E-Government Services: Saving Niagara Residents Time and Money

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No more "during business-hours only": Busy residents now have a new way to book and pay online for Parks & Recreation programs/facilities or submitting requests.

It took me only 17 seconds to book my three children into the swim classes that we wanted online.

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Niagara residents will now be able to book and pay for online government services or education services and submit requests at their convenience. Residents in Port Colborne and Fort Erie have had these features available to them since 2006, however an updated system will be rolled out that will eventually include other municipalities in the Niagara region, such as Niagara Falls, St. Catharines, Welland, Thorold, Wainfleet, Pelham, Niagara-on-the-Lake and Grimsby. Included in the new system are the four major education sector partners as well.

The new online municipal service is a result of a partnership arrangement established several years ago through the Smart Communities project initiated by the Province of Ontario. The partnership, known as YourNiagara.ca, is a collaboration whereby partners pool their resources to maximize their purchasing power. That means a person who lives in the Township of Wainfleet will be able to access the same sophisticated online services as someone who lives in one of the larger cities or towns. YourNiagara.ca also provides useful information on a wide variety of topics and services, such as registering or reserving a parks and recreation program or facility online and soon will provide the capability to submit service requests online, and interactive mapping with multiple layers to choose from, with high-quality aerial photography.

Residents in the City of Port Colborne have demonstrated that this new technology is exactly what they want. Recently, 66% booked their swim classes online rather than standing in line to register. One resident stated, "It took me only 17 seconds to book my three children into the swim classes that we wanted online."

Lynne Rabak, Manager of YourNiagara.ca, states, "This new technology is state-of-the art and truly brings the region of Niagara into the 21st century. Any municipality or larger organization that does not believe this type of service is what residents want is operating under wrong assumptions. Providing online services is no longer a 'nice to have' but is very much a 'need to have'."

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Lynne Rabak
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