Category Archives: Uncategorized

Fresh ideas and perspectives for the Next Term

My Ending Speech from the Rogers Regional Councillor Debate.

The Region of Waterloo and the City of Waterloo have long been part of an evolving vision. Manufacturing of rubber, sausage, buttons and beer evolved into ideas and technology.  Alms houses evolved into the House of Friendship, SHOW and the Working Centre.

Here are a few issues requiring that our region evolve again.

Climate Change.

 We need concrete actions to reduce emissions and mitigate climate change. The cities and the Region have pledged to reduce emissions by 80%. Listening to the new ideas of environment organizations like REEP and Tritag will help us reduce and mitigate.  

Cycling

 As a teen, I used to cycle safely all over Waterloo. My older daughter was hit by a truck while riding in a painted bike lane. Cyclists advocate the new idea of segregated bike lanes and bollards to keep cyclists and cars separate.

Affordable Housing

Our vision must evolve when a booming economy, road and transit development create the unintended consequence of more expensive housing for citizens. Regional staff is already working on a conference that brings together developers, experts, politicians and citizens to come up with new ideas. The Region is already placing the “hard to house”and giving them the needed supports.

Opiods

The Regional Integrated Drug Strategy has 4 pillars, Prevention, harm reduction, rehabilitation and recovery, and Enforcement and Justice. It is not just about Safe Injection Sites.

Economic Development

The Ion has already brought new space at the long vacant NCR lands. We need an Aerospace Industrial Park.

New Provincial Government

I have been a councillor through Conservative and Liberal governments. We need to be flexible, lobby and evolve to keep Waterloo Region thriving.

 

 

GRT meeting at WPL and an interesting bus ride home

An interesting full house meeting at the Waterloo Public Library concerning the GRT changes when the ION train starts including the new fare cards. However, the most interesting part of the evening was the bus ride home. I took the 9 o’clock number 9. It is the one that takes a detour through the industrial area off Kumpf drive.

Had a nice chat with one of the women who works nights at one of the industries. I have seen her and her sister  workers before on this bus at this time. However the most interesting part of the trip was the stop where a handful of people got on in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere. The industry worker told me they were people who worked at St. Jacob’s Outlet Mall. After work, they had walked down the long dark trail to the only bus that evening. Miss it and it was an endless dark walk to Northfield.

Fortunately, the 2018 route changes once the ION train starts will help them. A new route, 19a and 19b will go along Kumpf and then up to the St. Jacobs Outlet Mall. It will be daily every 15 minutes and every 30 minutes on Saturday. It will link with the Northfield ION station for the women coming from Conestoga Mall.

It is great to see this improvement. Not only making things more convenient for people going to the St, Jacob’s Market and Walmart but also for those working in retail and manufacturing.  Transit has long been lacking in many industrial areas  leading to the Catch 22 that you need a car to get a job but the jobs pay too little for you to get a car.

GRT network with ION

Vanier/Traynor Informal Pedestrian Crossing.

Here is the text of an e-mail sent to Regional Councillors concerning the Vanier/Traynor Crossing .

As part of constructing the ION system, a fence was installed along the Hydro Corridor, which has restricted previous informal pedestrian access between this neighbourhood and the properties on Fairway Road. This area is now an active part of the ION system, with trains testing along the corridor.

The Region and the City of Kitchener are continuing to work on the provision of a permanent pedestrian access point (with gates and bells) across the LRT tracks, including the identification of a suitable location. The properties on both sides of the LRT tracks are privately owned. Once a the location and property requirements have been finalized, the Region will finalize the design and start construction (funding for construction still needs to be finalized).  The City of Kitchener is responsible for acquiring the property and constructing a formal public access to the ION crossing.

The Region has retained a consultant for the design of the pedestrian crossing. This work is ongoing.  Once the design and property acquisition work is complete construction can start. The Region is also committed to applying to the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund to receive funding for the project and if this is not possible staff are reviewing alternative funding which may require Council approvals.

The City is working on completing the work to select the appropriate location for sidewalks to connect to the ION crossing and the associated land acquisition.  Region staff have agreed to assist the City should expropriation be required.  Region and City staff will coordinate timing of land acquisition and construction to ensure that there is public access to the  ION crossing when it is complete.

Given the current status of design and land acquisition it is unlikely that the pedestrian crossing will be open before ION service starts. The earliest that it could be open is likely spring 2019 (a full schedule is not complete as the design is not complete).  A preliminary design and cost estimate of the walkway and rail crossing is now being developed, which will allow us to move forward with approvals and seek funding.

We are also aware that pedestrians are crossing the LRT tracks and damaging fences in this location. As a result, the Region has placed signage in this area advising that this is an unsafe activity.

In terms of the permanent crossing, the next steps include:

  • Complete the design work and identify the budget
  • Finalize location of the crossing
  • Work with the City to complete their feasibility study
  • Request funding
  • Acquire the necessary land
  • Construct the crossing

which has restricted previous informal pedestrian access between this neighbourhood and the properties on Fairway Road. This area is now an active part of the ION system, with trains testing along the corridor.

People have asked me why there is a crossing at Old Albert in Waterloo and not at Traynor.  Frankly, I use the Albert crossing and kept after staff for a pedestrian crossing from the very beginning of LRT. Unfortunately due to the informal nature of the Traynor /Vanier crossings, no one picked up this need for a pedestrian crossing. It is not uncommon for the needs of pedestrians to be ignored as shown by the many beaten down paths along roads without sidewalks and is something that we must continue working on changing.

Will Cleaning Every Winter Sidewalk in Kitchener Create a Water Emergency?

Chloride (Road salt) pollutes some local municipal wells and streams according to staff at Water Services Source Water Protection Liaison Committee. Due to liability concerns, it is difficult to get salt reduced in winter parking lots despite the Region’s encouraging businesses.

Kitchener has just passed a winter sidewalk cleaning pilot. It is a great idea for pedestrians and the disabled.

Unfortunately, the amount of salt used on sidewalks, roads and parking lots is increasing due to climate change with its freezing/thawing and winter rain. It is reducing pollution from cars versus storm water management.

When the city plows sidewalks, one inch of snow is left. Salting is needed to keep the sidewalk safe.  Salting and brine get into the aquifer, storm water ponds and streams. Chloride will eventually make our drinking water unusable.

Kitchener needs to make sure cleaning winter sidewalks won’t hurt our streams and wells.

Biosolids Link

Here is the link to the pdf mentioned on  my Facebook post.

FAQ_on_Biosolids_Management

Regional Councillor Jane Mitchell is Running for Re-Election in the City of Waterloo

Regional Councillor Jane Mitchell is running for re-election in the City of Waterloo.

“We will all miss Chair Ken Seiling’s steady hand. With a new Chair at the head of the Region, experienced councillors are needed,” says Jane.

Jane has a solid record of hard work and leadership. She is the past-chair of the Grand River Conservation Authority. This past term, as Chair of the Licensing and Hearing Committee she guided the creation  and updating of the vehicle for hire by-law that regulated and legalized services such as Uber, a process that has been very contentious in other municipalities. At the end of the process, her leadership as chair earned her a standing ovation from other councillors.

Jane attends hundreds of events, both big and small to help keep her hand on the pulse of her constituents. She works on numerous committees including, the Crime Prevention Council, Waste Management Master Plan, Alternate Transportation Advisory Committee, Budget, Planning and Works, Community Services. Jane is the Chair of the Employment and Income Support Advisory Committee which includes Ontario Works Clients and various representatives of community agencies.

This past term, Jane has worked on the Biosolids Master Plan, stopping a Biosolids Drying plant from being built at the Waterloo Landfill. She worked on the Waste Master Plan which led to the successful weekly diversion of organic waste to the green bin and onto compost and weekly recycle pickup throughout the Region. The introduction of every other week pickup of residual garbage saves the Region one million a year.

A user of public transit as well as a car driver, Jane is proud of her role in the expansion of the transit system and the introduction of the Ion. Roundabouts and road improvements and expansions have made driving easier. Segregated bike lanes and pedestrian sidewalks and trails on Regional roads will mean more options for people as they get around the Region. Two way all day trains from Toronto and GO from Cambridge are a must for the further prosperity of the Region.

Jane has recently been working on the Regional Housing Master Plan which is proposed to increase the amount of social housing in Waterloo Region. She wants to continue tackling homelessness and the creation of social housing

It is no coincidence that the Region of Waterloo is booming. Over 2.1 billion dollars of development is occurring. Waterloo has seen the expansion of both Universities and Conestoga College with the support of the Region. The Region of Waterloo has racked up a triple A rating from Moody’s for the last 18 years as long as Jane has been on council.

Jane championed the countryside line, the Environmentally Sensitive Landscapes, and urban intensification to help protect our valuable farmland. As Chair of the GRCA, she oversaw projects to keep the Grand River watershed mostly flood free and the water clean. Large investments have been made to keep our drinking water pure.

This is only a taste of the work Jane has done as a councillor. Jane’s hard work, experience and leadership keep the Region of Waterloo and the City of Waterloo vibrant and a great place to live. There is more to be done and she will do it.

Can the Ion Use Renewable Energy?

Regional Staff have responded to my request to look into using Renewable Energy to power the Ion. Here is the memo. With I will say, a lot of research by staff

The Memo sent to Regional Councillors is below:

Region staff have looked at a few possible options to provide renewable power for the ION system.

The chart below shows the mix of electric power sources in Ontario.   Approximately 33% of the normal power in the grid comes from renewable sources.  The majority of the power (63%) comes from nuclear energy with the  remainder (4%) from gas/oil.

2017 Transmission-Connected Generator Output

Nuclear Hydro Gas/Oil Wind Biofuel Solar
2017 (TWh) 90.6 37.7 5.9 9.2 0.4 0.5
2017 (% of total) 63% 26% 4% 6% <1% <1%

link http://www.ieso.ca/corporate-ieso/media/year-end-data

 

Possible ways to use all or more renewable energy for the ION include:

  1. Region or other party creates specific source of power (solar and/or wind)
  2. Region uses the power from Region’s existing solar power installations
  3. Region purchases green power from a supplier of green power

Each of the options is reviewed briefly with some discussions of pros and cons:

Option 1. Region or other party creates specific source of power (solar and/or wind)

  • Region is completely in control
  • Wind power has not been shown to economical in Waterloo Region.  Wind farm would have to be somewhere else
  • Both wind and solar would require supplemental power sources and can only partially offset power from the grid
  • Cost for this option are relatively high both capital and ongoing operations and maintenance (staff have not attempted to quantify the cost)
  • Would require significant land for the solar/wind farms
  • Region would be committed to this power source in the long term even if better alternatives became available
  • Could be used to partially offset grid power

Option 2

  • Region currently has a contract for this power that pays significantly higher than current cost of electricity.  If the contract were broken this revenue would be lost.
  • Once the contract is over this option could be re-evaluated to determine if power generation continues from these facilities and whether that power should be used to power the ION.

Option 3.

  • Provides flexibility for Region to purchase more or less green power
  • Region can change to other source including implantation of own power sources at any time
  • Region is not responsible for capital, operations or maintenance
  • Allows easy transition to another option should that be desired in the future.

 

Based on the above Region staff believe that the best option at this time is Option 3.

Region staff approached a supplier of green power (who wished to remain unnamed) to determine what the cost might be to implement Option 3.  This is not a firm estimate as that would still need to be determined once the exact power requirements are known.

The quote below gives 100%, 50% and 25% percentage of green electricity supply for the total electricity  consumption predicted for LRT.

The cost of electricity for the LRT would be increase by $300K, $150K and $75K annually, depending on the supply percentages of total consumption, on the top of the predicted annual budget ($1.5M).  Please note these costs are for electricity supply only and do not include deliver and other costs that are on every electricity bill.

Green House Gas Reductions:

It is important to note that with the current mix sources of electricity (nuclear, hydro, gas/oil etc), as noted above, that electricity from the grid already has low greenhouse gas emissions as a result of the low percentage of electricity from gas/oil.  This gives an emission factor of 0.043 tonnes of ghg per MWh used, of if multiplied by 12,000MWh, equals to around 520 tonnes per year. Or  $576/tonne of ghg reduced ($300K / 520 tonnes).  Greenhouse gas reductions from switching to renewable energy for the ION would be relatively low and costly.

At this stage it is recommended that ION be powered using grid power.  Alternatives to this can be periodically evaluated to see if they are worth pursuing.