STC Framework for Recovery: Economic Development and Tourism

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The global COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the economic engines of our community. With businesses closed, events cancelled, and the movement of people and goods significantly slowed, the pandemic has widened social and economic divisions further deepening the consequences of inequality.


St. Catharines Economic Development and Tourism Services department has begun the process of recovery planning by setting our sights on a resilient and prosperous future for our residents. In our Pandemic Recovery Strategy, we are taking an outcome-based approach to recovery, setting clear goals with the initiatives and action items to achieve them.


Key Outcomes

Economic resilience iconGrow STC business community’s economic resilience and diversity
Cross-protection iconCross-protection between successive waves
Infrastructure iconInfrastructure creates economic growth
Recovery iconA financially stable recovery for STC businesses and residents
Hyperlocal governance iconHyperlocal governance
Downtown STC iconRestore Downtown STC as Niagara’s urban playground
Digital iconWidespread digital adaptability
Tech-enabled STC iconTech-enabled post-pandemic STC
Stable housing iconStable housing creates a stable workforce
Safe STC iconSTC safe to live, safe to visit
Tourism iconBring leisure tourists back to STC
Hospitality iconHospitality space recovery
Representation iconEnsure STC business needs are represented
Partnership iconLeveraging partners, leveraging assets


Stage 2 Initiatives and Actions

Economic resilience iconWin this Space:
  • Work with the St. Catharines Downtown Association to identify public / private opportunities and relaunch the program
Infrastructure iconChampion and expedite public and private investment using data driven decision-making:
  • Work with local businesses to ensure their employee transit needs are well-aligned with necessary alterations to work environments and schedules
Hyperlocal governance iconInvest in place-making strategies to restore confidence in public spaces, and neighbourhoods:
  • Reimagine public space for pedestrians and businesses including street closures and lane reductions, where possible, as a practical tool for public health risk reduction

Restore public confidence in municipal recreation assets:

  • Work with Community, Recreation and Culture Services to build key messaging around outdoor and recreational assets
  • Develop a discovery program encouraging (when safe to do so) the use of outdoor space, connection of paths and parks in neighbourhoods, hiking and cycling trails
Digital iconHelp more businesses enhance their online presence:
  • Explore partnering with Brock University and Niagara College student co-op programs to establish a digital services squad to provide businesses with digital support
Safe STC iconRestore civic confidence and pride:
  • Partner with local post-secondary institutions to develop a digital welcome package for new and returning students, and faculty
  • Explore creation of a STC Handbook containing information about transit, local businesses, downtown, market, PickUpSTC, virtual entertainment options, and off-campus hiking and cycling trails
  • Create an on-line IGTV series geared to incoming students about the city to run during “Welcome Week,” with alumni guest co-hosts highlighting unique elements of life in the city
Formalize sub-regional tourism marketing partnerships with neighbouring municipalities:
  • Combine the urban and rural experience through shared marketing resources / messaging
  • Share staff expertise


We will continue to update this page as we move forward with recovery efforts so stay tuned, or check out the St. Catharines Economic Development and Tourism Pandemic Recovery Strategy for further economic recovery plans, including ongoing efforts from past stages. If you have any further questions relating to how we are moving to support local businesses and the economy through the recovery process feel free to reach out on our Q&A feature below.


The global COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the economic engines of our community. With businesses closed, events cancelled, and the movement of people and goods significantly slowed, the pandemic has widened social and economic divisions further deepening the consequences of inequality.


St. Catharines Economic Development and Tourism Services department has begun the process of recovery planning by setting our sights on a resilient and prosperous future for our residents. In our Pandemic Recovery Strategy, we are taking an outcome-based approach to recovery, setting clear goals with the initiatives and action items to achieve them.


Key Outcomes

Economic resilience iconGrow STC business community’s economic resilience and diversity
Cross-protection iconCross-protection between successive waves
Infrastructure iconInfrastructure creates economic growth
Recovery iconA financially stable recovery for STC businesses and residents
Hyperlocal governance iconHyperlocal governance
Downtown STC iconRestore Downtown STC as Niagara’s urban playground
Digital iconWidespread digital adaptability
Tech-enabled STC iconTech-enabled post-pandemic STC
Stable housing iconStable housing creates a stable workforce
Safe STC iconSTC safe to live, safe to visit
Tourism iconBring leisure tourists back to STC
Hospitality iconHospitality space recovery
Representation iconEnsure STC business needs are represented
Partnership iconLeveraging partners, leveraging assets


Stage 2 Initiatives and Actions

Economic resilience iconWin this Space:
  • Work with the St. Catharines Downtown Association to identify public / private opportunities and relaunch the program
Infrastructure iconChampion and expedite public and private investment using data driven decision-making:
  • Work with local businesses to ensure their employee transit needs are well-aligned with necessary alterations to work environments and schedules
Hyperlocal governance iconInvest in place-making strategies to restore confidence in public spaces, and neighbourhoods:
  • Reimagine public space for pedestrians and businesses including street closures and lane reductions, where possible, as a practical tool for public health risk reduction

Restore public confidence in municipal recreation assets:

  • Work with Community, Recreation and Culture Services to build key messaging around outdoor and recreational assets
  • Develop a discovery program encouraging (when safe to do so) the use of outdoor space, connection of paths and parks in neighbourhoods, hiking and cycling trails
Digital iconHelp more businesses enhance their online presence:
  • Explore partnering with Brock University and Niagara College student co-op programs to establish a digital services squad to provide businesses with digital support
Safe STC iconRestore civic confidence and pride:
  • Partner with local post-secondary institutions to develop a digital welcome package for new and returning students, and faculty
  • Explore creation of a STC Handbook containing information about transit, local businesses, downtown, market, PickUpSTC, virtual entertainment options, and off-campus hiking and cycling trails
  • Create an on-line IGTV series geared to incoming students about the city to run during “Welcome Week,” with alumni guest co-hosts highlighting unique elements of life in the city
Formalize sub-regional tourism marketing partnerships with neighbouring municipalities:
  • Combine the urban and rural experience through shared marketing resources / messaging
  • Share staff expertise


We will continue to update this page as we move forward with recovery efforts so stay tuned, or check out the St. Catharines Economic Development and Tourism Pandemic Recovery Strategy for further economic recovery plans, including ongoing efforts from past stages. If you have any further questions relating to how we are moving to support local businesses and the economy through the recovery process feel free to reach out on our Q&A feature below.


  • St. Paul Street opened to pedestrians, businesses as weekend public space

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    14 days ago

    June 23, 2020 – The first road closure, as a means to provide space for pedestrians and local businesses to operate in the wake of COVID-19, will kick off this weekend.

    With St. Catharines Downtown Association (SCDA) operating the area as a special-event permit holder, St. Paul Street will be closed to vehicles, from William Street to Carlisle Street on Friday, from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m..

    The expedited permit will allow the SCDA to operate a special-event area for expanded patios and outdoor shopping...

    June 23, 2020 – The first road closure, as a means to provide space for pedestrians and local businesses to operate in the wake of COVID-19, will kick off this weekend.

    With St. Catharines Downtown Association (SCDA) operating the area as a special-event permit holder, St. Paul Street will be closed to vehicles, from William Street to Carlisle Street on Friday, from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m..

    The expedited permit will allow the SCDA to operate a special-event area for expanded patios and outdoor shopping on sidewalks and streets, while opening the roadway to pedestrian traffic. The cooperative effort comes after City Council requested exploration of partnerships with local business groups to take over streets and sidewalks as public spaces for pedestrians and business.

    “With limitations on physical distancing in indoor areas we are happy to partner with the SCDA on this initiative to allow our businesses to expand their operations out into public space,” said Director of Economic Development and Government Relations Brian York, adding, “COVID-19 hit our business community hard, so it is great to see life returning to the city, to see people getting out and enjoying all that downtown has to offer in a safe, responsible way.”

    The hope is the partnership with the SCDA will continue on St. Paul Street during weekends going forward in 2020, with the area possibly expanding to support more businesses. The City is also eyeing the possibility of working with other business area groups for similar street-closure events elsewhere in the city.

    “This means so much to our businesses, we’re definitely looking forward to running the outdoor area in the weeks and months to come,” said SCDA Executive Director Tisha Polocko, adding, “our businesses are excited to open their doors, but they need the space to do it safely, to ensure we keep moving forward in the fight against COVID-19.”

    Businesses operating under the special-event permit on the sidewalk or in parking spaces will be required to remove any furniture or merchandise outside the street-closure hours mentioned above.

    Additionally, the special-event space is distinct from the expanded temporary outdoor patio process in place for 2020. Businesses in the area wishing to operate a temporary patio in the closure area outside the stipulated special-event permit times will be required to complete the temporary outdoor patio application process at www.stcatharines.ca/temporarypatios.

    Additional curbside pickup parking spaces will be set up on streets adjacent to St. Paul Street to offset those lost during the closures.

  • St. Catharines brings ShopHERE program to Niagara

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    about 1 month ago

    June 1, 2020 – To help support local small businesses, today the City of St. Catharines is joining the ShopHERE powered by Google program, with a goal of getting more businesses online this year.

    ShopHERE, which started in the City of Toronto, helps independent businesses and artists build a digital presence and minimize the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In May, Google Canada announced a $1-million investment to enable Digital Main Street to expand the program to municipalities across the country, offering more businesses and artists the opportunity to build their own online store.

    The program is now available...

    June 1, 2020 – To help support local small businesses, today the City of St. Catharines is joining the ShopHERE powered by Google program, with a goal of getting more businesses online this year.

    ShopHERE, which started in the City of Toronto, helps independent businesses and artists build a digital presence and minimize the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In May, Google Canada announced a $1-million investment to enable Digital Main Street to expand the program to municipalities across the country, offering more businesses and artists the opportunity to build their own online store.

    The program is now available to small businesses in St. Catharines. Local businesses and artists can apply for the program at www.digitalmainstreet.ca/shophere to get their online store built at no-cost.

    “Our City is committed to supporting local businesses during these challenging times and continues to lead in bringing opportunities to Niagara to help small businesses adapt to evolving economic conditions,” said Mayor Walter Sendzik. “Our small businesses will benefit from this program. Joining with other community and corporate partners, such as Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas, Shopify and Google, this initiative supports the City’s strategic plan by building a more resilient economy through collaborative relationships aimed at attracting and retaining business in St. Catharines.”

    Because the opportunities afforded by the digital economy are still limited if people don’t have the right skills, Google’s investment will also help more small businesses and artists receive the digital skills training needed to participate in the digital economy.

    “The City of St. Catharines is proud to bring this program to Niagara to help our local businesses during a time when having an online presence has become even more important,” said Brian York, director of Economic Development and Government Relations. “COVID-19 is changing the way we shop and this program will help our local businesses keep pace and adapt to the changing economic reality with enhanced online presence and expanded digital skills.”

    “Since Google began its business in Canada nearly twenty years ago, we’ve been focused on helping Canadian businesses of all sizes unlock the prosperity of the internet,” says Sabrina Geremia, vice president and country manager, Google Canada. “We remain optimistic and more determined than ever that technology is the toolkit for a world of opportunities. Our $1-million investment will go towards expanding the ShopHERE program nationally, so we can help small businesses across Canada navigate the challenges ahead.”

    “Main street businesses are facing unprecedented times due to COVID-19,” said John Kiru, executive director, Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas. “They need to be able to sell online if they are going to survive and we are proud to expand the ShopHERE powered by Google program to help them achieve this. This program is critical in ensuring main streets can adapt and evolve during this crucial time.”