St. Catharines mayor reaffirms commitment to Compassionate City in state of the city address Sendzik talks about expected and unexpected outcomes during fourth state of the city address
Feb 01, 2018 by Melinda Cheevers Niagara This Week – St. Catharines
ST. CATHARINES — Walter Sendzik gave fair warning at the start of his state of the city address that the audience, comprising the business community in St. Catharines, should expect something a little out of ordinary.
“We live in a world of expectations and tonight isn’t going to be your typical state of the city address. It may not be what you expected,” he said.
The Jan. 30 event, hosted by the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce (GNCC) at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, marked Sendzik’s fourth and final address for this term of council. He spoke at great length about expectation, both the things people in the room expected from him and council, as well as the unexpected things that arise.
“I really believe that it’s the space between the expected and unexpected where great cities are built,” he said.
Throughout his speech, Sendzik touched on many of the things people expected from him, including the business platform he said he was elected on, creating a culture of customer service at city hall and putting St. Catharines on the map.
The most unexpected part of the evening came at the end of his address, when he introduced the Compassionate STC Charter, inviting audience members on the stage to sign it.
It was during his 2016 state the of the city address that Sendzik first rolled out the concept of a Compassionate City, a city where a philosophy of “care plus action” exists when it comes to the community at large during day-to-day life.
“A Compassionate City is one in which no one is left behind, no one is standing outside of the circle. We’re all inside the circle, no one’s invisible, we see everybody,” Sendzik said in introducing the charter. “It’s about the wealth of our community being defined by the health and well-being of everybody.”
Throughout the evening, Sendzik touched on many of the great things he says are happening in the community, including shining the spotlight on business success stories, major developments coming down the pipeline, and blockbuster events that are giving the city prominence on a regional and national level. In introducing the charter, though, he also touched on some of the challenges facing the community, including homelessness, mental health, poverty and addictions.
“I know we have what it takes for our city to be a place where everyone belongs and this charter will be the next chapter in the city’s history that few people will have expected,” he said.
GNCC president and CEO Mishka Balsom was the first to sign, while audience members flooded the stage to also add their name to the charter. The community can sign the charter online at compassionatestc.ca.
Speaking to the opioid crisis facing the city, Sendzik warned the problem is far greater than many imagine and he vowed a safe injection site will come to the city. When met with applause, he told the audience to remember that support when it’s proposed and met with pushback.
This marked the first time the state of the city was held in the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre and the first early evening event. In previous years, it’s been a luncheon and held at such venues as the Meridian Centre and Club Roma.