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Neighbourhood Watch: Niagara

In Niagara, the Falls are just part of the appeal

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In Niagara, the Falls are just part of the appeal

When people think Niagara, they often think only of the Falls themselves, those natural wonders to which a visit never seems to grow old.

But beyond the awe-inspiring beauty and power of the Falls and the Niagara River, Niagara Region offers a lot more that’s worthy of just a weekend getaway.

Encompassing towns such as Grimsby, Lincoln, Niagara-on-the-Lake, St. Catharines, Thorold and Welland, the Niagara Region is blessed with a great natural location. It occupies most of the Niagara Peninsula, bounded by the U.S. to the south and on the north by Lake Ontario, and of course the Niagara Escarpment – all of which offers strong potential for business and lifestyle choices.

These natural landscapes and climate make the Niagara Region perfect for agri-business such as winemaking – a key economic sector. The Niagara Wine Route, connecting dozens of wineries, is a growing tourism draw to complement cultural events such as the Shaw Festival.

Indeed, a visit to the area can involve a stop at the Falls, winery tours, the quaint town of Niagara-on-the- Lake, the Botanical Gardens with its Floral Clock and Butterfly Conservatory, several championship golf course and a growing casino industry in downtown Niagara Falls.

But this is all for play. To live and work in the region is another matter.

Economic growth

Again, a blessing of location, Niagara is within 800 km of two provinces, nine states and 130 million people on both sides of the border. This means opportunities for business. The trade that flows across Niagara’s borders totals more than $100 billion annually, and supports hundreds of thousands of jobs across Canada and the U.S. The infrastructure network to support this trade activity comprises five international bridges, multiple railways and the Welland Canal, linking Lake Erie into the St. Lawrence Seaway system.

All of this is conducive to growth potential for the region’s manufacturing and transportation and logistics sectors, to complement the historical strength in agriculture and tourism.

Niagara’s economy has shown steady growth in a number of areas, particularly in job creation and new investment, but still lags slightly behind Ontario averages. The Niagara economic development department confirms the area still has challenges in higher unemployment, lower participation rate and lower household income per capita.

But that’s changing. In 2018 alone, Niagara had $1.7 billion in construction investment. From 2015 to 2018, such investment grew by 56 per cent in Niagara, compared to 19 per cent for Ontario overall.

New home development

As the economy grows and affords people more opportunity to live and work in Niagara – or close by – new-home development is following.

Much of the housing growth is in the lowrise category, as buyers from the GTA find the lot sizes and price points far more appealing and affordable.

According to the latest Royal LePage House Price Survey, aggregate home prices in St. Catharines-Niagara were $418,673 in the second quarter of 2019. This is up 3.2 per cent per cent from the same period last year.

Given the popularity of condominiums as a lifestyle choice, growth in this category is on its way. Homes by DeSantis, for example, has condo projects underway in both Grimsby and Stoney Creek. And Urbane Communities is building Marbella Condominium in Niagara Falls.

Location, location, location

A regional municipality in Southern Ontario comprising 12 municipalities such as Grimsby, Lincoln, Niagara-on-the-Lake, St. Catharines, Thorold and Welland; 130 kms from Toronto; 86 kms from Hamilton.

Key landmarks

  • Botanical Gardens
  • Casino Niagara
  • Clifton Hill
  • Niagara Falls
  • The Niagara Wine Route
  • Welland Canal

Select condo developments

Marbella Condominium by Urbane Communities

Utopia Condominiums by New Horizon Development Group

AquaZul by Homes By DeSantis

Como Condos by Homes By DeSantis


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BUILDER PROFILE: Homes by DeSantis

BUILDER PROFILE: Homes by DeSantis

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BUILDER PROFILE: Homes by DeSantis

by Catherine Daley
Photography, courtesy of Homes by DeSantis

Specialized home building in coveted locations

When a company specializes in a particular product or service, the customer ultimately benefits, as they can be assured that the most advanced research, testing and implementation of said commodity has been performed. The same school of thought is behind Homes by DeSantis. Not only have they perfected their craft in terms of home building, but they have focused on particular areas in which to develop, and, as a result, the home buyer benefits from this intimate knowledge.

Ocean model at AquaBlu
Ocean model at AquaBlu

For close to 60 years Homes by DeSantis has been building and developing properties from Hamilton to Niagara. Started by Peter DeSantis in 1959, the company is now run by his son, Gabriel. With more than 12,000 homes to their credit, this family-based organization works extremely hard to promote Canadian home ownership. “Our focus is geared to more compact, smart and affordable living,” says DeSantis. “Homes with less maintenance – that are more lifestyle oriented.”

Calais model at On the Ridge
Calais model at On the Ridge


DeSantis currently has four sites under construction and new releases scheduled. The waterfront condominiums of AquaZul feature resort-like amenities, including a fitness centre, and a pool with cabanas and a barbecue area.

The final release at Centreville in Beamsville features new designs. Located in the heart of town, this all-encompassing community includes 44 smart townhouses and six commercial spaces.

Cannes model at On the Ridge
Cannes model at On the Ridge

Myst is an exquisite collection of urban towns located on the shores of Lake Ontario in Stoney Creek. It’s positioning affords residents easy access to transit and major arteries.

Coming this fall is the third phase of On The Ridge. Situated high on the Niagara Escarpment, residents of this community will enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities and recreational opportunities.

Century Condos in downtown Grimsby is a mid-rise building that will feature commercial space on the main level. “Century condos is the perfect reward for those who aspire to an elevated living experience,” says DeSantis.

Team DeSantis accepts the award for Community of the Year for Lincoln Square from the Hamilton-Halton Home Builders' Association.
Team DeSantis accepts the award for Community of the Year for Lincoln Square from the Hamilton-Halton Home Builders’ Association.


Gabriel DeSantis has been immersed in the home building industry for most of his life. In 1996 he was president of the Hamilton-Halton Home Builders’ Association – one of the largest in Ontario. He served as a director on the board for the Ontario Home Builders’ Association from 1995 to 1997, dedicating much of his time to the New Home Warranty Program (Tarion).

In 2012, DeSantis became the first home builder in the region to build a home, along with their suppliers and contractors, for Habitat for Humanity. DeSantis also contributes to many charitable organizations, including the Ronald McDonald House in Hamilton, as well as the Princess Margaret and St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundations.

AquaZul & AquaBlu
AquaZul & AquaBlu


Homes by DeSantis are now seeing the children, and the grandchildren, of those who purchased from the company more than 50 years ago, buying their first home. “We’re now getting third generation buyers,” says DeSantis. “It’s very humbling. But it also means that we’re doing something right.”

DeSantis goes on to say that it’s important to always think ahead of the curve. With the constant changes in government policies, interest rates and market fluctuations, they have to deliver what their customers are looking for. Not only do they appeal to first-time buyers, but they are also cognizant of the perquisites, and the necessities, that empty nesters desire. “Those who are looking to downsize are usually quite happy to sell their big home and settle into a smart space with everything within walking distance,” says DeSantis. “People are enjoying life that much more, and condo ownership gives them the freedom to do other things.”



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AQUAZUL Waterfront Condos

AQUAZUL Waterfront Condos

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AQUAZUL Waterfront Condos

Homes By DeSantis announces final release

Gorgeous lakeside views was one of the main reasons that new home buyers flocked to the AQUAZUL waterfront condominium project. Spacious suites and deluxe finishes helped to seal the deal. Homes By DeSantis announces the final release of residences with their Elite Series at this popular Lake Ontario development.

A variety of popular floorplans were released in each of the two condo buildings. These intimate, six- and 10-storey structures include remaining suites that range from 609 to 1,335 square feet – many with lake views.


Purchasers who are looking for a larger suite will be enamoured with the Surfside. This impressive, 1,335-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bathroom suite, also includes an oversized 645-square-foot terrace, with stunning views of Lake Ontario. The gracious 1,127-square-foot Bayside suite features two bedrooms, plus a den, and two bathrooms. And the 982-square-foot Bayfront suite also includes two bedrooms and two baths.

Sumptuous finishes include a choice of quartz or granite counter tops in the kitchen, as well as extended-height upper cabinets, six appliances, wide-plank laminate flooring and soaring ceilings up to 10 feet.

The features and amenities at AQUAZUL are not only luxurious, but they heighten the resort-like feeling. The third floor club room includes a theatre, a gym and a billiards room, as well as a sprawling balcony perched atop a dramatic two-storey loggia. This elevated outdoor space provides views of the courtyard, pool, cabanas and outdoor grill areas, and, of course, Lake Ontario.


Situated in the town of Grimsby, this Niagara region location is experiencing incredible waterfront growth. The municipality is investing $5 million into a waterfront park that will include promenades and lakeside trails to newly constructed beaches and outdoor pavilions.

Grimsby serves up a full complement of shops and services. AQUAZUL is extremely close to the proposed GO Station that is scheduled to arrive in 2021 at Casablanca Boulevard and the QEW. “We’ve become very good at staying ahead of the curve. People want to live at the lake, they want luxury and easy access to major centres – all at an affordable price,” says Gabriel Desantis, president. “AQUAZUL will be an icon on the Grimsby waterfront, both from an architectural perspective and an amenity perspective.”

DeSantis is pleased to report that AQUAZUL was recently named the mid-rise condominium project of the year by the Hamilton-Halton Home Builders’ Association.

With construction well underway, the first residents are scheduled to settle into their new homes in 2019. Only nine residences remain in the final phase of the Elite Series at AQUAZUL.


The Sales Office is located at 10 Concord Place in Grimsby




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