Mayor Sendzik’s state of the city highlights push to regain pre-pandemic momentum, recovery efforts
It’s been just over two years since the COVID-19 pandemic changed the community, but St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik says the City is ready to forge ahead with recovery in 2022.
The mayor, during his annual State of the City address at FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre on Wednesday night, said while few generations before us have faced an issue such as the COVID-19 pandemic, moving forward as a unified and inclusive community will help the City move forward on many different fronts.
“We need to be bold, we need to act with both compassion and conviction,” said Mayor Sendzik. “We need to harness the momentum that was forced to a pause in 2020. The momentum must be purposeful and inclusive – we can’t leave anybody behind.”
His address, presented by the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce, touched on three overarching themes: hometown pride; leading with a sense of urgency; and rebuilding the momentum. The mayor didn’t shy away from challenging topics like the housing crisis, homelessness, the opioid epidemic and the climate change emergency, but said he believed in the “collective” community and its ability to “move forward together”.
The mayor used the example of the partnerships to establish the vaccination clinic at the Seymour-Hannah Complex, where nearly 260,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were administered; and residents like Fallon Farinacci, who mobilized the community in support of the Indigenous peoples; and 10-year-old Lincoln McGuire, who used his birthday to raise money to support the homeless, ultimately turning it into the Lincoln Cares initiative to support other causes.
“I am immensely proud of how many people stepped up and worked hard to support and protect our community,” said Mayor Sendzik.
Looking ahead to 2022, the mayor hopes to see St. Catharines regain its pre-pandemic momentum. Last year there was more than $236.5 million in permit construction value in the City, and that growth will spill into this year and beyond. More than 70 new businesses have opened since the onset of the pandemic, private and public investments continue across the City, and the downtown core and Port Dalhousie continue to be hives of activity with not only new growth, but animation with events and activities.
The Canada Summer Games will be a major milestone, bringing thousands of athletes to Niagara August 6 to 21, not only becoming a significant economic generator, but leaving a legacy for generations to come with the Walker Sports and Abilities Centre at Canada Games Park, the new training centre at the Henley Rowing Course, and more.
Applauding the efforts of City Council, City staff and the collective community, Mayor Sendzik said “the issues we face today are daunting” but the resiliency and leadership in St. Catharines will help move St. Catharines forward.
“This year is going to be a year of recovery and rebuilding of our resilience as a community,” he said. “There will be no easy answers, and the way forward will be fraught with complexities and uncertainties, but we’re ready to move forward after what has been a traumatic and challenging time for many people.”
Together with the St. Catharines economic development team, Mayor Sendzik inducted four businesses into the Team STC Hall of Fame for their contributions in the community and abroad. A Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to FBT Inc. – a long-standing family business that has evolved to serve a global clientele since 1945. Also recognized as 2022 Team STC award recipients were: Legacy Award recipients, PBG Homes and Neptunus Yachts, and Future Leaders Award recipient Accenture.
“These recipients join a growing list of Team STC Award winners who have led change and made significant contributions to our community,” said Brian York, director of economic development and government relations. “They help make St. Catharines a great place to live, and their innovation and resiliency will help the City regain momentum as we continue with recovery.”
The event was broadcast live on YourTV and will be rebroadcast over the coming weeks. You can also watch a stream below.