Tag Archives: municipal budget

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 – The GRT proposes increased accessibility measures and increased fare hikes in the 2024 regional budget

CKMS News – 2023-11-03 – Proposed GRT increase

MP Holmes
Kitchener, Ontario

Proposed changes to the Grand River Transit (or GRT)  fares would see cash fares rise, but under these proposals, accessibility services would also increase. Commissioner for Transportation Services Mathieu Goetzke presented the proposals to Regional Council during a budget consultation meeting on Wednesday November 1.

This budget consultation meeting, one of several in the run-up to the final budget day on December 13, focused on determining the budgets for the Region’s equitable services and opportunities. Items of discussion included improving community safety and well-being, automated speed enforcement, youth-focused initiatives, paramedic services, transportation, and proposed transit fare changes to the GRT.

These proposed fare changes include increasing the electronic cash fare by two cents from $2.98 to $3.00, increasing monthly passes from $92 to $96; and increasing cash fares from $3.75 to $4 per single ride.

GRT fares last increased this past July, by 25 cents, from $3.50 to $3.75, which means that, with this proposed increase, fare hikes of will have increased by 50 cents or 12.5% in two years. Despite this, ridership has never been higher. In September, the GRT set a new ridership record with 150,000 boardings per day.

Commisioner Goetzke explained why this cash fare price increase is needed, but several councillors expressed concern. Councillor Natasha Salonen wondered if the cash fare increase wouldn’t hurt the most marginalised.

Another proposed increase is the fare window, which is how long one bus ticket is good for. Currently the GRT offers a 90-minute window and is proposing a 120-minute, or two-hour, window. Councillor Rob Deutschmann suggested increasing the fare window to three hours, arguing the size of the region justified increasing the transfer window. Councillor Jim Erb agreed and noted that Waterloo Region riders often switch between the bus and ION train systems, which takes more time.

Commisioner Goetzke listed the proposed measures to increase accessibility, including removing $5 minimum load on easy go card, developing a mobile payment app, increasing the discount on needs-based fares, and introducing a new group pass for $12, which would allow unlimited travel for up to five people regardless if they are a family or not.

These proposed changes were presented as a preview of what will be discussed in more detail at a later council meeting. The intention of this review was to bring forward a budget-day motion to adopt a new user fee and charge bylaw.

Councillors have until December 4 to make a motion to amend the budget before the final budget day on December 13.

At the next Strategic Planning and Budget Committee, on November 8, Council will be examining the draft 2024 budgets focusing on the theme homes for all.


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CKMS News – 2021-01-20 – Waterloo Region Weekly Roundup

Host: Melissa Bowman

The Region of Waterloo will finalize it’s 2021 budget this month. Calls from the community to reallocate funds from policing into more upstream services has led to, as one councillor declared, an unprecedented interest in the police budget this year.

This week’s Waterloo Region Weekly Round-up takes a look at how we got here, diving into police board discussions and delegations from community residents in support of reallocation of funds towards Indigenous and Black-led community initiatives.

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