Issue 1: In Ward 4 I would like to see our water and property taxes lowered?

Response: The majority of both property taxes and water services fees are set by the Region of Waterloo.  I hope that Regional Councillors might also weigh in on this issue.

The City did lower their fees for water and put a freeze on the stormwater fees for large properties last year.  You will see from the link provided below that the City of Waterloo has one of the lowest water services fees in the Region of Waterloo.

For more information on water services fees please see this link: https://www.waterloo.ca/en/contentresources/resources/government/IPPW2017-071---Dec-11-2017-Council-Presentation_includes-Tax-Water-Rates-and-Impacts.pdf

Here are a couple of key slides from the Budget presentation related to Water Services:

Water1Water2

Water3Water4

Water5

 

Issue 1: In Ward 4 I would like to see our water and property taxes lowered?

Response: Of all the taxes collected, the City’s portion is only 2.9%.  The City collects all of the taxes and fees for the Region, the School Boards, as well as the City.  The majority of taxes collected are not set by the City.  The majority of taxes are set by the Region of Waterloo.  I hope that Regional Councillors might also weigh in on this issue.

Tax increases and associated staffing costs from the 2010-2014 term of Council to the past term of Council are not directly comparable because new staff were added to address service level needs related to new capital assests that came into service in 2014-2018. 

In the City of Waterloo, we contribute 40% of our annual assessment growth to reserves to address future repair and replacement needs of capital assets.  Most cities do not follow this practice and use the full assessment growth to offset annual operating budget pressures.

The City’s tax rate is actually lower than the provincial average.  Great information on taxes, how they are spent, and how Waterloo compares to other municipalities is summarized at the following link: https://www.waterloo.ca/en/contentresources/resources/government/2016-2018_Operating_Budget_Overview_Presentation_-_Dec._14_2015.pdf

Here are some graphics from the City's Budget Presentation:

Taxes1

Taxes2

Taxes3

Taxes4

Taxes5

 

I feel strongly that the City should be required to hold their tax increases to some form of public index like the Consumer Price Index however others on Council did not agree with me.  As a result, I voted against the City budget for the past two years because I felt the tax increases were too high.

 

Cities do not build active transportation corridors for cyclists, they build them for people. When you take the time to actually spend time on the off-road network of trails and dedicated multi-use trails you will observe that the majority of users are pedestrians; people jogging, walking and individuals pushing strollers, exercising dogs, using accessibility devices like wheelchairs, walkers and canes and overall, people seeking to maintain and improve their health. The investment in these spaces is not typically property tax supported, but Gas Tax supported. If you want to take a “pot-shot” at cyclists you could say they don’t pay into the Gas tax, but the evidence is clear; the majority of cyclists are also vehicle owners/users.

When we look at the on-road cycling infrastructure here are a few facts for consideration

1.Painting a bike lane on a road achieves some important and valuable things including:

a.Traffic “calming” by narrowing the travel lane for cars.

b.Reminding all road users how to share the road.

c.Buffering traffic from pedestrians on the sidewalk. This dramatically improves the pedestrian experience especially on roads that have no boulevard.

2.Paint is cheap. The City’s budget for road painting is driven primarily by the increase in the overall road network then by painting a few sections with a “bike lane”.

3.Most cycling advocates will tell you that painting a white line is not considered cycling infrastructure. In many cases, especially on rural roads, the white line is designating the road edge as opposed to creating a “bike lane”.

As someone who had been involved in two motor vehicles collisions, I know that I am only a temporarily able bodied person (TAP), all of us are TAPs. For many, the Active Transportation corridors provide people with independence to get from one place to another because they are not car owners or drivers. Imagine telling people 100 years ago that we were going to invest millions to build dead end roads that serve ten homes; they would think we were wasting their property tax dollars for certain.

There are many, many times I see and cycle on roads where there is not a single car in sight, but you know what? The city built those roads. Why? Because it was the right thing to do!

WinterTrailUsers

 

On September 10, 2018 City Council approved the Comprehensive By-law.  This process has been in the works since the approval of the City Official Plan in 2012.  The new By-Law consolidates many of the planning decisions that have been made over the past 8 years and includes district plans like the Northdale Plan and the transit station area plan.


What does this mean for Ward 4.

1. Land use in the Ward has been formalized to reflect what is existing.  For example the minimum lot frontage for properties located in Colonial acres has been increased from 15m to 19m which is in keeping with what actually existing.  This change will limit the ability for properties in the neighbourhood to be severed to form two lots.

2. Some lands zoned employment, but fuctioning as commercial have been given site specific exceptions to reflect the actual use.

3. Some lands zoned office employment but functioning as manufacturing have been given site specific exceptions to reflect the actual use.


Some recent news media suggested that this document will result in a reduction of parking in UpTown Waterloo.  This is not so.  In fact the parking rates in the Comprehensive by-law are not related to public parking in UpTown in any regard. There is LOTS of public parking in UpTown. The parking lots are illustrated on the map located at: UpTown Waterloo Parking


The parking rates in the by-law apply to new development applications in buildings (typically residential).  Further, the parking rates are reflective of those approved for other development applications that were approved over the past 10 years.


If you are interested to review the document, it is located at the following link: Comprehensive Zoning By-Law

 

Sustainable Development

Waterloo’s growth over the past few years has stretched the city’s resources.  As a City we have provided leadership within the Region related to high density intensified growth. 

 

I will continue to push for public input at all stages in the planning processes and advocate on behalf of the citizens.

 

Protecting Our Quality of Life

I supported some of the last green-field development in Ward 4 as mixed land use zoning to ensure that people can live and work close to home.

 

Growth of any kind must bring with it supporting infrastructure such as library services, policing, schools, water systems, fire rescue and transportation.  My record: 

  • Ensured that the designs for Lexington Road created equal opportunity whether people choose to bike, drive or walk.  
  • Worked in partnership with Deer Run residents and city/commercial planners to ensure adjacent residential/commercial development would respect all aspects of their family lifestyle while protecting their real estate investments.
  • Served on the Grand River Hospital, Kitchener Waterloo Symphony and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario Boards of Directors
  • Advocated for citizens to police and by-law support in neighbourhoods related to noise, property standards and the misuse of green spaces and public property
  • Advocated for hard surfacing of pedestrian and cycling trail connections
  • supported neighbours in Colonial acres and Hillside related to watermain and sanitary sewer upgrades

Improving Support for Children and their Families

I want to keep Waterloo a wonderful place to nurture children, and a city that fosters strong educational values.  For this reason, I worked to fundraise and build the Butterfly Learning Centre, a not-for-profit public childcare centre in Ward 4 that provides care to 108 children out of two locations every day.  I also secured a new school crossing guard in the Eastbridge Neighbourhood and voted to keep all other school crossing guards already working in Ward 4 when City Staff recommended their removal. I am also actively pursuing library services to be extended into the ward during the next four years.

 

Ensuring Strong Municipal Financial Planning

  • for every dollar asked for in taxes I asked staff to match in efficiencies
  • 4 years of tax increases below the inflation rate
  • supported lowest tax mill rate in Waterloo Region
  • 8 years of the lowest tax increases in Waterloo Region
  • Sent back projects for rebidding, retendering or redesigning when they were over budget
  • All Budget surpluses allocated to reserve funds
  • Reserves are at the highest level since 2003
 
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