Diodati points to Bradley’s emergency declaration as eclipse tourism falls short of expectations

Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati noted that Regional Chair Jim Bradley’s emergency declaration made tourists nervous about coming to Niagara Falls. Pictured:  Mayor Jim Diodati (left) Niagara Region Chair Jim Bradley (right). Photo Credit: Niagara Regional Municipality. 

The number of visitors to Niagara Falls for the eclipse was less than expected, and Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati is blaming Niagara Region Chair Jim Bradley’s emergency declaration for scaring many tourists away.

“It scared people,” Diodati said about Bradley’s March 29 decision to declare a state of emergency in the leadup to the solar eclipse. “People immediately started cancelling rooms and started cancelling reservations.” 

Diodati noted that Bradley’s emergency declaration made tourists nervous about coming to Niagara Falls. He said he understands why Bradley decided to make the move, but that ultimately it was the wrong decision to make.

Diodati also says the city of Niagara Falls was not consulted before Bradley made the announcement. 

When Bradley announced the emergency declaration on March 29, he claimed the move would
“strengthen the tools the Region has at its disposal to safeguard the health and safety of residents and visitors.” 

In theory, the emergency framework allows officials to more easily mobilize resources to protect residents from harm.

Yet, it remains an open question as to whether it was at all necessary to make such a declaration. Bradley was able to make the move unilaterally due to his role as chair. 

Niagara Falls had initially expected to see up to a million visitors for the eclipse, as Niagara was one of the best places in Canada for the eclipse to be seen. There was a total eclipse in the area, meaning that there was a point in time when the entire sun was blocked by the moon.

Diodati estimates that hundreds of thousands of visitors did still come, but feels that Niagara fell short of expectations. 

The emergency declaration “made headlines around the world and it’s really unfortunate, because you can’t get the toothpaste back in the tube,” Diodati said about fears by potential visitors about visiting while the Region was under an emergency declaration.

The Canadian Constitution Foundation was also skeptical of Bradley’s move. The organization noted that emergency declarations should be limited to genuine emergencies. 

CCF spokesperson Josh Dehaas says the emergency declaration is dangerous because none of the Region’s “reasons for declaring an emergency approach the definition of emergency” and there would now be nothing stopping Niagara Region from declaring a state of emergency for something as regular as a holiday. 

While there was great excitement in the Niagara area about the eclipse, some cloud cover ensured that the eclipse itself was not as visible as it was in other areas covered by totality. 

Still, with hundreds of thousands of people flocking to Niagara for the event, there can be no doubt that the eclipse was a boon for the local economy. 


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