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VPNA meeting minutes – January 9, 2018

2018 January 15
by Melissa




7:00 Welcome – Zac J. working with neighborhood development office came to take pictures of the meeting and doing a story on the neighborhood action plan.

The board did introductions as new members attended.

7:15 Councilor updates:  great turnout at the Christmas light turn on – best ever. Finishing a newsletter on the 1.2 Billion dollar new development happening in our area. We will be having some meetings with developers coming up. Jan 24, 6-8pm  in the Conestoga rm at City Hall. There will be a meeting. Feb 1  meetings – Auburn developers at Cameron Heights 7-8 pm. Drewlo Building at bottom of Cedar hills Feb 6th also at Conestoga room.

Lights are on during the day on Jubilee and on Joseph St. Frank has mentioned this to the appropriate people.

Crossing on Jubilee Dr is still not complete. Was due to be done by August. Likely won’t be done until Spring 2018 now.

The question of sidewalk plowing came up. The cost is between $26-50 per taxpayer. There is all kind of infrastructure for bicycles, why not for pedestrians? Frank encouraged people to send emails to local politicians if they are concerned about this issue.

7:25 Presentation re: Placemaking Challenge in VP area –winners of placemaking grantwas updated about the plan for this group. Details to be released publicly in February 2018.
7:40 City updates: Henry Sturm community garden plots & Iron Horse trail improvements. There will be 20 plots upcoming by Spring/Summer 2018. Queens Greens has a waiting list of 20+ people. Anyone interested in helping with this is to speak to Agnes. Melissa received a City Builder award 2018. Family day Feb 15 weekend we should share plans with Agnes asap. Salsa Saturdays at DCC 2-4 pm on Saturdays for 55+ registration is required.
7:55 Finance: Update provided to the board.
8:00 Newsletters: To Agnes by Jan 22nd; Ideas and contributions? Rose will take a look and will create the newsletter. It will include upcoming events; interesting stories etc. Mario will help.
8:10 Programming: Update (no update)
8:15 DNA: Heritage team- Patrick sits on this board as well as Melissa – looking to put together a team. Cathy, Anka, and Mario would be interested. Melissa will bring this forward to the DNA group. We are interested in participating in promoting positive ‘friendly’ development.
8:20 VPWG: Update of last meeting- discussed the little library. Library was to go near food forest along with a bench. City does not feel that that area is best location. City has 4 or 5 location areas. We are in agreement to wait to see if the gym goes in the food forest area.
8:30 NAP: Placemaking grant; presentation to Council – Feb 26-  we will be presenting this to Council. We did not win the Placemaking Grant. We are doing a grant for the neighborhood matching grant and presenting to council Feb 26.
8:40 Food Forest: Some items planted, more to be added in the Spring
8:45 Events: Potential ideas: event lead sign up sheet; Feb 19 -Family Day event 2-4 pm; Earth Day April 21 (Saturday); Plant swap at food forest May; Neighbours day June; Summer event; Pumpkinpalooza Nov 1; AGM – Nov; Jane’s Walk May 4th , Clothing swap; Food Forest event.
8:50 Miscellaneous: Mailchimp subscribers; media guidelines; sign off on AODA documents

Fire drill info was shared. Mario inquired about why parts of the ‘Innovation District’ overlap with the Heritage Conservation District.

8:55 Information for future meetings: Long term goals for Food Forest; Adopt a storm drain project; Accessible neighbourhood; tree giveaway; Clarify goals/zoning of Innovation District

Social Media – guidelines – we need to define the audience. Objectives are too many. Voice = tone. What is our purpose for social media? Information or influence. Our Facebook page  starts with photos.

9:00 Adjournment (next meeting: Feb 6th, 2018 7pm)

Update from Councillor Etherington: Developments

2018 January 10
by Melissa


Ward 9 meetings:

* Development of 270 Spadina Ave (Spadina-Highland) tower, Kitchener City Hall, Conestoga Room, 6.30 p.m.-8 p.m., Tues. Jan 16.

* High-rise development by Momentum involving the former Huck Glove building at Victoria and Bramm Streets, Conestoga Room at Kitchener City Hall from 6-8 p.m., Weds. Jan 24.

* Preliminary development of former Schneider’s site at Cortland-Borden at Cameron Heights Collegiate, 301 Charles St.E., Thurs. Feb. 1 at 7.15 p.m.

* Drewlo high-rise development at Charles-Cameron block, Conestoga Room, City Hall, 6.30-8p.m., Tues. Feb. 6.

Melissa Bowman recipient of Kitchener Mayor’s City Builder Award

2018 January 8
by Henry Olesen

Photo of someone presenting a large plaque to Melissa Bowman

Photo by Todd Bowman

On January 7, 2018, Melissa Bowman was one of five to receive the City of Kitchener’s 2017 Mayor’s City Builder Award.

The official Media release with more details can be found here: Five individuals named as recipients of Kitchener Mayor’s City Builder Award

From Councillor Etherington: Take part in PARTS plan for community and Schneider’s site

2017 December 22
by Melissa

Consider this as a homeowner heads up for those living in established neighbourhoods near Light Rail Transit stations at Mill-Ottawa and Borden near the former Schneider’s site.

Ward 9 residents who live a few minutes walk from the stations and the 27-acre site now owned by Auburn Developments of London, would be wise to attend and participate in a public information meeting that will soon be organized by the developer.

Information and plans seen at that meeting will contribute to changing the character and content of communities reaching from Ottawa Street and the expressway to Stirling, Courtland, Kent, Borden and surrounding streets.

Auburn will distribute flyers in surrounding neighbourhoods to announce the meeting where preliminary details of development, new roads, parks and creek-side trails on and near the Schneider’s site will be examined and discussed.

The development will form an urban village at the core of the city’s PARTS (Planning Arround Rapid Transit Stations) recently approved by Kitchener council and planners  who are trying hard to protect and preserve mature residential communities.

And, believe me, those planners will need help from the public in order to resist growing intensification pressure both on council and within the development industry.

That PARTS document, dubbed the Rockway plan, includes portions of Rockway, Mill-Courtland, Highland-Stirling, Cedar Hill, King East and other communities.

On the Schneider site, housing could range from high-rise towers to stacked town homes and affordable housing financed under the federal government’s new affordable-shelter program. It could also include a restaurant, possible brewery and high-tech,’ light-industrial uses in reworked buildings at Courtland and Borden..

Nearby residents will soon notice preliminary demolitions taking place and bore-holes being drilled to test soil conditions on the sprawling site which will be developed during the next decade.

From Councillor Etherington: Nibbling away at Kitchener’s heritage neighbourhoods

2017 December 13
by Melissa

Pro-developer Kitchener councillors took one more precedent-setting bite at a downtown heritage neighbourhood last night.

They did so by approving a flashy development jammed on a very prominent David Street lot in the Victoria Park heritage neighbourhood where I live.

Ironically the project, surprisingly approved by Kitchener’s heritage staff and some committee members,  looks down on the historic Clock Tower and Common area of the park. The tower is all that’s left of our  historic city hall bulldozed by former city councillors who also favoured modern, mundane development over heritage buildings.

In Monday’s 7-4 vote, those supporting the six-storey building included pro-development boosters Councillors Paul Singh and Bil Ioannidis — two council representatives on our heritage committee who also head up Kitchener’s planning committee. They were joined by Mayor Berry Vrbanovic and downtown, civic-centre Coun. Sarah Marsh as well as Scott Davey, Kelly Galloway-Sealock and Dave Schnider.

Because I dislike the ultra-modern look of a building that could and should have used more brick recommended in heritage-area documents, I voted against the project as did Couns. John Gazzola, Yvonne Fernandes and Zyg Janecki.

The development, which will use a combination of metal and glazing materials as well as some token brick, is located between Jubilee Drive and Joseph Street. It will  be a 6-storey, 30-unit building tiered back on the 4th, 5th and 6th storeys adjacent to red brick and stone town homes as well as the historic Victoria School and an ugly high-rise apartment building at the park entrance.

The high-rise was erected after at least six heritage homes along one side of Courtland between David and Queen Streets were, like the beautiful former city hall, demolished.

The latest from Councillor Etherington: Wondering what PARTS puddings will taste like

2017 December 8
by Melissa

The proof will be in the planning puddings.

That’s obvious as each glossy PARTS (Planning Around Rapid Transit Stations) is presented to Kitchener council while we wait and wait for the LRT to come chugging slowly down the line.

The latest PARTS study examines a future “walkable urban village” including Rockway, Cedar Hill, Mill-Courtland, Highland-Stirling and other communities near the Borden and Mill-Ottawa LRT stations. The plan, approved by planning committee this week, will be ratified by council Monday evening.

This area includes the former 27-acre Schneider’s site sandwiched between Mill and Courtland. It is now owned by London-based Auburn Developments, a company that has built high-income condo buildings in Kitchener and Waterloo. Auburn is considering a mix of  housing that includes everything from stacked town homes to high-rise towers on the property.

Back to the pudding mixed by planners.

My key concern with PARTS is that the plans are not giving enough attention to the preservation and encouragement of affordable, mid-range housing currently found in established communities. And by affordable, I don’t necessarily mean low-cost, subsidized housing although I’ve yet to see any sign of that form of shelter along the LRT route.

Most attention has to date focused on developers building condos for high-income residents who want to live near the LRT and I don’t blame that housing imbalance on planners trying to mix the necessary ingredients for PARTS  puddings.

Watching what’s already happening, I predict that, as usual, planners will fight a losing struggle against wealthy, powerful developers and political friends that dominate municipal councils.

You can already see the pressure to dilute PARTS in comments made by some councillors and developers requesting changes to fledgling plans. It’s partly seen through requests that planners use weasel words in PARTS like “flexibility, encourage and consider” when drafting “guidelines” that would leave multiple wiggle room as development progresses.

As an example, in this particular study, planners want to see better and more attractive use of Schneider and Shoemaker creeks that currently meander through communities in ugly, graffiti-covered concrete ditches.They want to see the waterways form focal points in new green areas snd trails both in and around the Schneider site.

But they are already experiencing pushback from landowner-developers who want to maximize development potential on their properties.

Which leaves me wondering about the final taste and texture of those puddings.

The latest from Councillor Etherington: Pause on cat licensing supported by most Councillors

2017 December 7
by Melissa

Call it a purrtial, political compromise to improve the optics involved in the licensing cat fight.

A majority of Kitchener Councillors considering ways to reject efforts by yours truly to research cat licensing approved that task this week as long as the troubling issue disappeared until 2019, a year after the 2018 municipal election.

Staff who didn’t have time to cope with the workload involved in that research will now do most of the same work and report back to council before 2019. The work includes looking at how other municipalities have implemented cat licensing as well as spay neutering and ways to microchips cats in order to help return them to owners.

The clawback compromise was the brainchild of our ever-political Mayor Berry Vrbanovic who, just a few weeks ago, dismissed cat licensing as “a cash grab” that he and others should oppose.

I pointed out to councillors that cats represent 60 per cent of the workload for the local  Humane Society which gets $630,000 a year in taxpayer funds while a rough cash estimate shows the city could collect about $500,000 a year by issuing $25 cat licenses.

I also noted that Councillors reluctant to upset cat-owning voters might lose the votes and feel the bite of frustrated dog owners who are supposed to pay a $30 licensing fee for their pets while cat owners pay absolutely nothing.

From Councillor Etherington: Housing strategy won’t impact Kitchener’s changing skyline

2017 November 26
by Melissa

It’s unlikely Ottawa’s recent and overdue housing strategy will be in place when at least 10 major high-rise projects dramatically change Kitchener’s skyline during the next few years.
That approaching downtown construction frenzy is caused by a combination of inner-city intensification, Light Rail Transit and developers scrambling to benefit from a program of forgiven development-charge incentives worth millions of dollars that ends in 2019.
To help save our countryside from urban sprawl, I’m in favour of carefully managed intensification but I also support the protection of established residential communities, particularly heritage neighbourhoods.
And as someone who represents downtown Ward 9 and lives in the Victoria Park heritage area, I’m increasingly concerned about developments along King, Queen, Victoria, Charles and other major arteries cradling several established communities.
Recently I learned about plans to build a 25-storey tower beside the Tannery at Francis and Charles streets and another 20-plus-storey building at Victoria and Bramm streets. One positive part about the proposal alongside The Tannery is the possibility it will include the first downtown grocery store in the city’s west end
Meanwhile, a few blocks away, developers of what started as a 24-storey condo at Gaukel and Charles streets want to push it up to 31 storeys.
Additional projects are coming on other parts of Victoria Street and around the LRT terminal near King and Wellington while others will follow.
Which is good for the economy but what about the changing character of those established neighbourhoods that are expected to embrace enormous condo towers that do little to provide housing for other than investors and high-income homebuyers along the LRT route?
With existing city regulations, zoning and a recent tall-building policy, all we can hope for is that councillors and planners insist developers taking advantage of those cash incentives meet high standards of construction quality and architectural design in buildings that will be with us for decades. They should also research ways to make certain developments meet affordability and housing needs of all income groups.

Annual General Meeting minutes – Nov 3rd, 2017

2017 November 10
by Melissa


6:00 Welcome
6:15 Chair’s speech: Highlighted VPNA events and neighbourhood involvement over the last year. rych mills spoke about the gallery in the park briefly and also thanked Mark and Glennis Yantzi for their years of service to the neighbourhood as they have now moved to a new home outside of the neighbourhood.
6:30 Programming: Trivia and pizza
7:05 Elections: 2018 board members: Chair-Melissa B; Treasurer-Rose O; Secretary-Anka B; Newsletter editor-vacant; Program coordinator-Charlotte K; Communications coordinator-Cathy L; DNA liaison-Patrick G; Events coordinator-Steve B; Volunteer coordinator-vacant; Members-at-large-Rebekah H, Erin T, Mario, Anna M, Gillian V.
7:20 Programming: Trivia
7:45 Closing remarks and prizes


The latest from Frank Etherington: Councillors yowling about cat-license clawback

2017 November 9
by Melissa

Kitchener councillors have de-furred the cat-licensing issue until Dec. 4.
And, with a jaundiced eye on potential lost-pet votes in the 2018 municipal election, I doubt the cat-fight issue will gain more that lukewarm support when my motion comes back for consideration with what I predict will be at least one added clause.
I think that once a staff report on potential workload and years of public consultation involved in the subject of cat licenses and microchipping returns to city hall, councillors will take a long pause, a lengthy catnap and no action on a subject dismissed as a “cash grab” by Mayor Berry Vrbanovic..
Which means we will ignore all issues of unfairness for dog owners and the increasing drain of $630,000 paid out each year by taxpayers to care for stray animals — 66 per cent of them abandoned, unlicensed cats.
That lack of equality has to do with about 40,000 dog owners who are supposed to buy $30 licenses (only 15,000 do so today) while an estimated 50,000 cat owners do not.
On the workload issue councillors are fully aware that cities including Guelph, Stratford, London, Mississauga, Sudbury, Ottawa, Peterborough, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Montreal successfully introduced cat licensing without rushing out to hire dozens of people to cope with a spitting push-back from cat owners.
After a recent tour of our excellent humane society shelter, I’m convinced Kitchener should create a set fee for a cat license that would be reduced if a responsible pet owner microchips the pet in order to quickly reunite the missing feline.
Then, when the cats came back, it would save us all tax dollars

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