Let’s talk about Niagara

There are two rules in blogging:

  1. Whatever you have to say will be old news in an hour.
  2. Don’t blog about blogging. It’s boring.

I have now broken both rules.

Basically, I was working on this great post about the future of Niagara Region when Niagara 2031: A Strategy for a Healthy, Sustainable Future was released. It would be silly to finish that post now without addressing Niagara 2031, but I hate to see that work disappear entirely into the ether. Rather than reworking the whole thing so that it is relevant, I’m just going to dump a section at the end of this post.

Instead of trying to get as much money out of other governments as possible, the Region should be pushing for a certain structural change in the way we do business:

North American Integration

And I mean this in the least conspiratorial way possible. I have some reservations about further integration with the US, especially regarding guns and culture, but a more porous border is a no-brainer for Niagara. There are over 1 million people just across the Niagara River, but Buffalo is, I think, an under-appreciated asset in Niagara.  Even from St Catharines, Buffalo is half as far away as Toronto. Granted, Buffalo isn’t the most glamourous city this side of Albany, but a million people are a million people.

This is mostly the domain of the federal government. First, the passport mess needs to be cleaned up. Hopefully the next US government will be more open to true free trade across our borders. People need to cross borders just as much as car parts. Second, have you heard much about the new international bridge at Fort Erie lately? Me neither. If this plan has stalled, let’s get moving on it. As for the municipalities, I wonder if some regularly scheduled joint meeting between municipal politicians on both sides of the river would be helpful. It could help us present a coherent message to our governments, and you should never underestimate the power of social bonds between powerful people.

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