City of Waterloo council summary, March 6, 2023

Posted On Monday March 06, 2023

** The council summary below provides a snapshot of the major items presented at today’s council meeting. Please refer to the minutes for an official record of the meeting.

Council approves new Community Garden Policy

Council has approved a new Community Garden Policy. The Community Garden Program enriches Waterloo neighbourhoods by enhancing neighbour cohesion, promoting environmental sustainability, creating vibrant public gathering spaces, and improving access to fresh and affordable produce. This program is made possible by dedicated volunteers and supportive city staff across the corporation. As the program continues to grow and more gardens are created on city-owned land, the new council approved policy will continue to guide the successful program and promote safe, transparent, sustainable, and equitable delivery.

The policy provides a formal framework for delivering the community garden program and outlines program parameters and responsibilities of city staff and volunteers. Policy highlights include:

  • Fair and transparent review criteria
  • Simple and streamlined processes
  • Equitable and safe program participation
  • Inclusive garden designs
  • Responsibilities of volunteers and city staff

City continues to support strong and vibrant neighbourhoods

The city continues to progress on delivering on its Neighbourhood Strategy, that was first approved in 2018. The strategy outlines ways the city encourages and empowers neighbours to build and strengthen connections in their own communities. To best support these neighbourhood-led connections, the strategy includes 18 actions areas and specific tasks the city will undertake to enable these valuable opportunities across Waterloo.

Staff provided an update on the strategy during Monday’s Council meeting. A few highlights for 2022 include:

  • Launch of the neighbourhood microsite, which is an online space where neighbours can access information about neighbourhood programs. Since launching in March 2022, the neighbourhoods website has had over 4000 total users
  • A gathering spaces asset map where neighbours can explore available venues in neighbourhoods across the city for community events and activities
  • A hybrid opportunity to participate in the annual Neighbourhood Summit event through virtual workshops and in-person activities
  • The neighbourhood picnic table program collaboration with Arts and Culture team members, neighbours, and local artists brought nine new pieces to local parks
  • Development of new how-to guides to support neighbours to connect in multi-unit buildings, welcome new neighbours in Waterloo, understand planning in Waterloo, and manage neighbourhood Facebook groups
  • Annual volunteer recognition opportunities to more than 500 volunteers that support neighbourhood programs and groups
  • Close to $9,000 distributed to support neighbourhood connections through Mini Grants for Neighbours
  • $50,000 allocated to support neighbourhood-led projects, events, and activities through the Neighbourhood Matching Fund

Council continues to support the city’s arts and culture community

Recognizing the importance of a vibrant arts and culture community, the city continues to support this important sector through its Culture Plan. Staff provided their annual update on progress against the Culture Plan during Monday’s Council meeting. The Culture Plan is a tool for city-building and represents the city’s ongoing commitment to view culture as a critical contributor to a vibrant, creative, and engaging community with a strong local economy. The Culture Plan was developed with community consultation and it was decided that reporting on the implementation of the Culture Plan was a significant part of the ongoing commitment to the community.

The six goals in the Culture Plan have a total of 37 recommendations. Recommendations are led by departments across the corporation. While the Arts & Culture unit guides the implementation and leads 22 recommendations, a significant number of the achievements are the direct result of collaboration and interdepartmental work. Of the 22 recommendations, 15 have been completed or are ongoing, one is underway to be completed by 2024 and two require review. The execution of the plan has been very successful with 84 per cent being implemented.

Just a few highlights for 2022 include:

  • Grant Funding for arts and culture (just under $700,000) continued to support more than 50 organizations
  • As a three year commitment to funding artists, $10,000 was provided to Pat the Dog Theatre Creation to support their micro-grant program
  • Economic Development - Arts and Culture created 233 paid opportunities for artists
  • Through the Culture Sector COVID-recovery Grant, $150,000 was allocated to 14 arts and culture affiliate organizations. This was one way the city supported local not-for-profit cultural organizations as they begin to reopen and recover from the pandemic
  • 2022 Creative City Network of Canada’s Creative City Summit was hosted for the first time since 2019, which saw municipal art and culture workers from across Canada gathered in Waterloo for a week of networking, learning, and experiencing the arts and culture available in our region. While the City of Waterloo was the host city, City of Kitchener, City of Cambridge, and the Region of Waterloo all contributed funds and experiences for the more than 180 in-person delegates

Council statement: International Women’s Day, March 8, 2023

The following statement was read during the March 8 Council meeting:

This Wednesday, March 8, marks International Women’s Day.  Each year, this is a day for us to acknowledge and celebrate the economic, political and cultural achievements of women, girls, Two Spirit, trans and non-binary people.  It is also a time to reflect on the work that still needs to be done.

International Women’s Day is rooted in the fight for women’s votes, as well as the work of labour and peace movements.  In order to attain an equal place in society, these women knew they needed a seat at the table.  They knew they had valuable things to say about creating fair and inclusive communities.

As we reflect on these early struggles, contributions and achievements, we must acknowledge that there are many who are still excluded; their capacity for contributions not fully realized.  We must not allow difference to divide us, with some advancing at the expense of others.  It is imperative that we include trans, non-binary, Two Spirit people and all gender minorities in conversations about women’s rights, feminism and equality.  The unique experiences of women and gender minorities who are also Indigenous, Black, racialized, disabled, lesbian and of other sexual minorities must also be embraced.

This International Women’s Day, let’s commit to building a strong, inclusive movement that celebrates and realizes the full potential of all women and gender minorities without question or judgement.




Media contact:
Tony Iavarone
Director, Communications