Niagara Falls converting parking lot, former farmer’s market into affordable-housing development


The City of Niagara Falls is decommissioning the former farmers market building on Park Street and remediating the soil in preparation of a project that will include affordable-housing units.

Council has awarded a $733,800 contract to Baiocco Construction Corp., and appointed Dragun Corp. for contract administration, inspection, and environmental oversight for $191,600.

In May 2019, council directed staff to work with Niagara Region to issue a joint request for proposals for the construction of an affordable-housing project at 4500 Park St. The city’s contribution is to provide the Region with a clean parcel of land.

Staff have worked with Dragun Corp. on environmental investigations and the preparation of tender documents to decommission the existing market building and remediate contaminated soils in support of filing a Record of Site Condition.

The partnership between the city, Region and Niagara Regional Housing could lead to 200 to 300 affordable-housing units being built at the Park Street site, which is a city-owned parking lot and former farmers market.

Mayor Jim Diodati said for the downtown to be successful, it needs more people living there.

“We’ve rezoned the downtown to create more density, so you’re going to see condos, apartments, you’re going to see more people living there and with more people living there, you’re going to require more amenities,” he said.

Diodati said only 20 to 25 per cent of the units will be for affordable housing — the rest will be made available for market rent.

“This is going to be one piece of the puzzle for the downtown. We’ve got the GO happening now. We’re extending Thorold Stone Road to the downtown, to the roundabout we’re about to build on the corner of Victoria (Avenue) and Bridge (Street). We’re going to (make) streetscape improvements around the GO train and the bus station.”

Region Chair Jim Bradley said a lot of developments of this nature are combined affordable and regular units.

“It’s extremely important to see the city working with the Region and the Region working with the private and non-profit sector — that’s what actually is going to end up making enough affordable housing units to make some significant progress,” he said.

“Tax breaks and breaks on development charges are a way that municipalities can, in a combination in this case between the Region and Niagara Falls, make it attractive for the private sector to get involved in the build, and ultimately provide affordable housing to a segment of the population … who otherwise would not be able to go into housing of their own.”

City staff said environmental site assessments have confirmed the presence of various petroleum impacts and metals contamination in the soils of the Park Street property, as well as evidence of past and possibly present underground storage tanks.