, the government will still have to pay out the full cost of the lease, which expires in 2025.

    Ontario to loosen liquor laws

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    This isn’t directly Niagara Falls-related, but it will affect some different festivals that are held here, especially the big New Year’s Eve party.

    From the Niagara Falls Review:

    A beer outside a designated beer tent? An extra hour of drinking at a wedding reception? These new freedoms are just around the corner.

    Ontario has changed its alcohol laws in a move Premier Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government says will create jobs and strengthen the economy.

    Announced Friday, the relaxed restrictions kick in on June 1.

    Among the new rules, drinking will be allowed outside of beer tents at festivals and events.

    “Local communities are free to customize the events to their needs,” said a government news release.

    Booker ‘rattled’ by attack on credibility

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    From the Niagara Falls Review:

    Fay Booker says she’s “rattled” and disturbed by what she calls attempts to undermine her credibility as chairwoman of the Niagara Parks Commission at a time Ontario’s Liberal government is looking to her to fix historic problems and lead the agency in a new direction.

    She tackled head-on an anonymous e-mail sent to The Review suggesting she helped a friend get a contract as project manager with the commission, helped her former accounting firm secure a contract as its auditor and doubled the pay commissioners get.

    “I’ve never had my credibility undermined like this,” she said Wednesday. She is in Calgary on a teaching contract. She didn’t have time to cancel before Tourism Minister Michael Chan shook up the parks commission Monday by turfing one-third of its members.

    “What I’ve come to realize is we’ve got to resolve the past before we can address the future,” Booker said.

    Justify sole-source contract: MPP

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    From the Niagara Falls Review:

    Whatever information Niagara’s regional tourism organization used to justify an “exception” from the province’s ban on single-source contracts, it should be disclosed to the public to ensure public confidence in the agency, Niagara Falls MPP Kim Craitor says.

    “I think that the chairman of the board should explain to the media or to the public what they presented to the bureaucrats that convinced them this should be an exception,” Craitor said Th ursday.

    The first project by Niagara’s regional tourism organization — a body created last year by Ontario’s Liberal government to promote tourism — led to a controversy after it was revealed it commissioned Niagara Fallsbased Rev Publishing to produce a glossy $500,000 tourism magazine without putting it out to tender.

    “This is not a good way for it to start out,” said Craitor, who is also parliamentary assistant to Ontario Tourism Minister Michael Chan.

    Hudak also abandoned tourism

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    From the Niagara Falls Review:

    It’s ironic to hear Ontario Conservative Leader Tim Hudak accuse the Liberal government of “abandoning” tourism in Niagara Falls, but that’s politics.

    Hudak and Conservative tourism critic Ted Arnott blasted Liberal Tourism Minster Michael Chan for not visiting Niagara Falls since he became the provincial cabinet minister responsible for the industry in January.

    While Hudak met last week with business leaders from Niagara’s industry, Arnott emailed (for at least the third time) a press release saying “McGuinty Liberals abandon Niagara tourism.”

    But when it comes to abandoning Niagara, Hudak seems to have a short memory. In 1995, he was part of the Mike Harris government that scrapped plans to move the entire Ministry of Tourism headquarters to Queen Street, Niagara Falls from downtown Toronto.

    If the Tories had relocated the ministry office to the Honeymoon Capital from the provincial capital, every tourism minister would have visited Niagara Falls regularly to check in with the bureaucracy staff.

    New chairwoman at parks

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    From the Niagara Falls Review:

    Fay Booker, a Burlington business consultant who specializes in how corporations govern themselves, is expected to become the next chairwoman of the Niagara Parks Commission at a time the provincial agency is under scrutiny for the way it operates.

    Tour ism Minister Michael Chan’s office announced in a 5 p.m., news release the Ontario Liberal government nominated Booker to lead the $80-million-a-year agency responsible for preserving the area around the Horseshoe Falls and running its attractions. Chan was not available to comment, his office staff said.

    Booker, a chartered accountant, will fill the vacancy created by the abrupt December resignation of Jim Williams, who quit over a dispute with then-minister of tourism Monique Smith about how to handle an ongoing controversy surrounding its lease with the Maid of the Mist boat tour company.

    Ontario nearly ready for tenders on Maid of the Mist tour boats in Niagara Falls

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    From the Canadian Press (via Penticton Herald):

    Getting competitive bids for one of the world’s oldest and most famous tourist attractions – the Maid of the Mist boats in Niagara Falls – may not be as straight forward a proposal as the Ontario government hopes.

    The Niagara Parks Commission came under fire last year for giving the Maid of the Mist Steamboat Company an untendered, 25-year renewal on the contract to operate the boats that ferry tourists from both sides of the international border up to the thundering waterfalls.

    The commission’s timing couldn’t have been worse politically. The Liberal government was under siege because of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of untendered contracts given out by one of its agencies, eHealth Ontario.

    The province told the parks commission to review the decision to not to seek competitive bids, but the commission upheld the deal a second time. The government then cancelled the contract and ordered the NPC to put it out for tenders, a move that caught Maid of the Mist owner and existing lease-holder Chris Glynn off guard.

    No shakeup at the Parks

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    From the Niagara Falls Review:

    There are no plans to shake up the Niagara Parks Commission, Tourism Minister Monique Smith says.

    In an interview Tuesday, she brushed off a Conservative critic’s claim that replacing the whole board is the only way to restore public confidence in the government agency.

    “We have no intention of replacing the board,” Smith said about how the Liberal government is responding to 11 pages of recommendations in a report she requested looking into how the parks commission is run.

    The Niagara Parks Commission Governance Review called for “fundamental changes” in who is appointed to the parks commission and the process for appointing them.

    Smith, however, was not specific about how the Liberal government will handle that recommendation or when.

    “We’ll be working with the commission to determine the implementation,” she said.

    Tories raise questions about Maid of the Mist deal

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    From CTV Toronto:

    The controversy over a 25-year lease renewal for the Maid of the Mist tourist boats in Niagara Falls spilled into the Ontario legislature Monday, with the Opposition alleging political interference by the Liberal government.

    The Niagara Parks Commission decided to extend the lease with the American operators of the tour boats, the Maid of the Mist Steamboat Company, without putting it out for competitive bids, prompting a lawsuit and an investigation by Ontario’s integrity commissioner.

    The Liberals are already under fire over millions of dollars in untendered contracts awarded by eHealth Ontario and shouldn’t be approving this one, said Progressive Conservative critic Bob Runciman.

    Minister lukewarm on city’s Parks plan

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    From the Niagara Falls Review:

    The Ontario government isn’t in a hurry to act on free advice from Niagara Falls council about how the Niagara Parks Commission should run.

    Tourism Minister Monique Smith confirmed her staff received a July 9 letter from city hall that outlines a resolution councillors passed calling for openness at the Niagara Parks Commission.

    Council suggested the Liberal government amend the Niagara Parks Act to allow the four Niagara Parks Commissioners who are also municipal politicians to report back to their councils about parks business.

    “The resolution has been received by my staff. It will be taken into consideration,” Smith said in an interview with The Niagara Falls Review this week.

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