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City Council Columns - November 2017
There are a couple roads still under construction in Ward 1 that are frustrating residents, myself included if I’m being honest! I’ve been contacted several times about both Ottawa Street and Woolwich Street but unfortunately neither of these projects are under my (i.e. Kitchener’s) jurisdiction. Ottawa St belongs to the Region of Waterloo and it’s taking longer than anticipated as they ran into some unforeseeable difficulty with sub-surface water-related infrastructure back in August. Woolwich St, which is actually owned by the City of Waterloo, isn’t terribly behind schedule, it’s just terribly inconvenient for residents near Bridgeport/River Ridge. I know this work has been difficult but it’s also necessary. It will soon be behind us and I look forward to seeing these key thoroughfares modernized and safe.
Have you looked up lately? If you know me, or have read previous updates in this space, you know I’m a bit of a technophile, and consequently, really excited about our new LED Streetlights and the wireless communication technology built in. The installation of these lights is nearing completion and not only will it save significant tax-dollars via less electricity, it will open the door to a host of Smart-City technologies but more on that later. If you’re worried the lights are too bright, sit tight, because once they’re all installed they will be automatically dimmed by about 25% and we’ll have the ability to dynamically dim any individual light. If you have any questions on these items, or any other city business, don’t hesitate to contact me anytime!
We’re in leaf collection season. Most of us will rake and bag our leaves for curbside pick-up on our waste collection day. We can also take them to our Ward’s leaf collection sites at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium near the Ottawa St. entrance and Hofstetter Park near King St. East and River Rd. Leaves taken to our leaf collection sites must be removed from their paper bags as the leaves from this sites are used as compost for farmer’s fields and the bags don’t break down as quickly as the leaves.
For collection options on your street enter your address using our online tool at Kitchener.ca and typing “leaf collection” in the search bar. You can also call Kitchener’s 24 hour contact centre at 519-741-2345.
Council begins the 2018 budget process on November 20 with Operating Budget followed by the Capital Budget November 27. The Operating Budget is for operating our facilities and providing city services and programs to you. The Capital Budget is for building or maintaining assets that last for more than a year.
Your public input session is on January 15. Final Budget day is on January 22. Your thoughts and input are welcomed. My goal is to have the amenities and service levels you want at a tax level cost you’re comfortable with. For more information on the budget go to kitchener.ca
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.
Heritage Conservation Districts There are currently four Heritage Districts in the City: Upper Doon, Victoria Park, St. Mary’s and Civic Centre. Heritage Districts are set up to conserve and enhance the unique character of a distinctive neighbourhood. Each District is established with its own rules and standards. They are established to maintain the view and look of a neighbourhood. Rules relate to the views outside the homes and do not have any jurisdiction with the interiors of properties. Different Districts have different aspects. St Mary’s was established to conserve architecture and suburban landscapes unique to “War Time Housing”. Victoria Park’s goal is to conserve the Victorian architecture and the accompanying landscape. The Districts usually contain many similar type homes. Demolition of properties in these areas is not supported. Each area has its distinct guidelines and sets of rules.
A basic rule in all Heritage Districts is that any particular property cannot be enhanced by removing or causing changes to another District Property. All properties are of equal importance. Kitchener Council recently agreed to set aside its own rules to satisfy another level of local government – the Region of Waterloo. The majority of Council agreed to demolish two period properties to provide more open space for the Schneider Homestead. These properties were originally acquired by the Region to construct the Queen St-Benton diversion. That project has long been abandoned. The homes should have been maintained by the Region and left as part of the Victoria Park landscape. It will never be possible to recreate the grandeur of the Schneider property as it was in the 1800’s without totally destroying the appearance of the District when it was established.
Governments must live within the rules they have established for the rest of the community. In the future how can they deny a developer a similar rationalization. The arguments put forward by the Region were very insubstantial. Had they desired to ignore the rules they should have argued their case when the district was established. Shame on the Region and the Kitchener Mayor and Councillors who supported it. We cannot pick and choose what heritage we preserve!
Have you wondered how well you’re managing your waste now that the Region’s new waste regulations are in place?
A number of environmental committee members, including myself, took on the Zero Waste Challenge for the week of Oct. 16.
During that week, all of my personal waste was put into a one litre jar. I wondered at the beginning how I would do. I was concerned that I would fill the jar too quickly and be embarrassed by the amount of waste that I still was producing despite my genuine efforts to compost and recycle everything I could.
Day one was easy; I had only the wrapping from some flowers in the jar. As the week progressed I found myself checking every item that could be recycled or composted. I was surprised that very little was going into my jar. Do you think you and your family could do the zero waste challenge?
As I drive through the city and Ward 4, I am feeling hopeful as I see that more residents are disposing of their waste in the appropriate ways; however, I am saddened to still see garbage bags dropped along the side of country roads like Stauffer Dr.
I also see garbage mixed in with leaves at our leaf dumping site. It costs all of us extra when citizens don’t abide by simple regulations when disposing of their waste. These leaf dump sites are for the convenience of our residents who wish to dispose of their leaves on the weeks when yard waste is not picked up. We are also asking citizens to dump the leaves out of the bags, as leaves are being used by farmers on their fields this year, and bags do not break down quickly enough. Thanks for doing your part in dealing with your waste.
Budget: Each year, city council approves an annual budget. The budget covers fire service, community services and operations, culture, planning and economic development. Keeping your property taxes at a reasonable rate while making investments in our community are paramount to the City of Kitchener. The Budget is funded through three areas: Operating Budget, Capital Budget and Reserve Funds. The operating budget and the capital budget are presented to council as well as a summary of the public feedback received to date. A public input session follows prior to final budget day. This is your budget. Feedback from you is essential to this process and provides the opportunity to have a say where your tax dollars are spent. You can become involved by reviewing the budget and listening to the presentations of the operating and capital budgets to council. Join us in council chambers on November 20th and 27th for the budget discussions or via webstream at www.kitchener.ca. Other ways to provide feedback are via email, responding to City of Kitchener Facebook and Twitter posts, or through Engage Kitchener. Mark your calendars for the Public Budget Input Night on January 15, 2018 and Final Budget day on January 22, 2018.
HNA Trails: Work is underway in Huron Natural Park as part of the Canada 150 grant recipient HNA Trails Project. The work is expected to last until February, 2018. During this time, certain trails will be closed to the public to facilitate construction however, all other features and amenities will remain open. For further information about the project and the trail closures map please visit: www.kitchener.ca/huronnaturalarea.
Dear Residents of Ward 6,
I wanted to give you a quick update on the leaf disposal program. If you choose to take your leaves to either the Meinzinger Park or Lions Arena leaf disposal sites in Ward 6, this year you will need to empty your bags of the leaves. The reason being, these leaves will be sent to farmers to be used as compost in their fields and paper bags do not compost quickly enough for their use.
Not sure what your options are for leaf disposal? Check out our handy web page at kitchener.ca. Just search “leaf collection” to find the page. Here you will find all your options, and if you live in an area that has curbside loose leaf collection. If you do, and you choose to use this method of disposal, please have your leaves raked to the curb for 7am on the Monday morning of your week of collection. Please do not rake your leaves onto the road until the night before, so the road isn’t obstructed by leaves.
Be prepared for winter parking on Kitchener’s streets. Here are a few things to keep in mind. Please remember that as of Dec. 1 you will no longer be able to park overnight on the street. This is to allow for proper clearing of roads when they are plowed.
Also, sign up to receive notices about Snow Events, which trigger the City of Kitchener’s tag-and-tow parking bylaw. Visit kitchener.ca and search, “snow removal.” Scroll down to snow events and “sign up.” When we are to receive a significant snowfall, a snow event is declared for approximately 24 hours. During this time, no cars are allowed to park on the street, allowing crews to clear city streets and keep pedestrians and cars safe.
Our New Website
Check out our new website at www.kitchener.ca. City of Kitchener staff have worked together to revamp how the city shares information with the public. The new homepage features outstanding local photography and new design that makes it easier to find the latest news, events and social feeds. Feedback from the public and city staff is what helped form the basis for the design improvements. Check out popular quicklinks on our homepage, navigating the new website couldn’t be easier! Just a note: All the old kitchener.ca links will have changed therefore it is recommended that if you have bookmarked any pages from the old website you will likely need to re-establish a new link to your favourites.
Have you ever thought of volunteering? Many of the programs and services in the City of Kitchener would not be possible without volunteers. Volunteering helps to strengthen our community and is a wonderful way to meet new people, to give back and become more involved. The City of Kitchener works alongside affiliated groups such as our local Neighbourhood Associations and minor sports groups to deliver programs, various services and events. There is always a need for volunteers. For a current listing of volunteer opportunities, I encourage you to visit our website at www.kitchener.ca and click on Employment and Volunteering and complete your volunteer profile or contact 519-741-2200, ext. 7564 for assistance in finding the perfect position. The list of opportunities changes often so make sure to check it regularly.
Yes, City Council last month decided to tear down two more heritage houses in the designated Victoria Park Heritage District. The Region of Waterloo wanted to have two homes removed in order to expand their outdoor garden program. VP received its heritage district designation in 1996. The Region purchased the two houses on Queen St. next to the Joseph Schneider Haus back in 1989 and 1991. They stated that it was for heritage purposes.
Well, I’ll have to correct this as these dwellings were purchased because it was intended first by the City and then by the Region to realign the Benton-Queen corridor. Several houses were purchased for construction of this new roadway. The City’s Official Plan stated this proposed realignment. I clearly remember that as a city planner back in the 1980s when I was dealing with land use applications in that area.
In the meantime, several homes were demolished and a parking lot was created for the Schneider Haus. After many years and studies, the Region decided to abandon this new roadway and sold off many houses. It still retained these last two at Queen and Schneider. So now what, demolish the heritage homes and make an outdoor landscaped garden area. Wrong!
Belmont Village welcomes you to drop by and attend its annual upcoming Christmas in the Village launch that will take place on Sat. Nov. 25th from 10 am to 4pm. There will be Horse and Wagon rides, Christmas street music, an Information Booth, Santa Claus for photos, a dog parade, and a travelling gift card for you for a chance to win goods or gift cards. I will be there to meet and greet with you on this Christmas launch and look forward to seeing you on hopefully the first snowy day of the season.
Seven Kitchener councillors ignored their own heritage staff by voting recently to demolish two Victoria Park homes that could have provided housing for needy families.
Despite opposition from those staff members, a handful of Victoria Park residents and architectural-conservancy experts, council voted 7-4 to allow regional government to bulldoze the 90-year-old Queen Street homes near Schneider Avenue in order to expand and create more visibility for the Schneider Haus facility.
Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic as well as Councillors Sarah Marsh, Dave Schnider, Paul Singh, Scott Davey, Bill Ioannidis and Kelly Galloway-Sealock voted in favour of bulldozing the houses. Opposing the demolitions, I was supported by Councillors John Gazzola, Yvonne Fernandes and Zyg Janecki.
A key point in the debate involved whether the demolitions would create what heritage officials argued would set “a dangerous precedent” in Victoria Park or any other heritage district in Kitchener. That precedent could involve any developer who buys homes in a heritage district and then seeks to demolish the properties and erect alternate buildings.
Those supporting the demolitions to make way for an additional Schneider Haus garden also rejected my attempt to defer the issue until the Region could investigate options other than demolition. And they dismissed arguments that the homes could provide emergency shelter for a few of the hundreds of refugee families arriving each year at nearby Reception House in Victoria Park. Meanwhile, those houses will be flattened at a time when the region has about 10,000 adults, children and seniors on a waiting list for affordable housing.
It’s that time of year when the leaves fall. Across the city, residents have at least two options for managing their leaves: on your waste collection day, have your raked and bagged leaves ready for curbside pick-up or on your own schedule, take them to one of the nine leaf collection sites.
The leaf collection sites are open 7 days a week during daylight hours. New this year - bags will no longer be accepted at leaf collection sites and fines may apply if bags are dropped off.
In areas with significant tree cover, the city provides curbside loose leaf collection on a set schedule. For details, search leaf collection at www.kitchener.ca or call the 24 hour Contact Centre at 519-741-2345 to inquire.
If you require help with raking or bagging your leaves, we have some local agencies that may be of assistance. I suggest the Job Café at 519-513-9225 or Community Support Connections at 519-772-8787. Fees for services may apply.
I hope to see you at the Fred Gies Branch 50 Royal Canadian Legion Annual Remembrance Day Ceremony. The Parade forms up at Ontario St. (between King and Duke) at 10:15 am and the Service takes place at the Kitchener Cenotaph at 10:45am.
On November 11, Stuff to Do With Your Kids in KW and the Kitchener Market present: Movember Kids KW, a free family event from 10 am – noon in the Upper Kitchener Marketplace Kitchen. Moustache cookie making, face painting, arts and craft activities, a photo booth and more.
Come out to the 17th Annual Frederick Art Walk on Saturday November 11 from 10 am until 5pm. We have so many talented artists and artisans within this beautiful neighbourhood.
Happy November! Hope everybody had fun on Halloween earlier this week and remembers to spread the candy loot over several weeks! It’s hard to believe that we are in the final two months of 2017 already – the year when we celebrated Canada’s 150th birthday! It’s been a pretty amazing year, both for our community and our country, and as we approach 2018, things look even more exciting as we look ahead!
REMEMBRANCE DAY 2017
Our City of Kitchener 2018 Remembrance Day service, hosted by the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 50 will be back at the cenotaph this year at the corner of Duke and Frederick Streets. The service will begin at 10:45am. With Remembrance Day being on a weekend this year, I invite many of you to come out for the ceremony, and encourage you to bring children and teens in particular. It’s extremely important that we take time to remember those who served and those who made the ultimate sacrifice so we can preserve the democracy and freedoms we enjoy in our country. Lest We Forget.
Later that day, I invite you to join our community at the Kitchener Armoury on East Avenue as we unveil a decommissioned Light Armoured Vehicle (LAV), as part of a monument to honour Afghanistan veterans. A sincere thank you to our local Regimental Council, Canada Company and the Department of National Defence for their assistance with this important initiative.
NEW WLU PRESIDENT
Congratulations to Dr. Deborah MacLatchy, who became Wilfrid Laurier University’s 7th President during her installation at the WLU Fall convocation. As a WLU grad, I was honoured to attend the convocation to congratulate Dr. MacLatchy, who also became the second woman to hold the role of President and Vice-Chancellor. Laurier is an important partner of the City of Kitchener, with Downtown Kitchener being the home of WLU’s School of Social Work in the former St. Jerome’s High School building across from Kitchener City Hall on King Street.
PLANNING AHEAD TO DECEMBER
December is always a great time in Downtown Kitchener with many activities planned for families to enjoy the holiday season. The much beloved, Christkindlmarkt will come back for its 21st year, bigger and better than ever. It will run December 7th – 10th. Christmas Fantasy in Victoria Park will be returning again in 2017, and of course, no better place to welcome in 2018 than at our New Year’s Eve event at City Hall in Downtown Kitchener. More details on all these events next month!