700,000 People Expected to Visit Canalside This Year

July 5, 2012 Updated Jul 6, 2012 at 8:08 AM EDT

By Kendra Eaglin

July 5, 2012 Updated Jul 6, 2012 at 8:08 AM EDT

The canalside area is booming. Organizers have scheduled more than 435 events there over the next year and they are expecting more than 700,000 people to filter through the area.

More people are making a visit to canalside part of their routine.

"I was just telling my boyfriend on the way here I find myself down here at least once a week now," said Jennifer Shalik, a Buffalo resident.

"I think it's a great way for the community to get involved and children and people in general to have fun," said Martina Godfrey, a Buffalo resident.

And there is almost always a new sign of progress.

"It's almost daily you see the changes. The sod going down, the adirondack chairs, oh and the sandboxes are a nifty little addition I noticed a couple weeks ago," said Pam Maitino, who lives in the area.

Work is also underway to construct an ice rink that is three times the size of the rink at Rockefeller Center, turning the area into a year-round destination.

It's a part of Buffalo that Congressman Brian Higgins says has been economically dead for the past 20 years. But using money from a $279 million settlement from the power authority in 2005 the transformation is finally taking shape.

"Where once industrial lands stood along the Buffalo River you see emerging new parks," said Congressman Higgins.

The waterfront was desperate for new development opportunities that actually came through after the outdoor supply company Bass Pro, dropped out of a plan to be the anchor of the strip..

"I don't think that big box thing, that Bass Pro thing...I don't think that was going to work," commented Bruce Lafever, a Buffalo resident.

One of the things that is working? Smaller businesses like the waterfront restaurant Liberty Hound whose business is booming with people eager to enjoy the inner harbor.