Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Niagara Falls City Council Gives More Public Land to Marineland

For the second time in two years and in a move that surprised no one familiar with the politics of the city of Niagara Falls, the city council voted to lease more public land to Marineland on Tuesday night.  Marineland's lawyers appeared before council and made false and outrageous claims about the actions of protesters standing on public property outside the park.  Several members of the public who have been involved in protest activity at the park this summer appeared before council. Despite the lack of any evidence presented against them and with no opportunity to meet with council members to discuss the issue the deal was rubber stamped with only two dissenting votes.

Video by Ted Traver

The land in question is a small area of public sidewalk near the entrance and an area near a public bus stop leading to a gate into Marineland property.  Last year Marineland was given public land adjacent to their entrance in an attempt to block protesters from offering information to the public entering the park.  Over the summer protesters used the public property at the exit of Marineland to offer leaflets to the public leaving the park. Marineland closed off this exit in an attempt to block the public from receiving information on the park's dubious history and actions. Marineland decided to disregard safety and routed traffic out their entrance into an uncontrolled intersection causing extremely dangerous traffic issues.  Recently Marineland renovated this entrance to be used as an exit under controlled circumstances and installed traffic lights at their own expense.  Protesters were undeterred and utilized the small parcel of public land remaining at the entrance and adjacent to the park's gates which has now been given to Marineland.

Activist Mike Garrett who is currently being sued by Marineland for 1.5 million dollars had this to say on the the proceedings:

"As expected the majority on Niagara Falls City Council voted to give more public land to John Holer and Marineland. Land that has been used by protesters for over three decades to oppose the park. I sat there and had to listen to Marineland's lawyer spout outright lies about the actions of protesters in order for them to obtain the land.  It is clear there is no low they won't sink to in order to silence opposition.  I stood up and tried to refute them as best I could and let council know that by continuing to support Marineland they would be regarded on the wrong side of history.  This is just but one small battle in a long war against a man and a business who will soon be on the way out. Public perception, education and awareness about marine mammal captivity is evolving at a rapid rate, especially in the last few years. Rather than be frustrated by experiences like this I am further emboldened in my efforts to oppose Marineland."

Councillors Bart Maves, Vince Kerrio, Victor Pietrangelo, Wayne Thomson, Joyce Morocco and Carolyn Ioannoni supported the motion.

Councillors Gates and Wing voted no.

An open meeting between city staff, Marineland owner John Holer and the Niagara Falls Fire Chief occurred just prior to the televised portion of the council meeting.  Holer was told by the Fire Chief that there were three fire hydrants on city property adjacent to the park that were inaccessible because of Marineland's recently erected fence and it was a serious concern.  No time frame on when this would be addressed was provided.


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