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City Council Columns - September 2019
The Fast and the Furious(ly loud): One of the more common complaints I receive has to do with vehicles. While the primary concern is people speeding through residential neighbourhoods, there are also concerns for vehicles that are needlessly loud. Council has already approved a pilot project to attempt to deal with the former issue by-way-of a speed limit reduction from 50kph to 40kph on side streets (40kph to 30kph in school zones.) Unfortunately, the Regional level of Government is in control of the police, so there will not be accompanying enforcement, which clouds my expectations for success. As for the latter concern, I was young once too but for the life of me, I cannot comprehend the rationale for putting a big fat exhaust pipe on a circa 2005 Toyota Corolla. If the goal is to annoy everyone around you while not materially affecting the performance of your vehicle, well... congrats? The problem in dealing with either of these issues goes back to law enforcement being the only tool. The police do great and important work, but they are also very expensive (both in salaries and vehicles/equipment) to deal with these rampant and recurring issues. It’s time we start exploring new technologies. Cities now have the authority to use speed cameras and it’s a discussion we’re going to need to have. Few care if someone is doing 120kph on the 401, but speeding on a residential street is something else. As for noisy cars? They’re already piloting a microphone-based project in Paris that I’m sure will one day be integrated into the same device.
Please drive slowly and carefully in and around our school zones. We have more children walking to school, so extra care around crosswalks and intersections is appreciated.
I’m proud that council voted unanimously to support Cllr. Margaret Johnson’s motion to denounce Quebec’s Bill 21 and to re-affirm Kitchener’s commitment to the principles of equity and diversity for all our residents which includes support for religious freedom and the preservation of the rights of minorities.
I’d love your input as Kitchener shapes our next economic strategy in the areas of Job Creation, Business Attraction, Community Vibrancy, Industry Growth and Talent Attraction and Retention. Learn more about our Make It Kitchener Strategy and do a short survey at MakeItKitchener.ca
A section of Ward 2 will be part of a pilot project to study the benefits and challenges of reduced speed limits on residential streets. A zone of residential streets within River Road East, Ottawa Street North, Lackner Boulevard and Fairway Road North will be studied. Signs will be posted this fall and the study goes until fall 2020.
I want to thank Mark Eys and the committee that I had the pleasure of supporting for the completion of the new multi-use court behind Franklin School. Much work and planning went into this with great cooperation between the city and the Waterloo Region District School Board. Funding came from the Hallman Foundation.
Thanks always to the Stanley Park and Centreville Chicopee Community Associations for the great programs they offer at their community centres. Visit and take part in the good things they have going on.
A reminder that our Contact Centre is staffed 24/7 at 519-741-2345. Call anytime to report an issue or get answers to questions about any city department.
Deer Ridge Traffic Calming Study: No decisions have been made at this time regarding this study. It is expected that staff will bring forward some suggestions within the next several weeks. At that time the suggestions will be circulated; followed by another public meeting. I encourage all interested residents to attend this meeting and provide their input. Everyone will have an opportunity to indicate their preferences. Once a consensus is reached the recommendations will go to the Community Services Committee. Residents will have the ability to appear as delegates at that meeting with an opportunity to address all of City Council. The Committee will vote on the recommendations and/or any amendments made. That vote will then come back to Council for ratification a week or so later. Delegates can also be heard at that meeting.
Residents of Boniface Avenue: Hopefully the disruption caused as a result of the recent sewer back-ups has now been resolved. Thank you again for your perseverance in those very difficult circumstances. The City’s insurers have been in touch with all affected residents requesting that all information which may result in a claim against the city be forwarded to them. I encourage you to attend to these requirements as quickly as possible.
Traynor-Vanier LRT Crossing: I again raised this issue at the most recent meeting of City Council. I was again assured that the required crossing will be fully in place by year end. I continue to monitor this on a weekly basis. I want to thank the residents of the area for their patience and for not attempting to cross 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) 519-498-389(cell) firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
I hope you had a wonderful summer and were able to experience some of Kitchener’s many festivals and community events.
City staff are working with council on a number of initiatives. An important one affecting our ward is starting this fall: a council approved pilot project to study the impact of reduced speed limits from 50 to 40 km/hr in three residential neighbourhoods.
Doon South was one of three neighbourhoods in this pilot that will also have reduced speeds in school zones from 40 to 30 km/hr. Watch for all newly posted speeds entering neighbourhoods, and on school streets; school is back in session, and that means we all need to be more mindful of children, cyclists and pedestrians on our neighbourhood streets. Please slow down. Stats show this 10k reduction in speed can save lives!
The Doon Pioneer Park Community Centre expansion continues to move forward. I’m so excited that we are almost there, as the anticipation for this fall opening begins to build. The building has begun to take shape and the interior work is picking up. Upon completion, you will enjoy the new and practical feature of a shared entrance into the Library and Community Centre. Programs are planned to start again in the New Year.
The short term frustration of construction along Homer Watson will soon provide long-term gain for Ward 4 residents. Things are starting to take shape, and its expected completion is November. Homer Watson is a Regional road, so if you have any questions or concerns please contact the Region of Waterloo at 519-575-4400.
There is no mistaking that cool breeze as the first sign that autumn has arrived. I hope you and your friends and family have had a lovely summer! Whether you were here taking advantage of the incredible events in town or enjoying time away, I hope your summer was filled with memorable moments.
As summer makes its grand exit it means one thing: back to school time has finally arrived! This is a great time to talk about road safety and awareness. Our precious little ones are returning to school so it is important to take extra care in school zones and be sure to stop for school buses, it’s the law!
On August 26 council passed a motion to create the Neighbourhood Speed Limit pilot project. I am pleased that ward 5 was selected as part of the review. Beginning this fall, in the Huron and Fischer-Hallman area there will be a reduction in speed by 10 km/h. This initiative will help protect pedestrians as research shows that in cases of collisions between vehicles and pedestrians a lower vehicle speed notably increases survival rate. I am so happy we are taking pro-active step in addressing on-going concerns for road safety in neighbourhoods. Look out for signs that will indicate the pilot areas. The City’s transportation team will be monitoring this project and reporting the findings to council in the fall of 2020.
If you have further questions or concerns regarding the new Neighbourhood Speed Limit pilot project please reach out to me, best of luck in the new season and school year!
Mark your calendars for the 7th Annual Cinema Under the Stars event taking place on Saturday, September 14 showcasing the latest Pokémon Movie. This free event is being held at the Country Hills Community Centre on Rittenhouse Rd. and games and festivities start at 6pm with the movie starting at dusk.
The City of Kitchener supported this event through a small cash grant and in-kind grant to assist with costs. The movie begins at dusk, but there will be programming before this, including door prizes, a Video Arcade, games and the outdoor park amenities. Popcorn and refreshments will be provided, but don’t forget to bring your own blankets and folding chairs.
Being involved in the Ward 6 community as your councillor has been very rewarding, as such, I’m always looking for opportunities to support building community. For this reason, I take special pride in helping to organize this Ward 6 event—Cinema Under the Stars, alongside the Alpine Neighbourhood Assoc., the Country Hills Recreations Assoc., and the North Six Community Assoc. It provides a community, family experience that brings all neighbourhoods in ward 6 together to celebrate and enjoy a fun filled evening.
Donations of nonperishable food items are greatly appreciated and will be distributed by the House of Friendship through their Food Hamper Program. Come out and enjoy this fun filled evening and help make it the best one yet!
Finally, allow me to give my sincere thanks to everyone that helped organize and promote this event which is made possible with the generous support of the Ward 6 Community Centres’ staff and the many community member volunteers.
For years, you’ve reminded us that the environment should be at the forefront of every decision we make for our city. I’ve heard you loud and clear - and I’m proud to say that Kitchener is considered a municipal leader in environmental planning and stewardship across the country.
In June, along with my fellow councillors, we unanimously adopted the Corporate Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions made by city operations. Complementing this action, we continue to update the Strategic Plan for the Environment to improve upon seven priorities: air quality; climate change; energy management; environmental actions, Go green!, and a tree management policy.
Currently, the city is also working towards a Community Climate Action Plan scheduled for late 2020.
In the meantime, I feel there is more that we can do as a municipality. I put forward two motions in August regarding producer requirements for packaging and single-use wipes.
I’m happy to report that council agreed to call upon the Province to review and implement a deposit/return program for single use plastic, aluminum and metal drink containers and that the Province review producer packaging requirements and responsibility.
Further, we will lobby the Federal Government to review regulations related to consumer packaging on single-use wipes to remove the word flushable as they are in fact not safe to flush as they are buoyant; are not biodegradable; and, will not break down into small pieces quickly. They also accumulate in our sewer system and can eventually clog the sanitary sewer system costing municipalities hundreds of millions of dollars in repairs and maintenance annually.
I would like to raise awareness in our ward about graffiti and your part in helping reduce the incidence of graffiti in our community. First and foremost, graffiti is illegal in our city and considered one of the worst types of vandalism. If you witness any form of graffiti vandalism in progress, please call 911 immediately to report the crime to police. Remember― the faster graffiti is reported and removed― the less likely it is to happen again.
Call the Graffiti Busters hotline at 1-855-TAG-FREE (824-3733) to report any tagged graffiti. This hotline is a great number to keep saved in your phone for reference or to report any future incidents you come across. By reporting any incidents of graffiti you see, the issue will be passed on to bylaw so that the appropriate owners are notified to address the issue and clean it up. Thank you for doing your part in helping keep our community graffiti-free and reporting all incidents you come across right away to ensure the graffiti is removed quickly. With your help, we can reduce graffiti across Kitchener and enjoy a cleaner community.
Don’t miss the Belmont Village Bestival on September 13 and 14. For the first time since coming to Waterloo Region, Bestival has added an additional day of local art and music fun! The festival will now span two fun-filled days to celebrate music and artistic expressions in beautiful Belmont Village. There will be an outdoor main stage with a variety of musical entertainment throughout the day, as well as many street-level acts geared towards children! Make sure to check out their website at belmontvillagebestival.com to see the full schedule of events.
I take great pleasure in hearing from residents when they speak before council. It represents a number of things that I greatly value such as courage, civic participation and democracy.
It takes courage for a person to stand before council. Delegates will often tell us that this is their first time and that they are very nervous. I have been that person and I can attest to how intimidating it can be. The structural arrangement is not friendly or conducive to conversations. It’s not like being around a boardroom table where everybody is seated and people discuss issues. The boardroom doesn’t have a watch clock counting down the minutes, either.
Civic participation can be done in many ways including through surveys, questionnaires, voting, joining clubs or teams or speaking to city council. Jane Jacobs, among others, has written about social capital, a concept I will consider synonymous with civic participation here. The idea is, if people participate in the social and political world around them, there will be greater co-operation and mutually supportive relationships, resulting in a healthier society. Of course, participation is often constrained by political-economic reality. But that is another question entirely.
Democracy beyond voting includes citizens’ involvement in decision-making. Residents speaking to council is one form of such involvement. It is in this context that I want to encourage you to come speak to council or contact your councillor when you have concerns or want to show your support for, or disagreement with, topics being discussed. Your voice matters and will be heard.
Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
We need bold leadership to serve our community’s urgent needs, and I feel optimistic about our Council’s ability to do our part as we grapple with difficult decisions over the coming year. Two key areas I’m focused on right now are affordable housing and cycling infrastructure.
Locally we have taken initial steps to address the affordable housing crisis by allocating funds toward our still-in-development made-in-Kitchener strategy. In addition, we need all levels of government to step up and work with us to solve this national issue, because it is not our local level of government’s mandate to take it on alone. This needs to be a key federal election issue and I encourage everyone to pay close attention to commitments made by each political party in the next month.
Right at an exciting time for cycling in Kitchener, we have unavoidable moments of conflict because we can’t build new cycling lanes without repurposing space. A new bike lane might replace a lane of traffic, or a boulevard, or well-used parking spaces. Council recently decided to reroute a recommended bike lane to save 7 parking spaces in my ward. I think we could have found a better solution, and I am hopeful it may yet be possible to do so. Regardless, I certainly hope that going forward; cycling advocates and those who are opposed to changes alike are able to express their inevitable frustrations with bumps in the road in respectful, constructive ways. Hurtful, angry tweets are not going to solve any problems. Thoughtful dialogue, creative problem-solving and bold leadership will go a much longer way.
Welcome to September everyone! It’s hard to believe that the final days of summer are upon us and in less than a couple of weeks, Fall will be upon us. I hope you had a great summer enjoying many of the events and festivals around KW, and don’t forget that the 51st annual KW Oktoberfest will take place from October 11th – 19th. Make sure you get out and enjoy some of that Gemutlichkeit spirit!
Kitchener-Waterloo Hosts Federation of Canadian Municipalities Board Meeting
This week, our two communities are hosting the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) September board meeting. The last time we hosted was in 2011-12, when I had the honour of serving as FCM’s President. Mayor Jaworsky and I are busy this week, together with our municipal teams, showcasing our two communities to the over 100 mayors and councillors from across Canada who are here for this important meeting. A big part of the meeting will deal with FCM’s strategy concerning municipal issues in the upcoming Federal election, which will take place in October.
Mayors Meet in Toronto to Talk Transportation
Last Sunday, I joined Toronto Mayor John Tory, FCM Big City Mayor’s Caucus Chair & Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson and others for Mayor’s Day during the NACTO conference being hosted in Toronto this week. The meeting was an opportunity to hear from one of the world’s foremost authorities on urban transportation, Janette Sadik-Khan who worked as New York’s Transportation commissioner from 2007-2013 under Mayor Bloomberg. It was also an opportunity to discuss next steps for Canadian cities like Kitchener and Waterloo region in terms of seeing all the federal parties prioritize transit investments in their platforms as well as discussing initiatives like Complete Streets and Vision Zero for our communities. I am convinced that this will continue to be a major topic in the months and years ahead at both our local and regional Council tables.
Protected Bike Lanes
Last month, I had the pleasure of joining Councillors Ioannidis, Chapman and Johnston, as well as city staff and members of our cycling & trails advisory committee as we launched the first leg of our new protected bike lanes in the City of Kitchener! The stretch that has been completed so far is along Queen Street near the Forest Heights Community Centre and got several thumbs up from those of us who tried them out. Watch for more roads being completed this year, and additional investments in this 21st century urban transportation infrastructure in future years.
City of Kitchener Strategic Plan and Sustainable Development Goals
Later this week, watch for the release of our new 2020-2023 City of Kitchener Strategic Plan. The new plan, built with the input and support of citizens and community partners, will guide City Council and our administration in the direction of the City over the next four years. This new plan will also be aligned with the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals which Canada and the nations of the world have adopted. Thank you to everyone who has helped us develop this plan. Both my colleagues on City Council and myself are committed to working collaboratively with our community and city staff to see this plan come to fruition.
City Receives Additional $6.9 million in Federal Gas Tax Investments
In Budget 2019, the City of Kitchener learned we would be receiving a one-time doubling of the federal gas tax this year to invest in important city infrastructure. Last week, I announced together with Kitchener Centre MP Raj Saini and Kitchener South Hespeler MP Marwan Tabbara that Kitchener would be receiving more than $6.9 million dollars and would be investing in recreational infrastructure including the Woodside sportsfields, roof replacements at the Victoria Hills Community Centre and The Aud, upgrades to the Vanier Park splash pad, park improvements in all 10 wards throughout the City. These types of investments demonstrate what can be achieved when the federal government and municipal governments work together for our communities.
Association of Municipalities on Ontario
Last month, I joined fellow elected leaders from across Ontario at the annual Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference in Ottawa. This annual conference is an important opportunity for us to network with municipal colleagues, learn about best practices and changes in legislation impacting municipalities like the City of Kitchener, and to have meetings with various Ministers and Parliamentary Assistants about issues impacting our community. Either on our own or together with other municipalities in the region or along the TO-WR Innovation corridor, we met with many officials including Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing – Steve Clark, Minister of Transportation – Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation & Trade – Vic Fedeli, and the Associate Minister for Small Business and Red Tape Reduction – Prabmeet Sarkaria. Our meetings with our provincial counterparts were very successful and I am hopeful they are a sign of a renewed spirit of collaboration between our two orders of government.