Tag Archives: kitchener city council

Amid tax increases, Kitchener City Councillors struggle with previous cycling funding commitments, “We’ve gone way too far.”

MP Holmes
Kitchener, ON

City of Kitchener Councillor Bil Ioannidis said that we have gone way too far with cycling infrastructure. The Councillor made the comments at the Finance and Corporate Services committee meeting on Monday, November 20. The committee was reviewing the city of Kitchener’s 2024 draft operating budget that is to go to the mayor for approval in early December. The budget includes approximately $5.5 million to advance the strategic priorities, which were determined in the 2023-2026 Strategic Plan. Some of these areas, and the funding given to them in this budget include:

$700,000 for downtown cycling grid and infrastructure;

$424,000 in traffic calming;

$300,000 trail improvements for the Active Transport plan;

$1.2 million for the Housing for all Strategy;

$117,000 for the Creative Hub;

$173,000 to expand community centre hours; and

$240,000 to launch additional special events, including one new major festival in 2024.

Councillors raised a series of questions about different strategic priority funding options, but it was the competing interests of cycling, trails, and traffic calming that occupied most of the meeting. In addition to Councillor Ioannidis’s remarks, other councillors balked at both the $700,000 given to the downtown cycling grid and infrastructure and the $300,000 for additional cycling and trail connections, while traffic calming, a much more important issue in many of the councillors’ opinions, was afforded only $424,000.

City staff tried in various ways to address the concern about too much attention paid to cycling which came from at least 3 of the councillors attending. Councillor Paul Singh asked where the $700k for the cycling infrastructure came from, and why it had been applied to the cycling infrastructure. First Jonathon Lautenbach, city of Kitchener CFO explained the city’s position and then Justin Readman,· General Manager, Development Services at city of Kitchener, elaborated the funds are the final phase of a long-term capital investment that the city agreed to undertake years ago.

Councillor Christine Michaud also noted that she’s not hearing complaints about cycling but rather about the speed that people drive their cars and the need for traffic calming. City staff said that traffic calming has been funded in the past and what is in the budget reflects what Council has previously agreed to, based on what each area needs. But Michaud reinforced her concerns, and desire for more funding, to contend with traffic calming and reducing drivers’ speed.

Councillors Dave Schnider and Jason Deneault expressed strong interest in improving signage in parks for trails and cyclists. Councillor Schnider noted you can get on a trail and go all the way around the city but there are no signs informing people they can do so. City staff assured Council a comprehensive wayfinding strategy is going to be revealed soon.

Councillors Ioannidis and Margaret Johnston asked about lighting on trails and parks, but were informed that lighting beyond the major trails (namely the Iron Horse Trail and the Spurline Trail) is too expensive.

The Kitchener City operating budget also included funding for new and continuing services and infrastructure. Kitchener City Chief Financial Officer, Jonathan Lautenbach summarised the tax increases for services and infrastructure, which include a 3.9% per year rise in property tax (that’s a $47 rise over last year) and 6.3% increase in utilities (a $77 increase).

Next week is the final week for any changes to the budget. Public are reminded next Monday, November 27, is public consultation night and the Council will also examine the Capital budget on that same evening. For more information on the 2024 operating budget, the city of Kitchener has a detailed description on their website here.


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CKMS News – Kitchener City Council takes advantage of extra time and defers lodging home motion

CKMS News – 2023-11-07 – Kitchener City Council takes advantage of extra time and defers lodging home motion

Lodging home licensing is on the way in Kitchener, but at Monday night’s council meeting, council took the opportunity to defer the motion until March 2024.

At last week’s council meeting, on October 30, a motion to remove restrictions on lodging houses was deferred. Councillor Bill Ioannidis introduced the deferral after questioning if fourplex apartments are a better option overall to increase affordability and if a pilot study would be a better approach to roll out licensing.

In response to those questions, at this week’s meeting, delegate Phil Marfisi noted how lodging homes differ from fourplex apartments, and that lodging homes do not require much in the way of preparation and can be occupied without additional construction or renovation. Because of this, Marfisi said, lodging homes can be a more economical mode of housing. Marfisi also explained how a lodging house pilot study would not meet the urgency of the crisis and would impede the delivery of this needed housing.

A second delegate, Lynn Intini, presented a description of lodging home residents and how the plan integrates with the city of Kitchener’s overall housing plan. She also pointed out that exclusionary zoning bylaws can have human rights implications if it restricts where people can live.

Council was informed on Monday night that the bylaw will be back in March 2024. Councillor Scott Davey moved to defer the lodging house motion as nothing would be able to be enacted until the lodging house licensing bylaw was ready anyway. Councillor Jason Deneault agreed with the deferral and noted that by deferring, more research can be done into issues such as short-term rentals that overlap and influence the affordable rental market.

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CKMS News Removing restrictions on lodging houses deferred while city council wrestles with affordability

CKMS News 2023-11-02- Council considers lodging homes

MP Holmes
Kitchener, Ontario

Kitchener city staff have drawn up new guidelines for land use and zoning changes for lodging houses in the city, but Council isn’t satisfied. At the Planning and Strategic Initiatives Committee meeting on October 30, Kitchener Council examined these changes, and given the mix of opinions on council, deferred their decision until the next council meeting on Monday November 6.

Several review studies, including Kitchener’s Housing for All Housing First strategy and the March 2021 Lower Doon Land Use Study, among others, encouraged the city to examine how lodging (or rooming houses) can play a role in alleviating the housing crisis. And so, at Monday evening’s council meeting, Kitchener city planning staff came back with a proposal that would remove references in the official plan and zoning regulations to minimum distance separations, lodging houses parking regulations, and geographical limitations on lodging houses.

Two delegates presented to Council in favour of lodging houses. Nelson Chukwuma from the Conestoga Student Inc.‘s Board of Directors and Martin Asling of the Yes In My Backyard (YIMBY) housing advocacy group. Both explained the importance of lodging houses to help both students and permanent city residents secure affordable housing.

In the mid 2000s, as part of then-official plan, the City of Kitchener sought to limit the creation of new lodging houses. Currently there are about 20 licensed lodging houses located across the city and an unknown but an assumed large number of unlicensed lodging houses.

One of the recommended zoning changes is to scrap the minimum distance provision, which limits lodging houses from being too close to one another. Up until now, lodging houses have to be at least 400m from one another. Martin Asling explained that this, according to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, is a form of ‘people zoning’ and is illegal in Ontario. In considering this change, Councillor Scott Davey expressed concerns about a possible overconcentration of lodging homes in an area, and he wondered what the consequences of that would be.

City staff also recommended that parking regulations be removed. Martin noted that these regulations are from an earlier time and are now out of date and no longer in line with the city’s aims.

Another recommendation from staff, that both delegates agreed with, was to lift restrictions to allow lodging houses in all residential zones throughout the city.

Affordability was a concern for many of the councillors. Councillor Bill Ioannidis asked Martin how to keep lodging houses affordable and prevent landlords from overcharging. In response, Martin listed a series of studies that have examined the implementation of lodging houses and which found that affordability stayed intact. Councillor Debbie Chapman asked Martin if he knew of any measures that could be put in place now to ensure affordability, and Martin explained how preventing the loss of lodging house supply is important.

City staff made a point to note that this meeting was not about licensing lodging homes but rather land use and zoning changes. Despite this, throughout the meeting, questions on licensing and enforcement popped up, Mayor Berry Vrbanovic asked if both the zoning and licensing could be dealt with concurrently given the importance and urgency of this measure. Staff were quick to point out that the licensing depends on removing some of the zoning and land use restrictions, and perhaps it could be done concurrently, but the changes to zoning and land use must occur before a licensing program is overhauled.

Other issues of licensing that were raised included how to incentivize landowners to obtain a licence, how licensing would be enforced, and what repercussions there currently are if landowners choose not to obtain a license.

Councillor Ioannidis expressed a preference for the four-plex housing strategy, which was passed at council previously. By the end, the Councillor noted he had more questions than answers and pushed for a deferral to the next council meeting. The deferral motion was passed and the issue will be readdressed at Council meeting on November 6.


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Kitchener City Council approves motion to examine construction of fourplexes on single residential lots

by MP Holmes
Kitchener, Ontario

Kitchener City council unanimously passed a new motion to begin the process to increase the missing middle housing stock by allowing fourplexes on single residential lots.

The housing advocacy group YIMBY delegated in favour of the motion at the Council meeting. “YIMBY” is an acronym which stands for “Yes In My Back Yard”.

The ‘missing middle’ is defined as medium-density housing that sits somewhere between single-family residential properties and high-rise condominiums. The intention behind missing middle housing is that it is cheaper for each resident because costs of living on a property are split between four residents rather than one. Currently, fourplexes need special zoning approvals to be built in Kitchener. This new possible bylaw would legally allow fourplexes under the municipality’s zoning bylaw, so special permission to build will not be needed.

Councillors were mostly open and optimistic although wary of opposition. Councillor Paul Singh encouraged city staff to prioritise issues of parking in their development. Councillor Debbie Chapman raised the issue of affordability and how the city will ensure this initiative doesn’t fall prey to the allure of AirBnB revenue, and Councillor Bill Ioannidis lamented the community’s expectations related to housing.

The idea of fourplexes has been brought forward in other Ontario municipalities. Mississauga has decided to not move forward on fourplexes, while Toronto passed a motion to allow fourplexes back in May.

The motion in Kitchener City Council was similar to a motion the mayor of Guelph brought to a council meeting in Guelph on Tuesday afternoon. That motion was passed unanimously as well. Waterloo City Councillor Royce Bodaly has also brought forward a motion looking at permitting four units on one lot in Waterloo. That motion is set to be discussed at the October 30 Council meeting.

The music on today’s show is called “Maple Music” by Godmode courtesy of by Expectantly Maple Music on youtube.

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CKMS News – ‘Falling through the cracks’ photo exhibit explores lived experiences of displacement

For one night only on Wednesday August 16

By MP Holmes

“These photos are very powerful. A lot of these photos are tied to some pretty intense experiences, especially if you were aware in April when there was a big wave of overdose deaths that were happening. These photos are taken in the midst of that crisis. It is reflecting the voices of people  who are navigating intense experiences of displacement.”


“Waterloo Region had shelter capacity for less than half of the number of homeless people that we had in 2020, and we know the number is bigger now and there is a huge shelter capacity gap and we also know that shelters are not going to meet the needs of everyone.”

David Alton, the Facilitator Lived Expertise Working Group, Kitchener’s Housing Strategy of the Social Development Centre, talked to CKMS news about a photography exhibition, the value of using lived expertise, the scale of homelessness in the Region and the problems and consequences of not having accurate data, and the barriers between unsheltered and sheltered communities.

The Lived Expertise Working Group is a two-year pilot project hosted by the Social Development Centre in partnership with the City of Kitchener to advise on the implementation and monitoring of the Housing for All Strategy. The working group consists of twelve lived experts who have met twice a month from May 2022 and were expected to continue until April 2024, but the group’s second year of funding, worth up to $30,000, is up in the air because City Council did not like the Social Development Centre commenting on city actions at the Roos Island protests in April. City council delayed the vote on continuing to fund the second year of the Lived Expertise Working Group until the council meeting on August 28.

Falling through the cracks, a fundraiser and photography exhibit, will be held at the downtown Kitchener Public Library, at 85 Queen St, for one night only on Wednesday August 16 from 5-8 pm. The photographs, 16 in total, depict the meaningful ways unsheltered communities support one another, memorialize each other, and resist marginalization. The gallery opens at 5 and the presentations will start around 6.


The music on today’s show is called “Maple Music” by Godmode courtesy of by Expectantly Maple Music on YouTube. 

You have been listening to CKMS News on 102.7FM, Radio Waterloo. This is MP Holmes, and thank you for tuning-in.