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City Council Columns - September 2018
Of all the areas of our municipal responsibilities, the one I continue to struggle with is land-use planning. We have several wonderful plans and policies at the city that, under ideal conditions, would permit reasonable development that just about everyone would accept. The problem, of course, is that the conditions are rarely ideal. Preferred lands are often unavailable, due to greed or disinterest, and what’s left often impacts heritage properties or neighbourhoods in your typical NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) scenario. This frustrates me more than any other duty we have, and council agonizes over these decisions.
However, I have always supported the Country-Side-Line, the imaginary line drawn around our Region where the government has effectively said: “development to here, but no further.” It is the right thing to do for a host of reasons. Firstly, few want to see Kitchener/Waterloo turn into a Toronto 2.0 of endless suburban housing. Secondly, it is extremely costly for a municipality to be spread out (think more snow clearing, transit, roads/sidewalks/water pipes etc. to maintain) and thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, it is just bad for the environment and destroys dwindling agricultural land. Meanwhile, as our population grows, the province mandates us to add housing.
Freezing our city in time is not an option. As long as our population is growing, the only solution is intensification. The math is simple - if we fail to grow up, we will grow out. If you have any thoughts or questions, please contact me any time using the above information.
I’m happy to announce that there will be a new crossing guard for Lackner Woods Public School. The crossing guard will be located in front of the school. Big thanks to the Lackner Woods Parent Council for their supportive assistance.
There will also be safety improvements at Chicopee Hills Public School. A crossing guard will be relocated and one will be added to increase crossing safety at Fairway Crescent and for crossing Fairway Road at Lackner Blvd. The Parent Council Meetings I attended were so helpful in gathering the information needed for these changes and improvements.
At Sunnyside Sr. Public School a school bus loading zone will be safely located on Prospect Avenue near Emerald Avenue.
In all these cases it was a pleasure to work with Leslie Maxwell from Student Transportation Services and our Transportation Planning Staff along with the Parent Councils and Principals for these positive results.
Student safety is so important. Please drive slowly and carefully in and around our school zones. With safety features added in and around schools, more parents will encourage their children to walk to school.
Big thanks to the Stanley Park and Centreville Chicopee Community Associations for the great programs they offer at their Community Centres. Visit and take part in the good things they have going on.
A reminder that our Contact Centre is staffed 24/7 at 519-741-2345. Call any time to report an issue or get answers to questions about any city department.
As you are probably aware by now, 2018 is a Municipal Election year. This is the one excellent opportunity for Public Engagement by getting out to vote on October 22nd or at the advanced polls from October 10th to 13th. This is a chance to have your input into what will transpire in our City and Region over the next four years. Every vote is truly significant as witnessed a few years ago when a Ward Councillor was elected by only one vote.
The first step in getting to vote is to verify that you are on the Voters’ List. If you have been missed the correction process is relatively simple. Hardcopy lists are available at all community centers and public library branches. A user friendly online service will again be available starting September 15th. Assistance with the Voters’ List or for information on Advanced Poll locations and times can be obtained by calling 519-241-2200, ext. 7593. Notices to all voters will also be mailed in the next several weeks.
L.A.F. (Leukemia Awareness Fund) Activities at City Hall are somewhat reduced due to the impending election. So I would like to take the opportunity during this lull to commend Wayne Ernst, a former resident of Ward 3. Wayne started L.A.F.; a non-profit organization that supports Grand River Hospital’s Oncology Unit by providing funds to help patients, and their families who have been affected by Leukemia. Since its inception the fund has contributed over $200,000 to the hospital. Thank you Wayne Ernst for your dedication to helping others!
I would also like to remind constituents of some upcoming Annual community events. The 14th Annual Fallen Firefighters Memorial Day on September 23rd. The Kitchener in Bloom open house on September 26th. Also a reminder that Neighbourhood participation in any type of Festival of Neighbourhoods celebrations should again be registered. Activities registered with the City will become eligible to win a Neighbourhood Improvement Grant of $20,000 at the Grand Finale on November 18th.
Please do not hesitate to contact me at your convenience regarding any of these or other city matters. I can be reached at 519-744-0807 (home) 519-741-2790 (city hall) 519-498-2389(cell). firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
I have always been concerned with urban sprawl and the protection of our greenspaces so when I see infill development happening, I usually feel positive about that development.
Unfortunately some infill development makes dramatic changes in the landscape of a street. I am very concerned about 2 recent applications to our Heritage Committee for demolition of existing houses to be replaced with very large homes that are completely out of character with the Upper Doon Heritage District.
Upper Doon Heritage District is located mainly along the older section of Doon Village Road. Many houses there date back over 100 years. The feel of the area is one of a small rural heritage district. Schneider, Doon and Strasburg Creeks all come together here and then flow down towards the Grand River, that is why many pioneers settled here.
The historical stories about this community give us an understanding of our cultural rural past and our sense of place. Many homes built during the early years were not grandiose, they tell the story of some of our struggling pioneers who settled there. It is very important that we preserve the integrity of the district.
We dilute the preservation of this area by allowing homes to exceed the height and mass, and ignoring the bylaws set out to protect the heritage district. A proposed house that is 4,500 sq feet and has a 3 or 4 car garage does not fit in with the modest heritage homes in the area. Just because the lot is large does not mean that we have to fill it with large grandiose structures.
I sincerely hope that Council does not approve the building of these kinds of homes in our Upper Doon Heritage District.
Huron Community Association-Movie Night
Come join your neighbours for the Huron Community Association (HCA) Outdoor Family Movie Night on Friday, September 21 at Jean Steckle Public School. Bring your lawn chair, blankets and spend your evening watching a great movie under the stars. There will be activities for the kids and popcorn prior to showtime!
Online registration for 2018 Fall Programs have begun. The HCA is offering Dance Classes, Adult Fitness Classes, Parent and Child Sport Classes and Tech Programs for kids and teens. Make sure to set up your ActiveNet family account at www.kitchener.ca/activenet and register for your favourite programs right away before they fill up!
The 50th Anniversary of Oktoberfest is this year! Opening Day Ceremonies are happening at Kitchener City Hall on Friday October 5. Join us for Council’s Grillefest in Carl Zehr Square. The other councillors including myself will be serving traditional Oktoberfest sausage on a bun, a cold drink and cookies for a minimum donation of $5. You may also donate canned goods and all of the proceeds go to the Food Bank of Waterloo Region. Oktoberfest is Wunderbar!
Citizen Advisory Committees
From September 4 -23 the city is accepting applications for our Advisory Committees and Boards. If you are interested in sitting on a committee or board and providing feedback to city council, I encourage you to check out the city website at Kitchener.ca, keyword search, ‘Citizen Committees and Boards’. There you can read up on the different board positions and how the whole recruitment process works.
Dear Ward 6 Residents,
If you’re interested in playing a key role in our city’s future, consider sitting on an advisory committee or board. Members on these committees provide important advice and feedback to city council and standing committees on a variety of issues. The application process for the new term of advisory committees will begin on September 4, 2018. General recruitment for our advisory committees and boards occurs every two to four years, depending on the committee or board. Find a general overview of the committees/boards positions and application information on our website, kitchener.ca, keyword search, Citizen Committees and Boards. A nominating committee will assess the applications and present council with a list of qualified candidates for each committee.
Leaves will be changing colour and falling to the ground before we know it. Be prepared and find out about the options and dates for leaf collection on your street by visiting kitchener.ca, key word search, Leaf Collection.
If you’re in a “Hot Spot”, you can begin to rake out to the curb on Nov. 2, while one time pick-up, curbside collection areas, will begin Nov. 13. If you’re in an area that receives curbside collection, please remember to have your leaves on the road for 7am on the Monday of your pick-up week. Loose leaf depots will open on Oct. 19 and close on Dec. 14.
Mark your calendars! Join Oktoberfesters in downtown Kitchener in Carl Zehr Square for the 50th Anniversary of Oktoberfest’s Opening Ceremonies, as well as Council’s Grillefest. Staff and council will serve up a delicious sausage served on a fresh bun, with a cold drink and cookies. All proceeds go to the Food Bank of Waterloo Region.
The Sprucedale Crescent Explosion
On site at 64 Sprucedale Crescent, where this heartbreaking incident took place, was by far, my most difficult day as your ward 7 councillor. Despite the shock of this tragedy, I would like to say that I am truly inspired by the overwhelming response I have witnessed from Sprucedale Crescent neighbours and the community at large for reaching out to support one another during this difficult time. From neighbours opening their homes to others, to gestures of kindness such as delivering flowers to impacted residents to creating a GoFundMe page for the purpose of purchasing and installing benches in the neighbourhood. These are fine examples of a strong connected community and I could not be more proud.
I would like to send out a special thank-you to our Kitchener Fire Department, Waterloo Regional Police Services, Waterloo Region Emergency Services, Red Cross, Kitchener Utilities, KW Hydro, TSSA, Coroner’s Office and Victim’s Services and all of the representatives from the many agencies who came together to manage this complex, large scale emergency.
Please know I am here to offer my support in any way I can and assist the Forest Heights community with moving forward.
Please contact me at the information above if I can be of assistance.
Last month I joined Mayor Berry Vrbanovic and Coun. John Gazzola in attending the Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference. Both Coun. Gazzola and I attended a session on the transition of the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) to the new Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT). It’s only been a few months since the transition took place in the spring and already they are backlogged with applications and have issues to deal with.
The panel comprised of a lawyer from a municipality and one from a planning law firm along with a city manager noted all their latest opinions and experiences as to how the transition is coming along.
There will now be significant changes in the role for councillors to consider planning applications before city committee meetings and council meetings. Council will now bear much more responsibility on decision making based on planning merits. As well, all additional studies such as traffic, environmental, engineering reports etc. pertaining to the zone change, subdivision or Official Plan applications will now be considered by council which were previously done at the OMB hearings, if appealed.
Expert deputations will now be appearing before councillors to make their case. Council meetings on these applications will now take much longer.
The role of LPAT will not be to hear a new case from the beginning like previously by the OMB but to only consider whether these applications were processed correctly according to the Planning Act for both the applicants’ case and for the residents’ case.
We’ll have to wait and see how this all transforms over the next many months as we councillors deal with this new approach and whether the new LPAT process will serve the residents well or not.
In the Oct. 22 municipal election, residents should judge local politicians by their actions and voting records, not their empty words.
Never was that so true in Kitchener where those seeking re-election to council continue to exhibit “love-my-hood” hypocrisy when it comes to preservation of older neighbourhoods and protection of heritage properties.
The same applies to caring about provision of low-cost shelter, particularly for young people surviving in an increasing number of drug-infested tent camps.
While developer-chummy councillors insist they care about neighbourhoods and heritage, there are two Kitchener proposals in process as we approach the election. Both will have a negative impact on established heritage plans in Victoria Park and the Civic Centre and risk being approved by council this fall.
One could result in relocation of oneROOF Youth Services which, since 1999, has provided shelter for 12 to 25-year-olds at 242 Queen Street South. OneROOF wants to move out of the downtown to help at-risk teens get away from those who have a negative influence on their behaviour and future prospects.
The two development proposals have surfaced at Kitchener’s Heritage Committee on their way to council. The Victoria Park proposal by Vive Development Corp could flatten the youth shelter as well as two nearby historical homes on Queen to build an 8-storey apartment building. The Civic Centre plan by Facet Design Studio would bulldoze houses at 50, 52 and 56 Weber as well as 107 Young streets to make way for a 6-storey project.
In the election, those who love their neighbourhoods should hold councillors accountable for protecting heritage properties and established communities
Happy autumn! It’s a time of new beginnings, with the start of the school year and community programs and of course, the fall harvest. This is the best time of year to come check out the Kitchener Market, with locally sourced fresh foods. Each Saturday, from September 15th to October 13th, I encourage you to check out Harvestfest at the Kitchener Market. For Kitchener Market’s full schedule, visit: www.kitchenermarket.ca.
On September 15th, we have lots to check out, not the least of which is Doors Open Waterloo Region, including an open house drop in at 44 Gaukel, Kitchener’s arts and technology hub. It’s an exciting space where arts organizations and internet of things start ups access affordable offices and common areas. Tour the space and share feedback with our city planning staff about our draft Urban Design Manual. At this time of unprecedented intensification in our downtown core, it is very important that we ensure high urban design standards for the new building projects coming on board. With great design, we have the capacity to create buildings, streets, and open spaces that inspire and have a positive impact on our daily interactions. We are seeking citizen input on what those urban design guidelines should be for our city.
Also on September 15, celebrate Electric Car week from 11am-6pm at Kitchener City Hall in Carl Zehr Square. The Terry Fox Run will be on Sunday, September 16 from 11am-6pm at the Victoria Park Clock Tower. For more events and details visit downtownkitchener.ca.
SCHOOL ZONE SAFETY
With school being back, our focus once again turns to road safety in our neighbourhoods and especially in school zones. A reminder that on city streets, the speed is reduced to 40km in school zones. and please pay attention to the no stopping/no drop-off zones near schools. Also, please ensure you stop at all crosswalks and crossings controlled by crossing guards and school safety patrols. Last year, one of our crossing guards was seriously injured and several others experienced near misses. Please slow down, pay attention when driving and most of all make pedestrian safety a number one priority!
CITY HALL 25th ANNIVERSARY
Next Monday, September 17th, we will be celebrating our 25th anniversary of Kitchener’s current City Hall. After about 20 years in a rented building that was built as part of the market square development, the residents of Kitchener once again got to see their City government housed in their own building – a facility designed as a place for the community to gather. Over the past 25 years, tens of thousands of people have attended City Hall for everything from ice skating to the openings of KW Oktoberfest and from protests to community memorials. For more information about the City Hall 25th anniversary, visit the City of Kitchener website at www.kitchener.ca.
KW OKTOBERFEST 50TH ANNIVERSARY
In a few short weeks, we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of KW Oktoberfest. Thanks to the efforts of hundreds of volunteers each year over the past 50 years, North America’s largest Bavarian festival has welcomed hundreds of thousands of participants to Kitchener and Waterloo Region to celebrate this great Bavarian festival. Many special activities are planned for this year’s festival including Rogers Hometown Hockey coming to Downtown Kitchener again, the annual Mayor & Council BBQ on opening day with proceeds once again going to the Waterloo Region Food Bank and of course Canada’s only nationally-televised Thanksgiving Parade on the Monday morning! This year’s festival will be one to remember – make sure you get your tickets to one of the many events and festhallen around the region!
REMEMBERING CURTIS TULK
Earlier this week, our community said goodbye to a beloved musician and artist who has busked for well-over two decades at the Kitchener market. Curtis passed away last week after a battle with cancer. Affectionately known as “The Music Man”, Curtis was so beloved by the community that when a new rule was implemented about buskers auditioning back in 2004, the community outcry from his fans was so strong, he was allowed to continue playing without ever having to audition himself. While he was best known for his banjo and his cowboy hat, Curtis was also a visual artist. Curtis – thank you for gracing our community with your music and your humanity. RIP, ol’ friend!