Key decisions of Council is a summary of major discussion items presented at Kitchener City Council meetings. It is circulated immediately following each meeting. Please refer to the minutes for an official record of the meeting. 

Council approves increasing tree canopy 

Kitchener will aim to increase the tree canopy in each of the city’s 10 wards to at least 30 per cent by 2050 and to at least 33 per cent average across the City by 2070.  This targeted approach to grow the tree canopy over time will involve new tree planting, as well as the maintenance of existing trees. Staff will initiate a review of existing tree conservation processes in the City, including a review of existing protection bylaws, policies and requirements for tree planting to strengthen and extend tree conservation measures. Staff will report back to Council with preliminary findings by the end of 2022 and continue to report back in five-year intervals with an update on Kitchener’s Urban Forest Strategy. The first progress report will come back to Council for review in 2025, to determine if increased targets could be considered.  

Downtown Kitchener vision project approved to move forward 

Council endorsed a project plan for the development of a comprehensive vision for Downtown Kitchener, through a community-led, staff supported process. A Downtown Working Group (DCWG), comprised of 25-30 members of the downtown and broader community, will play a key role in developing a comprehensive community engagement process and crafting a 10-year vision for creating a ‘downtown for all.’ Stakeholder and broad community engagement will explore several themes including growth/housing, business, movement of people/goods, public spaces, events/street life, climate change/environmental leadership, equity, and safety/security, with the potential for additional themes to be identified and added through the process. The DCWG will work together and be supported by community engagement consultants and staff. Once developed, the new vision and principles will be brought back to council for consideration in 2023. A call for residents and stakeholders interested in participating in the DCWG will occur in the coming months.     

Updated booking policy will improve customer service, support Indigenous groups 

Council approved a policy that will help streamline the booking process for City facilities and improve customer service. This policy includes waiving fees for Indigenous organizations, groups, families and individuals, previously approved by Council in August 2020. In addition to waiving rental and permit-related fees, the City is working to remove barriers to enable Indigenous groups to fully experience cultural practices, including smudging ceremonies. The City continues to prioritize support for Indigenous communities as part of ongoing reconciliation efforts. 

Council supports review to rename Indian Road  

Council approved moving forward with community outreach and engagement strategy to review the name of Indian Road. The City is responding to calls from the community, including in local Indigenous groups, as well as high school students from Grand River Collegiate Institute, situated on Indian Road, who wrote the city a letter calling for the name change in May 2021. The project is expected to take 12 months to complete and will involve collaboration and engagement with multiple stakeholders, including the Regional Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group, residents and business owners on Indian Road, students and staff from Grand River Collegiate Institute, and local Indigenous communities. Moving forward on this work is a tangible action in keeping with the city’s recently adopted Equity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism Policy, and reflective of the City’s commitment to operating as an organization where racism and oppression are not permissible at either an individual or systemic level. 

Council endorses changes to improve school traffic safety  

Council endorsed staff recommendations to address traffic safety concerns and support active travel at several elementary schools within the City of Kitchener. Council agreed to the addition of a school bus loading zone along Montcalm Drive to accommodate school buses dropping off and picking up students, as well as the addition of crossing guards at Gage Avenue at Belmont Avenue, and at Janet Metcalfe Public School along Seabrook Drive to assist students using the crosswalks. Given its distance from nearby schools and following a review from staff that indicated infrequent use of the pedestrian crossing at Ottawa Street at Wilderness Drive, Council approved the removal of a crossing guard for that location. 

Tax Increment Grant application approved for 60 Charles Street West 

Council approved an application for remediation and redevelopment of the property at 60 Charles Street West, at the intersection of Gaukel Street and Charles Street West, in downtown Kitchener. In February 2019, the City of Kitchener and Region of Waterloo received a joint Tax Increment Grant (TIG) application under the Brownfield Financial Incentive Program, with the cost of the tax incremental grant proportionately shared between the Region and the City of Kitchener. With the approval of the City of Kitchener’s portion of the tax incremental grant, the city will provide a total municipal property tax grant of $2,202,061, paid out over an eight-year period, to cover the City’s portion of the remediation costs. Region of Waterloo Council will consider its portion of this application at their Planning and Works Committee. The property, which previously contained an automobile service and gas bar, has been redeveloped into a 305-unit residential condominium with 564 square meters of commercial space on the main floor and two levels of underground parking.