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City Council Columns - April 2019


Hi Ward 1!
With spring now here, I’d like to provide some ward-specific updates. You may see some of those yellow mid-road speed reminder signs popping up in your neighbourhood soon. We were able to significantly increase the number of installations across the city for this year. They are a great reminder for motorists to travel at safe speeds, and are targeted at areas where there have been issues.
I’ve been asked for an update on the former Notre Dame school site potential development. While I don’t have anything new to offer at the time of this writing, I do expect information will be coming out around the time you read this. The property owner/developer is the same and if they proceed there will be a full public process.
During the last election, I was asked by several residents about the possibility of a traffic light installation at the Manchester and River Road intersection. It’s rare for traffic light requests to be approved as these controls, quite rightly, need to be supported by traffic data, but early indications of demand are good in this instance. Though it’s not yet a certainty, I’m optimistic and will update you when there’s news.
Kiwanis Park is an amazing local destination park and I hope everyone enjoys the new huge beach-like pool this summer. We are also just finishing up the public engagement for a significant new playground in the park. While I don’t know the results yet (residents were asked to choose from three great options) the play structure should be completed in time to enjoy this summer.
We’re looking for Kitchener’s Senior of the Year. You can nominate someone by searching Senior Of The Year at kitchener.ca or by picking up a paper copy at the Rockway Centre. Please submit your nomination by April 12. The recipient of our Senior of the Year Award is announced by Mayor Vrbanovic at a special ceremony on Wednesday, June 12 at 6:30pm at City Hall.
My Ideal City lets students age 10-12 tell us in 250 words or less about their ideas to make Kitchener even better. Winners get their essay published in the Kitchener Citizen, come to City Hall for a reception and tour of City Hall with their family, and are in a mock debate in council chambers on Rogers TV. Hopefully your child’s school is taking part. If not, entries can be dropped off at the Office of the Mayor and Council, City Hall or emailed to council@kitchener.ca.
We’re looking for your input online on issues like Bike Share Stations, Sidewalk Winter Maintenance, Customer Service and the RBJ Schlegel Park Playground. Please visit engagewr.ca and select Kitchener to see the topics you can give input on.
To learn about the parks, arenas, community centres and more that are in our neighbourhood, visit lovemyhood.ca. You’ll also find ideas and ways that you and your neighbours can make your neighbourhood an even better place with events, activities and grants.
If I can assist you, contact me or call our contact line anytime at 519-741-2345. I update my city and community activities often on social media. Follow me on Twitter at @DaveSchniderKW, friend me on Facebook or visit my website daveschnider.com
Regional Review Consultation (Amalgamation). Council directed staff to commission a statistically representative survey of Kitchener residents that will give them an opportunity to have their say on this issue. The results of the survey will be shared with the public, the premier of Ontario, the minister of municipal affairs and housing, the regional government review advisors, all regional MPPs and all local heads of council. To participate in the survey sign into “Engage Waterloo Region” and proceed to the Kitchener section. I encourage everyone to participate as this will give Council some direction as to the desires of our constituents.
I have been personally involved at the Local Government sector for over 50 years. In a future article I will share my thoughts on this topic which has been debated many times over that period. I look forward to hearing from as many as possible in the near future.
Leisure Facilities Master Plan. This document has been approved by Council. It was prepared by staff after a ten-month review including several public consultations. This Master Plan is intended to help the city provide high quality recreation programs and services that foster lifelong participation, access for all, and sustainable environments and infrastructure. The study has 18 recommendations. Every recommendation entails the spending of considerable funds. A substantial portion of the funds required will be supplied by new comers to our city in the form of Development Charges on new homes and buildings.
This document will become the standard for spending on future leisure and recreational facilities for the next 5 to 10 years. I did not support its adoption even though it is a superb document containing reams of information; because it virtually has no information as to the COST of these facilities. Staff continue the process of asking the public what they would like to have without ever discussing the cost of paying for these things. I recommended, without success, waiting until the Development Charges by-law was approved. All the “wants” were approved without the reality of payment being debated. In my opinion this is not acting with transparency for our taxpayers.
Hello Neighbours!
Spring is finally here! I always equate this time of year to cleaning - indoors and out. It’s also the month that Earth Day falls under and there are activities to join or create with family and neighbourhood friends.
We have many Ward 4 citizens arranging their own Earth Day activities. This is a great way to meet new neighbours and reconnect with existing ones after this long winter. If you are currently part of a group― that’s great―if not, organize your own clean-up on any one of our beautiful trails, parks, or your street, and register to have your supplies dropped at the nearest community centre. Just go to www.kitchener.ca and search “Earth Day,” click on “Earth Month events and activities.”
The Pioneer Park KPL will also have free Earth Day clean-up supplies for you to pick up after April 1, and while supplies last. I plan to be out and about this month as much as possible doing my part for Earth Day clean-up, and I hope to see you all out as well.
I also want to bring to your attention the seasonal flex signs that promote traffic calming. I have asked for them to be installed on the following streets in response to resident concerns and my own observations: Thomas Slee; Old Doon Village; Robert Ferrie and Appleridge.
On Saturday, April 27 from 2 to 4pm, please join me for an informal gathering at the Pioneer Park KPL. As your new Ward 4 councillor, I’m looking forward to creating new connections with residents of this ward and learning more about your interests and concerns in our Ward.
As always, I’m happy to discuss your city interests and concerns. Contact me at 519-741-2779; email me at christine.michaud@kitchener.ca, and follow me on Twitter @ward4councillor.
Run a Neighbourhood Event
With spring comes warmer weather, and a great opportunity to host a fun street party event in your own neighbourhood! A low-cost, small gathering like a BBQ or a potluck can help build community spirit. For inspiration, check out some of the wonderful ideas for events and projects at lovemyhood .ca. If you would like to host a street party and don’t know where to start, there is the “Everything you need to know about street parties” guide which clearly lays out the process for getting approval from the city to close your street. You can also visit kitchenerevents.ca for an event-planning toolkit to get started. Remember to register your event with the Festival of Neighbourhoods for a chance to win one of two $20,000 neighbourhood improvement grants! For more information visit the Festival of Neighbourhoods website at: www.waterlooregion.org/neighbourhoods.
Williamsburg AGM - Call for Volunteers
The Williamsburg and Huron Community Associations are always looking for energetic volunteers to help with their programming and special events. If you’re interested in learning more about all the great things that both of these associations bring to our community, please join the Williamsburg AGM on Tuesday April 30, 2019 at 6:30pm at the Williamsburg Community Centre. Contact williamsburg.community@gmail.com or info@huroncommunity.ca for more details.
Catch Up with Kelly
On Thursday April 25, 2019, I will be hosting “Catch Up With Kelly”, an informal open house from 7 - 8pm at Williamsburg Community Centre. This is a great opportunity for me to meet with you one-on-one to hear your comments, concerns and suggestions. Drop in or join in the conversation online @gallowaykelly #kellychat.
Traffic calming measures are installed throughout our city to encourage responsible driving and improve safety for everyone. We receive many requests from across the city each year, asking us to place traffic calming measures to slow down drivers.
We asses these requests based on terms in our traffic-calming policy, and choose three streets each year for formal traffic calming studies.
You may remember seeing some yellow and black flex signs called PED Zone signs in the middle of particular streets in our ward last summer. Their placement is part of the Seasonal Traffic Calming Program, and locations are chosen based on your feedback to me, and my observations in the ward. This year, these signs will be on Erinbrook, Blackhorn, Lucerne, Pinedale, and Dunsmere.
If you have any other locations of concern, you can let me know or call our Transportation Services department to book the radar display units that are placed for short periods on streets during the summer under our Speed Advisory Program.
I encourage you to take a look at our resident-led traffic calming program created in response to resident feedback. Under our new Neighbourhood Strategy, you and your neighbours can slow traffic, bring awareness to safety issues and add beauty to your neighbourhood through some creative measures, like painted crosswalks, intersection murals, boulevard planter boxes, neighbourhood lawn signs (i.e. Drive like your kids live here), and more. To get started, search for the “Neighbourhood Strategy” page on kitchener.ca, click on resident-led traffic calming, and click on the “Easy Steps Guide for Resident-led Traffic Calming.” You can also contact me for assistance or to talk about city matters at paul.singh@kitchener.ca or call my office at 519-741-2793.
Leisure Facilities Master Plan
At our council meeting on April 1, after a ten-month long review, council was presented with recommendations for the updated 2019 Leisure Facilities Master Plan (LFMP). The recommendations were grouped into five main areas: existing leisure facilities commitments; investing in and maintaining existing infrastructure; future leisure facilities and initiatives; funding models and partnerships. The purpose of the LFMP is to help the City of Kitchener to provide excellent recreational programs and services that nurture lifelong participation, access for everyone, sustainable environments, infrastructure and partnerships. I am happy to share that all 18 recommendations and key findings were approved!
Feedback received from the 2019 LFMP public consultation and from our city staff show trails to be an integral part of recreation and leisure. Community trails benefit our overall health and wellness and provide people with an alternate mode of transportation. That is why staff will be exploring specific trail requirements and investments in the upcoming Cycling and Trails Master Plan scheduled to be completed by next spring.
Residents have told the city that recreation facilities are valuable and as a result, staff are recommending the city look at all potential funding sources to find ways to ensure the city can continue to invest in existing facilities and build new facilities, such as expanding Forest Heights Community Centre (FHCC). FHCC services approximately 62,700 residents and while this area is already well developed, surrounding areas like Ira Needles continue to grow, putting pressure on the existing centre. An expansion to FHCC would provide additional space for the city and community partners to deliver programs and services.
The sunshine we are enjoying has been so welcome after the winter we have had! It’s wonderful to see people outside again chatting with friends and enjoying our beautiful neighbourhoods.
April brings us Earth Day on the 22nd. Let’s celebrate by appreciating and respecting our natural world by joining with friends and neighbours in Ward 8 to participate in community clean-ups. The Friends of Lakeside Park are holding their annual spring clean-up and neighbourhood potluck on Saturday, April 27 beginning at 10:30am. Meet by the playground equipment. Bags and gloves provided.
Sunday, April 28 from 2-3:30pm, join the Westmount Neighbourhood Association in their annual Earth Day clean-up of the Westmount Neighbourhood! Three different groups will work to beautify our wonderful area! More details on their Facebook page.
The Victoria Hills Neighbourhood Association will be holding its first Community Clean-up Saturday, May 11 from 10am-noon. Meet your neighbours in Gzowski Park – bags and gloves will be provided! A visit to the Evergreen Nature Play Area in Gzowski Park is another great way to celebrate Earth Day. Outdoor play supports health, well-being, sense of inclusion, and a long-term interest in environmental stewardship.
I have really enjoyed getting to know Ward 8 residents over the past few months. Thank you for your invitations to have coffee with you and your neighbours, speak to Brownie and Girl Guide groups, school classes, and Ward 8 businesses. Our residents are interesting, informed and community minded!
I wanted to highlight the contact information for our Corporate Contact Centre. You can reach them at 519-741-2345 or by email at info@kitchener.ca. Connect with them about all our city services, including downed trees, potholes, bylaw infractions, and issues the city needs to address quickly.
I was recently asked what I thought about community centres; however, rather than think of centres, I would prefer to advocate for community spaces.
Currently in Ward 9 we have two community centres, Mill Courtland and the Rockway Seniors’ Centre, plus those in adjacent wards that many in Ward 9 use. But, there are some underserviced areas in our ward that lack community space. We have some wonderful, active neighbourhood associations representing the northwest area of the ward, namely Cherry Park NA and Victoria Park NA, both of which could benefit from a modest space located in their catchment area.
While the city does a great job at growing existing community centres, I would like to see a greater emphasis on creating community spaces in all neighbourhoods. Spaces where new and longtime residents can have a permanent place with a door to come together to create, plan, share, and get information, to gather, hold meetings and social events and, to build community. I know some residents are in favour of growing and building large new spaces, while others are interested in adding simple spaces such as portables. I’d love to hear your ideas. Let’s be creative!
In addition, I would also be happy to work with any neighbourhood leaders or community minded residents in the areas around St. Mary’s Hospital and the Rockway Golf Course. Contact me if you would like to pitch any ideas.
At the April 1st council meeting I tabled a motion asking city council to encourage the Province to continue their support to operate the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal’s Support Centre. I want to thank my colleagues for their unanimous support and for the residents who wrote letters, and/or attended the council meeting. I am truly grateful.
Graffiti: Have you noticed more graffiti in your area lately? The earlier it gets reported, the quicker we can ensure it is removed. I’ve been receiving an increase in reports, and it makes me think of the broken windows theory, which was proposed in the 1980s and popularized by Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point. Essentially the idea is that when an area has visible signs of vandalism that don’t get repaired quickly, it encourages more vandalism and other more serious anti-social behaviour. Alternatively, when we remove graffiti and repair damage quickly, the more likely the area is to remain intact. If you see graffiti, or broken windows for that matter, please contact our bylaw department to report it at 519-741-2345 or info@kitchener.ca.
Neighbourhood connections: Earlier this month, the City of Kitchener hosted a Neighbourhood Summit where residents heard stories from four different neighbourhoods. Each shared examples of simple interactions with neighbours that quickly evolved into neighbourhood gatherings that brought people together and resulted in more connected neighbourhoods. For anyone looking to take that first step, our neighbourhood liaison staff can help get the ball rolling.
Congratulations to KW Art Gallery: A big congratulations to the Kitchener Waterloo Art Gallery for being named in the top five finalists this year for the Premier’s Award for Excellence in the arts, adjudicated by the Ontario Arts Council. Come check out Culture Talk #3 featuring Heidi Reitmaier, as well as the grand open house post renovations on April 26th 10:00 -4:00.
Mayor Berry Vrbanovic's column will return in May.