April 2024

What did City Council do?

Sustainability Progress Reports

In April Council received a number of updates related to our sustainability progress.

First, the City of Waterloo has been chosen by the Asset Managers of Ontario in two of their seven most recent case studies in sharing how climate change is integrated into asset management across all asset classes.  We will also be presenting at the Canadian Network of Asset Managers conference later this month, where we will talk about the shift away from a climate ‘lens’ to fully integrated and permanent approach to climate change and asset management.

Next, Council received our 2024 climate change update.  While there is a two-year lag in data collection, we know that our greenhouse gas emissions were 5,078 tC02 in 2022.  This is a 5.8% reduction from 2021 and a 41% reduction from our baseline in 2010.  Some of the operational improvements include a cold water ice making pilot, more electric vehicles (including ice resurfacers, pickup trucks, bikes and more), and online service expansion.  With respect to impacting community emissions, changes include an energy study pilot for new development applications, ongoing work to support the creation of green development standards, active transportation enhancements, and more.  Lastly, on the adaptation front new shade structures have been added to waterloo town square, alongside a water fountain and the kickoff of our forthcoming urban forestry management strategy.

Council also approved an update to our green building policy.  The updated green building policy includes a commitment to net zero construction for new buildings, a change from net zero ready construction, including prohibiting new natural gas connections.  It also applies to major retrofits as well as the operations of our buildings.  A complete development of a Solar PV strategy was included as part of the approval of this policy as well.

Housing Accelerator Fund Launch

Council received an update to announce the launch of our Housing Accelerator Fund actions.  The City of Waterloo received $22M in Federal funding to support housing growth in our community.  This funding will be used on eight initiatives over the next three years.  The initiatives include:

Municipal Lands Program – Including a streamlined disposition process alongside the identification of land (more on that below)

Employment Land Conversion – Seeking to permit mixed uses in certain employment lands as part of our upcoming Official Plan (OP) review

Corridor Expansion Study – Permitting more missing middle housing near post-secondary and transit routes as part of our OP review

Creation of an Online Development Application System

Enable a program to enable the purchase of market rental buildings by not-for-profits, co-operatives and community land trusts

Develop an Additional Residential Unit Toolkit

Pilot a Community Planning Permit System – Combining zoning, minor variance and site plan processes into one application

Update the Minimum Parking Framework as part of our OP review

Feel free to provide your feedback on these actions at the EngageWR site below.


Trail & Bikeway Master Plan Implementation

Council approved the funding release of $570,000 towards implementing two projects in our trail and bikeway master plan.  One of these projects is a new trail that will connect from the existing trail near St. Moritz Park (behind Edna Staebler) into the new Generation Park lands (behind the Costco).  Construction of this trail is anticipated to occur this year and will include a connection to the recent storm water pond trail in the hydro corridor.

Development Approval – Dietz Avenue

Council approved an Official Plan Amendment for a new development on Dietz Avenue.  This new development will be 12 storeys, with 135 units (220 bedrooms), 14 of which will be classified as affordable units.  This is a much needed purpose built rental project in the City, which will include a strong mix of one bedroom, two bedroom and three bedroom units.

Affordable Housing Ministerial Zoning Order Request

As referenced above, staff have identified a parcel of land that the city is seeking to rezone from Employment land to Residential in order to facilitate the creation of more than 700 units of affordable and attainable housing in our community.  The land is located at 2025 University Avenue East, across from RIM Park.  This was identified as an initiative in our Housing Accelerator Fund application.  Utilizing a Ministerial Zoning Order (MZO) would expedite the zoning process to convert this land.  While this will result in a loss of employment land, it is anticipated that it can be offset with higher densities elsewhere in the City, particularly in Major Transit Station Areas.  Housing supply in our community is an enormous challenge contributing to the affordable housing crisis and this is Council’s opportunity to make a difference not only by opening up our land, but by creating a mixed income community with a mix of rental, ownership or co-op housing.  If you would like to provide feedback on this project, check on the EngageWR site below.


Other Council Business

In other Council business Council approved some minor traffic amendments, including changes to signage on Hollyview Place.  We approved a $200,000 funding request (over three years) to the Kitchener-Waterloo Humane Society to support their capital expansion plans.  We also received reports related to COVID grants, arts grants, significant festivals and events and Waterloo Park Master Plan implementation plans for 2024.  We also approved a zoning bylaw amendment for a childcare facility at 275 Erb Street West as well as a tender award for the reconstruction of Moore Street.

In The Community

This past month I had the privilege to attend a wide variety of events.  The Clair Hills Community Association held their AGM at Albert McCormick with skating and treats.  I was back at Albert McCormick the following week for our Council Community Fun Day.  It was great to attend this event, see so many kids and parents out to play games, skate and connect on a beautiful day.  I attended The Working Centre Mayor’s Dinner at Bingeman’s hosted by the mayors of our three largest cities in the Region, as well as the Sustainable Waterloo Region evening of recognition.  I also had the privilege of attending the Ontario Bike Summit and listening to mayors from across the Province discuss cycling infrastructure in their communities, including Mayor McCabe.  As Acting Mayor this month I also filled in for Mayor McCabe at a variety of events, including at the Caribbean Canadian Association of Waterloo Region, Liftoff Launchers event.  I was inspired by a wonderful keynote speech and privileged to connect with Black entrepreneurs in our community.  Finally, I had the pleasure to attend the United Way Spirit Awards on behalf of Mayor McCabe and to hear inspiring stories from organizations and individuals in our community supporting the United Way.

Take care and please reach out if you’d like to connect to discuss anything further.