Welcome to the Niagara Community Observatory

The Niagara Community Observatory is a public-policy think-tank working in partnership with the Niagara community to foster, produce and disseminate research on current and emerging issues.

Community Partnerships

Hot off the presses !!!

We had a great discussion on June 18 with industry and government stakeholders as NCO director Charles Conteh presented policy brief #40 Niagara’s Agribusiness Sector: Towards a more resilient innovation cluster at the Meridian Community Centre in Pelham. The brief was done in collaboration with the Niagara Region Economic Development Division, which provided industry data and peer review support. Special thanks to the Town of Pelham for hosting the event.


What an engaged audience on May 7 in Cairns 207 to listen to Brock bee expert Dr. Miriam Richards present NCO policy brief #39 Promoting Pollinators: Niagara bees and how to help them. It was a packed house with citizens ready to do something about restoring wild bee habitat in Niagara and intent on making their municipalities more bee-friendly. Remember: an untidy garden is a bee-friendly garden.

The NCO is excited to present policy brief #38 Under the Knife & Under the Gun: An Overview of Regional Government in Niagara by esteemed scholar David Siegel, who is trying to provide some factual information for people to make evidence-based decisions on the future of Niagara governance.

Prof. Siegel, who specializes in local government, public policy and administration, presented his research to a crowd of 70 stakeholders in Pond Inlet on April 16, culminating in some great discussion. Special thanks to Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley and former Chair Debbie Zimmerman for some thoughtful opening and closing remarks. The full policy brief can be found on our website (see the above link) and the power-point presentation can be found here.

NCO Policy Brief #37

What a great turnout on February 7 for our latest presentation Ohnia:kara, An Aspiring Global Geopark.

Ohnia:kara (Mohawk for ‘neck between two bodies of water’) is a local grassroots initiative aimed at bringing the UNESCO Global Geopark brand to Niagara. Our policy brief introduces this relatively new concept to Niagara stakeholders and answers the question: ‘What is a geopark, and how might it enhance an already popular tourism destination?’

Cairns 207 was packed with stakeholders from education, conservation, tourism, and local government engaged in a conversation about this project.

Our Latest Research

The Brock Effect – OCT. 10

On behalf of Brock University President Gervan Fearon, we would like to thank all those who attended our presentation of NCO Policy Brief #36, The Brock University Effect: How thousands of students and millions of dollars energize the economy of Niagara communities, a report on the economic impact of Brock University.

President Fearon notes the University’s growing role and how it plays an important part in supporting regional economic and community development. As a result, he requested that Dr. Jeff Boggs, an economic geographer, conduct an analysis on the impact Brock has on its surrounding community. Dr. Boggs and his research assistant, Lauren Peddle, spent the summer reviewing data, not only on matters of employment and spending, but also in terms of research, and the value of Brock’s alumni.

This brief focuses on economic impact and is the first stage of an ongoing analysis as the university is currently putting together a second research team to measure social impact. The full-length analysis will be available online in the coming days.

It was another highly successful presentation to a full Pond Inlet. We would like to thank Mishka Balsom (GNCC), David Oakes (City of St. Catharines), Rino Mostacci (Niagara Region), and Peter Tiidus (Brock University) for participating on our panel.

Shifting Gears – SEPT. 27

What a great turnout to our season-opening event, a full house at Pond Inlet in conjunction with the Political Science Dept.’s Speaker Series! Recent master’s graduate Sean Calcott and Dr. Charles Conteh presented their research on the changing face of Niagara’s manufacturing sector in NCO policy brief #35, Shifting Gears: Examining the recent upswing of Niagara’s manufacturing sector. You can find media coverage of the event in The St. Catharines Standard  and listen to Prof. Conteh discuss the findings on 610 CKTB (below).


Dr. Conteh speaks to Matt Holmes at Newstalk 610 CKTB on manufacturing in Niagara


Many thanks to all who attended, especially our panelists Mishka Balsom (Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce), Dolores Fabiano (South Niagara Chambers of Commerce), and Blake Landry (Niagara Region). Thank you to political science Prof. Nicole Goodman and her Canadian Politics 2F12 class for participating and department chair Prof. Paul Hamilton for helping to make it happen.

From our Director

Dr. Charles Conteh, director of the NCO, is an associate professor in the Dept. of Political Science who specializes in public policy & management, political economy, and governance.

You can find his most recent column for The St. Catharines Standard here:
Engaging the next frontier of manufacturing in Niagara – May 31, 2019