Friday, 1 May 2015

The ‘Willie Wakulich Story’


Friends, coworkers and fellow rowers just call him ‘Willie’.

How many people, at that time, realized that the beautiful bronze statue located in Rennie Park was designed and erected by none other than the Wakulich Brothers? 

 Because of their very successful and long involvement in rowing the Wakulich Family decided to erect a monument to honour the athletes, coaches and volunteers of St. Catharines. Visitors to the site are met with the appropriate title on the monument ‘THE SPIRIT OF ST. CATHARINES’ along with the names of the generous donors who provided 100% of the entire creation.


Brother and Artist Perry Wakulich designed and created the magnificent bronze depicting a muscular rower in action, while Willie Wakulich constructed the site carefully and conveniently located for all to see as they drive or walk by.

 The highlight of our beautiful bronze rower was as a backdrop for rowing and political dignitaries including the Prime Minister of Canada.

Most people were well pleased especially knowing that the St. Catharines’ taxpayer did not have to fund a single dime toward the project, which is good since the City under Mayor Rigby refused to even supply cement for the city sidewalk!
There is unfounded speculation that there was personal animosity at city hall toward this successful project and toward Willie Wakulich in particular.
Aside from wild speculation and supposition one thing is very clear. Something touched off one of Niagara’s foulest vendettas in history! 


 The vendetta first manifested itself in 1999 when Willie applied for a building permit to build onto his house.

He was turned down predicated on one word; extortion. Like so many other property owners, especially those property owners around Martindale Pond, Willie had to learn the hard way that if he wanted to get a building permit he would have to give up the part of his property bordering the Martindale Pond. This conduct by bureaucrats is the reason that we are being called extortionation.
The next attack was over his attempt to protect his property against shoreline erosion. He sank large corrugated steel tubes on his property, which the city erroneously claimed was their property. Remember there was no shoreline erosion until ‘Ontario Hydro’ flooded the valley, the old Welland Canal and the towpath, which created the possibility of even having a rowing facility. 

Keep in mind that the neighbors surrounding, what eventually became the Martindale Pond, were there first when the entire valley was dry except for a small stream, before the early Welland Canal, before there was a small island, before there was an island enlarged fourfold and before there were fish and long before there was a Canadian Henley Rowing Corporation!

Worse yet is the fact that anyone can do on their property as they please as long as you do no harm to neighbors. But harm was done to the neighbors by the flooding of the valley! According to Mayor Rigby, co-owner of the Canadian Henley Rowing Corporation and co-chair the Pan Am rowing, the victimized neighbors suddenly became ‘Pond Poachers’!  And just what did the ‘Pond Poachers’ do to become such evil transgressors?  Not a dammed thing!

Mayor Rigby claims they acquired all 146 Hectares from the federal government and that they own to the water’s edge. At least in several cases they do not own to the edge of the water as proven in the Wakulich case. How did the federal government acquire that land? Did they purchase the land from the landowners? Was the land theirs to sell or pass on to either the City of St. Catharines or the Canadian Henley Rowing Corporation? Before the City of St. Catharines or Rowing Corporation can make such a claim they are obligated to publicly prove their claim, which they never did! They should be able to prove the chain of ownership.  The Rowing Corporation should be able to produce the paper trail and the receipts!

They claimed that Willie Wakulich alone damaged a possible fish habitat, which of course was only made possible by the flooding of the valley. Mayor Rigby said after closer inspection, as observed from aboard his wake producing 90HP pontoon barge, that the ‘bank erosion will need attention’. Guess who he thinks is going to pay that bill? The worst property with respect to erosion is the Rowing Corporation's property as shown in the picture below. Erosion caused by the Rowing Club's chase boat motors and larger engines on pontoon barges.

Former St. Catharines Mayor Rigby, co-owner of the Canadian Henley Rowing Corporation and co-chair the Pan Am rowing committee said after closer inspection, as observed from aboard his 90HP wake producing pontoon barge, that the ‘bank erosion will need attention’. Click here to witness the mayor in action.


The flood-created Martindale Pond was foisted on the property owners whether they liked it or not and because of this these property owners became victims of political mistreatment. These victimized property owners where categorized as ‘POND POACHERS’ by Mayor Rigby. Mayor Rigby only backed off after a raucous public meeting with the bordering property owners. Of course there was one exception and that was with Willie Wakulich, which is still going on all these years later! 

They falsely accused him of removing all vegetation on his ‘steep bank’. They interfered with permits already approved by the city. They attacked him with every level of bureaucracy they could find including Fisheries and Oceans , Ministry of Natural Resources, Ministry of the Environment, Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, Niagara Regional Government, the City of St. Catharines, and the Canadian Henley Rowing Corporation who all agreed with everything Mayor Rigby wanted. 

What did Willie get for his effort to placate every demand of Mayor Rigby and his obedient  menagerie? Answer: over 46 pounds of paper!

This vendetta has cost victim Willie over $97,000 plus hundreds of hours away from his family and a decade and a half gargatuan effort with no end in sight!

Every one of the barefaced agencies involved completely ignored or where mislead to the fact that the entire effort was on Willie’s property! These obedient agencies serving their political master paid no attention to any of the many other transgressions perpetrated by other property owners on the pond, even including those violations committed by the NPCA (dumping millions of tons of ruble and back-fill into a ‘fish habitat’ and without the mandatory environment studies, engineers reports etc.) on behalf of the Canadian Henley Rowing Corporation!

Others, including the NPCA, built, transgressed and bypassed every rule and regulation, without the same compliance as speciously asked of Willie Wakulich. 

Can everyone spell vendetta?

Where Willie tried to emulate the efforts of other jurisdictions by placing shore protection on his property, the Rowing Club had no problem installing hundreds of feet of timber and ruble on ‘fish habitat destroying shoreline protection’ for the sole purpose of further expansion and convenience, NOT for the necessity of rowing. 

Necessity has traditionally been taken care of by the historic installation of floating boat launch docks still used to this very day.

The ‘do as we say not as we do’ crowd considers themselves (NPCA) above rules and regulations and they can do as they please, whenever they please and to anyone they please!

Power, like a desolating pestilence, pollutes whatever it touches.
-Percy Bysshe Shelley

No comments:

Post a Comment