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City Council Columns - May 2024



Hi Ward 1, hope you’re well! I’m sure you’re aware of the housing supply crisis and the challenges that low-income families face in trying to find an affordable home. Part of the proposed solution is to leverage government-owned properties to address the housing need. Kitchener has already done this, in a sense, a couple years back with the donation of $2M+ worth of land near St. Mary’s High school that now houses up to forty-one at-risk women. I’m happy to report that we’re at it again, this time just outside the edge of Ward 1 on River Road, across from Stanley Park Mall. Kitchener’s donating 2+ acres of land there, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity, for the near-term creation of more than sixty homes for families of various sizes in our region. The homes are expected to range from one to four bedrooms in an ownership-model. Land costs are a significant factor in overall home-cost, and in this case, the land we’re donating is estimated to be worth about $5.5M. Habitat for Humanity staff have estimated that with this donation, and their own efficient building methods, homes here will cost about half that of regular market rates. While this donation will certainly help, I must also point out that housing provision is not within the lower-tier municipal jurisdiction, it’s primarily the Region and Province’s role. However, like the federal government, we’re doing what we can in a time of crisis. In the long run, it’s not sustainable for us either in cost or land inventory, but for now at least, we’re doing what we can.
In 2026 the City of Kitchener will install a state-of-the-art underground water storage tank in Idlewood Green. It will improve drainage in the Idlewood area and improve water quality in our creeks. Thanks to everyone who attended the Open House on May 1. If you were unable to attend, I have lots of information on this project on my website. If you have any questions, please let me know. Our seasonal traffic calming measures are now all in effect. You’ll notice the middle of the road delineators and speed display signs throughout the city and our ward. We have a new batch of “Please Slow Down” signs available. If you’d like one for your lawn, just let me know. I’d be happy to deliver one to you. The Centreville Chicopee Community Association is looking for volunteers to join their Board. If you’d like to share your gifts and passion for your community as a Program Coordinator or Volunteer Coordinator, they’d love to hear from you. Connect with them through their website cccakitchener.ca. The Stanley Park Community Association is having a Community Yard Sale. On May 25 set your goods up for sale on your driveway. They’re creating a map of homes in Ward 2 who are taking part. Visit their website at spcakitchener.ca to get listed and for a copy of the map. For information on anything above, go to daveschnider.com and click on “Info” and “Input” links. If I can help with an issue, contact me or our 24-hour contact centre, 519-741-2345 or info@kitchener.ca. Follow me on X and Instagram @DaveSchniderKW or friend me on Facebook. Visit daveschnider.com for Ward 2 and city info.
Mark your calendar! Attend the Mother’s Day Garden Party at Homer Watson Gallery on Saturday, May 11, from 11am to 4 pm. Participate in fun activities, and enjoy the picturesque grounds, live music, workshops led by local artists, and more. Purchase tickets online at homerwatson.on.ca or at the door. I hope to see you there! Kitchener In Bloom: When walking in your neighbourhood, consider nominating a home or business garden that makes the area more beautiful. All you need is an address and to call 519-741-2200 ext 7537 or go to kitchener.ca/kitchenerinbloom,and click on “recognize a garden.” Neighbours Day: What a great way to connect with neighbours and meet new ones. On Neighbour’s Day, the City’s fantastic team will support residents who have opened their porches, lawns, and driveways to host a local musician on Saturday, June 15. If this is something you would like to do, go to kitchener.ca/neighboursday to register as a music ambassador. Yard Waste: From Apr. 1 to Nov. 29, the Region of Waterloo Waste Division provides yard waste pick up from your boulevard on the opposite week to your garbage pickup. Please do not dump this material in our parks and trails. For info visit regionofwaterloo.ca/waste. I’m available to answer questions or help with your concerns at 226-752-9541 or christine.michaud@kitchener.ca. Thanks to everyone who dropped by the Doon Pioneer Park Community Centre for a coffee chat. It was great meeting everyone and talking about what matters most to you. The next Coffee Chat will be on Saturday, May 25, from 10-11:30 am. I hope to see you there!
Greetings, Kitchener Residents! As the days grow longer and the sun graces us with its warmth, I hope you’re all enjoying the delightful arrival of spring. Whether you’re looking for events near you or in downtown Kitchener, be sure to check out kitchener.ca/events to stay in the loop. On the infrastructure front, our dedicated staff are hard at work monitoring and repairing potholes. Thanks to a milder winter, the repair season has been steady. The warmer weather in February allowed for the use of hot mix asphalt, ensuring repairs could continue through the winter months. With more asphalt plants set to open around May 1st, we’re gearing up for more permanent repairs. Remember, if you spot a pothole, please report it to the CCC or submit a report online. Additionally, our road repair efforts are picking up steam, including utility cut repairs and catch basin maintenance, all in sync with the opening of local hot mix asphalt plants. Concrete repair and crack sealing programs will also kick off on May 1st. Let’s not forget Kitchener in Bloom, a program that celebrates the gardening efforts of our residents and business owners. From April to September, we invite everyone to appreciate the beauty of gardens across our city, from backyard oases to community gardens and blossoming streetscapes. Kitchener in Bloom is a testament to the vibrant spirit of our community and the natural beauty that surrounds us. Spring is a time of renewal, and in Kitchener, it’s also a time to celebrate our community’s resilience and beauty. Join us in making our city bloom!
Let’s celebrate the positive accomplishments of Kitchener. As your Ward 6 Councillor, I’m thrilled to share some highlights of what we’ve already achieved this year. Strategic Plan Implementation: Our strategic plan has been the guiding star for Kitchener’s growth. In 2024, we’ve focused on key aspects. 2024 Strategic Action Plan: We’ve set clear goals and action steps to enhance our city’s livability, sustainability, and inclusivity. 2023-2026 Strategic Plan Progress Update: We’ve tracked our progress, ensuring that we stay on course. Community Investments: Our budget has allowed us to invest strategically in areas that matter most to our residents. From building a connected city to fostering economic growth, we’ve prioritized initiatives that align with our long-term vision. Our immediate focus has been doing our part to create housing affordability. We have been recognized for our efforts by the Federal Government with the $42.4 Million Housing Accelerator Fund and by the Provincial Government with the $14 Million Build Faster Fund. Both these grants will help support the construction of over 500 new not-for-profit affordable housing units. Remember, it’s the collective effort of our community, including residents, businesses, and local leaders, that makes Kitchener thrive. Let’s continue working together to create a brighter future for all! My next drop-in Meet and Greet is at the Country Hills Community Centre on Wednesday, June 19 from 7-8pm. I look forward to meeting you to hear your questions, concerns, or ideas. You can also email me at paul.singh@kitchener.ca.
The City of Kitchener and Habitat for Humanity Waterloo Region announced the inaugural phase of “BUILD NOW: Waterloo Region”, a first of its kind in Canada, community-led partnership that will create 10,000 new affordable homes for individuals and families in Kitchener, and the cities and townships throughout our region by 2030. As part of the ongoing commitment to affordable housing, the City of Kitchener has made a significant donation of land to Habitat for Humanity, valued at approx. $5.5 million. This generous act marks a crucial step forward in addressing the pressing need for affordable housing in the region and underscores the power of collaboration between local government and non-profit organizations. Habitat for Humanity has long been at the forefront of addressing housing issues, relying on volunteer labor and community partnerships to build homes for low-income families. With this donation, it can further expand its reach and impact in the region, enabling more families to achieve the dream of homeownership. The land donation is part of the City’s Housing for All and Make It Kitchener 2.0 commitments to provide city-owned lands for affordable and supportive housing projects. The building of these new homes will start in early 2025. All units will be owner-occupied and sold to low- and moderate-income families, who have lived in the Waterloo Region for 3+ years. Habitat for Humanity will use this land for purpose-built affordable housing that will include a number of larger three and four-bedroom units, as well as some smaller studio, one, and two-bedroom units.
Hello Ward 8, I hope you are enjoying the sunshine and lovely weather. I wanted to do a spotlight this month on Victoria Hills, the centre of our Ward. The Victoria Hills Community Centre (VHCC) is located at 10 Chopin Drive. Four neighbourhood associations support the area. They are the Victoria Hills Neighbourhood Association (VHNA), the Cherry Park Neighbourhood Association (CPNA), the Westmount Neighbourhood Association (WNA) and the Greenbelt Neighbourhood Association (GNA) The VHNA and CPNA offer programs, while the WNA and GNA offer special events at the centre. The VHCC is surrounded by the beautiful Gzowski Park which features a walking trail around the perimeter of the park which is surrounded by naturalized areas. It has a rentable ball diamond, an ice rink and terrific tobogganing hill in the wintertime. It is also home to a community garden. The VHCC hosts programming for kids, teens and adults. Programming includes many varieties of sports, arts and culture, cooking and conversation groups which are both run by our Neighbourhood Association, Community Partners and the City. Please check out their website for complete information on programming and rentals: https://www.kitchener.ca/en/recreation-and-sports/victoria-hills-community-centre.aspx The Victoria Hills Neighourhood Association is holding its AGM on Wednesday, June 5th at7pm at the VHCC. All are welcome to come out and hear about the great things this Association does throughout the year and they would love to have you join with them in building our community. More information can be found here: www.vhna.ca
Terry Pender’s April 19 Record article, “Development in Southwest Kitchener Threatens Drinking Water: Region of Waterloo Report,” highlights the consequences development in this area will have on the Region’s drinking water. This opening up of land for development was detailed in Bill 162 and was “unanimously supported by [Kitchener] city council.” I want it to be known I do not support this move and that I was on leave during November when this was decided and approved. I have supported the protection of the countryside line since before being elected in 2018. I was very disappointed to learn about this breach of the line. There is plenty of developable land within the countryside line to meet and surpass our stated goals and beyond. On April 25 Kitchener celebrated the donation of land to a partnership between Habitat for Humanity and Build Now. While percentages were not mentioned, the proposed development will include much needed three and four bedroom units, as well as one and two bedroom units. They will be owner occupied and remain ‘affordable’ for 25 years. When asked what affordable was, starting around $400,000 was mentioned and that they would be sold to those on low to moderate incomes up to $121,000/year. I look forward to seeing this project come to fruition. While I agree there is great need for housing at this price range, I hope we will also consider donating lands to rental projects that will house those on $30,000 to $60,000 incomes. These would serve the needs of seniors on a fixed income, single parents and young people trying to get a start on life.
Hi Ward 10! The City of Kitchener will donate a parcel of land worth approximately $5.5 million at River Road East and Ottawa Street North to Habitat for Humanity Waterloo Region and waive future development fees, such as permit fees and some development charges. Habitat for Humanity Waterloo Region will use this land for purpose-built affordable housing that will include a number of larger three and four-bedroom units, as well as some smaller studio, one, and two-bedroom units. The units will be ready in early 2025, or sooner. All units will be owner-occupied and sold to low- and moderate-income families who have lived in WR for three or more years. Homes will remain affordable, even if owners decide to move. This is another great move in the right direction to see more people housed in Kitchener! Consider this as your official invitation to downtown opening for the summer on May 25th from noon to 10pm. You and your family will be able to enjoy free live music + entertainment, pop-up art market, interactive art experiences, family activities, sidewalk sales and the launch of the new DTK Art Walk + Field guide. You will find me there, so please say hi. When out walking or biking and a garden catches your eye, consider officially recognizing them. The Kitchener in Bloom program celebrates the gardening efforts of residents and business owners who help to make our city a more beautiful place to live. As always, please reach out to me via email Stephanie.Stretch@Kitchener.ca , phone 519-741-2787 or socials @Stretch_ward10, or for general inquires call 519-741-2345 24/7.
Happy May everyone! After a hiatus, I’m pleased to be back to writing this column and sharing news about some of the exciting happenings around Kitchener. It’s hard to believe we’re already more than 1/3 through 2024, and in a few short weeks, we will be welcoming Summer and the longest day of the year in June.
​KITCHENER MAKES BIG PROGRESS ON HOUSING
​Over the last couple of months, Kitchener Council has moved forward on a number of major areas of planning policy to advance our commitment to both increase the supply of housing and make new construction more affordable. In March, City Council approved “Growing Together”, the most ambitious plan for transit-oriented design in Canada. Growing Together features new zoning rules that enable all housing types through a full range of building types, including missing middle forms, no density maximums, no parking minimums, a full mix of uses and flexible built form regulations, including a zone without height limits. Council also approved a bylaw to permit as-of-right 4 units per property across the city, and requirements for a minimum amount of affordable housing units through Inclusionary zoning in new construction. In April, City Council continued the momentum around housing by announcing Kitchener as the first municipality locally to partner with Habitat for Humanity. The city’s donation of over $5.5 million in land at Ottawa and River for the construction of over 60 units for affordable home ownership becomes the inaugural donation for the BUILD NOW initiative to build 10,000 homes within Waterloo Region with a mix of new rental and ownership units. City Council also approved a new $10,000 per unit incentive for new not-for-profit affordable rental and co-op housing units to be built, which will open for applications beginning in June. All of this work benefitted from some of the $42.4 million in funding made available to the City of Kitchener through the Government of Canada’s Housing Accelerator Fund, as well as contributions from the city’s Make It Kitchener 2.0 Economic Development Fund, and other housing dollars set aside through the city’s annual budget.
​PREMIER FORD COMES TO KITCHENER
​Last month, I was pleased to welcome Premier Doug Ford to the City of Kitchener where, together with area government MPPs, he announced that the City of Kitchener would receive $14 million from the Province of Ontario’s Building Faster Fund to support investments in housing-related infrastructure. The City received this provincial funding as it achieved 139% of its 2023 housing goal, which was part of the City’s pledge to support the building of 35,000 additional homes in Kitchener by 2031. The pledge is a commitment to advance progress on various strategies and actions that will support building new homes and demonstrates our commitment to unlocking more housing, streamlining development approvals, removing barriers and accelerating planning in support of the province’s housing target. KITCHENER JOINS BLOOMBERG PHILANTHROPIES YOUTH CLIMATE ACTION FUND
​Last month, I was pleased to announce that Kitchener will join Bloomberg Philanthropies’ new Youth Climate Action Fund, which will provide technical assistance and funding for 100 mayors to activate tens of thousands of young people ages 15-24 years to design, produce, and govern urgent climate solutions in cities across the globe. Kitchener joins the Fund alongside other cities from around the world, which together spans 38 countries across six continents, representing over 62 million residents. Kitchener will receive $50,000 to distribute as microgrants to fund a groundswell of youth-led climate initiatives as part of this program. This grant will be administrated in partnership with Climate Action WR and Greenhouse. Get more info at: www.kitchener.ca
​KITCHENER’S SUMMER FESTIVAL SEASON KICKS OFF WITH WELCOMEFEST
​Let the party begin! On Friday May24 and Saturday May 25, a new event called WelcomeFest, will open the events season in Kitchener with a two-day celebration in the heart of downtown, brought to you in partnership with KW Oktoberfest and the Downtown Kitchener BIA. Beginning with a live concert and 2024 events launch on Friday, May 24 and continuing with the Downtown Kitchener BIA’s Palette by Palate event on Saturday, May 25, this is a weekend of fun you won’t want to miss! Entertainment will include performances from U.N. Jefferson, Saint O Caribbean Jazz Ensemble, The 99’s, and headliner, Alli Walker. Hope to see you there!
Spring is here and so is some beautiful May weather and flowers. This is a great time to visit our many parks and trails in the city. If you head to kitchener.ca/parksandtrails, you’ll be able to find their locations. As always, please be responsible and respect everyone’s use and enjoyment of these spaces by picking up after your dog and putting your litter in a bin. I am beyond thrilled that the City of Kitchener is partnering with Habitat for Humanity to build 50 affordable─for purchase units─at the corner of Ottawa and River. These much-needed units will allow those who are being left out of the housing market due to affordability, to get their foot in the door. The city donated close to six million dollars in land for this first-of-a-kind project with Habitat. You can read the news release at https://bit.ly/4aXEh49. Council approved a decrease to natural gas supply rates from 16.7 cents/cubic meter to 11.63 cents/cubic meter. This will save the average household close to $90 dollars a year. I want to thank Councils of the past for ensuring that local services remain in the hands of the city and its residents. Mark your calendars! May 25 from Noon to 10pm experience Pallette X Palate: a celebration of art, food, and community. Enjoy live music, stilt walkers, fire throwers, buskers and more! Shop the pop-up market on Vogelsang Green, stroll sidewalk sales, and enjoy the sites from one of the downtown restaurant patios. Contact me at jason.deneault@kitchener.ca, or pop-in to my next Meet and Greet at Kingsdale Community Centre, June 12 from 7-8:30pm.