Could areas such as Pittsford and the Syracuse Inner Harbor be models of how to re-establish the Erie Canal? Or maybe ideas could come from other countries that have successfully brought business and tourism to their waterfronts.
Syracuse is hosting the World Canals Conference in honor of the bicentennial of the Erie Canal. Director of the New York State Canal Corporation Brian Stratton says it is time to reinvent the waterway with good ideas from other countries.
“People that have traveled throughout Europe today know that there is a tremendous potential for tourism along our canals and we are just beginning to get into that here,” Stratton said. “Rochester, Syracuse that’s really the sweet spot for canal tourism.”
The Canal is owned and operated by the New York Power Authority who’s President Gil Quiniones announced a competition to reimagine the canals Monday. One area of the competition aims to solicit ideas on ways to improve infrastructure for business development. The other area seeks to develop programming to attract tourists to the canal.
Quiniones hopes people from around the world will participate.
“I’m already seeing the connections and the possibilities of what the canal will be going forward,” Quiniones said. “And it’s really about the items or the programing that will catalyze economic development, economic activity, better quality of living along the canal towns.”
Stratton says there are many beautiful sections along the canal that would benefit from tourism brought in through this competition.
“Between Lockport and Pittsford or really that sort of middle section and that’s the elevated agricultural section, beautiful, lovely, not a lot of services along that section in terms of marinas tourism but it doesn’t mean that there couldn’t be,” Stratton said.
Stratton hopes the announcement of the competition will set the tone for the conference this week. The canal currently brings in 380 million dollars in tourism but the competition seeks to increase that total.