Kitchener De-Funds Local Community Information Services

Dec 17 2015

City of Kitchener Appeal Presentation 2015When we submitted our 2016 annual Tier 1 community grant application to the City of Kitchener we asked for the renewal of our community information services funding and additional support for the organization of community forums. The Community Infrastructure & Services Standing Committee accepted a City Staff recommendation to phase out of our grant for community information services. Funds would be maintained to support our involvement in the Festival of Neighbourhoods. Read more and review the appeal presentation submitted at the Council Meeting on December 14th 2015. The support letters were submitted as well and we are making available the transcript of the delegations at the Council meeting in favour of the unique value our community services bring to Kitchener. 

Powerpoint presentation prepared for the Council Meeting on December 14, 2015

Community Forum Impact Review 2015

Our appeal to City Council included 23 letters of support from community members and organizations. Many others have supported us through social media. We know our services are well used and appreciated. In 2014 we had just under 650,000 web and direct contacts, 98% of which are information services. Our InfoLine answered just over 7,000 calls in 2014 with customer satisfaction of 98% and 94% saying they would use the information we provided. 

Despite the show of community support and evidence that our services were well used and very welcome, our appeal to City Council on December 14th was unsuccessful with a vote 6 to 4.  It seemed impossible to make City Staff and Council understand the facts:

  • The Region of Waterloo grant we received for 38 years was used to maintain a comprehensive region wide community and social services database but the City Grant supported how we used this database to provide a service (and not the database itself). 
  • The Region of Waterloo grant we received for 38 years was used to maintain a comprehensive region wide community and social services database but the City Grant supported how we used this database to provide a service (and not the database itself).

  • We shared this database directly with other information service providers to support their service at no cost to them - the model we used was to have a common set of data that we used to refresh multiple data'bases' or 'views' tailored for different users which gave them the flexibility to add content, export data or otherwise manipulate that data for what they needed.

  • We have not been provided this same functionality from the new database that the Region has created and it is not clear when or if it will be made available​.​

​The Social Development Centre Waterloo Region​ team is very competent to work with and integrate data and to use emerging technology in ways that benefit the community. We are unique in that we have this 'high tech' ability at the same time as we provide 'high touch' support to community members at times of need. Unfortunately funding cuts reduce our capacity to do this consistently and ​provide support free of charge to the community. 

The City of Kitchener has been a supporter and partner with our organization since we were formed in the 60's and in all, has invested close to $3M in our work. This is in addition to almost $2M invested by the Region for maintaining our community information database. 

We were pleased that Councilor Yvonne Fernandez had presented a motion to retain funding for a broader range of our services. This motion was not able to be presented because the main motion to cut our funding had been accepted. We look forward to further discussion in this direction to get support for our broader social development role and social planning work