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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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Destination Ontario: Bloomin’ Gorgeous

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Destination Ontario: Bloomin’ Gorgeous

Springtime in Niagara

Some 12,000 years ago, the falls at Niagara were defined when melting glaciers formed the Great Lakes. The rushing waters that ran downhill from one lake (Lake Erie) to another (Lake Ontario) carved out a river, and at one point passed over a steep, cliff -like formation – the Niagara escarpment. As the water began to wear its way back up the river, the deeply cut path that was left behind is now known as the Niagara Gorge.

The southern end of the Golden Horseshoe, Niagara Region encompasses the cities of St. Catharines, Thorold and Welland, as well as the charming towns of Niagara-on-the- Lake, Grimsby and Fort Erie. The City of Niagara Falls is a vibrant community that affords residents with a plethora of opportunities in the areas of recreation, arts and culture. While urban amenities are in abundance, there’s still a relaxed stillness that comes with living in this beautiful area.

EXPLOSIVE BEAUTY
Come spring, it’s a visual flower feast. A drive through the Niagara region is an annual ritual for many, as the orchards are bursting with delicate blossoms on fruit-bearing trees. The Japanese flowering cherry trees, found at the Botanical Gardens, Queenston Heights Park and Kingsbridge Park are expected to bloom by mid-May.

Located along the scenic Niagara Parkway is the Floral Clock, which was constructed in 1950. The clock’s face, complete with working mechanisms, is planted two times per year with 15,000 to 20,000 carpet plants arranged in beautiful designs. It is the second most photographed highlight in the region.

Floral clock

Created in 1967 to commemorate Canada’s Centennial Year, the fragrant Lilac Garden is located north of the Floral Clock and features 200 different lilac varieties in a range of colours.

The Botanical Gardens is located just north of Niagara Falls on the Niagara Parkway. For more than 80 years, visitors have found solace while strolling the beautiful gardens. Also located here is the Butterfly Conservatory, and the world-famous rose garden that features more than 2,400 varieties.

Butterfly Conservatory

The first fireworks’ display took place on September 14th, 1860. In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the annual Falls Fireworks Series, Niagara Parks has expanded their schedule to include 111 fireworks daily displays throughout the summer. Special holiday shows are scheduled for the Memorial Day long weekend (May 25 to 28).

DAY TRIPPING
View the falls from the water, the air or the ground. No matter your vantage point, it’s an awe-inspiring experience – no matter the time of year.

Less than a half hour drive from the Falls, at the mouth of the Niagara River, is the quaint 18th century town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, often referred to as Ontario’s loveliest town. Home to the renowned Shaw Festival, the town is an eclectic dining, shopping and sightseeing experience.

Niagara-on-the-Lake

Old Fort Erie, Fort George, Brock’s Monument and Laura Secord’s homestead are just a few of the landmarks that will delight history buffs. The area was also an important stop on the legendary 1800s Underground Railroad.

In addition to slots and gaming tables, Fallsview Casino Resort showcases international performers.

Niagara boasts close to 100 parks and several championship courses, including Legends on the Niagara, Oak Hall Par 3 and the Whirlpool Golf Course, which was designed by golf architect Stanley Thompson and is rated as one of Canada’s most highly rated public golf courses.

CLIMATE CONTROLLED

Because of the two large bodies of water, Niagara Region is considered to be a moderate climate zone. Southern Ontario is roughly at the same latitude as southern France (Provence). The area’s temperatures make it ideal for growing tender fruit, and the conditions are ideal for ripening many varieties of grapes.

The Niagara Peninsula is one of four recognized viticultural areas by the VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) in the Ontario Wine Industry. The European-style vineyards and wineries attract visitors from around the world. Many offer full tours of their facilities, and some have onsite dining, which feature sumptuous menus paired with their own VQA vintages.

The extended warm-weather season is also popular with boating, golf, hiking and biking enthusiasts.

Photography, courtesy of Niagara Falls Tourism

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