It’s about a lot more than the Falls in Niagara
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-businesses such as winemaking – a key economic sector. The Niagara Wine Route, for example, connects dozens of wineries and is a growing tourism draw, complementing 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 courses 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.
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.
But that, too, is changing, as some consumers prefer the condo lifestyle, even in a nature-rich area such as Niagara. Developers are responding in kind, with several new condo projects, many of them midrise or boutique condominiums.
Homes by DeSantis, for example, has condo projects in both Grimsby and Stoney Creek, and Urbane Communities is building Marbella Condominium in Niagara Falls.
Part of the appeal for homebuyers in Niagara, of course, is affordability relative to Toronto and other parts of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. According to the latest Royal LePage House Price Survey, for the first quarter of 2020, aggregate median home prices in Niagara-St. Catharines were $453,483. This is up 1.1 per cent from $448,631 in the fourth quarter of 2019, and 7.4 per cent from $422,294 in the first quarter of 2019.
And from the ReMax 2020 Housing Market Outlook Report in late 2019, the realty firm noted that average residential sale prices in Niagara increased by almost 13 per cent, from $378,517 in 2018 to $427,487 in 2019. Value-conscious consumers from the GTA were buying in droves, ReMax says, with many choosing to live in the region and commute to Toronto.
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.
- Botanical Gardens
- Casino Niagara
- Clifton Hill
- Legends on the Niagara Golf Course
- Niagara Falls
- The Niagara Wine Route
- Welland Canal
- Whirlpool Golf Course