Many know Ontario’s Niagara region for its world famous natural wonder, and now as the GTA housing shortage continues on, many more have come to know the area as a great place to call home. At Empire, we’ve been familiar with Niagara for a number of years, with communities in Thorold, Welland, and Niagara Falls, Ontario. Since we began building in the area in 2014, we’ve seen its rapid growth and development first-hand as many new residents have come to the region to raise their families, launch their businesses and pursue education.
“Prior to 2015, most of the homebuyers in our Southwestern Ontario communities were either locals or from west GTA, mainly from Mississauga and Brampton,” says Gary Mcilravey, Director of Market Research at Empire Communities. “This has changed as housing prices in the GTA have increased, the pandemic led more people to work from home, and increased immigration has fuelled housing demand. While the share of Mississauga and Brampton buyers has continued to grow, the number of people who are from Toronto proper has also risen. Many of these people have larger families and are not interested in condo apartments, so they continue to leapfrog the Greenbelt, out of the GTA, in search of more choice and more housing opportunities in places like the Niagara region.” Now, homebuilders are tapping into these communities where there’s still land supply to build, and one of them is Thorold.
Tucked just below the south edge of St. Catharines off Highway 406, about an hour’s drive from Mississauga via the QEW, Thorold was off the beaten path for many years as most people moved to St. Catharines or Niagara Falls. According to regional population growth projections, Thorold is expected to reach about 30,000 by 2041 from its current population of approximately 19,000, a clear indication that the area shows no signs of slowing. Planting roots in the region a long while ago, Empire has sold over 700 homes to date in the established Legacy community and continues to welcome new families to Calderwood, located in Thorold as well.
Being so close to St. Catharines, Brock University is almost directly across the road from Thorold’s City Hall. But more than the convenience of living near the region’s top education, it’s the city’s unique charm and small-town character that has made a real impact on homebuyers looking for a change of pace and a connection to nature. The closeness of the Falls and Niagara’s most coveted wineries is undeniable, and the neighbourhood’s proximity to the Welland Canal, which features a paved waterside trail a part of the Greater Niagara Circle Route (linking a series of Niagara Trails to the Trans Canada Trail), makes it a great location for hikers and cycling enthusiasts. And with the launch of Empire’s new community in Welland, Canals, not only has Empire’s footprint in the greater Niagara area grown, but the area’s development has as well, bringing in new recreational opportunities and additions like the Empire Sportsplex.
With available land supply in many towns and cities being consumed by strong housing demand, opportunities for low-rise communities have decreased. In comparison, the Niagara Region approved the Port Robinson West Secondary Plan area in 2015, located to the west and east of the Merritt Road exit from Highway 406. The initial phases of this area have been developed and built as Empire’s Legacy community. The balance of the Port Robinson lands represent one of the few relatively large areas for low-rise residential remaining to be built in the region, right at the interchange to a major highway. As a result, we expect the strong growth in this area to continue as one of the strongest in the Greater Golden Horseshoe.
Source: “Housing Boom Hits Thorold” / Niagara Falls Review.