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City Council Columns - November 2019


Sidewalk Snow Clearing
Well, winter is almost here and the snow will be flying before you know it. While winter brings that undeniable Canadian beauty to our homes and countryside, it also brings an undeniable pain (in the backside) for those of you with sidewalks. We have a problem here in Kitchener. We want to be pedestrian-friendly with our snow-clearing rules, but we also want to be reasonable and realistic considering our Canadian climate. Unfortunately, our staff have been unable to find a middle ground between the current “bare pavement” standard and something consistently achievable.
Most of us have shoveled sidewalks since we were kids. Getting to the pavement is often pretty easy, even without salt, MOST of the time. The problem is the REST of the time. Many sidewalks heave, pooling water that forms ice in endless freeze-thaw cycles, and snowblowers can’t get down to the pavement. Other times, the ice is just so thick, and stuck, that nothing is bringing it up. So, people surrender. They dump a bag of salt in vain and worry someone will call bylaw. “Bare pavement” is an unreasonable standard in Canada and I can’t support it. Some may see this development supporting the idea of the city clearing all sidewalks. All of my past writings condemning this idea aside, NO city that does this work clears down to bare pavement. Why? Because it doesn’t matter whether the snow clearing force is that of city staff with heavy machinery, or hundreds of thousands of residents with shovels, ice picks and snow blowers, sometimes mother nature is going to win.
Council begins the 2020 budget process on November 25 with our Operating Budget, followed by Capital Budget on December 2. There’s also a public input day on Monday, January 13. The 2020 budget will be finalized on January 20. Look for opportunities for you to provide input online and know that I’m always open to hearing your thoughts and suggestions.
Engage Kitchener lets you share your input on various city issues. Give us your thoughts on our Cycling and Trails Master Plan until November 30 at engagekitchener.ca.
Registration for Winter Programs at our Ward 2 Community Centres starts on November 19. Visit each Centre’s website to see an online version of their Winter Program Guide. Find Stanley Park Community Centre’s at spcakitchener.ca and Centreville Chicopee’s at cccakitchener.com. You can see the programs offered at all the Community Centres across the city with our Active Net Program. To do that, just Google Active Kitchener.
The Stanley Park Community Centre has their Christmas Family Pancake Breakfast & Party on Saturday, December 7. There’s crafts for the kids and visits with Santa too. Online registration starts November 7. If you can, please donate to their Hat and Mitten Tree.
A Seasonal Bylaw Reminder: boats, trailers and RV’s must be stored somewhere other than your driveway between November 1 and March 31.
The annual Christkindl Market returns to City Hall and Carl Zehr Square December 5 to 8.
Please contact me if I can assist you. Our Contact Centre is staffed 24/7 to report an emergency, an issue or ask questions about any city department at 519-741-2345.
Community Centre Update! The city expects to get occupancy of the centre in November, allowing staff to move in and set up which will take up to two weeks. Look for an opening date to be posted on the DPPCA website: dppca.ca. The library continues to be open and directional signage is posted for the entrance.
I want to recognize and extend my thanks and appreciation to the Doon Pioneer Park Neighbourhood Association Executive Board, and make special mention of the Pres., Pam Ritz; VP, Elaine Andrews and Community Liaison, Yvonne Fernandes. They, and the board, have done an incredible job of continuing their operations by offering programming at alternate community locations during the centre’s closure since March. I am so impressed by the work the board has put into communicating the changes, while still supporting and making programs available to our community.
Our driving habits can affect the safety of our neighbours. I bring this up, as I’m hearing from Ward 4 residents in increasing numbers about driving habit related issues. So in hope of appealing to your sense of safety for your children, your neighbour’s children, pedestrian safety in general, and your own safety, I ask that you pay special attention to speed limits in neighbourhoods and school zones, and that you come to a full stop at every stop sign. Also, please remember the law requires drivers to stop when school bus lights are flashing.
The 2020 budget is coming up. I am happy to assist with your questions and concerns. Please connect with me at 226-752-9541 or by email at christine.michaud@kitchener.ca.
Have you seen the artwork of Luke Hodgson on display at the Williamsburg Community Centre Gallery? If not, I encourage you to visit the Centre and see the art which will be exhibited until December! Luke is a self-taught artist, who was diagnosed with a rare muscle inflammatory condition. He uses his art throughout his recovery and has raised over $20, 000 in charitable donations from the sale of his pieces. He is an incredible example of resiliency and philanthropy and we are lucky to have his work showcased in our community.
This winter by-law staff will be implementing a new online system that will allow you to request five overnight parking exemptions over a four month period; from December 1st to March 31st. Residents will be able to log onto the City of Kitchener website and register for an overnight parking exemption, or call the Corporate Contact Centre at 519-741-2345 to submit a request. You must submit a request before 2:00am and provide license plates of the vehicle requesting an exemption. In the case that a Snow Event is declared exemptions will not be permitted. Remember that your vehicle must be legally parked to qualify or else you may still get a parking ticket. Flexibility is a key piece in addressing the needs of our community. I am so pleased to see this new initiative, as it enables us to more easily visit our friends and family.
Loose leaf drop-off sites are now open. A reminder that NO bags, not even paper yard waste bags are accepted at the drop sites. Leaves can be dropped and debagged until Friday, Dec 13 at the Ward 6 sites: Meinzinger Park Soccer Fields - Homer Watson Blvd.; Lions Arena - Rittenhouse Rd; and South West Optimist Sportsfield - Pioneer Dr.
All residents are encouraged to use this order of leaf disposal: mulching and composting where possible; use of one of the eight approved leaf drop-off sites; bag your leaves for yard waste pick-up; for designated areas only, rake your leaves to the curb for designated pick up dates.
Please check www.kitchener.ca, key word search “curbside leaf collection” for your area’s leaf collection options or call the city at 519-741-2345. Residents living within the loose leaf collection zones are permitted to rake their leaves to the curb by 7am of the first day of their collection week. Residents living in areas identified as “hot spots” will receive multiple leaf collections, with Dec. 2 being the last day for pick up.
Since leaves raked to the curb can cause some safety concerns, all residents – no matter where they live in the city – are encouraged to mulch or compost leaves on their properties. Please provide me with your feedback on the current approach to curbside-leaf-collection. Do you feel that this is a beneficial city service or would you rather see the cost and resources applied elsewhere?
Join me at the Country Hills Community Centre each month on the third Wednesday from 7:30-8:30pm to hear your questions or concerns about city business.
Our community is evolving which means that we must continue to address the changing needs of our citizens. Affordable housing is an enormous challenge, not only for our City but across the entire country. Every community is unique and requires a tailored approach to solving this complex problem. A comprehensive review of the City’s Bylaw, commonly known as CRoZBY, is one way the City is working to meet the diverse needs of our community. I am encouraged that Council has endorsed an update to Kitchener’s residential zoning based on this review. The update to the zoning bylaw is an important step towards improving the affordability of rental units in Kitchener, allowing a more flexible range of housing types. New types of rental units on residential properties, such as apartments above a garage or “coach houses,” and small structures separate from the main building will now be permitted. Up to two additional dwelling units such as basement apartments, granny flats, backyard tiny houses will now be allowed on most residential lots. These changes allow for a range of housing types including midrise and high rise apartments near to transit. The update will improve the compatibility of larger development projects with existing neighbourhoods by limiting building height within the immediate vicinity of single-story homes. What this means for our community is more housing options and an integrative approach to meeting the needs of our community through the design and landscape of our city. Although this will not solve the issue of affordability, it is a step in the right direct.
Hello Ward 8! It’s hard to believe November is here and winter is right around the corner. November marks the beginning of the City’s Budget Process. It is important to ensure everyone has a clear understanding of what this process looks like. There are opportunities to get involved and provide feedback including a Public Budget Input Night on January 13, 2020. Other key dates can be found on the City of Kitchener’s website at www.kitchener.ca, keyword search: ‘2020 Budget’. On November 25, 2019 the Budget Engagement Survey is set to launch, so you can share your input online. The City has tried different engagement approaches in the past and has received the most public input and response through the online survey. As part of the 2020 Budget Engagement Survey there will be a new budget allocation tool, which will provide information related to the overall cost of delivering programs and services in our community.
Last year City staff introduced the Budget at a Glance document providing details on the main components and laying out how items will impact the average household. This is an important initiative, which will be included in this year’s process as well to ensure that budget information is communicated in a manner that is straightforward and easy to understand. While City staff are committed to moving forward with the 2020 budget process, they are always open to receiving feedback and considering different approaches to the budget process. Your feedback is invaluable to this process, so please have your say in person, online, or with me.
It was just over a year ago that I was elected to represent Ward 9 in Kitchener. I like to describe the experience as interesting, challenging and demanding. It was less than a month ago that we elected a new federal government. And we have just heard that, following the regional review, municipalities will not be amalgamated by the provincial government. Politics never rest!
CRoZby stage two was discussed at a recent public forum where residents had the opportunity to give feedback to the proposed residential zoning categories, parking guidelines, and new legislation related to tiny homes, granny flats and laneway homes. I was contacted by a number of residents who expressed concern about the transitioning from one zoning category to another on adjacent properties. I share this concern, especially in the established neighbourhoods in the core. I am committed to working with residents as we move into the next stage where details of the secondary plans will be discussed and finalized. If you want to know the zoning changes that are being proposed in your neighbourhood, please attend the public consultation events.
Budget time is also upon us. I have worked with residents to organize two budget information evenings. The first one will be at the Mill Courtland Community Centre on Tuesday November 26th at 6:30pm and the second will be at the Downtown Community Centre on Wednesday November 27th at 7:00pm. I hope you will join us. City staff will be available to answer your questions. I can be reached at Debbie.chapman@kitchener.ca I welcome your feedback.
Last month, Council approved a set of new residential zone definitions. These new zones are not yet applied on the map of Kitchener. When those zones are applied ward by ward throughout the next year, it will mean that single-family homes will then have the ability to add up to two additional dwelling units on the same property, one in the same building, and one in the backyard, if sufficient room is available to do so. One of the most discussed new options is to add granny flats/coach houses/tiny homes in backyards. If a property owner is really keen and can’t wait for the next phase to be completed, they can apply for a minor variance to put one in sooner.
This month, the Great Places Awards will celebrate the urban design accomplishments of property owners and builders who have built properties in the last two years. I was honoured to be a part of the selection committee this year. We had several incredible entries, including many examples in Ward 10.
I hope to see many of you at this year’s 23rd annual Christkindl Market. This free event will be held from Thursday, December 5 to Sunday, December 8 at Kitchener City Hall. Join the candlelight procession and sing-along on Thursday December 5 at 5:45 pm from Hall’s Lane and Gaukel Street to Carl Zehr Square. This timeless experience stems from a 700-year old German tradition. It is an authentic cultural festival that my family looks forward to every year. Come see train room and pick up some artisan made gifts. The Christkindl Market is a place of tradition and community connection. I look forward to seeing you there!
Wow! It is hard to believe that the year continues to whiz by us and we’re into November already. Before we know it, the snow will be flying in significant ways and we’ll be in the thrust of winter. Good luck as you complete all the outdoor household preps before winter arrives.


REMEMBRANCE DAY
Next Monday marks Remem-brance Day. It’s important that we continue to take time to remember those who have given their lives through wars and peacekeeping missions so that we can continue to enjoy the democracy and freedoms which we all enjoy today. I encourage you to attend the ceremony in Downtown Kitchener at the cenotaph beginning at 10:30am, or if you can’t attend, take a couple of minutes at 11am to remember the sacrifices made by others on our behalf. I will be away for Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) related meetings that day, so I thank Acting Mayor John Gazzola and the Members of Council who will lay the wreath on the city’s behalf at the ceremony and I will take time at 11am to remember our fallen. #LestWeForget


MAYORS’ ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT MISSION
This week, I am travelling with my colleagues Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky, Cambridge Mayor Kathryn McGarry and Waterloo Region Economic Development Corporation CEO Tony LaMantia on an economic development mission in the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas to support our community’s investment marketing efforts. The group is meeting with several California-based companies with new and expanding operations in Waterloo region to build stronger strategic relationships with headquarters leadership. We are also meeting with key investment intermediaries, including site selectors, venture capitalists and business executives to promote the unique talent value proposition and benefits of investing in Waterloo region. Working alongside partners at the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University, we will also be working to strengthen ties to alumni that are now in leadership positions in Silicon Valley. Special thanks to our Government of Canada Consulate Generals – Rana Sarkar in San Francisco and Zaib Shaikh in Los Angeles and their teams for all their support in making this mission productive.


FEDERAL ELECTION 2019

During the last federal election, together with my fellow Mayors in the FCM Big CIty Mayors’ Caucus and the FCM board, we worked hard to bring a variety of municipal issues to the forefront for your consideration during the recent election campaign. These issues included infrastructure investment, affordable housing, climate change, public transit investment, opioid crisis and others. In the weeks of the campaign, many of you approached me to discuss these issues and why they were important to Canada’s cities and communities and indicated you appreciated having constructive information to consider ahead of making your decision at the ballot box. I want to thank everyone who took the time to be engaged and most importantly become informed in the issues raised during our FCM #BuildingBetterLives campaign.
I’d like to congratulate everyone who ran in the recent election. You are an important part of our democratic process, and this region was well served by many excellent candidates across all parties in our 5 federal ridings within Waterloo region.
I would especially like to congratulate our 4 re-elected MP’s – Bardish Chagger, Bryan May, Raj Saini and Marwan Tabarra and our newly elected MP Tim Louis. I look forward to working with the five of you, together with my fellow mayors and chair, on our shared priorities for this community.
I also want to congratulate and thank Harold Albrecht for his many years of service as the MP for Kitchener-Conestoga. Whether in government or opposition, Harold always made himself available to work with elected local leaders on our shared priorities and I want to thank him and wish him much success in the next phase of life’s journey.


DECEMBER EVENTS
With the holiday season coming upon us, time to mark some important dates in your calendar. First – Santa Claus will be coming to town before you know it. The annual KW Santa Claus parade will be in a little more than a week, on Saturday November 16th. Next up, don’t forget about our much beloved annual, Christkindlmarkt which will run from December 5th to 8th this year at Kitchener City Hall, on Carl Zehr Square and on King Street between Young and College. Watch for more event details in my December column.
I would like to remind everyone of several upcoming November meetings.
Deer Ridge Dr Traffic Calming PIC #2: The follow up meeting at which concepts will be discussed will be at Howard Robertson School on Tuesday Dec-03-2019 from 7 to 9 PM. This is your next opportunity to express your opinions regarding alternative traffic calming ideas. NO DECISIONS HAVE BEEN MADE AT THIS POINT!
Stage 2 ION: LRT Kitchener to Cambridge: Public meetings relating to the route of this stage of the LRT will be held on 3 different nights (Nov-19-20-21st) in three different Cambridge locations. This project will impact constituents of Ward 3 especially those located between Fairview Mall and Highway #401. Please call my office for details relating to times and locations.
Festival of Neighbourhoods 26th Annual Celebration: Takes place on Sunday November 17 from 1 to 3 PM. Join in celebrating and honouring the citizens who were active in hosting gatherings throughout all our Kitchener Neighbourhoods this past year. Come out and enjoy free treats and refreshments! Perhaps your neighbourhood will be the lucky recipients of the annual $20,000 capital grant
Traynor-Vanier LRT Crossing: Preliminary construction work has commenced on the crossing. I am again assured that it will be in place by year end. Again, I urge residents to not attempt crossing the train tracks illegally.
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 (work) john.gazzola@kitchener.ca or jgazzola@rogers.com.