Regional Council: Making decisions that matter - June 22, 2022

Posted on Thursday June 23, 2022

With input from the community, Regional Council sets the direction for the Region as an organization and makes decisions that help improve the lives of Waterloo Region residents every day. Here is a summary of the major decisions made by Council on June 22, 2022. Please refer to the minutes for an official record of the meeting. 

Council to lower speed limits in 31 school zones on Regional roads

The Region is lowering speed limits in 31 school zones along Regional roads to enhance road safety. The changes will be in effect during school hours, and come after Council directed staff to review speed limits in school zones that are higher than 40km/h. There are 35 school zones fronting Regional Roads, 31 with a posted speed limit greater than 40 km/h.

Council approves contractor to build 73 affordable units in Waterloo

Council has approved the vendor for a new Waterloo Region Housing (WRH) project at 420 Kingscourt Drive in Waterloo. The six-story building will provide a range of units from one bedroom to five bedrooms. It will achieve LEED Silver Certification and is designed to be net-zero carbon. This project is among the 600 new homes WRH has planned for the next 10 years. It is part of the Building Better Futures: 2,500 in five years affordable housing strategy.

New equitable funding model for upstream initiatives

The Region is working alongside the community to create a new funding allocation model for upstream initiatives rooted in Truth and Reconciliation, Equity and relationship building. With limited resources, grants and funding opportunities can create competition that can be harmful to communities and individuals who already face systemic barriers. It can also be challenging for small grassroots groups to access funding. The new model involves:

  • Creating opportunities for outreach and engagement with community groups and organizations interested in funding.
  • Community based decision-making involving a diverse group of community members with lived experience, and membership will change from year to year.
  • Organizations sharing learnings and stories of impact.

The community also identified opportunities for the Upstream Fund to become far more than just funding. They voiced the need for forums to work together and share ideas about action, projects and shared goals. Creating these spaces will encourage collaboration between organizations, resource sharing and increase knowledge about the breadth of work happening in the community. Mentorship will be provided to help community participate in the process.

Region to showcase local artists at new airport terminal

Council has approved a plan to install six pieces of public art in the terminal expansion at the Region of Waterloo International Airport for up to two years. Public art contributes to a community's identity, culture, and economic strengths. Pieces will explore themes of travel and movement. The Region issued a call to artists in May, as advised by the Public Art Advisory Committee (PAAC). The committee recommended issuing the call because it meant art could be found and installed more quickly than a commission, and would be beneficial for artists who have had few opportunities to exhibit their work throughout the pandemic.

Council approves reduction of child care fees through federal plan

Council has approved the 2022 $24 million federal funding allocation received as part of the Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care Plan (CWELCC). The first priority is to reduce child care fees by 25 percent, retroactive to April of this year and to increase wages for the lowest paid early childhood educators. Goals of the CWELCC include lowering child care fees to an average of $10 per day before September 2025, enabling the creation of new child care spaces, increasing wages for early childhood educators, and removing barriers to care for diverse and underserved populations. As the child care service manager, the Region will develop new policies and procedures to put the CWELCC plan in place. Staff is working closely with the Province and other service managers to share and align policy and practices, where possible. Staff is also meeting regularly with partners and will create a working group to support policy development.

Region adds ambulances to meet growth in call volume

Council has approved a staff recommendation to add ambulances to the Paramedic Services fleet in order to meet an expected growth in call volume. Three 12-hour ambulances, one emergency response unit and all staff required to operate the vehicles will be added in October. Another eight ambulances will be added in 2023, and up to 10 in 2024. These resources will address challenges that Paramedic Services has been experiencing with higher call volumes, population growth and higher unit usage rates.

Council invests in upgrades to protect local water resources

Regional Council has approved vendors for a number of upgrades to protect our drinking water, enhance wastewater treatment services, and reduce GHG emissions across the region.

  • Replacing power supply unit equipment for two generators at the Mannheim water treatment plant ($1,185,200)
  • Elmira wastewater treatment plant upgrades ($4,249,600)
  • New transmission watermain in New Hamburg ($1,321,800)
  • New biosolids storage facilities at Galt and Waterloo wastewater treatment plants ($26,562,900)
  • Five-year operation of the liquid biosolids management program ($531,000)
  • Five-year operation of the cake biosolids management program ($4,048,700)
  • Replacing Kitchener wastewater treatment plant turbo blowers ($2,387,400)
  • Clay capping and regrading ($741,900)
  • Landfill gas system upgrades at the former Kitchener landfill site ($8,328,000)

Council approves vendors for roadway and active transportation improvements

Council has approved vendors for several projects that aim to increase participation in active forms of transportation, improve road safety for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians, and enhance the transit system. Projects include:

  • Two new roundabouts on Fischer Hallman Road at Rosenberg Way and Wallaceton Way, plus new multi-use trails
  • Iron Horse trail improvements at Stirling Avenue in Kitchener
  • Reconstruction of a section of Lackner Boulevard multi-use path in Kitchener
  • Replace Westmount Road pedestrian island at Westwood Drive in Kitchener
  • New pedestrian island at Franklin Boulevard and Copperfield Drive in Cambridge
  • New Grand River Transit bus pad at Victoria and King in Kitchener
  • Reconstruction of road and underground infrastructure, and replace and widen sidewalks and parts of multi-use trail on Courtland from Hayward Avenue to Overland Drive

Airport shuttle service to launch in September

As the Region of Waterloo International Airport expands due to increased demand, Council has approved the vendor for an airport shuttle service. The service will transport passengers between the new parking lot and the terminal building. The new parking lot, which adds 611 spaces, will be up and running in September. Right now, the airport has 728 public parking stalls, and was at capacity in August last year with 33 weekly flights.

Vendor approved for workspace redesign that will reduce carbon footprint

Council has approved the vendor for a Regional workspace redesign that will reduce the Region’s carbon footprint while enhancing services and enabling employees to work more collaboratively.  Staff estimate the project will save $1.2 million annually in leasing costs, to start. The redesign involves renovations to existing buildings, which will take place over a few years at the Region’s headquarter campus in Kitchener. The project is part of the Region’s Corporate Accommodations Master Plan, which works to minimize building space needs while effectively and efficiently delivering services to the community.

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