Notes & Videos Kitchener Candidates, September 30

Kitchener Meet the Candidates 2018

  Notes and Videos September 30 2018

More to be collected the week of October 1st

 

Affordable Housing

People do not see that there is really affordable housing. The need is great for affordable units for families. Over 3000 families on the waiting list for 4-5 years. For single people and seniors, it is even longer. There is money coming from the 

Federal government. Can we do more to get affordable housing in DTK condos because currently none of them include affordable units? The municipality has to kick in some funding to apply inclusionary zoning. S

ome said costs could be $150,000 for one unit. If Kitchener wants to be a vibrant community, they can't forget people living on low income, or seniors and young families. This means that the grocery stores downtown have to cater to a range of incomes too, not only the well off. 


Municipal governments need to keep the community livable. As the rents rise, we need to explore new ideas and new partnerships with willing, long-term developers to adjust their priorities. Reduce parking rations and costs. Would investment in co-operative housing be an investment in a more people-focused development? What can be done so the projects can be as successful as 25 years ago? Government is responsible for affordable housing and needs to act. 

The governments also need to advocate to regulate the commodity and private housing markets. Vacancy decontrol is unacceptable when we have so many people who cannot afford mortgages and rents. Housing is a human right and cannot be at the mercy of profit-making corporations. There is really no enforcement of the housing standards at the provincial or the municipal level. 

To help homeless with housing, we need to attend to root causes, like health and mental health. Many currently find it safer to bond together in tent cities. As for the service providers, they need to slowly build trust and support people in seeking services. They also have to address bias against homeless people with their staff and within the community.

Gentrification and Intensification

Negotiations and partnerships with developers happen on an unequal playing field. It is difficult to engage and define common goals for economic, social, and environmental development. How will the Region communicate this to developers and get behind affordable housing? More green spaces, more sustainable development options, like community gardens, green roofs, and planters. Bylaw also has to adjust. 

Transit 

Can the region consider 100% free transit? It is a worth-while conversation to figure out the funding, tax options, trade-offs. Making and administering bus passes and tickets does not come cheap either. At least have free bus passes available through social agencies and organizations working with persons on social assistance. Let’s not forget the working poor who may not be able to access reduced fares. There are discussions of transport in mid-day that can be offered free or for a reduced price.

Transit has a huge impact on the environment. People currently do not use public transit as there are not enough options or flexibility. The region can also invest in carshare and subsidize it. There are other options such as mini-buses, adding more transit routes, longer service hours, especially in the townships and on the weekends.  

Accessibility of the public transit is still a concern. Still many obstacles for disabled, for cyclists, for pedestrians. Who is participating in the planning process? Who decides where buses go? Can neighborhood associations be a part of the process? 

Safe Injection Sites

It came as a surprise when the Region paused the consultation process. People need to hear about realistic trade-offs. It is necessary to consult with the neighbours and to staff the sites properly. We need to have a stance before the Federal and Provincial government in situations when they may not have clear directions. So far, we have one option on Water Street but the Vancouver example found multiple sites would be better than one central site. It is better to place the sites in community settings because many users would not trust hospitals or clinical settings.

Provide enough time to consult neighbours beforehand as it is hart to communicate the benefits successfully due to prejudice. Neighbourhood associations have a role to play as they are close to the residents. 

Issues we are trying to address are connected. To address mental health and addictions we have to invest in supportive housing and decent income. The longer the people live under stress, the longer it takes for rehabilitation. On the other hand, the community at large needs to be educated if we want to implement effective solutions. We cannot be afraid to test different solutions and involve a range of different services. The causes are many so many would have different parts of the solution. 

Sidewalk Clearing

We see non-compliance in different places. Schools for example. Public pathways are not cleared in winter. We need consistent clearing on all properties. People having mobility and health challenges need to be supported, financially too. 

ByLaws have to address the time as the property owner have 24 hours to clear the sidewalks but another snowfall in the meantime will reset the clock. The city still cares more about cars than about people moving around in wither. Cycling lanes cannot be blocked or pedestrian paths narrowed by the plowing services. 

Amalgamation 

The Regional government has been in place for 45 years and it was a good idea when it was introduced. It ensured the equalization of services and the inclusion of rural townships. We are sharing the cost of some services, like transit, police services, etc. Some services are funded by the municipalities, like Fire Safety.

We have too many layers of municipal government. It is difficult to understand who looks after what? We have many councillors as the growth in population demands more local representatives. Do we need this many regional councillors? Does the greater number of representatives result in more conflict? Are different layers of government holding back economic growth with too many restrictions? 

If we don't show improvement in our governance, it will be foisted on us by the Provincial government. "Flavour of the day: Government is way too big."

A Consolidate the Region? Not a MegaCity! Amalgamate Kitchener and Waterloo and combine some services. Especially social services could be distributed across the region. We have seen it in the past, eg. Cambridge Transit is now part of GRT. Do we need a separate Kitchener Fire Department and Waterloo Fire Department?

Environment

The municipal governments have a huge role to play, especially the regional government.

It is more than waste collection and processing. The government could legislate and manage waste production in a number of ways. Banning plastic bags, single-use packaging, straws, etc. There is a question about retrofitting the existing facilities, government ones, businesses, residential too. Also, providing incentives for fleet cars for government and business use. 

The municipal government has a role in advocacy with provincial and federal governments to provide tax relief for environmentally conscious businesses. In the food industry, we can have citizens bring reusable bags to the market, and at restaurants, citizens can bring their own takeout containers.

Indigenous Relationships

The cities and the region need to improve relationships with Indigenous population. We need to educate the residents and to make sure they understand the current state of the land claims. 

Economic Development

Economic development is a tool for improving the lives of citizens. It has to be more diversified, small business opportunities and support for entrepreneurs facing challenges and discrimination.

We also need to keep the jobs and the workers in the region. It is not enough to focus only on tech sector of high wage work. 

Rural Areas Protection

The Regional government must not build outside the countryside line. The design of the Urban Sprawl needs the consistent cooperation and consistency among the municipalities. 

Governance

How do we have accountable representatives who can also govern on behalf of those who did not vote for them? We cannot thrive on divisive politics and divisions in our society. This problem works against the democratic process. When a single winner takes over, minorities are run over. Proper democracy involves looking out for minorities. It also makes sure there is diversity around decision-making tables so we can look at all the aspects: environmental sustainability, social and fiscal responsibility. We still have ‘old boys club’ making decisions and we have to recognize diverse experiences and make sure there are opportunities for representatives from different groups: women, immigrants, minorities and less privileged. We need intentional strategies to hear all voices, not just the loudest. At the same time, we cannot afford to just look diverse. We have to have effective participatory infrastructure, awareness raising on diversity and representatives of different groups at the table when the strategies are being developed and implemented. 

Arts

When we talk about support to the arts and the artists, we see the same inequities as in the society at large. Who can succeed or be funded as an artist? We cannot forget marginalized groups’ members. 

The investment needs to go directly to artists instead of specific projects. We also need to create spaces and infrastructure that would support the artists. Art Hubs? We need to amend the zoning plans to be able to make the arts and culture spaces visible. Economic Development organizations in the region can invest more. Supports needed not just for ‘traditional’ arts production, but also for subversive, critical art. Artists have to be more involved in development of a strategy and renew the role of the Arts Council.

Supports for Youth

It is not easy providing services for youth on the streets. oneROOF deals with many challenges and faces problems with disrespect of the neighbours. Where will the organization go? There are many support services missing, such as the guidance for youth. 

Every Voice Counts!