News, updates, and so much more…


Ontario speeds up COVID-19 booster shots, increases rapid test access and cuts capacity at large events by 50%

Today, the Ontario government announced that it is rapidly accelerating its booster dose rollout by expanding eligibility to all individuals aged 18 and over, as well as shortening the interval to three months following an individual’s second dose.

Starting Monday, December 20, 2021, individuals aged 18 and over will be eligible to schedule their booster dose appointment through the Ontario’s booking portal, by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre, through Indigenous-led vaccination clinics, participating pharmacies and primary care settings. Appointments will be booked three months (84 days) after a second dose as the province urgently expands booster eligibility to millions more individuals.

Effective December 18, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., Ontario intends to introduce a 50 per cent capacity limit to the following indoor areas of venues with a usual capacity of 1,000 or more: facilities used for sports and recreational fitness activities; entertainment facilities such as concert venues, theatres and cinemas; racing venues; meeting and event spaces; studio audiences in commercial film and television production; museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions; casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments; and fair, rural exhibitions, and festivals.

As part of the government’s enhanced testing strategy, starting today, up to two million rapid tests will be provided free of charge at pop-up testing sites in high-traffic settings such as malls, retail settings, holiday markets, public libraries and transit hubs. Pop-up teams will be deployed at nearly 50 locations across the province, including some co-located with GO-VAXX mobile vaccine buses. Most sites will distribute free take-home rapid antigen test kits, subject to supply, and some will offer asymptomatic rapid antigen screening on-site. The government will also make take-home rapid tests available at select LCBO stores, starting with the busiest stores this week and with more stores being added in the coming days.

Ontarians can visit Ontario.ca/holidaytesting to find out if pop-up rapid antigen screening sites will be available in their area. Locations and operating hours will be updated weekly, and no appointment will be required.

Click here for more details.


Ontario announces new and extended actions to contain Omicron

Although Ontario’s weekly case incidence rate is below the national average, COVID-19 is on the rise again, with yesterday’s daily case count the highest seen since May. That being the case, the Government of Ontario announced the following actions today:

  • Lifting proof-of-vaccination requirements, originally slated for January 17, 2022, is now postponed indefinitely.
  • Employers are advised to have staff work from home wherever possible.
  • Enhanced vaccine certificates with QR codes and the Verify Ontario app must be used in settings that require vaccination after January 4, 2022.
  • Medical and clinical trial exemptions will require a certificate with a QR code. Organizations and businesses currently collecting proof-of-vaccination are advised not to accept physicians’ notes after January 10, 2022.
  • Young Ontarians aged 12 to 17 participating in organized sports will have to show proof-of-vaccination after December 20, 2021.
  • All Ontarians are strongly advised to limit their social gatherings over the holiday season, particularly where some individuals are unvaccinated or their vaccination status is unknown.
  • All adult Ontarians will be able to schedule a booster vaccination from 8:00 a.m. on January 4, 2022. Preliminary data from the United Kingdom indicates that a third dose of vaccine significantly increases protection against the Omicron variant.

Click here for more information.

The GNCC will hold a webinar with Niagara Medical Officer of Health Dr. Mustafa Hirji on December 17. You can submit your questions about the Omicron variant, restrictions and measures, and other public-health-related issues by registering for free here.


Frequently Asked Questions: Recreational Sport Letter of Instruction

Why are these additional instructions needed?

Over the last 2 months, there have been at least 7 outbreaks related to recreational sports & athletics facilities. This has resulted in at least 80 cases of COVID-19, and the requirement of entire sports teams, and school classes having to self-isolate due to exposure to COVID-19. Vaccination continues to provide great protection against COVID-19, but breakthrough cases do happen in fully vaccinated individuals. Layers of protection with other public health measures such as physical distancing, limiting time spent in enclosed spaces with other people, and wearing masks is the best way to protect ourselves from COVID-19. Reducing COVID-19 spread in sports settings will also prevent infections from spreading into schools.

How is it ok for someone to sit close together on the bench, but not in a dressing room?

Sitting without 2 metres separation on a bench or courtside unquestionably poses a significant risk of infection spreading. Keeping as much distance as possible is strongly encouraged. However, the risk is even greater when in a small, enclosed space like a dressing room, rather than the larger, better ventilated playing area. The instructions issued seek to minimize the highest risk activities. Eliminating all risk activities would prevent sports from functioning, which is contrary to our goal.

How can teams limit their time entering and exiting the facility before and after the game to 15 minutes?

We have directed facilities to limit time spent in the facility before and after events. This will reduce crowding, especially in the highest risk areas (enclosed spaces such as dressing rooms) and lessen the spread of COVID-19.
Facilities may stagger scheduled arrival times for the event to limit the number of people using the facilities at any given time and encouraging participants to arrive as ready as possible to minimize dressing done in this space. The expectation is that participants are not spending more than 15 minutes in the enclosed space getting ready for the activity before they move to a better ventilated, larger space such as the playing surface.

Does this 15 minute time limit apply to spectators?

This limit does not apply to spectators who are not spending time in small enclosed spaces such as dressing rooms. Spectators entering the facility must adhere to all requirements of Ontario Regulation 364/20, including being screened for symptoms of COVID-19, wearing a mask in indoor spaces, and have proof of vaccination verified. Ontario’s COVID-19 public health measures and advice summarizes the expectations for spectators and patrons of sports facilities outlined in Ontario Regulation 364/20.

Are any of the activities before or after the game included in the 15 minute time to enter or exit the facility?

Warm-up, pre- and post-game talks are a core part of a sporting activity. These activities are considered part of the event itself, and do not count towards the 15 minutes to enter or exit the facility. These activities should however occur in spaces that are large and well ventilated, rather than a crowded dressing room. Time spent setting up or tearing down equipment for the event is also considered part of the event time itself, and does not count towards the 15 minutes.
Time spent screening and verifying proof of vaccination for all players, volunteers, and coaches while they are entering the facility (of course, maintaining appropriate physical distance) does not count towards these 15 minutes either. The 15 minutes begins only after one has entered the facility.

How can we ensure that participants are maintaining 2 metres of physical distance while dressing?

The number of people permitted in dressing room spaces should be limited to the number that can maintain physical distancing of 2 metres. This capacity limit should be posted by the facility.
Ways to accommodate this distance is using additional space for dressing (e.g. assigning more dressing rooms or larger spaces with better ventilation), or staggering arrival times for participants to limit the number of people in enclosed spaces like the dressing room at any given time.

How can proof of vaccination be managed for larger events such as tournaments?

When proof of vaccination is verified for the purpose of a longer event (such as a tournament), a marker that this person was authorized to enter the facility for the event such as a bracelet may be used to quickly verify that this process has been completed. This process should developed such that proof of vaccination is verified in accordance with the letter of instruction and that marker or bracelet is not removable or transferrable, and that this marker can be easily verified.

For a tournament with multiple teams present over the course of a day, where should they go when they are not competing?

These instructions require that players do not hang out in dressing rooms nor loiter in the facility.
Ideally, players are encouraged to leave the building and attend other local amenities (e.g. coffee shops, restaurants) so that crowding and lack of physical distance is minimized within the sporting facility. Alternately, players may transition to sitting as spectators and be governed by the rules for a spectator under Ontario Regulation 364/20, or where a restaurant exists within the facility, they may attend the restaurant and be governed by the rules for a food service under both Ontario Regulation 364/20 and Niagara’s Section 22 Order on food services.

If proof of vaccination is required for recreational sports facilities, do I still have to wear a mask inside?

All individuals inside indoor businesses and facilities are required to follow the regulations regarding masking in indoor spaces outlined in Ontario Regulation 364/20. Ontario’s guidance on Face Covering and Face Masks describes when and where masks must be worn. Multiple layers of protection against COVID-19 are important: masking, vaccination, physical distancing and reducing time in enclosed poorly ventilated spaces all work together to protect you from COVID-19.

My child is turning 12 years old early in 2022. They have their first dose now as an 11 year old, but will not yet have had time to get their second dose by their birthday. Are they not going to be able to participate in sports?

There will be a grace period for children turning 12 years old early in 2022 and they will be able to continue in sports and recreational athletics without interruption. As this is an issue affecting all areas where the province has created a proof of vaccination requirement, Niagara Region Public Health will align with the province’s grace period when it is announced so that there is consistency. The exact details of the grace period will be shared as soon as the province announces it.


Media Release


Welland’s 2022 budget set; investments in roads,

sidewalks, and other infrastructure deemed priorities


December 13, 2021

Welland, ON – Welland City Council approved the 2022 municipal budgets on December 14, 2021.

The overall 2022 budgets total just over $159.6 million comprised of the tax-supported operating budget of $73.8million, the rate supported operating budget for water and wastewater of $33.6 million, and the combined capital budgets of $52.2 million.

The 2022 tax-supported operating budget presents a 2.29% tax increase (municipal portion) after assessment growth and includes over $39 million in capital projects next year.

“Next year’s budget takes ownership of current city challenges and addresses future needs,” said David McLeod, councillor and chair of the Budget Review Committee. “The Budget Committee injected an additional $3.4 million into roads and sidewalk renewal, above the original proposal. Furthermore, we supported important staff positions in Fire & Emergency Services, Infrastructure Services, and Community Services. The 2022 budget is strategic in providing citizens with better service delivery and significant infrastructure investment. Clearly, the Budget Committee and City staff are aligned in providing the building blocks for Welland and its residences to thrive today and in the future. This budget respects the taxpayer and provides a roadmap to addressing city needs while securing our brightest future.”

2022 capital project budget highlights:

  • 10.3 million for facility upgrades, including $6.4 million for Memorial Park pool revitalization
  • 13.7 million for roads
  • 2.1 million for sidewalks
  • 2.6 million for storm sewers
  • 2.4 million for new fire station #3
  • $1.7 million for new aerial fire truck
  • 1.9 million for bridges and culverts

The 2022 water/wastewater budgets allow the city to provide sustainable water services, maintain current water infrastructure, and invest in replacing or building much-needed infrastructure. The proposed 2022 water/wastewater capital budget totals over $13 million to replace watermains, sanitary sewers, ageing water meters, and other related infrastructure.

“This year’s budget process brought a fulsome discussion about where our City is, and more importantly, where it’s going,” said Mayor Frank Campion. “Our investment in the future of Welland is apparent in this budget, and I am proud of the work done by all to pass this budget. We have some bright days ahead of us.”

Water rate customers will experience the following changes in their 2022 water bills:

  • Low residential water consumers (annual consumption of 100 cubic meters or less per year) will have a $32 annual increase
  • Average residential water consumers (annual consumption of less than 180 cubic meters per year) will have a $34 annual increase
  • The annual rebate for the low-income seniors water/wastewater program increases from $340 to $372 effective January 1, 2022


“This year’s budget process brought a fulsome discussion about where our City is, and more importantly, where it’s going,” said Mayor Frank Campion. “Our investment in the future of Welland is apparent in this budget, and I am proud of the work done by all to pass this budget. We have some bright days ahead of us.”

The City of Welland will continue to focus on emergency management and preparedness, community wellbeing, and economic recovery in the coming year. For more information on the City of Welland and its municipal budgets, visit www.welland.ca. 


For media inquiries, please contact:

Marc MacDonald

Corporate Communications Manager

905-735-1700 x2337


Ontario implements new measures to protect long-term care and retirement homes

Effective immediately, all general visitors to a long-term care home will need to be fully vaccinated to enter. In addition, the ministry will be directing all long-term care homes to increase infection prevention and control (IPAC) audits.

Here are some of the measures at long-term care homes that will also go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, December 17, 2021:

  • Testing of all staff, students, volunteers, and caregivers, regardless of vaccination status, at least twice a week prior to entry into the home as part of enhanced active screening practices.
  • Requiring a negative test upon entry to a long-term care home for all visitors and support workers who provide essential services to a resident or to the facility unless they had a negative test the day before.
  • Requiring caregivers to be fully vaccinated unless they have a valid medical exemption or are attending to a resident in a palliative end-of-life situation. Caregivers will be required to have a first dose by December 20, 2021 and all required doses to be considered fully vaccinated by February 21, 2022. In the interim, designated caregivers who are not fully vaccinated would need to restrict their visit to the resident’s room.
  • Limiting indoor visits to a maximum of two people per resident at a time and outdoor visits, where feasible, to a maximum total of four people per resident at a time.

To further protect retirement home residents and staff from the spread of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant, Ontario is also enhancing its COVID-19 policies in retirement homes effective December 22, 2021 to keep residents safe, including:

  • Requiring rapid antigen testing for staff, volunteers, contractors and essential caregivers, regardless of vaccination status, two times per week prior to entry into the home as part of enhanced active screening practices.
  • Requiring rapid antigen testing for general visitors and support workers entering a retirement home, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Strongly encouraging retirement homes to restrict general visitors to only those who are fully vaccinated and implementing additional requirements for essential visitors and general visitors who are not fully vaccinated when entering a retirement home.
  • Limiting the number of visitors and group sizes for social activities and events.

Click here for complete details.


Circus Sessions 2022 

in partnership Lab De Cirque (TOHU, The Cultch, Femmes du Feu Creations) 

Date: April 11-17th, 2022 (subject to change) 

Artist fee: $1000 

Where: The Bank Art House, Welland, Ontario 

Project Description: Circus Sessions is a creative residency for circus artists and multidisciplinary artists who intersect with circus, originally conceived by Holly Treddenick and Lynanne Sparrow. 

In this 6th iteration of Circus Sessions, we focus hyper local and hyper now with mentors and all artists from across Ontario. Alex Bulmer (Common Boots Theatre) and Angola Murdoch (LookUp Theatre) will guide artists through a week of exploration, play and collaboration focusing on telling our stories and working through the unique approach of “de-centralized vision” developed by Alex Bulmer. We will also participate in a 3-hour writing and movement workshop lead by dance artist Sara Porter. At the end of the residency, we will welcome an audience in 2 public showings of the discoveries and creations. 

Who should apply:  Ontario-based circus artists across disciplines, or artists whose work intersects with circus. Artists who are ready to share and experiment. Priority will be given to artists who can also commit to Lab De Cirque. 

Apply HERE by January 15th, 2022. – nqzva@srzzrfqhsrh.pbz 



Circus Sessions 2022 will be in partnership with LAB DE CIRQUE running from January – December 2022. Artists applying to Circus Sessions must be available for the Lab de Cirque activity. 

The Laboratoire de Cirque is a new, year-long artist development program organized by TOHU in collaboration with Canadian presenting organizations in three provinces and supported by the Canada Council on the Arts. Over the course of the calendar year 2022, the program aims to support circus artists as they develop their creators voice, as directors, choreographers, writers/dramaturgs, or guides of collective creation, through arts exposure and mentorship. 

Participating artists will enrich and hone their unique creative visions by immersing themselves in a range of performing arts languages, through master classes with practitioners; attendance of and discussion about performances; and critical and contemplative writing. 

Who should apply: 

TOHU (Montréal), La Chapelle (Montréal), The Cultch (Vancouver), and Femmes du Feu Creations (Welland, ON) invite circus artists to apply from across the career spectrum. Individual artists and groups are welcome to apply. Applicants will be asked to describe a project currently in creation which you plan to use as your ‘guinea pig’ during the program (project changes/substitutions will be permitted over the course of the program if necessary), as we are seeking artists who are actively working on a new piece or who have a clear intention of a piece they intend to create. 

Priority will be given to artists who have participated in the following initiatives: 

Circus Sessions (Femmes du Feu Creations), TOHU residency program; Week-Ends Cirque at TOHU 2021; MICC Virtual Showcases 2021, L’autre Cirque 2019/2020; Laboratoire de cirque meetings 2018-2020 (La Chapelle); Transform Cabaret Festival (Cultch). 

Artists from historically oppressed populations are strongly encouraged to apply. 

Participant Commitment: Over 12 months, participants should commit to the following: 

– Attending between 2 and 7 in-person workshops (depending on location) and up to 5 online workshops 

– Attending 6 performances, including in-person and online, and participating in group discussions afterward 

– Engaging in prompted, responsive writing on your own time, and submitting a creative vision statement at the conclusion of the program. 


Accepted Participants will receive: 

– A $500 honorarium 

– 1 complimentary ticket to each of 6 performances (4 live, 2 online) 

– travel fees are not covered 

Apply HERE by January 15th, 2022. – nqzva@srzzrfqhsrh.pbz


Media Release


Fire Prevention Fire Code enforcement nets $11,500 in fines


December 13, 2021

Welland, ON – The Fire Prevention Division of the Welland Fire and Emergency Services (WFES) continues to inspect properties across the City to ensure compliance with the Ontario Fire Code, and on several occasions, egregious violations were discovered, prompting the prosecution of several property owners and landlords.

On June 17, 2019, WFES attended the property 260 King Street, City of Welland, to respond to a fire safety complaint. Fire Prevention Officers (FPOs) discovered that the former bar/tavern was vacant and that the rooming house was occupied above the bar area. The FPOs identified significant Ontario Fire Code deficiencies and issued an inspection order to the property owner to correct these deficiencies. Following the compliance date on the inspection order, FPOs attended the property on January 7, 2020, to conduct a re-inspection. FPOs discovered that the property owner had not corrected any of the previously identified Ontario Fire Code deficiencies during this inspection. Due to these observations, the Fire Prevention Division initiated a prosecution against the property owner for failing to comply with an inspection order.

On December 9, 2021, the former corporate ownership was convicted in Provincial Offences Court with a fine of $6500 plus court costs, pursuant to the Fire Protection and Prevention Act (FPPA). In addition, this property was subject to an “immediate threat to life” action taken by WFES in June 2021, which vacated the property of all occupants and disconnected the utilities due to further egregious fire safety issues discovered on the site.

On June 9, 2021, WFES attended the property of 168 West Main Street to respond to a fire safety complaint. FPOs discovered that the two-unit residential dwelling was occupied and found no working smoke or carbon monoxide alarms installed in either unit. FPOs installed the required alarms in both units out of an abundance of caution. Due to the seriousness of these violations, a prosecution was initiated against the property owner.

On December 9, 2021, the property owner was convicted in Provincial Offences Court for failing to install a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm and was fined $5000 plus court costs pursuant to the Fire Protection and Prevention Act (FPPA).

WFES will continue to enforce the Ontario Fire Code across the City. It is incumbent on property owners to ensure their properties remain in compliance with the Fire Code at all times to ensure the safety of occupants and emergency personnel who may need to respond there. 



For media inquiries, please contact:

Marc MacDonald

Corporate Communications Manager

905-735-1700 x2337



Canada advises against international non-essential travel 

The federal government is warning Canadians against all non-essential international travel in the face of the rapidly spreading Omicron variant of COVID-19.

Today, Canada’s Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos implored Canadians not to leave the country as provinces ramp up vaccinations to combat the fast-spreading Omicron coronavirus variant, even as efforts to head off a rising COVID-19 wave are complicated by public fatigue over the pandemic. In addition to the new travel warning, Duclos said the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) will ramp up the mandatory arrival testing program at the country’s airports.

The announcement came after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with provincial and territorial premiers last night to discuss how to respond to Omicron.

Click here for more details.

Best regards,

Alexis Higginbotham
Executive Director
60 East Main Street
Welland, ON
L3B 3X4
Copyright © 2018, Welland Downtown Business Improvement Area, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
195 East Main Street Unit 4C
Welland, Ontario

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

This email was sent to *|EMAIL|*
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences