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Nov. 13, 2018 | Tuesday
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A look back at 2017 with Mayor Diodati
Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati speaks at the "G20 of Gastronomy" at Table Rock in Niagara Falls. This year the Falls played host to the annual meeting of Le Club des Chefs des Chefs, a club for personal chefs of world leaders. (Richard Harley/Niagara Now)

2017 has been a significant year for the city of Niagara Falls, seeing one its busiest development years during Canada's sequicentennial.

And although Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati isn’t a guy who likes to do much looking back, we managed to get him to give us a list of some of the city’s top accomplishments of 2017.

It wasn’t an easy task, said Diodati and his assistant Carey Campbell, with this year being a major year for the Falls.

Perhaps on the top of the list is the announcement of a new Niagara Falls Hospital, said the mayor’s office, secured by a new sign on the future hospital site. Ontario Minister of Health Hoskins was in the city to make the announcement in October, during the unveiling of the new sign on the future hospital site. The new hospital promises state-of-the-art facilities and dedicated mental health care and will provide care to more than 434,000 people.

Diodati said next is the announcement of a “groundbreaking” 5,000-seat theatre to be completed in mid-2019. The theatre will be behind the Niagara Falls Hilton, facing Stanley Avenue, and is expected to cost in the range of $130 million.

On a more local level, the mayor said the city is proud to have renovated the infrastructure at 10 public playgrounds this year, including F. J. Miller Park. Diodati said it might be the most parks ever renovated in a single year by the city, with typically around one or two upgrades per year.

In connecting Niagara Falls with other municipalities, the new inter-municipal transit plan is a major accomplishment for the city and the region, said the mayor. The plan will connect Niagara Falls, St. Catharines and Welland together so that commuters can easily get between the three cities, in partnership with the Niagara Region.

For Canada’s 150th birthday, the city created a Canada 150 committee which held more than 220 sesquicentennial celebrations, including several 150 Legacy Projects, which included the creation of a Canada 150 Legacy Trail being added to the Millennium Trail, and a new Niagara Falls sign at the city limits. There were also several 150 signature events at Scotiabank Convention Centre.

With regards to Canada’s favourite sport, the Falls saw the Toronto Maple Leafs training camp hit the Gale Centre this year, offering fans a chance to come out and watch the Leafs practice and have meet-and-greets with some of the players. As well, Rogers Hometown Hockey making a stop in the city this October for a Montreal Canadiens vs. New York Rangers game.

Diodati said another important event for the city in 2017 was the reinterment of the tomb of the unknown soldier in Fairview Cemetery. The event was widely celebrated, with major contributions from the federal government. The body of the soldier was exhumed and reinterred. Diodati said it was one of the major events of the year.

With regard to culture in the city, the announcement of a new famers’ market and cultural hub in the city is a major accomplishment in terms of arts and infrastructure. The new farmers’ market will be on Main St. and Ferry St.

The city also opened a new fitness track at the Gale Centre, which Diodati said has been a popular draw, offering free exercise year-round for Niagara Falls residents.

Of course, Diodati said, it’s always special when big events hit the city. This year the city was fortunate to see Live with Kelly and Ryan hit Oakes Garden Theatre to film a show for Canada’s 150th. Diodati said the show is a “coming together of lots of moving parts of the community,” and was attended both days by thousands of people.

Not forgetting about the environment, Diodati said a hugely important accomplishment is the implementation of a tree policy in the city, which says every time a tree is removed it must be replaced with two or three trees in its place.

The city also won a global “SmartCity” award this year, being announced as one of The Intelligent Community Forum’s Smart21 Communities of 2018.

The Fall also won a MarCom award this year for its website Let’s Talk Niagara Falls, where residents can engage and open up to the community in different way. The Falls was awarded a platinum level for videos on site and for being one of the top engaged cities around the globe.

Last but not least, it was announced this year that the city was selected to host part of the Canada Summer Games in 2021, with will take place across the Niagara Region. Diodati said bringing the Games to the region is a major accomplishment for the area. In Niagara Falls, with the Games comes the building of state-of-the-art baseball training facilities that will benefit the city for years to come.

Though this list doesn’t encapsulate everything that happened in Niagara Falls during this busy 150th birthday year, the mayor said it has been one of the busiest years yet for the city. 

He said residents of Niagara Falls can look forward to a 2018 that will see similar growth as the further tackles its endeavours while simultaneously lowering city debt.

 

Some other notable accomplishments:

Niagara Parks opened up a new visitor centre at the Niagara Glen with a fossil exchange program.

The city was selected to host a provincial cannabis store.

Rumble at the Falls celebrated Indigenous contributions to Rock music.

A new multi-level go-kart track was built, set to open in spring 2018.

Stunt-artist Erendira Wallenda hung over the Falls by her teeth from a helicopter.

Return of live TV broadcast for New Year’s Eve show, hosted by Rick Mercer.

A night with Guy LaFleur offered hockey fans a chance to meet the hockey legend.

Reader Kristin Lyssand suggested the addition of first-ever Carmel Fine Art & Music Festival in Firemens Park, which took place in September, hosted by the Niagara Arts Showcase.

 

Know of something that should have been included? Send a message to editor@niagaranow.com.

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