Mayor Sendzik and Team STC highlight local priorities at AMO conference
The St. Catharines delegation at the annual Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference has concluded a record number of meetings with provincial ministers and officials to help move the City’s priorities forward.
The AMO conference was held virtually for the second year in a row with a focus on the impacts and opportunities from the COVID-19 pandemic. The largest-ever Team STC delegation was led by Mayor Walter Sendzik and CAO David Oakes with City Councillors Dawn Dodge, Carlos Garcia, Lori Littleton, Greg Miller, Karrie Porter, Mathew Siscoe, Kevin Townsend, Bruce Williamson all participating. Team STC had nine meetings with ministers and officials to discuss the City’s priorities and challenges including:
- Hon. Minister Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions about the opioid crisis and mental health and addictions impacting the community;
- Parliamentary Assistant Donna Skelly, Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade about the need for an Ontario marine strategy and supporting jobs and industry in Niagara;
- Hon. Kinga Surma, Minister of Infrastructure about the City’s new Transportation Master Plan and IT infrastructure;
- Hon. Sylvia Jones, Solicitor General about training needs and ways to increase diversity in municipal fire services;
- Hon. Nina Tangri, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction about the City’s small business support programs;
- Hon. Lisa Thompson. Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs about Greenbelt protection, brownfield remediation and irrigation West St. Catharines and Niagara to sustain the agricultural sector through climate change;
- Hon. Steve Clark Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing about affordable housing, support for cleaning up industrial (brownfield) sites and modernizing planning services;
- Parliamentary Assistant Vincent Ke of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries about the need for ongoing funding for sport, tourism and culture industries through re-opening and recovery;
- Hon. Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation to provide an update on integrated transit in Niagara and connections to GO train service.
The City has asked the province to create an Ontario marine strategy that will better utilize assets and private industry to create jobs and strengthen Niagara’s position in the blue economy. The Mayor also provided an update to the Minister of Transportation on the ongoing efforts to integrate local transit systems in Niagara and connect local bus service to the GO network.
Mayor Sendzik also spoke with Minister Tibollo about creating a provincial science table to bring together experts to deal with the opioid epidemic that is currently affecting every community in Ontario. The Mayor updated the province about how the City is working with community partners to respond to homelessness, mental health and addictions issues, noting that provincial funding and guidance is critical to have an impact.
Mayor Sendzik also participated in meetings with the Niagara Region delegation discussion regional issues like affordable housing, homelessness and upcoming long-term care redevelopment projects.
The conference also included opportunities for networking with other communities and elected officials, workshops and panel discussions on the COVID recovery and reopening.
“The City of St. Catharines had a strong presence at AMO this year and several productive meetings to move our priorities forward. Thank you to the Councillors who represented the City. We have much more work to do and I look forward to working with Council and our partners at the province as we continue to move our strategic plan forward to make St. Catharines one of the most dynamic, innovative, sustainable and livable cities in North America,” stated Mayor Walter Sendzik.
“Effective relationships with the provincial government are critical to address our strategic priorities and the pressures that the City is facing since so many of the services that taxpayers rely on are supported with provincial funding. AMO is an opportunity to share our challenges and opportunities for collaboration and to learn about ways that other cities are tackling common issues like housing, transportation and streamlining services,” stated St. Catharines CAO David Oakes.
AMO is a non-profit organization representing Ontario’s 444 municipal governments. The annual AMO conference is an opportunity for municipal officials to work together to address common challenges, to learn through speakers, sessions and workshops, and network with municipal leaders from across the province. The 2021 conference was conducted virtually for the second time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.