Revitalizing downtown Kitchener and the EDIF

The Economic Development Investment Fund that the Mayor and councillors initiated back in 2002 was to be set at $110 million and not a penny more according to Mayor Carl Zehr. This fund was to be used for certain improvements in the economic investment in the central core. However, some of it has been used as contributions to the University of Waterloo to build the new school at King and Victoria. The construction of new university satellite buildings is the responsibility of the province and not the City. Also, giving away money to Adrian Developments for the construction of the Centre Block was giveaway money. The redevelopment of King St. is appropriate but it has to be the last time of tearing up the downtown after several redesigns over the last several years. I wish to point out that the $110 million EDIT program will be actually costing the taxpayers another $48 million in pay out debentures until the year 2028 that you're probably not aware of. We have been paying down the debt with still 10 years to go.


Sidewalk snow removal

This is another issue that many residents in my ward opposed. While some preferred if the city snow plowed all city sidewalks, especially for seniors, City councillors did not support a recent staff report to undertake a pilot project for the 2018-19 winter season because of cost. I too did not support this pilot project as only 1,500 homes in four areas of the city would be chosen to have their sidewalks plowed by the city only if 8 cm of snow had fallen otherwise they’re still on the own to shovel their sidewalk if less. That means that 97 per cent of the properties will not receive any city snow shoveling service at a cost of nearly $750,000 for one winter season. Only 3 percent of the public benefits while the rest of the taxpayers pay for this service. It’s a rip off for most of the citizens cost wise. However, the city will have four full time by-law enforcement officers proactively checking all streets randomly after 24 hours after a snow to make sure all sidewalks have been shoveled otherwise the homeowner will be fined. Seniors and those with health issues can register with the Working Centre in Partnership for having them clean your sidewalk. Several snow blowers will also be bought to be shared in neighbourhoods under a program with the City. You can hire a student or ask your neighbour to help out and be a “snow angel” and you volunteer to help your senior neighbours and those challenged.


How to achieve Transparency at City Hall

There have been plenty of issues discussed behind closed doors that should have been discussed in a public forum. I do accept that certain land sale and human resource matters have to be dealt with in camera. However, there was no transparency when other matters needed to be discussed such as the provision of free parking to the universities for the Centre Block.


Making better use of the Kitchener Farmers' Market

I have shopped at the both the Kitchener's Farmers' Market and St. Jacob's Farmers' Market over the years. The Kitchener building and also known as the white elephant, sits idle for most of the week except for Saturday. It’s in a poor location away from the core and was constructed in such a manner that it discourages parking with only one entrance/exit on Cedar Street which is always congested. The cost to operate this building is nearly $1 million a year and this needs to be addressed. I have visited the London Farmers' Market, Ottawa By-ward Market and others and hope that the ideas I have discovered can be somehow incorporated into ours to eliminate the building being idle during the week. But it’s a tough sell to have vendors there every day like in London and Ottawa as there’s no enough daily shoppers. The few restaurant vendors struggle to stay there.


Backyard bonfires

This has been an issue with many residents in my ward opposed to having backyard bonfires. While some support it, I’ve had more calls and emails from residents complaining about the smoke infiltrating their homes through open windows. They’d like to enjoy the fresh outdoor air but a nearby neighbour is generating a smell that affects the health of people with asthma or breathing conditions. I did not support having backyard fires.

Preserving and addressing our park needs

We have a wonderful parks system composed of natural areas, active playing fields and trail links. But we still need to further improve on making it better. The Grand River corridor as a trail link is much underutilized and we need to capture the beauty of this river with more accessibility along the river's edge. Bike trail systems need to be expanded and missing links completed. But we need to acquire private lands along the river which is a tough process when property owner don’t want to sell.

Fall Leaves

Residents have told me that they wish to have leaf pick-up on a regular basis on their street. I am in support of continuing this leaf pick up by the city. I also wish to continue to have the satellite leaf drop-off places for those who wish to bring their leaves to the city leaf dump sites in the parks. Leaf pick up will be back again this fall. There are certain hot spots in my ward that will have targeted street leaf pickup three times during November where there’s an overabundance of leaves. Check the City’s Leaf schedule pick up on line.

Rockway Centre

I'm in support of saving the Rockway Seniors Centre on King St. E. I attended and demonstrated with placards that one very cold blustery winter day on January 29th some ten years ago along with Councillor John Gazzola and dozens of other seniors that this facility must be saved so that seniors can continue to use it. It is an important building for seniors to gather to have a meal, play cards or board games, play billiards, talk and socialize with each other. Decentralizing this senior program to outlying community centres was a step backwards by Council's actions. This was stopped and Rockway senior programs were not decentralized and remain. The building needs to be rehabilitated due to its age and updated. I will make sure that this facility remains for the use of our seniors.

Environment

I am in support of recycling program and keeping the environment clean. I use my green bin for my food waste and the blue bin for recycling paper, metal and plastics faithfully.

Light Rapid Transit

Although Light Rapid Transit is a regional issue, the LRT will have a significant impact on the residents of Kitchener. The federal government has provided their maximum one-third contribution of $265 million. The province has contributed only $300 million. The shortfall of $225 million will have to be borne by the local taxpayer. This translated into an 8.5% increase in regional taxes just to construct the system. In addition, the region will still have to consider other tax issues on top of that. Furthermore, the operation of the system has not been clearly calculated as the fare to use the system has not been established and won't be until the system is built. This will be too much of a burden on the taxpayer for many years.

The LRT infrastructure was completed last year and the Region is still waiting for all it 14 trains to be delivered. They have received about of them which they have been testing this year. They will travel down the main road of Kitchener, King Street, Although the system has visionary merits, it will have drawbacks with the lack of ridership as I see it. Initially, people will want to ride the ION to see what it’s like and to say they rode it. However, they won’t be converted to become regular riders. Currently over 90 percent of all trips are made by personal vehicles to work, shopping, taking children to sporting or dance practices. The ION will be empty quite a bit most of the time once it’s running sometime next year in 2019.

 

If You Did Not Get a Voter's Card...

Don't worry. Take some ID with you that shows your name and address such as your Drivers License or a property tax bill or gas/water bill when you go vote. Click on this link to the city's website to find out where you vote

I look forward to your support and vote.

Thanks
Zyg

P.S. Here's where I stand on various issues.

Light Rapid Transit

Although Light Rapid Transit is a regional issue, the LRT will have a significant impact on the residents of Kitchener.  The federal government has provided their maximum one-third contribution of $265 million.  The province has contributed only $300 million.  The shortfall of $225 million will have to be borne by the local taxpayer.  This translates into an 8.5% increase in regional taxes just to construct the system.  In addition, the region will still have to consider other tax issues on top of that.  Furthermore, the operation of the system has not been clearly calculated as the fare to use the system has not been established and won't be until the system is built.  This will be too much of a burden on the taxpayer for many years.  The LRT will travel down the main road of Kitchener, King Street, which will necessitate the ripping up of King Street once again in certain places.  Although the system has visionary merits, it has more drawbacks and - most of all - it is beyond the fiscal sustainable capabilities of the residents of Kitchener. I cannot support this proposed huge debt. 

Stopping a spendthrift council and hold the property taxes

Most Kitchener city councillors under the direction of Mayor Carl Zehr have over this current term as well as previous terms spend taxpayers money at will.  This is clearly reflected in the 3.8% tax increase in 2010 budget.  Previous budgets have had similar significant increases to property taxes.  These increases have all been about three times the rate of inflation.  Some taxpayers, who are on a limited pension, cannot accept any more of this.  This increase as well as the new Storm Water Management fee and the increase in sewer and water surcharges of some 48% over this council's term is out of control.  Other tax increases by the province with the revamped HST and the whopping increase in hydro rates is hurting us all.  Bottom line, I plan to control City Hall spending at the rate of inflation or less. 

Revitalizing downtown Kitchener and the EDIF

The Economic Development Investment Fund that the Mayor and councillors brought about back in 2002 was to be set at $100 million and not a penny more according to Mayor Carl Zehr.  This fund was to be used for certain improvements in the economic investment in the central core.  However, some of it has been used as contributions to the University of Waterloo to build the new school at King and Victoria.  The construction of new university satellite buildings is the responsibility of the province and not the City.  Also, giving away money to Adrian Developments for the construction of the Centre Block, which still hasn't started was not well spent.  The redevelopment of King St. is appropriate but it has to be the last time of tearing up the downtown after several redesigns over the last several years.  I wish to point out that the $110 million EDIT program will be actually costing the taxpayers another $48 million in pay out debentures until the year 2028 that you're probably not aware of.

How to achieve Transparency at City Hall

There have been plenty of issues discussed behind closed doors that should have been discussed in a public forum.  I do accept that certain land sale and human resource matters have to be dealt with in camera.  However, there was no transparency when other matters needed to be discussed such as the provision of free parking to the universities for the Centre Block.  

Making better use of the Farmers' Market

I have shopped at the both the Kitchener's Farmers' Market and St. Jacob's Farmers' Market over the years.  The Kitchener building and also known as the white elephant, sits idle for most most of the week except for Saturday.  Its location away from the core is poor and is constructed in such a manner that it discourages parking with only one entrance/exit on Cedar Street which is always congested.  The cost to operate this building is nearly $1 million a year and this needs to be addressed.  I have visited the London Farmers' Market and others and hope that the ideas I have discovered can be somehow incorporated into ours to eliminate the building being idle during the week.   

Perserving and addressing our park needs 

We have a wonderful parks system composed of natural areas, active playing fields and trail links.  But we still need to further improve on making it better.  The Grand River corridor as a trail link is very under utilized and we should capture the beauty of this river with more accessibility along the river's edge.  Bike trail systems need to be expanded and missing links completed.

Fall Leaves

Residents has told me that they wish to have leaf pick-up on a regular basis on their street.  I am in support of continuing this leaf pick up by the city.  I also wish to continue to have the satellite leaf drop-off places for those who wish to bring their leaves to the city leaf dump sites in the parks.

Environment

I am in support of recycling program and keeping the environment clean.  I use my green bin for my food waste and the blue bin for recycling paper, metal and plastics faithfully. 

Rockway Seniors Centre

I'm in support of saving the Rockway Seniors Centre on King St. E. I attended and demonstrated with placards that one very cold blustery winter day on January 29th along with Councillor John Gazzola and dozens of other seniors that this facility must be saved so that seniors can continue to use it. It is an important building for seniors to gather to have a meal, play cards or board games, play billiards, talk and socialize with each other. Decentralizing this senior program to outlying community centres is a step backwards by Council's actions. I will make sure that this facility remains for the use of our seniors.