Tag Archives: Waterloo

Why I’m Running for Re-election.

A constituent was worried because my press release mostly states my qualifications for my position, as most press releases do. Here is a paragraph from another blog that really hits home for why I am running.

You should run because you wish to serve your community, to provide good leadership, to plan and build for the future. You should run because you have a contribution to make, ideas to be shared, passion that won’t abate and a commitment to do the right thing no matter what. You should run if you understand that you will have to sacrifice popularity and family time, and that you will have to sometimes make decisions that benefit the community as a whole but don’t benefit you personally. You should run if you want a better future for your grandchildren, and your grandchildren’s grandchildren.

Wow.Pretty much sums up why I do what I do.

The two links below are to a couple of very good blog posts,the first of which had the above quote.

http://danikloo.com/2013/09/23/five-terrible-reasons-to-run-for-municipal-office/

http://danikloo.com/2013/10/01/six-awesome-reasons-to-run-for-municipal-office/

 

Hello On-line Voting, Good-bye Secret Ballot

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his wife Melania Trump vote at PS 59 in New YorkSo according to some, I am a Luddite because I oppose electors voting through their Smartphones or computer. Nope. I have no problem with electronic voting. My problem with on-line voting is the end of the secret ballot.

The secret ballot was first introduced in the 1850s in Australia, then spread to the United States and Canada. Before the secret ballot, voters had to declare their vote publicly. Fights broke out and voters were bribed or paid for their vote. A man might not vote for the man of his choice because his employer could know.
It is interesting that with the coming of the secret ballot, the number of people voting did drop. But for what reason?
Sasha Issenberg in the Atlantic suggests it was due to the reduced social pressure of neighbours not knowing if a person voted.Abolish the Secret Ballot

What has this to do with on-line voting?
On-line voting involves a person using a pin number to enter the voting system on-line and cast their vote. The problem is not with the security of the computer system or the Smartphone (Hello Blackberry, the secure Smartphone). It is not even that someone could gather pin numbers and vote instead of the particular voter. That could be solved with a thumbprint, face recognition, test question or other methods.
It is the simple fact that a person can look over the voter’s shoulder or at their computer screen when they are casting their vote.
This means that, for instance, in a home, all members of a family could be forced to vote and vote a certain way by the member of the family who rules it economically. (I am trying to put this in a way that is not sexist or culturally insensitive)
Voters could be gathered together by an employer or landlord or powerful politician and made to vote a certain way. The bribery and fights would return. Elections could be sold.
And yes this is also possible with mailed in ballots that are becoming popular in rural areas.
If you don’t think this could happen today, I have one word for you, Robocalls.
The only way at this time to prevent abuse of the vote is to have people go to a polling place and vote in the privacy of the voting booth.
Do we want to increase people voting at the expense of free and fair elections? I vote “No”.

Voting in Early Canada

King St Waterloo On a Diet.

There has been a lot of misinformation about the narrowing of King St. to two lanes between Central and Erb St.

First of all, no decision has been made and in fact it will not be made until 2011. The report coming to council tomorrow is to pass having another public information centre on Ðec 2 from 4 to 8 at Waterloo City Hall

Facts:

The LRT is not going through this part of King St. from Central to Erb.  One lane of the LRT will run from Allan to Erb then down Erb to Caroline and the rail spur. http://rapidtransit.region.waterloo.on.ca/

There are actually 5 alternatives for this part of King St.

 
1. leave the road alone at 4 too small lanes and parking
 
2.Widen the 4 lanes to a sized that the regular buses can use (this could take out some of the historic buildings!)
 
3. A 3 lane road with parking lanes on the side. The middle lane for turning.
 
4. two lane with parking lanes
 
5. two lane with shared parking bicycle lanes.
Here is the report
 
However there is space for bike lanes on Regina.
I’m still waiting for Erb and Bridgeport to become two way again and it has been suggested that perhaps the Post office parking lot could become municipal.

Round the Roundabout at Erb and Ira Needles

Went to take pictures at the Erb and Ira Needles roundabout this morning, checking out the complaints of heavy traffic flow. Woah! It ended up being a pedestrian was a tricky problem.  Made sure to make eye contact as I crossed the crosswalks. The people coming into the roundabout were just fine, stopping for me. But the people already in the roundabout. Nope. No stopping. I ended up pointing to the tiny sign (note to staff on that one) saying yield before someone stopped.
roundabout

Roundabout Rush

The roundabout itself is very busy at rush hour, but cars didn’t have to wait very long, certainly not as long as traffic light. Staff told me that the busier the roundabout, actually the better as cars slow down and drivers pay attention. Seemed to be so. there were also times when very few cars were entering the roundabout and times when it was packed. Might be a function of traffic lights in other areas.

I also had a question from a constituent about why the new stores are right at the road rather than a parking lot separating the road from the building, as in the Canadian Tire plaza across the road. This is the new urbanization. If you are on foot, there is a sidewalk in front of the buildings and you can easily enter the stores. This morning there were two or three pedestrians crossing the roundabout. The constituent was concerned cars could crash into the stores,but there is a small lawn in front of each. It looks good to me and as a sometime pedestrian, it will be great not to negotiate the parking lot desert full of potentially moving cars.

People are concerned about the increase of traffic at the new mall at the boundary of Kitchener and Waterloo on Ira Needles.  It is important to note that there will be buses to this mall and two roundabouts to help with traffic. The widening of Ira Needles Blvd from Highview to Erb is planned for 2019. There are no plans to do anything to Thorndale, as far as staff knows.  People have expressed concern about a new big box heaven in this area when we are trying to intensify. However the people who live in the area are very excited to have shopping. Should note that this is at the very edge of the countryside line. A monument to the end of sprawl?

 The new mall will have pedestrian amenities and “prettier” parking lots within the mall area. There will be stores facing the roadway once again. There are concerns about smells from the landfill and seagulls at the restaurant patios. Staff works very hard to stop most landfill smells with pipes underground, some of which lead to a bio-gas energy facility. Seagulls? Just don’t feed them!

Built close to road

Stores built close to the road

World O' Cars

 Next Tuesday, May 18th, councillors will be hearing the public response to the Regional Transportation Master Plan. You can come either at 9 am for Planning and Works or at 7 pm for a public meeting.

There have already been public consultation meetings. I attended the meeting at First United Church.  I talked to several constituents. Two men were enthusiastic about the master plan including bike paths and pedestrian sidewalks. They also like that there will be an Ixpress along Fischer-Hallman.

The master plan includes integrated rapid transit and bus network and strategic road improvements. Types of streets are classified with different uses. All this can go forward with or without the LRT, though it would be better with the LRT (when will we see our money???)

http://www.movingforward2031.ca  for more details on the master plan.

A couple who live in Eastbridge talked about how hard it is to bicycle to the University as the bridge over the expressway isn’t bicycle friendly. Here I’ve been talking about the problems of bridges in Cambridge and here’s an example in my own Waterloo.  World O’ Cars indeed.

Tritag came to council to talk about an innovative idea for the Lang Tannery property. Lang would give the Region money to improve the transit and Lang would not demolish the old warehouses for a parking garage. The idea was referred to staff. The fact that this would involve the city, region and Lang Tannery working together in an innovative way, leads me to believe, sadly, that nothing will happen.

http://www.tritag.ca/blog/2010/04/14/win-win-win-solution-for-the-lang-tannery/ is the post about this issue. Keep the innovation coming guys, the bureaucracy changes slowly but it is changing.

Flouride again: Legality and pump breakdowns

I was at Scott Witmer’s ward meeting and several constituents were worried about Carole Clinch’s claim that the Region of Waterloo is illegally adding flouride to the municipal water. I will give staff’s response in a moment.

First, the big article in the Chronicle about the flouride pumps breaking down and flouride not being added to the Waterloo Water for six months. Staff (Water and Public Health) was supposed to tell us about this when the problem passed 90 days.

This was all dealt with by council last November and hands were slapped. New communication protocols between Water Services and Public Health have been put in place to prevent this communication breakdown from happening again.

No secrets, no need for an access to information request for staff e-mails.

Once again, I point out that the Ministry of Enviroment closely checks Regional water and any problem with bacteria, etc. must be reported immediately to them. A fine for the only breach, a 48 hour pump of unchlorinated water into Cambridge water a few years ago.The problem has been fixed. The water itself was as pure as bottled water, but nevertheless. 

We actually had a report at Planning and Works this week about a survey and test of local private homeowner wells (people not getting muncipal water). About half had bacteria in them or nitrites.

http://bit.ly/dtu586

Anyway, here is the staff response to the illegality of flouride and the federal Ministry of Health.

Hello Jane
Here is an extract from the health Canada website on their role with respect to water Quality.
“Water QualityClean water is essential to life. Our health and well-being depend on it.
In Canada, all levels of government play a role to make sure our water supplies are safe. While provincial and territorial governments are generally in charge of making sure our water supplies are safe, the federal government has a number of responsibilities in this area.
Health Canada’s Role
Health Canada is involved in many activities related to water quality, including:

Developing national drinking water guidelines with provincial and territorial drinking water authorities
Providing emergency advice in cases of drinking water contamination, when requested by another government department or agency
Developing guidelines for water used for recreational activities, such as lakes where people swim
Ensuring the safety of drinking water on cruise ships, airlines, passenger ferries, trains, and other common carriers
Working with other departments to make sure all federal government employees have access to safe drinking water in their workplaces
Working with First Nations communities south of 60 degrees parallel to ensure that drinking water quality monitoring programs are in place on their lands
Regulating the safety and quality of bottled water, prepackaged ice, and water used in food processing
Working in collaboration with partners and stakeholders on broader water quality issues, including the development of water policies and research priorities”

Use of hydrofluorosilicic is not illegal. The province sets standards for fluoride and the Region’s certificate of approval includes the use of hydrofluorosilicic acid. 

The Waterloo Article speaks about the food and drug act and the requirements under it.  Municipal drinking water is not regulated under the food and drug act. Another quote from Health Canada .

“While bottled water is regulated federally as a food the tap water distributed by municipalities is regulated by the appropriate province or territory. However, Health Canada is involved in the development of the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality. These Guidelines are developed through the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Committee on Drinking Water which includes members from the provinces, territories and Health Canada’s Healthy Environment and Consumer Safety Branch. They contain guidelines for microbiological, chemical, physical and radiological contaminants. For each contaminant, the Guidelines establish the maximum acceptable concentration of the substance that can be permitted in water used for drinking. They are used by the provinces and territories as the basis for their own drinking water standards.”

The provisions of the Food and drug act wouldn’t be applicable to municipal drinking water.

 Actually, the provisions of the Food and Drug act that cover bottled water are LESS stringent than the provincial regulations for municipal water.

Not saying how you should vote in the referendum, just trying to keep information correct.

 
 
 
 
 

 

Mayor’s and Nurses’ Breakfast for Haiti

The breakfast for Haiti this morning at RIM park gave the attendees much more than a simple tribute to Yvonne Martin and the raising of almost $10,000. Various speakers inspired with their own experiences in needy areas.

Betsy Wall, from the Foundation for International Development Assistance works with Haitian agriculture and was in the earthquake. She spoke about the historic and current needs of Haiti even before the earthquake and how the people of Haiti are resourceful. When she returned home, the TV pictures of food aid being thrown at people and a foreign military presence patrolling streets of desperate people upset her. The Haitians she works with are hardworking and persevering despite hardships. She told us our help is not always good help or compassionate help. An example, North American volunteers building projects that local people could build and get paid for to support their families.

This lead into a presentation by Sylvia Scott, RN, a Kenyan and Canadian, who dedicates her life to improving the villages near her original home in Kenya. She emphasized that Canadians or “developed world” volunteers should not be discouraged and that nurses and people like Yvonne Martin  make a difference. Sylvia was so impressed with the strangers giving out inoculations that she ended up finishing school and after immigrating to Canada, she returned to help her village. She emphasized that development and change must come from the people being helped themselves. They must decide what they need and they must be in control of their lives, not well meaning strangers.  The people of Sylvia’s village wanted a clinic built. It was built but then they found out they needed electricity and clean water and supplies to run it. Not to mention basic health and irrigation for crops. So they have moved forward with projects for those needs, including micro-businesses.

Diego Marquez-Leon, a male nursing student immigrant from Columbia then spoke. He decided to go somewhere in the world that would be the last place he would want to go. He chose India because he doesn’t like spicy Indian food. That choice led him to work in the slums and in a home for AIDS orphans. He found many rewards and some challenges such as the fact they worked with only the equivilant of a first aid kit.

Jill Gale, RN from Grand River Hospital talked about the hospital pairing with a hospital in Jamaica. Jamaica, where we go as tourists to richly appointed resorts while many of the citizens are mired in poverty and do not have universal health care.  Donors from the States had given the hospital sophisticated equipment but it sat on a balcony rusting because no one knew how to use it or fix it.  The people from Grand River taught “artisans”, basically untrained workers, how to fix the equipment the hospital had and the nurses taught the Jamaican maternity nurses a simple technique for reviving new-born babies that thrilled the people at the Jamaican hospital. Air Canada donated equipment for a birthing room and the artisans were taught how to maintain it. Jamaican nurses came to Canada to learn our techniques for running operating rooms and keeping supplies. A Jamaican doctor came to Canada and taught our doctors and nurses how to do breach births instead of relying on Caesarians.

I am always amazed at the number of people going about quietly changing the world for the better.

The morning gave all of much food for thought or “reflections” as the nurses call it on how to do foreign development and aid well and how to do it badly. A necessity as the world works with Haiti to recover.

Mayor's and Nurses' Breakfast for Haiti

The breakfast for Haiti this morning at RIM park gave the attendees much more than a simple tribute to Yvonne Martin and the raising of almost $10,000. Various speakers inspired with their own experiences in needy areas.

Betsy Wall, from the Foundation for International Development Assistance works with Haitian agriculture and was in the earthquake. She spoke about the historic and current needs of Haiti even before the earthquake and how the people of Haiti are resourceful. When she returned home, the TV pictures of food aid being thrown at people and a foreign military presence patrolling streets of desperate people upset her. The Haitians she works with are hardworking and persevering despite hardships. She told us our help is not always good help or compassionate help. An example, North American volunteers building projects that local people could build and get paid for to support their families.

This lead into a presentation by Sylvia Scott, RN, a Kenyan and Canadian, who dedicates her life to improving the villages near her original home in Kenya. She emphasized that Canadians or “developed world” volunteers should not be discouraged and that nurses and people like Yvonne Martin  make a difference. Sylvia was so impressed with the strangers giving out inoculations that she ended up finishing school and after immigrating to Canada, she returned to help her village. She emphasized that development and change must come from the people being helped themselves. They must decide what they need and they must be in control of their lives, not well meaning strangers.  The people of Sylvia’s village wanted a clinic built. It was built but then they found out they needed electricity and clean water and supplies to run it. Not to mention basic health and irrigation for crops. So they have moved forward with projects for those needs, including micro-businesses.

Diego Marquez-Leon, a male nursing student immigrant from Columbia then spoke. He decided to go somewhere in the world that would be the last place he would want to go. He chose India because he doesn’t like spicy Indian food. That choice led him to work in the slums and in a home for AIDS orphans. He found many rewards and some challenges such as the fact they worked with only the equivilant of a first aid kit.

Jill Gale, RN from Grand River Hospital talked about the hospital pairing with a hospital in Jamaica. Jamaica, where we go as tourists to richly appointed resorts while many of the citizens are mired in poverty and do not have universal health care.  Donors from the States had given the hospital sophisticated equipment but it sat on a balcony rusting because no one knew how to use it or fix it.  The people from Grand River taught “artisans”, basically untrained workers, how to fix the equipment the hospital had and the nurses taught the Jamaican maternity nurses a simple technique for reviving new-born babies that thrilled the people at the Jamaican hospital. Air Canada donated equipment for a birthing room and the artisans were taught how to maintain it. Jamaican nurses came to Canada to learn our techniques for running operating rooms and keeping supplies. A Jamaican doctor came to Canada and taught our doctors and nurses how to do breach births instead of relying on Caesarians.

I am always amazed at the number of people going about quietly changing the world for the better.

The morning gave all of much food for thought or “reflections” as the nurses call it on how to do foreign development and aid well and how to do it badly. A necessity as the world works with Haiti to recover.

The Road Diet

Roads

I’m all for diets. Some work, some don’t.

I was at a seminar a few years ago about changing our cities to be healthier (e.g reducing obesity), less polluting and more people friendly. We were shown pictures of places around the world that are much more pedestrian friendly and I also visited some of these areas when in Portland (And also a six lane road that was not!) People in Portland and Vancouver are statistically healthier than people in Waterloo Region (Oh, we come out badly in those surveys) because of efforts made in their cities.

The City of Waterloo is going to actually narrow a road and may narrow another. It seems to go against the common sense of our car crazed society. Bearinger, which is near where I live, needs some further thought as the road was just repaved as a four lane this past fall. My neighbour, Louise McLaren, wrote a great letter to the Record in support of this “diet”,

http://news.therecord.com/Opinions/LettertotheEditor/article/667089

Davenport is another story. It is a short street between a subdivision and the Conestoga Mall with an industrial park at one end and a dead end to a nursing home at the other. It has traffic to the mall and local homes but I have never found it super busy.

It is, however, with the four lanes, difficult for pedestrians to cross. And we need to make our cities more pedestrian friendly. The new change will have two lanes, cycling lanes, a median and a pedestrian island. The traffic will slow (the wider the road, the more cars speed — watch how that works when you are driving down Northfield then into the new Westmount extension) , and alternate nonpolluting forms of transportation will grow.

Should cars stop for pedestrians?

On my way home from the region in my car today, I had to stop on Albert St. for several university students standing in the middle of the road. The traffic was stopped while a line of summer camp kids crossed the road and headed to the park. The university students were their counsellors.

Presently in Ontario, those councillors were disobeying the Highway Traffic Act because pedestrians do not have the right of way like they do in many other jurisdictions.

But Albert St. is so busy, they would not have been able to get the kids safely across the street or across the street at all if they had to wait for traffic to clear. They could, of course, gone to the pedestrian light a little further up the road.

This was an interesting moment for me as I had just finished a conversation with one of our planners who is on a provincial committee looking into making our province safer for pedestrians. Right now pedestrains have the right of way at roundabouts only and cars must stop for them.

The provincial committee is suggesting changing the traffic act so pedestrians always have the right-of-way. So the campers would be legal.

I wonder what it would do to jaywalking by-laws? Make them redundant, I guess.  In Waterloo, I can cross the street in downtown Waterloo  in mid-block without getting a ticket but in Kitchener, I would get a ticket.

Studies of pedestrians note that they tend to move in a diagonal pattern from store to store if say they are in a mall or on a quiet street.  Does the fact that I can cross mid-block in Waterloo while dodging traffic (though many politely stop) create another reason why Waterloo’s Uptown is healthier than downtown Kitchener?