I’ve noticed more press coverage lately about development in Downtown Kitchener. There have been Record news stories, a blog by current councillor Frank Etherington, and a column by Luisa D’Amato.
This coverage is sometimes limited or incomplete in my view, focusing only on the pace of development or on heritage preservation. The issue is also much broader than any one particular development or proposal. Rather, the discussion needs to focus on how Kitchener grows and develops thoughtfully.
One way the city demonstrates priorities and its commitment to issues is by establishing committees on those topics: arts and culture, safe and healthy communities, heritage, and environment. The creation of these citizen committees indicates the city’s desire to hear about these issues and act to address them.
As councillor I would propose a citizens housing committee to actively seek out partnerships and innovative solutions to some of our challenges around housing supply and affordability.
Kitchener needs a more proactive approach to housing and development. Currently a development is proposed and we only hear from those who oppose it. It’s reactive and the strongest voices may not be representative of the feelings of the broader community. We need a more diverse group of people involved in these discussions and much earlier in the process. I believe a citizens housing committee could offer exactly that. Such a committee must include a variety of perspectives and backgrounds such as those just entering the housing market, renters, those in multi-residential buildings, and newcomers.
I believe all ward 9 candidates are concerned about housing. However, be cautious of any who promise both affordable housing and intensification, while at the same time actively oppose multiple development proposals.
I am working toward a city that is more inclusive, engaged, and supported. I believe a citizens housing committee would address all three goals. It would be an inclusive committee that intentionally seeks out various perspectives and backgrounds. It would engage citizens to create innovative solutions in providing more diverse housing options. And it would be supported by the city which would provide tools, resources, and staff.
I’m glad to see people are talking about housing and development. Now we need to take the necessary steps to create more and varied housing, beginning with the creation of a citizens housing committee to ensure we develop a city with housing for all.