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Detente at the Peace Bridge

After years at loggerheads, principals of the Peace Bridge Public Bridge Authority and the Niagara Gateway Columbus Park Association community organization will have a dialogue of sorts at the bi-national Conference on the Environment at the Adams Mark Hotel, October 3-5. Featured speakers at a panel discussion on the afternoon of October 4 will include Ron Rienas, Peace Bridge general manager, and Kathy Mecca, president of the community organization.

Mecca said the session would allow the participants “to publicly air their differences and share how recent developments have allowed them to find common ground.” She said, “Common ground includes recognizing that the PBA and the community are both victims of a force of nature: the southwesterly winds off Lake Erie…The ‘lake effect’ argument has allowed both [the community group and the PBA] to take the emotions out of our complex differences.”

A spokesman for the PBA said Rienas was asked to participate on the panel and was pleased to do so. “He considers it a great opportunity to discuss Peace Bridge issues and prospective solutions, as well as update the public regarding recent Peace Bridge activities.”

The conference kickoff event, Thursday evening, will feature Gord Downie, lead singer for the Tragically Hip and outspoken environmentalist. Conference business sessions will take place Friday, along three different interest tracks: land use and planning; climate change and sustainable communities; and Great Lakes and water resource management. Saturday’s agenda includes tours of Love Canal and the Niagara Power Project.

Lead sponsors of the conference, billed as “a bi-national sustainability summit,” include the County Department of Environment and Planning and (Ontario) Niagara Region Integrated Community Planning.

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