KITCHENER, ON – Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic gave his annual State of the City Address today at the Kitchener Operations Facility. The facility, a converted tire factory that now acts as the heart of city operations, acted as the backdrop for a speech that highlighted local sustainability success stories and announced Kitchener’s plan to fight climate change. With a theme of “Changing for the Good,” the mayor explained how Kitchener will rise to the challenges of a changing world.

“The City of Kitchener and its people don’t fear or resist change, but rather, we embrace it. We are resilient and see change as an opportunity – for growth, development and prosperity. In 2019, we are focused on positive change that will ensure Kitchener is strong, safe and livable today, for our children and grandchildren.”

The speech highlighted several major developments occurring across the community and the sustainable elements they include. The mayor emphasized that while private sector partnership is a critical and necessary part of achieving the community’s emissions targets, city operations should be a model for the rest of the community.

“I think back to when we first began making plans for the Kitchener Operations Facility. We saw the opportunity – a decade ago – to make bold decisions that would have a positive impact on the sustainability of our city.”

The mayor outlined plans to retrofit city facilities and fleet vehicles to make increased use of renewable fuel sources and energy-saving technologies. He described the damage caused by the 2018 April ice storm, and the costs associated with increasingly-severe weather events. The 2019 budget was pointed to as a model for how these challenges will be met through proactive improvements to stormwater and transportation infrastructure.

The improvements to transportation infrastructure extend to a continuous five kilometer cycling network, pilots for protected bike lanes and a 40 km/h speed limit in a residential neighbourhood.

The mayor announced that these changes were only a small part of the city’s first Corporate Climate Action Plan, which will be released next week and contains detailed plans to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 8 per cent by 2026. Ultimately, the Mayor Vrbanovic concluded that collaboration between environmental advocacy groups, businesses and all levels of government was necessary to achieve this goal.

“We’ve had the courage and the foresight to embrace change before. I know we have the courage and the fortitude to continue to change for the good - to ensure prosperity and security for Kitchener for our children and grandchildren.”

Click here to read the full 2019 State of the City Address.