2022 Plan and Budget: building a more equitable and sustainable future

Regional Council continues to discuss a comprehensive Plan and Budget that prioritizes a more equitable future for all residents.

Guided by the Region’s Strategic Plan and continuing the work of the past year, the 2022 Plan and Budget responsibly invests in a more equitable, sustainable and prosperous community and supports Council’s vision.

Some key investments are centred around:

• Acceleration of affordable Housing
• Investments in improving the social and economic health and wellbeing of Black,
• Indigenous, and Racialized Communities
• Building capacity for climate action
• Expanding access to emergency medical services
• Supporting local economic growth
• Delivering on the Region’s commitment to Reconciliation
• Improving the resident experience through modernizing public services
• Maintaining service levels for critical regional services

To learn more about the Region’s Plan and Budget for 2022, visit regionofwaterloo.ca/PlanandBudget

Council’s Corner: Farmer’s Market Trail

Opening in spring of 2022, the Farmer’s Market Trail will connect the ION Northfield station to the Market District in St. Jacobs with a 1.5 kilometre multi-use path. The trail will be lit and maintained during the winter months, providing the community with an opportunity to visit St. Jacobs using active transportation all year long.

Save on salt

Written by: Colleen Brown, Region of Waterloo Water Services

Salt is one way to keep surfaces we use for walking, biking and driving clear of snow and ice. But using too much or when not required is damaging to our environment including the community’s drinking water.

After salt melts ice, it doesn’t go away. It can soak into the groundwater to mix with groundwater – the main source of our drinking water. Over time salt can make our drinking water taste salty.

Salt alternatives that are not damaging to water are hard to find. If the product melts the ice it most likely contains salt. This includes ice melter products labelled environmentally friendly. No matter what you use to remove the ice, it’s important to use the right amount and only use when required.

To address this problem, the Region of Waterloo encourages businesses to follow winter maintenance best practices. This can include closing outdoor areas that don’t block emergency exits, accessibility ramps or entrances such as overflow parking, outdoor patios, extra walkways and stairways. Closing unused areas can mean less salt on the ground impacting groundwater.

Road winter maintenance can include a variety of tools that help with balancing road safety with the environmental impacts of salt.

Homeowners can help by clearing the snow before it packs down and turns to ice, breaking up ice with a steel ice chopper and sprinkling salt on icy areas only. In many cases, a few tablespoons of salt for a one square metre area (size of a sidewalk slab) is all you need. And if it’s colder than -10 degrees celsius, salt won’t work – switch to sand for traction.

Stopping winter salting completely might not be an option but there are actions we can all take to use less. Learn more at www.regionofwaterloo.ca/SaltingShift.

Fighting food insecurity during the holiday season

Around the Region showcases the work of community partners. For December, we highlight how the Food Bank of Waterloo Region and the Cambridge Food Bank are supporting people experiencing food insecurity.

Written by: Wendi Campbell from the Food Bank of Waterloo Region and Dianne McLeod from the Cambridge Food Bank

It’s been a challenging year for residents in Waterloo Region. The Food Bank of Waterloo Region (The Food Bank) saw a 26 per cent increase in food distribution and a 36 per cent increase in food hamper use.

These staggering numbers are on pace with what is happening across Canada. In March 2021 alone, there were over 1.3 million visits to food banks across Canada – an increase of 20 per cent compared to 2019. These figures are reminiscent of the 2008 recession, where food insecurity peaked, and the resulting social and economic consequences were catastrophic.

Despite these challenges, The Food Bank and the Community Food Assistance Network – a system of more than 100 community organizations providing food and support to those in need – have been working tirelessly to ensure no one in the region goes hungry. The Food Bank distributed 4.7 million pounds to the network, including 1.4 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables, which helped put food on the table for over 34,600 people across the region. The Community Food Assistance network also delivered 91,660 food hampers to those in need and distributed 1,830 community meals every day.

Looking ahead, inflation and rising food prices will continue to be a challenge. With the help of community partners and donors, including the Region of Waterloo, The Food Bank will continue to adapt and evolve to meet the community’s changing needs.

Serving Cambridge and North Dumfries, the Cambridge Food Bank (CFB) offers a variety of programs for people in need. While CFB is best known for their Emergency Hamper program, they’re committed to building health and belonging through food. 

Their newest initiative is the Mobile Food Market (MFM), a market that travels to six neighbourhoods across Cambridge and North Dumfries every week. For the low-cost of $5, shoppers can pick up five to seven servings of fruit and vegetables, a staple pantry item like flour or tuna, and a soup/sauce/dip made from their own MFM kitchen. Everyone is welcome to shop at the market and those who are able to are invited to contribute more than the $5 program fee in order to support those living on a low income. 

Every week the Cambridge Food Bank offers free virtual workshops for children and adults, complete with all the necessary food supplies. These workshops combine learning with fun and building social connections. Travel the world in the Global Kitchen program and make tasty food from countries all over the world. 

Learn more about the many programs serving the community and ways to donate by visiting the the Food Bank of Waterloo Region and the Cambridge Food Bank.

Recycling unclaimed bicycles back into the community

Dozens of bikes make their way to Grand River Transit (GRT) each year and go unclaimed. In an effort to keep them out of the landfill GRT donates them to various agencies in our community including camps, Recycles Cycles, and local churches assisting refugees and newcomers in Waterloo Region. It’s a process that highlights the caring nature of our community.

Help Stuff A Bus and drive out hunger in Waterloo Region

Grand River Transit and Cambridge Food Bank staff

Written by: Teresa Chiavaroli, Region of Waterloo Transit Services

Help tackle food insecurity this fall with food donations during the 2021 Stuff a Bus campaign.

On Friday, November 26, you can help Grand River Transit (GRT) and partners stuff buses with food and fill the shelves of our local food banks.

“Hunger can happen to anyone at anytime. With the rising cost of living, steadily rising cost of food and the added burden of the pandemic, people are accessing food banks more than ever,” said Wendi Campbell, CEO of the Food Bank of Waterloo Region. “More than 34,000 people in our community, 35% of which are children, are accessing emergency food assistance in our community and events like Stuff A Bus help to ensure no matter where you live, you have access to food when and where you need it.”

GRT buses will be parked and accepting donations at two Zehrs locations from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on November 26:

  • 400 Conestoga Blvd., Cambridge (by Cambridge Centre Mall)
  • 750 Ottawa St. S., Kitchener (Laurentian Mall)

Most needed items include: individually packaged snacks (granola bars, apple sauce, pudding cups), dry beans, juice boxes, canned fruit and rice. Cambridge Food Bank is also looking for canned meat and fish, cereal, peanut butter and other spreads. Fresh produce that does not require refrigeration is also encouraged, such as apples, potatoes and carrots. See an up-to-date list of most needed items.

Financial donations are also important as both organizations can stretch the impact of $1 by providing three healthy meals. Donate today!

“This time of year is so important because it’s when we receive most of our funds to help not only support people and families through the holiday season, but also into next year,” said Sarah Tooze, donor development manager with the Cambridge Food Bank.

For more than 20 years, GRT has operated the annual Stuff a Bus food drive in partnership with Bell Media, Cambridge Food Bank and The Food Bank of Waterloo Region.

Thank you to our partners and the community for your continued generosity and for helping drive out hunger in Waterloo Region.

Sunnyside remembers

Many residents living at Sunnyside Home were born during or before WWII, and their lives were changed forever because of it. This Remembrance Day, we share their stories about the impacts of war.