What I want for Kitchener

Kitchener residents deserve a City that balances social equity with economic growth. I want a City that

  • values communities and neighbourhoods,

  • addresses climate change,

  • strengthens families in all their forms, and

  • pays special attention to the vulnerable members of our society.

I am committed to working toward this end.

Responsible and sustainable development

We need responsible development for all proposed projects in Ward 9 and surrounding areas. By responsible, I mean... click to read more.

Active transportation infrastructure

Current road infrastructure is not without its flaws, but active transportation infrastructure must be safe for all users. Read more here.

Meaningful community engagement

As your City Councillor in Ward 9, I will continue to advocate interactive public consultation where residents have the opportunity to air their concerns and ask questions... click to read more.

Affordable housing in the core

We have an affordable housing crisis in the Region which will not be solved by building more one  bedroom condos. Read more here.

Environmental sustainability

Environmental sustainability depends on federal, provincial, and municipal governments, working with businesses and individuals... click to read more.

Effective participatory budgeting

Participatory budgeting is the act of setting aside a portion of the operating budget for community residents to spend as they see fit. Read more here.

Equity and inclusion for everyone

I am very pleased to have served on Council during a time of transition where questions about equity and inclusion are being asked and acted on. Read more here.

Arts and culture funding for local talents

Arts and culture is a complex web of actors and areas of expertise including performing artists, writers, digital composers and filmmakers... click to read more.

 

Responsible Development

We need to see responsible development for all proposed projects in Ward 9 and surrounding areas. By responsible, I mean that the Official Plan, the Zoning by-laws and all the other guiding documents published by the City need to be respected. Residents must be at the table as decisions are being made, the streetscape must mirror or at least be compatible with the existing neighbourhood, and set-backs and transitions should follow strict guidelines.

 

All new developments should adhere to basic social justice standards where people of all socio-economic backgrounds can find a home. Meeting LEED standards should be a requirement in all new developments. Family units and affordable units should also be a requirement.

It is imperative that we stay within the countryside line and protect designated farmland properties.

 

Active Transportation Infrastructure

I am a seasonal biker and a year round walker/runner. I also drive and occasionally take public transportation. One of my main Ward 9 routes is the Iron Horse Trail and its extensions. The City has done a great job at improving and growing the trails over the years. 

 

During my tenure on Council the downtown cycling grid design was approved and is in the process of being constructed. I support the idea of a minimum grid with protective infrastructure, a proposal that is being worked on across the City.

 

Current road infrastructure has been designed for cars and now the LRT. It is not without its flaws. Pedestrian and cyclist safety is key to active transportation infrastructure projects.

 

Let’s Put Community First – residents’ input matters, especially when dealing with safety concerns.

 

Meaningful Community Engagement

Over the past two years, public consultation and engagement have been very different from what one could have expected or predicted. Meetings went virtual and online engagement became broadly used as a means to collect data. 

I look forward to the return of in-person meetings of boards, advisory committees, standing committees and Council.

As your City Councillor in Ward 9 I will continue to advocate interactive public consultation where residents have the opportunity to air their concerns and ask questions publicly. People will not always agree, but when given the opportunity to engage in dialogue with each other, amazing things get accomplished. Town hall formats allow people to refine their own thoughts and bounce ideas off each other.

With all the downtown development we are witnessing in Kitchener, I would also like to see community representatives at the table as bylaw changes and development proposals are being discussed. There are multiple stakeholders currently involved in these projects and each should have a voice at the table. Charettes are a great tool and I  would like to see them used more often.

Community engagement is about more than looking at bulletin boards, online surveys and using post-it notes.

 

Affordable Housing

When I ran for Council in 2018 there were over 4,000 families on the affordable housing waiting list and over 300 chronically homeless people. Fast forward to 2022 and there are over 7,000 families on the affordable housing waiting list and over 1,000 chronically homeless people. Clearly things are not working the way one would expect. As I write this blurb, there are approximately 60 people living at the corner of Weber and Victoria where they have been camping since earlier this year. The Region has applied for a court order to have the residents evicted. This is at the same time that two temporary shelters have been closed, and one new one opened.

These people have nowhere to go!  

We have an affordable housing crisis in the Region, which will not be solved by building more one-bedroom condos. 

 

I have heard several developers oppose affordable units in their proposals saying that such is not their 'area of expertise' and that there is a great need for one-bedroom and studio-style apartments for the young professionals moving into the area. They are unwilling to accommodate people from low-income brackets.

 

The city of Amsterdam in the Netherlands adopted a policy in 2017 that required all new residential developments to contain 40% below market value units, 40% at market value and 20% luxury units. Similarly, the Ontario Planning Act allows municipalities to adopt 'inclusionary zoning' which would require affordable housing units in every new residential building. This is still being discussed at Regional Council and should be part of their soon-to-be-revised Official Plan. Once approved, it will give the City of Kitchener the jurisdiction to adopt an inclusionary zoning bylaw. I look forward to discussing the parameters of this bylaw.

 

As City Councillor for Ward 9, I would like to see a by-law that requires all new residential developments to have at least 20% affordable units. Inclusionary zoning is just one of many tools that can be used to help mitigate the affordable housing crisis in the Region.

Driving people out of the core because they can no longer afford the rent is not acceptable, especially in an economy that has come to depend on precarious employment. A model of the sort being proposed here would serve to ensure a dignified life for people of all socio-economic groups. Of course, this would also mean including affordable two- and three-bedroom apartments in the floor plan.

Other tools the City can use to make housing more affordable include designating city owned properties for affordable housing, reducing or eliminating development charges for affordable units, adopting zoning bylaws that address the needs of 'missing middle' housing, and working with other levels of government to make the human right to adequate housing real.

 

Environmental Sustainability

Environmental sustainability depends on federal, provincial, and municipal governments, working with businesses and individuals. The responsibility to reduce greenhouse gases and ensure that we leave a planet that will meet the needs of future generations requires collaborative action.

As your city councillor I have advocated sustainability actions and if re-elected will continue to do so. City Council declared  a  climate  emergency in 2019. More work needs to be done to ensure that we meet our 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emission targets by 2030.

Some things that can be done include: promoting and where possible requiring renewable energy sources in existing and new buildings, including the use of district energy plants, keeping building heights at six to eight storeys maximum and reducing the proportion of glass to concrete in new builds. Requiring LEED Certified components in all new buildings is something we should be striving for.

 

Effective Participatory Budgeting

Participatory budgeting originated in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 1989. It is the act of setting aside a portion of the operating budget for community residents to spend as they see fit. Groups as small as blocks or streets come up with projects they would like to see implemented in their neighbourhoods. It could be anything from the building of community space, building a community garden or crosswalk or cleaning up an overgrown swamp area. Each project is costed and submitted to the next larger unit. The projects are vetted by the residents and the top projects are submitted to the City to implement. 10% of the operating budget could be set aside for this.

Kitchener had a participatory budgeting pilot project that was not renewed. I would like to see it brought back. This form of engagement would supersede the multiple grant opportunities currently available primarily to neighbourhood associations and would complement the LoveMyHood program. It would also put the decision making into the hands of residents.

 

For more information on how it works follow the link to the World Bank:

 

Equity and Inclusion

I am very pleased to have served on Council during a time of transition where questions about equity and inclusion are being asked and acted on. While at an early stage, these lenses are being applied across the Corporation.

An Equity and Anti-racism Advisory Committee was struck in early 2022 which will serve to bring these issues to the forefront. The committee created the Racialized and Indigenous Supports for Equity (RISE) Fund which completed its first round of funding in June 2022.

Other similar initiatives include implementing a new Equity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism Policy, conducting anti-racism training for all employees and implementing equity-driven recruitment practices.

I fully support the direction in which the City is going.

 

Arts and Culture Funding

Arts and Culture are not one thing but a complex web of actors and areas of expertise including performing artists, writers, digital composers and filmmakers. Knowing what and who to fund and support has its resulting challenges. While Arts and Culture funding mostly falls under the jurisdiction of the Regional and Provincial governments, The Museum and various art galleries are supported by the City.  The Creative Hub at
44 Gaukel St. is one of the most recent addition to the City’s portfolio.

 

As the City focuses its development agenda on attracting young entrepreneurs to join the technology innovation corridor in south-western Ontario, we also have to consider the interests and needs of these newcomers.  We can all benefit from more restaurant and entertainment choices in the core. Enhancing what is already a vibrant scene in Kitchener needs to include arts and cultural activities accessible to all residents, new and existing. 

 

On the one hand we need to continue to support the more established Arts programs like the Symphony, the Centre in the Square and the Conrad Centre, but on the other hand we have to ensure that emerging artists have the support they need to grow their own portfolios. The Creative Hub is one such initiative.

 

The many cultural festivals supported and funded by the City of Kitchener should continue.