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


Stage 3 Initiatives and Actions

A diversified and balanced economy:
  • Continue to develop and promote a b2b ‘shop-local’ strategy, where possible
Champion and expedite public and private investment using data driven decision-making:
  • Proactively target big-box retail properties for mixed-use intensification opportunities
Support the downtown for the staged re-engagement of visitors:
  • Assist in the preparation for the re-opening of large-scale civic assets including the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, Meridian Centre, and Brock University campuses
  • Partner with the First Ontario Performing Arts Centre and Meridian Centre on a public awareness campaign about safety procedures related to events / performances
  • Partner with the DTA and explore the opportunity to host a Christmas market downtown
  • Work with the local arts and culture organizations to animate the downtown
Remote working continuity:
  • Create a remote working best practice guide and marketing campaign for local businesses aimed at attracting and retaining talent
  • Explore and promote flexible work schedule models that respect social distancing requirements

Bridging the digital divide:

  • Explore options to provide additional public Wi-Fi in urban areas

Monitor, measure and report strategy deliverables:

  • Develop a recovery dashboard
Explore and test smart-city technologies and applications for future emergencies:
  • Source and beta-test with partners engaged in sensor technologies (ie: traffic, pedestrian measurement and monitoring)
  • Expand the use of the PingStreet App as a public awareness and engagement tool
  • Monitor Google mobility reports
Prioritize all affordable housing development projects in STC :
  • Update Housing Action Plan initiatives including a review status of initiatives and update action items table; and exploration of new options, ideas, funding opportunities.
Media and public relations initiatives:
  • Outreach to TV and radio talk shows to arrange appearances and placement of print media stories / earned media through existing and new media contacts / blogger FAM tours
Develop new branding and marketing campaigns:
  • Continue to support modified programming for festivals and events through digital and social platforms
  • Execute a three-part campaign targeting local “Explore your own backyard,” Hamilton / GTA for “Down the road trip” and US border states “Welcome back”
Attract new business, rebook lost business:
  • Work with local hoteliers to reimagine the meeting, convention and incentive travel business in STC. Target smaller regional corporate meetings marketing larger venues and rooms to maintain social distancing
  • Identify new ways to market hotel availability (ie: marketing hotels to employers for temporary lodging, construction crews)
  • Work with area accommodation partners and public health professionals to initiate an accredited environmental sanitation processes
  • Align hotel and culinary partners to build a strong partnership for in-room food delivery (for those without restaurants on site) driven by PickUpSTC
Film industry attraction:
  • Market and promote STC as a location destination for film, TV and commercial production

Strengthen STC’s position as a destination for higher learning:

  • Continue to market the benefits of STC through the existing partnership with the Ontario Airport Welcome Committee for international student arrivals
  • Work with the DTA and downtown business to strategize on marketing downtown to Brock University and Niagara College students in anticipation of reduced presence due to studies shifting from in-class to online
  • Work with DTA and downtown and city-wide student housing partners on reimagining use of student housing in anticipation of post-secondary studies shifting online

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


Stage 3 Initiatives and Actions

A diversified and balanced economy:
  • Continue to develop and promote a b2b ‘shop-local’ strategy, where possible
Champion and expedite public and private investment using data driven decision-making:
  • Proactively target big-box retail properties for mixed-use intensification opportunities
Support the downtown for the staged re-engagement of visitors:
  • Assist in the preparation for the re-opening of large-scale civic assets including the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, Meridian Centre, and Brock University campuses
  • Partner with the First Ontario Performing Arts Centre and Meridian Centre on a public awareness campaign about safety procedures related to events / performances
  • Partner with the DTA and explore the opportunity to host a Christmas market downtown
  • Work with the local arts and culture organizations to animate the downtown
Remote working continuity:
  • Create a remote working best practice guide and marketing campaign for local businesses aimed at attracting and retaining talent
  • Explore and promote flexible work schedule models that respect social distancing requirements

Bridging the digital divide:

  • Explore options to provide additional public Wi-Fi in urban areas

Monitor, measure and report strategy deliverables:

  • Develop a recovery dashboard
Explore and test smart-city technologies and applications for future emergencies:
  • Source and beta-test with partners engaged in sensor technologies (ie: traffic, pedestrian measurement and monitoring)
  • Expand the use of the PingStreet App as a public awareness and engagement tool
  • Monitor Google mobility reports
Prioritize all affordable housing development projects in STC :
  • Update Housing Action Plan initiatives including a review status of initiatives and update action items table; and exploration of new options, ideas, funding opportunities.
Media and public relations initiatives:
  • Outreach to TV and radio talk shows to arrange appearances and placement of print media stories / earned media through existing and new media contacts / blogger FAM tours
Develop new branding and marketing campaigns:
  • Continue to support modified programming for festivals and events through digital and social platforms
  • Execute a three-part campaign targeting local “Explore your own backyard,” Hamilton / GTA for “Down the road trip” and US border states “Welcome back”
Attract new business, rebook lost business:
  • Work with local hoteliers to reimagine the meeting, convention and incentive travel business in STC. Target smaller regional corporate meetings marketing larger venues and rooms to maintain social distancing
  • Identify new ways to market hotel availability (ie: marketing hotels to employers for temporary lodging, construction crews)
  • Work with area accommodation partners and public health professionals to initiate an accredited environmental sanitation processes
  • Align hotel and culinary partners to build a strong partnership for in-room food delivery (for those without restaurants on site) driven by PickUpSTC
Film industry attraction:
  • Market and promote STC as a location destination for film, TV and commercial production

Strengthen STC’s position as a destination for higher learning:

  • Continue to market the benefits of STC through the existing partnership with the Ontario Airport Welcome Committee for international student arrivals
  • Work with the DTA and downtown business to strategize on marketing downtown to Brock University and Niagara College students in anticipation of reduced presence due to studies shifting from in-class to online
  • Work with DTA and downtown and city-wide student housing partners on reimagining use of student housing in anticipation of post-secondary studies shifting online

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 City, its businesses and residents are in uncharted waters. We're using our full tool kit to navigate these the path to recovery for the local economy, developing novel solutions alongside time-tested strategies to ensure our business community moves forward along with us. There's a lot of uncertainty, but we are here to help. If you have any questions about economic recovery, please don't hesitate to leave them here and we will do our very best to answer.

STC Framework for Recovery: Economic Development Q&A

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