Budget seeks feedback
With the city’s three-year budget and strategic planning underway, staff and council have turned to the residents and business owners to have their say in the future of the city. On Jan. 17, results of a public opinion poll show one of the first steps taken to gauge Waterloo residents’ level of satisfaction.
“We always hear the loudest voices — the louder kind of angry voices — but to get these results and to show that you know what this is a great city, that we’re really living in a gem of a community, we have to take that and not just sit on it but keep working on it,” said Ward 5 councillor Karen Scian regarding the overall positive results of the poll.
Of the 516 people surveyed in the poll, 64 per cent identified fiscal responsibility and environmental sustainability to be important priorities in the future. For more current issues, residents identified high taxes and traffic congestion as areas that need improvement.
Scian was not surprised by the comments regarding transit as she claims to already receive a great deal of feedback on transit issues.
“I think we need to be more proactive so when we plan subdivisions, when we plan parts of the city, one of the very first things we should look at is how do we access that area with transit,” she said.
As transit continues to be a debate among residents, it also points to concerns of urban sprawl and the need for greater intensification in the city’s core. Of those that responded to the poll, 17 per cent said that they valued the physical proximity of everything they needed to their homes.
“We need to be very purposeful with how we plan subdivisions and how we plan districts so that we get the services in there,” Scian commented, particularly highlighting libraries, recreation facilities and stores as areas that need growth in order to prevent urban sprawl.
Although only 13 per cent of respondents were non-homeowners, Scian ensured that the needs of renters, and particularly students, are a significant area of council’s concern.
“One of the things we have to look at is how do we build a city that students come to study in and want to stay in,” stated Scian, turning to upcoming public consultations and strategic planning as mediums to find an answer to that particular issue.
Acknowledging the steps already taken in moving the city forward, Scian also said, “We have to talk about arts and culture, we have to talk about transit, we have to talk about that excitement of life that we need to create in this city.”
While the strategic planning sessions for the city will not occur until April, director of corporate communications Gary Williams confirmed that opportunities for public consultations will begin on Feb. 8, with information available on the city’s website as of Jan. 27.