News

Book riot moving to Gale Centre in 2018

By Ray Spiteri, Niagara Falls Review

The City of Niagara Falls has agreed to waive the rental fee and allow Women's Place of South Niagara to hold its Nova House Book Riot event at the Gale Centre in 2018.
(John Law/Niagara Falls Review/Postmedia Network file photo)

The City of Niagara Falls has agreed to waive the rental fee and allow Women's Place of South Niagara to hold its Nova House Book Riot event at the Gale Centre in 2018. (John Law/Niagara Falls Review/Postmedia Network file photo)

The City of Niagara Falls has agreed to waive the rental fee and to allow the Nova House Book Riot to be held at the Gale Centre in 2018.

The fundraiser will return to Niagara Square this May, but due to the mall’s scheduled closure, Women’s Place of South Niagara has been looking for a new home for future years.

Amanda Braet, development director for Women’s Place, addressed council Tuesday night, saying the organization “desperately” wants the event to remain in Niagara Falls since the majority of the customers and large volunteer base are primarily from the city.

“We have simply exhausted our search of available space that is at least 8,000-square-feet, available during the traditional dates of the event,” she said.

“Through our search it became evident that the Gale Centre would be an ideal space for the book riot if we were willing to change the date to coincide with the removal of the ice and if we also were able to pay a hefty cost.”

Braet said the organization is willing to change the date — the event traditionally takes place the week leading up to, and the weekend of, Mother’s Day.

She said such a change would require a significant amount of advertising because loyal customers are used to having the event the same week and weekend for 40 years.

“For these reasons, Women’s Place is not in the position to pay the rental fee of over $6,000 for this event. We would like to be proactive and find a more permanent home for this popular annual event. A decision made by council before the May event would allow the opportunity to advertise to our current patrons at the 2017 event (scheduled for May 10-14 at the former Petcetera location).”

Braet said she also hopes the city will consider hosting the book riot at the Gale Centre in future years, if the space is available.

The book riot is the agency’s largest fundraiser.

Women’s Place operates two shelters — Nova House in Niagara Falls and Serenity Place in Welland.

Braet said these shelters provide safe, emergency shelter for victims of violence in the Niagara Falls, Fort Erie, Welland, Port Colborne, Pelham, Fonthill, Dunville and Smithville areas.

“Last year alone, Women’s Place received 1,667 crisis calls, which works out to an average of five calls per day. Also, emergency, safe shelter was provided to 207 women and 98 children.”

Hundreds more women and children were helped through outreach services.

“We simply cannot operate our vital services for abused women and children in Niagara without the support from the community members through their participation in our fundraising events.”

She said Women’s Place must fundraise approximately 30 per cent of its operating budget through special events and private donations.

The book riot has a significant impact on the agency’s overall fundraising goal of $500,000, as last year it raised more than $60,000.

Braet said the book riot is also “much more” than a fundraiser.

“The book riot offers a great deal of value to the community by saving well over 100,000 books from going into the landfill, providing volunteer opportunities to approximately 180 people, with a total of 2,700 hours contributed towards the event, including high-school students who achieve their community service hours.”

She said the book riot provides an affordable opportunity to increase literacy for Niagara residents.

“While hardcover books in retail stores sell for at least $30 or more, most of our books are only $2 each. All of these benefits have contributed to our community for 40 years now. The book riot has become an annual tradition for many.”

rspiteri@postmedia.com