Tag Archives: Waterloo Region

CKMS News 2023-11-21 – ACORN Ontario’s Rental Registry

CKMS News -2023-11-21- ACORN Ontario’s Rental Registry

by: dan kellar

Waterloo – Over 8,000 renters have registered their units with ACORN’s Rental Registry since the grassroots social and economic justice organisation launched their map based online database at the end of the summer. ACORN Ontario told CKMS News in a statement that “the rental registry will track rising rents across the province.” which they say will “lead to better, publicly-available housing data that can help protect and create more affordable housing”.

Today’s shows features interviews with Acer Bonapart, the chair of ACORN Waterloo Regionwhich since its launch earlier this year, has focused primarily on tenant rights and housing issues. Additionally, CKMS speaks with Geordie Dent of the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations (FMTA), a non-profit organization founded in 1974 which advocates for better rights for tenants.  The show also includes comments that the ACORN Ontario chapter provided to CKMS News. 

ACORN Ontario told CKMS News that the registry was created by the Montreal based non-profit Vivre en Ville,  saying  “The registry was first introduced in Quebec and has over 30,000+ rents voluntarily registered. The rental registry is easy, quick and secure as it was designed to be compliant with SOC2 cybersecurity standards., standards that meet requirements for governmental use.

According to rentals.ca, which has for years tracked such data, average rents across the country are still rising at over 100$/month, with a one bedroom apartment in Waterloo averaging 1,944$ a month in October.  Two bedroom apartments are now averaging 2,543$ a month, nearly a 15% increase from last year at the same time.  

While many provinces have some form of rent control, in Ontario since Doug Ford dismantled the existing system in 2018, that control comes in the form of a 2.5% maximum allowable increase to the rent after a 12 month period. 

However, the Landlord and Tenant Board, an arm of Ontario’s legal system, often allows this maximum to be exceeded after being convinced by a landlord’s request. As Geordie Dent explains, the board approves the above guideline increase “in the neighbourhood of 90-95% of the time”. Additionally, the maximum increase also does not apply between tenants, meaning the landlord can increase the rent any amount they want on new tenants once the old ones move out.

The Landlord and Tenant Board does not specifically track how often they approve AGIs and their 2022-2023 report has a lot of incomplete data. A brief review of cases  by CKMS News centering on Above Guideline Increases on the Canadian Legal Information Institute, where all such cases are listed, reveals the 10 most recent cases were all decided in favour of the landlord, with the majority declaring: “The Landlord justified a rent increase above the guideline because of capital expenditures.”  

 While above guideline increases continue to have harmful effects on renters, ACORN Ontario told CKMS News the registry will provide “Greater transparency for renters so they can make informed decisions about where they choose to live”.  The statement concluded “Better housing data can help inform stronger affordable housing policies like those supported by Ontario ACORN’s ‘Real Rent Control’ Campaign. Over time, the registry will clearly show that rents increase astronomically in between tenancies on units that aren’t subject to rent control, and as a result of above guideline rent increases. These loopholes in our current rent control laws create incentives for landlords to renovict or demovict their tenants or neglect repairs until tenants get fed up and leave”. 


CKMS News – Report and support: Responding to hate motivated incidents in Waterloo with the coalition of Muslim Women

CKMS News – 2023-11-16- Report and support: Responding to hate motivated incidents in Waterloo with the coalition of Muslim Women

by: dan kellar

Waterloo – With the recent release by the city of a new guide to navigate and report incidents of hate and discrimination in Waterloo, the Coalition of Muslim Women Kitchener Waterloo have yet another tool to offer from their growing kit to combat rising incidents of hate and discrimination.  The group worked with city staff and other community partners such as the Community Justice Initiatives, as well as the regional police services to create the guide, which  highlights the group’s online “Hate or Discrimination Documentation and Reporting Service” which is accessed at reportinghate.ca and receives hate incident and discrimination reports from across the country. 

This show features an interview with Sarah Shafiq, the director of programming and services for the Coalition of Muslim Women KW, an organisation which is described on its website as “a small, but mighty group of racialized Muslim women that have been standing up to hate, discrimination, Islamophobia, and gender-based violence since 2010.” 

The Interview focuses on the services that the group offers, the partnerships with the city of Waterloo and the regional municipality, and the surge in reports of anti-Semitic, anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab, and Islamophobic incidents reported in the past month.  Shafiq also mentions the feelings of disappointment and fear members of her community are experiencing, bringing up memories of the post 9/11 era of profiling and discrimination. 

This recent surge in hate incidents reflects the past several years of data available from both the Coalition of Muslim Women and Statistics Canada.  According to statscan, in 2022 police-reported hate crime incidents in Waterloo Region doubled to 144 events, representing 22.7 incidents per 100,000 of population, more than double the national average of 9.3 incidents per 100,000 of population. These numbers add to the 38% increase in hate crimes reported nationally in 2021, compared to 2020 data. 

The 2022 Snap Shot of Hate in Waterloo Region produced by the Coalition of Muslim Women shows a wide gap between the number of police reported hate incidents and the number of actual incidents which take place, with only 10 of 97 incidents that were reported to them ever being reported to the police.  With the new guide, the online reporting tool, and the other services offered by the Coalition of Muslim Women, Sarah hopes people will be comfortable in reporting incidents of hate and discrimination and be able to access the other services and supports the organisation offers.


CKMS News -2023-11-14- Motion 86 and voter-led electoral reform

CKMS News – 2023-11-14 – Motion 86 and voter-led electoral reform

electoral reform, citizens assembly, voting, federal election, democracy proportional representation, first past the post, waterloo region, fair vote canada, green party, ndp, by: dan kellar

Kitchener – On November 7th, Motion 86 on forming a Citizen’s Assembly on Electoral reform had its first debate in the house of commons. The motion seeks to establish a representative “Citizen’s Assembly” which would investigate alternatives to Canada’s first past the post electoral system, and inform the government on which proportional systems would best reflect the needs and preferences of the people in Canada.

The motion was brought forward by NPD MP Lisa Marie Barron, and built on the work of Mike Morrice, the Green Party MP for Kitchener Centre who was the first to second the motion back in June. Morrice’s second was followed by 18 other seconders from the NDP, Liberal, and Conservative parties, including Bardish Chagger of the Waterloo riding.  This cross party collaboration is exactly what Fair Vote Canada, one of the grassroots organisations who contributed to the motion, hopes will become standard operations in governments under an electoral system based on proportional representation. 

This show features interviews with Kitchener Centre MP Mike Morrice, and Evan Rosamond, the co-chair of the Fair Vote Canada chapter for Waterloo Region. 

Motion 86 was debated for its allotted hour, with many MPs announcing their support for the idea of electoral reform. Bloc Quebecois MP Martin Champoux applauded the motion, and called for MPs to have the courage to take action when it is time. Conservative MP Scott Reid stated the proposal was “half right”,  but recommended a referendum over a citizen’s assembly. 

However, support was not universal. Liberal MP Chandra Arya said that a citizen’s assembly would be “an attempt at an entry through the back door into a proportional system”. He then claimed that “Because of the proportional system, Israel cannot come to an agreement with Palestine.” Arya did not offer any evidence for either of his statements.

While the future of motion 86 and electoral reform in Canada is uncertain, the debate in the House of Commons will resume in the coming months, and with hope brewing around successful cross-party collaboration, Evan Rosamond remarked “it is better to talk a lot then to fight with everybody”.

CKMS News – 2023-11-10 – City of Waterloo develops a new hate incident reporting guide

CKMS News – 2023-11-10 – City of Waterloo develops hate incident reporting guide

by: dan kellar

Waterloo – As hate crimes and incidents of discriminatory hate have surged in Canada over the past several years, Waterloo Region has not been immune to the ugly trend, seeing the highest ever level of incidents in 2021 and then 2022.  As part of a response to these increases, the City of  Waterloo has developed a new guide to “support residents in navigating and reporting local incidents of hate and discrimination.”  The new resource “offers clear instructions on where to file a report and outlines what to expect throughout the process.”

In this show, we speak with Julie Legg, the Supervisor of Neighbourhood Services for the City of Waterloo, and Paulina Rodriguez, the Anti-Racism and Social Justice Advocate, also for the City of Waterloo.  The interview explores the development of the hate incident reporting guide, the importance of reporting hate incidents, and how this guide helps further the City of Waterloo’s inclusion and diversity initiatives, and create a city where as Julie Legg says “Hate isn’t welcome”.  

This new guide from the City of Waterloo was a collaboration which included community partners Community Justice Initiatives, and Coalition of Muslim Women of Kitchener Waterloo, as well as the regional police services.

In 2022, according to Statistic Canada, police-reported hate crime incidents in Waterloo Region doubled to 144 events  This represents  22.7 incidents per 100,000 of population compared to 6.7 per 100,000 in 2017 or 2.5 per 100,000 in 2018. In Canada, hate crimes rose 38% in 2021 from 2020, reaching 3358 incidents, and in 2022 surged even higher, with 3,576 hate crime incidents being reported.  That is on average 9.2 hate crime incidents per year per 100,000 of population.

As the Coalition of Muslim Women of Kitchener-Waterloo reported in their 2022 Snap Shot of Hate in Waterloo Region, only 10 of 97 incidents that were reported to them were ever reported to the police, suggesting that the police-reported numbers of hate incidents and hate crimes may be significantly lower than the actual number of these incidents that take place in the region.  

The new guide from the city, includes details on alternatives to reporting hate motivated incidents to the police, such as the reportinghate.ca website run by the Coalition of Muslim women of Kitchener-Waterloo.  According to Paulina Rodriguez from the City of Waterloo, these reporting alternatives are highlighted in an effort to support community members, and “meet people where they are at, where they feel most comfortable”.


CKMS News -2023-10-27- Delegates tell council to reaffirm the Regional Official Plan in response to Ford’s policy reversal.

CKMS News 2023-10-27-Reaffirming The Regional Plan

by: dan kellar

During presentations on October 25th to Waterloo Regional Council, 2 delegates asked the council to respond to the Ontario government’s reversal of the forced expansion of the region’s urban boundaries by reaffirming their commitment to the 2022 Regional Official Plan and by informing the Government that no changes will be identified.  

In today’s show, we hear excerpts from the delegations of Sam Nabi, the director of  Hold the Line Waterloo Region, and Kevin Thomason of the Grand River Environmental Network to the regional council, along with responses from councilors Rob Deutschmann and Dorothy McCabe. 

These delegations were in response to the October 23rd announcement from the  Ontario minister of municipal affairs and housing, Paul Calandra, that affected municipalities had 45 days to respond to his government’s policy reversal.

Before we get into those presentations, here is a bit of background on the situation.

On October 23rd Ontario’s minister of municipal affairs and housing Paul Calandra announced the reversal of his government’s plans which would have forced the extension of the urban boundaries of 12 Ontario municipalities.  In the case of Waterloo Region, this reversal could be accompanied by a return to the 2022 Regional Official Plan which was the product of an extensive public consultation and negotiation. 

This recent flip-flop by the PC government, follows the reversal of the Greenbelt development plans which received widespread condemnation, was the catalyst of province-wide protests, and is also the focus of an RCMP investigation.  

In April 2023, Ford’s Progressive Conservative government upended the plans of many municipalities by overturning their urban boundary and development plans, forcing municipalities to start new processes to approve previously protected land, for new urban sprawl. 

At the time of the original upending of the region’s official plan, local grassroots organisation Hold the Line WR were adamant the Region needed to fight back against the conservative government’s plans. Now, Sam Nabi, the director of the group, and Kevin Thomason of GREN are asking the regional council to reaffirm their commitment to the 2022 Regional Official Plan and to tell Minister Calandra, within his 45 day limit, that there will be no changes identified.


Poverty Reduction Forum encourages people to get involved in police budget consultations

by MP Holmes
Kitchener, ON

“Show up and tune in” was the message from the Poverty Reduction Forum, when asked how people can engage with 2024 police budget consultations. The Forum, which was hosted by the Kitchener Public Library and presented by the Waterloo Region Community Legal Services, was held on October 17, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

The Forum consisted of two four person panels that included outreach workers; people with lived experience of poverty; academics; a former politician; and social workers.

Some of the conversation at the Forum revolved around the problems and challenges when dealing with the police. Consistently, across the panels, delegates encouraged all members of the public to get involved in the community consultation process, in particular to attend the upcoming public consultations on the police budget on October 26 and November 6.

Earlier this year, the Waterloo Regional Council approved a motion that demanded the WRPS board consult with council and the public before approving its annual budget, in an effort to encourage transparency and improve relations between the police and the public. Up until now, Regional Council could only approve or reject the police budget and had no control over individual budget items or the process.

As reported by CKMS news last week, Regional Councillor Rob Deutschmann presented a motion to council to express dissatisfaction and disappointment in the engagement process so far and that the WRPS budget seems to have been finalized with neither public nor council input. That motion ultimately failed, though the vote was close.

At the Poverty Forum, advocates Kamil Ahmed, a community organizer and mediator at Community Justice Initiatives, and Sara Escobar, co-founder of Peregrine Outreach, both stressed the importance of public participation. Kamil also discussed the importance of gaining a wider perspective and understanding of the police’s increased budget requests.

The WRPS is the 12th largest police service in Canada and the 7th in Ontario. In 2023 the police budget was $214 million. Despite a surplus, the WRPS has asked their 2024 budget to be increased by $16 million, in large part to fund additional 18 new officers in 2024 and 2025. The reason, according to police, is because officer staffing in the region has fallen short of other major municipalities, noting that as the population has grown in size, staffing has not increased.

To bolster their request, the police pointed to the rise in crime from 2012 to 2021 has risen 34 percent.

The Police budget public consultations begin with a virtual meeting on Thursday, October 26 at 1 pm. You can join this consultation by watching on Waterloo Regional Police Service Board’s YouTube channel.


You can listen to the story above:

CKMS News -2023-10- 20- Councilor Deutschmann wants police to adhere to council resolution on draft budget presentation.

CKMS News – 2023-10-20 – Councilor Deutschmann wants police to adhere to council resolutions.

by: dan kellar

On Wednesday October 18th, regional councilor Rob Deutschmann presented a motion asking council to “express its dissatisfaction and disappointment” in the “Waterloo Region Police Services Board and the Waterloo Region Police Service Chief of Police”.  

The motion in response to the police board ignoring a February 2023 resolution from the regional council which asked the police to present their draft budget ahead of the budget being approved by the police board. Deutschmann says the police have ignored 3 follow up requests for engagement ahead of this year’s budget season.

Further, Deutschmann’s new motion again calls for the police to present their draft budget to the regional council before it is approved at the police board in the coming weeks.

In a response to questions posed by CKMS News regarding the police presenting their draft budget as previously requested, Cherri Greeno the director of corporate affairs for the Waterloo police indicated the police were not planning to present their draft budget ahead of time saying:

“The 2024 WRPS Operating and Capital Budget will be presented to Waterloo Regional Council on November 22, 2023.” Greeno Added “Two public engagement sessions are being held on October 26, 2023 and November 6, 2023.”  The police board will be meeting on November 15th to approve the police budget.

Greeno concluded “WRPS is confident that through this enhanced and purposeful engagement with Regional Council, that we will build on our existing relationship of collaboration and trust while continuing to ensure that all people in Waterloo Region are safe and feel safe.”

At the meeting councilor Deutschmann presented his argument to have council again ask police for respectful collaboration in finalising the budget, and without any questions from other councilors, a vote was soon called. 

In the end the vote failed after a 6-6 tie as councilors Deutschmann, Liggett, Wolf, James, Williams, and Huinink voted for the resolution, while Councilors Shantz, Redman, Foxton, Erb, Harris, and Craig voted against it. Councilors Salonen, Vrbanovic, Nowak, and McCabe were not present for the vote. Of the 6 “no” votes, Councilors Redman, Shantz, and Craig are all on the police services board.

Today’s episode features an interview with Waterloo Regional councilor Rob Deutschmann, discussing the motivations behind his motion including how the police ignoring the council’s previous requests for early engagement are “disrespectful” and quite disruptive to the overall budget process as it typically represents around ⅓ of the overall budget. 

Waterloo Region community responds with generosity after community fridge theft


By MP Holmes
Kitchener, Ontario

A gathering was held on Sunday to celebrate the return of a community fridge and the community collaboration that made it happen.

The fridge, which is run by the 519 Community Collective and located behind the Café Pyrus outpost at the Spur Line and Roger Street, had been at the location for almost two years before it was stolen in August.

Although the theft shocked the community, the theft was not reported to the police and there are no suspects. The incident was well covered by major media outlets, and thanks to that exposure, many individuals and businesses have contributed to the installation of two new fridges.

Several members of the community and the 519 Community Collective spoke to CKMS News about the theft and subsequent response. Lisa Braun, one of the 519 Community Collective Board members, explained the community’s reaction to the original theft, and Tyzun James, owner of the Café Pyrus Outpost, which hosts the fridge, also noted the outpouring of support. Julie Sawatzky, the founder and also a board member of the 519 Community Collective, described the collective’s stoic and resilient response to the theft.

About 25 people attended the early afternoon ceremony on Sunday October 15, including Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic who said, “There are many challenges around the community right now for some folks in terms of food security and this is a very meaningful way to help those who need supports to get access to them.”

The 519 Community Collective is a non-profit Kitchener-based organization with eleven different programs that cater to those who are in need across the region. At this time of year, with Thanksgiving and Christmas weighing heavy on organization’s like the 519 Community Collective, Julie Sawatzky explained that they are focusing their efforts and how they are planning to deal with additional demand.  “We just finished our Thanksgiving community event where we served over 800 hot turkey dinners to the community, and we’re super excited that we’re going to be doing something similar this Christmas.”

The fridge will return to normal operations within the week. Food donations can be made at the fridge directly, and other donations, including monetary donations, can be made by contacting the 519 Community Collective.

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

Listen to the radio story below:



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

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 -2023-09-29- Discussing the unfolding greenbelt scandal with Kevin Thomason

CKMS News – 2023-09-29 – Greenbelt updates, no compensation for developers.

By: dan kellar

Kitchener, ON –  As the Greenbelt situation continues to evolve, CKMS news again spoke with Kevin Thomason of the Grand River Environmental Network, and a local campaigner on a handful of campaigns to protect the Grand River watershed and the Waterloo moraine. For quite a while now Kevin has been organizing against Ontario’s conservative government’s plans to develop the ecologically important lands of the protected Greenbelt.  

First, however, some recent background. As our last interview with Kevin was set to air on September 21st, Doug Ford announced he would be reversing the Greenbelt land deals saying “I am very, very sorry… it was a mistake to open the Greenbelt.” He added his actions were “with the best of intentions”, and that he “prides himself on keeping his promises”. With the 2018 promises to never develop the Green Belt, in mind,  Ford once again promised to “won’t make any changes to the green belt in the future”. 

After Ford admitted his governments’ mistakes, the conservative premiere suggested that developers may need to be compensated. However, on September 27th, and right after this interview with Kevin Thomason was completed, new minister of municipal affairs and housing minister Paul Calandra announced that developers will not be compensated for the reversal of the Ford governments Greenbelt decision.   Thomason had said that developers do not have a special “right to develop”, and that land speculation and profit making are not protected acts. For now, it would seem, the Ford government agrees with Thomason. 

Immediately after Calandra was named minister on September 4th, he announced that the greenbelt development plans were going ahead, and that any reviews may lead to more greenbelt land being taken for housing developments. On September 25th, the NDP tabled the “Green Belt Protection Act” which the conservatives voted down at first reading. Calandra said the conservatives will table better legislation that will  “codify” Greenbelt boundaries. All these major turnabouts in policy and the handful of resignations in the past months in the conservative government only reinforce what NPD leader Marit Stiles told Allison Jones of the Canadian Press “I don’t trust this government at all to fix a mess of their own making”. 

In this interview Kevin Thomason maintains his position that despite the conservative’s recent reversal on the development of the greenbelt, the Ford government is “corrupt”. Arguing that the Greenbelt was not the only area where Ford is attempting to take develop ecologically important lands under the guise of the housing crisis, and “given it to developers”, noting that “the RCMP do not investigate favouritism, they investigate crime”.  

Kevin also spoke of the ongoing resistance to Doug Ford’s plans, including highway 413 construction, highway 7 expansion, forcing housing sprawl over other ecologically important lands with ministerial zoning orders, and other patterns of behaviour from the Ford government which “are not serving the best interest of Ontarians”. 

These problematic patterns are an issue Phil Pothen, the Ontario Environment Program Manager of the environmental advocacy organisation Environmental Defense, has also discussed. As Phil said in a September 21st press release:
“While we welcome Premier Ford’s full reversal of the inappropriate removals of Greenbelt lands, the Ontario government’s $8.3 billion gift to developers represented just the most visible part of a dishonest and counterproductive push for sprawl that will only worsen Ontario’s housing shortage. To clean up what remains of the Ontario government’s land use and environmental mess, including Highway 413, it is essential to strengthen Greenbelt protections to ensure future government’s can’t try this again.”

Pothen continued:
“We hope this change marks the beginning of a broader shift away from the government’s current misguided policies, including: forced boundary expansions in Hamilton and Halton, Waterloo and elsewhere; its lowering of Growth Plan density requirements; its gutting of Conservation Authorities; and its dismantling of regional land use planning. These damaging decisions, along with attempts to repeal laws which promote efficient land use and construction, must also be reversed.” 

In a statement to CKMS News on September 13th, days before Ford’s Greenbelt reversal announcement, Kitchener-Conestoga PC MPP Mike Harris Jr. said that he supported Ford’s direction, writing 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.”

Following Ford’s greenbelt reversal announcement on the 21st, MPP Harris, responded to CKMS News with a statement regarding the quick policy changes from his government, saying:
“After extensive consultations with cabinet, caucus and upon reviewing the public’s response, the Premier decided that the Greenbelt would be preserved.”

Harris added that the government will maintain the protection on the lands they had added to the Greenbelt to compensate for the lands they removed and that “As the process of reversing the decision is complex, more information will be released as it becomes available.” 

CKMS News has asked MPP Harris about the corruption allegations and the criminal investigation but did not receive a response by the time of publication.  CKMS will continue to provide updates to this ongoing story.


Take Back the Night celebrates 40 years in Waterloo Region and puts the spotlight on personal safety at night.

CKMS News -2023-09-21- Take Back The Night

MP Holmes, Kitchener

The Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region is hosting the 40th anniversary of the Take Back the Night event and march this Thursday September 21.

The event and march hopes to raise awareness of the threat of sexual violence and comes in the wake of the city of Kitchener and the Region of Waterloo declaring epidemics of intimate partner violence.

A few weeks ago, CKMS aired a show on Intimate Partner Violence and explained how this Region stands out in cross-Canada data as the least safe place for women to live in all of Canada.

From 2008 to 2019, the Waterloo Region sexual assault incidence rate has been higher than the provincial average, and that rate and numbers it represents continue to increase. This report from The Feminist Shift elaborates on those findings. 

Statistics Canada reported that in 2018, just over one in five (22%) Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo residents aged 15 and older experienced unwanted sexual behaviour in public. 

Many research studies have found that in the vast majority of sexual assaults, the accused is known to the victim. According to a report by the Department of Justice only 20% were victimized by a stranger.

However, sexual assaults are considered significantly underreported to the police. Results from the 2019 General Social Survey on Victimization show that only 6% of sexual assault experienced by Canadians aged 15 and older were reported to the police. 

So, we know sexual assaults are seriously underreported, often committed by someone the victim knows, and that these assaults continue to increase. Contradicting these statistics were the conversations CKMS news had with locals on the street, who said they felt safe at night. Statistics on perception of safety are also available.

In 2020, the Statistics Canada Safe Cities Profile for Kitchener Cambridge Waterloo reported that 42% of women in the region felt very safe when walking alone after dark, while 63% of men felt very safe walking at night. 

Over three quarters of Regional residents thought crime levels in their neighbourhood were lower than the rest of Canada, however the Crime Severity Index tell a different tale. The Crime Severity Index is defined by Stats Can as changes in the severity of police-reported crime by accounting for both the amount of crime and the relative seriousness of these crimes. So while three-quarters of Regional residents thought their communities had lower crime levels than the rest of the country, the Crime Severity Index for Waterloo Region in 2022 was higher than the national average and third highest in the province behind Thunder Bay and Sudbury.

There may be a discrepancy between our perceptions and reality, however as the respondents to our street survey noted increased lighting on the streets and trails, safer transit, and staying closer to built up areas all contribute to the perception of safety. Whether or not we are safer at night than we were 40 years ago, it seems the night remains beyond our reach.

Take back the Night happens at the Gaukel Block from 6-9 on Thursday September 21.

Listen to today’s show above with Karley Doucette of the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region and hits the streets to ask people if they feel safe walking in their community at night.

CKMS News – 2023-09-03 – City of Kitchener recognises an epidemic of Intimate Partner Violence in Waterloo Region

CKMS News – 2023-09-03 – Intimate Partner Violence Epidemic Declared in Kitchener

by: MP Holmes

In March 2019, Waterloo Region was ranked the least safe and least healthy place for women among the largest metropolitan areas in Canada.

In 2022, one-quarter of all criminal charges laid in Waterloo Region were related to intimate partner violence.

In ten years of data, the Waterloo Region Police Service fielded an average of 18 calls related to intimate partner violence a day and laid an average of 10 charges per day within the same timeframe.

In response to this kind of data, on August 29, the city of Kitchener, Ontario passed the motion to declare gender-based violence an epidemic.

CKMS News discussed how and why this declaration is a positive development with Jenna Mayne, the Communications and Fund Development Manager, of the Women’s Crisis Centre of Waterloo Region. She also talked about the types and impacts of intimate partner violence, and what support resources do we need more of to curb this disturbing trend.

In Waterloo Region, there are 990 shelter beds for women, trans individuals and gender-diverse people. Forty-five beds are in Kitchener and another 45 are in Cambridge. The transitional home, Aspen Place, offers at least 10 beds. The shelters are full and lengths of stay are long, up to year in some cases because there is nowhere to go. The affordable housing crisis has reverberations across the social landscape, but nearly none so devastating as for women seeking to leave abusive relationships. And of course, it’s not only women who are being impacted. In 2022, of the 383 people in shelters, almost half of them were children.

The abuse takes many forms, — physical, emotional and controlling finances and socialization. Since November 26, 2022, 38 women have been murdered by their partners in Ontario. While demand for help is high, it is no doubt a small portion of the whole. While 383 people used the shelters, more than 2,400 calls came into the agency’s support line and online chat last year, and over 1,100 people were supported through their outreach services.

This declaration pertains to the city of Kitchener only. Regional Council is expected to declare intimate partner violence an epidemic at council meeting on September 12, 2023. Women’s Crisis Services will be presenting to council alongside their partners in the Family Violence Project asking the council to declare the epidemic and to integrate partner violence in the Region’s Community Safety and Wellbeing Plan.

If you or someone you know is experiencing intimate partner violence, call:
Anselma House in Kitchener – 519-742-5894
or Haven House in Cambridge – 519-653-2289
or online at www.wcswr.org

Anonymity is assured regardless which method is used.

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


CKMS News – Mobilising to defend the Greenbelt and “Stop the Sprawl”

Listen: 2023-07-29 – Mobilising to defend the Greenbelt and “Stop the Sprawl”

By: dan kellar

Premier Dog Ford and the Ontario Conservative party have pushed forward with legislation which will allow housing development across swaths of the previously protected land, despite previous promises to leave the Greenbelt alone.

Across the province residents have organized against the changes to Greenbelt protections, and in Waterloo Region many groups and individuals have been working to “Stop the Sprawl”. Ahead of the July 29th “Rally Against the Big Sprawl” in Waterloo, CKMS News spoke with Kevin Thomason of the Grand River Environmental Network and a number of other social and environmental justice oriented organizations.

Thomason spoke about efforts to mobilize against of the Ontario government’s actions and legislation which they he argues will dismantle the rules protecting the Greenbelt from destruction by development (such as with Bill 23) and undermine local democracy (such as with Bill 39). He also spoke of continuing to engage in public participation processes, the work of GREN, and some of the solutions that could be implemented to address the housing crisis without causing further damage to the ecological services associated with Greenbelt lands.

People and signs on both sides of a road, with pepole and signs in the grassy median as well. Signs reading "Stop The Sprawl" Among Others.
Photo: dan kellar

Lawn signs placed on either side of the road and in the median ahead of the Stop the Sprawl Rally. The first sign, red and dark green with white text which reads: "Stop Sprawl. Respect Waterloo Region's Plan. Stop Forced Urban Boundary Expansion on Farmland and Natural Spaces.
Photo: dan kellar
Ontario NDP leader Marit Stiles standing with local NDP MPP Catherine Fife. They are having a friendly chat with a rally participant. Others at the demo are in the background.
Photo: dan kellar
A crowd of folks at the demonstration.
As the Ontario government works to overrule local decision making and accelerate the dismantling of the ecologically significant lands of the Greenbelt to facilitate suburban sprawl, groups across Ontario have organised to resist these actions.
Photo: dan kellar

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 – CAFKA’s 22nd biennale festival invites people to reflect and come together after challenges of COVID

Listen: CKMS News – 2023-07-20 – CAFKA

By: MP Holmes

The theme of this year’s CAFKA (Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener and Area) festival is ‘Stay with Me’.  Tara Cooper, CAFKA’s Chair of Programming and Board Director, explained,

“In a way, it came out of our last biennale, which was during the pandemic two years ago. And the idea was literally just to stay with me, the idea of being together but also the idea of giving room for the things that are uncomfortable or hard to talk about.”

Tara also talks about the history, some of this year’s unique artworks within the exhibition, and what it takes to produce the exhibition. 

CKMS news also talked to the Director of Cultural Services at the Region of Waterloo Helen Chimirri-Russell about how the Region approaches funding arts organizations, such as CAFKA.

CAFKA runs until Saturday July 22, 2023, and you can find information on exhibits and shows at CAFKA.org.

On Friday, July 21, 6:00–7:30 pm, join CAFKA for a walking tour of Stay with Me installations in the Kitchener exhibition zone. Admission is free. Meet in front of Kitchener City Hall (200 King Street West, Kitchener) at 6pm. 


The music on today’s show is called “Maple Music” by Godmode courtesy of by Expectantly Maple Music on YouTube. This music is copyright free and used with gratitude. 

Check out the archived versions of  this program on radiowaterloo.ca/news

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

CKMS News – 2021-07-15 – Impacts on tourism from COVID19 and the start of recovery in Waterloo Region

download audio

Host: Namish Modi

This piece features an interview with Explore Waterloo Region CEO Minto Schneider. In the interview, we touch on how hard the tourism sector has been affected throughout the past 17 months and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Several hospitality and tourism places, like museums and theme parks haven’t been fully open for two summers now. Schneider discusses the importance of Step 3 in Ontario, which begins on July 16, as well as touches on just how important health and safety protocols continue to be. 

Schneider doesn’t have an estimate on financial losses over the last year due to COVID, but imagines it is very high. 

Many businesses were initially upset about Waterloo Region being held in step two of Ontario’s reopening, but further understood the reasoning. The region was held back in the province’s reopening because of a number of Delta variant virus cases in the area. 

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

CKMS News – 2021-03-18 – Waterloo Region Weekly Roundup 8

Host: Melissa Bowman

In this episode we’ll hear updates on the community working group on the vaccine rollout and the latest decisions at this month’s Regional Council meeting. Kitchener had some committee meetings on March 8th and we’ll take a closer look at their discussions on the Regional Official Plan review and how it could impact Kitchener specifically. It wouldn’t be a Waterloo Region Weekly Round-up episode if we didn’t discuss housing, so I’ll share a bit from the Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation’s recent Do More Good Dialogue on the Intersection of Housing and Race.

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

CKMS News – 2021-02-22 – Waterloo Region Weekly Roundup

Host: Melissa Bowman

In this week’s episode, we will once again update on some of the affordable housing issues that local municipalities are involved in. The Region of Waterloo council shared an update about where things currently stand since approving the closure of the 5 regionally-operated children’s centres. 

Also, communities that are racialized and/or marginalized have been impacted more deeply by this pandemic. I’ll share an update from a recent regional council public health board meeting that discussed this issue and some of the plans stemming from that meeting. 

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

CKMS News – 2021-02-11 – Interact with Tri-City Hip-Hop’s stories and places in a new online map.

Host: Ivan Angelovski

Hip-Hop was part of the Tri-City Area music scene since the 1990’s. In the club called The Twist, for example, on Marsland Drive, people could hear Public Enemy, Ice-T and Vanilla Ice, along with all the local hip hop artists. 

Now, many of these places, the artists, and their intersecting stories from over the last three decades have been mapped on tricityhiphop.com

We’re talking with Sam Nabi, the person who’s most responsible for setting up the map, and Tait Garret, hip hop artist and producer who is featured on the map. 

There’s even a pin for Radio Waterloo there, so be sure to check it out at https://tricityhiphop.com/ 

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

The music was Blackroom by Moby, courtesy of mobygratis.com

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

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.

CKMS News -2020-12-10- Waterloo Region Weekly Roundup

Host: Melissa Bowman

It’s city budget season and we’ll kick that off by taking a look at Kitchener’s preliminary budget which includes a rather passionate discussion around whether to try to get the proposed 1.1% tax increase down to 0%.

We’ll also discuss the Region’s recent decision to close its 5 regionally-operated child care centres in 2021, resulting in the loss of over 200 existing child care spaces as well as the equivalent of 62 full time positions.

Lastly, we’ll look at some other stories worth keeping an eye on, including the Integrity Commissioner’s recent announcement regarding Wilmot mayor Les Armstrong’s Facebook post earlier this year.

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

CKMS News – 2020-10-31 – UW professor Dr. Kathy Hoghart discusses the police budget

Host: Ivan Angelovski

As the Waterloo Region’s Police board is discussing the next police budget, Radio Waterloo sat with Dr. Kathy Hoghart, an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work in University of Waterloo, and former advisor to police chief Brian Larkin, on issues of race.

The discussion covers the widespread calls to reallocate police budget money into other services that can more competently do the work the police have been tasked with, and issues of systemic racism within the WRPS and policing generally.  

In the last few months the police board received several reports that clearly show the police bias against black and indigenous people. While board members were surprised by those reports, Dr. Hoghart wasn’t surprised at all.


Dr. Kathy Hoghart’s UW bio-page:

Dr. Kathy Hoghart’s twitter:

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

The music was Blackroom by Moby, courtesy of mobygratis.com

Alan Quarry & Stacey Jacobs

Alan & Stacey

Alan Quarry Founder Heart Beats Hate, a well-known entrepreneur, educator and philanthropist in Waterloo Region.
He grew Quarry Communications from a three-person boutique marketing firm to a 100+ company with offices in Canada and the United States. He has served an entrepreneur in residence at both Communitech and the Accelerator Centre , and has taught business and marketing at Wilfrid Laurier University, University of Waterloo and Conestoga College. Alan has dedicated much of his life to building a stronger, more vibrant Waterloo Region. In 2015 he organized the Stone Soup benefit concert as a way of bringing diverse members of the community together to raise awareness of and funds for Doctors Without Borders and raised money for local charities encouraging the community to raise over $50,000 for numerous important causes through these concerts.
For Alan, a tipping point was the Unite the Right rally, in Charlottesville, VA when he decided to stand up , speak out and push back. With that Heart Beats Hate was born.

While menstrual movement is happening internationally, the conversation does not include menopause which is part of the menstrual cycle.
People experiencing menopause are the fastest growing demographic in the workforce. This is another life event that is almost as disruptive and that isn’t much discussed. Talking openly about menopause, the change, the challenges, the remedies and more is Stacey Jacobs. Stacey has been a Sexual Health Educator, Writer and Speaker for almost two decades. She has personally educated over 10,000 people in her community, including children, youth and adults. Stacey is currently an instructor at the University of Waterloo in the Sexuality, Marriage and Family Studies program.

CKMS logo with wavies coming out the sidesSubscribe to the In Conversation With Rashmi podcast!

In Conversation with RashmiSee all In Conversation with Rashmi shows!

Anna Kuepfer, Jen Wilson & Jolene Knott

Anna, Jen, Jolene









Started in 2018 by Anna Kuepfer, Abigail Loewen and Leah Wouda , SheCycle aims to end the cycle of poverty for women in Uganda with a focus on menstrual hygiene. SheCycle is creating an antimicrobial and reusable menstrual pad that is environmentally friendly, creates employment and has a sustainable business model. In 2019 the trio from University of Waterloo SheCycle project took the top prize of $30,000 in the World’s Challenge Challenge beating 17 other universities from 9 countries at an international competition where students pitch their ideas to address a global issue.

Lipoffkw is KW’s only lip-sync battle fundraiser. The team is entirely volunteer and made up of 4 local women Tiffany Iden, Jen Wilson, Jolene Knott, and Rebecca Petricevic who organize the most fun fundraiser. They have raised almost $10,000 for local charities and each year, they choose a different benefiting cause. In the past funds were raised for St. Mary’s General Hospital Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Centre, St Mary’s General Hospital , YWCA KW, Homelessness Housing Umbrella Group and this year they are supporting ALL IN 2020. They strongly believe, together as a community we can end homelessness in Waterloo Region.

CKMS logo with wavies coming out the sidesSubscribe to the In Conversation With Rashmi podcast!

In Conversation with RashmiSee all In Conversation with Rashmi shows!

Carlie Roberts & Charlena Russell

carlie & charlena








Carlie Roberts is a curvy movement maker, leading women to a stylish place of self love and fashion confidence one consignment at a time. She founded Consign Your Curves , Canada’s largest size inclusive consignment sale in 2013. After nearly adding to the closets of over 2000 women, Carlie then turned her treading hashtag into a headquarters when in 2018 she opened Consign Your Curves in Guelph, ON

A musician, songwriter, artist and music teacher. She has been the owner and founder of Russell Music Teaching Studios in Waterloo for the last 8 years and has been teaching for 18 years. A powerhouse vocalist and an adept multi-instrumentalist, who uses her classical training to create fiery, eclectic, soulful jazzy-electronica as well as acoustic songs, Charlena Russell

CKMS logo with wavies coming out the sidesSubscribe to the In Conversation With Rashmi podcast!

In Conversation with RashmiSee all In Conversation with Rashmi shows!