Tag Archives: kitchener

CKMS News -2024-07-11- By-laws, phone zaps, and a day-of-action, ACORN continues push for protections for renters

CKMS News -2024-07-11- By-laws, phone zaps, and a Day of Action, ACORN continues push for protections for renters.

dan kellar
Kitchener, ON –
As rent prices
continue to increase province-wide, ACORN has continued to demand action from all levels of government. At the municipal level, ACORN chapters were part of campaigns that won new renter protection by-laws in Kitchener and Hamilton in June, and province-wide Phone Zaps have targeted MPPs and demanded action.  

On July 11th, ACORN has organised a Day of Action with protests in Ottawa, Toronto, Mississauga, London, Hamilton demanding “the Ontario Government protect affordable housing, and stop placating for-profit corporate developers and their desire for maximum profits.”

This show features Acer Bonapart, the chair of Waterloo Region ACORN. Bonapart told CKMS that while there isn’t an action planned locally on the 11th, the group will be active through the summer.

CKMS News contacted local PC MPPs for comment on ACORN’s demands but were told they were “not available for comment”. The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing did not respond.

**shortly after first publishing this piece CKMS News received a short statement from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. We will address the statement in an upcoming CKMS News publication.**

Kitchener’s Willow River Centre celebrates National Indigenous Month and calls for more substantial action

The Willow River Centre in Kitchener is advocating for more meaningful support for Indigenous people and culture instead of what they characterize as routine performative gestures from municipalities and organizations.

The Center, which serves Indigenous, racialized, Two Spirit, and LGBTQ youth, is hosting Summer Solstice Saturday on June 22nd to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Month. The Willow River Centre co-directors Amy Smoke and Bangishimo said that their past efforts on the day have often resulted in overwork and stress.

“It’s been so many years now since the TRC calls to actions came out and still to this day for a lot of organizations and spaces, we’re still considering an afterthought where, where we get emails like the week of before June and these organizations and corporations are looking for somebody to sing and dance for them,” Bangishimo told CKMS News.

The Summer Solstice Saturday will be held on Saturday, June 22nd at the Kitchener Farmer’s Market from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m.

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.


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.


Irish Real Live Festival focuses on alternative ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is coming up — and with it, a whole bunch of stereotypes about Irish culture. The organizers of the Irish Real Life Festival in Kitchener wants to move beyond the usual narrative towards a deeper understanding of Irish culture in the broader world.

The eight-day festival is in its 9th year and celebrates all elements of Irish culture and not just those which, in 2019, led to a party that at its peak saw 33,000 students converge on Ezra St in Waterloo.

The Festival kicked off last weekend in Kitchener amidst local and international tensions. Organizers of the Irish Life Festival spoke with CKMS News about how they are working to expand people’s understanding of the Irish story by, if not detaching it from the association with heavy drinking, at least showcasing another side of Irish culture.

Within this year’s program, various events draw on Irish storytelling, spirituality and history to demonstrate similarities between different cultures and how, even in the face of war, peace is possible.

Kitchener demonstrators demand immediate arms embargo on Israel

MP Holmes
Kitchener, ON

Early Wednesday (Feb. 28), about 50 demonstrators in Kitchener blocked the entrance to local arms manufacturer Colt Canada on Wilson Avenue, demanding that the Canadian government impose an immediate and total arms embargo on Israel.

The demonstration is part of a broader protest across the country which is demanding a Canadian arms embargo on Israel and highlighting military exports from Canada to Israel. It was organized by Labour 4 PalestineLabour Against the Arms Trade, and World BEYOND War, in response to the call by a coalition of more than 30 Palestinian unions and worker organizations to end all complicity and stop the flow of weapons to Israel.

CKMS has more on the story.

New report sounds alarm that Ontario taxpayers’ money is being diverted from public hospitals to private health care

MP Holmes Kitchener, ON

Public hospitals in Ontario have been starved of billions of dollars under the Ford government while private health clinics have received a windfall of taxpayers’ funds, according to a new report by the Ontario Health Coalition.

“Robbing the Public to Build Private: the Ford Government’s Hospital Privatization Scheme” was released by the Waterloo Region Health Coalition, in part with the larger Ontario Health Coalition, at the Waterloo Public Library on Feb. 21.

According to the OHC report, over the last few years, private clinics in Ontario received a 212 per cent increase in funding in one year, rising from approximately $38 million in 2022-23 to over $120 million in 2023-24. At the same time, public hospitals received an increase of 0.5 per cent to their operating budgets. In Kitchener alone, this underfunding has manifested in 140 vacant RN positions due to lack of funding.

CKMS has more on the story.

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.

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:

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.

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.

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.

Kitchener Mayor announces new housing incentives and new relationship with the performing arts in State of the City address

MP Holmes
Kitchener, ON

In his annual State of the City address, on Thursday November 9, Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic made several new announcements, including new incentives to build affordable housing in the city.

Starting in 2024, the city of Kitchener, with the help of the federal government, will offer incentives to to build not-for-profit, supportive, and affordable rentals or affordable coops units. The initiative is meant to help construct more than 500 new affordable housing units and will cost over $5 million. These incentives consist of matching grants at $5,000 per unit to subsidize early-stage development costs. No-interest loans of an additional $5,000 per unit will also be available from the city. The mayor said more information will be release about this new initiative over the next few weeks.

This housing announcement comes on the heels of the previous announcement by Federal Minister Sean Fraser that $42.4 million of funding from the Government of Canada’s Housing Accelerator fund will fast track the construction of 1200 new local homes by early 2027. See the announcement here.

The Housing Accelerator Fund was launched by the Federal government in March of this year to assist municipalities to increase the housing supply.

The Mayor told the crowd how Minister Fraser noted that Kitchener has the most significant growth rate of any Housing Accelerator Community in Canada, of which there are about 500.

Other announcements the Mayor made in his address include changes to the community centre model to reflect changing and more diverse neighbourhoods and to help newcomers become more connected to community. The mayor talked about the city’s efforts to build a creative and ideas hub downtown and also announced a new relationship structure between the city and local performing arts organizations. This new structure consists of the city playing a larger part in the operations and promotions of the performing arts groups in order to boost tourism.

The mayor listed ongoing environmental goals such as increasing the tree canopy to 30% in all neighbourhoods by 2050 and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, namely by converting city-owned combustion engine vehicles to electric vehicles. He also noted plans to add a major new park near the Grand River, but did not provide additional details.

Despite talking in depth about housing, the idea hub, the environment and changes to community centres and the relationship with performing arts venues, the Mayor did not talk about the affordability or growing homelessness crises.

The ceremony was held at the Kitchener Market and featured videos with residents and each of the councillors talking about what has been accomplished in the past year.

A complete recording of the State of the City event can be found here. To learn more about the City of Kitchener’s 2023 – 2026 Strategic Plan and its vision for 2043, visit kitchener.ca/ourplan.

Listen to the story above

Amy Smoke of O:se Kenhionhata:tie introduces the new Willow River Centre

CKMS News – 2023-10-02 – Amy Smoke of O:se Kenhionhata:tie introduces the new Willow River Centre

On June 20th, 2020, O:se Kenhionhata:tie, also known as Land Back Camp, was originally launched by Amy Smoke, Bangishimo, and Terre Chartrand in what was known as Victoria Park in Kitchener. The camp quickly became a hub of activity and it was quickly observed that “most of the young people at the camp were also Two Spirit, queer, trans, and/or non-binary. Land Back Camp had become an Indigenous queer and trans space for young people to reconnect and learn about their Indigeneity”.

Fast forward through an intentionally short-lived land reclamation in Waterloo Park in the fall of 2020, a collaboration with the Grand River Conservation authority in 2021 to have the camp set up in the Laurel Creek Conservation area, the work with the tent encampments through 2022 and 2023, ongoing work with the local governments around supporting Indigenous spaces, and now with the opening of a new centre for “Indigenous, Black, and other racialised two-spirit and Indigiqueer youth”, Land Back Camp organisers have been busy. 

This show features an interview with Amy Smoke, who along with her friend Bangishimo, is set to coordinate the activities at the new Willow River Centre in downtown Kitchener once it opens on October 7th.

Amy spoke of the goals and of the importance of the centre, the youth she hopes the centre will serve, and a bit of the process in getting to this point. 

Smoke also discusses recent targeting of the centre, by an individual who used to participate in Land Back Camp, and the impact the action has had on Indigenous, Black, and other racialised communities, and two-spirited and queer communities.  The police became involved in the situation after the vandalism was reported, and after arranging to turn himself in, the perpetrator of the chalking was charged with:

  • Mischief to Religious Property under $5,000
  • Criminal Harassment
  • Possession of Property Obtained by Crime under $5,000.

The man was released on his own recognizance and will be in court October 26th at 9am

CKMS News has been in contact with the man, a self described “former ally” who had a falling out with others at Land Back Camp, including Amy Smoke and Bangishimo. The man defended his actions as acts to bring accountability to what he says were misappropriated funds stemming from several fundraising campaigns that Land Back Camp has received. One message he chalked read “Ose:Kenhionhata:tie didn’t take Land Back! They took money from white guilt”. In his communications on social media, and with CKMS News the man also described interpersonal conflicts and behaviors he did not condone or felt were inconsistent as additional motivations for his acts. However, with many of the details being unclear or speculative in nature and with the personal attacks on Land Back Camp participants, CKMS News did not find it appropriate or in the public interest to publish the full communication.

Smoke, clearly frustrated and angry about the situation, said of the man “They need an intervention, they need some help. They’re no okay”

The interview moves back to positive things around the centre with Smoke inviting folks to the opening ceremonies at the Willow River Centre on October 7th from 9am-2pm “but probably later”. The address is 243 King St E, near the Kitchener Farmers Market.

Smoke concludes by encouraging folks to check out the many events happening around the National for Truth and Reconciliation.

CKMS News – Greenbelt accountability, “Ford Fest”, and byelection update: Interviews with Debbie Chapman and Aislinn Clancy

CKMS News – 2023-08-17 – Greenbelt accountability, “Ford Fest”, and byelection campaigning: Interviews with Debbie Chapman and Aislinn Clancy

By: dan kellar

Since Mid-January of 2023, following the resignation of NDP MPP  Laura Mae Lindo, the riding of Kitchener Centre has been without representation in the Ontario legislature. While not disrupting the balance of power in government, the conservatives deemed the by-election will occur in January 2024, the maximum time allowed by the Elections Act for the seat to remain empty.

Currently, there is no candidate for the Conservative Party in the byelection, while the NDP are running Debbie Chapman, and the Liberal Party is represented by Kelly Steiss. On September 8th, in the adjacent Waterloo riding, which is held by the NDP’s Catherine Fife, Doug Ford held the political outreach and fundraising event “Ford Fest” at Bingemans. 

Bingemans also borders the Kitchener Conestoga riding which is held by PC MPP Mike Harris Jr., who welcomed Ford Fest into the Region, telling CKMS News in a statement:

Ford Fest is a free, non-partisan community event hosted by Ontario’s Ford family.”, and, Harris added “Ford Fest offers a unique opportunity for attendees to connect with their elected representatives.”

In a piece released by CKMS News on September 8th, Waterloo Regional Labour Council president Jeff Pelich spoke about why folks were heading to protest at Ford Fest. You can listen to that whole interview at radiowaterloo.ca/news

Today’s show will feature interviews with Clancy and Chapman about Ford Fest and the conservative government, the upcoming by-election and what issues their campaigns are focusing on, and the growing calls for accountability around the Green Belt scandal.  Both the NDP and Green Party candidates said the lands removed from Greenbelt protection should be immediately returned to their protected status. The liberals have also called for the Green Belt lands to be returned and for accountability for the actions of the conservatives..

Since the interviews, the conservatives have announced the sites will be “re-evaluated”. 

In response to calls for Ford to step down over the Green Belt scandal MPP Harris told CKMS News that the conservative government will continue with their plan to build homes on “non-sensitive” Green Belt lands claiming this was “requested by many municipalities”.  Harris concluded: “I want to emphasize that, under the continued leadership of our Premier, our Government will prioritize addressing the housing crisis, ensuring more people have a place to call home.”.


Requiem for the ash tree

By MP Holmes

Ash trees might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about climate change, but since the arrival of an invasive beetle, untold environmental and economic damage has led to the species to the edge of extinction. CKMS News talked to Josh Shea, the manager of Forestry and Natural Area Management at the city of Kitchener to find out what is happening to the ash tree generally and the  city of Kitchener’s approach to the infestation. 

In less than 15 years, the invasive emerald ash borer, has destroyed the ash trees in Kitchener, Waterloo Region, much of Ontario, including as far north as Sudbury, and in 36 US states. This tiny beetle has become a major environmental and economic problem. In a bid to control and starve out the emerald ash borer, the city of Kitchener has removed more than 5,000 trees from city streets and parks. There are about 600 ash trees remaining, some of which are alive, but all will be removed within the next few years. The Grand River Conservation Authority’s website reports that they have removed over 16,000 ash trees at the cost of three million dollars. 

Economic estimates keep growing as the beetle and the trouble it presents become clearer. In 2014, the city of Kitchener estimated dealing with the damage and making the city borer-free would cost $11 million. In July 2019, the Invasive Species Centre found that, on average, Ontario municipalities spend approximately $22,426,763 million each year combating the emerald ash borer alone. 

The conversation touches on the use and role of pesticides, the role of winter and the impact of milder less severe winters in the life cycle of the emerald ash borer. While municipalities fight this small beetle, the province under Doug Ford’s government, has done little to combat this invasive species, putting our forests, economic health, and our municipalities at risk. 


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

This program is a part of the “Local Journalism Initiative” and is funded by the Community Radio Fund of Canada, Heritage Canada, and the CKMS Newsroom.

Check out the archived versions of  this program on radiowaterloo.ca/news., and listen to all the LJI content at canada-info.ca.

If you want to get in touch with comments, or ideas about stories to cover, email us at news@radiowaterloo.ca


Gaukel Block and beyond – Sam Nabi on place-making in Kitchener

CKMS News – 2023-08-27 – Gaukel Block and Beyond: Sam Nabi on placemaking in Kitchener

By: dan kellar

The practice of “place making” in urban design and “pedestrianisation” of urban spaces and downtown cores have been methods used to address well-being and connectedness of a city’s residents and boost health and safety of an entire population.

In 2019, noting the lack of a permanent pedestrian zone in the downtown and being long concerned about the safety of residents when getting around the city while not in their cars, local musician, community organiser, downtown shop owner, and Kitchener resident Sam Nabi amplified an idea on twitter – transform  “Gaukel Street”, the short quiet road starting at city hall and leading down to the entrance to Willow River Park (aka Victoria park), into a pedestrian zone.

In Waterloo Region, while the number of collisions involving automobiles being driven into pedestrians and cyclists has been trending down for years, in 2020 (which is the most recent year with data available) there were still 67 people not in a car or on a bike who were driven into by driver of an automobile, and another 78 collisions involving people driving automobiles and people on bicycles. The plurality of these collisions occur at intersections or in crosswalks where the pedestrian or cyclist has the right of way, and the driver of an automobile was found to be inattentive. 

Over the years in Kitchener, local advocates and some dedicated city staff have worked to implement more accessible, friendly, and safe neighbourhoods with a lot of attention being focused in the downtown core. For many years, King St through the downtown has been occasionally closed to car traffic during certain days or weeks for special events or holiday markets, but the area was always returned to its car-centric design for the majority of the year. 

As popular “human scale” urbanist Brent Toderian has said, “The truth about a city’s aspirations isn’t found in its vision. It’s found in its budget.”, and through the cooperative efforts of community members and city staff, funding for Gaukel St pedestrianisation was included in the 2019-2020 budget. Subsequent years’ budgets have seen continued funding to accomplish a more comprehensive project.

In May and June 2023, after several years of more casual organising around the space, as approvals and permits were worked out, the first section of the fully pedestrianized Gaukel Block opened with more permanent features, dedicated booking options for the public, and a full schedule of community events through the summer. 

Today’s show features an interview with Sam Nabi about the successful campaign to have Gaukel Street in downtown Kitchener, converted into the “Gaukel Block” pedestrian area, as well as a discussion of budget priorities, the effects of neoliberal economic thinking on public space, the importance of grassroots place making initiatives, and what is happening on Gaukel.

This program is a part of the “Local Journalism Initiative” and is funded by the Community Radio Fund of Canada, Heritage Canada, and the CKMS Newsroom.

Check out the archived versions of this program on radiowaterloo.ca/news, and listen to all the LJI content at canada-info.ca.

If you want to get in touch with comments, or ideas about stories to cover, email us at news@radiowaterloo.ca

Enough is Enough demonstration, march held in Kitchener


By: MP Holmes

On June 4, the one-year anniversary of Doug Ford’s re-election in Ontario, thousands of people across the province came together for the Enough is Enough expo, march and rally.

In the Waterloo region, the demonstration was organized by the Waterloo Regional Labour Council and took place at Kitchener City Hall. The goal of the event was to draw attention to the cost-of-living crisis, the housing crisis and many other social, political and climate crises, and to show solidarity and exchange ideas. 

After a little less than two hours, the expo closed up and the participants marched down King Street to rally outside Grand River Hospital where six speakers talked about the situation and what can be done about it. 

A rally participant standing in front of a group with a sign reading "Stop the Sprawl... Respect Waterloo Region's Plan". The setting is on the sidewalk with the empty road on the right or the photo.
The Grand River Environmental Network joined in the coalition building rally Enough is Enough! Photo by Trish Holmes.

A close up shot of blue and red socks with a bird declaring "This is my Protest Sock"
Enough is Enough demo participants had style on lockdown. Photo by Trish Holmes.

Headlines: Tenants Organising, C-22 finalizing, Solidarity Day Unity Jam, and worst air quality in a decade.

Headlines for Saturday June 17th, 2023 from host dan kellar:

1 – Tenant Union pushes back against “high-pressure” landlord.
The recently launched ACORN Tenant Union of Waterloo Region is organising a demonstration targeting a landlord whom tenants say is trying to renovict all the residents in two buildings who are paying less than market rates.

2 – The Canadian Disability Act finally heading for final approval in the Senate
Disabled folks in Canada may soon receive a bit more support due to the impending approval of Bill C-22.

3 – Indigenous Solidarity Day Unity Jam in Waterloo Park.
With the tag line “Love, Lax, and Land Back”, a Solidarity Day Unity Jam and Lacrosse game, hosted by Protect the Tract, will take place in Waterloo park on June 21st.

4 – Forest fires push Waterloo Region’s air quality to the most dangerous levels in a decade.
Last week’s combination of the smoke from climate change fueled forest fires and a low pressure system off the east coast, led to Waterloo Region suffering its worst air quality levels in at least a decade

This program is a part of the “Local Journalism Initiative” and is funded by the Community Radio Fund of Canada, Heritage Canada, and the CKMS Newsroom.

Check out the archived versions of  this program on radiowaterloo.ca/news., and listen to all the LJI content at canada-info.ca.

If you want to get in touch with comments, or ideas about stories to cover, email us at news@radiowaterloo.ca

The Unhoused Experience Protest in Victoria Park


By MP Holmes

On Friday May 26th, a month after the City of Kitchener closed public access to Roos Island in their effort to relocate people who had been living in an encampment on the island, a demonstration was held to remind the public that just because the tents are gone does not mean the housing crisis is over.

The Region of Waterloo currently has less than 250 emergency shelter beds, but there are more than 1,000 unsheltered community members, and this number is growing all the time.

In response, the Unhoused Experience: 24hr Challenge invited people to pitch tents for 24hours in the park, and despite a heavy presence from by-law and security, around 50 people participated in workshops and to listened to advocates and people who have experience being unhoused tell their stories.

We talked to organizers and participants about the housing and homelessness crisis and their 24 hour event.


This program is a part of the “Local Journalism Initiative” and is funded by the Community Radio Fund of Canada, Heritage Canada, and the CKMS Newsroom.

Check out the archived versions of  this program on radiowaterloo.ca/news., and listen to all the LJI content at canada-info.ca.

If you want to get in touch with comments, or ideas about stories to cover, email us at news@radiowaterloo.ca

CKMS News – 2020-12-24 – Reflecting on 2020 in Kitchener-Centre with MPP Laura Mae Lindo

Host: Shalaka Jadhav

Adapting, evolving, and bringing attention to the importance of rebuilding, Member of Provincial Parliament Laura Mae Lindo, representing Kitchener Centre as a member of the Ontario New Democratic Party, spoke to key moments in 2020. 

She speaks to the year’s accomplishments for her office, including forwarding Bill 196, Seniors’ Advocate Act, 2020, which would move to establish a seniors’ advocate as an independent, non-partisan officer of the Ontario legislature, “fueled by the amazing work of frontline healthcare workers… and on a personal note… how important it is to me to care for our elders, who brought us everything, are holders of such wisdom”. 

Laura Mae is also proud of the End Police Violence policy paper, the importance of which was echoed by the marching of over 20 thousand community members in support for the movement for Black lives. Laura Mae notes the challenges with navigating the pandemic as a new politician, reflecting on key turning points for Kitchener-Centre, including how the pandemic has allowed for emergent conversations around equity, particularly anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism.

Her message to constituents includes reflecting on how we may have grown through this year, and to build gratefulness amongst the chaos.


From the Office of Laura Mae Lindo, MPP Kitchener Centre:

“Laura Mae Lindo, Member of Provincial Parliament for Kitchener Centre, is a respected activist and educator who holds both a Masters and PhD in Education. Her commitment to building inclusive communities both within and outside of educational environments is grounded in her knowledge of how to put anti-oppression theories into practice.

Laura Mae is a knowledgeable advocate for the rights of women and girls, a respected ally to marginalized community members, and, most importantly, a courageous public speaker on issues often left unaddressed in the mainstream. Laura Mae is the Official Opposition Critic for Anti-Racism, and Citizenship and Immigration.

The Leader of the Official Opposition appointed her as Chair of Official Opposition’s first Black Caucus, to collaborate with Black communities and allies to address systemic anti-Black racism in Ontario.”  

This program is a part of the “Local Journalism Initiative” grant program and is funded by the Community Radio Fund of Canada, the Government of Canada, and the CKMS Newsroom.

Check out the archived versions of  this program and other episodes on radiowaterloo.ca/news., and other stories commissioned under the Local Journalism Initiative at canada-info.ca.

You can  follow us on twitter @RadioWaterloo. If you want to get in touch with comments, or ideas about stories to cover, email us at news@radiowaterloo.ca.

Music for this episode was courtesy of Dylan Prowse.

Mary Neil & Zdravko Gunjevic

mary zee long poster








Mary Neil is a singer, songwriter, community musician with a MA in Community Music, and founder of KW Junk Music
Mary makes music accessible to everyone, and encourages people to think about their sustainable practice by making instruments out of material diverted from landfills and recycling plants. Mary challenges people to wonder, “why do we have so much junk to make instruments out of?” and how we can make a difference in our lives toward a more sustainable future. As the 2019 City of Kitchener artist in residence, Mary’s residency project involves engaging with participants creating music that reflects the values and diversity of communities across the City of Kitchener. Mary is also working on an album of songs inspired by issues faced by the rapid growth in our community, communicating narratives of people with lived experience. Joining her perform live on air in studio was Jeff Cowell and Len McCarthy

Talking about his love for travelling, seeing and exploring new places is Zdravko Gunjevic, aka ‘Zee’.  Zee’s love to explore new places has led him to travel across Canada, around the US, Caribbean, Europe, down to Australia and China. North, South, East and West.  He likes to see it on a budget, experience cities and cultures like a local.  Zee talked about how he chooses to make it all happen and the tricks and tips of travelling.  He also suggested a few amazing websites that offer some great deals, listen to find out.

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Ever After Music Festival Pre-Party coming this Thursday!!!

This Thursday, June 6th marks the kick off to the 5th annual Ever After Music Festival in Kitchener, Ontario! And the first year a pre-party is added to the festival extending it to 4 days total.
This year the festival features some of the best in bass music and headliners from all around the world. Specifically the pre-party featuring sets from local talent and international DJ’s such as Zia, Moody Good and headliner Yellow Claw, an elite world wide known DJ teamed with a production recording duo originating out of Amsterdam, Netherlands in 2010!
Since 2010, this trio (downsized to a duo in 2016) has put out multiple hit singles, multiple hit albums, many that have hit #1 charts and has rocked some of the biggest main stages of music festivals around the world such as Ultra Music Festival in Miami, Tomorrowland in Boom, Belgium, Electronic Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas, Coachella in California and New Year’s in New York City’s Madison Square Garden. Needless to say we are thrilled to have them come to Kitchener, Ontario’s Ever After Festival this coming week; and you should be too!!
And YES I am excited to get confirmation to get a quick word in and interview with the the men of Yellow Claw themselves, Jim and Nils, before they take the stage at Bingeman’s!

Tickets to this very exciting show and whole 3 day festival are still available at: Get Tickets!

For more info. on Yellow Claw visit Ever After’s Website at:
Yellow Claw at Ever After

Yellow Claw

For more info. about the artist Zia visit Ever After’s website at:


P.S. Visit our Instagram and Facebook pages to enter a contest on NOW for your chance to win a pair of free tickets to this exciting show on Thursday, June 6th!!!