Your browser is not supported.
Your browser is too old. To use this website, please upgrade to Microsoft Edge, Chrome or Firefox.

Pandemic Recovery Plan

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. 

A New Economic Reality

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.

Download our Pandemic Recovery Strategy

Key Outcomes

Grow STC business community’s economic resilience and diversity Tech-enabled post-pandemic STC
Cross-protection between successive waves Stable housing creates a stable workforce
Infrastructure creates economic growth STC safe to live, safe to visit
A financially stable recovery for STC businesses and residents Bring leisure tourists back to STC
Hyperlocal governance Hospitality space recovery
Restore Downtown STC as Niagara’s urban playground Ensure STC business needs are represented
Widespread digital adaptability Leveraging partners, leveraging assets

Long-Term Economic Recovery

The objective of this document is to develop a long-term economic recovery strategy for St. Catharines in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis that will inform and direct efforts to support the transition of business, employees, and other community organizations and assets into a post-pandemic recovery phase. Staff will work with a number of partners and agencies to implement key outcomes, initiatives and actions.

To ensure that there is alignment with the upper levels of government, the plan is colour-coded to coordinate departmental efforts with a staged reopening based on directives from the Federal and Provincial Governments.

Stage 1 Stage 1: As select businesses reopen, and restrictions ease, we are working to gather data to drive our decisions, while engaging with local businesses as they retool and adapt to a changing economy.
Stage 2 Stage 2: The path forward continues, more businesses are opening, and life is returning to public space. We’re continuing our work to support businesses as in-person transactions return, with new challenges and limitations.
Stage 3 Stage 3: As the risk subsides and more businesses open we're gearing up to help business better promote itself and Niagara, bring back visitors to reopened spaces, and re-imagine remote work and new technological opportunities. 
Stage 4 Stage 4: With a vaccine developed, or transmission risk low, a full return to post-COVID normality. Work continues on helping businesses rebound from the pandemic, with digital solutions introduced by the pandemic complimenting traditional business approaches. 


O: Grow STC business community’s economic resilience and diversity

I: A Diversified and balanced economy.

Stage 1 A: Promote the federal and provincial calls to action for local
businesses to retool and supply the health care industry with
front-line defense solutions.
Stage 1 A: Recognize and promote STC businesses that have responded and
retooled to service the healthcare industry.
Stage 1 A: DonateSTC: Establish a network to encourage STC businesses to provide complimentary
services to support other sector and community efforts, (i.e. PPE, business support, volunteer opportunities).
Stage 2 A: Continue to develop and promote a b2b ‘shop-local’ strategy, where possible.

I: Reshoring and Supply Chain Development.

Stage 1 A: Work with the NIA to target reshoring opportunities and market STC / Niagara
for new, repatriated investment.

I: Win this Space.

Stage 2 A: Work with DTA to identify public / private opportunities and relaunch the

O: Cross-protection between successive waves

I: Develop a business crisis protocol for future waves of closures, social distancing,
potential shut downs to the economy.

Stage 1 A: Work with local chambers of commerce (GNCC) and business
associations to develop and share a crisis plan / play book for each
Stage 1 A: Business crisis protocol training: businesses should consider permanently
adopting some of the strategies implemented during the pandemic, such as:
online shopping, delivery and pickup.
Stage 1 A: Maintain a comprehensive database of municipal digital business

O: Infrastructure creates economic growth

I: Champion and expedite public and private investment using data driven

Stage 1 A: Identify top public / private investments delayed by COVID-19 that
will have the most impact on the community
Stage 1 A: Identify grant and stimulus funding opportunities that can help
ensure investments continue.
Stage 2 A: Work with local businesses to ensure their employee transit needs
are well-aligned with necessary alterations to work environments
and schedules.
Stage 3 A: Proactively target big-box retail properties for mixed-use
intensification opportunities.

O: A financially stable recovery for STC businesses and residents

I: Update and maintain a comprehensive database of financial resources for business.
Engage provincial and federal governments in further recovery investment programs.

Stage 1 A: Leverage the Region’s Rapid Response Team (RRT) partnership to
continue data collection and reporting on economic impact of the
pandemic on economic impacts.
Stage 1 A: Update COVID-19 business resources webpage on outlining current and upcoming
funding and loan programs.
Stage 2 A: Proactively share information about government policy and
programs that assist with recovery and growth.
Stage 3 A: Advocate for a universal child care plan aimed at addressing the
gender wage gap, protecting employment and families.
Stage 1 A: Leverage local partnerships to address gender gaps in economic
recovery (i.e. workforce re-entry, childcare services for returning
Stage 1 A: Advocate for rapid re-training and skills development funds for the
hospitality, tourism and retail sector employees
Stage 1 A: Ensure strategy alignment / input for policy initiatives at all levels
of government. Municipal policy initiatives:
  • CIP
  • LNA
  • DC by-law and CBC
  • MAT

O: Hyperlocal governance

I: Invest in placemaking strategies to restore confidence in public spaces,
and neighbourhoods.

Stage 1 A: CurbsideSTC: work with internal departments, EFES, PBS to
establish temporary parking pick-up zones, curb lane pedestrian
zones to adapt to pickup and social distancing requirements.
Stage 1 A: Initiate an educational awareness campaign to promote
the message that “social distancing does not mean social
Stage 2 A: Reimagine public space for pedestrians and businesses including
street closures and lane reductions, where possible, as a practical
tool for public health risk reduction.

I: Restoring public confidence in municipal recreation assets.

Stage 2 A: Work with CRCS to build key messaging around outdoor and
recreational assets.
Stage 2 A: 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.

O: Restore Downtown STC as Niagara’s urban playground

I: Support the downtown for the staged re-engagement of visitors.

Stage 1 A: Work in partnership with the DTA to source tools, support and
infrastructure to equip downtown businesses with the ability to
safely conduct business.
Stage 1 A: Continue to support CRCS on the safe re-introduction and
marketing of the St. Catharines Farmer’s Market.
Stage 1 A: Survey downtown businesses to measure impact and compare
results to previous information provided in the downtown
indicators report to gauge change.
Stage 1 A: Engage the DTA and other business districts on direct marketing to
encourage consumers to shop in a safe and responsible manner.
Stage 3

A: Assist in the preparation for the re-opening of large scale civic

  • First Ontario Performing Arts Centre
  • Meridian Centre
  • Brock University main campus and
    the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts
Stage 3 A: Partner with the First Ontario Performing Arts Centre and Meridian
Centre on a public awareness campaign about safety procedures
related to events / performances.

Stage 3 A: Partner with the DTA and explore the opportunity to host a
Christmas market downtown.
Stage 3 A: Work with the local arts and culture organizations to animate
the downtown.

O: Widespread digital adaptability

I: Help more businesses enhance their online presence.

Stage 1 A: Evolve the Digital Main Street program into a permanent fixture of
Economic Development services.
Stage 1 A: Continue to offer webinars and individual digital training provision
through the St. Catharines Enterprise Centre: e-commerce, social
media, remote work, alternative methods of business.
Stage 2 A: Explore partnering with Brock University and Niagara College
student co-op programs to establish a digital services squad to
provide businesses with digital support.

I: Remote working continuity.

Stage 3 A: Create a remote working best practice guide and marketing
campaign for local businesses aimed at attracting and retaining
Stage 2 A: Explore and promote flexible work schedule models that respect social
distancing requirements.

I: Bridging the digital divide.

Stage 2 A: Explore options to provide additional public WIFI in urban areas.

I: Monitor, measure and report strategy deliverables.

Stage 3 A: Develop a recovery dashboard.

I: Virtual vendor market.

Stage 3 A: Provide online digital showrooms for local businesses using
Instagram Live / Facebook Live stories.

O: Tech-enabled post-pandemic STC

I: Explore and test smart city technologies and applications for future emergencies.

Stage 1 A: Source and beta-test with partners engaged in sensor technologies
(ie: traffic, pedestrian measurement and monitoring).
Stage 3 A: Expand the use of the PingStreet App as a public awareness and
engagement tool.
Stage 3 A: Monitor Google mobility reports.
Stage 4 A: Encourage localized app development tracking retail wait times
related to essential services.
Stage 4 A: Engage local private sector on potential partnership opportunities
for IT / service solutions.

O: Stable housing creates a stable workforce

I: Prioritize all affordable housing development projects in STC.

Stage 1

A: Update Housing Action Plan initiatives:

  • Review status of initiatives and update action items table.
  • Explore new options, ideas, funding opportunities.

O: STC safe to live, safe to visit

I: Restore civic confidence and pride.

Stage 1

A: Build on the OurHomeSTC and YOU ARE HERE campaigns.

Stage 1 A: Create video campaign promoting support, recovery and resilience
of local business.
Stage 1 A: 1876 campaign storytelling 144 years of resiliency in our city
highlighting local businesses.

Stage 2

A: Partner with local post secondary institutions to develop a digital
welcome package for new and returning students, and faculty.
Stage 2 A: 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.
Stage 2 A: Create an on-line IGTV series geared to incoming students about
the city to run during “Welcome Week”. Each episode will highlight
an element of life in STC and will include a line-up of alumni guest

I: Media and Public Relations initiatives

Stage 3 A: C 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.

O: Bring leisure tourists back to STC

I: Develop new branding and marketing campaigns.

Stage 1

A: Monitor all immediate markets that affect domestic, national,
international arrival gateways including YHM, GTA and NY state).

Stage 1 A: Create an STC Festival and Event working group to review new
festival practices and reintroduce to the community.
Stage 3 A: Continue to support modified programming for festivals and events
through digital and social platforms.
Stage 3 A: Execute a three-part campaign targeting local “Explore your own
backyard,” Hamilton / GTA for “Down the road trip” and US border
states “Welcome back.”
Stage 4 A: Continue to collaborate with area wineries and breweries to develop
strategies to market their outdoor spaces / vineyards (ie: outdoor
tasting bars, picnics, picnic and bike ride).
Stage 2 A: Develop a Next-Gen digital-only City Guide.
Stage 4 A: Expand seasonal City Guide to all PickUpSTC participants.
Stage 4 A: Targeted “PlayInSTC guides” offering discount deals / incentives.
Stage 4 A: Leverage the TPN / RTO partnership and expertise.
Stage 4 A: Market the STC recovery assets locally through the provision of
transit media buys.
Stage 4

A: Work with the regional GO Implementation team to create
“Niagaracars” co-marketing STC assets, including the opportunity to wrap
cars with STC visuals.

Stage 4 A: Procure a booking system allowing consumers to purchase pre-built
packages or build their own (ie: accommodation and show tickets or
winery picnic and bicycle rental).

O: Hospitality space recovery

I: I: Attract new business, rebook lost business.

Stage 3 A: 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
Stage 3 A: Identify new ways to market hotel availability (ie: marketing hotels
to employers for temporary lodging, construction crews).
Stage 3 A: Work with area restaurant, hospitality, and accommodation partners
and public health professionals to initiate accredited environmental
sanitation processes.
Stage 3 A: Align hotel and culinary partners to build a strong partnership for
in-room food delivery (for those without restaurants on site) driven
by PickUpSTC.

O: Ensure STC business needs are represented

I: Follow advocacy strategy for all levels of government using data gathered from
local surveying and corporate communication.

Stage 1

A: Facilitate coordinated advocacy approach (cooperation with region,
other LAMs).

Stage 1 A: Rank advocacy priorities.
Stage 3

A: Continue letter, advocacy and meeting campaign to relevant
ministers reflecting STC needs. 

O: Leveraging partners, leveraging assets

I: Formalize sub-regional tourism marketing partnerships with
neighbouring municipalities via MOU.

Stage 2

A: Combine the urban and rural experience through shared marketing
resources, messaging.

Stage 2 A: Share staff expertise.

I: Film industry attraction.

Stage 3 A: Market and promote STC as a location destination for film, TV and
commercial production.

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

Stage 2 A: Continue to market the benefits of STC through the existing
partnership with the Ontario Airport Welcome Committee for
international student arrivals.
Stage 3 A: 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.
Stage 3 A: 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.

Discover why St. Catharines is to your Business Advantage

Learn More

Discover Why St. Catharines Is Your Business Advantage

Contact our team of experts for a consultation today.

Get Started

(905) 688-5601