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Niagara Gateway Economic Zone and Centre - History
In recognition of the importance of cross-border trade with the United States, the Province of Ontario's Places to Grow, Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2001 ("Growth Plan" recognized the Niagara Gateway Economic Zone and Centre as having unique economic importance to the Greater Golden Horseshoe region and Ontario. The Growth Plan states that planning and economic development in the Gateway Economic Zone and Centre will support economic diversity and promote increased opportunities for cross-border trade, movement of goods and tourism.
The Niagara Gateway Economic Zone and Centre Final Report was prepared for Niagara Region by GHK in December of 2008 to provide an action plan to achieve the goals of the Province's Growth Plan for the Gateway Economic Zone and Centre, namely supporting economic diversity and promoting increased opportunities for cross-border trade, movement of goods and tourism. The Niagara Gateway Economic Zone and Centre Final Report was received by Regional Council in February of 2009, coinciding with Niagara 2031, the Region's Growth Management Strategy, which included adoption of a Preferred Growth Option for Niagara (Niagara Region Report DPD 54-2008). In May of 2009, Regional Council approved an Implementation Work Plan and Implementation Committee for the nine recommendations in the Gateway Economic Zone and Centre Final Report.
The preparation of this Gateway CIP stems largely from Recommendation #8 of the Niagara Gateway Economic Zone and Centre Final Report (page 58) which states that: "The Region of Niagara will work with the Province, local municipalities and its economic development agencies to create an attractive investment climate for its employment lands through such measures as improving their appearance, improving infrastructure, reducing the cost of servicing industrial lands, expanded targeted tax increment equivalent grant programs on a regional scale and opportunities for developing environmentally sustainable industrial buildings in such a way as to ensure sufficient employment lands are available for the future."
The Niagara Gateway Economic Zone and Centre Final Report identified incentives within a CIP as a way to make employment lands in the Gateway Economic Zone and Centre more attractive and accelerate the process of bringing these employment lands to market. The Niagara Gateway Economic Zone and Centre Final Report highlights the use of a CIP to accomplish these objectives because the Province's Growth Plan designated the Niagara Gateway Economic Zone and Centre as the only Gateway Zone and Centre in Ontario.
Niagara Region retained RCI Consulting to prepare this Gateway CIP. The primary purpose of this Gateway CIP is to revitalize, diversify and strengthen the economy in Niagara by promoting development of the employment lands in the Gateway Economic Zone and Centre. As discussed in Section 2.0 of this Plan, Provincial and Regional Plans, policies and studies related to the Niagara Gateway Economic Zone and Centre strongly emphasize the need for economic diversification in Niagara. The development of the employment lands within the Gateway Economic Zone and Centre can play a central role in helping to diversify the economic base of Niagara.
Niagara Gateway Economic Zone and Centre Community Improvement Plan
This Gateway CIP provides a comprehensive framework for the introduction and implementation of financial incentive programs and municipal leadership actions designed to attract investment and development in targeted strategic growth sectors to employment lands in the Gateway Economic Zone and Centre. Along with a number of supporting land use plans and policies, and infrastructure and transportation improvements, it is anticipated that the Gateway CIP will play a significant role in the development of the Gateway employment lands and the revitalization and strengthening of the Regional economy through diversification. Therefore, the Gateway CIP will help to achieve the goals identified in the Province's Growth Plan and the Niagara Gateway Economic Zone and Centre Final Report for the employment lands within the Niagara Gateway Economic Zone and Centre.
Community improvement planning activities are shaped by local needs, priorities and circumstances. The purpose of a Community Improvement Plan is to:
- Focus public attention on local priorities and municipal initiatives;
- Target areas in transition or in need of repair, rehabilitation and redevelopment;
- Facilitate and encourage community change in a co-ordinated manner; and
- Stimulate private sector investment through municipal incentive based programs.
A community improvement approach is a flexible, comprehensive, coordinated and strategic framework for dealing with lands and buildings which can address many physical, social and economic matters. The Community Improvement Plan enables the City to coordinate public works and capital expenditures with private land and building improvements in a comprehensive and complimentary manner. The Plan also allows the City to provide financial incentives to private land owners for improvements to lands, buildings, signs, landscaping and other works.
The Gateway CIP that is being presented to Council and the Public is unique in that it was prepared by RCI Consulting for the Region in conjunction with the five affected municipalities. Because of this, and based on the policy framework for the CIP, the primary goals of the Gateway CIP are to:
Revitalize, strengthen and diversify the Region's economy;
- Improve the attractiveness and competitiveness of the employment lands in the Gateway;
- Create new employment and retain existing employment;
- Increase property assessment and the Region's non-residential tax base; and,
- Develop energy efficient, sustainable industrial buildings.
In addition to the primary goals, additional (secondary) goals of the Gateway CIP identified by key stakeholders include:
- Increase opportunities for cross border trade, movement of goods and tourism;
- Contribute to the development of sustainable and complete communities;
- Promote efficient use of water and wastewater infrastructure;
- Support entrepreneurs and small businesses to grow;
- Strengthen business links to local institutions, especially educational institutions;
- Promote workforce development and better use of human capital; and,
- Increase the attractiveness of Niagara Region as an economic centre to the international market
This "Master Gateway CIP was prepared to provide a comprehensive framework for the introduction and implementation of financial incentive programs and municipal leadership actions designed to attract investment and development into the Gateway Community Improvement Project Area. If the CIP is successful in doing this, the CIP will help to revitalize, diversify and strengthen the economy in Niagara.
Therefore, the Gateway CIP will help to help achieve the goals identified in the Province's Growth Plan, the Niagara Gateway Economic Zone and Centre Final Report, Niagara's Economic Growth Strategy, the Regional Policy Plan, and Local Official Plans.
In consultation with the five Local Municipalities and other key stakeholders, Niagara Region led and coordinated the preparation of this "Master Gateway CIP". It is intended that Niagara Region will endorse this Master Gateway CIP and then all five Local Municipalities would adopt this Master Gateway CIP. This approach ensures consistency in the incentive programs offered across all five Local Municipalities and each local municipality can then offer grants that are partially funded by Niagara Region. This approach complies with the Planning Act and associated regulations.
The preparation of this CIP has benefitted greatly from extensive consultation with key stakeholders, including key opinion leaders in the real estate, development and design/build community. The Niagara Gateway Economic Zone and Centre Implementation Committee was also kept up-to-date throughout preparation of the CIP, and they provided valuable input and advice.
The endorsement of this CIP by Niagara Region and the subsequent adoption and approval of this CIP by the Local Municipalities will provide the legislative basis and comprehensive policy framework for the provision of incentive programs designed to achieve the goals of this Plan. Successful implementation of this CIP will require a commitment by Niagara Region and the Local Municipalities to implement, fund, administer and monitor the incentive programs. Experience in other municipalities has shown that early and effective implementation of a multi-faceted marketing strategy will help to make property and business owners aware of the incentive program opportunities available through the CIP. This will result in a more successful CIP. Ongoing monitoring of the performance of the Gateway CIP and adjustments to the incentive programs contained within the CIP will also help to ensure the long-term effectiveness of the Gateway CIP.
The approved Gateway CIP can be found be clicking on the following link:
Additional information regarding the Region of Niagara Economic Development Department and the services they provide can be accessed via the following link:
For more information regarding the Niagara Gateway Economic Zone and Centre Community Improvement Plan please contact:
Ph. 905-835-2901 ext 129
Email Lindsay Richardson
For information regarding the Regional component of the Niagara Gateway Economic Zone Centre Community Improvement Plan, or any other Regional development initatives, please contact:
Luciano P. Piccioni, M.C.I.P., R.P.P., Ec.D.
Expeditor and Gateway Marketing Coordinator
Economic Development Department
Ph. 905-685-4225 ext. 3710
Toll free. 1-800-263-7215
Email Luciano Piccioni
2201 St. David's Road, P.O. Box 1042
Thorold Ontario, L2V 4T7