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An informal, stream-of-consciousness reflection on business ideas, events and issues in modern business, modern life and with some specifics to the web-software industry by Paul Tomori, Internet Entrepreneur

Niagara Falls Tightrope Walker Denied
And Niagara Falls Denies Itself An International Spotlight

By Paul Tomori
Wednesday, December 07, 2011 at 19:46:42 (EST)

I really think the Niagara Parks Commission (NPC) has made a mistake with their decision to deny Nik Wallenda the opportunity to walk across the Niagara Falls gorge beside the Horseshoe Falls from America to Canada.

They cite two reasons for their decision::
1. "safety"
Surely, they don't mean the safety of this particular stunt. This is no stunt artist going over the Falls without a plan. Such opportunists come along every once in a while and their efforts often result in emergency crews being dispatched to perform rescues. In this planned event, Nik Wallenda was promising a complete start to finish contingency plan with his own resources and his own funding. So, the NPC seems to be trying to protect Niagara Falls from others who may be drawn to attempting stunts of their own.

Really, I think that applying a categorical rule of "no stunting", as the NPC has done in this case is very short-sighted. It just stinks of over-conservatism. A well-planned and well-orchestrated event could be a huge draw for Niagara Falls and would also garner a LOT of international press. Let's not forget that just 2 summers ago, another aerialist walked daily between the Hilton Hotel and the Fallsview Casino... DAILY!!! He also did a couple of walks from the top of the Hilton to the top of the Skylon tower. Those feats were MUCH higher than the one proposed for the Falls and the performances did not trigger dozens of copycats.


2. the Parks Commission cited as their second reason their: "responsibility to preserve and protect the Falls". Ummm... does this even make sense? How does denying an aerialist from his performance "preserve and protect" the Falls.

The Parks Commission keeps a tight reign on its powerbase. And, they know how to setup controls to protect people during big events. Take the New Year's Eve by the Falls event attended by thousands and take the Marathons that go by the Falls. These require road closures, police presence and other restrictions and controls. It just takes planning. But it gets done, because lots of people like an event - they like a BIG event. Not everyone wants pretentious, snobby soirees on the main street of Niagara-on-the-Lake where you have to dress in white only and sip wine from delicate glasses. Some people want more drama. Let's give it to them!

The popular public vote is in favour of the performance. The American equivalent to the Canadian Niagara Parks Commission (and the governor's office apparently) has already green-lighted it on the USA side. The benefits to the local business and tourism industry are indisputable. Why do 10 people sitting around a boardroom table in a wood-panelled, stone-walled building in Niagara get to overrule on this? Hopefully, the provincial government will step in.

So, if you ask me, the NPC needs to lighten up and create a set of criteria by which they would permit certain events. Then, they can pull their powerplays and flex their aging muscle to make sure people follow the rules. Allow the event, but set sound criteria and require lots of contingencies, insurance and the like. But make it happen!

Here's the press release issued today, December 7, 2011:

Niagara Parks Denies Nik Wallenda Press Release

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