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.

CKMS News -2024-05-14- Gaza solidarity encampment launched at the University of Waterloo

CKMS News -2024-05-14- Gaza Solidarity Encampment Launched At the University of Waterloo

by: dan kellar

Waterloo – Dozens of people converged at the University of Waterloo’s main campus on Monday morning to launch a Gaza solidarity encampment. The group’s “OccupyUWaterloo” Instagram page calls the encampment “Gaza House”

The group says the university is complicit in the current siege on Palestinians by the Israeli military, which has resulted in over 35,000 people dead, tens of thousands more injured or missing, and the majority destruction of Gazan infrastructure, including all universities and hospitals. The group is calling for divestment from weapons manufacturers and institutions which support the occupation of Palestine, and “an end to UW’s financial and academic ties to the genocidal and apartheid state of Israel.”

These demands share similarities from the demands from encampments set up at over a dozen other universities in Canada.

This show features an interview with Gaza House encampment spokesperson Nick Joseph. Also included is the statement UW provided, and Waterloo mayor Dorothy McCabe reacting to the encampment.

 

Wordsworthy Literary Award marks 40 years of independent bookselling in Waterloo

MP Holmes
Waterloo, ON

To commemorate its 40th anniversary, the only independent bookstore in Waterloo, Wordsworth Books, has revived the Wordsworthy Literary Award. The award, presented for the first time in several years, recognizes outstanding literary contributions from Canadian authors and is intertwined with the bookstore’s history.

One of the owners of Wordsworth Books, Mandy Brouse, explains why the award has been revived and how it connects with the store’s history. Over the past 40 years, Wordsworth Books has weathered the challenges to its business, including recessions, the ION LRT construction, and the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to the loyalty of its customer base.

The winner of the 2024 Wordsworthy Literary Award will be announced at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 11 at the store’s Uptown Waterloo location.

CKMS News -2024-05-08- Waterloo mayor McCabe delivers “State of the City” address

2024-05-08- Mayor McCabe delivers Waterloo ‘State of the City’ address

by: dan kellar

Waterloo – Waterloo’s annual State of the City was delivered on May 2nd by mayor Dorthy McCabe at Wilfrid Laurier University, and was full of celebration of the current work the city is doing, and enthusiasm for the future.

The mayor focused significantly on the work the city is doing on housing, climate action, community building, infrastructure, service delivery, and affordability and she noted the interconnectedness of these topics throughout her speech. 

McCabe also celebrated the youth of the city and the students of the region’s high schools, post-secondary institutions throughout the speech, saying of the “council for the day” students “Waterloo’s future looks very very bright”.

The State of the City was organised by the Rotary Club of Waterloo and raised over 15,000$ for Supportive Housing of Waterloo, an organisation which helps people who have experienced long periods homelessness with housing and other support services.

Pedestrian collisions adding up in Waterloo Region

MP Holmes
Kitchener, ON

recent hit-and-run incident in North Waterloo is the third such occurrence in Waterloo Region since the beginning of 2024. Thus far, in 2024 alone, the WRPS has publicly reported 22 pedestrian-related collisions locally. Various factors contribute to these incidents, including distracted drivers and distracted pedestrians.

The impacts of being hit by a car can be serious and the increased size of vehicles can contribute to more severe injuries. While attempts to increase driver accountability have so far failed at Queen’s Park, police have trained their focus on preventative measures and awareness to improve road safety.

The show features an interview with Waterloo Regional Police Services staff sergeant Scott Griffiths and insights from Janice Jim, the chair of the City of Waterloo Active Transportation Committee and vice president of CycleWR.

CKMS News -2024-05-03- Kitchener donates land for not-for-profit housing project, as MPP urges province to do the same.

CKMS News -2024-05-03- Kitchener donates land for not-for-profit housing project, as MPP urges province to do the same.

by: dan kellar

Kitchener – On April 29th, Kitchener city council approved a land donation to a not-for-profit to build affordable housing.  Habitat for Humanity will receive the land and have most development fees waived, and in return they will build more than 60 homes, including larger three and four-bedroom units, and smaller studio, one, and two-bedroom units”.

As of January 2024, more than 8000 people remain on the affordable housing waitlist in Waterloo Region alone, waiting years for assistance. However, Kitchener Centre Green Party MPP Aislinn Clancy’s new motion may address waitlists across the province as it calls on the provincial government to use provincial land to build affordable housing. 

This show features interviews with Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic and MPP Clancy, who is also a former Kitchener city councilor. Mayor Vrbanovic focuses on how projects like this are helping to meet the city’s housing goals, while MPP Clancy discusses her new motion.

Kitchener City Council approves $250 Million Plan for Net Zero Emissions by 2050

MP Holmes
Kitchener, ON

At its April 29 Council meeting, Kitchener City Council approved a $250 million capital grant over 25 years ($10 million per year) to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

This decision, part of the city’s second corporate climate action plan named Pivot Net Zero, aims to significantly reduce emissions primarily from city facilities and the city vehicular fleet. In an earlier show this week, CKMS spoke to city staff about these changes.

These goals come amidst various challenges including technological uncertainties and financial constraints. Despite these hurdles, the plan has garnered unanimous support from the council, emphasizing the need to set a positive example for the community and act urgently in the face of the climate emergency declared by the city in June 2019.

The plan aligns with the city’s broader strategic goals of cultivating a green city.

CKMS News – 2024-04-27 – “Pivot Net Zero” to continue energy transition and electrification of Kitchener’s fleet as part of updated climate action plan.

CKMS News -2024-04-27- “Pivot Net Zero” to continue energy transition and electrification of Kitchener’s fleet as part of updated climate action plan.


by: dan kellar
Kitchener –
Kitchener’s
Corporate Climate Action Plan, has been guiding the city’s to transition away from carbon intensive energy sources, with version 2.0 prominently featuring “Pivot Net Zero”. The electrification of cars, light utility vehicles, and hand tools is already well underway, and staff continue to explore new avenues of reducing carbon emissions with larger trucks and equipment.

The city has reported a “payoff” in staff experience due to electrification, citing a reduction in exposure to fumes, noise, and the weight of equipment. Economic savings have also been noticed through maintenance costs and energy efficiency. 

This show features interviews with Kitchener’s director of Fleet, Matthew Lynch, and the city’s corporate sustainability officer, Anna Marie Cipriani, who speak about the city’s ongoing efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for both their fleet and buildings. Kitchener city council will vote on April 29th endorse the updated Corporate Climate Action Plan.

Transit desert shrinks with restored late-nite bus service in Waterloo

MP Holmes
Kitchener, ON

Waterloo Region Council agreed to restore a late night bus three nights a week, which will help deal with the “transit desert” that has impacted late-night GO bus riders.

The last transit bus of the night leaves the University of Waterloo Station by 12:20 am but still four more GO buses arrive after that time each night without connecting GRT services.

The motion, which passed at the meeting on Wednesday, April 25th, will restore Route 91, the late night bus service between the University of Waterloo, Laurier and Uptown Waterloo.

Grand River Transit will reintroduce Route 91 in early September and the bus will run from 12. 30am until 2am Thursday to Saturday.

In this program, two delegates who were present at the meeting describe their relief and concerns about future late night transit.

After a mild winter, get ready for a hot summer in the city

MP Holmes
Kitchener, ON

 

The weather last winter in Waterloo Region was mild and unstable, just as predicted. This variable weather is expected to continue into a hot, dry summer with potential serious repercussions on our community.

These predictions follow an unusual year of weather, complicated by global weather disturbances, including El Niño. According to the University of Waterloo weather station, the winter snowfall amount as of the end of March was at less than half of the average of the typical season.

Milder winter temperatures are causing other concerns as well. With the U. S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that in 2023 24, the ice cover on the Great Lakes reached a record low of less than 3 percent ice cover basin wide.

Dr. Annabella Bonata, research associate and manager of the Intact Center for Climate Adaptation at the University of Waterloo explains the dynamics responsible for our changing weather patterns, emphasizing the potential consequences and highlighting the need for adaptation.

CKMS News -2024-04-22- Waterloo’s housing accelerator program gets CMHC approval

CKMS News -2024-04-22- Waterloo’s housing accelerator program gets CMHC approval


by: dan kellar

Waterloo – At the April 15th council meeting of the city of Waterloo, the senior policy planner for growth management, Michelle Lee, presented on the city’s housing accelerator program, including potential add-on effects from the recent federal budget.

While funding for the project was approved “in principle” by the federal government last year, the city had to first send their plan to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.  With the CHMC’s recent approval of all 8 points in the city’s plan, the work can begin.

According to the city’s webpage the project will accelerate new building construction while increasing the supply of housing, streamline the development approvals and building permit process, and “support long lasting systemic changes”.

This show features Lee’s presentation to council and answers to questions posed by councilors Roe, Bodaly, Vasic, Wright, and Mayor McCabe, who asked about the plan, and how the programs would be implemented.

Recycling and giving back — celebrating Earth Day in Waterloo Park

MP Holmes
Kitchener, ON

Amid bursts of hail, rain and snow, Earth Day celebrations in Waterloo Park included collecting e-waste to raise funds for the Tune Up the Playground project. The Earth Day event, organized by Friends of Waterloo Park, also featured sunflower seed planting, a park clean up and community organizations, such as the KW Library of Things, that promote the sharing and repairing of consumer goods.

While the amount raised was still to be determined, the goal of the Tune Up the Playground project is to install interactive musical instruments in Waterloo Park to promote creativity and community engagement.

CKMS News -2024-04-19- Kitchener’s RISE Fund address systemic barriers and underfunding of Black, Indigenous and racialized community organisations

CKMS News -2024-04-19- Kitchener’s RISE Fund

by: dan kellar
Kitchener – Applications for Kitchener’s Racialized and Indigenous Supports for Equity (RISE) Fund are open until May 2nd and the city has already received more applications than in past funding cycles.

Since 2022, the RISE Fund has awarded nearly 250,000$ to 34 organisations. The grants have funded everything from community garden and swim program projects, to film festivals and community feasts, to gendered based violence prevention programs and a project which works to reunite families displaced by conflict in Syria.

CKMS News spoke with Rea Parchment, the senior equity advisor for the City of Kitchener, about the importance of the grant in helping to address inequities, and support opportunities and well-being for Black, Indigenous and racialized community-led organisations.

To get more information about the RISE fund, visit kitchener.ca/RISEFund.

 

CKMS News -2024-04-19- Lawyer contracted by Waterloo Police Services fired as a result of charges in Thunder Bay

CKMS News -2024-04-19- Police Lawyer Fired After Being Charged With Obstruction And Breach Of Trust

by: dan kellar
Kitchener – On April 9th 2024, an external counsel for the Waterloo Regional police and the former internal legal counsel for the Thunder Bay police, Holly Walbourne was arrested by the OPP and charged for actions which they say took place while she was still working for the police force in the northern Ontario Town. 

Walbourne was retained by the WRPS for her legal services in May 2023, however, police spokesperson Cherri Greeno wrote to CKMS News that “As a result of allegations that are currently before the courts, WRPS has discontinued this contractual agreement.” 

Walbourne has been charged alongside former Thunder Bay police chief Sylvie Hauth. The two are charged with obstructing a public or peace officer, breach of trust, and multiple counts of obstruction of justice. 

This show features an interview with Patrick Watson, an assistant professor of criminology at the University of Toronto, who researches policing and police oversight.  He explains how communication works between police forces, and why the hiring of Walbourne may have happened despite the issues in Thunder Bay.

CKMS News -2024-04-09- Local climbing gym fights a developer and displacement

CKMS News -2024-04-09- GRR at City Council

MP Holmes.

Kitchener –
For the second time in as many years, Grand River Rocks, a climbing gym in Kitchener, Ontario, is fighting to stay in business due to urban development plans.

At the Kitchener City Council Planning and Strategic Initiatives Committee meeting on Monday April 8, the owners of Grand River Rocks expressed concerns over a lease they signed without knowledge of redevelopment plans. Council has been asked by the developer, the Falco group, to approve the project that would see more than 1000 new residential units on Victoria Street North, and if that approval is granted, the gym would need to relocate.

The Kitchener city councilors questioned the gym’s decisions and proposed collaborating with developers. They deferred the decision to allow more time for debate.

CKMS News -2024-04-12- Public Health orders student suspensions over vaccinations records while facilitating adherence to immunization rules

CKMS News -2024-04-14- Public Health orders student suspensions over vaccinations records while facilitating adherence to immunization rules

by: dan kellar

Waterloo –
Nearly 7,000 secondary school students in Waterloo Region have been told they will be suspended on May 1st for having out-of-date vaccination records.  The order, from Region of Waterloo public health was announced on April 8th and follows the suspension of 2969 elementary school students on March 27th for the same issue.

The suspensions are allowed under the Immunization of School Pupils Act which, as the Waterloo Region District School Board told CKMS News “requires families and caregivers to ensure that their children receive specific vaccinations.” Students without a medical or ideological exemption must be up to date on up to 9 vaccines. COVID Immunization is not on the required vaccine list.

David Aoki, the Director of Infectious Disease and Chief Nursing Officer for Region of Waterloo Public Health spoke with CKMS News about the seemingly high number of suspensions, and how students and families can get suspensions lifted.

Blooming roadsides restore habitats for pollinators

MP Holmes
Kitchener, ON

A few years ago, it was common for car windshields to be spattered with bugs after a drive in the country. According to Jennifer Leat of the Pollinator Roadsides Project, that’s not happening so much anymore. There are fewer bugs, and fewer bugs equals fewer pollinators.

A community driven project to help pollinators will be happening on Saturday April 13 to restore habitat corridors for pollinators by planting pollinator-friendly native plants along roadsides.

Backed by a grant from the Region of Waterloo’s Community Environment Fund with support from volunteers and sponsors, the Pollinator Roadside Project seeks to increase biodiversity, support pollinator conservation, reduce maintenance costs, and control water runoff. The project also hopes to set a provincial and national precedent for prioritizing sustainability in roadside plantings.

Jennifer Leat, Lead of the Pollinator Roadsides project talks to CKMS about the project and the importance of pollinators.

The rise of ticks and lyme disease in Waterloo Region

MP Holmes
Kitchener, ON

 

In 2023, the Ontario government designated Lyme disease a disease of public health significance.

Lyme disease, a combination of skin rashes, fevers, headaches, and fatigue, is contracted from black legged ticks, and if left untreated, can escalate to affect joints, the heart, and nervous system.

Statistics from Public Health Ontario showcase an increase of 300 new Lyme disease cases across the province, From 1, 490 in 2022 to 1, 795 in 2023.  In Waterloo Region, the 2003 data has not been released yet, but by looking at earlier years, a clear upward trend is evident, from 13 cases in 2021 to 22 cases in 2022.

ETick.ca is an online platform where people voluntarily report tick sightings in the environment or when found on humans or animals. Comparing the first three months of 2023 to 2024 shows there has been a threefold increase in blacklegged tick reports for KW on eTick.ca.

The Region of Waterloo’s Public Health Manager for Vector-borne Diseases is Rebecca Piovesan, and she talked to CKMS News about lyme disease  and back-legged ticks.

In addition to resources above:

Canadian Veterinary Medical Association,

 The Ontario government page on Lyme disease and tick removal.

 

 

Stories of Hope: Community-Led Food Assistance Programs in Waterloo Region

MP Holmes
Kitchener, ON

In the last three months of 2023, food assistance programs in the region marked almost a 50 percent increase in usage compared to the same period in 2022. In those last three months of 2023 alone, almost 15, 000 unique households accessed a food assistance program, a 43 percent increase over that period in 2022.

These numbers are from the Food Bank of Waterloo Region  and they highlight the surge in demand for food and the growing issue of food insecurity within our community.

However, amidst these challenges, there are stories of hope and compassion emerging through community-led initiatives that are making a difference in the lives of those in need.

These initiatives include the Tiny Home Takeout and Food Not Bombs, which are both operating on shoestring budgets with a crew of volunteers and demonstrate the power of grassroots movements in addressing basic human needs.

CKMS has more on this story

CKMS News -2024-03-31- The Free Weekly Distro fills a need and “shares the bounty”

CKMS News -2024-03-31- The Free Weekly Distro fills a need and “shares the bounty”

by: dan kellar

Waterloo – 
As the cost of living crisis continues and the effects of high housing costs remain at the forefront of many discussions, record high food prices remain an important issue.

Since the fall of 2020, LSPIRG and Martin Luther University College have run a project out of the college, called “The Free Weekly Distro“, offering free food and basic home items to anyone who needs them. While the project’s webpage states The Distro started in response to “the serious level of food insecurity that was compounded due to COVID-19 unemployment and existing services being closed”, the mutual aid effort continues weekly as food costs have continued to rise.

This show features an Interview with Tavia Weber, the Distro Program Development and Partnerships Coordinator at Luther. Weber talks about the program’s origin, the effects of the high cost of living on students, and the massive growth in the program’s use. 

Funding cuts, negligence and broken promises have pushed a successful community program to the brink of survival

MP Holmes
Kitchener, ON

 

The Male Allies program in Kitchener Ontario played an important role in understanding the sexual assault charges levied at Hockey Canada, but now the program is struggling amidst funding cuts and unmet promises.

Run in conjunction with the Sexual Assault Support Centre Waterloo Region, the Male allies group and its sports-focused program remains an important component  in preventing gender-based violence. The program is supported by community foundations, including Rangers Reach, the community foundation of the Kitchener Rangers hockey team, but without stable operational funding, the positive impact of the training sessions on young athletes is in jeopardy.

CKMS talks to Jacob Pries, the  project facilitator of the Male Allies program, and Craig Campbell, the executive director of Rangers Reach.

 

CKMS News – 2024-03-22 – Responding to the effects of record high rents on women

CKMS News – 2024-03-22 – Responding to the effects of record high rents on women
by: dan kellar

Kitchener – As “record high rents” has been a recurring headline across the country over the past years, demand for social services such as food banks and housing have continued to rise.

Responding to the high costs of housing, Kitchener-Centre Green Party MPP Aislinn Clancy introduced the “Keeping People Housed Act” on March 6th, which will reintroduce rent and vacancy control on all rental units, create better regulations for renovictions, implement rules for replacing any losses of affordable housing units, and establish a task force to report on Above Guideline Rent Increases.

This show features interviews with Jennifer Breaton, the CEO of YWKW, and MPP Clancy. They discuss the effects of high rental prices on women and gender diverse folks across the region and province, and share ideas to address structural and systemic problems related to housing.  Breaton also highlights the work the YWKW does, and MPP Clancy discusses her legislation.

House of Commons debate Gaza, while Kitchener families stuck in visa limbo

As the House of Commons prepares to debate the Israel-Palestine hostilities this week, several families within Kitchener say they are left powerless while their loved ones are trapped in Gaza.

Shatha Mahmoud, an organizer of the Palestinian Youth Movement in Kitchener, says that families are facing pain and terror amid the convoluted and detail-laden application process for emergency visas.

MP for Kitchener Centre, Mike Morrice, details discrepancies in the refugee visa process, the government’s response, and the March 18 parliamentary debate on the emergency visa system.

CKMS News – 2024-03-19 – Waterloo gears up to host the Ontario Bike Summit

2024-03-19 – Waterloo gears up to host the Ontario Bike Summit

by: dan kellar

Waterloo – Over 250 delegates are expected in Waterloo at the 15th annual Ontario Bike Summit from April 3rd to 5th. The event is organised by the province-wide cycling advocacy group Share the Road coalition.

The city’s press release stated “municipal staff and leaders from across Canada and internationally, [will] share ideas, best practices and opportunities for progress in cycling.”  The statement continues “This year’s Bike Summit theme explores Sustainability and Innovation through Cycling.” 

This show features interviews with Patrick Bergsma of Cycle WR and Christopher Hodgson, manager for Active transportation for the City of Waterloo.  They each discuss the upcoming bike summit, thoughts on the city’s progress on their active transportation and cycling networks, and ideas and actions to make streets safer for all users. Bergsma also highlights the locally developed Cycling Guide app which according to its website “create routes that prioritize cycling infrastructure or roads with less car traffic”.

 

CKMS News – 2024-03-18 – Main hurdles cleared for land donation to conservation research charity.

2024-03-18-Conservation land donation clears hurdles at Wilmot Township council.

by: dan kellar

Waterloo – The donation of the Schneider family lands in Wilmot township to the rare Charitable Research Reserve, is set to proceed after council unanimously approved changes to zoning rules and the official plan, to allow the properties to be severed and then donated.

While the Schneiders allowed public access to the lands for decades, the township’s insurance company decided that the proposed changes would require safety upgrades to infrastructure, or else risk the cancellation of their policy.    

At the March 4th meeting, insurance company vetted road safety upgrades were presented, including speed limit reductions, parking limitations, and a new 3-way stop, and staff recommended moving the project forward.

This show features interviews with the Mayor of Wilmot Township, Natasha Salonen, and the Planning Ecologist for rare, Tom Woodcock. While they focus on some different aspects of the process, both were pleased that the land donation is one step closer to completion.

CKMS News – 2024-03-17- FIRST Robotics Competition Bringing Over 1000 Youth To UW For Provincial Qualifier

2024-03-17- FIRST Robotics Competition Brining Over 1000 Youth To UW For Provincial Qualifier

Waterloo- On March 22nd and 23rd, youth-led teams from South Western Ontario will descend on the University of Waterloo to compete in the Waterloo district FIRST Robotics Competition (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a qualifying event for the provincial competition in April.

This year, 8 regional teams will join 32 other school and community teams entering their robots in competition with and against each other through a round-robin style tournament.  

This show features an interview with Professor Maud Gorbet, director of the Biomedical Engineering Program at the University of Waterloo, a long-term volunteer and member of the steering committee with Waterloo-Wellington FIRST, and a mentor on the KW based robotics team: the 2702 Rebels.  She discusses the competition, the importance of applied STEM education, and efforts to address the underrepresentation of women and non-binary folks, as well as Indigenous, Black and other racialized populations in STEM disciplines.