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City Council Columns - November 2022


Hi Ward 1! I typically use this space to write about local issues, or financial ones, but this is my last opportunity to acknowledge three members of Council that did not seek re-election. I have worked alongside Ward 5 Councillor, Kelly Galloway-Sealock; Ward 3 Councillor, John Gazzola; and Ward 10 Councillor, Sarah Marsh, over the past 12 years. Sarah Marsh was my ward neighbor, sharing a long expressway border from the Aud, all the way up to Bridgeport. I was always impressed by her fiery compassion for equity, and for those less fortunate, while also balancing the challenges of a rapidly developing (and therefore often difficult) downtown Ward. John Gazzola has always kept a keen eye on the finances of the city, from gas rates to tax rates, but I credit him mostly for his courage in asking the questions others might be too afraid to ask. Once you knew him, you understood that he often knew the answers to these questions but felt it important they be on the public record. Lastly, I learned a lot from Kelly Galloway-Sealock, my council ‘seat-neighbour’ when I was first elected (and scarcely knew my role.) She fought tirelessly for the fair share of amenities in her ‘recently-developed’ ward, but my fondest memories are her trail-blazing efforts as a new mother in those early years. Looking down and seeing the happy little bundle that she somehow managed, right there in the council chambers, while also being so effective in her role was an inspiration. Please take the time to read their final posts here in this paper.
The new term of Council begins November 21. I’d like to thank Ward 2 voters for choosing me to serve you. I walked 261 kilometres campaigning, had some great conversations, and heard your priorities. I commend Derrick Rabethge and Asher Shahzad for running. Congratulations to new Councillors Aislinn Clancy, Ayo Owodunni and Jason Deneault, and the returning Councillors and Mayor Vrbanovic on their re-election. I look forward to working together for the good of our city. My thanks to Councillors John Gazzola, Kelly Galloway-Sealock and Sarah Marsh for their contributions on Council. I will miss them. One of the first things Council will do is set the strategic plan for 2023 to 2026. A lot of input has already been collected on what citizen priorities are. We’ll work together with staff to finalize that plan and focus our budgets and decisions on addressing those priorities over the next four years. You can learn more at engagekitchener.ca As a community, we’ll determine the future of the Queen Victoria statue. The award-winning Jay Pitter, International Placemaker, is leading our engagement process. We’ll have a chance to share perspectives and consider new ideas and approaches for the statue. We’ll build knowledge, new relationships and be part of an important decision-making process. Learn more at engagekitchener.ca. If I can assist you, contact me directly. For urgent matters call our contact centre at 519-741-2345 or email info@kitchener.ca. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @DaveSchniderKW or “friend” me on Facebook. Visit my website, daveschnider.com for lots of Ward 2 and city info.
The last four years have just flown by. It’s been my privilege to work with many of you. Thank you for your strong support in the recent municipal elections, I’m honoured to represent you for this next term of council. Although Ward 4 has seen improvements over the last term of council, such as new amenities and trail enhancements to Upper Canada Park, the addition of a multi-use pathway along Homer Watson, construction of the new Old Mill Sanitary Pumping Station, infrastructure upgrades and more, there is still additional work to be accomplished. As Kitchener continues to grow, especially in the south end, which includes Ward 4, I will continue to support responsible development with connected communities and continue my collaborative work with Council and City staff toward building a more inclusive, creative, and active Kitchener. As we begin this next council term, I’m happy to restart my Coffee Chat with Christine at the Doon Pioneer Park Community Centre. Join me Sat., Nov. 19, from 10 - 11:30 am. I’ll be available to discuss your concerns, answer your questions, and hear your suggestions. Please drop in for a coffee, as I’d love to chat with you! You can also provide feedback and stay up to date on what’s happening through the engagewr.ca website. You’ll find all upcoming and recent public engagement on topics like the new Strategic Plan, road reconstruction, Places & Spaces, and more. As always, you can reach me at christine.michaud@kitchener.ca. For general inquiries, our Corporate Contact Centre can assist you 24hrs/7 days a week at 519-741-2345.
It‘s been an honour and privilege being a member of Kitchener Council for the past 16 years. It’s hard to put into words how thankful I am having had the opportunity to represent you. During my time on Council, I’ve worked hard to represent Southwest Kitchener to the best of my ability and enjoyed working with the community, city staff, neighbourhood associations, volunteers, committee members and my Council colleagues. We’ve made some big strides together, like opening the leased space at the Williamsburg Community Centre (WCC); RBJ Schlegel Park; and the new Huron Community Centre. There’s more work to be done, including the opening of the new Southwest Branch Library; the permanent WCC; the Aquatics Centre and Indoor Soccer Pitch at RBJ Schlegel Park, to name a few. I’ve met with Councillor-Elect, Ayo Owodunni and have assured him that I’ll be there to support him as he gets acquainted to Council. I want to thank everyone for your support over the years, whether as a new Councillor or when I brought my boys to meetings/events. This role is not a singular person’s role. There are so many people behind the scenes who help to make a Councillor successful. To the Mayor and Council staff who work tirelessly to make council look good and the CAO and senior leadership team who I’ve appreciated working with—thank you. To my family who have supported me throughout this journey, I couldn’t have done it without you. As I step aside to pursue other adventures, know that you will still see me around! I have thoroughly enjoyed being your Councillor—thank you again for giving me that opportunity.
Dear Ward 6 Residents, I’m tremendously humbled and grateful to be given the opportunity to carry on serving as your City of Kitchener, Ward 6 Councillor. I will continue my commitment to being responsive to your concerns, to champion resident ideas and to be an advocate for improvements in Ward 6 and across the city. One of the main areas of engagement in which I have advocated, has been for the reimagining of Alpine, and Country Hills Parks, as well as for new amenities in McLennan Park. I want to thank the residents that provided feedback to city staff about these parks. Your input will help to shape their future design. The redesign of these parks will continue to be a primary focus for me until their completion during this new term of council. My contribution on Kitchener City Council has always been to establish a new standard for excellence in community engagement and the improvement of services through increased efficiencies. I commit to maintaining my efforts to vocalize the need for Kitchener to continue being sensitive to the quality of life of its citizens. With a proven record of being your advocate and representative on City Council, I will continue to put forward balanced ideas. To help guide me and keep me accountable, I hope you will take the opportunity to connect with me. Please stop in for a chat at one of my upcoming Ward 6 drop-in meetings that take place on the third Wednesday of each month, starting at 7pm at the Country Hills Community Centre. I hope to see you there.
Dear Ward 7 Residents, My sincere gratitude and thanks for all of your support throughout the campaign and on election day. I am truly honoured to continue serving you for another term on Council. I would also like to thank Colin Maley and Kevin McCrea for the effort they put into their campaigns. A special thank you to outgoing Councillors John Gazzola, Kelly Galloway-Sealock and Sarah Marsh for their years of service to their ward residents and the City of Kitchener. Please join me in welcoming our three newest members of council: Jason Deneault, Ward 3, Ayo Owodunni, Ward 5 and Aislinn Clancy, Ward 10. They will be a great addition to our team, and I very much look forward to working with them to make the City of Kitchener the place to be! It was a great opportunity to hear about your issues and concerns on the campaign trail. I’ve heard your feedback about the condition and future of Meadowlane Park, your concerns about the condition of Westheights Pond as well as the need for more traffic calming measures in Ward 7. You have given me a lot to work on! I will work on each and every concern and with the assistance of city staff, we will work towards the best possible outcome. If you have any further questions or concerns, you can also contact the City of Kitchener’s Corporate Contact Centre (CCC) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 519-741-2345.
Hello Ward 8. Thank you so much for your support during the Municipal campaign, it is truly humbling to return as your Councillor. I look forward to facing the challenges of the next term with a new team of colleagues at City Hall. A warm welcome to the new Councillors joining us, Jason Deneault, Ward 3, Ayo Owodunni, Ward 5 and Aislinn Clancy, Ward 10. I also look forward to working with you, the residents of Ward 8 - together, let’s get good things done for the community we all love! I will be starting regular coffee chats at Victoria Hills Community Centre and Forest Heights Community Centre on the 2nd Wednesday of each month from 6-7pm. Commencing November 9th at Victoria Hills followed by December 14th at Forest Heights. I would love the opportunity to meet and listen to your thoughts, ideas and concerns about our Ward and the City. I hope you drop in! This next term will be challenging. Homelessness, affordability, inflation, development, housing and sustainability all remain key issues that Council will continue to work on, along with our Regional Council counterparts. I welcome your thoughts and opinions on these issues. As always, I am available to listen. If I can assist you, please contact me. As well, our Corporate Contact Centre (CCC) is staffed 24/7 to report an emergency, an issue or ask questions about any city department, just call 519-741-2345. Thanks again Ward 8!
I am humbled by the strong expression of support I received from so many of you on October 24th. While voter turnout was embarrassingly low (20.2%), the number of votes we received was greater than in 2018. For that I am very grateful. I want to thank you for the confidence you have in me to serve another four years as Kitchener’s Ward 9 City Councillor. There are many challenges that lie ahead, and I trust that together there is a lot we can accomplish. We must stay strong and united as we tackle homelessness, affordable housing, the impact of climate change, the need for more parkland in the core and ongoing inequities, to name the most pressing issues. I do not act, and have never acted, alone. My strength comes primarily from my constituents. Of course, support and expertise from City staff and fellow Councillors are also central to my decision-making. I thank them for their professionalism. I’d like to commend David Redman, Matthew Robson, Brooklyn Wallis, and Beth Warren for putting their names on the ballot and for their interest in local politics. I’d like to thank my family and friends for the incredible support I have received over the past 4 years and throughout the campaign. My husband Peter has been my rock. He has picked up the pieces as needed and stood by me throughout. I could not do what I do without his support. Thank you so much to everyone and now, back to the trail, the Iron Horse Trail that is! I can be reached at Debbie.chapman@kitchener.ca or 226-752-7104. I invite you to subscribe to my newsletter at www.debbiechapman.ca/subscribers-forms.
It has been an honour to serve on Kitchener City Council and to represent the city’s most engaged and diverse ward. What an incredible experience it has been. Congratulations to Aislinn Clancy on becoming your next Ward 10 Councillor, and congrats to all my colleagues who were either re-elected or have stepped down to pursue other directions. I will miss working with each of you. We have worked hard to forward our collective goals, and I know that the incoming Council will continue to focus on tackling the most important and pressing needs of our community.
​Let’s talk civic engagement for a moment. I’m proud of what the City has done to encourage residents to help shape our policies and plans. However, after learning that only 20 percent of Kitchener’s eligible voters showed up to vote this year, I’m concerned. What happened? Imperfect as our democratic processes may be, it’s the system we operate within. We had a great range of campaigns across all the positions. My sincere gratitude goes out to all the individuals who ran. I can tell you that for any serious candidate, it took countless hours of voluntary time and personal sacrifice to share their visions with residents. In doing so, they made valuable contributions to the democratic process. All we had to do was vote. Strong participation in local governmental decisions is a fundamental tenet of a healthy democracy. So as my term draws to a close, I encourage you to get more involved. Stay informed. Volunteer. Participate. Together, we can help shape our growing community so we can thrive. THANK-YOU KITCHENER!
Happy November, City of Kitchener! Welcome to another four years of Kitchener City Council columns in the Kitchener Citizen. For more than 25 years now, Carrie and Helen have been serving our community with their wonderful monthly community paper. Thank you for making this space available to the Mayor and Council to stay in touch with you, their readers and the residents and businesses of Kitchener! REMEMBRANCE DAY This Friday, we will once again be observing Remembrance Day in the City of Kitchener and throughout Canada. Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 50 will be hosting the service in Downtown Kitchener at the Cenotaph on the corner of Duke and Frederick Streets, beginning at 10:30am. Please join our community as we honour the men and women who have served and continue to serve our country, and especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice, so that we can enjoy the freedoms and democracy that we all share. If you can’t join the ceremony, please pause for two minutes of silence and reflection at 11am to honour all those who served. And of course, remember to wear a poppy if you haven’t been already, and if you are able, please donate to the KW Poppy Fund at: www.kwpoppyfund.ca
​ENDING ONE TERM AND STARTING ANOTHER As we end the 2018-2022 term of Council, and later this month begin the 2022-2026 term of Council, I would like to take this opportunity to share some reflections. First, thank you to all the candidates who put their names forward for the many electoral races in the City of Kitchener from Mayor to City Councillor, Regional Chair to Regional Councillor and Trustees of our various school boards. Each and every one of you put yourself out there as part of our democratic process, and demonstrated your passion towards building our community and public service. Thank you. Thank you also to the City of Kitchener Election team – full time and seconded staff and the hundreds of temporary workers who stepped up to ensure that the City could run a fair and democratic process. You ran an amazing election! Congratulations to the newly elected Council – first time candidates Jason Deneault (Ward 3), Ayo Owadunni (Ward 5) and Aislinn Clancy (Ward 10) and also returning Councillors Scott Davey (Ward 1), Dave Schnider (Ward 2), Christine Michaud (Ward 4), Paul Singh (Ward 6), Bil Ioannidis (Ward 7), Margaret Johnston (Ward 8) and Debbie Chapman (Ward 9). I am honoured to have been re-elected as Mayor, and look forward to working with all of you as we serve our community over the next four years. Lastly, a special and heartfelt thank you to our outgoing Councillors – John Gazzola – Ward 3 (2002-2022), Kelly Galloway-Sealock – Ward 5 (2006-2022) and Sarah Marsh – Ward 10 (2014-2022). Your combined commitments to our community as elected leaders, represents a total of 44 years of public service and that does not include previous years in staff or volunteer service with the City.
​THANK YOU, JOHN, KELLY AND SARAH!
JOHN GAZZOLA (2002-2022) John Gazzola was first elected to the Fairview-Gateway Ward, now known simply as Ward 3, in the November 2002 by-election, and with his retirement will be completing almost 50 years of service between staff and elected roles. During his time on Council, John was first and foremost a strong fiscal voice on Council but always put his residents first, as an active voice for the residents of Ward 3. John also advocated for the Kingsdale Community Centre which officially opened in 2011, and was a passionate advocate for the city’s architecturally and historically significant buildings.
​KELLY GALLOWAY-SEALOCK (2006-2022) Kelly Galloway-Sealock was first elected to Kitchener City Council in 2006. During her four terms in office, Kelly worked closely with neighbourhood associations in the ward she represents to advance recreational amenities in the southwest part of the city for the benefit of the entire city. Kelly was instrumental in obtaining the funding for McLennan Park, the opening of the Williamsburg and Huron Community centres, RBJ Schlegel Park and so much more. She sat on committees of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, and successfully lobbied to have Ontario amend the Municipal Act to better support local elected officials taking maternity or parental leave.
​SARAH MARSH (2014 – 2022) Sarah Marsh was first elected to Kitchener City Council in 2014. During her two terms in office, Sarah demonstrated her commitment to building a more inclusive, creative, active community for everyone. During her time on Council, Sarah was an advocate for arts and culture, promoted cycling as a healthy, environmentally sustainable way for citizens to get around, and has been a strong advocate for social justice, ensuring that she always was an advocate and ally for many including those struggling with mental health and addictions, refugees and new Canadians, those experiencing homelessness, seniors, the BIPOC community and others.
This is my 328th and last article as a member of Kitchener City Council. I have been involved in municipal government in the City of Kitchener for just over 55 years. I believe that is a record for service to a community, in this Region at least. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the citizens of the city and specifically those living in Ward 3. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve in this role. I have tried to serve the community with the best of my abilities and experiences. Over the years I understood you can not satisfy everyone, all the time. I tended to support the majority of those directly affected by decisions of Council. Believing that there are two or more sides to every issue I constantly asked many questions so that all aspects were considered. Unfortunately, when one asks questions, they become labeled as a negative person or “naysayer”. I want to thank staff for the aid provided to me and ultimately my constituents over the years. I firmly believe that “the buck stops with Council”. Council, not staff are accountable for all decisions made regardless of the source of the recommendation. I constantly challenged staff and encouraged them to challenge Council, in the hopes that under those conditions the final product was the best for everyone. Going forward I hope that I will be given the opportunity to volunteer in supplying some of my limited experiences to any of the Advisory Committees of Council. Finally, I ask that you give the same support and opportunities to serve you to my newly elected successor - Jason Deneault. Thank you!