Making Decisions That Matter – March 2023 edition4 min readReading Time: 3 minutes
This is a summary of Regional Council’s decision from its March 22, 2023 meeting. With input from the community, Council sets the direction for the Region of Waterloo as an organization and makes decisions that help improve the lives of Waterloo Region residents every day.
Please refer to the minutes for an official record of the meeting. You can also watch video of this meeting at the bottom of this post.
Landfill project protects drinking water and storm water ponds
The Region is investing to ensure development of its one and only active landfill site continues to put the environment first. The next phase of approved waste cells, which receive residential and commercial waste, will include a combined clay and synthetic liner as well as leachate and landfill gas collection systems. These systems collect harmful liquids and gases that develop as the waste decomposes, and keep the area’s drinking water and storm water ponds safe.
Council gives final approval for transit service expansion in Cambridge
The Region is expanding Grand River Transit service in Cambridge beginning this September. Redesigned routes in east Galt, north Galt and Preston areas will provide more direct connections between neighbourhoods and major destinations, including shopping centres, schools and employment areas. Hours of operation and service frequency will be increased on weekday evenings and weekends. The changes support current travel patterns and will increase long-term ridership to support the expansion of ION light rail to Cambridge.
Council approves separated bike lane with barriers for University Avenue
Council has approved a separated bike lane with physical barriers along University Avenue between Weber Street and Alberta Street in Waterloo. Informed by public input, traffic studies, engineering expertise, and best practices, the design balances transportation needs with the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. The bike lane is part of a larger project that will widen sidewalks, improve the condition of the road, sewers, and watermains along University Avenue.
Transit priority measures to improve bus service in Waterloo
Council is prioritizing transit service at the intersection of King and Weber streets in Waterloo by making changes to the traffic signals and lanes. To reduce delays and improve transit reliability on Route 7 and 201, the right-turn lane from King Street onto Weber will be designated as “right-turn only, buses excepted” and a bus priority signal will be added. Up to 10 buses an hour travel through the intersection every day.
New funding model will stabilize community housing sector
Council has approved staff recommendations that support the financial viability of community housing providers after their mortgages are paid. The Region is responsible for the funding and administration of community housing, which includes 27 co-op and non-profits that deliver over 3,200 units of affordable housing. As providers pay off their mortgages over the next decade, the agreements associated with these units come to an end. Regional staff responded with a community housing succession strategy that aims to protect and stabilize the sector. The strategy includes shifting how providers’ operating surpluses are allocated and developing an annual reinvestment plan to maintain or increase the number of rent-geared-to-income (RGI) units while keeping the capital needs of the units in a state of good repair.
Council calls for earlier installation of dispatch system to improve emergency response
Council will advocate having a new ambulance dispatch system that could save more lives put in place as soon as possible. The Ministry of Health is updating its dispatching system across Ontario to improve how paramedics prioritize 911 emergency calls, but it does not have a timeline for when Waterloo Region’s will be in place. The current system places all calls in the same high priority category. A high volume of calls in Waterloo Region and other municipalities across Ontario have led to a lack of available paramedics and life saving measures.
Changes to Heidelberg water supply will reduce emissions and costs
Council has approved a plan that maintains safe drinking water in Heidelberg while saving greenhouse gas emissions and lowering costs. Council has voted to de-commission the Heidelberg water treatment plant and supply wells, and will supply water to Heidelberg through a new watermain pipe from the St. Clements water treatment plant. The decision follows a recent assessment that found that much of the Heidelberg plant’s equipment is nearing the end of its service life and a major capital investment would soon be required.
Council makes changes to parking on Foundry Street to improve safety
The Region will restrict parking at all times of the day on the west side of Foundry Street between Beck and Charles Street in Baden in response to safety concerns shared by the community. Right now, when there is a vehicle parked on Foundry in this area, drivers must enter oncoming lanes to pass it. This is difficult during busy times of the day. Parked vehicles also impair sightlines for drivers on Beck Street turning onto Foundry Street.