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City Council Columns - April 2018
Happy Spring Ward 1
As warmer days are upon us, I am happy to report an exciting new development leveraging one of Kitchener’s greatest outdoor assets; the Grand River. The Grand, which marks the eastern boundary of the City (and Ward 1) is a nationally significant heritage river, and one that many believe to be vastly underutilized. Fortunately, the Regional Tourism Organization 4 (RTO4) agrees, and they will be working with the City of Kitchener to develop two new mini-park-style canoe-launch sites this summer. The first location is just off of Victoria St. at 2500 Shirley Dr. and the other is near the end of Ottawa St. at 650 Otterbein Rd. I’m also pushing for a third location in Bridgeport that’s TBD. Each site will include parking, picnic tables and benches, waste bins, and washrooms. There will, of course, be a canoe-launch area with a kiosk and appropriate signage/mapping to help navigate your trip. These locations will be designed to tie in nicely with our ever-expanding network of trails.
Bridgeport Community Centre
One of the best kept secrets in our corner of the city will become less of a secret soon. The Bridgeport community centre on Tyson Dr. (just off of Bridge St.) is finally getting a digital community centre sign like the ones you see elsewhere in the city. This small but mighty centre is tucked back, off of main roads, so during the summer, the sign will be installed on Bridge St. to help bring attention to the many great programs and services provided to the local community. For questions on these, or any items city-related, please don’t hesitate to contact me anytime.
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 calling Carolyn Cormier at 519-741-2200 ext. 5345 to request a paper application. Please submit your nomination by April 13. The recipient of our Senior of the Year Award is announced by Mayor Vrbanovic at the Living Well Expo on Saturday, May 26 at City Hall.
My Ideal City lets students in grade 5 and 6 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 a reception and tour of City Hall with their family, and are in a mock debate on Rogers TV. Hopefully your child’s school is taking part. If not, entries can be dropped off at the security desk at City Hall or emailed to me at email@example.com before the deadline of April 9.
Our city staff is looking for your input on how they can serve you better. Take a few moments and visit engagekitchener.ca to share your experiences and suggestions.
To learn about what parks, arenas, community centres and more are in your neighbourhood, visit lovemyhood.ca. You can also find ideas and ways 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 @DaveSchniderKW, friend me on Facebook or visit my website daveschnider.com.
Up-coming Events During the next several months there are a number of issues coming before Council affecting constituents of Ward 3. There are only 5 Committee Meetings followed by 5 Council meetings between now and the summer break. Council activity always slows down in the summer. This year being an election year proceedings will be even slower.
Fallowfield Dr. Traffic Calming Review This will be discussed in Committee on March 5th and will be ratified at Council on March 19th. (Evening Meeting).
Zone Change Application-25 & 75 Fallowfield Dr. Staff have yet to complete their report. This should come to Committee before the summer break (latter part of June).
Zone Change Application-Block Line Rd & Courtland Avenue This also is still a work in progress and is expected to come to Committee and Council in the latter part of June. When specific dates are known I will attempt to notify all interested parties with ample notice.
Traynor-Fairway LRT Pedestrian Crossing A Public Information meeting was held on December 2nd but, unfortunately it appears that very little progress has been made with this project. This is a Regional project that should have been in place prior to the start of LRT service operations. This is not a question of “if” but “when”. City Hall was quick to shut down skating on storm water ponds but we are moving too slow on this which can have much more serious safety risks for our constituents. The Region recently approved an unsolicited multi-million dollar pedestrian walkway over the Conestoga Parkway and yet are unable to find the funding for this small overlooked part of a billion dollar project. I encourage you to petition our local representatives at the Region regarding this potential risk before someone is injured. Regional Councillors (E. Clarke / T. Galloway / G. Lorentz / K.Redman / B. Vrbanovic) can be reached at 519-575-4404 and the Regional Chair (K. Seiling) at 519-575-4585.
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
Over the last few weeks I have been working with a group of citizens who were shocked to learn that an application to sever part of the heritage property at 883 Doon Village Road would be discussed at a Committee of Adjustment meeting the next week on Feb. 20th. At that meeting a decision could be made to allow the owners to sever the property resulting in the addition of 4 new lots along the side of the property facing Bechtel Dr.
This property is the original home of Benjamin Burkholder the first teacher in the Waterloo Township. His house was built in 1863 and stands as a reminder to all who pass by it of bygone days. A time in our community history when the home was surrounded by acres of farmland and where the first settlers came to make a new life.
The buildings on this site are unique in their appearance, therefore it should be the entire site that is considered of cultural heritage landscape importance, not just the house. The view of the house on this property with an out-building that is presently used as storage shed should be the important consideration. Generations of resi-dents have walked, biked and driven past this wonderful property.
Committee members listened to numerous delegations speaking against this change. Thankfully the committee saw the importance of being further informed about this site and deferred their decision until April 17, the next Committee of Adjustment meeting. A public meeting was held on March 22 and well attended by over 80 residents.
If you are concerned with the changes in this site please contact me at Yvonne.firstname.lastname@example.org
Just a quick reminder, Catch Up with Kelly is coming up on Tuesday April 10 from 7-8pm at the Williamsburg Community Centre. Hope to see you there.
You can expect to see the construction work begin on Ottawa St. S., the regional road between Fisher-Hallman Road and Knechtel Court. The purpose of the project is to repair the road, add curbs, street lights and replace/add underground infrastructure as well as create new multi-use trails for hiking and biking.
With the new residential development in the Ottawa and Trussler Rd. area, there is a need to accommodate growth. Between April and December Ottawa Street will be closed from David Bergey Dr. to Trussler Rd. and a signed detour route will be available along Trussler Rd., Bleams Rd. and Fischer-Hallman Rd. Local residents or emergency services will continue to have access. The Sunrise Centre and any other local businesses will remain open and you will continue to have access. The public will still be able to use the Ottawa Street and David Bergey Dr./Windflower Dr. intersection for most of the year, however, the region will need to close it for a short period to make final pipe connections.
Residents who front or back onto Ottawa St. will receive a letter within the next couple of weeks detailing the construction timing and contacts in case they need to get in touch with the region and/or contractors. For more information on the Ottawa St. S. project, please contact Boris Latkovic, Project Manager at the Region of Waterloo at 519-575-4457 or BLatkovic@regionofwaterloo.ca.
Although winter is almost done, I want to take this opportunity to gauge the interest of Ward 6 residents on key winter maintenance matters and parking that directly impact your day-to-day lives.
The city operations staff has worked diligently to keep our roads clear of snow and safe, yet there is still room for improvement based on feedback received from Kitchener’s citizens. I request that you contact me to provide me your input on what you feel requires more attention with the city’s winter maintenance.
Council is still in the midst of determining the right course to take with sidewalk snow clearing. Currently the sidewalk snow clearing by-law requires the property owner to be responsible for snow clearance within a 24 hour period. Some residents have been advocating for the city to take over this responsibility. Council will have to weigh the overall benefit with the significant increase in costs to the operations budget and its impact on taxes. Please provide me with your input so that it will help guide me on this issue.
A few years ago, bylaw staff presented council with the option to allow residents to park on the driveway apron, also referred to as boulevard parking. At that time, council chose to restrict this allowance to Ward 5 due to the number of narrow lots providing only single car parking and little on street parking. I have continued to hear from residents that this should be allowed citywide. Based on staff clarification, this could be reconsidered during this term of council; otherwise it will have to wait until the next term. Let me know if you feel this should be allowed in Ward 6. Depending on your feedback I will advocate accordingly.
Neighbourhood Pop-up Markets
The Kitchener Market and Love My Hood have recently joined together to provide you with everything you need to bring a market to your neighbourhood! To get started, visit LoveMyHood.ca and access the step-by-step guide that walks you through the whole process from organizing logistics, promoting your market to making it run smoothly. On the website you will also find a bookable pop-up market kit with all the supplies you will need to create your own neighbourhood market. The kits are free and include tents, tables, baskets, a cash box, signage, tablecloths and more. The program will connect you with Kitchener Market farmer’s vendors so you can purchase the produce to sell at your stand. Make the market your own by adding entertainment, craft vendors, food vendors. The idea is to create situations that encourage people in their community to gather and get to know one another. A neighbourhood market is the perfect way to enrich neighbourhood life.
Neighbourhood Matching Grant
Do you have a great idea for your neighbourhood but not sure how to make it happen? First you come up with an idea, gather a team together, reach out to your neighbours and community for assistance and support with the project. Develop your project budget. There’s up to $15,000 in matching grant funds available for projects that transform public space and build stronger relationships with your neighbours. Once you have your proposal ready, submit your application and wait for city approval. Visit www.kitchener.ca and search keyword “grants” to learn more about Neighbourhood Matching Grant. The grant continues until funds run out, so you can apply anytime. Get creative and make some plans to support positive change in your hood!
I have serious concerns about the waste of taxpayers’ money to build a $7.6 million pedestrian bridge across the Conestoga Parkway from the Chandler/Strasburg area to the Avalon/Southmoor area.
Regional Council approved the construction of this bridge unanimously supported by the four Kitchener regional councillors notwithstanding that I appeared before the Regional Planning & Works Committee to argue against it. The Environmental Assessment has now gone through its public process and everything was carried out properly by all parties and due diligence was done as I see it. I read over the lengthy report that was available for public review and have no objection to the EA process.
However, this is a case of a carrot of money dangling from the feds with the Regional transit staff jumping on board to build something not needed. The Region wants to provide bridge access to the bus routes on Chandler that are not available in the Avalon area. There was bus service in the Avalon/Stirling area for years until the transit staff removed it for lack of ridership a few years ago. Now they want a few potential passengers using this bridge.
I monitored the existing pedestrian bridge built in the early 1970s from Dixon area to Boniface for school children the other day. I counted twelve pedestrian students using the bridge in the morning and the same in the afternoon going to and from Rockway Public School. Other than that no one else was using the bridge.
The Region is also spending about the same amount of money at $7.3 million widening Highland Rd. from Ira Needles to Fischer-Hallman from two lanes to four. This road will carry around 20,000 vehicles daily. Now this is money well spent.
But this pedestrian bridge has no vision.
Local taxpayers should read it and weep.
They have paid about $1 billion for a much delayed light rail system that I’m glad to see has generated at least $1.2-billion construction activity in downtown Kitchener. But the same taxpayers are now paying excessive “bonuses” to developers who are already making large profits on condominium units selling vigorously along that LRT route.
At the same time, not a single unit of subsidized housing is included in the rash of buildings being approved, mostly in my downtown ward. That reflects a grossly inequitable payback for taxpayers and was the reason I voted at planning committee against a project by Momentum developments that wraps around the heritage Huck Glove building at Victoria and Bramm streets.
Because I support efforts to save the beautiful Huck building and, after research, found that Momentum, under a different name, is building a token amount of Kitchener-Waterloo affordable homes, I approved the project at council.
Meanwhile, at the Huck site, an intensified 25-storey building will have 300 units, an outdoor park area will be replaced with a partly-indoor “public amenity area,” and parking spaces will be cut from 411 to 233.
Momentum has or will soon build more than 1,000 high-rise condos on Victoria and at Charles-Gaukel that include no affordable shelter despite the fact Waterloo Region has 3,000 names— about 10,000 adults, children and seniors—on a waiting list for low-cost housing.
Buried under the blanket of bonuses is a responsibility that companies make certain affordable housing forms part of their projects. Housing is supposed to be a basic right for all Canadians.
Happy spring to you! I want to draw your attention to a couple important opportunities for feedback. This month, our staff will bring forward a draft of the long anticipated comprehensive review of the zoning by-law (CRoZBy). Public meetings will take place to hear citizen input on these plans in the evenings of April 30th and May 8th . If you are interested to learn more and have your say, please see the project page: www.kitchener.ca/crozby.
If you live in the Midtown/Mount Hope neighbourhood, please consider participating in a planning charrette to discuss the future of 152 Shanley St. In advance of a second tax sale process, neighbours are invited to share their perspectives about possible future uses for the building. Email me to register by April 21st. The event takes place April 28th.
During the month of April, Earth Day will be celebrated worldwide, and locally, many residents will demonstrate support for our environment by gathering friends, family, and neighbours together to organize a clean-up of a public space. Residents planning local clean-up activities are invited to register their event on our City of Kitchener website at Kitchener.ca/earthday. We will provide gloves and bags to assist you with keeping our earth beautiful! In addition, on Friday April 20 the city is hosting a 20-Minute Makeover event. Wherever you may be at 2pm, grab a friend and join in by heading outside for 20 minutes to pick up any nearby litter and garbage. When you register a team at Kitchener.ca/earthday, not only will you receive your free supplies for your clean-up team, your group will have a chance to win a prize.
As I sat down this weekend to write my column for the Kitchener Citizen, the topics I was going to write about took a turn as our country suddenly became united in grief and support for the community of Humboldt, Saskatchewan and the unspeakable tragedy faced by the Humboldt Broncos hockey organization resulting from a tragic bus accident on Friday evening. This tragedy hit us hard for many reasons. First, because there were so many deaths and difficult injuries impacting young people – young people in the prime of their lives and moving forward with promising futures doing what they love – playing hockey – Canada’s national sport. Second, because so many of us could see ourselves, our family members, our friends on that bus. Whether as part of a hockey team or another sports team or a choir or a folkdance group, bus travel as part of a team or group is part of a ritual of growing up or coming of age for so many youth in our city and in our country. Tragedies such as this should never stop us from doing what we love or from giving our youth a chance to spread their wings and fly. Rather, they should always be a reminder to cherish the relationships we have, to take time to tell people we love them, to even in competition or disagreement, never lose sight of the common humanity that binds us. On behalf of all of us in the City of Kitchener, I have extended our prayers and sincere condolences to the people of Humboldt, the Humboldt Broncos organization and all of their many family and friends. May these young, innocent souls rest in peace, and now play the game they love for all of eternity.
MAYORS’ DINNER FOR THE WORKING CENTRE
This past Saturday, I was joined by Mayor Dave Jaworsky of Waterloo and Mayor Doug Craig of Cambridge as we hosted the 31st annual Mayors’ Dinner for The Working Centre. That night, we recognized St. John’s Kitchen and three women who have been key leaders at the kitchen over the past 30+ years – Arleen Macpherson, Gretchen Jones and Jennifer Mains. It was an incredible evening with over 950 guests who came out to support this incredible community organization and its work with some of our community’s most vulnerable citizens. A place where through the support of the Working Centre’s dedicated team of staff and volunteers, guests get food, support and medical and psychiatric care in a non-judgmental environment filled with compassion, dignity, grace, hope and love. Thank you to The Working Centre co-founders Joe and Stephanie Mancini, to Arleen, Gretchen and Jennifer, and to the many volunteers who walk alongside these citizens, demonstrating that Kitchener and Waterloo region truly is a caring and compassionate community to live in.
THANK-YOU, MICHAEL HARRIS
This past weekend, we learned that Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris will not be running in the upcoming provincial election due to health reasons caused by a chronic issue involving his eyesight. Public life is a significant sacrifice from both a personal and family perspective. I applaud Michael for putting his health and his family first. Thank you as well Michael, for being a strong voice for the concerns of Kitchener and Waterloo region at Queen’s Park. Best wishes as you address your health concerns and in your future endeavours.
BCMC MEETING ON MENTAL HEALTH
Earlier this week, Toronto Mayor John Tory hosted a Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Big City Mayor’s Caucus (BCMC) Summit on Mental Health in Toronto. As the local member of BCMC representing the region’s urban municipalities, I attended and shared our experiences in Kitchener and throughout Waterloo region, some of our best practices and also identified areas where we need more support from our provincial and federal powers. In preparation for the meeting, I obtained significant input from our local Waterloo-Wellington LHIN, the Waterloo Regional Police Service, Grand River Hospital, the Region of Waterloo and a variety of community not-for-profits including the House of Friendship and the Working Centre. Addressing mental health needs more effectively is extremely important to me if we are going to effectively address the needs of some of our city’s most vulnerable population, and I am pleased to add my voice to those of Mayors from Canada’s largest cities in our call for help from our provincial and federal partners.
STATE OF THE CITY 2018
Next week, I will be delivering my final State of the City speech during this term of Council, reflecting on how our community has done over the past year, as well as throughout this term of Council. The speech will be taking place at the new Catalyst 137 facility, home to Miovision and many companies working in the smart city and IoT space, with ticket proceeds going to the KW Community Foundation. You can watch the speech live on the City’s Facebook account as well as via our website, and it will be posted on the website afterwards. I’ll share some of the highlights from the speech in next month’s edition.
Finally April is national volunteer month! Throughout this month, I will be participating in activities that thank and acknowledge both City of Kitchener volunteers as well as others which support different community organizations. Our City is fortunate to have literally thousands of volunteers who engage with everything from sports teams to arts & culture organizations to social not-for-profits like Carizon and The Working Centre. Our community is better because so many of you roll up your sleeves to help build a better community. Thank you for all you do! You are helping ensure that one day we leave our world a little better than we found it!