12/31/13

Survey for Statues in Victoria Park is now open





Victoria Park is within easy walking distance of MHBP and we often head there for festivals and other events, or just for a walk or bike ride. 

Recently, there has been a proposal to sponsor sculptures of all the Canadian Prime Ministers be created and placed in the Park. This would be part of the 2017 Canadian Sesquicentennial celebrations.

The city of Kitchener has a detailed page of information and links to explain the project. And there is also a link to a survey for everyone to vote.

Please read the city's information here and then vote here. It is up to all of us to decide whether or not we'd like to walk past Kim Campbell staring towards the clock tower, or Joe Clark kicking back with the trees and the grass. What are your views on Wilfrid, Charles, Richard, Pierre, Lester, John, John, John or John (among others) coming to our park for only $300,000 from taxpayer money?

12/29/13

Highlights from 2013 #1

Walking around the neighborhood over the past couple of weeks I have talked to a few people at house parties, walking their dogs and at the lantern walk. The "old Electrohome building" (AKA 152 Shanley) comes up as a topic. "What is going on with that building?" I am asked.

I would like to remind all the Blog readers that we posted two articles a few months back to explain the history and current status of the buildings. The first article is here and the second article is here.

We don't have anything new to report at this time, but we will talk with city officials about the progress of the "tax sale" and if any parties have shown interest in the site.

Stay tuned for more "highlights" from the past year.

12/27/13

More Photos from the Lantern Walk, Dec 23, 2013

Here are some additional photos from the Lantern Walk. We saw very beautiful lanterns made of ice, paper, glass etc. Thanks very much Julie!

If you click on the first one you can progress through all of them like a slide show.











12/26/13

10,000 hits, here we come!

Our Blog was started five years ago and we are currently at 9,934 hits (this means each unique visit to the Blog and not every page click). Will we make 10,000 hits by January? Tell your friends and neighbours to visit!

As always, if you have any comments, photos, questions, please email mhbpna@gmail.com. And the Blog wishes everyone the best of the season.

12/25/13

Lantern Walk a Success

The ice storm we all experienced pushed back the Lantern Walk from Dec 21 (shortest day of the year) to Dec 23 (still a very short day). 

We had over 35 people attending and that included many 'small people' who had a great time. Sometimes a snow bank is all you need to play in.

It was cold and a fire was a welcome addition. Around 7:30 a group of hardy souls did walk around the block though the footing was a bit unstable with all the ice still on the ground.

Here are some photos (thanks very much Juanita!) that capture the spirit of the event. The ice candles were particularly beautiful. We look forward to another Lantern walk in 2014 and hopefully the weather will be a little kinder.

As always, click the images for full size glory:




12/22/13

Ice Storm Weekend

How is everyone doing with this freezing rain and ice? Here are a couple of photos from around Duke Street Playground.




Send us a photo and we'll put it on the Bog to share with the neighbourhood. Email us at mhbpna@gmail.com. 

Here is another photo from Duke Street. Thanks Meg!


And one from Joan:


  





 






12/20/13

Lantern Walk, Saturday Dec 21

Several folks in our community had planned on a Lantern Walk tomorrow on the shortest day of the year. This has been worked on for a few months now and it seems like nature is coming along to possibly put a wrench into the gears of community.

Please read about the walk and keep updated here:

http://lanternwalk.wordpress.com/

12/16/13

"Snow Event" declared

The city of Kitchener has declared a "snow event" so please read this. Basically, there is no parking on the street allowed until they are finished removing snow.

12/11/13

SPRAWL will get us ALL if we are not vigilant

Please be aware of this important meeting on Environmental Defense and Smart Growth in Waterloo region.

We have to prepare for many additional people in our region over the next 20 years in the most intelligent and sustainable manner. How many? Nearly 300,000 new residents are expected to move to the Waterloo region by 2031. Yikes!

WHAT: Panel discussion about smart growth in Ontario, and the issues facing Waterloo Region
WHO:   
Kevin Thomason, Vice-Chair, Grand River Environmental Network
Rob Horne, Commissioner of Planning, Housing and Community Services for
the Region of Waterloo
Kate Daley, Co-Founder, Smart Growth Waterloo Region
Aidan Grove-White, Planning Advisor, Environmental Defence
Moderated by Mike Farwell, journalist and broadcaster
WHEN: Thursday, December 12, 2013
6:30 p.m. Doors open for light refreshments
7:00 p.m. Panel discussion begins
WHERE: Downtown Community Centre, 35B Weber Street West, Kitchener

For full details please click this link.

12/1/13

Winter parking regulations come into effect Dec. 1

This is a MHBPNA community service re-posting of an important City of Kitchener announcement. We would not want anyone to have to pay a parking ticket if it can be avoided.





KITCHENER – Kitchener residents are reminded that winter parking regulations are in effect beginning Sunday, Dec. 1 through March 31 every year, and that no parking is permitted on streets from 2:30-6 a.m.
The city’s tag-and-tow bylaw will come into effect anytime a snow event is declared. The tag-and-tow bylaw prohibits parking on city streets anytime during the snow event.  A snow event is declared when a significant snowfall is predicted based on credible weather forecasts.
When a snow event has been declared, the decision will be communicated in several ways including the city’s website – kitchener.ca – by e-mail to residents who sign up to receive the city’s snow-event advisories, by SMS text message, and by alerting local media. 
During snow events, bylaw staff will ticket vehicles parked on local streets and may tow vehicles if they interfere with snow removal. The amount of the ticket for vehicles parked on the street during a snow event is $80. Vehicles that are towed will be relocated to another area in close proximity when it is safe and practical to do so. However, it may be necessary for some vehicles to be impounded at the owner’s expense.
If you suspect your vehicle has been towed, or to report parking violations, please call 519-741-2345.  
This year, council approved a pilot parking project applying only to Ward 5; this means parking is permitted on the boulevard portion of the driveway from Dec. 1, 2013 – March 31, 2014. There are some specific conditions to note:
  • vehicles must be on the paved, driveway portion of the boulevard, not the landscaped (or hardscaped) portion of the boulevard;
  • all of the vehicle’s tires must be on the paved, hard-surface driveway portion;
  • there can be no overhang of any part of the vehicle onto the sidewalk or roadway;
  • boulevard parking will not be permitted within 15 metres of an intersecting roadway;
  • in the case of abutting driveways, vehicles must not overhang the projection of the property line, and
  • drivers must not drive over the grass portion of the boulevard to park on the driveway.
This change will also allow the plows to get through the streets in the winter months to clear snow. During a snow event, it will give home owners a place to park their vehicle (on the driveway portion of the boulevard) to allow snow plows easier access.
This change is for Ward 5 residents only.  If you are not sure what ward you live in, or have any questions please visitwww.kitchener.ca/whatsmyward or call 519-741-2345.
The impact of these temporary changes to the current parking regulations during this pilot will be assessed, and staff will report back to council in 2014 with recommendations on a long-term solution.
For more information about winter parking, the city’s tag and tow bylaw and snow removal activities, visit kitchener.ca/tagandtow or call519-741-2345.

11/24/13

Festival of Neighbourhoods and MHBPNA -- 2013

On October 27th, 2013, the Social Planning Council Kitchener Waterloo (SPCKW), and the City of Kitchener, celebrated the 20th year of The Festival of Neighbourhoods.  Every year, the SPCKW awards a whole host of awards to local neighbourhood groups and individuals that have commited to growing community.  The City of Kitchener also awards a $10,000 community capital grant.

The Festival recognizes and celebrates community gatherings throughout the City of Kitchener.  Whether small or large, these gatherings contribute to cohesive communities.  This year, there were over 100 gatherings submitted.


This past year, the Mt Hope Breithaupt Park Neighbourhood Association submitted our two Janes Walks and our Culture Walk, led by John MacDonald, which was also a gift from the SPCKW from a previous year.


 Louis Burbach and Lane Burman from MHBPNA with our participation certificate (click on image to enlarge)

This year, the MHBPNA was received an award for 20 years of participation, as well as the Heritage Award for the Jane’s Walk through the Mt Hope Cemetery, conducted by Wayne Miedema.  If you missed the Jane’s Walk through the cemetery, it is a MUST on your yearly calendar.


There were also submissions for the DeKay Street Party, and the Guelph Street Garden Party, by the Mt Hope Midtown group.


This year, the Capital Grant was awarded to the Chandler Mowat Neighbourhood, youth award was Colin’s Toy Drive, organized by a seven-year-old who planned a toy drive for Anselma House in his neighbourhood, Edgewater Estates.


 Group shot from FON (click to enlarge)

If you have an idea for how to gather neighbours together, get in touch with us.  Our newly minted Special Events Director Louis Burbach would be happy to help.  This year, we are assisting in the organization of a Lantern Party on the darkest day of the year December 21st, as well as leading a WinterFest at Hillside Park- details to follow.

11/21/13

Wilhelm and Ahrens intersection update






City staff have completed a field investigation at Wilhelm Street and Ahrens Street West. This was done because citizens have noticed a number of accidents there and have been worried by sightlines, the grade of Ahrens, speed of cars and other difficulties in the area.

Based on their findings, staff will be implementing the following:

-       “No Parking Anytime” regulation on the north side of Ahrens Street West (both legs of the intersection)
-       Refreshing the centerline and stop bar in the spring of 2014
-       Relocation of a Canada Post relay box currently at the northwest corner
-       Ensuring minimum retroreflectivity standards are met for both stop signs

Sightlines are within the minimum requirements as set out in the Transportation Association of Canada Geometric Design Guide for Canadian Roads.

Staff will continue to monitor this location to determine if any further remedial action is required.

11/13/13

More MHBPNA Programming at the Breithaupt Centre!

As Spring approaches (sometime after the looming winter), we continue our programming for you, our residents.

We have continued our increasingly popular Lego and Cricket Programs and added a Teen Girls Club.

Check out our listings below or online by Googling "Webreg Kitchener", then enter the appropriate number example: 153511 for Lego Mechanical. From there you can get more information and you can also sign up and pay. 

The dates are the first class.


LEGO MECHANICAL

7-9 Years            Mon  6:30- 8:00 pm Jan 6     153511

Fee: $40.00   /8 wks

Use gears and pulleys to create and problem solve. We issue the challenge, you build the solution.


GIRLS SUPER PRE-SPRING MAKEOVER CLUB

12-15Years          Wed  7:00- 9:00pm Jan 22      153510

Fee: $45.00   /8 wks

Stop lookin' like yesterday girl!

Are you ready to have some fun doing the coolest styles in makeup and hair? Are you looking to learn about safe, natural products for your face, body and hair?

Then this is the program to make you look and feel like money!


CREATIVE LEGO BUILDING  

4-6 Years              Thu  5:30- 6:30 pm Jan 16       153509

Fee: $25.00   /8 wks

Play based free form LEGO building. Let your child's imagination build!  10 lbs of assorted LEGO and lots of kids.

 

INDOOR CRICKET  

6-13 Years             Sat  2:30- 4:00 pm Jan 11        153601

Fee: $60.00   /8 wks

Learn or practice Cricket indoors during the Winter. Safety is the focus using tennis balls and various sized bats depending on the age of the participant.

11/1/13

Neighbourhood Association meeting, Sat morning





Our executive meets at 10 am on the first Saturday of each month at the Breithaupt Centre. Tomorrow we will be discussing: a possible Lantern Street Party, Festival of Neighbourhoods Wrap up, report from our city representative, Financial updates, Program updates and much more.

We always have the intriguing category: "New Business"

This is a public meeting so if you would like to attend please come to the Breithaupt Centre Sat morning. We will be in Room 206. 10-11 is 'open discussion' topics and 11-12 we have items only the execute can vote on (but this is still open to the public).

There are still spots open on the executive if you are interested.

See you there!

10/27/13

Ahrens Street Proposal

One of our residents sent this thoughtful email to a few Regional Councillors and we felt it was worthwhile posting on our Blog.

Today, the Margaret Ave Bridge is coming down after months of sitting closed to motor vehicle and (officially) pedestrian access.

Currently, the closest alternate crossings of the rail corridor for pedestrians only exist at Weber and St. Leger, necessitating a 800m-1000m (15 minute walking) detour for those looking to get to the other side.

When GO trait service began in Kitchener in 2011, the level crossing at Ahrens Street was closed in order to extend the Kitchener train platform. To quote the sign posted on the fence, the crossing has been "closed forever" for all uses.

Understanding that the Margaret Ave crossing will be closed until at least 2014, and given the current construction of Weber, I believe it would be pragmatic to for the City, Region, Metrolinx, and CN/Goderich Exeter to explore the possibility of re-opening pedestrian access across the rail corridor at Ahrens/Gzowski St. Such a crossing would continue to be used to access the Kitchener train station and the businesses on Victoria St from the Breithaupt/Mt. Hope neighbourhood.

The crossing would approach the rail corridor at a right angle to encourage cyclists to slow down while making the rail crossing. A precedent for this type of pedestrian crossing already exists north of Agincourt GO station in Scarborough at Marilyn Ave: http://goo.gl/maps/pe9Tr  Although nice, crossing gates may not be required; static signage would probably be enough given current rail volumes.

Please feel free to circulate this email and take this idea under consideration with your staff to what is possible in the short-term given the circumstances.

Thank-You,
Duncan Clemens

10/22/13

Breithaupt Park Rehabilitation Update

Last week, several members of our community attended the information session the city ran to update everyone on the Breithaupt Park rehabilitation effort. 

We were told several months ago that approximately $30,000 was being allocated for this park and our neighbourhood association was asked to present ideas for the city's efforts. 



We held a few meetings with city staff and posted a Blog entry about the process. Several interesting ideas were presented but around mid-summer we were informed that approximately $8,000 of the "park rehabilitation" money was being spent on a concrete walkway through the "accessible" garden on the side of the Breithaupt Centre. This limited the funds available for the rest of the park and so far we have received no final cost for the walkway. 

Our neighbourhood association is investigating how city money is allocated because it is not clear to us that the walkway, which sounds like 'infrastructure', should come from a 'rehabilitation' fund.

Throughout the summer the NA has worked to try and improve communication with the city and one result has been the city's information session where they presented a series of detailed display panels showing both implemented and proposed park updates. 

The Breithaupt Park Rehabilitation is detailed on the city's website here. At the bottom of the page are the "Open House Display Materials" and we urge everyone to look at these so you can understand the process and goals. Some good things have already happened with the park trails and more is planned for next spring.



The City of Kitchener is asking for input on some of the rehabilitation ideas. There is a link at the bottom of this page for a comment sheet you can print out and send to them, or you can use the other link to send an email message to Yvonne Cardoso with your comments.

For example, on the General Park Map there is a question on the bottom left: "Is this a valuable trail link and Access to Breithaupt Centre and park from Margaret Ave/Union Street"? Our NA would say "YES!" because this suggestion came out of our meetings.

It is great that the city is planting trees for shade around the splash pad, but they will not provide much protection for the families that use this facility for several years. We would like to see some kind of a ramada structure for shade built so we don't have to wait.

The Natural Trail Map shows two distinct groups of trails with the splash pad area in the middle. We would like to see a pedestrian/bike path go through this middle area to join the two trail systems. This way, you could easily walk or ride your bike from Margaret Ave, through the park and all the way to Lancaster. 

Please look through the material's on the city's website and send them your comments. Email us at mhbpna@gmail.com if you have any questions about our perspective.

10/17/13

MHBPNA 2013 Annual General Meeting

On Saturday, Oct 19, from 1 - 3 pm, in room 109 of the Breithaupt Centre, we are holding our Annual General Meeting. 

Much has happened over the past year and changes in our neighbourhood are ongoing. Weber Street widening, Transit Centre, Condo developments, gardens and new programs at the Breithaupt Centre have all created change and renewal. 

Please come out, meet your neighbours, have a coffee with us, find out about what your association has been doing and understand the issues we will face in the next year.

Dan Glenn-Graham (our city councillor) will speak and be able to answer your questions and Tim Ingold (from Victoria Common) will give us a presentation as well.

Take a couple of hours out of your busy weekend to help us engage on your behalf with the city and the region.

You can come just to see what is happening and if you are even more motivated, there are positions open on the executive. 

Click on image below for larger agenda:



Please email us at mhbpna@gmail.com if you would like to view the proposed amendments to the Constitution.

10/11/13

Read to a Dog Program


This program is run by people who live in our neighbourhood. You bring your child, 

they bring the dog! Click on image for larger size.




10/10/13

Margaret Avenue bridge update (from City of Kitchener)


KITCHENER – Staff awarded the contract for the Margaret Avenue bridge demolition on Wednesday to Bel-Air Excavating and Grading Ltd. out of Cambridge. On Sept. 9, council authorized staff to award the contract to have the bridge removed to keep this project moving forward in a timely manner.
The work is expected to start the week of Oct. 21, 2013 and be completed by early December. Access will be provided to businesses in the area and rail service will not be impacted. The total price before HST is $347K for the demolition and $95K for the temporary gas main support. The main is the primary feed to the Bridgeport area and needs to be in place to avoid natural gas outages in Bridgeport over the winter.
Staff has begun to develop the request for proposals (RFP) to get a new bridge design and will be providing a report to council on Oct. 21, 2013 with the proposed schedule. Staff is working hard to find ways to get the new bridge in place as quickly as possible.
We are also looking for ways to improve pedestrian, bicycle and traffic flow in the area. We recognize it’s a challenge for residents and businesses and will attempt to find the best interim solutions. 

10/3/13

Breithaupt Park Rehabilitation information session

Click on image for large poster. Please come out to the session.


9/25/13

Guelph Street Garden update with Proposed Pavilion information

At the MHBPNA Blog we welcome guests writing posts and here is one about the Guelph Street Garden. 


Guelph Street Community Garden - How to Water a Garden without Water?

If you haven't been to the Uniroyal Goodrich Park on Guelph Street lately, you will be amazed by the community garden that is being tended, weeded, nurtured and harvested there. Now that the garden is fully planted, a fence constructed, and a shed procured, the gardeners are working to solve the biggest challenge: WATER! 

Gardeners have discussed building a structure at the park that would give us a roof for rainwater collection. We approached the Parks Department staff from the City of Kitchener to discuss this option and received positive direction that we can pursue this project. 

In case you're wondering, we have already exhausted every possible option we could think of - filling our water storage cubes by hose from a neighbouring tap, trucking in water, filling from the fire hydrant, etc. We 'ran dry' on all of these options. In the end, rain water really is the best for watering a garden. 


The image below is a sketch drawing of the proposed rainwater collection structure. The design would allow for additional uses by everyone in the neighbourhood e.g. community events, garden workshops or neighbourhood potlucks. It could be a multipurpose structure that encourages more people to use the park for small gatherings and events. And don't worry, formal dress is not required in order to use the pavilion!



As we prepare a grant application to fund the building of the structure (constructed of wood frame & steel roof) we want to get input from the neighbourhood - send is your additional ideas, comments, feedback and questions. Post them in the comment section below or email them to the Guelph Street Community Garden (guelphstreetgarden@gmail.com). Please send your feedback or comments by Wednesday October 2 as we are preparing the grant application for submission by October 15. 

Even better, drop by the "Open Garden" event on Saturday September 28 between 3 - 5pm. We'll have copies of the proposed structure and you can share your ideas in person. 

We look forward to hearing from you and see you on Saturday at the Guelph Street Garden, Uniroyal Goodrich Park, Guelph Street.

===============================================

Here is a rough overhead representation of the garden area (blue) and the proposed pavilion (red).




9/15/13

Our programs begin at the Breithaupt Centre

Our Neighbourhood Association is sponsoring Memoir Writing, Vegetarian Cooking and two Lego programs at the Breithaupt Centre this fall (in addition to all the programs run by the city).

Our programs were advertised in the city's Leisure magazine, on this Blog and in our latest newsletter.

Lego and Vegetarian Cooking are run by volunteers and any profits go back to our Neighbourhood Association so we can offer programs, services and support to our residents.

In the Lego program from a kind of chaos:





can come sublime order:



Imagine what they will be able to make after 8 weeks!


9/10/13

Margaret Avenue Bridge Press Release

Margaret Avenue bridge to be torn down and replaced

KITCHENER – With the public’s safety top of mind, today Kitchener City Council approved staff’s recommendation that the Margaret Avenue bridge be removed as soon as possible, and that an environmental assessment (EA), predesign and design of a new bridge also be initiated immediately.
“It is essential to keep this project moving forward in a timely manner. Right now, this boils down to tearing down the bridge and starting the EA and bridge-design process,” said Counc. Berry Vrbanovic, who asked staff to prepare a project timeline, and opportunities to expedite the project, for the end of October during the community and infrastructure services committee meeting earlier today.
The bridge was closed in June, following a structural engineers’ report recommending it be closed immediately. A peer review of the initial recommendation also supported the findings. A consultant evaluated short- and long-term alternatives and costs for the bridge; the report was made available to staff in late August.
Staff recommends the funds from existing federal gas tax sources be reallocated for the removal of the existing bridge, which will cost about $250,000, and for the EA and predesign to replace it, which would cost about $150,000. Funding sources for a new bridge will be considered during the 2014 budget process.
In an effort to speed up the process, the city’s chief administrative officer, Jeff Willmer, was given the authority to approve the tender for removing the bridge, and also report to council on the decision at the next regularly scheduled council meeting.
“Even though this is unfortunate, with the bridge the way it is now, we could also look at this as an opportunity,” said Counc. Bil Ioannidis, chair of the committee. “With the new Weber Street overpass, and the light rail transit plan, we can create a whole new transit corridor.”
Kitchener Utilities is working on alternatives and costs to replace or support a 100mm diameter natural gas main that crosses the bridge and will fund this work out of capital reserve accounts. The main is the primary feed to the Bridgeport area and needs to be in place to avoid natural gas outages in Bridgeport over the winter.

9/4/13

Programs and more Programs!

Our Neighbourhood Association is sponsoring several programs this fall at the Breithaupt Centre. Full descriptions of them are available in our newsletter that is being distributed right now.

But they are also listed in the City of Kitchener's Leisure Magazine on page 87. 

In case you do not have that magazine at your fingertips, here they are (click on the image to enlarge):



You can register for any program at the Breithaupt Centre in person, or online at the City of Kitchener's WEBReg site.

9/1/13

152 Shanley Update #2






This is the second article discussing some background to 152 Shanley (first article is here). As mentioned in the first article, the building is coming up for a tax sale; the owner owes outstanding taxes, money to the city for work done on the property (snow removal, tree trimming, garbage removal) and money owing to the Ministry of the Environment for various assessment work. The total amount is over $800.000.

These articles are written with information provided in our meeting with the city in August.

Here are some issues that neighbours have asked and complained about:

--Bricks have fallen off the side. Does this mean the building is going to fall down?

In 2012 a few bricks fell off the top of the wall and the top also fell in slightly. This event was documented in an earlier Blog posting. Some neighbours have also reported that "someone they know" was inside the building at some point and a couple of support columns were apparently unstable. 

One of the people at our meeting works in the city building inspection area. He reported that the reason the top of the wall lost bricks and fell inwards was because of the deterioration of the roof, and not anything structural with the building itself. The roof had several holes and was structurally weak around the side where the damage occurred. Since this happened, the owner has repaired much of the roof so no more deterioration will occur. The owner also erected a fence around that area to prevent people from walking next to the wall.

The city has also hired a structural engineer to look inside the building and they have determined it is structurally sound. There have been some repairs made inside by the owner, so there are no columns about to fall down. 

--In places the surface of the building look like brick is falling apart, are you sure this is safe?

The walls are 12 inches thick, so despite some of the exterior brick peeling, the structure is sound.




--What is the owner allowed to do with the building? Can he 'sell stuff' like we have seen? Can he run a business out of it?

There are many issues here, but the main one relates to zoning. The building was originally zoned "mixed use" but that has lapsed due to time and the contamination problem. No retail activity is allowed there. The owner is allowed to use it for storage and he can invite people in but they are not allowed to live there.

In August 2013 the owner was selling some of the building's contents off the back loading dock area. ByLaw was contacted about this, and their answer was that everyone is allowed one or two yard sales a year and they allowed the owner this right so he could sell some of the building's contents. Apparently he continued to sell various goods more than two times and after ByLaw was alerted, he was forced to stop.

If residents believe there is illegal activity occurring in the building, they are encouraged to call ByLaw (or possibly Police). However, ByLaw is overburdened with various complaints as discussed in this Record Article. They are not always able to respond immediately. And because of the time and expenses they have already devoted to the building, they will not perform actions like mowing the lawn or cleaning up garbage which is the owner's responsibility. They will always take people's complaints and contact the building owner and they will undertake action if public safety is threatened (e.g. sidewalks are filled with icy snow, materials are falling from building in an unsafe manner etc.). 

There are ongoing concerns about garbage piling up behind the building and glass and wood from the boarded up windows falling and there is no simple solution. ByLaw has been very helpful with many of these issues when they are alerted, but they have limited resources.


--Why doesn't the City just buy the building? Why doesn't the city buy the building and tear it down?

The city is currently owed around $800,000 in taxes. If they bought the building they would be rewarding the owner for failing to pay taxes and they would be responsible for cleaning up the contamination, which will cost much more money. The building cannot simply be torn down because then the contamination would still be there. 

The best solution would be for a developer to purchase the building and develop it into a condo property (or other commercial enterprise). It is in a prime real estate area within walking distance of the planned transit hub. The developer would clean up the contamination under the property and have some of those expenses offset through various Brownfield incentives. 

The city is committed to working with any developer to make the property's development a success. They have proven their commitment to improving Kitchener by working with may businesses downtown and throughout the city.

It is not certain that anyone will purchase the building when it comes up for tax sale. However, there has been interest in the building in the past despite the many issues attached to it. So the MHBPNA is hopeful something will happen in the next few months.

We have made an effort to address the main questions asked about this property. If you have additional questions or see clarification, please email us at mhbpna@gmail.com

Ted P.


8/27/13

Old, New, Doors Open



#mhbp was walking down Duke Street West towards down town Kitchener when we saw these two buildings and thought they provided an interesting contrast. The MHBPNA Blog will be radical and call it "old and new"! Or "from felt to pharmaceuticals"? 

Click on the photo for a larger size. The motto "Felt for Every Purpose" seems both nostalgic and definitive. In the "olden days" Kitchener was the centre for felt, buttons, rubber and tanning (among other things). 

The Rumpel Felt building will be open for Doors Open this year so we should all make a point of visiting. Information about Doors Open Waterloo Region is here.

See you there!

8/24/13

152 Shanley Update #1



The building at 152 Shanley has been "known" to residents for many years. It has a long and fascinating history. On the side of the building you can still make out the letters for Deilcraft which was a division of Electrohome that made cabinets for home electronics. In fact, "In addition to television and stereo cabinets, the Deilcraft division produced bedroom and dining room sets and occasional furniture." There is a very good article on the history of Electrohome (including this building) located here

The building has been sold a few times and over the years one or more owners have dumped toxins into the ground and contaminated the property and some of the surrounding area. This has been a cause of concern for those living close to the building but from all the testing that has occurred, it appears the toxins are no longer moving and there has been no compromise of air quality. An environmental report was presented to the neighbourhood in 2010 and a copy of it is stored on our MHBPNA website here

Last summer some bricks fell off the building's side and there is now a small fence erected around that area. The owner of the building has tried to engage in various 'business' activities for which this building is not zoned, and this has frustrated neighbours. Police have been called because of suspicious behaviour and it has been suspected that people have lived or slept in the building. 

For your information The Record has written a few articles on this building and the most recent is here. There is also a discussion about it on the Wonderful Waterloo website here.

A few of us from the community and the Neighbourhood Association met with our councillor Dan Glenn-Graham and several representatives from the city including By-Law, engineering and legal.  We really appreciate Dan's work in facilitating this meeting. 

Here are some facts we were able to glean from this meeting.

Tax Sale: The owner of the building currently owes the city over $800,000 in taxes. The amount comes primarily from unpaid taxes but also from fees charged by the city to clear snow and bushes etc. There may also be a charge on it for several thousand dollars from the Ministry of the Environment for work they have done to access the toxins. The city is actively engaged in putting up the building for a tax sale. There are procedures for this and they involve advertising it for 4 weeks in specified newspapers (The Record, The Ontario Gazette). This procedure involves several departments who work independently so while the sale is "immanent" the city could not tell us when it would happen. Hopefully it will occur within the next couple of months.

There are a 'few parties' interested in the building but the city cannot say who they are, or how interested they are. The building's current owner is 848835 Ontario Inc.

The "certificate" authorizing the city to proceed with the tax sale was issued last year and the owner cannot sell the building without paying off the taxes. 

So the outcome of a tax sale is hopeful but we have no way of knowing until it occurs. We know in the past there has been interest in the building being renovated into condos and we believe the location is excellent. But this would involve a great deal of work and the contamination would have to be cleaned up (as much as is possible).

As an incentive to clear up and redevelop "Brownfield" properties the city and region do work with developers to offset their cleanup and development costs with future tax incentives. But these plans have to be applied for and their costs are measured against future value. This encourages development but it also means a detailed plan must be worked out prior to the application.

There are many additional details we learned in our meeting with the city and they will be provided in a few days in the next article. Stay tuned......

Ted Parkinson

8/12/13

Lego is fun and rewarding for everyone




The Mount Hope Breithaupt Park Neighbourhood Association, is currently in need of volunteers to facilitate the Fall series of Lego Programs at the Breithaupt Centre.

Our Lego Programs, are split into 3 groups of participants from 6-12, Creative (5-6 years old), Mechanical (7-9 years old) and Robotic (10-12 years old). Groups may range from 6-8 children.  Program is 1.5 hours per week, and run for a total of 8 weeks.

Lego is a great way to foster creativity and logic within youth.  By using the Lego, students are encouraged to follow a curriculum  and design solutions to the problem, using logic, creativity and teamwork.

We have successfully run a Lego program this past spring, and the response was phenomenal. 

There are currently 6 courses planned.  For each, there is a need for 1 leader, and one assistant.  Leaders will be allowed one additional child added to the group at no charge.

This is a great opportunity to marvel at the creativity and ingenuity of children, while helping your local Neighbourhood Association. The programming is well established and you will be provided with a solid structure for the 8 weeks, a list of activities and other guidance. 

If you are interested, please email us at 'mhbpna@gmail.com'

*All leaders and assistants will successfully pass a background screening prior to starting of the program.

8/9/13

Newsletter is coming soon....



We are currently working on a newsletter to hand out to everyone in our neighbourhood. If you would like to volunteer to deliver this (even on your block) it would be appreciated. Just email us at 'mhbpna@gmail.com'.

We are scheduling a number of programs starting in September including Lego, Dance and Cooking, so this issue will be full of information.

We have also uploaded the Spring 2013 issue onto our website. If you missed this issue, or would like to read older issues, please click here and download what you like.

8/7/13

MHBPNA meeting tonight, 7 pm, Breithaupt Centre

Normally, MHBPNA meetings are held the first Saturday morning of each month at 10 am at the Breithaupt Centre. The first hour is open to the public and we have agendas available and 'new business' can be presented. The second hour is reserved for the executive to discuss motions upon which they will vote.

As many have noticed, it is now summer and "things change". So we are meeting tonight (instead of Saturday) at the Breithaupt Centre in room 109 at 7 pm. Everyone from our neighbourhood is welcome to attend and we will be discussing items like: newsletter production, fall programs at the Breithaupt Centre, Weber Street Widening, update on Shanley and Duke building etc.

Please drop by and hear what is going on in #mhbp!

8/1/13

Garden In the Park

For the past few months a group of neighbours have been working on turning a portion of the Uniroyal Goodrich Park into a community garden. It looks like they have succeeded.

Uniroyal Goodrich Park is on Guelph Street, half way between Waterloo and Weber. It is up a hill and out of site so many people are not aware it exists. It had playground equipment in it but was seldom used so the city removed the equipment a couple of years ago.

The garden takes up one part of the park but we would like to encourage other uses and have more people around. Write to the Blog if you have ideas.

Come and check out the garden. There are often people "working the land" and it looks great now that the fence is up and the plants are growing.

The work begins with creating garden plots and digging postholes for a fence (click on any of the photos for a larger image).


Then there is a joyful and expectant time planting and moving soil and compost with a wheelbarrow.


Eventually plants grow and become tall. Fruit and vegetables can be harvested one day!



Thanks to Juanita for sending these photos. The MHBPNA Blog welcomes everyone from the community to send photos or articles about things they consider important and interesting.