Niagara Falls enters Stage 2 with Ontario government tourism boost

Niagara Falls is among the cities entering Stage 2 of reopening.
Niagara Falls is among the cities entering Stage 2 of reopening. Niagara Parks

The province has provided a boost to hard-hit Niagara Falls, as it enters Stage 2 of reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, was in Niagara Falls on Friday morning to mark the occasion. She announced plans to help redevelop the Canadian Niagara Power Generation Station into a modern tourist attraction.

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The Ontario government is providing a $25-million loan to the Niagara Parks Commission to transform the 1905 heritage building where visitors will be offered educational tours about Ontario’s power generating history, and a unique new perspective on the Horseshoe Falls through a new viewing platform.

READ MORE: More Ontario regions now in Stage 2 of COVID-19 reopening

The first phase of the redevelopment will be completed in summer of 2021.

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The government loan will be repaid over 10 years, with the first payment expected in January 2024 after the attraction is fully operational and generating revenue.

READ MORE: Mayors surprised by decision to exclude some of Southern Ontario in reopening plan

McLeod says “this has been a very challenging time for the tourism sector, but today the Niagara Region will begin to reopen its world-class attractions and start down the road to recovery,”

She insists that “heritage, sport, tourism and culture industries were hit first, they were hit hardest, and they will take the longest to recovery in our economy, post COVID-19.”

READ MORE: Hamilton records just one new case, enters Stage 2 of coronavirus reopening Friday

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McLeod says “this marks the start of that recovery”, noting almost 41,000 tourism and hospitality jobs were lost in Niagara this spring during the pandemic.

As it enters Stage 2, Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati adds that tourism operators have “gone above and beyond to make sure that Niagara Falls is safe to have fun.”

Hamilton recorded just one new case of COVID-19 on Friday.

There are 61 active cases of the virus in the city.