Actions that make our cities more livable from finding new ways and means to improve our healthcare, education and the environment to enhancing public places and spaces and instilling confidence about our personal safety and security.
Kitchener City Council
Kitchener City Council, 2003-2006
In September 2006, Wilfrid Laurier University's Faculty of Social Work opened its doors in the renovated red brick shell of the former St. Jerome's High School, across from Kitchener City Hall. The City of Kitchener contributed $6.5 million from its $110-million Economic Development Investment Fund towards the purchase and renovation of the building. Bringing the School downtown will drive $3.3 million in spending in the local economy annually and provide 53 new jobs.
Another new arrival in Kitchener's downtown is the University of Waterloo's Downtown Kitchener Health Sciences Campus. It will house the first School of Pharmacy to open in Ontario in the last several decades. It will also include an Integrated Primary Health Care Centre with as many as 12 family doctors; the Centre for Family Medicine, where residency programs for new family doctors will be developed; a satellite School of Medicine to be operated with McMaster University; an Optometry Clinic; and the International Pharmacy Graduate Program, where foreign-trained pharmacists receive upgrading enabling them to practice in Canada. The campus was made possible by a $30-million contribution from the same Fund.
Kitchener City Council - Mayor Carl Zehr and Councillors John Smola, Berry Vrbanovic, John Gazzola, Michael Galloway, Geoff Lorentz, and Christina Weylie - collectively had the vision to reinvent downtown Kitchener. Their unique approach, including the Fund, which contributes land and cash to attract knowledge industries, is paying dividends.
University of Waterloo spokesperson John Morris says it expects the influx of 1,200 students, staff and faculty into Kitchener's downtown core to generate significant economic benefits. Kaufman Lofts, the imposing 80-year-old former Kaufman Footwear factory on the northern edge of the downtown that stood empty for years, is sold out. The former J. C. Snyder Furniture factory loft-conversion is 90 per cent sold, and the former Arrow Shirt factory is being converted as part of a significant new residential development.
As David Johnston, President of the University of Waterloo, put it, "Kitchener has set the standard for Canadian municipalities reinventing themselves for the 21 st century." Contact: tel: 519-741-2300; www.kitchener.ca
TORONTO - Kitchener City Council received the prestigious Canadian Urban Institute Award for City Livability at a luncheon at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel earlier today.
The Canadian Urban Institute's Urban Leadership Awards Program recognizes individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the public realm and the quality of urban life. The City of Kitchener was nominated for the award by the University of Waterloo.
''Council is very proud to be recognized with this award today,'' said Mayor Carl Zehr. ''Being honoured for City Livability by a prestigious national organization like the Canadian Urban Institute validates that Council and staff's efforts, and our strategic direction, are indeed moving our entire city - not just the downtown -in the right direction.''
The ''City Livability'' Award is given in recognition of "actions that make our cities more livable from finding new ways and means to improve our health care, education and the environment, to enhancing public places and spaces and instilling confidence about our personal safety and security.''
Kitchener City Council was recognized specifically for its work in revitalizing the downtown ? including its unique approach in creating the $110 million Economic Development Investment Fund (EDIF) in 2004 which supports both downtown revitalization and the manufacturing sector.
Since it was created, EDIF has contributed to tangible downtown projects including two new university campuses - the University of Waterloo Downtown Kitchener Health Sciences Campus (School of Pharmacy opening January 2008) and the Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Social Work (opened September 2006). In addition, funds from EDIF will contribute to, among other things, creating a new downtown streetscape.
''Kitchener City Council collectively had the vision to reinvent downtown Kitchener. Their unique approach, including the fund, which contributes land and cash to attract knowledge industries, is paying dividends,'' read one part of the nomination.
Catalyst investments from EDIF are credited with much of the current momentum and increased investor and citizen confidence in downtown Kitchener. Some recent evidence of the momentum include:
$70.1 million in the value of construction for building permits issued in 2006.
21 per cent of all construction in the City occurred in the downtown and central neighbourhoods in 2006, compared to 7 per cent the year before.
471 new downtown and central neighbourhoods residential units (permits issued in 2006) compared to 89 in 2005 and new loft developments are seeing brisk sales.
''The City of Kitchener has a lot to be proud of. The ongoing work of Council and staff is, step by step, changing the downtown landscape,'' said Carla Ladd, chief administrative officer for the City. ''Step by step, people are coming back to the core to live, work, visit and learn. And more and more, we?re starting to really see the kinds of dividends that a great downtown can bring to the entire community. We're very proud of this award.''
In the City's nomination, David Johnston, president of the University of Waterloo commented: ''Kitchener has set the standard for Canadian municipalities reinventing themselves for the 21st century.''
My guess is that it was created in Waterloo for Waterloo. Sort of like Thunder Bay's claims of "Having the largest mall in Northwestern Ontario!" or "The biggest arena in Northwestern Ontario!", they really are givens. Where else in Northwestern Ontario are you going to find a 500,000sqm mall??
I rest my case.
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