The City of Niagara Falls is a mere zoning bylaw amendment away from replacing the treed backdrop of the Horseshoe Falls with three soaring high-rises.
With the arrival of the casinos at Niagara Falls came many new high-rise hotels, most within a stone’s throw of the falls. The result – an expanse of concrete and glass, extending downriver from the Horseshoe Falls. That wall is slated to infiltrate the seven acres of green space surrounding Loretto Academy, the stately, 148-year-old convent school that sits atop the bluff at the brink of the Horseshoe Falls. A Niagara hotelier bought Loretto in 2006 and the City of Niagara Falls has amended its Official Plan, a first step toward allowing the treed grounds of Loretto that today frame the falls in nature to be replaced by three high-rises.
Cathy Marie Buchanan, a founding member of conservation organization Friends of Niagara Falls, says, “A wall of concrete and glass as is not a fitting backdrop to a natural wonder of the world. We don’t see high-rises at the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone or Victoria Falls, and we shouldn’t have to see them looming over Niagara Falls.”
*The Horseshoe Falls will be dwarfed by the tallest of the high-rises, a monstrous 57 stories–more than three times the height of the falls.
*According to the Niagara Parks Commission the misty days on the vicinity of the falls more than doubled in the decade after the existing high-rises went up. Engineering consultants Rowan Williams Davies & Irwin Inc., who modeled the area, determined the high-rises are altering the airflow near the falls, drawing vapor toward the land and creating more days with rain-like conditions.
*The new high-rises will cast parts of the parkland around the falls in shadow as the sun moves from the southern sky to the west and will span the river as the sun sets, bringing darkness to the Goat Island’s Terrapin Point on the American side of the river ninety minutes early at certain times of the year. For a six week period each spring and each fall, the shadows will interfere with the spectacle of the setting sun’s light on the Horseshoe Falls. When the sunshine is blocked, Niagara’s trademark rainbow will not appear.
*The woodland of the Loretto property is highlighted in the City’s Official Plan as requiring environmental protection.
*City Council turned down its own planning department’s recommendation that the Loretto property be designated under the Ontario Heritage Act, and thus afforded a level of protection.
*A 30-acre swath of largely vacant land already zoned for high-rise development exists in the tourist district of Niagara Falls.
Friends of Niagara Falls is a nonprofit organization working to preserve the environment and natural beauty of the Niagara Falls. Currently Friends of Niagara Falls is focused on stopping the high-rise development planned to overlook the Horseshoe Falls.
Cathy Marie Buchanan is a founding member of Friends of Niagara Falls. She is the New York Times bestselling author of historical fiction The Day the Falls Stood Still, which opens at Loretto in 1915 and has been called a love letter to her hometown of Niagara Falls.