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It’s not easy being green, particularly in MHBP!
This is a very important issue and one of our residents has written a detailed and articulate article on it. Please read. Please send an email to council about it!
by Catherine Owens
The Places and Spaces report goes to Council on Monday. In essence, what this report, created by city staff says is that our neighbourhood is the most under-served in the entire city for greenspace/parks. Mt. Hope covers a huge geographical area and is immediately adjacent to the downtown. The largest deficit in greenspace/parkland is in the KW Hospital area (roughly between King and Moore) and at the outer edges of Mt. Hope – Breithaupt Park (Bridgeport/Lancaster). On average, these two areas of Mt. Hope – Breithaupt Park have about 1.4 hectares of greenspace per resident versus (for example) Country Hills who has 20 hectares per resident.
City Council, in order to attract downtown developers, have eliminated what is know as “cash in lieu” of parkland fees for all developers since 2008. Although there are very complex formulas as to what a developer has to pay to the city for parkland, on average it works out to about $15,000 per unit. So, if a developer is building a 44 storey building in downtown Kitchener with 500 units they actually save $7.5 Million in development fees. Extrapolate to the 20 projects on the books for downtown. This is pure profit to the developer and does nothing to make our neighbourhood “greener” or more liveable. It is also important to note that all developers building outside the city core have to pay this fee – and the city uses the fees to build parkland – for example the $93 Million for the aquatic centre in Huron Park.
At various committee meetings throughout the summer, there is a clear indication that a number of Councillors wish to keep the exemption in place until 2025 or 2027 (rather than the 12 months recommended by city staff). City staff have estimated that developers in the downtown are/will be saving $60 Million (yes Million) in fees if the exemption goes past the 12 month period. This means $60 Million in profit to developers and $60 Million less available to provide greenspace in our neighbourhood.
The other issue that Council will consider on Monday is POPS – the acronym is Publicly Owned Private Spaces. Some Councillors believe that developers should be given tax considerations because they are including public spaces on their development properties. The issue with this concept is that they are privately owned spaces and the city has no control over them. Think of the BB3 “parkette” which was touted as being a benefit to the neighbourhood in lieu of parkland – although not completed as yet, its nothing more than another concrete space that is actually built for Google employees and adds no greenspace to the neighbourhood.
The City has declared a climate crisis yet they are ignoring the needs of downtown residents for parkland/greenspace … the new bike lanes have no greenspace separation, buildings in the core are generally built adjacent to the side walk with not a square foot of greenspace or a single tree for residents/dogs, Victoria Park is overwhelmed with new condo dwellers . Never I have ever seen a developer in downtown advertise that they are selling units $15,000 below market value because they did not have to pay the “cash in lieu” development fee – eliminating the parkland fee is pure profit for them.
Developers in downtown/midtown have had a free ride since 2008 because they did not have to pay cash in lieu of parkland. The “free ride” needs to end – there is no longer a need for the City to attract developers to the downtown/midtown …. Developers are clamouring to build in the core and that is why they are now paying $10M to $20M per acre for downtown land. The suburban councillors, who are really not invested in our core neighbourhoods, simply see large scale developments with no green space as additional tax revenue – they are not invested, as we are, in making this a livable downtown/place to live.
So … what to do next.
- Read the Places and Spaces report which will verify the lack of green space – https://www.engagewr.ca/placesandspaces
- Write to City Council – before Monday – and let them know that extending the moratorium on waiving the cash in lieu of fees past the 12 months is not acceptable. If you want a template … at the bottom of this post is the text from the Victoria Park neighbourhood who are just as concerned about this as we are. Feel free to use any of this text to help craft your own email.
- Register as a delegate to appear at the Council meeting on Monday at 7 pm. https://www.kitchener.ca/en/council-and-city-administration/appear-as-a-delegation.aspx
- Although its easy to view Council meetings via Zoom – its important that you show up at Council on Monday – in the Council chambers – 7 pm – so Council is aware that adding green space to our neighbourhood is important
The need for parkland in our neighbourhood (and ultimately a tree canopy project in 2023) will be a way to preserve our core neighbourhood … if you love living in a Cultural Heritage Neighbourhood with lots of trees/greenspace this is your opportunity to tell City Council that they must force developers to enhance the neighbourhood and not destroy it.
If you are an advocate for better greenspace/parkland and this is all too confusing … feel free to send firstname.lastname@example.org a note on next steps.
TEXT from Victoria Park folks:
To: Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic and Members of Council
Date: August 2022
RE: Local Parks and Greenspaces Funding
The provision of parks by-law is under review in municipalities across the province. Many face the same problem as Kitchener in providing parks and greenspaces in neighbourhoods where intensification is the highest. We are learning that, unlike Kitchener, aggressive approaches are being taken to tackle the issue of adequate parks. In Mississauga and Burlington, for example, significant rate increases (400% or
more, which is significantly more than Kitchener staff are recommending) have recently been endorsed, with no transitional phase. In other municipalities, including some that are local, there are no cap rates placed on dense forms of development; parkland is dedicated at the provincial maximums allowed, again unlike Kitchener where a developer discount of up to 85% is provided.
I am writing to urge that when the Spaces Report comes before Council on August 22 nd 2022, you vote for changes that expedite the funding needed to address the equitable provision of local parks in our city. If you reduce the provisions for parkland funding from the targets recommended in the Spaces Report, you will exacerbate the problem created by exempting downtown developers from cash-in-lieu fees for over a decade.
There are three decisions that, if made by council, will cripple the city’s ability to address the inequity of parks provision in the city as documented in the Spaces Report:
1. A reduction to the cash-in-lieu cap rate.
2. An increase in the transition period for revoking cash-in-lieu payments for development in the downtown. (The original recommendation by city staff for a transition period of 12 months will result in an estimated $56.8 m loss of revenue for parks funding.)
3. An increase to the credit for privately owned public spaces.
Here is the opportunity for you to make decisions that build on Kitchener’s reputation as a
progressive city, one with a comprehensive agenda that goes beyond density and addresses:
● Climate change
● An abundant tree canopy
● The health and wellbeing of residents
● Walkable communities in a livable city
● Vibrant spaces
● Social inequities
● Social interaction
Now is the time to align intensification strategies with policies that create much-needed parklands, greenspaces, and tree-lined streets. I call on you to vote for the recommendations in the Spaces Report and to pass funding policies that address parkland needs of current and future Kitchener residents in all wards.
Herbicide spraying along Spur Line Trail
Garden Education Program
The target audience for this program is high school aged youth. But they have opened it up to any community member interested in the topic. For more information click on the link:
Mt. Hope area construction update
Perimeter is hoping to start cleaning up the side streets (Wellington and Moore) this spring and are hoping for completion around the end of June but the timing will depend on the weather.
By the way, here is a video of the artwork installation from a few weeks back. Click here.
The house at 134 Shanley will be demolished and the excavation of both sites (134 and 152) and the installation of shoring and foundation walls will begin early April and last three or four months. Above grade construction will begin following this and will last for 18 to 24 months. Some of the murals have been removed by the artists and others may find new homes, included alleys. Watch out around the area!
Development updates around MHBP and planning related meetings
On February 7, 2022 there was a meeting of the Planning & Strategic Initiatives Committee. Staff brought forward a recommendation on the 134-152 Shanley Street development in favour of the zoning changes requested by the developer. There were only two delegations who spoke and the proposals were approved unanimously by councillors. Although a vote at a regular council meeting is still required, this effectively allows Shannondale to begin the process of removing contamination so construction can begin.
152 Shanley has been written about many times on this Blog and searching that address will display all posts. For those interested in the Staff package, which includes comments by residents, click on this link.
The main part of the February 7th meeting was taken over by the proposed development in Belmont Village where many delegations were signed up to present. In fact, a second evening was set aside to hear all the delegations. The Record has reported on this development here and here.
March 7th at 6 pm
Planning and Strategic Initiatives Committee
Kitchener.ca/meetings – no need to pre-register
On the agenda are the following re-zoning/official plan amendments
- King/Pine Street – 25 storey mixed use building (retail/apartments). In our neighbourhood.
- 30 Francis Street – 44 storey mixed use building
- 142 Fergus Avenue – 7 storey apartment building
- 1525 Bleams Road – rezoning from agricultural to residential
How many times have you heard people say “I didn’t know that was permitted” in my residential neighbourhood? The City is proceeding with the implementation of stage 2b of the Crozby review (rezoning changes). Here is an overview of the changes: (would apply to infills in Mt. Hope)
- Allowing 3 units within a single detached house in Residential zones 1 to 5
- Changes to minimum and maximum driveway and garage widths
- Requiring new buildings to have similar setbacks/heights to adjacent properties in established residential neighbourhoods
Re Crozby – these changes (2b) were part of the original Crozby recommendation/ changes from December 2019 where Council passed 2a and deferred 2b. The PSIC meeting on March 9th is a special meeting to formalize the re-zoning on residential zones – none of the items (3 units/minimum lot/driveway/height) should be a surprise. Council increased the allowable height from 10.5 metres to 11 metres – in our neighbourhood the typical 2 storey with an attic is 10 metres. So, infill houses, where they tear down and rebuild can be 11 metres … not significant but it will make them higher than the surrounding houses. So, on March 9th, PSIC will approve them – they will go to Council a couple of weeks later and then be implemented on the bylaws for residential units.
Tuesday, February 22n
4 pm to 7 pm via zoom (staff presentation at 4 pm)
Open House to learn more about these changes
RSVP at email@example.com
Wednesday, March 9th at 6 pm
Planning and Strategic Committee Meeting to approve the zoning changes
Kitchener.ca/watch now – no need to pre-register
Development Committee New Year’s “round up”
The inaugural meeting of the 2022 MHBPNA Development Committee was held on January 6th at 7 pm via Zoom and included a review of some of the issues we have addressed throughout 2021.
- Ted Parkinson and Kate Pearce, the reps from the MHBPNA, are leaving the Committee. New Members from the MHBPNA executive are Jorg Broschek and Linda Vandenakker. Other members include Catherine Owens (Chair), Gordon Hatt, Scott Morris, Tom Hillier, Nik Schmidt, Mark Sisson and Sarah Marsh (ad hoc member).
- We have been meeting with City Planning Staff following the our submission outlining various neighbourhood issues including demo practices, building permit practices, RIENS, C of A amongst other issues. The good news is that we are starting to see some increased attention by the City on a significant number of properties on our tracking list. A few things of note
- Demolition permits – the houses at 91 Louisa and 50 Breithaupt have now been demolished.
- Unkempt vacant lots/demolished buildings. A building permit for the vacant lot at King/Wellington was issued in early December. The City is also reviewing the vacant site at Weber/Louisa (neighbours think its unsafe).
- We have again raised the issue of the boarded up McDonald’s building on King/Moore – Perimeter, who owns the Google site, has also approached the City about the site.
- King/Pine – 25 storey apartment build across from the hospital. A public meeting was held in October and the application for re-zoning will go to the City for approval on Monday, January 10th.
- Shannondale has approval from the City to begin the remediation of the Electrohome site in January/February. Remediation will entail removing all the trees and shoring up the perimeter of the site to ensure there is no impact to neighbouring properties when the soil is removed.
- Sacred Heart School. Sarah Marsh is in discussions with the Polish Congress re future plans. The intention is to retain the convent building and the historic portions of the school. Plans are still under development and timing is still under discussion.
- Google Build – build is well underway. Future plans are to include an additional building on the current parking lot.
- Station Park. The first two buildings are well underway. Three additional buildings are planned.
- Transit Hub
- The pedestrian passageways under Duke and Waterloo Streets are a go. Building is expected to commence in late 2022 at which time Duke will be closed to traffic.
- Metrolinx has completed its traffic study of the surrounding area. They have submitted the review to the City. Scott Morris has obtained a copy of the Metrolinx report and will report on it separately.
- Sarah Marsh, Scott, Gordon Hatt and Catherine have met with the City Traffic department a number of times to outline neighbourhood concerns re traffic not only due to the Transit Hub but the general increase in traffic due to development – Wellington St. is of particular concern. Scott will update you separately.
- RIENS (Residential Intensification in Established Neighbourhoods). We have been discussing our concerns with the City re the need to protect “stable neighbourhoods” and the need to raise the profile of RIENS neighbourhoods with the Committee of Adjustment (C of A) and the Building Department etc. Residential Intensification in Existing Neighbourhoods (RIENS) outlines the specific guidelines for infill/builds/additions in our neighbourhood.
- Committee of Adjustment. We have made a number of recommendations to the City re the composition of the committee and its mandate. In the meantime Mark Sisson continues to attend C of A meetings and update you monthly.
- Cash in lieu of Parkland. Tom Hillier is managing this on our behalf. The City’s initiative known as Places and Spaces will be looking at the City’s current practices and evaluating how and where green space is allocated throughout the City. Tom is encouraging everyone to complete the City’s survey www.engagewr.ca/placesandspaces or to appear before Council when the recommendations are presented for approval.
- The City Staff’s recommendations on the “Tree Canopy” project will be presented to the Planning and Strategic Initiatives Committee on Monday, January 10th
- Additional Dwelling Units. Our process improvement suggestions including the need to notify neighbours beyond the current 30 metre radius were included in our memo to the City
- Nik Schmidt continues to diligently update our geomapping tool which maps all development in the neighbourhood. Due to the increased number of large builds immediately adjacent to Mt. Hope/Breithaupt he has expanded the map to include these
- Other properties we are tracking
2020 AGM in November
The MHBPNA AGM was held on ZOOM on Sunday, November 7. Several members of our community attended in addition to our city councillor Sarah Marsh and Niall Lobley, Director of Parks & Cemeteries, City of Kitchener.
The meeting was chaired by Kate Pearce who also took notes (thanks so much!)
Councillor Marsh provided us with an update on City of Kitchener activities, the Breithaupt Centre (temporarily closed for maintenance) and the city budget process.
Niall Lobley, Director of Parks & Cemeteries, City of Kitchener spoke about his role and talked about the city’s strategy regarding parkland. Naill was very passionate about his work and the importance of parkland. There were many questions so we had a very engaged discussion for almost an hour. The city’s key initiative right now is the Places and Spaces review. This will have an important role going forward and everyone is invited to fill out their thoughts on the “Engage” poll here:
We will be publishing more about that strategy and review on our Blog in the future.
Catherine Owens is chair of the MHBPNA Development Committee and talked about its activity over the past year. The committee has engaged with the City of Kitchener, various developers and many citizens to highlight and organize our concerns about “all things development” in our area.
For an overview of the committee and some of the work they have done, please see our website: http://www.mhbpna.org/development-committee/
Kate Pearce talked about our engagement with the Downtown Neighbourhood Alliance (DNA) which meets regularly and would like input on programming (ideas, activities, leaders).
A Year in Review was provided by Kate and Ted Parkinson.
These pandemic times have stopped many of our typical activities like the soccer program and the Duke St. West Music Fest.
– Photo contest. We had several entries and some winners were given $25 gift cards for neighbourhood food businesses. We will be using the photos for our Blog and elsewhere
–Play Music on Your Porch Day. MHBPNA advertised this event on our Facebook page and website and we have a blog article about it here: http://www.mhbpna.org/2021/09/14/international-play-music-on-a-porch-day-2021/
Financial update: We still have plenty of money in the bank for small events like our “mini grant” program. In fact, our Mini Grant program is ongoing and you can read about it here:
Board Of Directors
We had people move on and new folks join our board. As a reminder, anyone living in the MHBP area is welcome to attend any of our meetings and we post them on Facebook and our website.
Our current board is:
Ted Parkinson (Communications)
Emily Slofstra (Treasurer)
Members: Erin Nespoli, Jörg Broschek, Linda Vandenakker, Katie Lefler, Kimberley Gauld and Levi Oakey.
If you have any ideas about what we could be doing, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have ideas we can publicize what you are doing and can even supply a “mini grant” to help you buy food and/or supplies.
2021 Annual General Meeting, Nov. 7 2-4 pm
International Play Music on a Porch Day 2021
It was here on August 28. We played music, sang, friends and neighbours dropped by. It was fun. Let’s do it again next year!