Niagara Falls Mayor concerned the city doesn’t have the services to deal with large influx of migrants


Published February 21, 2023 at 12:50 pm

A housing crisis is nothing new to municipalities in the Niagara Region but this particular one is a new wrinkle.

Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati has reached out to Niagara Centre MP Vance Badawey for a meeting with Sean Fraser, Canadian Minister of  Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship regarding the influx of migrants landing in the tourist capital.

The issue started small last summer, Doidati says, with an initial 87 rooms in the city’s downtown core being booked by the federal government to house migrants that crossed into Canada at a Quebec border crossing.

However, that number of rooms has ballooned to between 2,000 and 3,000, causing the mayor to have a number of concerns over the availability of social services, spots in local schools for children and even the limitations of vacancies in the city’s 16,000 hotel and motel rooms as the tourist season looms.

Diodati stresses while the city welcomes migrants and will do all it can to assure their needs are met, there also needs to be a plan put into play by the federal government to assist cities and towns that are becoming hosts to the new population.

Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) said recently that almost 40,000 asylum seekers crossed the border at the unofficial crossing at Roxham Road into Quebec in 2022. While that province has handled the great majority, there is overflow coming to other provinces, notably Ontario.

The IRCC told a Toronto TV station that of the 5,550 migrants that were shifted into Ontario, over 2,800 landed in Niagara Falls, making it the single largest destination in the province.

Diodati plans to tell Fraser that federal resources will have to be channeled towards his city in order to assist the migrants, as, like other municipalities, Niagara Falls is already stretching out it coffers for infrastructure and other needs.

The IRCC issued a statement saying that the government will be doing its best to help out but added that recent migration is much larger than normal.

“Given the current high volumes of asylum claims, IRCC has been working to support provinces and municipalities with the need to offer temporary accommodation to those arriving,” they said in a statement. “IRCC has worked to secure temporary housing where capacity permits.”

Meanwhile, Quebec has been pushing Ottawa to do something about the imbalance of migrants arriving in that province who then go on to await a refugee claim.

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