Council Update – July 2018: Piers, bottled water ban, affordable housing and more
Council Update – July 2018
This week’s Council meeting was productive. Council continues meeting all summer and we are making progress on our strategic priorities. Here are some of the highlights.
Port Dalhousie Piers to be fixed and remain in public domain
A very good news story from this week’s council meeting (and maybe even one of the best of the year!) is that the Port Dalhousie piers are will be fixed and remain in the public domain. The City has agreed to take ownership of the piers once the federal government completes the repair work. It is expected that work could begin as early as this fall.
The repair work could take up to 3 years to complete. It is going to be a complex project and no construction can take place during the fish spawning seasons in the spring. The piers have been closed to the public for 3 years now and I think it’s fair to say we are all looking forward to the work beginning soon.
A big thanks to St. Catharines MP Chris Bittle for helping to get this done. Chris and I met with the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Prime Minister in Ottawa about this, and he helped keep the file front and centre.
Read more about this decision in the St. Catharines Standard: “City agrees to take Port Dalhousie piers from feds”
City supports more affordable housing in downtown
Another great news story from this week’s council meeting is the decision to move forward with a plan for more affordable housing. Council agreed to begin a process to “surplus” an under-utilized piece of city property in the downtown core on Academy St. The building is currently being used for storage and a few staff members. The property is located right next to the bus station and downtown services. It’s a great location and a great opportunity to reuse this land for a better purpose. As the waitlist for decent, affordable housing continues to grow, I’m glad that Council saw this opportunity and is taking leadership on affordable housing.
Together with the Housing Action Plan, work with Niagara Regional Housing and private sector partners, this is another way that the city can play a role in creating solutions. Read more about the discussion at Council in this article from the St. Catharines Standard.
Taking action for the environment – plastic bottle ban and saving energy
Plastic bottle ban
Council has (finally!) banned the sale of plastic water bottles at city facilities. This follows in the steps of many Canadian and international cities. Instead of selling plastic bottles of water, we have refillable stations and fountains available to the public and will continue to install more of these. I’m proud of this decision – it’s a small change that many other cities have also taken. Together our actions can have big impacts. This is part of our strategic plan and our commitment to environmental sustainability in the Global Covenant of Mayors. To find out more, read the staff report.
Council received an update on the energy savings from the LED street light conversion. These new lights make streets brighter and save energy. The LED lights have saved over $720,000 in energy costs in the first year. This is another great example of the City embracing sustainable, cost-saving solutions and the benefits will continue for years to come.
Employment Lands presentation
Council got an update on the Employment Land Needs Assessment – a study to determine how much land we will need for employment and other uses in the future. This is an important consideration for our growing city. We also heard from property owners about opportunities for future growth. It was an informative presentation that also looked at our Economic Development Strategy, the changing nature of work and jobs. No decisions were made and the research will continue before any decisions are made next year.
Update from the Mayor’s Working Group
In the spring I formed a new working group to look at rental housing issues. The working group includes landlords and tenants, real estate industry, property managers, neighbours and Brock University. The group is continuing to meet over the summer to talk about the issues and ideas. This does not include a licensing by-law – it is off the table. The working group will report back on creative ideas and solutions later this year. For more information on rental housing visit www.stcatharines.ca/RentalHousing and sign up for the mailing list.
Stay in touch!
There are many businesses, community groups and individuals celebrating this month. Watch my “Mayor’s Report” for special messages and more news. It’s going to be a busy summer in Our Home, St. Catharines. I look forward to seeing you out and about over the summer at the parks, beaches, supper markets and concerts in the park. Be sure to stay in touch!