Consider it a rally, a flash mob protest, a celebration, or all three — the crowd gathered on Queen Street Monday night planned to make a little noise and have fun.
Stacey Mulholland, one of the organizers, called it a “joyous occasion,” a time to celebrate a community coming together as #onenotl, which includes music, carriages, wineries, restaurants, and all that is best about the town.
It was also meant as a “soft message” to town councillors that Niagara-on-the-Lake needs to be a vibrant community for all ages, and the proposed noise bylaw expected to come before council wouldn’t support that.
Originally discussed as a protest, the conversation quickly turned to the need for something positive, says Mulholland.
“There has been so much negativity, so much divisiveness in town, we decided to turn it into a celebration,” she says, referring to a discussion amongst a core group of people who speak regularly about their tourism-related businesses.
The timing was right to share some positivity, with restaurants now open, people coming back to town, and the pandemic seemingly under control.
“We have a lot to be grateful for,” says Mulholland.
“We wanted to take a moment and celebrate everything we do as a community. We have collectively said we can’t live in negativity, we have to move forward and stay positive as leaders of the community.”
While the celebration was taking place on Queen Street, town councillors were beginning their virtual Monday planning meeting, one that had Lord Mayor Betty Disero denouncing the much-maligned bylaw that has received widespread attention in traditional and social media, all of it negative.
Some of the group of about 45 locals gathered at the cenotaph arrived at their destination in a horse-drawn carriage, as a reminder the carriage rides are also an important component of what makes NOTL special, says Mulholland.
Ryan Crawford of Ruffino’s on Mary Street talked briefly to the group about the need to come together as a community, and to support the whole community. Garrison House owner David Watt offered a reminder that the noise bylaw would be detrimental to the community. A little music was played, and the gathering ended with the crowd singing O Canada, says Mulholland.
“It was super fun,” she says, and with cellphones measuring noise decibels, over the limits that were being proposed in the now-defunct bylaw. The group was thrilled to learn their message was heard, and council had decided not to pursue the proposed bylaw, she added.