Issues

Equitable, Liveable & Sustainable - A City for All
Housing, Affordability & Density

We need innovative ways of encouraging more housing and density. This will create more affordable housing while maintaining the character of our neighbourhoods.

 

Like most Canadian cities, St. Catharines struggles with ensuring residents and newcomers can find housing that is not only affordable but also meets their needs to lead health, happy and productive lives.

 

By 2043, our population will grow by approximately 33,000 people. So, we must increase our housing supply. The only choice we have is how we do that.

 

The challenge? Encouraging more development and density while maintaining the character of our incredible neighbourhoods. But! This can be done. The city of Melbourne, Australia did it by encouraging five to eight-storey developments on lands surrounding transportation hubs, activity centres and grey fields. This strategy meant they could double their population and achieve their goal of being a net-zero city.

 

Closer to home, Welland’s Warbler Place Urban Village being built beside the Seaway Mall, is a great example. This development will feature a variety of housing types, shapes and sizes from stacked towns to condos within walking distance to shopping, entertainment and transit.

 

We are currently developing the Ontario Street Secondary Plan. With this tool, we can re-envision this major gateway into our ward and city. Through community consultation, we will create a vision that includes more mixed use, affordability, better adaptability and active transportation networks in this area. This will, then, achieve our goal of balancing more development while maintaining the character of what we already have.

Climate Crisis & Wellness

Climate change is the largest threat to our health and wellness. And as a city, we are obligated to ensure St. Catharines residents can lead healthy lives.

 

To achieve this, we should adopt the 3-30-300 Rule, an urban forestry initiative that would help the city’s Corporate Climate Change Adaptation Plan achieve meaningful change and actions.

 

Graphic for 3-30-300 Rule for Trees and Parks

Let’s look at how the 3-30-300 Rule works:

  • 3 trees of decent size can be seen from a home
  • 30% tree canopy cover in every neighbourhood
  • 300 metres to the nearest park or green space.

 

Trees are not currently considered a city asset despite being a key element of our streetscapes, parks and trails. Two of the key recommendations of the council-approved Corporate Climate Change Adaptation Plan are to create a green reserve fund and to develop a strategy to include green infrastructure in the city’s Asset Management Plan.

 

To achieve these goals, council must allocate funding in the budget. The 3-30-300 Rule could be the blueprint. We don’t have the luxury of time when it comes to climate change and the impact it’s having on our health and wellness. We must act now.

Supporting Local Businesses

Over the last two years, local small businesses have struggled to keep doors open, pay rent and support their staff.  As the pandemic evolves, many continue to struggle.

 

Small businesses account for 99.8% of businesses in this country. More than half have fewer than 4 employess. Small businesses are the engine of the economy and their success is vital to our city’s prosperity.

 

As the owner of a small business and as chair of the St. Catharines Downtown Association, I’ve seen and experienced the struggles first hand. New businesses waiting for permits and inspections for approvals, while established businesses are struggling to find qualified staff and find innovative ways to welcome customers and clients back.

 

We cannot ignore the pressures our small businesses face because St. Catharines’ prosperity depends on it. How can we, as a council, help? We need to:

 

  • Support and encourage our BIAs and city staff to partner with the provincial and federal governments to provide grants like Digital Main Street to help businesses reach local customers and tourists.
  • Invest in Economic Development and Tourism initiatives like our Destination Marketing Organization partnership with The Town of Lincoln through innovative ideas, such as the Municipal Accomodation Tax.
  • Ensure our Planning and Building Department has enough staff to keep projects moving forward in a timely manner and adopt a Community Planning Permit System to streamline approval processes.
  • Support Regional Transit expansion so businesses can hire staff from across the region.

 

Council must understand the needs of all business owners, particularly the smaller sized ones which are the backbone of our local economy.

Investing In & Improving Public Spaces

Cities bring us together, providing spaces where we can meet, imagine far-reaching ideas, start new businesses and enjoy life and all its daily experiences.

 

To have vibrant cities, however, we must invest in making our streets, sidewalks, public spaces, bike lanes and public transportation safe for all.

 

Our newly-approved Transportation Master Plan provides a clear vision for not just today, but how we will move around St. Catharines 20 years from now. But it will take time and money to achieve complete and safe streets. It will also take vision and commitment from council.

 

This means we need to reimagine our roadways. We need to shift our focus from vehicular traffic to dedicated bike lanes, and make sidewalks and trails that allow for anyone, no matter their age or ability, to fully participate in nature and key commercial areas across St. Catharines.

Resident Communications & Services

Communication is vital to a successful relationship. And good communication builds trust, respect and understanding.

 

Improving Citizens First and the city’s technology systems will provide better communications and service delivery for residents and businesses.

 

It’s essential the city invests in updating, upgrading and implementing new software and technology. This will allow:

 

 

Technology alone will not improve the relationship between the city and residents and business owners. We need to help staff by providing regular training to those interacting with residents on a daily basis. While many choose to connect with the city online, some will always feel more comfortable with a telephone call or face-to-face meeting, and we must accommodate that.

 

The city needs to make improving communications between the staff and its residents a priority. That will require a budgetary commitment from council. The better the communication we have, the stronger our relationships will be.

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