"Taking the High Road to Canalside: How Community Activism Has Shaped Buffalo's Waterfront" documents the efforts of local advocates to bring “High Road” economic development to Canalside, to advance community benefits over corporate control. It was drafted by Michelle Zhao, the 2017 Cornell High Road Fellow at Partnership for the Public Good.
After setting out the historical context of Canalside and the fight that won its preservation, the brief focuses on the period of 2004 to 2015. It details the proposal to bring a Bass Pro Shop to the Inner Harbor, the leadership and governance of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC), and the campaign for a Community Benefits Agreement for the waterfront. This campaign led to three years of negotiations with the ECHDC, leading to the formal adoption of a consensus document, “A Public Statement of Principles for High Road Development of Buffalo’s Waterfront,” to guide development practices in the future. The community activists who took the High Road succeeded in dramatically changing the course of Canalside and changing the way that economic development is discussed, understood, and practiced in Buffalo.