Niagara-on-the-Lake is undoubtedly a smart town with a rich history and an even brighter future.
However, the path to that future should be marked by the wisdom of sustainable tourism, which means not just attracting visitors, but welcoming those who come here to experience our town and become a part of its charm.
To achieve this, we propose the establishment of a designated marketing organization that encourages longer stays.
Our goal is to attract visitors who choose to park their cars or stay over and take their time to explore our forts, museums, enjoy the Shaw Festival, or savour the local wines.
The current situation of a town of 19,000 people hosting more than two million visitors a year who on average spend less than 60 minutes in town is not sustainable.
Sustainable tourism revolves around the idea of maintaining a healthy town life for our residents while inviting guests to share in our cultural and natural treasures.
Unfortunately, the town’s tourism strategy committee is exploring using taxpayer dollars to fuel high-volume tourism, resulting in more traffic congestion, parking issues, high taxes and overcrowding.
These are no longer prerequisites for our town’s success.
We must question the wisdom of spending taxpayer funds to cater to the short-term interests of a few businesses, ultimately risking our town’s reputation by becoming more of a tourist trap.
Blindly pursuing tourism growth may lead us down a path of further commercialization, turning Queen Street into a charmless shadow of its former self.
It’s essential to recognize that tourism has played a vital role in saving Niagara-on-the-Lake, providing jobs and boosting property values when they were low.
However, the booming tourism industry has driven up housing costs, making it unaffordable for our own children to remain in town and forcing many non-residents into long commutes into town.
To address this, we propose that council members allocate the municipal accommodation tax exclusively to support low-volume tourism and address infrastructure gaps caused by high-volume tourism.
We must refrain from using the tax for short-term, high-volume marketing efforts or extravagant vanity projects.
We call on our community to speak up and advocate for smart, sustainable tourism.
Let us prioritize quality over quantity, preserving the unique charm of Niagara-on-the-Lake for generations to come.
Residents for Sustainable Tourism