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#AskSendzik: Spreading word about compassionate city

#AskSendzik: Spreading word about compassionate city

St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik shared his compassionate city model with mayors across the country last week and was buoyed by the response.

“It was great to see how overwhelmingly supportive people were of the concept,” Sendzik said Friday during his monthly Chat with the Mayor at The Standard.

Sendzik spoke about the compassionate city model on a panel of mayors at the Cities Reducing Poverty: When Mayors Lead summit in Edmonton April 5-7.

About 300 people were in attendance, including mayors from small towns and large cities who focused on actions and practices they could bring to their communities.

St. Catharines is the only city in Canada that has a compassionate city model, announced by Sendzik in January during his state of the city address.

The idea is to change the way the corporation of St. Catharines relates to citizens and offers services.

Sendzik said no other corporation touches more parts of the community through its arenas, pools and parks than the city. City staff interact with people all the time but the city hasn’t provided the resources or knowledge to empower staff when they are dealing with a homeless person in a park or a mother who can’t pay a water bill.

The compassionate city model will change that by setting up a system so staff can help people they interact with get access to other services, find solutions and be part of positive outcomes.

“The whole concept of compassionate city is taking the lens of compassion and applying it to the city and changing the culture of how we see things, how we interact when it comes to poverty reduction,” Sendzik said Friday. “It’s the care plus action.”

Sendzik said he received feedback after the panel discussion, including from a First Nations chief and from the deputy mayor of Toronto, who told him they would take the idea back to their communities.

“That was a validator for me and it was interesting to see what other communities are doing,” he said.

Sendzik’s full Chat with the Mayor can be found below.

He discussed meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at Ontario’s Big City Mayors conference in Ottawa this week, the Port Dalhousie piers and St. Paul Street construction.

The next Chat with the Mayor is May 13. Readers can send questions by posting them to The Standard’s Facebook page or Tweeting with the hashtag #AskSendzik.

The city launched a compassionate city website earlier this month at www.compassionatestc.ca.