8/25/16

Big Breithaupt Campout!

Everyone is welcome to come to our "big campout". We are a "big tent" kind of Neighbourhood, except everyone will have their own smaller tents!

click on image:

 

8/23/16

Updates for Spur Line Trail and Weber Street



Many residents have expressed their concern to MHBPNA about the state the newly planted trees along the Spur Line trail. Many of them are dying.

Also, the sidewalks along Weber St on both sides, south of the Spur Line, are supposed to be "mixed use" so cyclists and pedestrians will share. But there are no signs indicating this and people are confused.

On a related note residents complained about the large gravel area around Lippert Park at the intersection of Louisa and Weber. It is waiting for a large water valve that is on order but there were many weeds and garbage. After having this drawn to their attention (by local residents emailing their elected officials as well as staff) the Region has cleaned it up! 

We asked the Region about the trees and signage issues and this is their reply:


Trees along the Waterloo Spur Line Trail – We are aware of the poor condition of the trees planted as part of the Waterloo Spur Line Trail and understand the concern for their health. The lack of rain this year has not helped in this matter. However, this does not excuse the fact that the Spur Line contractor is required to maintain the trees in a “healthy and viable condition until final acceptance”. Final acceptance will not occur until after a two year warrantee period has expired. The warrantee period has not yet begun as the Trail project is not yet complete. Having said that, many of the trees will require replacement at the contractors cost. The contract requires that replacement trees be installed in the ”next planting season” which would be this fall. It is our intent to do an inspection of the Trail, including all the plant materials, early this fall once all the work is complete. This will result in a listing of trees to be replaced. Trees which die during the warrantee period will also have to be replaced at the contractors expense.


Multi-use Trail signage on Weber Street – We have requested that the Regions Traffic staff determine what signage would be appropriate for the multi-use trail on Weber Street and what bylaw requirements would have to be implemented . Once this has been determined, we will be able to have the signs made and installed. We expect that the signage could be installed by early fall.
 


8/22/16

Soapbox Derby: 2016 Edition!

SoapBox Derby 2016


The above photo shows two fathers, two racers and our safety supervisor.


Please read the excellent article in the Record about our 2016 Derby. Thanks to all the people who volunteered to make this possible and to the folks on Edwin Street who agreed to close down their street for the Saturday morning. It was a great day and the kids had fun!






Safety first! Hay bales protect errant drivers from colliding with something dangerous. (click for larger images)



Coming down! The Edwin Street hill was much faster than Louisa where we were last year. Take your bike over there and cruise down yourself!


8/1/16

VIctoria Common, Update and FAQ



Many people are wondering how Victoria Common is coming along, how large it will grow and what we can expect in the next couple of years. MHBPNA sent a list of questions to Joey Tsang, Director of Sales and Marketing and he provided the following answers:

We see the Victoria Common project really moving along. Most of the town-homes are done, and the first of the condo buildings. What can we expect to see from now until completion?

As the building gets more and more complete, the first thing you can expect are moving trucks as homeowners are taking possession of their homes. The biggest change you will see, from the exterior of the building, would the landscaping and paving. We are adding street parking spots on the St. Leger side by cutting spaces into the grass area, so we do not take away from the road. Landscaping with armour stones, retaining walls, and nice greenery will be added around the building to create a better streetscape.

When will the full project be complete? Does this depend on sales?

We had planned out 10 years for this project. We are on the 3rd year. Projects are always partially dependent on sales; if you don’t have that many sales, you should not build the buildings. That being said, our first and second buildings had reached the proper sales numbers for us to build, but weather is a huge factor along with workers, city etc.

Are you finding the people purchasing these units are from the Kitchener area, or are you finding some are moving in from the GTA?

We find a bit of both. We have had young couples that have lived in the GTA for years and are now moving into KW to work. We also see older folks, who grew up in this area, moved away to the suburbs, and now are looking to come back.

What do you feel is attracting people to the Victoria Common development?

The architecture and master plan is a big reason people come to Victoria Common. The area amenities and the location that we have to the downtown adds to its allure; residents want to be close to the city for its transportation and amenities, while being far enough to have a sense of neighbourhood and its own character.

Price is also a huge factor as we are one of the most economically priced projects in the area while still providing the finishes that people are looking for and underground parking. Let’s face it, no one wants to shovel snow in the winter, off their driveways, or their cars.



We had heard that the condos are some of the ‘greenest’ being developed in Canada. Can you tell us what features are being included to achieve this?
The biggest qualifier is our geothermal system partnered with the Mitsubishi VRF system. This reduces the greenhouse gases that are created by running an AC unit or the traditional boilers as the heating and cooling is generated from within the ground. The VRF system efficiently moves the air around, balancing all sides of the building to reduce waste in the ventilation system.

We also have solar panels that will be subsidizing the hydro uses for exterior lighting. Again reducing energy consumption. All common areas are motion sensored; areas that are vacant will have dimmed lights and only when a resident walks into the area will the lights come on.

What are some of the features of the piazza? Will there be space for businesses?

The Piazza will be a large public space with a park on one end and shoppes in the center. This will be where neighbours can meet each other and events can be planned by community groups.

Aside from the remediation challenge, have you had to deal with any others through the process?

Remediation was a huge challenge, but getting people to understand re-urbanization has been no easy feat. It is a relatively new concept, but a concept that is picking up speed throughout the Kitchener-Waterloo area. How you combine good living space with convenience and efficiency is always a challenge.






When complete, total number of units townhouses and condos?

Townhomes will be 220 and condos will sit just a little over 600

How many tonnes of soil were remediated?

90,000

Total cost to remediate soil?

Over $9 million

Strangest thing found onsite during construction?

Wooden pipes that were used prior to concrete pipes being introduced. We have them on display in the Museum.

Number of Condo buildings and floors of each?

We have 5 buildings. The first one being 4 storeys, second will be 6 storeys. 3rd and 4th will have 8 and the last building will have 12.

Number of townhomes?

220

Average price of a townhome/condo?

Townhomes are sold out, so I can’t even give you a number. Condos are sitting at $250,000 average, with an underground parking spot.

All information current as of August 1, 2016


7/28/16

Crime and Safety (again)




Each year we have reports from residents about crime in our area. Bikes are stolen (either from in front of the house where they were 'just left for a minute' or even from the back yard or a shed). Cars are rummaged through, or broken into overnight. Purses may be stolen and possessions "disappear" off our porches.

There is no simple answer to crime prevention. Police have a limited number of officers available throughout the day and night and generally respond to calls and watch over traffic rather than "patrol" all the time.

My wife and I have lived in MHBP for over 18 years and have had our car stolen and house broken into in that time (both events occurred many years ago but still leave their mark). It always seems "personal" when crime happens, but it happens everywhere in the city and you can even follow "incidents" online.

I urge everyone to read through this article I posted a few years back because all the advice is still good and the links work (I just tested and updated them). Making our homes secure, watching the street, talking in a friendly way with visitors and engaging with neighbours are all ways to prevent crime.

Ted Parkinson
CoChair MHBPNA

7/24/16

Traffic and MHBPNA Advocacy

On July 8th of last year (2015), three Mt. Hope residents came out to a Neighbourhood Association meeting and voiced their concerns about the speed of vehicles driving along Waterloo St.  The increase in traffic flow because of the closure of King (and what seems like any other street that gets you anywhere) was spurring a noticeable increase in the through traffic.  



As a response to this concern the MHBPNA, contacted the Waterloo Regional Police Services, and worked with our Community Resource Officer to bring attention to this issue.  

On August 20th, we were assured that Waterloo St would be added to the STEP program (Selective Traffic Enforcement Program).  This program helps designate time for enforcement in our hood.  This is the right path to slowing traffic by increasing the police presence and ticketing careless drivers.

This summer (2016) we heard of some enforcement happening in the Waterloo St area, and inquired to see if this was part of STEP.  It actually was not.  We learned that our STEP was run in the last quarter of 2015, October 1st to December 31st.  Most of the bad drivers had already found better routes around the construction.  Nonetheless, 1 hour total was spent specifically performing, STEP, and yielded no charges.

In February of 2016, after another meeting with our Community Resource Officer, an internal request for more enforcement along Waterloo St was made by our CRO.



As for Highway Traffic Act charges on Waterloo St that were a result of regular patrols, vehicle stop, etc: 12 charges have been laid.  These range from driving under suspension, equipment infractions and administrative charges.

Recently we spoke again with our Community Resource Officer about traffic.  It happened to be outdoors, and we could hear cars on other roads squealing tires, and revving engines.  He wasn’t surprised and stated that it happens in every neighbourhood, including his own.  The only way to truly enforce speed in neighbourhoods is to use photo radar.  The reality is there are 15 officers on duty at any given time, and between mental health issues, car accidents, etc, our officers are taxed.

It’s not that officers don’t care about our neighbourhood, or the bad drivers, it’s that there are many other issues happening all shift long.  As demonstrated above, 1 hour in 4 months won’t solve the problems we all see exist regarding traffic in our hood.  

This story is an example of how advocacy works. There are no simple answers to issues like traffic calming but it helps to understand the problem and the resources that are available. Some residents along Waterloo St. have erected hand-made signs asking drivers to slow down and the Region has posted many black and orange “Drive Slow” signs in Mt. Hope so these might help as well.
The MHBPNA has spent several hours meeting with police and other officials over this one issue and we will continue to monitor traffic across our ‘hood (getting the 50K signs installed on Weber St is another example of our work with politicians and staff).

We welcome residents to continue attending our meetings and talk to us about their concerns.

Finally, please be a good driver!  Call out bad drivers! Make it a habit to travel in your hood under 40km/h.  Bet you won’t even notice how much longer it will take you to get home.

mhbpna@gmail.com

7/19/16

The Urban Orchard



Two years ago, I read an article about the Urban Orchards being set up in Seattle.  There have been many built around North America, but I was intrigued by the version described in the article.  I wondered if our NA could support something like this, and how it would all come together.  

Over the past two years, I have done a great deal of research, met many people doing agriculture work on City property, and talked to anyone I could about an Urban Orchard in our ‘hood.  For the most part, I found everyone, including the City, to be very supportive of this idea.  One of the most supportive was Adam Spencer, a local trained Horticulture Technician, who has agreed to help spearhead the project.

July 21st 7:00-8:30pm
Room 109 Breithaupt Centre

As I talked to people around the City, it was hard to distinguish what an Urban Orchard is, and how it differs from a Community Garden.  An Urban Orchard is a planting of trees, fruit bearing shrubs, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and other native fruit bearing plants.  This type of Urban Orchard is relatively self sufficient.  Once a year, volunteers would need to prune back the previous years growth to encourage new growth, and weeds need to be kept at bay.  That is about it. Community Gardens have much more administration and mainly benefit the people who manage their plots.  An Urban Orchard benefits all who walk through it, is open for all to enjoy and anyone is welcome to "harvest". 



In May of 2016, the MHBPNA, agreed to support this initiative, and our first meeting is set for July 21st 2016 from 7:00-8:30pm in Room 109 at the Breithaupt Centre.  While we have lots of ideas of what we would like; ultimately, it will come down to the Urban Garden that the community wants to build, in the location the community wants.

If you cannot attend this meeting, please email us and we will keep you updated. 

Lane Burman
CoChair MHBPNA