In brief (March 01, 2004)

Niagara Parks Commission orders study of the effects of high-rise hotels surrounding Horseshoe Falls. The Niagara Parks Commission has ordered the Guelph firm of RWDI to study whether or not the newly-constructed high-rise hotels are affecting the dissipation of the familiar plume of mist arising from Horseshoe Falls. At present, there has been no scientific evidence explaining the increased number of “mist-days” but since the higher buildings encircling the falls have been constructed, there have been more days where the misting is having the same effect on tourists as a light rainfall.

About five years ago, the city permitted the construction of the first tier of new hotels up to 30 storeys in height along the escarpment. Toronto-based consulting firm IBI Group has been hired to look at the feasibility of increasing the height limit to 45 storeys for the “second tier” hotels to be located behind the existing hotels near the Stanley Avenue area.

The RWDI report should help guide urban design policies for future development of the city as well as ensuring responsible management of its major tourist attraction.

Auditor-General reports that cultural heritage will be lost to future generations unless measures are taken. Heritage sites under federal control will be lost to future generations unless action to protect them is undertaken soon. According to Sheila Fraser, Auditor General of Canada, “More than two-thirds of national historic sites managed by Parks Canada and federal heritage buildings are in poor to fair condition”. A number of national historic sites will require preservation work within two years to prevent the loss of their historic features, or face being closed to the public. According to the Auditor General, current heritage protection regimes have reached their limits. The federal government, along with its public and private sector partners, needs to re-think its approach to protecting cultural heritage. This review must take into account the current condition of heritage, the resources available, and the increased public interest in heritage issues. The government needs to provide better information on the extent and the long-term implications of conservation problems and their meaning for Canadians. Moreover, it also needs to provide specific information on expected conservation results, their costs, and the results achieved. The chapter entitled “Protection of Cultural Heritage in the Federal Government” can be found at www.oag-bvg.gc.ca, the web site of the Auditor General of Canada.

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