GUEST VIEW: Capitalizing on NF & Town of Niagara as Bedroom Communities for Toronto

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Capitalizing on NF & Town of Niagara as Bedroom Communities for Toronto

 

By: John Accardo

Candidate for the Niagara County Legislature

We can call it a tale of two cities. Here in Niagara Falls, New York, the population has steadily dropped to 49,000 over the last several decades, from nearly 100,000 in our heyday. However, an hour and a half away, in a city visible from our escarpment, the population is exploding. According to the United Nations Statistics Division, in a one-year period between July 2018 and July 2019, an estimated 77,000 people moved to Toronto and the surrounding suburbs, bringing that city’s population to over 3 million. 

Let this sink in. In just one year, Toronto’s population jumped more than one and a half times our city’s entire population. 

There are many reasons why Toronto has continued to grow, from job opportunities to diverse communities that make this lakefront city such an attractive market in which to live, work, and play. One of the most overlooked factors is their access to GO Transit, a combination of rail and bus routes, that allows people to live across the Niagara Peninsula and commute to work. 

While Toronto’s growth accelerates, the demand for housing can’t keep up with the influx of people who have migrated there. The cost of an average home is a staggering $1 million Canadian. Traffic congestion can regularly turn a simple commute from the city’s outskirts into a three-hour ordeal. 

It’s time for Niagara Falls and Niagara County to get in on this expansion. And it all starts right at the Niagara Falls Train Station.

Imagine for a moment if we had a commuter train that ran from Niagara Falls, NY to Toronto and back on a daily basis. We would be able to promote our city as a bedroom community from which people could commute to work in Toronto each day. This would be something I would champion from day one as a Niagara County Legislator from the 5th District. 

Let’s explore the ways in which we can capitalize on the rapid growth of our neighbors to the north.

1) Expanding the train routes to bring residents to and from Toronto would most importantly increase traffic to our very large, highly underused $44 million train station. We have the capacity to do this, we just need to work out the logistics between our government and the Canadian government.

2) Because our housing stock is priced at a mere fraction of what is found across the border, we can attract people who work in Toronto but don’t want to pay the high price for a home or rental there. With a commuter train, their transportation time into the metropolitan area would be similar to a commute on the congested QEW, which can move at a snail’s pace.

3) We are a small city with the capacity to provide the amenities that big city dwellers can appreciate, without the crowds. Just recently, Gov. Cuomo announced that Niagara Falls’ North End/Bridge District won $10 million from the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. Combined with new investors to Main Street and traffic being redirected from the waterfront, we can expect that section of town to see a renaissance within a few years.  Already, we have plenty of great restaurants, shopping areas close by, and a host of other features that people look for with relocation.

4) For a smaller community, we have two top line medical centers in western Niagara County, along with urgent care clinics. There are three school districts located close to the border: Niagara Falls, Niagara-Wheatfield, and Lewiston-Porter. In recent years, Niagara Falls City School district’s programs have been greatly enhanced under Superintendent Mark Laurie. Our teaching staff is outstanding, and we have many state-of-the-art offerings, especially in the high school. 

5) With an infusion of working-class families to our region, we can then spur business development, especially along the north sections of Military Road and Route 31, where there’s room for business parks and other enterprises.

Toronto’s growth patterns are likely to continue for years to come, which means there is a great need to expand east and south to welcome everyone. Let’s utilize the resources we have here, right now, including a large housing stock, other amenities, and an untapped transportation mechanism, to encourage people to relocate across Niagara County, especially here in Niagara Falls and Town of Niagara. As your next Niagara County Legislator from the 5th District, I am ready to champion this initiative and give our region a much needed boost. 

 

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