Jane’s Walk 2023 was another success

Thank you to the 30 or so folks who attended our Jane’s Walk: “Marvellous Mt. Hope – Breithaupt Park: from Industrial Past to Innovative Present”. It was a lot of fun to talk about our great neighbourhood and chat with so many of you.

Here are a few highlights. We look forward to leading another walk next year!

At the beginning of the walk everyone met the co-leaders: Ted Parkinson and Lane Burman.

We started the walk at the “Shoe Factory” at the corner of St. Leger and Breithaupt Street. This building has around 40 tenants in it, and has kept most of the historic look since it was the Greb shoe factory. Lane recounted many stories including one of a “ghost” that might still be there!

We talked about Krug Furniture, the Weber Street Widening, the impact of the railway being constructed in 1850 and the “industrial” roots of our neighbourhood.

Below Lane is discussing the area around the former Fire Hall at Duke and Breithaupt. Another topic of our walk was how most of the buildings in MHBP are examples of “vernacular” architecture,  this building has a fire hose tower that includes some Italianate features making it “polite”. The things you learn, right?

We ended the walk in the shadow of the Breithaupt Block which has been extensively renovated for Google and other tenants. One of the most exciting things about our area is how so many of the older buildings have been updated to still be used for so many “modern” commercial activities like developing software.

Railway Updates along spur line trail

 

Each year, Canadian National Railway Company (CN) identifies the level crossings across its network, which require rehabilitation (major maintenance) to maintain crossings that are adequate for the road users and for continued safe railway operations. CN is planning on undertaking ‘full depth crossing rehab’ at several different crossings that are under the jurisdiction of the City of Waterloo. CN will require a full road closure (including sidewalks) to accommodate the proposed works. They are going to restrict/close off the MUP sidewalk that is adjacent to the tracks to accommodate this work and a safe work-zone. They will not be maintaining pedestrian traffic through their work zone. 

They have provided their updated schedule as follows;

Allan St -100 Allan St E, Waterloo, ON N2J 1V9 – May 1/23, 07:00hr – May 5/23, 19:00hr

John St – 66 John St E, Waterloo, ON N2J 1G1 – May 8/23, 07:00hr – May 12/23. 19:00hr

Union St – 95 Union St E, Waterloo, ON N2J 1G1 -May 15/23, 07:00hr – May 19/23, 19:00hr

Moore St -127 Moore Ave S, Waterloo, ON N2J 1X4 -May 23/23, 07:00hr – May 26/23, 19:00hr

Roger St – 150 Roger St, Waterloo, ON N2J 1X9 – May 29/23, 07:00hr – June 2/23, 19:00hr

Jane’s Walk, May 6, 2023

After a few years hiatus, MHBPNA is sponsoring a Jane’s Walk this year. We encourage everyone to check out the Jane’s Walk Waterloo Region website to see all the walks in Cambridge, Waterloo and Kitchener. It will be an excellent weekend.

Our walk will be on Saturday, May 6 at 1 pm:

Marvelous Mt. Hope-Breithaupt Park: From Industrial Past to Innovative Present

Here is a short explanation of “What is a Jane’s walk” we wrote on this Blog back in 2012:

Spring must be here because it is time for another Jane’s Walk Weekend in the Kitchener/Waterloo area. The “Jane” in the walk is Jane Jacobs who was an urban activist in the United States and Canada. She wrote books on how to build urban environments that people enjoyed living in. The photo below shows her engaged in saving Penn Station from development and in her later years she was famous for helping stop the Spadina Expressway in Toronto. 

Of course there are many excellent places on the web to learn about Ms. Jacobs. The great thing about the Jane’s Walk events is that you do not need to know anything about her at all, except that she serves as an inspiration for neighbours to get together and discover the history of where they live. These walks are a great way to meet people from near and far.

Website in Transition

Our website is being moved from one ‘host’ to another. As we work through this some glitches will appear, like the temporary loss of images. But all will be restored.

Immediate news is that MHBPNA will sponsor another Jane’s Walk this year. Stay tuned for details.

Update from Ward 10 Councillor Aislinn Clancy

Hello MHBNA! That’s a mouthful… Thanks for your support! I’m very excited to represent our neighbourhood and Ward 10 on city council. I have a fondness for Mount Hope – Breithaupt Park as it is where I live and play. I decided to run for city council as I was troubled with how our province has been handling our progress towards climate, tearing down wind turbines, building gas power plants and firing the environment ombudsman. And now Bill 23 threatens to pave our green belt. As a mother of two quirky kids, I want to be sure that our various levels of government work to promote a livable planet and a healthy city. I felt that as a climate advocate, social worker and activist I could contribute as a city Councillor to promote well-being, climate solutions, thoughtful city planning and equity.

At this time, I have a seat on the Downtown Action Advisory Committee, The Downtown BIA, the Active Transportation and Trails Advisory Committee and the Climate Change and Environment Committee.

I continue to work part time as a school social worker, supporting students who have disengaged with their learning to find the strength and motivation to take action on their life goals. I’m married to Ryan Fobel, a data engineer and heat pump enthusiast, and we have two kids Zidra 12, and James 10. I hope to get to know everyone over the
next four years and help celebrate community, work to build healthy neighbourhoods and promote our good values in our city.

Aislinn Clancy

MHBPNA Development Committee Update (2022)

The MHBPNA Development Committee has been operating for over 5 years.  We are a group of 10 neighbours, residing in Ward 10, whose primary focus has been to identify development issues and advocate on behalf of the neighbourhood.  Our other primary purpose is to help all residents of MHBP understand how the planning process works.

The committee was initially established years ago because we knew that the ION would bring substantial changes to our neighbourhood.  Neighbours felt we should be able to unite as a group and give feedback to the Region and the City as to how we wanted to see development happen in our area.  We pulled together a group of 10 residents who were all interested in making sure Mount Hope/Breithaupt remained a great place to live.  Although the membership of the committee has changed and evolved over the years I would like to extend a thanks to the current members ….

Jorg Broschek –  representative from the Neighbourhood Association

Linda Vandenakker – representative from the Neighbourhood Association

Mark Sisson – tracking and communicating all Committee of Adjustment Applications

Nik Schmidt – managing our technology tools and updating our neighbourhood maps on planning changes

Gordon Hatt/Scott Morris/Tom Hiller – providing feedback to the city on traffic issues, the Region on the Transit Hub design

And lastly to Sarah Marsh who has been a wonderful addition to our group, who attended almost every monthly meeting and who helped us make valuable personal connections at City Hall.

Over the years, the Development Committee has provided input for the city on the RIENS guidelines (Residential Intensification in Existing Neighbourhoods), the ADU procedures (additional dwelling units), the planning education videos on the city’s website, the coordination and review of Crozby  (the city’s zoning review), new procedures for Committee of Adjustment notifications and the new re-development signs posted on re-development sites. We have continually liaised with the Region regarding the new transit hub and the closure of Duke and Waterloo Streets.   Our “geo-mapping tool”, developed to identify all developments in Mt. Hope was seen as “best practice” and was used by the City as a template for new mapping tools in the city. We have also continued to provide feedback to the Region of Waterloo on their official plan amendments and the “hold the country line initiative”.  We rallied around the opposition to the Google build (a parking garage on the site) and the height of the build. . {The city also uses the Development Committee as the primary and initial contact with the neighbourhood (in addition, of course, to the City Councillor).

Although there are not as many significant issues in Mr. Hope from a planning perspective as there were five years ago, we continue to offer to support to residents/neighbours on large builds and neighbourhood concerns over demolition and Committee of Adjustment issues.  We often consult with neighbours who wish to object to C of A rulings, infill, tree canopy issues, and potential new builds.

Places and Spaces (which identified the dire need for more parkland in Wards 9 and 10 was a focus for us in 2022.  The new Tree Canopy initiative by the city (to increase the number of trees) in 2023 will also remain on our radar screen

Here is a recap of some of these Committee of Adjustment, demolition, and infill projects we investigated and monitored in 2022:

    1. 239/241 Wellington – exterior build only
    2. 91 Louisa at Waterloo – demolition/infill;
    3. 44 Wilhelm – demo/infill – C of A;
    4. Ahrens/Louisa – new build;
    5. King & Pine – 25 story apartment – passed, building permit issued;
    6. King/Wellington vacant site – bylaw complaint/building permit inquiry;
    7. Perimeter/Google – new build – sidewalk access;
    8. 18 Guelph, 56 Wilhelm, 528 Lancaster, 783 Guelph, 306 St. Leger, 239/241 Wellington, 102 Waterloo, 81 Shanley

In addition to residential units, we continue to monitor larger developments

  • The proposed additional build on the Google site
  • The Transit Hub
  • Sacred Heart Complex
  • The boarded up MacDonald building on King/Moore
  • The vacant site on Wellington/King

In essence the MHBPNA Development Committee is here to offer support to all residents on the neighbourhood on development issues.  Please feel free to contact a member of the committee if you have issues you need help with.  And, if you are interested in becoming involved and want to join the committee, we typically meet the first Thursday of the month – you can connect at mhbpna@gmail.com

Sincerely, Catherine Owens

Chair, MHBPNA Development Committee.

All Candidates Meeting for Ward 10, Sunday Oct 2, 2 – 4 PM

Mount Hope – Breithaupt Park Neighbourhood Association, Olde Berlin Town Neighbourhood Association and Central Frederick Neighbourhood Association invite you to a “Meet the Candidates for Ward 10 Councillor” event on Sunday, October 2nd, 2 – 4 pm at the Downtown Community Centre, 35 Weber St. West, between Young and Ontario.

As of this posting, all 6 candidates for Ward 10 have accepted our invitation to attend. Please come out to meet your candidates and hear what they have to say about who they are and why they should be elected.

We are asking everyone to wear masks and will provide masks and hand sanitizer at the door.

Many residents have posted questions here. We will use your questions to drive the meeting and each candidate will have a limited time to provide their responses to those topics our community believes are important. We also hope to have time left at the end for a few questions from the “live” audience.

This event will be recorded and made publicly available within a day or two of the event. We will not be live-streaming the event.

If you have any questions, please contact us at mhbpna@gmail.com

Meet the Ward 10 Candidates, October 2nd

Mount Hope Breithaupt Park Neighbourhood Association, Olde Berlin Town Neighbourhood Association and Central Frederick Neighbourhood Association invite you to a “Meet the Candidates for Ward 10 Councillor” event on Sunday, October 2nd, 2pm to 3:30pm at the Downtown Community Centre. The address is 35B Weber Street West.

If you have particular questions or concerns that you would like the candidates to speak on, please enter them at this link so we can ensure we make the best use of our time and get as many questions asked as we can.
Click on this link to check if you are on the Voters’ List for the October 24 municipal elections
Click here to find out more about your candidates from the city’s site.
Please email us at mhbpna@gmail.com if you have further questions.

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.

  1. Read the Places and Spaces report which will verify the lack of green space – https://www.engagewr.ca/placesandspaces
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  4. 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 mhbpna@gmail.com a note on next steps.

TEXT from Victoria Park folks:

To: Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic and Members of Council
council@kitchener.ca
From:
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.