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February 2014

Published by the Region of Waterloo


Region’s budget puts your tax dollars to work Developing the Region of Waterloo’s budget was a particularly challenging task this year. Staff and Council worked hard to address these challenges, while maintaining the important services we provide to the community. In January, Regional Council approved a 2014 tax rate increase of 1.05 per cent for direct Regional programs and 0.81 per cent for Waterloo Regional Police. This budget strikes a balance between funding important services while keeping the tax increase low. The budget provided additional funding for a number of Regional programs and services, including:

Transit improvements, such as express bus service in Cambridge and the ION rapid transit project;

page 3 to see where your property taxes go and how our programs and services are paid for.

Additional child care subsidies;

Additional benefits for Ontario Works recipients;

Enhancements to rural ambulance services; and

Increased care for residents at Sunnyside Home.

This issue of Region News reflects the many ways the Region is working to provide you with high quality, responsive programs and services, while ensuring that citizens receive good value for their tax dollars. As always, the Region’s prudent spending and investment practices continue to play an important role in shaping this community today and in the years to come.

The budget translates into a property tax increase of about $32 for the average household; approximately $14 for police and $18 for all other Regional programs, including the service improvements noted above. Take a look at the “infographic” on

Spring is a great time to use your green bin Spring is the time when we really realize how valuable the Green Bin program is. Springtime soil preparation for planting includes compost made from your green bin material. Your efforts to separate food scraps and other organics from garbage make a significant difference to the quality of the soil that grows our local food.

Other benefits: •

A complete, sustainable cycle: food, Green Bin, compost, farmers’ fields, food.

Extends the life of our landfill by keeping organics out.

All-natural: no chemicals or additives are used in any of the stages, processing to finished compost.

Increases recycling: half of the waste from the average home could be recycled in the Green Bin.

For us locally: healthier soil, higher quality food, less dependency on landfill.

For everyone globally: reduction in greenhouse gases. In 2012, over 5,300 metric tonnes of GHG was reduced as a direct result of the Green Bin program in our Region!

Managing our waste into the future PAGE 2

Your tax dollars at work PAGE 3

ION construction team will soon be selected PAGE 4

We are the Home of the Blue Box; we know the value of recycling. The Green Bin brings a new era of recycling to our Region. For more information on getting started with the Green Bin, or any of the other recycling program, please give us a call at 519-883-5100 or visit us at waste.

The Big Shift is shaping our future PAGE 5

Check it! We inspect it. PAGE 6

Region News Questions or comments? Contact 519-575-4400

Accessible formats of this document are available upon request.

Have your say on our water conservation future Do you believe that protecting our long term water supply is important? Would you like to find out how your water use compares with others in your neighbourhood? These are the types of questions we would like you to answer as we update the Water Efficiency Master Plan, 2015-2025. Input from the public is a key part of the process that helps us focus on the programs that residents and businesses find helpful and save enough water to make sure we have a safe, clean water supply for all generations. You may be familiar with past Region of Waterloo programs like rain barrel distributions and the toilet replacement program. This is a chance for you to look at the draft master plan and comment on some new water saving programs that are proposed. “Each Waterloo Region resident uses an average of 200 litres per day of water, which is great, but the goal now is to reach 160 litres per day by 2025,” said program manager Steve Gombos. “The master plan outlines some new ways for us to achieve this target.” Have a look at the draft master plan at and submit your feedback to us by March 7, 2014. You can also call 519-575-4021 if you would like to review a print version of the document or be added to our mailing list.

Managing our waste into the future In November 2013, Regional Council approved a plan that will guide waste management programs and services for the next 20 years. Three areas of focus were recommended: Diversion: Develop changes to curbside collection, similar to those already in effect in other municipalities, to encourage increased diversion and reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. Residual waste management: Continue to research what to do with our garbage when the landfill is full, focusing on thermal technology options. Work with Water Services to see if there are opportunities for handling residual waste and biosolids together. Planning: Adopt a waste hierarchy that includes “Recovery” as the 4th “R”, ranking recovery of energy and resources above waste disposal. Explore potential partnerships with neighbouring municipalities for diversion and residual waste management. All reports and studies for the Waste Management Master Plan can be found by following the Master Plan link at


YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK Where do my property taxes go? Education 25%

Cities/ Townships 25%

The average household in Waterloo Region pays about $1,775 for Regional services.

Region of Waterloo (Including Police) 50%

SW_YKF_4.5x5.5_Nov2013.indd 1


$285 Public Transit repairs/construction, $188 Road traffic signals, snow plowing etc. $163 Social services box/ green bin collection and $143 Garbage/blue disposal $126 Affordable community housing $111 Corporate support services $64 Planning, Regional Library, Museum $49 Emergency Medical Services (ambulance) $28 Public Health programs $25 Region of Waterloo International Airport $14 Other Regional services and grants

13-12-09 2:48 PM

Police Services

The 2014 budget translates into a property tax increase of about $32 a year for an average household. Police: $14 All other Regional programs: $18

These numbers only reflect Regional property taxes. Provincial grants, development charges and other revenue are not included in these numbers.

Increased Spending

• • • •

Delaying road projects Reducing service on underused GRT routes Closing of some rural waste transfer stations Reduced office, administrative and equipment costs • Utility savings from energy efficiency

CREDIT RATING The Region’s triple-A credit rating means we can borrow money for capital projects at a better rate and pay less interest.


Monday departures until March 17, 2014

What does the Regional portion of my taxes pay for?

Your tax dollars at work!

Budget Savings

Direct Champagne Flights to Cancun/Riviera Maya on Sunwing Airlines

• • • • • • • •

Police Services iXpress service in Cambridge Rapid Transit Ambulance Service Mobility Plus Ontario Works discretionary benefits Sunnyside Home resident care Child care subsidies

Region of Waterloo International Airport Master Plan To learn more about the study and provide comments, visit: masterplan or call 519-648-2256 TTY: 519-575-4608

ION project team will soon be selected

ION, the Region’s rapid transit system, is well underway and making great progress. Last June, the Region released a Request for Proposals (RFP) to the three short-listed teams selected to design, build, finance, operate and maintain ION light rail transit (LRT) service over the next 30 years. The teams had more than six months to prepare and submit their final proposals in December. Since then, the Region has been carefully evaluating each submission. In total, more than 70 staff and advisors have reviewed the submissions as part of the financial, technical and completeness review teams. Infrastructure Ontario and the independent Fairness Monitor have also been working with the Region to oversee the process and ensure that proposals are evaluated in a transparent, fair and consistent manner. To ensure the Region gets the best value for Waterloo Region residents, both in terms of quality and cost, a

number of safeguards were built into the process. The evaluation process will ultimately identify the preferred team that will work with the Region to design, build, finance, operate and maintain ION LRT service over the next 30 years. Next month, staff will recommend the preferred team and seek Council’s permission to finalize a Project Agreement. Construction for ION is expected to begin shortly thereafter. As progress on ION continues, the Region remains focused on building an efficient and convenient rapid transit system that will move people and shape Waterloo Region for the future.

Did you know that Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) are a proven and widely used business model for large public infrastructure projects in Canada? P3s work because they engage the expertise and innovation of the private sector. They also transfer a major share of the risks to the private sector meaning that taxpayers are not on the financial hook for cost overruns, delays or performance issues over the life of the agreement.

GRT introduces new transit support person program

Grand River Transit (GRT) understands that for those who have trouble using transit independently, getting around can be difficult. In January 2014, GRT introduced the new Transit Support Person Program for customers who require assistance when travelling on conventional buses or specialized vehicles. The new program brings added value to our customers by ensuring they have the assistance they need when travelling – making public transit more accessible. Any person who requires support to use transit can apply for a PLUSone card. This is a GRT Photo ID card that identifies a person who, because of their disability, needs assistance while travelling. This person is then issued a PLUSone Card that allows free travel for their support person. You can apply for a PLUSone card online at www.grt. ca/accessibility or by calling Customer Service at 519-585-7555 to have one mailed to you. You may also pick one up in person at the Charles Street or Ainslie Street Transit Terminals. There is no fee for the PLUSone card. Freedom to travel has never been easier for those requiring assistance with the introduction of this new program. A support person can be anyone in your life who assists you in using public transit - a friend, family member, volunteer or hired caregiver. This program supports the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and was approved by Regional Council in 2013.


Be Part of the



The Big Shift is shaping our future In recent years we have seen a series of economic, environmental and social changes occurring in our community that are fundamentally influencing how we need to plan and manage growth to maintain Waterloo Region’s prosperity and accommodate a growing population. The Region refers to these changes as “The Big Shift”. They include a shift away from suburban sprawl to more compact development, a greater investment in transit, and increasing the densities of our urban areas with a focus on more attractively designed development.

Shaping our community to help move people: The Regional Transportation Master Plan: Moving Forward 2031 was adopted in 2010. It defines how our transportation system will grow and change in the coming decades and is helping the Region provide more travel choices to residents, and ensure our future transportation system is both affordable and environmentally sustainable. A full Master Plan update is scheduled for 2015, but last year we took a look at how we’re doing and prepared this Infographic that shows a sampling of data we have collected and the progress we are making at meeting the goals and targets in the Plan.

By optimizing traffic signal timing on major roads, rush hour travel times have improved by about 28%.

In response to these changes, we created “The Big Shift Toolbox” to help our many stakeholders be part of our community vision. The toolbox makes it easier for the community and investors to find information about the many planning, infrastructure and financial tools available throughout the region and the area municipalities that are helping us to shape our future. “We know the growth and development in the Central Transit Corridor and around ION stations will continue to be transformational for Waterloo Region, and we needed a coordinated approach to take advantage of the investment our community is making in rapid transit,” said Rob Horne, the Region’s Commissioner of Planning, Housing and Community Services.



Tracking transit:


Transit service +28%


Annual transit pass sales TRANSIT



To learn more about the Big Shift Toolbox, please visit our website at bigshift.

Fuel -20% costs


The Big Shift Toolbox puts the resources in one place and includes information about plans and programs such as the Community Building Strategy that provides a blueprint for how we want future growth and development to occur, and the Brownfield Financial Incentive Program that has provided financial assistance to developers to manage environmental impacts on sites such as the Tannery and Breithaupt Block developments in Kitchener and the Waterscape project in Cambridge.


Reviewing our roads:


This leads to

expenses -17%per transit trip

Some buses are crowded on certain routes at certain times of the day. The Region is addressing overcrowding by redesigning routes and schedules and adding more buses to congested routes.

Managing demand: In Waterloo Region

On average, annual number of trips and vehicle-kilometres travelled by carshare increased by about


2006 A Region of Waterloo employee program 2012 An Association with 17 member organizations

Goal 2016 An Association with 50 member organizations

*To view the full Regional Transportation Master Plan Monitoring Report search RTMP on or visit


Check it! We inspect it. Have you ever wondered how clean the kitchen is at your favourite restaurant? Or if that piercing needle is sterile? Or if the spa where you get your pedicure properly disinfects the footbaths? Public Health has just launched the Check it! We inspect it. website at www.regionofwaterloo. ca/checkit. This site builds on our searchable food inspection results website that has been live since 2003. The new and improved website has a fresh design and now includes health inspection results from all businesses that offer beauty and body art services such as tattoos, body piercing, electrolysis, manicures/ pedicures, waxing, hair cuts and styling. Check it! We inspect it. will help you make an informed choice about the food and beauty and body art businesses you visit.

Food and beauty and body art businesses also have the option to promote the website by placing a Check it! We inspect it. sign in their window. These signs have a QR code that you can quickly scan with your smart phone to access the site. You can also call 519-575-4400 ext. 5417 or drop by a Public Health office to get inspections results.

Keeping your drinking water safe

ar, Each ye spectors In Health pections of c i l b u P s 5,750 in od and do over s that serve fo ervices. se ts busines ty and body ar ons is to u t a ci offer be rpose of inspe inesses The pu ure these bus health make s nimum public ent i v meet m ements to pre n. r o i i u t req nd infec a s s e n ill

Region continues to improve accessibility The Region has released a report that details the progress we have made to meet the requirements of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). It also highlights some of the areas we intend to focus on in 2014. Some of the accessibility improvements we implemented in 2013 include: Provision of training to all staff on the AODA and the Ontario Human Rights Code as it pertains to people with disabilities.

Water testing reminder service To sign-up for a free water testing reminder service, go to Complete the form and you will be sent a reminder to test your water three times a year. The availability of safe drinking water is vital to a community’s health and wellbeing. In Waterloo Region, we are fortunate to have access to high quality, municipally treated tap water. Municipally treated tap water is safe and clean to drink, a great value for your money, and an environmentally friendly and healthy choice. The Region of Waterloo is responsible for constantly monitoring municipal water supplies to ensure quality and safety. Drinking water can also come from private water supplies, usually wells, which are often located in rural areas. Well owners are responsible for keeping their water safe. It is estimated that less than 25 per cent of rural residents in Waterloo Region have their well water tested annually. Provincial guidelines recommend that private well owners test their water for bacteria at least three times per year. Testing is free.

Review and revision of our HR policies to support employees with disabilities throughout the employment cycle. Purchase of two new all-terrain wheelchairs for use by visitors to the Waterloo Region Museum and Doon Heritage Village.

How do you test your well water?

To read our 2013 accessibility status update, visit

1. Pick-up an empty water sample bottle at one of the pick-up/drop-off locations (see below). 2. Fill up your bottle according to the instructions and complete the form attached to the bottle. 3. Drop off the filled water bottle and form within 24 hours of taking the sample. There are multiple locations where residents can pick-up and drop-off water sample bottles. For a map of locations, go to www.regionofwaterloo. ca/ph and click on Healthy Living and Health Protection, then click on Water Quality then Drinking Water. For more information, call 519-575-4400 or visit


Homeowners Repair Program helps low & moderate income families repairs or accessibility modifications, allowing homeowners with disabilities to remain in their homes. The program is made possible through the Investment in Affordable Housing for Ontario Program, funded by the federal and provincial governments. Eligible Ontario Renovates projects may include major repairs to make a home safe, such as:

Working to improve services for children & families The Children’s Planning Table is a community planning group that focuses on how to best serve children and families through aligning and coordinating our resources, finding efficiencies, and making services more accessible so that we maximize our impact across the community. Our ultimate goal is having all children in Waterloo Region receive the supports needed to achieve their optimal health and wellbeing. The Children’s Planning Table has over 300 members from organizations that serve children across Waterloo Region. There are two working groups that meet on a bi-monthly basis and focus on specific projects and directions. The Children’s Planning Table as a whole meets two to three times a year. For more information, contact Michelle Martin at

Changes to Ontario Works benefits

The provincial government has made some changes to Ontario Works benefits which will help people on social assistance achieve greater financial security and move into jobs. As a result of these changes, people receiving Ontario Works benefits will be allowed to have an increased asset level before it affects their eligibility for financial assistance, and based on the new earnings exemptions, they will have more funds available to help them meet the costs of daily living. For more details about the benefits provided through Ontario Works, please visit us at: and click on Employment & Financial Assistance, then Financial Assistance.


Heating systems

Doors and windows

Structural repairs to foundations, walls, roofs and floors

Electrical systems


Roof replacement

Changes to increase accessibility related to housing and to the occupant’s disability may include: Repairs or accessibility improvements in a home can be an expensive undertaking. Thankfully, Ontario Renovates is available through the Region of Waterloo to help cover these costs for low-tomoderate income households with modest homes in Waterloo Region.



Chair and bath lifts

Height adjustments to countertops.

Bathroom modifications

The Ontario Renovates Program provides qualifying applicants forgivable loans to a maximum of $25,000. Limited funds are available. The allotted amount can be put towards necessary housing

For application forms and eligibility details, please visit

An innovative Climate Action Plan for Waterloo Region

The Region of Waterloo is working in partnership with the Cities of Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo on an innovative community-wide Climate Action Plan that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The plan includes an ambitious yet achievable greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of six per cent below 2010 levels by the year 2020. Waterloo Region’s annual community greenhouse gas emissions were estimated at 3.6 million tonnes in 2010 and are expected to grow by more than 17 per cent without the action plan by 2020 due to population growth. The plan highlights other benefits from its implementation including enhancing the local economy, energy security, cost savings for local businesses and residents as well as improving local air quality and public health. The Region worked with REEP Green Solutions, Sustainable Waterloo Region, local municipalities and a wide variety of community organizations, local businesses and residents to create the action plan. Many actions in the plan are in place already and ready to expand such as the Regional Carbon Initiative for businesses, REEPs energy audits for residents and sustainable and active transportation initiatives. Also included within the plan are more innovative possibilities for green economic development. More information on the action plan is available at

COUNCIL CONTACTS REGIONAL CHAIR Ken Seiling 519-575-4585 (R) COUNCILLORS CAMBRIDGE Jane Brewer 519-575-4404 Ext. 3402 (R) 519-653-3315 (H) Doug Craig 519-575-4404 Ext. 3404 (R) 519-740-4517 Ext. 4215 (W) Claudette Millar 519-575-4404 Ext. 3408 (R) 519-621-7202 (H) KITCHENER Tom Galloway 519-575-4404 Ext. 3401 (R) 519-578-2112 (H) Jean Haalboom 519-575-4404 Ext. 3406 (R) 519-748-1508 (H) Geoff Lorentz 519-575-4404 Ext. 3413 (R) 519-741-1494 (H) Jim Wideman 519-575-4404 Ext. 3409 (R) 519-576-5150 (H) Carl Zehr 519-575-4404 Ext. 3403 (R) 519-741-2300 (W) NORTH DUMFRIES Rob Deutschmann 519-575-4404 Ext. 3407 (R) 519-621-0340 (W) WATERLOO Brenda Halloran 519-575-4404 Ext. 3400 (R) 519-747-8700 (W) Jane Mitchell 519-575-4404 Ext. 3411 (R) 519-886-9626 (H) Sean Strickland 519-575-4404 Ext. 3414 (R) 519-503-0613 (C) WELLESLEY Ross Kelterborn 519-575-4404 Ext. 3410 (R) 519-699-4611 (W)

WILMOT Les Armstrong 519-575-4404 Ext. 3412 (R) 226-748-8971(C)

WOOLWICH Todd Cowan 519-575-4404 Ext. 3405 (R) 519-669-0591 (H) General Fax for Council 519-575-4048 TTY: 519-575-4608 W-work R-region H-home C-cell


SHIPWRECK! Pirates & Treasure comes to Waterloo Region Museum Take an incredible journey through thousands of years of Maritime History. Explore the mysteries of the deep with a rare look at some of the most valuable treasures recovered from beneath the sea. SHIPWRECK! Pirates & Treasure is on exhibit at the Waterloo Region Museum from January 31 to April 30. This exhibit was created by Odyssey Marine Exploration. Filled with interactive games and challenges, SHIPWRECK! allows visitors to experience the thrill of shipwreck exploration while investigating some of the world’s greatest maritime stories. A variety of authentic shipwreck treasure, decorative porcelain figurines, personal items like combs and toothbrushes and even the 300-yearold logarithmic calculator on a folding rule – the oldest ever recovered on a shipwreck site – will be on display.

A full-size replica of ZEUS, Odyssey’s eight-ton Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) which acts as the archaeologist’s hands and eyes in the deep ocean will be on display. Guests can test their skills by attempting to pick up artifacts with a working model of ZEUS’ robotic arm. Finally, SHIPWRECK!’s “World of Pirates” interactive gallery and activities immerse visitors with the lore, legends, and facts of pirates of the Caribbean, Barbary Corsairs, Privateers and Buccaneers. Guests can learn how to identify pirate vessels on the horizon using spyglasses, raise the banners of notorious pirates, learn to tie essential knots for life on the high seas, and create their own pirate in an interactive game! For more information, visit or call 519-748-1914.

Upcoming fun for the whole family at Joseph Schneider Haus and McDougall Cottage Joseph Schneider Haus

McDougall Cottage

March 7, 2014 – PA Day Program

March 6 & March 26, 2014 – Wee Quilt Challenge

Join us for some feathered fun as we eggs-periment and eggs-amine the world of birds. Call 519-742-7752 or visit for more information. April 17, 2014 – Quilt Block Contest This year’s Quilt Block Contest is themed Out of this World and entries are due April 17. Quilt blocks must include the colour navy blue and a brief description (50 words or less) of the inspiration for the quilt block. Prizes will be awarded in experienced and beginner categories and winning blocks will be included in the contest quilt to be completed during the annual Quilting Bee in May. For full contest details, please visit April 19, 2014 - Easter Egg Hunt Children aged eight and under are invited to bring their Easter baskets and line up early! This popular event begins at 10 a.m. rain or shine. Admission is by donation ($2 suggested).

The charmingly-Scottish cottage on the Grand River in Cambridge presents the annual ‘Wee’ Quilt Challenge. Participants must submit a wall quilt no larger than 24”x 24”, incorporating a piece of plaid and interpreting this year’s theme, Bards and Ballads. The subject challenges quilters to take inspiration from a line of poetry or words of a song, ideally Scottish, and capture the image it evokes. Entry deadlines are March 6 for your entry form and pictures of your quilt, and March 26 for your finished quilt. The Bards and Ballads Quilt Show will open in April 2014 and run through Labour Day. The artists will be honoured at a Scottish Tea Wednesday, May 28, 2014 when bonnie wee prizes will be awarded. Please join us from 4 to 6 p.m. Everyone is welcome! Please visit www.regionofwaterloo. ca/mcd for more details. March 21, 2014 – Farewell Concert Dan MacDonald and friends bid a musical farewell and the incoming Musician-in-Residence is introduced. Please visit for more information. April 19-20, 2014 – Decorating Easter Eggs Easter eggs will be dyed back in the old country way using onion skins, and then, if it’s not too muddy, we’ll be rolling those eggs down a wee hill to see whose goes the farthest. The event runs from 1 to 4 p.m.

Region News Feb. 2014  

Region News is a newsletter about the Region of Waterloo's programs and services.