Our Dreams for Niagara

Niagara is a beautiful yet complicated beast. Our economic development landscape is dissected by a complex series of over lapping boundaries. We have five municipal cities with their own economic development office and seven other municipalities that are serviced by the Niagara Economic Development Corporation (NEDC), a non-profit corporation with a mandate to advance the economic prosperity of the Niagara region as a whole.

There are nine different Chambers of Commerce representing the “voice of business” in Niagara. We have eight utility providers who deliver hydro services within territorial jurisdictions that the average consumer can Google for hours without figuring out.

Niagara is home to the St. Catharines and Area Arts Council and a multitude of other Art Associations. We have a variety of different heritage organizations in each of our individual municipalities and we also have a Niagara Culture Committee that reports to our Integrated Community Planning Committee that in turn advises our Niagara Regional Council.

I could go on but we have all heard the rant over and over again in many different forms.

My question is what are “we” going to do about it? I don’t know about you but I for one love our beautiful beast and believe that change occurs through a slow, patient process of harnessing our individual concerns and converting them into an avalanche of collective willpower.

There are some wonderful examples of more cohesive strategies emerging throughout Niagara.

The Regional Tourism Partnership of Niagara is forging ahead to establish the framework for an integrated regional approach to destination marketing in Niagara. All nine Chambers of Commerce met as a policy group this past week and on March 25th will be jointly hosting Regional Chair, Gary Bourrough’s inaugural “State of the Region” address. On March the 10th our regional council will debate the status of economic development in Niagara as it reviews the future mandate of the Niagara Economic Development Corporation.

In Pelham, on March the 8th at 7pm, Brock University and Café on Main are providing us with the opportunity to collectively explore our “Dreams of Niagara” by participating in a Conversation Café. Brock has organized a total of eleven such events throughout Niagara between February 7th and May 16th.

The format is a conversation recognizing that no single person has the whole answer but rather that everyone has something important to contribute. I hope to see you there and look forward to learning from your perspective.


Why Do You Live in Pelham?

We all have our favourite things that we love about living in our community. Collectively documenting the community assets that are meaningful to residents forms the basis for establishing a common identity.

According to the most recent (2007) update of the Town’s Corporate Strategic Plan the opening statement of the vision for our Town reads as follows: The Town of Pelham is known as a friendly, peaceful place where residents enjoy the best of both worlds: thriving commercial centres, boutique stores, protected agricultural land and green space.

Completion of the East Fonthill Secondary Plan and the servicing of the applicable land area brings with it the business opportunity associated with a potential 30% increase in our population base. Last week our new Town Council held a strategic planning session with the intention of reviewing and updating our community vision for the future.

What does our Town Council expect this new growth to look like? Perhaps a better question is “What do we want this growth to look like?” Another critically interrelated question is “What is our plan to attract this growth?”

It is an ideal time to bring together community stakeholders to share vital information with each other, in order to identify and plan for the anticipated future growth of our Town.

How do we best mobilize our resources to successfully make Pelham a “destination community”, for the benefit of all citizens, business owners and community organizations?

What will be the catalyst that will lead to the consolidation of all of our individual Town promotion activities into one common branding theme and marketing plan?

Kudos to the City of Thorold! Just last week Thorold established a “Citizen’s Advisory Committee” in order to achieve broad based community consultation concerning the City’s Economic Development Strategy. Perhaps this is a model that our Town may also someday embrace.

Shared Benefits of Community Websites


1) Increases traffic for other websites in the community
The larger the number and types of organizations sharing content, the more informative and potentially interesting a website is to a wider base of users. A portal environment will therefore generate and drive more potential traffic to other sites that are linked to it.

2) Makes it easier to find Pelham on the Web
A community portal, with multiple other community sites connected to it, makes it easier to find Pelham on the Web. Community portal websites score higher in search engine ratings because of it’s broader and inclusive approach to community information.

3) Supports economic development
A portal is more than a directory of local community groups and events; it essentially promotes an image of Pelham as a dynamic and “connected” community. Businesses prefer to establish in communities that are making investments to stay current.

4) Attracts young families and entrepreneurs to our community
Community portals are a valuable asset to attracting new economy workers and young families who prefer Pelham’s small town quality of life. All of these potential residents use the internet as their primary resource when researching places to live and work.

5) Promotes Pelham tourism
The portal not only informs local residents and business owners about current Pelham events, community groups, and business activities it also lets others, from outside the community learn more about our Town. It encourages travelers and visitors to include Pelham attractions, shops and restaurants in their Niagara day trips and vacations.

6) Increases civic participation
Studies completed in other communities with active community portals indicate that when residents have current information in a timely manner, they are more inclined to attend community meetings and to take part in civic activities.

7) Improves efficiency of community resources
As on-line information resources become increasingly centralized and interactive, residents, local businesses, and government will spend less and get more value for the funds that are expended on information technology and advertising.