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City Council Columns - January 2019
Happy New Year Ward 1! With each New Year comes a new city budget. I may be a bit of a nerd, but I love the budget process and find it the most interesting time of the year as it sets the parameters for all upcoming accomplishments in our city. This proposed budget is not unlike previous years in that our property tax target is under the current rate of inflation; of which I am proud. Nor is it dissimilar in that our proposed water rate increases is well in excess of inflation at 6.5%. I am by no means proud of that figure... but it is very much a necessity for continued safe drinking water in our city.
I could waste a great amount of space here explaining why we are in this situation. I could blame previous gov’ts or bad projections etc., but in the end, we either properly fund this most basic of services, or we do not. While we are always striving to reduce costs, I am constantly reminded of situations like that of nearby Flint, Michigan who have been without safe drinking water for more than 4 years. 6.5% is much higher than it should be but this will be the last year of significant increases. Projections show increases will drop to 4.5% for the next budget. This budget also addresses other challenges such as catching up on street tree replacement from the emerald ash borer. It will also see funding for the renovation of Carl Zehr Square with minimal impact to taxpayers, as I had once feared. There is a lot of information on the city’s website about our 2019 budget and I would love to hear any feedback you might have. Please contact me anytime to discuss.
I hope 2019 is a happy, healthy and prosperous one for you.
The 2019 budget will be finalized on Monday, January 31. There are two main parts to the budget. Operating – for the day to day services and programs the city provides and Capital – for one time investments for up to ten years.
The proposed tax rate increase is just below Ontario’s rate of inflation at 2.3%. For a home assessed at $309,000 it’s an increase of 25 dollars a year. The focus is on your priorities of Road Safety and Cycling, Environmental Sustainability, Improved Customer Service and Investment and Maintenance of Infrastructure.
Water, Storm Water and Sanitary Utilities are proposed to increase a combined 6.5%, or 78 dollars per year. This funds our Water Infrastructure Program that maintains and preserves our system to keep it functioning longer and continues a steady rate of replacing our infrastructure too. The budget also allows for investment in parks and trails and for citizen led neighbourhood projects and events.
Gas is set to be reduced 0.93%, or 7 dollars per year.
The total impact per average household is $96.00. You can view the proposed budget and comment on it at engagekitchener.ca
I want to provide the services you want at a cost acceptable to you. Call or email me with your thoughts and suggestions or come to our public input session on January 21. You can also have your say at engagekitchener.ca
If I can assist you please 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 or friend me on Facebook. My website is daveschnider.com
All the BEST in 2019!
I would like to wish everyone a Happy and Rewarding New Year in 2019 !!
We are beginning not only a new year but also a new term of Council ( 2018 to 2022 ). There are still a number of issues affecting Ward 3 that will be dealt with this year. These include: the completion of the Traynor-Vanier LRT pedestrian crossing to Fairview; the planning for Phase 2 of the LRT affecting residents in the Hidden Valley and Deer Ridge areas; the Zone Change Application dealing with the Tall Buildings planned for the corner of Courtland & Block Line Rd.; and various Traffic Calming plans throughout the ward. In addition there will be the annual issues dealing with the increasing costs to our customers for Utilities and Property Taxes. There will undoubtedly be considerable media coverage for these issues. In addition the City’s website at www.kitchener.ca/ will provide considerable background information on these and other Kitchener projects and programs. I strongly encourage all citizens to continue to be actively engaged in all of these discussions. Please do not hesitate to contact me at your convenience for updates and additional information on these and any City project. My main office is in my home so that I am pretty much available 24/7 to assist you with your concerns and questions on all issues. (519-744-0807 / 519-498-2389 / firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com )
The annual Budget and local tax levies and utility rates are now before Council. The Budget Document prepared by staff is recommending a combined increase for taxes and water utilities of $103, or 4.5%. This is prior to taking into account Regional and Education levies or possible increases in individual property assessments. I believe we need to reduce the impact on our customers to no more than a 2.4% increase - the current inflation rate. There are many opportunities in the Budget to reduce net expenses without affecting the current levels of service.
There has been virtually no debate by Council and no recommendations whatsoever for any changes to what has been recommended by staff. I urge you to attend Council on Monday January 21, 2019 at 7:00 PM to provide your comments on the Budget that is currently being recommended!
Happy New Year Ward 4!
I have experienced my first budget day as your city councillor and I am pleased to say we approved a one-year pilot project, which allows residents, city wide, to park on the paved portion of their driveway ramps or aprons from now until March 31, 2019. This will help reduce the number of vehicles parked on roadways, which in turn assists operations staff to clear the roads during the winter months and help keep pedestrians and cars safe. This may also help alleviate concerns with limited parking in certain areas within our ward. I would like to take this opportunity to point out some important rules to keep in mind when parking on boulevards. If parked parallel to the road, make sure your vehicle faces the direction of travel. No part of your vehicle should overhang the sidewalk, curb or road edge. Your vehicle must not be parked on the landscape or hardscape portion of the boulevard. Boulevard parking is not permitted within 15 metres of an intersection. For more information on parking in the city, please visit: www.kitchener.ca, keyword search, “parking regulations”.
The City’s LoveMyHood program has seen successfully supported resident-led Neighbourhood pro-jects for two years, since council approved a three-year plan to build out. The program has brought us Neighbourhood Matching Grants, Community Garden Grants and the Neighbourhood Markets Program. In 2019, look for the launch of the Neighbourhood Places Programs, which will focus on Neighbourhood Greening, Public Seating and Neighbourhood Art. For more information on how you can access these grants and programs for your neighbourhood, visit: www.lovemyhood.ca.
Happy New Year Ward 5!
This year’s budget includes increased measures for traffic calming. The city’s traffic calming program implements traffic calming measures on roadways until such a time that a formal traffic calming review is warranted, or for roadways that may not meet the minimum thresholds for formal traffic calming. The measures that are used through this program are Radar Speed Display signs and Flexible “PedZone” delineators (also known as “flex signs”).
Radar Speed Display signs flash the speed as a vehicle passes it, bringing awareness to the driver of their speed and awareness of the community concern about speeding. This has been found to temporarily reduce speeding. The Radar Speed Display signs would be in place for a two-week period on a rotational basis due to their temporary effect.
Flex signs are mounted in the centre of a roadway and display messages to drivers. The signs are approximately 4ft tall and 1 ft wide but are mostly outside of the travelled portions of road lanes. The signage provides warning/regulatory messages to drivers such as speed limit reminders, children at play, or school zone. The visual narrowing of the lane has been shown to subconsciously cause drivers to slow down. The flex signs are installed in the spring and then removed before winter.
Please provide me with your feedback about any traffic concerns in your neighbourhood. I will have the opportunity to provide input for potential locations in our ward for the 2019 seasonal traffic-calming program and would like to hear from you.
Kitchener residents are reminded that winter parking regulations are now in effect until March 31, and that no parking is permitted on city streets from 2:30 am until 6 am. During this time, the city’s tag-and-tow bylaw will be in effect. The tag-and-tow bylaw does not allow parking on city streets anytime a snow event is declared. For more information about please visit: www.kitchener.ca, keyword search: “tag-and-tow” and keyword search: “snow removal”.
To help provide winter parking options, city council passed a resolution for a one-year pilot project that permits parking on the paved portion of a boulevard (driveway between the sidewalk and the road) from now until March 31, 2019. There are some areas where boulevard parking is not applicable as there is not enough space for vehicles to park.
Council has begun the 2019 budget process by reviewing the operating budget. I’m hopeful and will strongly advocate that council again set the tax levy rate relative to the inflationary rate. The challenge continues to be with the Water/Sanitary and the Storm Water Management fee. I have been voicing concern that this and future rates need to be within the capacity of all homeowners to absorb. I don’t entirely oppose the rate increase that will go to address the backlog of important infrastructure repairs.The concern that I have advocated is that these rate increases need to be phased over a longer period of time. I’m happy to report that this is the very strategy that will be for council consideration.
The final budget and utility rates will be voted on by council on January 31. I encourage Ward 6 residents to connect with me to pass on their feedback so that I can effectively represent their collective voice.
Happy New Year Ward 7! I hope you had an enjoyable holiday season with family and friends.
Over the last few months, I have been hearing from residents about concerns with coyote sightings in the Ward. I would like to take this opportunity to provide some information, which may help to ease any worries. The coyote is a natural inhabitant of the City of Kitchener and has adapted well to life in the city. They play an important role in urban areas by eating other animals and controlling pest populations. They are typically more active during the spring and winter months, which could account for the rise in sightings. Green spaces and urban natural areas provide an excellent habitat for coyotes. They will use ravines, natural areas and hydro corridors to remain undetected. They prefer secluded locations for their dens and will often choose areas near ponds, rivers or streams. Coyotes can live in close proximity to people without causing any problems provided we remember a few simple rules. Be sure to store your garbage and pet food so coyotes cannot get to it. Keep your outdoor compost in a secure location with a locked lid. Try to clean up fallen fruit around fruit trees. Keep your cats indoors and dogs on a leash at all times. Do not feed coyotes or any other wildlife that may attract coyotes to the neighbourhood. Coyotes generally avoid people. Simply seeing one should not be reason for concern. If you have any concerns about coyote behavior, please report it to the City of Kitchener at 519-741-2345.
Hello and Happy New Year Ward 8 Residents! It is a great honour to represent you! I really enjoyed meeting you on the campaign trail during the recent election; you expressed to me your thoughts, concerns and wishes for our Ward and City and I am thrilled to work with you as your Councillor! Thanks so much for your support!
It has been an exciting and busy time since our Inaugural meeting. We have chosen our Committees and I will be returning to the Economic Development Advisory Committee as well as serving on the Belmont Improvement Area Board of Directors, the Safe & Healthy Community Advisory Committee, the Animal Designation Appeal Committee and the Dog Designation Appeal Committee. The volunteers and committee members are engaged and enthusiastic participants! I look forward to seeing what we can do together for our City throughout this Term!
As a Council, we approved a resolution for a one-year pilot project that permits parking on the paved portion of a boulevard (driveway between the sidewalk and the road) from now until March 31, 2019. As it is a pilot project, please let me know your thoughts about this new initiative.
Winter weather has arrived. With that comes the issue of sidewalk snow clearing. Please visit: www.kitchener.ca, keyword search “snow removal” to learn more about the new Proactive Bylaw Inspection Program, for finding agencies who provide assistance with snow removal and to apply for a Neighbourhood-shared snow blower. Nominate a kind-hearted neighbour or volunteer at: www.kitchener.ca, keyword search “snow angels”.
I look forward to meeting and hearing from you, please do not hesitate to connect!
My first few months as Ward 9 councillor have been full of challenges as I learn to navigate the internal workings of city hall and become knowledgeable about the different issues and concerns of residents. There is no City Hall 101 course that could possibly cover all the interconnected aspects of the job. December was a month replete with meetings and training sessions. Some of the challenges that were brought to my attention included toxic waste being left at a development site, the potential damage to come if the Province of Ontario’s Bill 66 is passed and the City’s snow removal policy.
Resident-driven development groups have organized in the downtown areas in response to the “building tsunami” we are experiencing. These groups have been educating themselves about the development sites, asking questions about issues directly impacting established neighbourhoods and working with developers and city staff to protect heritage designated areas. There is a lot happening and residents have every right to be part of the process.
While affordable housing is one of the most pressing issues in the Region right now, little has been done to address the deficit. I will continue to work with community groups and other elected representatives to find ways to address this growing problem. Inclusionary zoning would be a good place to start.
I commend the different neighbourhood groups in Ward 9 and beyond for the amazing work they do to engage people through public meetings, programming and events.
January is budget month. I invite residents of Ward 9 to contact me if you have any questions or concerns with the direction in which the City is moving. How would YOU like to see taxpayers’ money spent?
Happy New Year! The month of January Council’s main focus will be all about reviewing and approving the 2019 budget. I feel that the proposed budget reflects many of the community priorities and at the same time maintains tax increases at or below the rate of inflation. It’s also important that we keep in mind people on a fixed income, and ensure we have an affordable community. To learn more about our budget, visit Kitchener.ca/budget and to comment, visit www.engagewr.ca/budget-2019 or in person at our public input night January 21st at 7pm. Feel free to let me know your thoughts by contacting me directly.
Many in the community have been saddened by the loss of one of downtown Kitchener’s most well-known and colourful characters. Duff will be sorely missed, and a memorial is being planned to take place February 1st. Details will be posted at the Queen St. Commons café.
On January 19th, the annual Women’ March will take place around the world. In our community, the March starts at Waterloo Square and travels King St. to Kitchener City Hall 10am – 1pm. For details, please see: www.womensmarchcanada.com
Later this month, 152 Shanley will be put up for a second tax sale. It’s my hope that this vacant, contaminated site will be purchased by a responsible new owner with a plan that aligns with the neighbourhood vision, and the resources needed to implement it. As you may have seen earlier this month, 152 Shanley was in the news because of falling bricks that came loose from the single storey addition. That situation will not affect the tax sale process.
Happy New Year 2019 everyone! It’s hard to believe that we’re already a couple of weeks into the new year and that 2018 is merely a set of hopefully positive memories. On behalf of all of us at the City of Kitchener, please accept out best wishes to each of you and your families for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2019!
The past two Mondays, the city’s Finance and Administration committee has begun considering the city’s 2019 budget. The 2019 budget is looking promising with any proposed tax increases being kept to below the rate of inflation. In addition to normal day-to-day operations, the budget is proposing investments in 4 strategic areas for the city – road safety and cycling, environmental sustainability, improving customer service and maintaining and investing in infrastructure. Some of the proposed initiatives include an increase in funding for resident-led traffic calming, a protected bike lane pilot, improvements to the Iron Horse trail, increased use of bio-diesel fuels to reduce greenhouse gases, investments in our urban forest strategy, improvements to the online customer service experience, improvements to City Hall outdoor spaces and moving forward with the new Huron Brigadoon Community Centre.
If you’re interested in providing input into the 2019 budget, I encourage you to go online on the city’s website to do so, or attend the public budget input session on Monday January 21st at 7pm.
We’ll be finalizing the 2019 budget on January 31st, so you can check back in this column next month, for further details.
Retailing of Cannabis in Kitchener
This past Monday, Council con-sidered whether to opt-in or opt-out of the new provincial approach to the retail licensing on cannabis. As you know, with the decision to legalize cannabis, which took effect this past October, the province was moving to add a retail component throughout the province in addition to their online store which they launched at that time. While I am writing this column ahead of the meeting where staff’s report will be considered, I do anticipate that Council will opt-in to permit retail locations in Kitchener – consistent with both the recommendations of our staff as well as the Waterloo Regional Police Service. With cannabis consumption now being legal, allowing for provincially licensed cannabis stores will allow us to move from the illegal and often unsafe black market to safer, quality-regulated product from the legal market. Allowing for legal retail stores locally will help achieve the objectives of safeguarding our youth, protecting our health and safety and preventing illicit activity – all with the assistance from provincial resources and regulatory bodies. I’ll write more about this next month, once the decision is made.
Last week, our Downtown community said farewell to one of our special individuals who made downtown home – Detlef “Duff” Becker. Duff passed away unexpectedly over the holidays, resulting in a rough end to 2018 for many in our downtown and homeless communities. Duff was a special individual who often cared about others at times more than he did about himself. He was a smiling and caring face who advocated for the marginalized in our community, assisted the Downtown BIA with many of their activities and let folks like me know when governments had to find ways to do better.
Visitation for Duff occurred last week at the Henry Walser funeral home, and I was honoured to join his family, MP Raj Saini and Joe and Stephanie Mancini of the Working Centre for a private interment.
A community memorial will take place at St. John’s Kitchen on Friday February 1st from 2-3pm, followed by a walk from the Kitchen to The Kitchener Market from 3-4pm, and then a community bbq at the market from 4-6pm.
Mayor’s City Builder Awards
This year we have changed the format of the presentation of the Mayor’s City Builder awards. The awards will be presented during a Council meeting on Monday, March 4th at 7pm, with a reception for the winners and their guests preceding the presentation. Thank you to everyone who nominated somebody and stay tuned for the March edition of the paper to find out who our 2018 City Builders are.
2019 State of the City speech
It’s time to save the date in your calendar for my 2019 State of the City speech. It will take place Thursday April 11th, beginning at 5pm.This year the speech will be taking place at our Kitchener Operations Facility. Please mark the date in your calendars and watch for tickets going on sale in February! Remember, the proceeds from the event go to the KW Community Foundation!
Region of Waterloo Consumption & Treatment Services
Recently, Region of Waterloo council approved proceeding to the next phase of community consultations with respect to consumption and treatment services for those dealing with addiction health challenges. In Kitchener, three properties are being considered to possibly host this service, as part of a comprehensive wrap-around model which would meet the needs of those with addictions. The region will be conducting some public consultation sessions in late January and early February. I urge those interested in this topic to attend to voice their support and/or concerns about this issue.