Robert Restaino, the incoming Mayor of Niagara Falls, NY wants access to the Greater Toronto Area’s commuter GO Train service — and he plans to discuss the possibility with Mayor Jim Diodati of Niagara Falls, ON when the two men meet next month.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his Progressive Conservative government is planning to invest billions to expand Toronto’s subway system, but he’s been less vocal about his plans for commuter rail service in the Province.
Restaino is making no secret of his desire to put Niagara Falls’ new but underutilized Amtrak station to better use. The beautiful facility cost taxpayers north of $40 million to construct, but services only three Amtrak trains a day.
GO Transit provides daily service to the VIA Rail station in Niagara Falls, ON, located only 2,000 feet from the station in Niagara Falls, NY.
That train departs at 5:23 am and arrives at Union Station in Toronto at 7:50 am, Monday through Friday. The train back departs Toronto at 5:15 pm and arrives in Niagara Falls, ON at 7:42 pm. The transit authority provides bus service along that route far more frequently — eighteen times each way, Monday through Friday.
Restaino and others in the business community want those trains to cross the American border. It’s thought that the train station would quickly become a popular ‘park-and-ride’ location, with Western New Yorkers preferring to go through customs at the station rather than at vehicular bridge crossings, considering traffic waits along the QEW near Toronto.
A great place to start, urban planners have been clamoring, would be to expand weekend service during the City’s peak tourist season, from Memorial Day through Labor Day. GO Transit currently services the Niagara Falls, ON rail station with two daily trains in each direction.
Weekend trains to Toronto depart at 8:30 am, 11:30 am, 5:20 pm, and 11:00 pm.
Weekend trains from Toronto depart 9:00 am, 6:18 pm, and 8:10 pm; arriving in the Falls at 11:04 am, 6:22 pm, and 10:14 pm, respectively.
Those around Restaino believe that downtown Niagara Falls — which struggles with endemic vacancy rates — could benefit enormously from mass transit connectedness to Toronto. He hopes that artists there will quickly discover how affordable Main Street storefronts are here and will be inspired to open their studios and gallery spaces a quick train ride away.
Storefront spaces on Main Street in downtown Niagara Falls, NY cost only a couple hundred dollars a month. Storefronts on Pine Avenue, another historic commercial district in the city, rent for just a bit more.
“Niagara Falls is a great place for artists. The cost of living is dirt cheap, the storefronts and historic buildings here are plentiful, and we have massive tourist volumes, to whom art can be marketed and sold,” one Restaino advisor explained. “Mass transit to downtown Toronto would be the match that sparks the fire.”
Many in the city’s business community think that the city will emerge as a destination for art and culture — and they suspect that Toronto’s sky-high housing costs will be a principal driver of Niagara Falls’ looming gentrification.
The GTA’s affordability crisis — and the Conservative Party’s inability to effectively address it — is a central issue in Canada’s federal politics. The Conservative Party hopes to elect a majority to Parliament within the next two years — but to do so, it must wield a vastly more competitive messaging strategy in order to make meaningful gains in the seat-rich GTA.
Home prices in the GTA continue to rise and prices are expected to grow into the coming year. The median price of a two-story home is expected to rise beyond $1 million, according to forecasts from Royal LePage. Prices for two-story detached homes inside the GTA are expected to rise by 4.5% by the end of 2020 — ending the year at $1,027,000. Median prices inside the City of Toronto exceeded that number several years ago. The median price of a condominium is expected to increase by 6% year-over-year to $600,000.
Canada’s high-volume immigration policies have been driving skyrocketing price increases, as first-time home buyers try to utilize new government incentives to secure a first property, creating political tensions inside the Liberal Party of Canada. Severe housing shortages exist in most Canadian urban centers, prompting bidding wars.
Some in the Conservative Party want the Province to allow for a period of rapid American style sprawl, in an effort to reduce housing prices with a massive new influx of supply at the metropolitan fringes. Streamlining suburban zoning regulations and density targets would enable a higher quality of life for ordinary Ontarians, with the advent of affordable homes on wide leafy lots.
Nationally, Canadian home prices are forecast to rise by 3.2% to $669,800 in 2020. The median price of a condo and two-story detached house are projected to increase by 3.6% and 3.1% to $506,100 and $785,400, respectively.