Friday, April 27, 2012

WATER – 'Waste Not Want Not'

Thousands have lived without love, not one without water,” these words by W.H. Audens ring more true than most. News coming from England only days ago sound an alarming trend. Officially England has declared drought conditions, yet we have not even reached the end of Spring. Ireland has announced penalties for ignoring water restrictions, unheard of for the British Isles in the past. We are familiar with such restrictions in California and Australia, but to hear of such water shortages in England must raise serious questions.

There will be those who take this opportunity to predict visions of doom and raise the spectre of climate change and its disastrous effects on our Earth. Issues relating to climate change cannot be ignored, we have seen enough evidence to confirm that fact and now with such drastic water shortages facing a part of the world that rarely has seen anything like this in the past has to sound alarm bells indeed.

Here in Canada we have one of the largest fresh water sources in the world in the Great Lakes. Our governments, scientists and environmentalists all know that it is not a never ending supply replenishing itself. The volume of our daily needs far surpasses the natural resources of fresh water that replenish our Great Lakes. Water conservation is important in particular as our population grows, and so do our needs for water. Many governments throughout the country took the time to promote water conservation to the community. In the Niagara area this program worked so well that the conservation by the public has now raised a new problem for local government. We are in fact using much less municipal water and revenue shortfalls have provided new problems. Still the conservation of water is of the utmost importance, even over revenue issues, and if that rings true then I have to ask one serious question. How was this possible?

The Regional Municipality of Niagara sent out a crew on two separate days, April 17th and 18th 2012, to wash down the sidewalks of a regional road. Thousands of gallons of water came streaming through the hose simply to wash the concrete sidewalks. Premier Dalton McGuinty and Environment Minister Jim Bradley are touting their proposed plan and forthcoming legislation to protect the lakes, what could their response be to such insane waste?

For several years the governments on both municipal and provincial levels had spent a great deal of time to promote a message of conservation. Our water usage was becoming wasteful. We as Canadians can take a while before the penny drops (what's going to happen when the penny is no longer in circulation?), but we began to conserve. In fact we have conserved so well that now the municipalities are experiencing revenue shortfalls. As human beings, and the politicians are still human I think, we always look to shift the blame somewhere - that somewhere has turned out to be the bottled water companies and bottled water.

Municipalities began banning bottled water from areas they controlled, such as municipal buildings. This was not just a Canadian phenomenon alone as equal fever hit across the border in the U.S. Naturally questions always remained, how was it possible to stop any municipal employee from bringing in a bottle of water? Council of Canadians hurled their diva Maude Barlow in on the side of municipal water usage. Barlow who has authored several books on the issues of the importance of our fresh water became a spokesperson. No one can disagree with Maude Barlow that the Great Lakes are our most precious resource and that there are many parts of the world that struggle to satisfy the needs of their people for this most basic requirement to sustain life.

Banning the sale of bottled water from municipal buildings is far from democratic but that seems to escape Maude Barlow and the Council of Canadians. Is the ban to protect in anyway the public's health? No, the only motivation stems from dollars and cents. There have been claims that the bottling companies are robbing our watersheds. Something much more difficult to sell with the publication of these photographs of municipal staff washing down concrete sidewalks.

Then what is the real reason for the hysterical lashing of bottled water? Now Maude Barlow, the Council of Canadians and Sid Ryan Ontario CUPE President have joined forces to ban the sale of bottled water from our schools. Maybe it's a new way to teach our young what freedom of choice really means, or simply to have the young drink more pop and juice high with sugar for a healthy young body.

Maude Barlow still sings the song about the fossil fuels needed to deliver bottled water. I would presume that the delivery of beer to the beer stores is then not a concern to Barlow, maybe someone should ask Maude Barlow what she drives or how many vehicles in her family. Another point raised by Barlow and Sid Ryan of CUPE is the fact that plastic bottles are jamming our landfills. Yet most of our municipalities comment on the increase of recycling by the public. Not to forget that water bottles are not the only plastic bottles finding their way to landfill. What of the energy drinks or pop? Convenient to leave out facts as long as it suits your needs.

As far as recycling of plastic bottles stands the Regional Municipality of Niagara was in fact caught in a lie to the people of Niagara. In September of 2010 the Regional Chairman at the time, Peter Partington was notified and a solution was reached. A copy of his letter dated September 27th 2010 is posted. Not withstanding this rather embarrassing blunder, recycling has proven to be a winner with the public. Municipalities are reaping the rewards financially and the number of plastic bottles reaching landfills greatly reduced. I would challenge Maude Barlow or Sid Ryan to walk through a mall food court and examine how many water bottles are thrown into waste bins in comparison to other plastic bottles.

An article titled 'Politics of Bottled Water-Free Day' by John Challinor as guest columnist for the Toronto Sun first posted March 14th 2012, raises an interesting point. Challinor says, “CUPE fears if consumers drink more bottled water, they will consume less tap water. The public sector union believes such a trend will lead to reduced employment of its members, who operate most municipal water treatment facilities across Canada.” Can it be that the motivation is more self-serving on the part of CUPE? I'll quote another CUPE President, Fred Hahn from a letter sent to me, “CUPE is committed to representing our members and part of this representation includes our steadfast commitment to ensuring our members are able to do their jobs...”(This letter was dated April 4th 2012).

Whether or not an individual decides to choose a bottle of water or tap water it should be their decision alone. It is not up to Maude Barlow, the Council of Canadians or Sid Ryan and CUPE to orchestrate bans and the removal of free choice. Yet they are, and their explanations nothing more than a farce to hide the truth. Both Barlow and Ryan extol the qualities of municipal tap water, all of which is supplied by Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. Current Minister for the Environment Jim Bradley had this to say on March 12th 2012 after the meeting of mayors of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative: “As Ontarians, we are fortunate to be stewards of the Great Lakes – the largest freshwater resource in the world.” I can see Maude Barlow nodding her head in agreement with an 'I told you so' look on her face.

True the Great Lakes are a national and international treasure, but as stewards Minister Jim Bradley and the Dalton McGuinty government have been nothing more than liars and hypocrites. Look at the material and hard evidence provided on no ad LIB and then shake your head in disbelief. I would challenge both Jim Bradley and Dalton McGuinty to publicly answer my questions on these issues, but both will run from such an opportunity.

The current elected Chairperson and Director of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative is Mayor Brian McMullan and a close personal pal of Minister Jim Bradley. Now examine Mayor Brian McMullan's track record as an environmentalist claiming the right as head of the stewards of the “largest freshwater resource in the world.” In 2006/2007 the pumping of an estimated half a million gallons of mercury contaminated water directly into a storm water run-off sewer, our storm water run-off sewers empty directly into Lake Ontario. This was from a development on Glendale Ave in St. Catharines. The local MOE after almost two years of investigation said to disregard the test results as the tests were interfered with in the lab. That is a fact and I have it in writing from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment!

Now the same development site in 2007, the dumping of over 5000 tonnes of heavily soaked soil with mercury, lead, arsenic and copper at the Station Road Landfill in Wainfleet, Ontario only minutes physically from Lake Erie. Wainfleet's mayor is a member of of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, and it was the Regional Municipality of Niagara that approved this.

Back to the Glendale Avenue area in St. Catharines, the pumping of water with a rainbow on the surface, a clear indicator of an oil or petroleum effluent. This water was pumped over several days directly into a storm water run-off sewer, photographs and independent lab tests were made available. Local MOE did nothing! Then again at the Glendale Ave. Site, next to an established restaurant, an excavation with water green as puss with the rainbow visible. Again pumps and a car park storm water run-off sewer, and again independent test results that were alarming.

True all of this occurred under the McGuinty Environment Ministers: Broten, Gerretsen and Wilkinson, though still under the watch of Mayor Brian McMullan, our head steward. A letter signed by Mayor Brian McMullan even states that the city was cooperating with the MOE in their investigation. But let's mot leave out our current Minister for the Environment and elected representative of the St. Catharines riding, Minister Jim Bradley. Dalton McGuinty's chief salesman has ignored several attempts at communication with him over an issue detailed in the article, 'When Is Orange Water Not Kool-Aid?' Orange water has been discharging through a drainage ditch connected to a storm water run-off sewer, in the open environment behind an auto collision business. This auto collision business has had three separate investigations on environmental grounds approved by the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario in a little over two years.

Enough lies and hypocrisy, Minister Bradley has ignored the very people who elected him. Our head steward Mayor Brian McMullan as always says nothing, though what could he. Maude Barlow and Sid Ryan will continue their roadshow. In the end it is up to the people to change, yet will they? Across the road from my home a neighbour annually takes his hose and empties his pool water directly into a storm water run-off sewer. There is a reason why this individual won't empty that water onto his grass as it will burn it yellow. There is enough scientific evidence on the harmful effects of chlorine. An experienced designer of pools for fashionable clientele such as Sir Richard Branson, Aric Entwistle owner of H2O Developments said this when asked, do you use chlorine? Answer, “No. It's harmful to the body's immune system and bad for the environment.” (Elle Decor Magazine May 2012 #185). The Niagara Region's Enforcement Officer said this to me over the phone, “we don't bother to enforce as so many do it.”

In the end to see an employee of a municipality hose down concrete sidewalks may pale in comparison to these issues, yet it should make anyone viewing this image angry as hell. Whoever approved this insanity at Region should not be permitted to make another decision again. Only three days after this hosing of the sidewalks we have had heavy rainfall lasting more than three days, the waste only more apparent and shocking. 

Bob Steele, Environmental Coordinator at Niagara Region in a media release of July 2007 had this to say, “Dry sweep decks and driveways instead of using a hose to help minimize water usage.” What has Mayor McMullan to say as the head of stewards and a member of regional council?

It is truly up to us the people in all the communities across Ontario, Canada, and further a field to care, for we are the stewards. Our children and grandchildren have to believe that their future is worth consideration by those who express love for them. Images of such waste have to anger us and it is up to us to question such actions loudly.

Send comments to: 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

EARTH IS NOT A SOCCER BALL - so stop kicking it around

What has Earth Day really become now? At this time in man's history we stand enlightened more than ever of the potential dangers our earth faces. Humanity has matured, we have identified a history of abuse unwittingly committed in the name of development. Our history has such subheadings as the Industrial Revolution, The Space Age, The Nuclear Age and now the world of wonder with computers and the internet. We do like subheadings it seems to put an order to things, even history. Art together with historical photographs depict the Industrial Age as dirty with chimney stacks spewing out black smoke. Monkeys in space suits looked cute and The Space Age brought science fiction into reality, now Jules Verne and Isaac Asimov no longer taken as kooks but as visionaries.

Together with the shining space suits came the promise of discovery and hand in hand The Nuclear Age. Although its images of the horrors of detonation and human destruction have been put aside, still the uncertainty lingers around nuclear reactors. Japan has shown us how vulnerable we are without a despot's finger on the proverbial button. Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and their ilk have taken humanity and thrown it into the washing machine, and we have indeed shrunk. Communication now only takes seconds from one corner of the earth to the other, information stored on computer chips and retrievable within nanoseconds rather than a room of filing cabinets. Entertainment in all shapes and forms opening doorways to unstoppable imagination. Yet at what cost has man's maturity affected our planet and our environment?

Unlike our material goods, even our newest technology, our earth cannot be replaced. Countries that had remained in the dark whilst others developed now want their share of the promised better life. China now has the chimneys and it is spewing out the horrors at an incredible state, so much so that they have the top place in the world for carbon emissions, beating out the most developed country in the world, the United States. Japan who suffered the wrath of the developing nuclear age with unforeseen human devastation decided that money spent on maintenance for a nuclear power plant was best utilized elsewhere. The result will remain as part of human history and the true magnitude of the effects still to be discovered. It is enough to say that Japan will suffer for many more years and the rest of us wait for the 'fall out'.

Our maturity as a race of beings eager to discover, even risk life and death for that thrill has also lead to an addiction that puts it all on the line. The fist combustion engine brought with it now only freedom but also slavery to last dozens of decades, without an end in sight. Travel is becoming faster, more efficient and comfortable. To satisfy this insatiable need man drills anywhere for oil, whether the desert sands or the rolling oceans. Oil has become an enormous wealth maker for an individual or country. Wealth commands power and humanity's lust for both is infinite.

As we have matured we have come to understand that our planet has limitations and many of our natural resources may be depleted. What we thought as a never ending blanket of protection that earth was wrapped in has proven to be fragile, even at risk to breaking down. Certain gasses that we emit through our daily routines damage our protective blanket and the result has been clear with polar ice caps melting, strange climactic shifts in temperatures, even the air that we took for granted can be dangerous to breathe. Our addiction to oil and the need to produce more and more of it comes at a price. Production of oil requires a great deal of energy output and this huge energy output produces carbon emissions that damage the earth's ozone layer, creating climate change.

There are those who attempt to fight this, they do so with knowledge and research, and many in the environmental field understand the potential threat before us. The opposition claims that it is all a hoax, that the earth simply has its own maturing cycle and nothing more. As one reporter Lorrie Goldstein wrote that there was a time in New York City when horse drawn carriages were the only means of transportation and the excrement left by the horses created serious health risks. The same reporter claimed that with the advent of the horseless carriage not only New Yorkers but people all over the world were able to breathe easy. With the massive growth of numbers of the horseless carriage and our addiction to its convenience, air quality has diminished to a point where warnings are needed to safeguard the population against possible health risks, even death. Is this a sign of development or simply an exchange of one dilemma for even a greater one?

Planet Earth is truly resilient and it has weathered and endured many changes through millions of years. None more challenging than man's development and maturity. We have taken and continue to take a great deal from it. Now is the time to come to a realization that we must give back, that we must protect our Earth. If we do not it may be possible that it will not be able to sustain us any longer. As each generation follows another we are responsible for what we leave behind for the next. That has become more apparent now then ever before. Drawing lines in the sand between environmentalists and government is not the solution. Working together has to be the only productive course to take.

Quite seriously we have no real or viable alternative to oil. If we were to appease the hard core environmentalists and cease all production our civilization would simply grind to a halt. That is reality and no one can escape it at this time. People themselves need to want to change and if we can't find a way to lead them to that desire then we only face the potential of disaster. When electric vehicles began production and found a place in auto dealership showrooms many hailed it as the dawn of a new era, an environmental win. Reality came crashing down and one vehicle has been dropped from production in North America from poor sales. The sales volume of the few others left is not too promising either.

The business of environment has become just that, big business and selling the earth for its 'own good' has become a gimmick. Whether it is Earth Day, Earth Hour or Water Day the general public care little. To the public all of this is no less commercial than Christmas or the Easter Bunny. How can we find a doorway that can bring those who can make a difference into the same space, to understand colour-coded recycling bins is not really enough to make a difference. This is not an easy dilemma to overcome as a recent study in the US showed that more of our young feel helpless in being able to make a change for the future. At the same time simply look at the parking areas of high schools and count the number of cars driven by students. A more alarming question is, who really wants to make a change?

Environmentalists push the same rhetoric which in itself is loosing the general public's attention. Those in this field who have media access and attention are run like any business, even though their status is of a non-profit nature. Raising money whether through campaigns aimed at the public, government grants or grants from charitable foundations, one motivation remains equal to all, the need for more money. Too many of these big environmental groups have forgotten the reason why they began this work. Their voices are now used to attempt to influence politics and at times to simply become an obstacle to development without logic or a willingness to compromise. Lately we have seen an escalation in what can only push the public further away from listening to environmental concerns than ever before.

Canada is standing in a potential position of becoming a real world power with its tar sands. No longer simply the best friend to the world, who was trusted as a peacekeeper or as an adviser. Now we have the third largest reserve of oil that brings with it immense wealth and power. As Canada looks at developing and selling its tar sands oil, the world prepares for potentially increasing disaster, CLIMATE CHANGE. It is an issue that must concern all whether here on the North American continent or across the world in China. Developing Alberta's tar sands oil will undoubtedly bring immense wealth, but it will also push our earth further into a precarious position. The tar sands require a massive output of energy to be developed, that in turn releases huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. All of us now fully understand that the fall out of Japan's horrendous nuclear accident will have repercussions around the globe. Whatever we do in Canada's development of the tar sands will be felt the world over as a corresponding affect on climate change, there is no escape of that fact.

Still the tar sands will be developed, there is no question about it. Our insatiable need for oil has no end. China is claiming the right to develop its economy as did the West in the past. The United States' addiction to oil is evident in each and every corner of the nation. Families can't survive without two cars now, even with gas prices rising to record levels, food budgets are more likely to be trimmed to permit the four wheels to keep on rolling. Canada is not far behind with those kinds of attitudes, I simply look at my 70 plus year old neighbour across the road. He gets into his red truck four times a day, every day, to simply ride to the convenience store to buy his peeling lottery tickets.

Sadly there is a realty that none of us can escape, regardless of whether we call ourselves environmentalists or not, our addiction to oil is completely consuming. Whether it is the oil fields of the Middle East or South America, whether it is the offshore drilling of our oceans, or the potentially disastrous development of Alberta's tar sands, we need oil. There is no real or viable alternative, and without the oil the world would simply grind to a halt, and my neighbour across the road would miss out on his little peeling lottery tickets.

So do we accept all the current rhetoric about the horrors of the tar sands and face the inevitable end? That is what many of the big environmentalists are pushing, even the 'father' of climate change Ian Hansen said the development of the tar sands would mean “game over” for climate change. The answer is simply no, this is not true. Yes the tar sands are a threat to our earth and to our environment, but not the only threat we face. It is possible to do so much more than just look for headlines in the press for the newest warnings at how the environment will suffer because of the tar sands.

In Canada and the US we have a natural wonder with a supply of fresh water that makes many in the world envious. Yet it is not ever ending, nor is it magical, constantly replenishing itself. It is our responsibility to protect our lakes and to find ways to ensure that contamination is reduced, at whatever cost. Simply take note of the water bans that have been announced in England, or the rationing of water use in California throughout summer, to understand the true value of this wealth that we possess. As human beings it is our nature to take for granted what we should value.

In the end the question lingers, what is EARTH DAY? Is it only another advertising executive's brainchild, designed for some unknown purpose? Are people fed up with all the demonstrations and speeches fighting the tar sands? How does Earth Day impact anyone anywhere, did it really have any impact from the beginning? No definitive answer can be reached, though a great deal of opinion and supposition mixed with emotion will be bounced around. Those big environmentalists who hang out a shingle and pass around the collection plate all sing the same song, that discussion and awareness are the key, and then ask for a 'small contribution'. Yet empty words are simply recycled sounds polluting the air.

Harsh as these sentiments may sound but discussion and awareness without action is simply a patronizing gesture. People make the real difference even against insurmountable odds, that too has been the history of man. If only a few in each town across each country change what they do, then Earth Day is a success.

An on-line conversation through Facebook that I had with a gentleman who began his stand with a totally opposing position to what I said, changed to exemplify the real potential in a struggle to protect our combined future. Mr. John Rebelo of British Columbia had his opinions of the tar sands, even of the resilience of the Earth to weather changes through the millennia, yet agreed that there is much we can do to protect our future and our environment. The last words in our conversation were John Rebelo's: “You are welcome Alexander, I SINCERELY MEANT what I said. The environment is NOT an infinite provider of wealth and well being. WE MUST care for it and treat it with utmost respect or else it will fail us! Because we all have different ideas we'll never reach a consensus but let's keep the dialogue going and find a way to do what's right!”

John Rebelo was correct we are all different with varying motivations for what we do, and a true consensus is extremely difficult to achieve. Yet to accept the fact that our environment is not the “infinite provider of wealth and well being” then we have room to develop the necessities of life such as oil (and we need to be honest enough to admit oil is a necessity at this time in our history), and reduce its impact on our Earth, our future. There are so many more avenues available for us and our government's to take real action to protect our environment. Perhaps Earth Day indeed has a purpose that is more than an empty greeting quickly forgotten as the sounds of the words dissipate in the air.

Send comments to: 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Charter of Rights Obliterated by Corruption

April 17th 2012, the 30th Anniversary of a great document, our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We in Canada did not have to survive the bloodshed of a revolution to enable us to prepare such a document as our neighbours the Americans had to with their Constitution. Canada had developed and grown for many decades prior to the drafting of a document that guarantees all Canadians regardless of race, religion, gender or even place of origin the identical rights and freedoms.

To commemorate this great document this article raises hard questions on how such a set of circumstances could possibly evolve in Canada. 

In Toronto a City Councillor had been angered by individuals who are able to side step a law that everybody has to obey, it is in relation to illegal parking. Vehicles without plates cannot be ticketed and Councillor Frances Nunziata believes that these vehicles should simply be towed. As owners of vehicles we all know that we have to obey certain parking laws. We cannot simply stop our vehicle where we decide regardless if it is an old clunker or a Ferrari. True as human beings we are somewhat risk takers, if you need confirmation of this point just think of election day, for whatever reason we will park where we should not on occasion. We hurry and hope that the dreaded 'bomber' doesn't leave a gift on our wind shield.

To become a licensed driver in Ontario each must pass a test, know the various laws and be able to read what the road signs mean. Dare I say it is the same in every province of this country even Quebec, though the reading part may be a challenge to some of us. Still the government, on its various levels, does like the fact that so many of us challenge the scales of chance, taking the risk and having to pay for it. After all various road repair budgets would otherwise remain rather thin, not to mention how many jobs would be left unnecessary such as the Parking Patrol Officers.

These individuals who chose to wear the uniform of a Parking Patrol Officer do not take their job and authority lightly. All of the enforcement officers are governed by the Ontario Police Services Act. Each one not only wears a uniform, but is expected under law to enforce the rules equally and fairly. If you were to talk to a parking enforcement officer you would hear stories both wild and alarming. Some have faced anger and even the threat of violence. Others have been offered all kinds of bribes, or should we call them gifts. We have even heard of the wild rumours of quotas and the need to fulfil at all cost. One thing is common to all, whether from Toronto, Hamilton or St. Catharines or for that matter any part of the province, each Parking Authority By-Law Enforcement Officer swears an oath and is responsible for the fair and equitable enforcement of our parking laws.

Now I have to ask you can it be possible to park illegally for over five years, with full intent and purpose to break the law and never be ticketed? Mind you I am not talking about random locations but exactly at the same location each time, and almost every day. At times leaving the vehicle locked, parked illegally and disappearing to the cottage or wherever. You will say that it is impossible, maybe even remembering how many parking tickets you have had to pay in those five years.

This was parked in front of my home for my wife and children to see from late in the afternoon till mid the next morning. Clearly this was meant as a threat as we continued to document the intentional abuse of the law. 

Ezra Levant who on behalf of our fearless oil developer Prime Minister Stephen Harper claimed in his tome 'Ethical Oil' that Canada is a country of equality. Indeed we do have the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that supposedly guarantees equality for all Canadians before and under the law. It does not stipulate that it applies only to the big laws but to all laws. Realistically we know that there are people who are more equal than others, it is called an overabundance of dollars or the right connections. For that reason we have a judicial system of fair and impartial judges and magistrates and so on. Ezra Levant stressed that here in Canada we have equality that extends to women, children and all Canadians more so than in other countries. Well I am about to prove to Ezra Levant, Prime Minister Harper, his ministers Kent, Oliver and to you that here in St. Catharines, in at least this situation, that equality is an absolute lie! Don't get me wrong I am very proud of my country and for that reason this has to be made public and questions raised, how was this possible?

What you are about to see rates right up there in the Ripley's Believe It Or Not files or maybe even the X-Files, and the truth really is out there. One individual, oh and his wife (heck don't forget our equality of women) decided to intentionally break the law, day after day for over five years. This individual and his wife did not care if they put innocent victims at risk with their acts. They did not care if they put their neighbours at risk, nor did they care for the laws that govern all of us equally.

Their address was 51 Almond Street, St. Catharines, in the Merritton Ward, at the intersection of Glendale Avenue and Almond Street and I do mean right at the intersection. Glendale Avenue is a busy major road in this part of town, leading to the highway, the Welland Canal and the Locks and the amazing shopping mecca the Pen Centre. More alarming was the fact that an elected City of St. Catharines Councillor Shiela Morra lived across the road, literally that is, on Glendale Avenue and was a personal friend of the Reiters. Mind you Shiela Morra a City of St. Catharines Councillor, one of two for the Merritton Ward must not of shared the sentiments of the Toronto Councillor. In addition to Mrs. Morra living across the road, the City of St. Catharines was aware of the actions by the Reiters, from the Mayor through to City Solicitor, Parking Authority and even the Niagara Regional Police Service. Oh and not to forget the second Merritton Ward City of St. Catharines Councillor Jennie Stevens, she was also aware of the situation. Now you have all met Councillor Jennie Stevens in the pages of Mayorgate and the now famous telephone answering machine message, though that came later.

As all the official people of the City of St. Catharines were made aware of this so was the local press, in the form of The Standard newspaper and reporter Marlene Bergsma. Again you have met The Standard's reporter Marlene Bergsma in the pages of Mayorgate.

How can this be possible, and I would challenge anyone who reads this for an explanation. More than 500 photographs had been taken and sent to city officials and the police. As we all know in any city, town or village the police ticket those who decide to break the law and park illegally. A small number of the photographs are posted here, but all are available for anyone to view on Google+.

The first two photographs are to show the no parking sign and that it affects only the front of 53 Almond and not the Reiter's home. The Hardale truck with trailer attached fully loaded was parked illegally at 4:45 pm and left through the night till 7:30 am the next morning, when it was taken out back to the parking area and unhitched. 

The chronology begins in 2003 with the first photos taken, and continued through to 2010. This intersection at Glendale Avenue and Almond Street was a difficult one, with Glendale being a busy major road and yet the intersection on a curve in part, a blind one. No proper signs, with the stop sign some 20 feet down from the intersection. John Reiter and his wife Linda would park their vehicles on the curve making it more difficult for cars to enter Glendale Avenue from Almond Street. Reiter worked at the time for Hardale Properties and drove a white extended F150 van with a large trailer attached for his ride-on mowers and other equipment. On one occasion a young woman in a small vehicle unable to see on-coming traffic, because of the van and trailer, almost collided with a dump truck. That was the beginning of hell and abuse of public safety that can only astonish. The first photos here show the intersection and the vehicles parked. As the photos were taken Reiter called the police. An NRP (Niagara Regional Police) officer came. He told us that he knew this guy was an ass but that he had no laws to enforce here. Probably because this officer was unfamiliar with the official drivers handbook and rules regarding parking on a curve. The officer told us to get the law changed and he would enforce them. Wow get the laws changed, how could we do that. So we wrote the City, Niagara Region and provincial representatives.

John Reiter and Linda Reiter continued to park both the work truck and personal vehicle illegally without any consequence or concern for the law. Top left you can see how much respect there was for the laws that we all obey, during a heavy snowfall he simply shovelled the snow into the middle of the road regardless of the risks it could pose to motorists.  

As luck would have it 2003 was an election year, and we all know politicians, they'll do anything at election time. With great surprise only days before the October election we were notified by the mayor at that time Tim Rigby that a no parking sign would be erected and the stop sign moved to the corner. A day before the election we even had a visit from Regional Councillor Jamie Almas who told us this had to be the second worst intersection in St. Catharines, as a potential risk for an accident.

On election day 2003, a no parking sign was erected. It only affected the front yard of 53 Almond Street, not that of Reiter or his house. It was to provide safety to the corner and no more. We thought that would be all that was needed, but oh how wrong we were. It was the beginning to insanity that lasted years. Reiter arrived home, parked his truck half way across the sign, laughed and spat, and from that day on was never legal again.

Even in heavy snow conditions John Reiter would park his work truck illegally obstructing the intersection for any motorist, his wife Linda Reiter would park the family vehicle illegally even when clearly there was ample space in front of her. 

As it has been said in the opening, we all know how it can be, no available parking spot, you are in a hurry and you decide to take a chance. Here one individual and his wife, in front of their own home with a large parking area in the back, intentionally parked their vehicles day after day for years and could not care for the safety of innocent people. The City, law enforcement did nothing. How is this possible? Look at the photos and the information and answer this for yourself.

Each day John Reiter would park his truck, many times with the trailer attached illegally with full intent. That NRP officer only another liar as we came to prove. I began to photograph and record reach day. John Reiter saw me photograph the illegally parked Hardale truck and as I walked back to my porch he laughed and said, take all the pictures you want, ha ha ha.I recoded Reiter and his contempt then took his advise and photographed for over six years. Sheila Morra, a city councillor lived across the road and watched. Neighbours watched, some shook their heads, others didn't even bother to do that. I wrote Sheila Morra, (not knowing at the time she lived across the road), at the Merritton Matters Newsletter. No response, no reply. I wrote Mayor Tim Rigby sending copies of photographs of the intentional illegal parking. Reiter then called the police.

John Reiter would park his work truck illegally day after day, no understandable reason and without consequence. At times there would be several hundred metres of parking space in front of him, he would not give a damn. His wife Linda Reiter parked the family vehicle at approximately 9:00 pm on February 1st 2006 and left it till 9:30 am the next morning. 

The NRP officers who came were beyond belief. One could not understand what was the big deal with the fact that Reiter and his wife parked illegally. At the time Mayor Tim Rigby responded with this, “We cannot post a Parking Enforcement Officer permanently on Almond Street.” It would appear that an elected councillor living across the road and the roving parking enforcement patrols were not enough. Mayor Rigby went on to say “As I indicated in the past, calls will be addressed according to officer discretion.” What the hell did that mean? How foolish of anyone to think that the law was in fact enforced equally to all and not simply at an “officer discretion.”

Now more than two years have passed the intentional illegal parking by John Reiter and his wife Linda continued. Several hundred photographs collected. Every attempt to get help that was possible had been tried. There were times when the work truck owned by Hardale Properties would be parked illegally and left for several days in the same position. The law didn't matter to John Reiter nor his wife Linda, nor the potential safety of innocent individuals who used this corner. The Manager of Transportation Services, Kris Jacobson advised Mayor Tim Rigby “that the parking of vehicles in this area creates a sight obstruction for motorists using the intersection.” Yet the insanity continued.

The insanity by John Reiter continued for several years without any consequence at all. Here a fully loaded trailer was parked at 5:00 pm and then taken out back to Chestnut Lane at 8:00 am and unloaded. The danger to motorists overnight with this illegally parked trailer astonishing. He then followed this up with a new load and equally parked overnight illegally.  

We continued to photograph believing that in the end somehow the evidence gathered would be overwhelming. John Reiter then called the NRP again. The uniformed cops who came were recorded by me. What they said can make you laugh at the insane words and attitudes of these bastions of law enforcement. This is a quote from one such officer “...the parking is to find out what precedent has been set in St. Catharines court as to what constitutes an offence.” Wow! I guess a sign on the street is not enough. Now this, “And we have now started to receive calls from him now that he is complaining being harassed by a, by constant attention from the neighbours so we have to be fair to everybody.” What a wonderful and fair human being in uniform this was! It's true the cop really said this, I have the tape!

It went on, “so what we're saying is we may not be able to respond to each and every parking complaint that comes our way because we have to direct our resources elsewhere and now the next door neighbour is starting to complain that he is being criminally harassed by this constant attention, he may have something there, he may and in which case ah, we would definitely be required to investigate those complaints so we may be knocking on the door and say, listen he is complaining of this now.” Here it is, law enforcement NRP style! The guy who breaks the law intentionally almost every day is the one who complains of harassment when he is recorded breaking the law. Hundreds of photos didn't matter to these cops.

Road work in 2006 provided greater risk to motorists yet John Reiter cared very little. He would park his work truck trailer attached at times four feet from the side walk almost into the middle of Almond Street. The last photo here is after the intersection had been changed both the family vehicle in front of the Hardale truck and the Hardale truck itself obstructing the intersection, once again without consequence. 

The insanity continued daily, then on Sunday the 30th of October 2005 an illegally parked red Chevrolet Z24 plate#AWNX 900 was ticketed by the Parking Authority. Reiter came out of his house, took the parking ticket off the windshield and walked up and down Almond Street waving it in the air and laughing.

The municipal elections of 2006 brought a change, Mayor Rigby was no longer the mayor and Sheila Morra no longer a Merritton Councillor. Morra continued to live across the road and the association with the Reiters continued. Councillor Jennie Stevens was returned to council, though she never returned to find out if the law was being broken continually, no attempt at contact by me received a response. All remained the same, day in and day out the Reiters broke the law. Calling Parking Authority was useless. The NRP threatened my wife and I that if we continued to take photos of the illegal acts that we would be charged with criminal harassment. We continued to take photographs, hundreds of them.

With the intersection completely rebuilt and a pedestrian crossing added the Reiters began a new round of abuse not only of law but of the safety of all who used the road and even the side walk. The Hardale truck above parked July 12th and 18th 2006 through the night till the following morning, Linda Reiter parked the family vehicle July 30th and 31st overnight into the following morning completely illegal and still without consequence.  

Glendale Avenue was being ripped up and resurfaced with new sewers being placed. Our corner of Almond Street at Glendale Avenue was being completely changed. With all the road work which included Almond Street the safety issue became more serious. Reiter did not give a damn. As you look at the photographs only shock can be felt. One photo shows a police patrol passing as the Hardale Properties truck was parked completely illegally. Reiter's contempt for the law, for his neighbours' safety was beyond belief. Yet it was difficult to understand why Reiter would do this. Why would his wife do this? No sane explanation could be found then nor can it be discussed today.

Although Sheila Morra had lost the 2005 election, she and her family still lived across the road on Glendale Avenue and continued their association with the Reiters. May 2007 brought a new twist to the whole insanity. I had delivered flyers in my neighbourhood for The Standard, fantastic exercise and greatly beneficial for my health. Except that I had realized I was being followed. I knew the vehicle, it was a blue Pontiac van belonging to Anthony (Tony) Morra and Shiela Morra. There was no understanding of any kind why this would be happening. Why would the husband of an ex-City of St. Catharines Councillor be stalking me. I intentionally went a long way out of my normal route. Morra followed me and parked, and disappeared out of his vehicle. It was early in the morning on a Saturday and no stores were open. I had called friends who came as witnesses who also knew the Morras through their church. Anthony Morra's car was photographed yet no sign of him to be seen.

I called the police, the rest a farce of corrupt action and lies, later to be proven as no surprise in relation to the Niagara Regional Police Service. The record of the situation as the filed Incident Report was something to behold. Anthony Morra admitted to the stalking and lied. My supervisor at the time provided the information that Tony Morra lied, the NRP ignored that. My computer print-outs that listed all my deliveries were not even looked at by the constable that proved Anthony Morra lied. The last sentence by Constable Christophe McLeod a total lie! Canada's Criminal Code states stalking a serious offence. Anthony Morra, husband of Sheila Morra ex-City of St. Catharines Councillor admitted to stalking, lied to police and walked away without consequence. Clear evidence was ignored by the Niagara Regional Police, including a statement by a supervisor at The Standard to further prove that Anthony Morra lied. Anthony Morra an admitted stalker, who followed and watched a total stranger for his own sick reasons walked away from any consequence. No attempts at getting help worked. The management at The Standard said that my safety was my own responsibility as it was not The Standard that was harassed or stalked. Yep they actually put that in writing, simply look at it!

The horror continued. John Reiter went so far as parking his work truck with trailer attached encroaching the pedestrian crossing, these photos were sent to all the authorities with no action taken at all. The photograph lower left shows a motorist edging slowly into oncoming traffic, risking their own safety and that of drivers along Glendale Avenue because the trailer attached to the illegally parked truck was obstructing the motorist's view. John Reiter and his wife Linda Reiter clearly did not give a damn.  

John Reiter and his wife Linda Reiter continued to break the law each day without care, with full contempt for what we as equal citizens would consider to be a guarantee under the Charter of Rights. On the 1st of October in 2006 a vehicle belonging to a family member of Reiter's neighbour was ticketed by the NRP. This vehicle was in exactly the same position as Reiter had been, hundreds, literally hundreds of times illegally and never ticketed. The insane words by those NRP officers who had threatened us to stop photographing Reiter now were to be seen for what they were. An NRP officer had ticketed an illegally parked vehicle in exactly the position that hundreds of photographs showed Reiter park his work truck, or his wife Linda Reiter the family van. John Rieter came home and laughed with his comment “nice neighbours eh.” He was not ticketed.

These photos taken July 2006 further prove the contempt for the law, the safety of the community that John Reiter and his wife Linda Reiter lived in and all innocent motorists who used this intersection. For over five years of almost daily abuse without any consequence, how could this be possible. Every authority from the mayor of St. Catharines to the police had been informed and hundreds of photos provided, no action taken. Listening to John Reiter's voice laughing as he said in early 2005 "take all the pictures you want, ha ha" brings a frightening chill. 

Our Charter of Rights guarantees equality before and under the law. Equality of law does not exist here in St. Catharines, only corruption of law and there has been enough evidence to support that statement through the pages of Mayorgate.

Even after John and Linda Reiter moved out of their house at 51 Almond Street, John Reiter would come to check on his tenants, intentionally parking illegally. He now drove a different work truck with METRO FREIGHTLINER all over the sides instead of Hardale Properties. His contempt for the law never changed, these photos were taken December 2009. Hi private vehicle also on a visit to his tenants parked illegally as it had for over five years, only now they didn't live here any longer.  

Reiter and his family moved out of the house but retained ownership and rented it out. Now several vehicles on a number of separate occasions were ticketed for illegal parking. Those vehicles were parked illegally in the same fashion as John Reiter had parked the Hardale Properties truck, though all were private vehicles without trailers attached loaded with wood. One small work truck was ticketed by a St. Catharines Parking Authority Officer Badge #202. This is the same parking patrol officer who on May 1st 2005 came out as the Hardale Properties truck was parked illegally overnight with no vehicles in front of it. Officer Badge #202 came over and stood bent over and spoke with John Reiter quietly, and was about to leave. I came out with my tape recorder held high and tried to ask questions why was he not ticketed or not told to move the truck. Badge #202 is incredible to listen to, he in fact said that it had to be 50% over to be illegal! Yes that is what Parking Authority Officer Badge #202 said.

In an article on February 2nd 2008 in The Standard, Parking Patrol Officer Les Welgan was interviewed by reporter Samantha Craggs. According to reporter Craggs, Les Welgan carries this in his pocket, a white card with these words: “The City of St. Catharines prohibits the practice of allowing provincial offences officers to cancel parking tickets. This policy is required to ensure uniform application of municipal parking bylaws.” Welgan is further quoted saying “We're not the enemy out here. We just want people to obey the rules.” Hypocrisy and lies. Maybe Weglan should speak to Badge #202.

These are photographs of vehicles parked illegally in exactly the same physical location as you saw John Reiter and wife Linda Reiter park their vehicles without consequence for over five years. These motorists were ticketed for parking illegally yet the Reiters never saw one fine in their years of abuse of the law. The Charter of Rights guarantees equality, where can you find it here? 
Both the Niagara Regional Police and the St. Catharines Parking Authority ticketed illegally parked vehicles on the very same physical location where John and Linda Reiter parked illegally. John and Linda were never ticketed, why? The Charter of Rights guarantees equality, in fact no parking ticket issued in St. Catharines during these years was a legal fine. How did John Reiter park illegally day after day for more than five years without even one parking ticket issued? He parked his white Hardale Properties truck illegally and left town for up to five days on more than one occasion. Was it who he worked for? Hardale Properties and Metro have the same owner, Hardale Properties' President is listed as John Cappellazzo and Metro's President and Board Member is listed as John Cappellazzo, it is a Metro van that John Reiter has been driving for several years. On December 6th 2009 after moving out of his house at 51 Almond Street, Reiter parked illegally the Metro van for several hours almost 100% illegal with no vehicles in front of him. Why? What was the reason for John Reiter to do this even though he no longer lived here? Who did John Reiter need to show off to that he did as he pleased with the law? Was it John Cappellazzo who gave him permission to do as he pleases?

On four separate occasions in 2009: March 26, March 29, April 22 and May 8, the St. Catharines Parking Authority ticketed vehicles that were illegally parked in exactly the same position as the Reiter's work truck or private vehicle. On April 7th 2010, Badge #202 of the Parking Authority ticketed a small work truck with a trailer. Why were no tickets issued to John Reiter or wife Linda Reiter? Both John and Linda Reiter parked illegally for over five years and all the necessary authorities had been notified. Literally hundreds of photographs documenting the fact were provided. Look at the parking authority officers role in ticketing an illegal vehicle, they in fact take a photo of the illegally parked vehicle. What more could be provided as evidence of complete contempt for the law by both John Reiter and his wife Linda Reiter.

The City of St. Catharines Parking Authority were aware of what was happening. Both Mayor Tim Rigby and current Mayor Brian McMullan were aware of this. City Councillors Sheila Morra and Jennie Stevens were aware. Niagara Regional Police from Chief Wendy Southall and down were aware, in fact they stood in uniform on our porch and threatened us with criminal harassment charges if we continued to photograph the Reiters breaking the law. Meeting John Reiter one would know it is not charm and personality nor good looks that let him get away with such contempt for the law and for the safety of others. Corruption? A nasty word true, but breaking the law without any consequence, in public for over five years and almost daily? How many tickets have you paid in these years? Under the Charter of Rights, which also guarantees equality for all Canadians those tickets were illegal. If John Reiter and wife Linda Reiter were permitted to break the law daily by a municipal government, a Mayor and a regional police force then it stands to reason no Canadian should be liable.

Now that's a thought, all you need is a lawyer with some b....!

Parking Authority Officer Badge # 202 who you heard earlier refusing to ticket John Reiter for illegally parking the Hardale work truck and even refused to tell John Reiter to move the vehicle is here in April 2010 ticketing an illegally parked vehicle. Officer Badge # 202 takes photographs of the illegally parked vehicle, the reason quite clear so no argument can be used in a court of law. More than 500 photographs have been provided to all the authorities in St. Catharines of intentional abuse by John Reiter and wife Linda Reiter yet no action taken at all. How can this be explained other than CORRUPTION! I challenge anyone from any of the authorities to explain this situation. 

After reading through all this material, viewing the dozens of photographs of intentional abuse of the law by John Reiter and his wife Linda Reiter, and being able to see more photos on Flickr, only one word comes to mind. HOW? If it was possible to ask both John Reiter and wife Linda Reiter one question, it would be why did you do this? This was the community you and your children lived in, how could you care so little for the safety of innocent people. Neither John nor Linda Reiter had respect for the law that is clearly apparent. Yet how did they get away with it for over 5 years? Only one word explains it regardless of how uncomfortable it is to use it. CORRUPTION! Nothing else can explain any of this, in particular since six different vehicles were ticketed on exactly the same physical location that the Hardale truck, John Reiter's work vehicle, or either of the personal vans mostly driven by Linda Reiter, were parked.

Mayor McMullan of St. Catharines used his spokesperson Andrew Gill during the 2010 Municipal Election to attack a mayoral candidate for using the words “corruption at city hall.” At that time Councillor Gill publicly demanded an apology from the candidate. Maybe Mayor Brian McMullan would try that tactic now. I as the author and publisher of Mayorgate will not apologize for publishing facts. Corruption is the only answer as to how a thug was able to break the law daily with full intent and contempt and never face any consequences.

It may be that in Canada we did not struggle to develop the ideals of equality, we simply drafted a piece of paper. We take a great deal for granted in this country and what is frightening none of the words of our Charter of Rights are a true guarantee. Canadian men and women, wearing proudly the uniforms of the military forces have sacrificed their precious lives in foreign lands to instill the foundation of equality and rights of the individual. Here we let John and Linda Reiter spit on the very essence of that sacrifice. Each and every member of the government of St. Catharines, each and every member of the Parking Authority and each and every member of the Niagara Regional Police Service are equally responsible!

A police vehicle passes with a clear view of the illegally parked truck by John Reiter and does nothing about it. The Niagara Regional Police Service had received literally hundreds of photographs of the abuse by John Reiter and his wife Linda Rieter, I was even threatened by uniformed police officers of the NRPS to stop photographing the intentional abuse of the law, yet this patrol officer simply plays at being blind. If corruption is not the explanation then I challenge anyone to give me a more reasonable explanation. 

P.S.: This is the first time Mayorgate has found a reason for a post script to an article published only days prior. As documented John Reiter and his wife abused the law at will for over five years without consequence. Today this gem became available as further proof of the contempt for law this individual has. Our star came in his private vehicle and without concern did exactly what he had done for 5 years plus. His house has a large vacant parking area off Chestnut Lane. No reason to do this and no acceptable explanation. Was it difficult for John Reiter to park his vehicle in his own vacant parking area? If there were not over 500 photographs spanning almost 6 years of intentional abuse by John Reiter, then maybe whatever excuse he would spit out would be acceptable.

Send comments to: