March 2023

What did City Council do?

Affordable Housing Strategy

Council approved our first ever affordable housing strategy.  The strategy consists of 5 goals and 81 actions for the City to implement in support of creating and retaining affordable housing in our community.  It recognizes 4 key challenges; Inadequate Market Supply, Inadequate Non-Market Supply, Loss of Existing Affordable Housing and Inadequate Housing Diversity.  The strategy is guided by 6 key principles; Housing as a Human Right, Diverse and Inclusive Communities, Data-driven Decision Making, Coordinated, Future Focused and Sustainable.  Let’s take a look at each of the goals and some of the actions under consideration for implementation to achieve those goals:

Enable Greater Supply and Mix of Housing

This goal is focused on the supply side of housing in our community.  In a vibrant, growing City, with limited space and a commitment to curbing urban sprawl, ensuring that we plan for this growth is a key piece of the affordability puzzle.  Some of the actions included within this goal include; enabling more housing options in transit supported areas, permitting a greater diversity of housing in neighbourhoods and lowering parking requirements for new developments.  Many of these changes are likely to emerge through our forthcoming Official Plan update.  A review of our Nodes and Corridors to determine locations to accommodate our growth, creating new missing middle corridors in neighbbourhoods to allow for more triplexes and stacked townhomes and allowing as of right tertiary units on individual lots are exciting changes where the City can do our part to tackle the affordable housing crisis from a supply perspective.

Prioritize Non-Market Housing

One of the key actions to prioritize non-market housing is to implement Inclusionary Zoning.  Inclusionary Zoning is a tool municipalities can enact that requires new developments to include a percentage of affordable units within these new builds.  The City of Waterloo, alongside our partners in neighbouring municipalities has been studying this for some time and we are on the precipice of implementing it.  Reducing planning barriers for non-market housing, working with our partners at the Region to permit shelters and hybrid spaces, and advocating for more support from the Federal and Provincial government are other considerations to achieve this goal.

Optimize Existing Housing and Protect Affordable Housing Supply

To protect existing affordable housing supply we are looking at our condo conversion policies, alongside a demolition control review and looking to review short-term rentals and discourage vacancies.  Additionally, we will be looking to support the transition of rental buildings to community ownership through community land trusts.

Incentives to Build Affordable Housing

Providing incentives will be looked at through our existing affordable housing grant program, while also looking at a variety of City owned parcels of land.

Capacity, Awareness and Supports for Affordable Housing

The final goal is about strengthening our own expertise and our relationships with affordable housing providers.  It includes reviewing our encampment protocols, making it easier to find information and leveraging wrap around housing supports.

Municipal Housing Pledge

In housing related news, the Province of Ontario is asking municipalities to commit to our portion of the Provincial housing pledge.  The City of Waterloo has committed to 16,000 new homes over the next 10 years.  This is an aggressive and aspirational target, but one that is ultimately attainable.  Our housing starts have been averaging around 1,200 per year over the last five years, which puts us in the ballpark of this figure.  While the City of Waterloo ultimately does not control the development industries business decisions and cannot control inputs such as labour availability in the trades, we do have a role in facilitating housing development.  The City has been a leader on sustainable growth and development, there is a lot of work happening to help us achieve this lofty goal, but there is still work to do.

Strategic Plan Workshop #3

Staff and Council continue to work on the development of our forthcoming strategic plan for the next four years.  In our latest workshop we worked on a proposed vision statement, alongside guiding principles for the City.  These workshops are an exciting opportunity for Council to provide feedback on where we would like to see the City go in the next four years and I’m looking forward to seeing the draft plan come forward in the next few weeks.

Neighbourhood Strategy Implementation

Council received an update on the implementation of our neighbourhood strategy.  This includes our new neighbourhood microsite (, which has over 4,000 users.  It highlighted work in developing our block connector program for residents who may not be in an area covered by a neighbourhood association, the extremely popular picnic table program, the amazing work our outdoor rink volunteers do and the $9,000 in mini grants provided to neighbours across the City.  Our neighbourhood associations do incredible work and I’m proud to continue to support them.  If you’d like to volunteer for your neighbourhood association or to look into starting one of your own, please don’t hesitate to reach out for more information.

Cash Grants, Culture Plan, Traffic Amendments, Significant Festivals, My Main Street, Tenders (Various Road Reconstructions), Lot Maintenance Update, Heritage Permit, Elected Official Remuneration

Other Council Business

Council also reviewed new policies related to Community Gardens and our Code of Conduct.  We also received updates on Community Cash Grants, our Culture Plan, Significant Festivals and the My Main Street Program.  We received a delegation advocating for further changes to our lot maintenance bylaw to go ‘Beyond No Mow May’.  Lastly we approved tenders for various road reconstructions and held informal meetings for development applications at the corner of University and Regina and at 143 Columbia Street.  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 the Canadian Wrestling Championships at RIM Park.  It was amazing to see elite level athletes from across the country competing to represent our country at the upcoming Pan-Am games.  I also attended the KW Chamber of Commerce at their business excellence awards gala.  It was awesome to attend and honour businesses from across the Region including some businesses owners that live in Ward 2.

Take care, stay safe and get boosted!