UB Partners with Niagara, Ontario, to Convene Binational Summit

By Rachel M. Teaman

Release Date: May 8, 2006

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- In 2001 the Regional Municipality of Niagara, Ontario, initiated a cross-border dialogue by inviting Western New York representatives to its annual Smarter Niagara Summit to discuss regional challenges.

This year, the binational focus of the event has been significantly expanded, with Southern Ontario and Western New York leaders, including representatives from the University at Buffalo, jointly coordinating "Summit 2006: Creating the Cross Border Capital -- One Region, Two Niagaras, Our Shared Future."

Hosted by the Regional Municipality of Niagara and the University at Buffalo's Institute for Local Governance and Regional Growth and Urban Design Project, the two-day event convenes May 11 in Niagara Falls, Ontario and May 12 in Niagara Falls, New York.

"We recognize that as a cross border region, our futures are inextricably tied together. Fostering a continual enriching dialogue around shared issues is paramount – this is our primary goal in broadening the scope of the annual summit," said Robert Gabriel, a Regional Councilor for the Regional Municipality of Niagara and member of the summit's steering committee.

"This effort is part of an important, broader national trend of U.S. border regions partnering with our Canadian neighbors to identify and act upon synergies," said Kathryn Bryk Friedman, deputy director of the Institute for Local Governance and Regional Growth and member of the summit's steering committee.

The health of the Great Lakes, public access to the Niagara River, cultural tourism, cross-border governance, the Peace Bridge, sustainable agriculture, and the upcoming anniversary of the War of 1812 are among the topics to be addressed at the summit.

Headlining the conference are more than two dozen regional leaders with the keynote address on cross-border governance issues to be delivered by Canadian Parliament-member Hon. John Godfrey; former U.S. Rep. Henry J. Nowak (D-NY); David Crombie, president and CEO of the Canadian Urban Institute; and Ron Thomas, director of the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission.

Also highlighting the two-day agenda are New York State Acting Secretary of State Christopher L. Jacobs, the mayors of Niagara Falls (New York and Ontario), Lockport, Fort Erie, St. Catharines and Thorold; regional planning experts; and university representatives from both sides of the border.

"This is an unprecedented convening of leaders from our binational region, demonstrating a strong consensus that our progress depends upon continuing cooperation and shared policy deliberations," said City of Buffalo Mayor and summit participant Byron Brown.

"Engaging in conversations about our mutual challenges erases boundaries and facilitates progress for the entire cross-border region. This summit is a critical advance in that dialogue," added Fort Erie Mayor Wayne Redekop, who will participate with Brown in the summit's panel on border mayor partnerships.

The May 11 session will be held at the Americana Conference Resort and Spa in Niagara Falls, Ontario, while the Conference Center, Niagara Falls, New York, will host day-two of the summit. Both sessions convene at 8 am for registration and networking. The first session includes an evening event. For more information and a detailed agenda, contact Patrick Robson, Director of Community Integration for the Regional Municipality of Niagara (905-685-4225, ext. 3453) or visit http://www.regional.niagara.on.ca/living/smartgrowth/2006summit.aspx for registration details.