April 2023

What did City Council do?

Strategic Plan Draft Scan Report

Staff and Council continue on our Strategic Planning journey, which sets the priorities for the City of Waterloo for the next four years.  In April, we reviewed a scan of public engagement thus far, which highlighted five themes emerging as priorities for the city:

  1. Climate Change and Sustainability
  2. Transportation & Infrastructure Development and Renewal
  3. Recreation, Arts & Culture and Heritage
  4. Housing, Community and Neighbourhoods
  5. Reconciliation and Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

The draft strategic plan will be reviewed by Council on May 8th (you can see that here, starting on page 134; 2023-05-08 Packet Council Meeting (waterloo.ca)) and the goal is to have it approved by June 26th.  Please feel free to provide your feedback directly to me if you have any thoughts on the priorities of the City of Waterloo.

Parkview Crematorium Addition

Council approved a funding request to transfer $850,000 from the Cemetery Reserve fund towards a project to fix the retort at Parkview Crematorium in order to continue in the cremation business.  You can read more about the decision to remain in this business from my October 2019 newsletter (https://www.roycebodaly.ca/october-2019/).  In short, the crematorium is in a 45 year old building, we continue to see demand for cremations offered by Parkview and we have pre-sold thousands of them.  Transferring these funds will allow us to make the necessary capital upgrades needed without impacting the tax base.  In future should the City choose to no longer be in the business, these upgrades are going towards building improvements as well, which can be converted into niche space to support ongoing cemetery business.

2022 Joint Services Initiative Update

Council received an update on Joint Service Initiatives that we are undertaking with the City of Kitchener.  When possible the City of Waterloo and Kitchener have a long standing history of working together on studies and initiatives that benefit the Twin-Cities.  There have been 75 initiatives since 2006, with 3 ongoing and 3 new initiatives occurring in 2022/2023.  Among them are an expansion of the Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS) for bylaw infractions, implementation of our affordable housing strategies and Vision Zero goals as well as the completion of an Inclusionary Zoning policy.  The Inclusionary Zoning policy, which will require new developments of a certain height to require a small percentage of affordable units to be constructed in them is a really exciting policy that is slated for completion in 2023.

Facility Accessibility Audits

In Council’s efforts to ensure that we are building an accessible City, we received a report auditing the accessibility of each of our 17 facilities.  We have made some strong improvements in the last four years including; a new elevator at the Button Factory, universal washrooms at RIM Park, Waterloo Memorial Rec Complex, the new East Side library and more, a new universal change room at WMRC, tactical wayfinding at a variety of facilities and more.  That said, we still have a long way to go.  These audits have highlighted the need for investment of $10.6M for priority 1 upgrades needed for basic accessibility over the next 10 years.  Currently Council has set aside $2.95M over the next 10 years and staff will be looking for ways to increase that number in our forthcoming three-year budget.

Climate Change and Sustainability Reports

Council received a host of climate change related reports in April.  These include:

  • 2020 Community Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report
  • 2023 City of Waterloo Climate Change Report
  • Harmonized Green Development Standards Phase 2 Launch

The 2020 GHG report for our community chose to highlight numbers from 2019, due to the shift in behaviour associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.  This report highlights overall community GHG’s emitted across the Region and is updated every five years.  From 2010-2015 we saw a GHG reduction of 5.2%, while looking at 2010-2019 numbers the GHG reduction was only 3.72%.  Much of this reduction is based on provincial changes to the electricity grid, notably the phase out of coal fired power plants.  While the GHG numbers have actually increased from 2015, it is important to note that per capita emissions have dropped, due to a rising population.  That said, this report has highlighted that incremental change is not going to be good enough for us to meet our targets.  Changing the way we move as a community and fuel switching for powering, heating and cooling our buildings are a must.  Particularly when you consider that 47-49% of our GHGs come from transportation and 44-45% come from our homes and workplaces.

At the City of Waterloo our corporate emissions have dropped from 8,112 tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2011 to 6,230 in 2018.  For a comprehensive look at initiatives that have occurred and those that are in progress, check out Mayor McCabe’s excellent article in the Waterloo Chronicle – https://www.waterloochronicle.ca/opinion/how-the-city-of-waterloo-is-taking-urgent-climate-action/article_aba2b521-1206-5daf-81cd-86dcedbe4da6.html.

Lastly on this front, Council endorsed the continuation of a plan to implement Green Development Standards for new developments.  As per the above, buildings represent a large percentage of our community GHGs and every building built today that is not net zero ready, is a building that will eventually need to be retrofitted in the not too distant future in order to meet our goals.  In partnership with all municipalities in the Region and driven by Waterloo Region Community Energy, we have completed Phase 1 (engagement practices and policy review) and are moving on to Phase 2 (community and developer engagement and work plan development).  With the recent City of Waterloo commitment to achieve a target of 1,600 new homes per year for the next 10 years, it makes the implementation of these standards even more important.  The hope is for these community Green Development Standards to be implemented in late 2024 or early 2025.

Other Council Business

Council also renewed MPP Fife’s lease at City Hall, approved a host of Special Service Area Levy’s, received an update on 2022/2023 grant submissions and approved a minor zone change at 372 Erb Street to permit more daycare spaces.  If anyone has further questions on these or any of the above topics, please don’t hesitate to reach out for further discussion.

Outside the Council Chambers

Outside the Council chambers I was honoured to represent the City of Waterloo at a host of events in April.  The Kitchener Waterloo Art Gallery has opened a new exhibit from Jessica Karuhanga entitled Blue as the insides.  It is a beautiful exhibition and I would encourage everyone to check it out over the Summer.  I attended awards gala’s for the Grand Valley Construction Association where I saw local projects like the Gies Hospice on University among other impressive construction projects across the Region win awards as well as the Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence awards where local companies and business owners such as Dana Shortt won well-earned awards.  Continuing with the theme of awards, I attended the Sustainable Waterloo Region evening of recognition, where I was inspired by the work of many local businesses in committing to sustainable practices.  As a Laurier alumni it was a great pleasure to be a part of the grand opening of Alumni Field.  It was interesting to hear stories from many speakers, with a similar theme to my experience at Laurier.  When this field was just a patch of dirt, I remember strengthening many of my enduring friendships playing football or ultimate Frisbee on this field and to see the quality of the facility today is such a boon for Laurier and the community at large.

Our neighbourhood associations were active this month with the Laurelwood Neighbourhood Association hosting their annual easter egg hunt for the first time since COVID.  It’s such a wonderful event and is always exciting to see how happy all the kids are from across the community.  The Clair Hills Community Association also hosted their AGM alongside a free community skate and gathering at Albert McCormick.  Thank you to all of our neighbourhood association board members and volunteers for everything you do to make our community vibrant.

Lastly, this month was Mayor McCabe’s first State of the City address and our chance to meet our Grade 5 Mayor and Councillor’s for the day.  All the kids did such an incredible job with their speeches, sharing their ideas to make the City better from enhancing our arts and culture to making our streets safer for kids to walk to school and more.  It was so great to meet my Councillor Norman, who wanted to make sure that everyone in our community has a place to live by allowing more apartment buildings in our City!

Take care, stay safe and get boosted!