Making Decisions That Matter – September 27 edition4 min readReading Time: 3 minutes
This is a summary of Regional Council’s decision from its Sept. 27, 2023 meeting. With input from the community, Regional Council sets the direction for the Region 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.
Region declares intimate partner violence and violence against women an epidemic
The Region is joining other municipalities in declaring that intimate partner violence and violence against women is an epidemic. The Region will call on the Province to follow suit and will support the inclusion of intimate partner violence as a priority in the Community Safety and Wellbeing Plan. The declaration made by Council aligns with a recommendation from the inquest into the murders of Carol Culleton, Anastasia Kuzyk and Nathalie Warmerdam in 2015. The prevalence of intimate partner violence in Waterloo Region has continued to increase steadily over the last decade and racialized women and Indigenous women experience disproportionately high rates of intimate partner violence.
Council approves investment plan for new affordable housing funding
Council has approved an investment plan for $15.6 million in federal and provincial funding through the Canada-Ontario Community Housing Initiative (COCHI) and the Ontario Priorities Housing Initiative (OPHI). The Region’s investment plan for COCHI and OPHI funding in 2024 and 2025, which is subject to provincial approval, will focus on:
- Creating more affordable and community housing for those experiencing homelessness and those who face increased barriers to securing and maintaining housing;
- Retaining and maintaining existing affordable housing, including preventing disrepair and conversions into higher-cost housing;
- Developing a more broad range of housing options to accommodate continued growth, changing demographics, and diverse housing needs; and
- Expanding supports for people to find and secure housing. Despite the ongoing success of current programs, there are many people seeking support and are challenges in meeting the need.
Council expedites Paramedic Services budget to meet growing demand
Council has approved additional staff and resources for Paramedic Services ahead of the Region’s 2024 budget process in order to meet the growing demand for emergency response services. Additional paramedics and other resources are required to maintain response times and the availability of paramedics as the population and call volumes grow. The 2024 budget also includes funding for a mental health strategy to curb staff absences from exposure to traumatic events. The strategy will ensure paramedics receive preventative and real-time supports to mitigate the impact on their mental health.
Council approves bridge design focused on safety and sustainability
Council has approved a design that focuses on safety and sustainability for the new Scheifele Bridge on Northfield Drive near University Avenue in Woolwich township. The new bridge, which will cost about $23.4 million dollars, will be wider and includes paved shoulders for buggies and cyclists on both sides, encouraging active transportation. It also includes a sidewalk with a concrete barrier separating pedestrians from traffic. The existing bridge was built in 1960 and underwent several repairs over the years.
Council approves plan to reduce parking infraction backlog
Council has approved a staff recommendation to have the local municipalities manage parking infractions that happen on Regional roads. Processing these infractions through the municipal administrative system already used for City-owned roads creates a more efficient approach and reduces congestion in the courts. The change also enables a more local and accessible dispute resolution system.
Processing centre will support expansion of automated speed enforcement
The Region will establish a processing centre for automated speed enforcement fines to support the expansion of the program to all school zones by the end of 2028. The centre will accommodate the anticipated growing number of cameras and the need for additional capacity. To date, the automated speed enforcement program has reduced driver speeds by an average of 63 per cent.
Council approves amendment to code of conduct bylaw to prohibit harassment on Regional property
Council has approved an amendment to the Region’s code of use bylaw that prohibits harassing or discriminatory behaviour on Regional property. In support of the Region’s commitment to a safe and welcoming community for all, the by-law is intended to address and prohibit harassing behavior by one person against another on regional property. The by-law amendment was one of several recommendations the Coalition of Muslim Women (CMW) previously presented to Regional Council to support the eradication of Islamophobia across Waterloo Region. The by-law will come into effect in January 2024 and staff will develop an implementation plan that includes training and communication.