What did City Council do?
Truth & Reconciliation Commission Response
This month Council adopted a land acknowledgement that we will use to begin all official City business, including Council meetings. Land acknowledgements are intended to bring awareness that Canada has a history prior to colonialism. It is merely a starting point on the journey to reconciliation. We also learned about the City of Waterloo’s ongoing work to respond to the 94 calls to action identified in the Truth & Reconciliation Commissions final report, produced in 2015. 11 of these calls to action have municipalities explicitly referenced, which we received an update on the progress being made. I, like many of us have a lot to learn on this topic and I am encouraged that the City of Waterloo is taking our responsibility on this topic seriously.
I previously discussed the informal public meeting related to Parkview Crematorium in my April newsletter – https://www.roycebodaly.ca/april-2019/. In the time between then and now, the City hosted our Public Information Session on this topic, which I attended. At this meeting, it became clear that a number of the smaller funeral home providers felt as though we were going too far with our proposals that included staying in the crematorium business and building the ‘Taj Mahal’ of facilities. They appreciated the customer service that the City provided and wanted us to stay in the business, without all of the bells and whistles. Happily, we were able to come to the table in the formal public meeting this month with an option to replace the necessary retorts and cooler in the facility, remain in the cremation business, without impacting the tax base. I’m very pleased to have found this solution for us to continue to offer this service to members of our community, often going through one of the most difficult moments in their lives. It is a testament to our commitment to public engagement that we were able to find this solution.
Rec Complex Funding Release
Final funding was released by the City to begin work on the upgrades to the Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex (WMRC). Construction will begin in 2020, the new pavilion will be open in mid-2021 with full completion by Fall 2022. For those that missed the info sessions on this project, the new Adult Rec Centre is being built on the west side of the WMRC, a new gymnasium with café, patios and office space will be built on the southeast side, while a new ‘fitness core’ area will be built with a new second, smaller walking track, studios and view of the pool and rink. This project has really ticked all of the boxes for a triple bottom line approach. We’ve been able to combine necessary retrofit work such as security, mechanical and electrical upgrades as well as roof replacement and changes to the lobby and swimming pool change rooms in order to find synergies and reduce overall cost. Our green building team has been working very closely with the project to find ways to make the building 44% more energy efficient and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 46%! Lastly the social impacts on the new facility are obvious. It is a significant transformation, which will enhance delivery of community and recreational services to the public in a meaningful. I’m extremely excited to see the final results in a few years!
Westhill District Plan Official Plan Amendment – Boardwalk Bypass Road
The City of Waterloo at the request of the landowners for The Boardwalk and adjacent developments have begun the process to conduct all of the necessary studies to review the most appropriate location for a bypass road connecting the Thorndale Drive roundabout (internal to The Boardwalk) to Erb Street West. The need for this road has been identified in the integrated multi-modal traffic study for the west end of the City. There are also synergies to be gained by aligning with the Region of Waterloo on their planned widening of Erb Street next year. The intention is to identify the best alignment for the road first (based on a host of studies) and then come back to Council for approval and implementation. This road could be a big advantage for those in Vista Hills, as it will provide access out to Ira Needles, towards Kitchener and the highway, without having to go all the way out to Erbsville Road or deal with the roundabout at Erb/Erbsville.
The City of Waterloo is looking to fill the void left by the University of Waterloo on Canada Day, as 2019 was the last year for a community event on campus. UW has hosted a Canada Day event since 1984 and it was always intended to be a way for students to connect with the broader community. The feeling from the University was that in addition to costs for the event increasing significantly, it has lost its meaning to them. The University is working on a new strategic plan, where they will be finding new ways to connect with the community, primarily with an academic focus (on campus speakers for example). Based on public engagement, it was clear that residents wanted the City to take over an event. Starting in 2020, we will be hosting a Canada Day community picnic with live music, food trucks and an LED Drone show at Waterloo Park. I’m happy to support this event and look forward to seeing the drones in action.
Community Programming & Outreach Update
Council heard from staff with an update on our neighbourhood strategy and some of the work that Community Services is involved in. The neighbourhood strategy established 18 recommendations across 3 goals for the City to pursue; Encourage Neighbourhood Interaction, Empower Neighbours to Lead and Commit to a Corporate Culture of Supporting Initiatives. The specific goals for 2020 are; Improved communications to the broader community, Increased support for neighbourhood projects such as rinks and gardens, Creation of an asset map, Work with the school boards on improved access to facilities, More equipment, Online tools and Increased bylaw education. I am huge supporter of the work that our neighbourhood associations do and value the dedication of our community volunteers greatly. If you live in Clair Hills, Laurelwood or Vista Hills, please reach out to your neighbourhood association to find ways you can get involved. If you’re in Columbia Forest or the Laurel Creek area near SJAM and are interested in learning how you can get started, please reach out to me.
Additionally, Council heard delegations from REEP Green Solutions as well as a group to talk about the challenges associated with student rental housing. We made changes to our cash grants policy, as well as procedural changes for Council. We also extended our Regional maintenance agreement, released funding for heritage assets and gave out the Waterloo Award this year to David Marskell and Eric Davis. We approved brownfield Tax Increment Grants (TIG) for two sites (119Roger Street and 70 King Street), we extended the Northdale TIG to encourage green building in this area of the City and approved a development at the corner of Hickory, Albert and Hemlock. Lastly, Council began the process of updating our Development Charges Bylaw (complicated by Provincial government changes in this regard, but necessary to get completed this year) and we approved grant applications for additional funding for Albert McCormick, RIM Park, Waterloo Park and partnered with UW on their grant applications for changes to Columbia Icefields and WLU’s application for changes to Seagram Stadium. If anyone would like to learn more on any of the above topics, please don’t hesitate to reach out for a meeting.
Outside of the Council Chambers
On the neighbourhood front, Laurelwood hosted their annual Halloween Party at SJAM. What a great turnout for the event, so fun to see all of the kids in their costumes playing games and sharing treats. Thank you to everyone at the LNA for hosting this awesome event.
Thank you to Vista Hills for having me speak to the Grade 5 politics classes about the federal election, understanding how the different levels of government work together and what goes into running a campaign. I hope the kids learned something, I love speaking to kids and hearing about issues that matter to them. If you’d like me to come speak to students at your school, don’t hesitate to reach out!
I attended an event at Edna Staebler Public School and hosted an event at the Court at Laurelwood to talk about traffic safety concerns related to pedestrians and cyclists. These are concerns that many residents share with me and that I am consistently bringing up at a micro level for each individual issue. In addition to finding solutions to specific problems, my hope is that the work our Council has done in our Strategic Plan as well as the forthcoming Transportation Master Plan will help shift the thinking on these topics and lead to safer designs for our roads that accommodate all users.
Along the lines of the above, I attended a lecture at the University of Waterloo regarding transportation planning. It was really interesting to learn about best practices in facilitating modal shifts away from cars and towards transit, walking and cycling. In particular, to hear about concepts such as Value of Time and how transportation planning can make material impacts on VoT by analyzing this for first and last mile, transfer times and main transportation mode, comparing each of these to home and destination VoT. Very interesting to hear what has been successful elsewhere. Given the climate crisis, facilitating this mode shift is vitally important, this will continue to be a focus of main, in particular regarding the 5 key areas for change; Speed Up Alternatives (transit, walking, cycling), Slow Down Cars (speed limit reductions, traffic calming), Land-Use Planning (ensuring a livable, walkable City with less urban sprawl), Transfers (connectivity and timing) and Perception (transit, cycling and walking perception).
The Stormwater Public Information Session and the University Gateway Sessions were well attended as we talked to residents and learned about Low Impact Development and other ways to improve our storm water systems as well as saw the first views of a long term plan to improve the University Gateway (University Ave from the highway all the way to Westmount).
I attended the Bridges of Hope Project (https://www.facebook.com/BridgesofHopeProject/) at Waterloo Park, where I heard powerful stories from members of the community brave enough to share their challenges with mental health issues. This is a topic of personal importance to me and I am forever appreciative of the work that mental health advocates do to raise awareness end help end the stigma associated with mental health issues.
Lastly, October means Oktoberfest and this year I was given my first opportunity to do a keg tapping! It was a great event in Waterloo Town Square, helping to hand out Oktoberfest Sausages and Pretzels to residents as part of the Mayor’s Annual Oktoberfest Luncheon. Tapping the keg was a lot of fun and I look forward to seeing everybody at this event again next year.
Did I miss something, want to get together for a meeting to discuss any of the above or any other issue in our community? Don’t hesitate to reach out to me at Royce.firstname.lastname@example.org or 519-575-0093.