City of Waterloo council summary September 11, 2023

Posted On Tuesday September 12, 2023

** The council summary provides a snapshot of the major items presented at council. Please refer to the Council minutes for an official record of the meeting. The recorded meeting can also be viewed on the City of Waterloo youtube channel**


Council approves funding support for KidsAbility accessible playground

Council approved funding of $25,000 to support the construction of KidsAbility’s new inclusive and completely accessible playground, to replace the aging playground at their Waterloo location on Hallman Drive. Council offered further support to this project with the renewal and amendment of an existing land use agreement with KidsAbility that includes public access to the accessible playground outside of KidsAbility’s normal operating hours.

Staff from KidsAbility were on hand to present plans for the playground, a significant investment for KidsAbility and a notable contribution to the community. The inclusive and accessible playground will provide an outdoor learning space to be used daily as part of KidsAbility programming, and may also be used by neighbourhood children during off hours.

City continues to action recommendations of Large Street Gathering Task Force

Council approved amendments to the Public Nuisance By-law to address continued public safety and nuisance concerns around large unsanctioned gatherings associated with St. Patrick’s Day and Homecoming. The amendments are in keeping with recommendations from the Large Street Gathering Task Force and discussion with other provincial municipalities with similar concerns.

A definition for a “Nuisance Party” replaces the current section related to gatherings, and includes specific behaviours that may become a public safety concern. One such activity is people climbing onto roof structures during large unsanctioned gatherings. This “roofing” (not including general maintenance) is now defined as a prohibited activity and included in the provisions of a nuisance party.

The provisions for nuisance noise declarations that allow for robust enforcement during St. Patrick’s Day have been expanded to include a definition for the weekend of Homecoming. With this addition, staff will no longer have to return each fall for Council approval of nuisance noise provisions specific to this event.

Anyone receiving a Penalty Notice related to the new provisions is able to dispute it through the City's Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS) by-law infraction resolution process.

City supports homes associations with Special Service/Area Levy

Special service/area levies enable the City to collect funds on behalf of homes associations that own shared community facilities requiring upkeep, like swimming pools or tennis courts. The Beechwood West II Homes Association has initiated the special service levy vote process according to the City’s policy, and staff provided Council with an update on the procedure. If the homes association vote passes this fall, they will continue to be responsible for operating and maintaining their facility, but the City will collect a Special Service/Area Levy on their behalf from neighbourhood members through property taxes. The results of the vote will be brought back to Council in October 2023.

National housing crisis impacts on student housing in Waterloo

The City of Waterloo Town and Gown inter-agency committee presented an updated Student Accommodations report that focuses on the current supply and demand for purpose-built student accommodations in Waterloo. The report included the results of a 2022 student survey on housing. The report identifies a deficit of student housing, the impacts of accommodation costs on students and the increasing difficulty students have in securing accommodations that meet their needs.

The Town and Gown partners (including the universities, college, students, city, police and the community) have several initiatives to address emerging student accommodation needs. The next steps include raising public awareness of the study and sharing the information with area municipalities. The City of Waterloo is encouraged to review near-campus neighbourhoods for opportunities as part of the City’s Official Plan Review and Affordable Housing Strategy, while the committee looks to develop an understanding of the market conditions in those near-campus areas. Finally, the Town and Gown partners will collaborate on an education campaign on important messages and resources for student tenants. The City of Waterloo supports safe rental housing through building permits, licensing and the enforcement of applicable bylaws, including offering inspections and support to ensure dwelling units meet minimum standards as set out in legislation.

Mayor McCabe will not use Strong Mayor powers in budget process

Mayor Dorothy McCabe publicly declared her decision to not use Strong Mayor powers to propose or adopt a budget for the 2024-2026 fiscal years. Instead, she directed Finance staff to bring the 2024-2026 budget to Council on or after February 2, 2024 in accordance with the schedule previously provided in a staff report.

The Mayor stated that she does not believe that using the Strong Mayor powers is fair and respectful to Council, to staff or to the community they collectively serve. While she supports the reason mayors were given these powers (to see more homes built faster), in the City of Waterloo, housing developments are being approved without the need for Strong Mayor powers. She hopes to set a precedent for the next Mayor and Council, to demonstrate that the work of a successful municipality can and will continue without the use of Strong Mayor powers.




Media contact:
Cari Van Niekerk
Director, Corporate Communications