Regional Council: Making Decisions that Matter January 26, 2022

Posted on Wednesday January 26, 2022

With input from the community, Regional Council sets the direction for the Region as an organization and makes decisions that affect Waterloo Region residents every day. Here is a summary of the major decisions made by Council on January 26. Please refer to the minutes for an official record of the meeting. 

Region develops strategy to retain affordable housing as mortgages end

The Region is working proactively to retain affordable housing units as housing providers locally and across Ontario risk losing funding as their mortgages become fully paid. Regional staff are working to protect these community investments, grow and stabilize the sector locally. This will include supporting providers to find opportunities for growth and innovation and planning to ensure long-term financial sustainability. Twenty-eight co-op and non-profit groups deliver over 3,200 safe and affordable community housing units across the region.

Council approves plan to enhance care for Sunnyside Home residents

Council has approved a plan for new provincial funding that will help Sunnyside Home enhance nursing and personal care for residents by hiring up to 31 staff over the next three years.The Region received just under two million dollars this year as part of Ontario’s “Better Place To Live, Better Place To Work” action plan that will support the long term care home to achieve four hours daily of direct care and 36 minutes of diagnostic, therapeutic and other support services per resident by 2025. The $5.7 million dollar investment over four years will greatly improve quality of care for residents and will create more full time opportunities for staff, helping with recruitment and retention.

New roundabouts proposed to enhance safety

Regional Council will consider all information, including public input, before making a decision on staff’s recommendation to install roundabouts at four intersections in Waterloo Region. Roundabouts are proposed for the intersections at Cedar Creek and Trussler Road, as well as Dickie Settlement and Roseville Road in North Dumfries, New Dundee Road and Robert Ferrie Drive in Kitchener, and Sawmill Road and Ebycrest Road in Woolwich Township. A staff report says roundabouts are being considered as they provided a superior level of service, fewer serious collisions and fatalities and generates fewer green house gas emissions than a traffic signal. The public is invited to provide input on the recommendations at Engage Region of Waterloo.

New framework to guide path to safe and well community for all

A bold new vision and framework for working with the community to improve the lives of those facing the greatest barriers to safety and wellbeing in Waterloo Region was endorsed by Regional Council tonight. The framework, co-designed with community leaders, represents a shift to a community-led, system-supported approach to community safety and wellbeing.It is rooted in advancing truth and reconciliation, anti-hate, anti-oppression, and anti-racism, equity, diversity and inclusion, and addressing the social determinants of health as the core goals of the community to address together. Work will now begin with the community on how to move forward in a way that ensures action and accountability. Indigenous knowledge and wisdom will lead and inform how to bring the framework to life.

Region optimizing office space to reduce footprint

The Region is making changes to how it uses its office space, while continuing to effectively and efficiently deliver services to the community. A pilot project for Corporate Services is expected to reduce the office space footprint for that department by 50 percent. It will include more spaces for teams to collaborate and bookable private and open workspaces, giving staff more flexibility for different types of work. Re-thinking space requirements could potentially avoid and defer the need for and cost of future office space expansion.

Region lowers Myers Road speed limit to enhance safety in school zone

A motion brought forward by Councillor Kathryn McGarry and passed by Regional Council will lower the speed limit of Myers Road in Cambridge from 50 km/h to 40 km/h to enhance safety in school zones. The road runs through an area that is seeing rapid growth and intensification and is slated for construction. Staff are working on additional measures to decrease speed and improve safety on the road, and will bring a report back to Council on all school zones within the region that do not have speed limits of 40 km/h.

Region calls on federal government to support legal challenges to Quebec law prohibiting public servants from wearing religious symbols at work

Regional Council has approved a motion brought forward by Councillor Elizabeth Clarke that calls on the Government of Canada and local MPs to support the legal challenges against Bill 21. The Quebec law prohibits public servants including teachers, police officers, and many government officials from wearing religious symbols at work. The law violates the Canadian Charter guarantee of freedom of religious expression and impacts many faith communities. The resolution will be shared with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and with local municipal councils.

Regional Council to advocate for additional business supports

Regional Council has directed staff to work with area municipalities and BESTWR to explore additional supports for businesses as they continue to cope with the pandemic. The motion, brought forward by Councillor Helen Jowett, also calls on higher levels of government to provide continued supports, including expanded access to and equitable distribution of rapid antigen tests, as well as changes to provincial and federal programs that reflect the needs of small to medium-sized businesses in the region.

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