Category Archives: Newsroom

Posts from the CKMS Newsroom programs, community shows, and associated news sites.

The CKMS Newsroom works to provide a deeper analysis of the issues that impact our communities, than which the mainstream news sources provide.

The CKMS Newsroom is comprised of volunteers and journalists and is organised by the Newsroom Committee:
dan kellar (@dankellar) is the current lieutenant of news with Bob Jonkman as the technical expert and newsie.

From May 2023-March 2024 the CKMS Newsroom is receiving funding from the Community Radio Fund of Canada and Heritage Canada through the “Local Journalism Initiative” project. Check out the country-wide LJI content at frequencynews.ca

The journalists for the LJI project are: MP Holmes, dan kellar

Past newsroom journalists include: Ivan Angelovski, Shalaka Jadhav, and Namish Modi.

Sandbag structures may provide a safe and warm refuge for encampment residents this weather

Tent fires have become a common occurrence in the winter at the Victoria Street encampment in Kitchener and a local housing advocacy group is helping find solutions.

FightBack KW, thinks it might have found an answer. The organization is building temporary sandbag structures that two people can live in and up to six can congregate in.

Fire is a problem because the tents used at the encampment were not designed for winter use. In order to survive the winter outside, people must insulate or warm their tents, which carries huge risks and can be a difficult balance to achieve.

FightBack KW is looking for community partnerships with relevant businesses to fund and help build the structures. The next build day that individuals are welcome to participate in is February 3, this Saturday from 11-dark.

Wren Wombwell of FightBack KW talked to CKMS News about the situation and the sandbag structures.

City of Kitchener votes to repurpose instead of recycle old computers

Kitchener City Council voted unanimously on Monday to divert city-owned end-of-life computer equipment from the e-waste stream.

Instead, the City will donate this equipment to the Working Centre’s Computer Recycling program, which already accepts technology donations and provides low-cost computer equipment to the community.

The city examined the possibility of running this program in-house, but collaborating with the Working Centre provides benefit to the community and makes sense logistically and financially.

The Computer Recycling Program at the Working Centre, at 58 Queen St. in downtown Kitchener, is open two days a week to provide the community with access to affordable technology.

Chief Medical Officer warns of potentially deadly disease on the rise in Waterloo Region

MP Holmes

Invasive Group A Streptococcus (IGAS) – which can cause afflictions from a sore throat to flesh-eating disease – is on the rise in Waterloo.

Chief Medical officer of Health Dr Hsiu-Li Wong presented the respiratory disease update at the Region of Waterloo council meeting on Wednesday evening.

While the overall number of people infected is still low as of early January, the Public Health Agency of Ontario noted that 540 infections were reported in Ontario alone from October 2023 to the end of December. Within this data were 6 children under the age of 9 who succumbed to the disease.

Dr .Wong described symptoms of a severe IGAS infection, which include fever, sore throat, neck pain and rash that continue to worsen.

Epidemiologists do not yet understand why the disease has spiked and recommend taking precautions including proper hand hygiene and staying home when sick.

CKMS News -2024-01-25- Conservation land donation road blocked by a parking lot.

CKMS News – 2024-01-25 – Conservation land donation road blocked by a parking lot

by: dan kellar
A 235 acre donation of farmland and forest in Wilmot to the rare Charitable Research Reserve is on hold over a parking lot. The Schneider family has been working on the donation since 2020 and has now reached out to regional residents to pressure township politicians to finalise the deal.

The land sits on Waterloo’s border and the family has allowed light recreational use of the forest for decades, with some trail users parking along nearby roads. Now, citing safety and liability concerns, the township is requesting a parking lot be built to accommodate future land use. However, project proponents say the request will damage sensitive areas while burdening the charity with added maintenance costs.

This show features an interview with Dr. Stephanie Sobek-Swant, the executive director of rare, along with a quote from the Schneider family’s statement, and the short comment a township representative made to CKMS News.

Region opts for wait and see approach for Erb’s Road outdoor shelter closure

The debate over the future of the outdoor shelter at 1001 Erb’s Road was reignited at the Region of Waterloo Community and Health Services Committee on January 16.

The Region must either find a solution to the wastewater management problem at the site or move the shelter altogether before April 2025. While some councillors wanted staff to begin to work on a wind down plan, others thought it could wait.

The site, at 1001 Erb’s Rd, sits beside the landfill just west of the Wilmot line, making it primarily a concern for Wilmot Township.

Councillor and Wilmot mayor Natasha Salonen’s motion was a response to the admission at the November 7 Community and Health Services Committee meeting in which regional staff told council there was no plan in place for the shelter to draw to a close. Regardless, Councillor Salonen’s motion was defeated.

Birds of prey numbers fall in recent Christmas bird count

The 2023 Christmas Bird Count in Kitchener recorded a decreased number of birds of prey, such as american kestrels and rough legged hawks, compared to previous years, according to Ethan Gosnell, the local coordinator for the international project.

The Christmas Bird Count takes place across North America, allowing for tracking of winter bird populations and distributions. It is organized by Audubon in the USA, and the in Canada by Birds Canada. In 2023, the Christmas Bird Count marked its 90th year in Waterloo Region.

Ethan discussed the rising numbers of some more typical summer birds in the Christmas count, in particular, the green winged teal, and what happens to these warmer weather birds when the seasonal freezing weather sets in.

CKMS News -2024-01-17- Counseling program for survivors of sexual assault seeks public funding as demand exceeds government support.

2024-01-17 – Counseling program for survivors of sexual assault seeks public funding as demand exceeds government support

by; dan kellar

Ongoing disagreements between the regional and provincial government for responsibility in funding the programs which support survivors of sexual assault and gender based violence have left many of those progams chronically underfunded. In Waterloo Region, this underfunding leaves the providers of those programs pleading for donations from local residents.

In November 2023, the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region announced they had received a “transformative” donation of 250,000$ from Waterloo based millionaires Bob and Judy Astley. SASC has said the donation will “go towards a much-needed expansion of SASC’s Individual Counseling Program, which has seen unprecedented service requests in recent years.”  There are over 200 survivors on the counseling waiting list.

This show features interviews with Sara Casselman, the executive director of SASCWR, and regional councilor for Cambridge Pam Wolf. The show also includes comments provided to CKMS News by the Ontario Ministry of Children, Community, and Social Services.

 

Amidst a tainted drug supply, drug testing in Waterloo Region saves lives

In early January, Consumption and Treatment Services (CTS) in Kitchener announced through Instagram that 18 out of 30 – or 60% — of fentanyl samples tested also contained the animal sedative, xylazine.

Leigh Wardlaw of CTS talked to CKMS news about xylazine, why it is added to the supply, the health impacts, and the wider problem of adulterating drugs.

Leigh also explains the importance and impact of testing, and how to access the service. Although, that access may be limited as CTS’s current funding ends at the end of March, leaving the service with an uncertain future.

Some research cited in the story:

CKMS News – 2024-01-05 – Council approves University of Waterloo plan to partially transform a parking lot into a 12 story student residence.

CKMS News – 2024-01-05 – Waterloo Council approves University of Waterloo plan to partially transform a parking lot into a 12 story student residence


by: dan kellar

In Waterloo’s final open city council session of 2023, site-specific by-law and zoning changes were approved to allow a new residence at the University of Waterloo. The 510 bed, twelve-story building will be constructed on the northern section of the parking lot that sits between University Ave, Seagram Drive, and the Spur Line Trail.  

First announced by the university in September of 2023, the new residence is now a collaboration with architect Diamond and Schmitt and will mainly house first year students. The University of Waterloo guarantees housing for all first year students, however, most upper-year students must compete for housing off-campus.

This show features audio from the December 11th meeting where staff presented the project, the architect spoke alongside representatives from the University of Waterloo and consultant GSP group,  and delegates proposed even more car parking lots being transformed into human living spaces.  Councilors voted unanimously for the motion.

Singing for peace in Waterloo and across North America

Over 200 people went to Waterloo City Hall on Tuesday December 19  to sing for peace. The  ‘Mennonite Day of Action Hymn Sing for a Ceasefire’ was put on by the group Mennonite Action, which says it is a movement of Mennonites who believe they have a responsibility to speak out for peace and justice.

Sam Ramer of Mennonite Action talked about the purpose of the hymn sing and why they are focusing on Palestine.

But Mennonite Action’s event was not only in Waterloo. On December 19, over two thousand people came to sing hymns in 42 cities and towns across North America.

Thank you to A.S. Compton, for permission to play their recording of the hymn sing  on the show.

Homelessness organization obtains funding amid accusations of unfairness and inequity

Tensions simmered when the topic of A Better Tent City (ABTC) came up at the last Waterloo Regional Council meeting of 2023. ABTC is tiny home community in Kitchener that currently houses 50 chronic homeless people.

On one side were those who supported the motion from Councillor and Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic which granted $236,390 for the next two years to ABTC. On the other side were those who said the grant was unfair and inequitable.

Several Councillors insisted the wording of Councillor Vrbanovic’s motion be removed as they felt it was insulting to staff. Another criticism arose because six other groups had been denied original funding but did not afterwards ask Council for money, some councillors felt this was unfair and inequitable

Despite the criticism, Council carried Councillor Vrbanovic’s motion granting ABTC $236,390 for the next two years

CKMS News – 2023-12-22- Cambridge council votes against investigating affordable home builds above city parking lots

CKMSNews-2023-12-22-Cambridge Rejects Affordable Housing in Parking Lots Study

by: dan kellar

Cambridge – Joined by 4 city councilors on December 19th, Cambridge mayor Jan Liggett voted against a motion to investigate the plausibility building affordable housing in raised buildings above city owned parking lots.

The motion, brought forward by ward 7 councilor Scott Hamilton was supported by all the delegates who presented at the meeting including resident Matthew Rodgers, the advocacy groups “Citizens for Cambridge”, “For the City”, and “Waterloo Region Yes In My Backyard”, and as stated by councilor Earnshaw, the Cambridge Business Improvement Association was also on board.

Despite strong support for the motion from delegates, and the voting support of councilors Kimpson, Earnshaw,  Roberts, and Hamilton, the motion was ultimately defeated, wIth Mayor Liggett suggesting churches should be converting their own parking lots for housing.  Before calling the vote, Liggett stated that voting “no” does not mean that a councilor is against building affordable housing.

Cambridge MP leads the right-to-repair revolution

On October 18 of this year, the House of Commons unanimously passed the right to repair amendment under the Copyright Act (Bill C-244). The bill, originally tabled by Cambridge MP Bryan May, will allow the circumvention of a technological protection measure (TMP) so long as it is for diagnosis, maintenance, or repair purposes.

TPMs are meant to protect proprietary information or software, but they also inhibit an individual’s right and ability to repair any device that they own, and so often devices end up in landfills. Waste diversion concerns are among the key reasons for this amendment, as is the expense that repair places on people.

Murray Zink is the founder of 4RepairKW and the UW Repair Hub and has been promoting repair for many years. CKMS News talked to both Bryan May and Murray Zink.

 

 

New Waterloo Region hospital site to be announced in springtime

Waterloo Region residents will know the site of their new hospital by spring, according to the presidents of local hospitals.

The presidents, Ron Gagnon, Hospital President and CEO, Grand River Hospital, and Mark Fam, President, St. Mary’s Hospital, updated Kitchener City Council on the plans for a new hospital and new hospital system in Waterloo Region.

They are waiting for site selection to be finalized and for approval from the Ministry of Health before proceeding to the next phase of planning in spring 2024. The next phase will consist of functional programming, which determines what programs and services will be accommodated in the new facilities, and what resources are required to make that happen.

The main priorities currently are to identify the preferred site for the new hospital and to create a vision for working together in shared facilities.

Waterloo Region all-councils meeting ends a difficult year on a note of hope

This year has been another year full of frustration, if not outright despair, for housing in Waterloo Region. But at the all-councils meeting on December 15, Build Now Waterloo Region offered some hope.

Build Now Waterloo Region is a new local collaboration of for-profit and not-for profit groups which was announced back in July.  The objective of the coalition is to build 10,000 non-market and perpetually non-profit homes by 2030.

Philip Mills, the chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity Waterloo Region, one of the central players in this initiative, updated the all-council’s meeting on this ground-breaking project.

Of these 10,000 homes, 7,000 will be available for purchase and 3,000 will be available for rent.  A one bedroom home is set to sell for $280,000, a two bedroom for $330,000 and a three bedroom for $400,000. This project will specifically prevent ‘flipping,’ investment property acquisition, or other profit-seeking schemes.

Increased number of firework-related complaints sparks concern and action on Kitchener City Council

Of the three firework celebrations allowed in Kitchener in 2023, Diwali fireworks drew the most complaints, leaving Mayor Berry Vrbanovic to speculate if this reflects less tolerance in the community towards the Hindu festival.

Other councillors believed it was more of a lack of education by both those setting off the fireworks and those calling the bylaw office to complain.  To counter this, new fireworks regulations include a comprehensive education campaign to educate residents and an increase in the number of bylaw enforcement officers on duty from two to eight for firework days.

Councillor Ayo Owodunni announced that 184 complaints were made to the bylaw office regarding fireworks in 2023, with Diwali accounting for 63 of these, Victoria Day, 54 and Canada Day, 32. Complaints are likely underreported as email/phone complaints after the fact are not included in these totals.

The motion introducing these new regulations about non-compliance with city’s fireworks regulations was carried.

CKMS News -2023-12-15- First stage of approvals for housing development on former Kraus Flooring factory site

CKMS News – 2023-12-15 – First stage of approvals for housing development on former Kraus Flooring factory site

by: dan kellar

Waterloo – On December 11th, following discussion, presentations, and legal clarifications, the first stages of a 12-tower development on the former Kraus Flooring factory lands in North Waterloo were approved through a unanimous vote from city councilors. With support for the project and the necessary changes to the site’s zoning and by-laws, the developer can move further into project planning.  

This show features clips from the council meeting, focusing on updates to the original 2021 site plan, the status of a pedestrian bridge over the adjacent highway, and questions about promises for affordable and attainable housing in this purpose built rental development which features a proposed total of 5,452 bedrooms in 3,353 residential units.

Delegates included site owner Richard Boyer of 65 Northfield Drive Inc, consultant Chris Pidgeon of GSP Group, and Waterloo resident Ashwin Annamalai. Councilors Hanmer, Bodaly, Roe, Freeman, and Vasic also spoke, as did Mayor McCabe.

Waterloo resident battles the perfectly manicured lawn

Waterloo City is moving closer to loosening restrictions on front lawn grass, making way for increased naturalization.

After three years of responding to neighbours’ complaints about the length of her grass to bylaw, Waterloo resident Masha Kuznetsova asked Waterloo City Council on Monday night  for changes to Bylaw No. 2011-123, the Lot maintenance bylaw.

She asked the city to increase grass height of up to 40 cm (15.7 inches) and to reduce the requirement for a buffer strip around a naturalized area. Currently in the city of Waterloo, the maximum allowed grass height is 20 cm (8 inches). While the current buffer strip regulation is 1 metre, proposed changes to the by-law would reduce the buffer strip to 30 cm (11.8 inches).

Staff explained they receive about 400-800 long grass complaints per season.

Also in the meeting the city’s transportation services presented new boulevard garden guidelines which will allow for increased naturalization in lawns and on boulevards throughout the City of Waterloo. In addition, the city parks department kicked off the park’s urban forest management strategy by examining rules regarding trees on private property.

Listen to the story above:

The people versus a developer: Kitchener City Council defers tough decision

The rental housing crisis was on full display in front of Kitchener City Council on Monday night.

A proposed 13-storey mixed-use building at 93-99 Benton Street and 39-43 St. George Street, within the Cedar Hill neighbourhood in Kitchener, would offer 96 new units but would also demolish the 13 current affordable units, evicting the current tenants.

Eric Schneider, Senior Planner at the City of Kitchener laid out what the developer is asking for and the arrangements with the current residents.

The applicant, Ideal Capital Limited from Mississauga, a self-proclaimed ‘premium’ real estate developer, answered Council’s questions and, after their request, indicated he would meet with residents.

Thirteen delegates asked Council to reject this proposal. Delegates included three representatives from a local tenants’ rights group (ACORN WR), several current residents of the townhouses, and neighbours from the Cedar Hill community.

Against several of the delegates’ wishes, City Council chose to defer their decision until the January 22, 2024 meeting.

 

Listen to the show above:

City of Kitchener must decide how to fill vacant council seat

The election of Aislinn Clancy to provincial politics leaves the Ward 10 seat empty.

At City Council on December 4, Mayor Barry Vrbanovic congratulated out-going councillor and MPP-elect Aislinn Clancy on her byelection win on November 30 and put forward the City’s options.

Once Clancy resigns and the Ward 10 seat is officially declared vacant, Kitchener city council will have 60 days to decide whether by appointment or a by-election to fill the seat.

While the cost of a by-election is a important consideration, with roughly three years still left in the mandate, some residents believe the Ward 10 seat should be decided by the electorate.

The last regular municipal election was on October 24, 2022, and the next election is scheduled for Monday, October 26, 2026, which is just under three years away.

Listen to the story above:

International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people marked by Scotiabank protests in Uptown Waterloo

The UN International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on Wednesday was marked with a protest outside Scotiabank in uptown Waterloo.

November 29 is the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, marks the passage of the United Nations Resolution 181 on November 29, 1947, which partitioned Palestine into Arab and Jewish states.

The group was protesting the bank’s involvement with Elbit Systems, which is the primary provider of drones and land-based equipment to the the Israeli military, and called on them to divest from the company.

The protest itself was peaceful and lasted for about 90 minutes during which Scotiabank locked its door and called police. Police questioned protestors but left soon after. Scotiabank refused comment, but in an email to Reuters earlier this week, the bank accused protestors of spreading misinformation and hate speech. Scotiabank stated their exposure to Elbit is via mutual funds managed by their asset management arm.That mutual fund is Scotiabank’s 1832 Asset Management mutual fund which is the third-biggest shareholder in Elbit.

In 2021, Elbit reported revenue of 5.28 billion USD.

This protest against Scotiabank follows several others in recent week, including on November 14, at the Giller Prize ceremony, which celebrates Canadian literature and which is sponsored by the bank, and on November 17 on Bay Street in Toronto.

Listen to the story above:

Kitchener Centre by-election: candidates’ ideas and approaches to the redevelopment of the former Charles Street bus station

In the middle of downtown Kitchener, in between City Hall and Victoria Park, is one of the last pieces of available prime real estate in downtown Kitchener. The former Charles St. bus terminal at Gaukel St and Charles St, which sits on 2.94 acres, has sat empty and for the most part unused, since 2019.

The building, which still stands, was designed by local modernist architect John Lingwood in 1989. The property, which is currently being considered for a number of projects, is owned by the Region of Waterloo (who own 88%) and the City of Kitchener (who own 12%), but regardless of who owns it, the community, including the member of provincial parliament, will be part of whatever comes next.

With the Kitchener Centre by-election this week, CKMS took the opportunity to ask the four front-runner candidates, what do they personally think would be an appropriate use of that space and how would that benefit the people of the region?

The four main candidates are Rob Elliott of the Progressive Conservatives, Debbie Chapman of the NDP, Kelly Steiss of the Ontario Liberal party, and Aislinn Clancy of the Ontario Greens. Many attempts over 10 days were made to contact the Progressive Conservative candidate Rob Elliott, but we did not hear back from the PCs in time for broadcast.

In answer to our question, Kelly Steiss focused on the importance of collaboration and how her experience will lend itself well to the development of the project.

Aislinn Clancy also focused on the importance of collaboration and in addition the need to include and manifest Kitchener and regional-specific values.

Debbie Chapman talked about the property’s split ownership and the suggestions that she has heard, including turning it into an indigenous centre with a drop in centre and affordable housing, or extending Victoria Park into the site, moving the entertainment centre, the Kitchener Aud, to the site, or building a conference centre for the space.

Advance voting has closed, and reports show over 5400 people took advantage of the early voting. You can vote in person on election day from 9 AM to 9 PM (Eastern Time) at your assigned voting location based on your home address.

This is one in a series of shows about the Kitchener Centre by-election and in which we ask candidates some of the less-asked questions that are important to our community.

Kitchener Centre by-election: candidates explain how progress can be made as a minority party at Queen’s Park.

The Kitchener centre by-election is this week, November 30, and while the outcome is still far from clear, there is little faith that the elected representative will have any impact in the house.

The four main candidates are Rob Elliott of the Progressive Conservatives, Debbie Chapman of the NDP, Kelly Steiss of the Ontario Liberal party, and Aislinn Clancy of the Ontario Greens.

Three attempts over 10 days were made to contact the Progressive Conservative candidate Rob Elliot, but we did not hear back from the PCs in time for broadcast.

The last provincial election was held in 2022 and of the 124 seats in Queen’s Park, the PC have 80 seats, NDP have 28, Liberals have 9 and the Greens have 1. So unless Rob Elliott is elected, the MPP will be in the minority.  So given that the Kitchener Centre by-election this week, CKMS took the opportunity to ask the four front-runner candidates, how will you participate in the process when you are not a decision-maker but rather as a member of a minority party. In what areas do you see yourself contributing? What committees do you want to focus on?

NDP is the only other party in the house, and they are the official opposition. Debbie Chapman attributes the Ford government’s reversal on the Greenbelt to Marit Stiles. Chapman believes the NDP can win the next election.

Kelly Steiss of the Liberals noted that because the Liberals don’t have official party status, it requires MPPs to be very well connected with and to listen to constituents for when the party does have the opportunity to speak, she will be ready.

Aislinn Clancy of the Greens used the example of how Mike Morrice has been effective in Federal parliament, working collaboratively and across party lines. She focuses on putting the needs of people ahead of partisan politics.

This is one in a series of shows about the Kitchener Centre by-election in which we ask candidates some of the lesser-asked questions that are important to our community.

Kitchener Centre by-election: will the new MPP have any impact in Doug Ford’s Ontario?

Residents of Kitchener Centre provincial election will choose their new MPP this week, in a by-election influenced  as much by party politics as much as local politics.

The former MPP, Laura Mae Lindo, resigned the seat she held for the NDP in July.

The NDP candidate is Debbie Chapman who has served on Kitchener City Council for almost five years as councillor for Ward 9, and she teaches political science at Wilfrid Laurier University.

The Liberal Party candidate is Kelly Steiss, who has worked in municipal government for over two decades. She has volunteered in different capacities to help social inclusion, including as a member of the Mayor’s Task Force for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Steiss has also been the president for the Waterloo Rotary Club.

Aislinn Clancy  is running for the Green Party of Ontario. Clancy is currently the Ward 10 councillor for the City of Kitchener and is also the deputy leader of the Ontario Greens. Previously, Clancy worked as a social worker for the Waterloo Catholic District School Board.

Progressive Conservative candidate Rob Elliott has experience in the transportation and government sectors and a former PC party vice-president and regional organizer. Mr. Elliott does not live in Kitchener. He lives in Keswick, north of Toronto.

We spoke to University of Waterloo Political Science Professor Emeritus Robert J. Williams. During his 35 year career at Waterloo, Professor Williams taught courses on provincial, Ontario and municipal government and politics.From 1994 until 2003 he was Academic Director of the Ontario Legislature Internship Programme at Queen’s Park. He has conducted or advised on ward boundary and electoral system reviews in more than twenty-five Ontario municipalities, and testified as an expert witness before the Ontario Municipal Board in several cases involving electoral arrangements. Professor Williams has also served as President of Municipal Cultural Planning Inc., a not-for-profit organization created in late 2009 to advance the practice of municipal cultural planning in communities across Ontario.

Professor Williams provided some history of the Kitchener Centre riding and context for the by-election. He noted that the riding had voted liberal for fifteen years before the previous MPP Laura Mae Lindo and the NDP took the seat in 2018.

Professor Williams noted the fact that Rob Elliott does not live in the constituency is telling and questions why the PCs could not find anyone in the riding to run.

While the PC party casts a long shadow on this byelection, the larger political parties may also influence voters. Professor Williams talks about these wider influences and their possible impact in the Kitchener by-election.The Liberals are currently without a leader and will be holding a leadership convention on December 2. The Green party has one MPP, but the positive reputation of the Green MP Mike Morrice, may also influence voters. And while the NDP have managed to survive a controversy, Professor Williams wondered if it would cause any repercussions at the voting booth.

Professor Williams mentioned the Sarah Jama controversy, which happened when Sarah Jama a NDP MPP from Hamilton expressed sympathy for the current situation in Palestine. Marit Stiles, the leader of the NDP, kicked Jama out of the NDP caucus saying Jama had broken the trust of her colleagues. Then the Kitchener Centre NDP riding issued a statement alleging Stiles was “out of touch with the one million Muslims in Ontario.” The journalist Sabrina Nanji of the Queens Park Observer interviewed Chapman about the situation and she replied she had no knowledge of the letter. She was not aware of the letter and was not involved in its publication, in fact she said the letter blindsided her. Chapman noted three members who were involved in writing the letter resigned, and she stands by Stiles.

Professor Williams was not entirely optimisitic that the new MPP will have a lot of influence, “You are not determining who will be the premier but you are choosing someone who will … contribute as a member of a party to deliberations.”

The former MPP, Laura Mae Lindo, resigned the seat she held for the NDP in July. The Kitchener Centre riding has a population of about 105,260 and is about 42 km2. The person who does win the riding could have approximately 3 years in the job before the next election. The surrounding constituencies – Kitchener South Hespeler and Kitchener Conestoga are both held by PC MPPs, while the Waterloo riding is currently held by the NDP.

This is one in a series of shows about the Kitchener Centre by-election in which we ask candidates some of the lesser-asked questions that are important to our community.

Kitchener Centre by-election: candidates offer ideas to solve child care chaos in the riding

The reason the Kitchener Centre by-election was called is because the previous MPP, Laura Mae Lindo, stepped down and one of the challenges she cited was the difficulty of obtaining childcare.

In a presentation this past April to regional council, the Region of Waterloo Community and Children’s Services reported as of February, a total of 7,214 children ages 0 to 4 years were on the waitlist for a licensed child care space in Waterloo Region. The population of Kitchener Centre is about 19.7% of the entire region. (Kitchener Centre’s population, according to 2016 figures, which are the latest available, was 105,260 and the Regional population that same year was 535,154).  The government has announced beginning next year that the starting wage for Early Childhood educators employed by operators in the Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care (CWELCC) system will increase to $23.86/hour.

With the Kitchener Centre by-election this week, CKMS took the opportunity to ask the four front-runner candidates what they think about the state of childcare in the region, the pay rise and, how if elected MPP, they will be able to influence staff hiring and retention?

The four main candidates are Rob Elliott of the Progressive Conservatives, Debbie Chapman of the NDP, Kelly Steiss of the Ontario Liberal party, and Aislinn Clancy of the Ontario Greens.  Three attempts over 10 days were made to contact the Progressive Conservative candidate Rob Elliot, but we did not hear back from the PCs in time for broadcast.

In response to our question, Aislinn Clancy focused on space and labour. She said that parts of the riding are a childcare desert, and Clancy believes more can be done to incentivise underused buildings such as community centres and churches, to develop childcare centres. Clancy also focused on bringing more respect to the profession of early childhood education and in doing so, continue to increase their pay.

Debbie Chapman said that she would like to see free childcare. She also noted that ten dollar a day care is great, but the waiting lists are very long and that puts parents in difficult situations.

Kelly Steiss noted that even though there is 10$ /day childcare, there aren’t enough workers to keep the system going. She was disappointed it took the Ontario government so long to sign on to the federal agreement. Steiss said early childhood educators do important work and paying them well is an investment in our future.  She also noted that $23.86 is a good place to start in relations with these workers.

This is one in a series of shows about the Kitchener Centre by-election in which we ask candidates some of the lesser-asked questions that are important to our community.