Merritton Canal News

Ignatieff would designate canals

Federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff is courting future St. Catharines voters with a promise to recognize their past.
The Opposition leader pledged a Liberal government's support -- and maybe federal cash -- toward a historic designation of the region's old and new Welland Canals.
After the election-style Liberal Express tour rolled into Merritton Friday, Ignatieff told a packed seniors centre about his visit to parts of the current and remnant canals in St. Catharines with local historians.
"What they're saying is, 'designate this as a national historic site.' You bet we will," he said to cheers and applause. "This is a good project."
For years, canal advocates and municipal politicians have been angling for a "heritage corridor" designation for all three remnant canals plus the current, operating industrial waterway. Proponents hope to use the federal recognition as a springboard for canal cleanup, new tourism and development.

Group will push for canals designation

Niagara Region is building a new team to push for a heritage designation for the area's historic canals mainly in Merritton.
Regional council approved the creation of a Welland Canal working group Thursday to act as "a champion" for the federal designation of a canals "corridor."
St. Catharines Regional Coun. Bruce Timms, a longtime advocate for official recognition of the area's canal history, said the new group provides "a home" within government for the wide-ranging effort.
"I think this should be a great help. Everybody wants to be on board," he said of the committee, which will feature about 10 members from council, local municipalities, heritage groups and the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. "It's a very popular project and I think this is just going to increase support and give us a focus going forward."
The ultimate goal is to win a long-awaited thumbs-up from the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, which makes recommendations to the minister of the environment on new federal heritage designations.
In the past, board staff have suggested the best way to earn a designation for Niagara's remnant canals is to recognize both the three older incarnations and the current, working waterway in a "heritage corridor." That's why Timms said "job one" will be talking with the Seaway about how to craft a heritage designation that doesn't interfere with the day-to-day operations of a functioning industrial waterway.
"It's a work in progress, but I think we're closing in on ironing out those details so the Seaway can be comfortable," Timms said.
Another goal of the committee will be to "map out" exactly which sections of the old canals in each municipality deserve heritage protection. The best places for development and refurbishment in the region are in Merritton from Westchester to Townline where there are no less than 16 relatively intact locks of the Second Welland Canal.

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