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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Daily Update: March 9, 2023

St. Catharines mayor delivers State of the City at GNCC event, Brock profs weigh in on Region’s state of emergency declarations, and more.

In this edition:

St. Catharines mayor delivers first State of the City address at GNCC event

His Worship Mat Siscoe today delivered his first State of the City address as Mayor of St. Catharines. In a speech, Mayor Siscoe expanded on his election pledges to pave the way for development that would close the housing gap in the city, delivering on a promise to build 15,000 new homes over the course of ten years.

Mayor Siscoe also touched on the economic potential of the city, highlighting the way that the Canada Summer Games had shown the opportunities for sports tourism. With a nod to Niagara Falls mayor Jim Diodati, who was present in the audience, he noted that tourism was and would continue to be a driver for economic growth throughout the region.

In a fireside chat interview with GNCC CEO Mishka Balsom, the mayor further expanded on some of these themes. Asked about the City’s decision not to cut taxes with the reduction in costs offered by uploading transit to the Region, Siscoe remarked that tax cuts were not possible without cuts in services.

“We had a reserve for a rainy day,” he said, “and COVID was a monsoon.”

State of the City 2023 was powered by Verge Insurance Group, and supported by partner MNP, Gold sponsors Bell and Alectra, Friends of the City McGarr Realty and Heddle Shipyards, and event sponsors Soundbox, Critelli’s, YourTV Niagara, Newstalk 610 CKTB, and Move 105.7.

Click here to view the video of the Mayor’s address.

Brock University professors weigh-in on Niagara Region’s state of emergency declarations

Brock University researchers working with vulnerable populations say more needs to be done to help.

Niagara Region council passed a motion Feb. 23, for three states of emergency involving mental health, addictions and homelessness, calling on the province for assistance in the growing emergencies.

Three Brock professors focusing on research ranging from poverty-related issues, governmental policies and the psychological impacts of substance use, housing and homelessness said provincial involvement needs to occur to tackle these community issues.

“Declaring an emergency at a local level is a cry for help,” said Scott Neufeld, a lecturer in the department of psychology focusing on substance use, housing and homelessness.

“It’s a way of saying we recognize a serious, complex issue we locally don’t have the resources to address, and we need help from other levels of government.

“It’s good to raise awareness in the sense of acknowledging the reality of a problem locally in terms of the actual funding or tangible change attached to it,” he said.
Click here to read more.

McCall MacBain Foundation pledges $5m to new South Niagara hospital

The Niagara Health Foundation has announced that the McCall MacBain Foundation has pledged $5 million to the It’s Our Future campaign in support of the new South Niagara hospital.

In recognition of the donation, the Auditorium in the Interprofessional and Learning Centre will be named The MacBain Family Auditorium.

The donation will help fund the construction of the state-of-the-art hospital as well as new, specialized programs to be offered at Niagara Health, which will be announced in the near future.

The Foundation was Founded by John and Dr. Marcy McCall MacBain in 2007.

Click here to read more.

Credit card debt up 15 per cent in Q4, younger Canadians feel hardest pinch: Equifax

Canadian credit card debt soared in the last three months of 2022 amid rising interest rates and stubbornly high inflation with younger Canadians in particular relying on credit to make ends meet.

Canadians’ credit card debt increased by more than 15 per cent from the same period a year earlier and totalled more than $100 billion for the first time, credit monitoring agency Equifax said Thursday.

Slowing debt payments and rising balances point to a “hard time in 2023,” said Laurie Campbell, director of financial wellness at debt relief firm Bromwich and Smith.

“We haven’t seen incomes rise to the extent of inflation,” she said. “People are using credit … to bridge the gap between income and expenses.”

Overall consumer debt rose in the fourth quarter of 2022, with total debt at $2.37 trillion, up more than six per cent from the same period in 2021, the agency said in its latest quarterly credit trends report.

Click here to read more.

1.5-million new Ontario homes already within reach: planners’ study

New research by area planners suggests there are already enough new homes in Ontario’s planning pipeline to hit government targets without building on Greenbelt lands in Hamilton or elsewhere.

Ontario has made a flurry of recent planning changes meant to create 1.5 million new homes by 2031, including urban boundary expansions, Greenbelt carve-outs and a new housing bill designed to fast-track development.

But a new survey of 15 Ontario municipalities, including Hamilton, shows more than a million homes were in the planning pipeline — and outside the Greenbelt — even before the provincial changes. And if you count planned new homes in cities and towns that were not surveyed, the total “could exceed” that target.

Click here to read more.

Focus on Real Estate

As reverse mortgages boom in popularity, here’s what you need to know

Reverse mortgages are seeing a surge in popularity as more Canadians seek to age in place and supplement their income amid the ongoing affordability crisis.

HomeEquity Bank, Canada’s largest reverse mortgage provider, reported that in 2022, it had issued over $1 billion dollars in reverse mortgages, which is up 30 per cent from 2021.

“A lot of people who are retired fall into a position where they’re house rich and cash poor. So especially if they don’t have any sort of defined pension plan or if they haven’t invested heavily in RRSP… that’s when a reverse mortgage comes in handy,” Toronto-based mortgage broker Mary Sialtsis told CTV’s Your Morning on Thursday.

Sialtsis says the rise in Canadians seeking reverse mortgages is unsurprising, especially after the horror stories coming out of long-term care homes with COVID-19.

Click here to read more.

What mortgage owners need to know about the Bank of Canada’s rate pause

The Bank of Canada’s decision to hold interest rates on Wednesday will provide relief to variable rate mortgage holders and could spur momentum in the nation’s housing market, according to experts.

The Bank of Canada elected to hold its policy rate at 4.50 per cent Wednesday after an interest rate hiking campaign that began in March 2022 and included eight consecutive rate increases.

Leah Zlatkin, a mortgage broker and expert with, said in a phone interview Wednesday that the announcement from the Bank of Canada will mostly effect mortgage holders.

“That’s [the decision to hold rates] good news for a lot of variable rate mortgage holders who have been very stressed about mortgage rates rising for them. In terms of fixed rates, if you already have a fixed rate, this obviously doesn’t impact you at all,” Zlatkin said.

Click here to read more.

Through the Daily Updates, the GNCC aims to deliver important business news in a timely manner. We disseminate all news and information we feel will be important to businesses. Inclusion in the Daily Update is not an endorsement by the GNCC.

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