Rob Deutschmann For Regional Chair
Why This Election Really Matters To Me And Why It Should Matter To Everyone
First of all, Waterloo Region has emerged as a leader in Ontario, thanks in great part to Ken Seiling’s leadership . We are a prosperous and growing community, diverse socially and economically. We have a strong tech sector throughout the region, well regarded colleges and universities, prosperous farms and busy factories and thriving commercial sector. We are fortunate to have many talented people living here. Our strengths lie in our ability to collaborate on issues working together to find “Waterloo Region” solutions to our challenges. We need to harness that strength to consider how we continue to tackle issues moving forward in the 21st century.
Waterloo Region - A Leading Community In Ontario
Many people in Waterloo Region have benefitted from our prosperity and their lives have improved, however some have not. We need to find new ways to allow more people to ride the tide and rise up.
Waterloo Region 2.0 is my vision for the future. The baton is being passed on and it’s up to us to keep moving forward. We must work collaboratively with all groups in our community – the tech community, business, social services, special interests, arts, heritage, and development. Our future success depends on establishing common goals and creating prosperity for the greatest number of people.
It’s about widespread collaboration. It’s about the recognition that we can always do things better. It’s not about criticism, focussing on past mistakes or dwelling on prior successes. We learn from our experiences good and bad, and we must now focus our sights on the future.
It’s important to continue to work towards wide spread prosperity, inclusion, and to make life better for as many people in our community as possible.
It’s about Moving. Forward. Together.
Municipal government must play a powerful role in harnessing the strength of the community through collaboration helping build connections within the community, improving communication to the community, user groups, and clients of the Region.
The Region needs to be proactive providing the community with the framework to support our diverse population and to provide them with the opportunity to participate in Regional dialogue and fulfill their potential.
A Rising Tied Raises All Boats...
It’s said that a rising tide raises all boats ... but not everyone in the community has a boat. As Regional Chair, I want to see the quality of life in Waterloo Region improve, in some way, for as many people as possible. Let’s create lifeboats for those who don’t have a boat.
The sharing of our prosperity can take different forms:
* Growth opportunities for manufacturers and tech companies within our region
* Improved emergency medical services in rural areas
* A greater police presence and having people feel safer in their community
* More and improved transit options for commuters
* More timely access to affordable housing for those with demonstrated needs
* Safer places for those with drug addictions to continue to use and seek help
* Continued integration into our Region for refugee families
* The arts community having more sustainable opportunities for growth and creativity
* Continuing improved and expanded access to discretionary benefits for those in need
* Safer biking infrastructure for those that want to bike more
Stronger More Prosperous Working Together
At the end of my time as Regional Chair I want the Region to be a stronger place with more people benefiting from our prosperity because of the work and programs we develop and implement together.
To achieve the type of change that I am talking about, I need your help. On Election Day vote for me, and let’s start on the road to achieving long term prosperity and success together. - Thanks Rob
In June 2018, I undertook a community dialogue reaching out to a wide variety of people and organizations. I wanted to hear first hand from our stakeholders, to discuss Regional issues now, and to hear about their vision for the future. It was these discussions that helped me make the choice to serve our Region by running for Regional Chair.
The discussions were enlightening. What follows are just some of the ideas that came out of those discussions. I intend to continue community dialogue by hosting a series of town hall meetings throughout the Region during the election campaign. If elected I will continue to hold town hall meetings. The many voices of our community deserve to be heard.
I hope you’ll attend one or more of these meetings sharing your thoughts and ideas with the community. Through this process and by working with Regional Council, we can develop a plan fostering the growth and prosperity in Waterloo Region and allowing more people to share in the benefits of the prosperity.
The following is not a complete list of policy issues, but a general overview for discussion and a framework from which to develop our future community plan.
Respecting our Rural and Urban harmony
Our rural urban harmony is a unique feature of Waterloo Region. Protection of the country side and intensification in the cities is a testament to the foresight and planning of our local current government leaders and past councils.
Our Townships and Cities have developed vibrant and unique communities. Our Waterloo Region model is working. The two-tier system provides lower tier municipalities (townships and cities) the opportunity to maintain and develop their unique character while participating within Team Waterloo Region. There has been some discussion about amalgamation of Waterloo Region, but we have developed a strong brand locally and beyond. A Regional Chair who takes on a high-profile role can build on the success of the Waterloo Region brand within Ontario, Canada and internationally.
I know how important it is for the Region to be aware of, and to consider each of its community’s needs and desires. While examining improved transit services, we must be mindful of the priorities of people in the Cities and the Townships and to ensure that we are advocating strongly on their behalf internally and to higher levels of government. We must listen carefully and act decisively on behalf of our communities.
Issues of concern include:
* Protection of the greenbelt
* Focussing development primarily in the cities while allowing opportunities for development growth in the Townships
* High speed transit where needed but respecting our farmland
* Conservation practices including flood protection and mitigation
* Safety in our communities including improved response times and a greater police presence.
Waterloo Region is a leader in providing community services. The list of services provided by the Region is long and our service delivery standards are high. We are fortunate to have a strong grassroots presence in both social service and community service provision, and the Region has been able to work effectively with our community advocates and service providers to enhance the level of service provided to the community. Improving the social condition for those facing difficulties – economic, health, emotional – not only helps the individuals and families, but provides a tremendous positive benefit for our entire community.
Discretionary benefits are an example of the Region’s leadership in aiding those less fortunate in our community. However, we know more needs to be done. The question is how can we achieve more? We need to continue extensive community dialogue to seek out effective proven solutions to our problems. The Safe Injection Site dialogue, while difficult, is an example of the type of ongoing community consultation that must happen in order to arrive at a solution to this very serious social and public health issue. We need to ensure that communication lines are open at all levels. We need to listen, we need to be heard. We need to provide those who are interested with multiple opportunities and ways to join in the community conversation. We’ve heard from many voices on both sides of the issue; we must respect those voices, understand their positions and work towards a solution considering their opinions.
We need to expand the discussion surrounding affordable housing. We need to investigate what the Region can do regarding the supply of developable property, and regulations and costs associated with development. This requires a collaborative discussion with government, community groups, private industry and other interested parties and individuals, to determine how to expand the supply of affordable housing more quickly. Critical consideration must be given to the cost of repairs and maintenance of our existing supply of affordable housing. Like the infrastructure deficit, the needs are great but the available income sources are limited. There may be opportunities to leverage the equity of our existing supply or the rents we receive from current housing to assist in the costs of repairs or the expansion of inventory.
My Vision includes:
* Continuing to work towards the implementation of Safe Injection Sites (SIS) working with all groups to find the optimal solution
* Increasing the availability of addiction services throughout the Region
* Continued and increasing support for Discretionary benefits
* Continuing discussions with local service providers and frontline workers, ensuring the coordination of efforts between the Region and all service providers and that we deliver community services efficiently and effectively
* Expansion of affordable housing at a more rapid pace by working with provincial and federal governments to increase funding, and with community service advocates, builders and developers, and private industry to develop a plan that would produce results.
Public Transit, Trails, Bike Lanes and Roads
Improved public transit is important for our community. While driving a car is the primary mode of transport for the clear majority of our population now, we must look to the future. Individual car ownership, and where and how and when we work, and where we chose to live now and, in the future, need to be considered thoroughly.
Investment in public transit provides significant benefits for our community. It allows for intensification of development by saving on infrastructure costs likes roads. It provides support for climate change initiatives by reducing emissions. It can improve transportation options for many within the Region and beyond, especially within the Waterloo Region – Toronto corridor. A more active and healthy lifestyle is possible when biking and walking is a priority and supporting infrastructure like bike lanes and walking paths are improved. The goal is to make the alternative to motor vehicle travel viable and practical for more people. Regional government must take a lead in building the necessary infrastructure – with a significant commitment to building infrastructure increased ridership will come.
My vision includes:
* Continued investments and improvements to service
* Increased bus service feeding the ION route
* Continuing to seek advice from the community for suggestions on enhancing service, especially interest groups and community advocates
* Continuing the work on the second phase of ION into Cambridge but with full funding from provincial/federal governments
* Community input into the second phase of ION route is crucial
* Support the efforts of Cambridge for a GO Train solution and access through Guelph or Milton
* High speed – focus on Waterloo Region to Montreal; confirm the business case for the west side of Waterloo Region to London/Windsor and lobby for an expansion of the Environmental Assessment west of Waterloo Region.
* Continue advocating for two way all day Go for the Waterloo Region – Toronto – Waterloo corridor
* Bicycle and trail infrastructure
* Support the expansion of the trail network
* Separated bike lanes should be a priority
* Closing gaps in the bike lane network and expanding infrastructure which will increase use
* Improve communication and coordination of bike lane efforts between the Region and municipalities
* Work with community advocates to continuously expand and improve our trail and bike lane networks
* Hosting a region wide cycling infrastructure summit to include community advocates, all levels of local government, private industry and developers to determine a way forward for increased and better cycling infrastructure
* Road safety
* Continued development of roundabouts
* Promoting traffic calming measures to create safer streets
* Promoting smart city developments and expansion of smart road networks with assistance from our tech community
Safety in our community is one of the most important issues. It is probably the number one concern that is raised by people in Waterloo Region. The prevention and investigation of crime is crucial to helping the community feel safe.
* Safer roads where we ensure vehicles are travelling at the appropriate speed in our communities
* A greater police presence in our city cores and Township communities
* Giving police the resources to investigate crime in a timely manner
* Improved emergency medical services including ambulances arriving at a medical emergency within a reasonable timeframe
* Reduction overall of response times
* The demand for emergency services has increased over time and the ability for police and ambulance services to deliver those services has been stretched considerably. The demand for police and emergency medical services increases as population and neighbourhoods grow. Gang infiltration in our communities requires police services.
* This all comes at a cost. We have to recognize that wages are a significant portion of the cost of additional police services. However, if the community wants an increased police presence on our streets with increased traffic enforcement resulting in a safer community, then we have to be prepared to pay for that. Ensuring that we have a safe community is the highest priority. It is the most important role of a politician. My vision includes:
* Enhancing safety in our communities by supporting the hiring of additional police
* Expanding ambulance services and related emergency medical services
* Promoting the continued participation among local fire services, particularly in the area or procurement of equipment and training
* Continuing efforts to try and develop the most efficient Emergency call centre service possible.
* Continued support for groups such as the Crime Prevention Council
* Increasing gender equity in leadership roles at the WRPS including the Chairperson role on the Police Services Board.
We have a long and significant history of economic and industrial leadership in Waterloo Region. Economic development is crucial for the growth and prosperity of a community. The ability to obtain well paying and secure employment is important. The environment for economic development is highly competitive, not only within southern Ontario, but across North America.
The Region of Waterloo needs to continue playing a role in promoting economic development. The Region needs to support efforts in attracting manufacturing, particularly advanced manufacturing, to our area and supporting our burgeoning tech industry. This includes development of the infrastructure needed to attract and retain tech companies and workers to our community. We also must consider other employment sectors as well such as the hospitality and tourism industry and how the Region can encourage its development and growth.
The creation of the Waterloo Region Economic Development Committee was a significant step forward in better coordination of economic development activities in Waterloo Region. While we appreciate the uniqueness of our municipalities, for businesses considering locating here establishing one point of entry is crucial to simplifying their ability to do business in the Region. To that end the Regional Chair needs to adopt a more prominent role in spearheading a team Waterloo Region approach.
Economic development activity should focus not only on attracting new industry like advanced manufacturing to our Region but must also work at retaining existing industry and ensuring that we are able to respond to their needs for continued success. We must provide our existing industrial base with land and space for growth.
We have a tremendous burgeoning tech community. We’ve had major successes and there are more to come. The Region needs to support the efforts of Communitech and to provide support for tech companies. This support could include the adoption by the Region of locally developed software and hardware solutions thereby helping local tech companies while also enhancing the Regional experience.
My vision includes:
* A more prominent role for Regional Chair promoting the Region of Waterloo in economic development, and in external promotion of the region
* Continuing support for the Waterloo Region Economic Development Committee
* Development of shovel ready industrial land
* Continued support for the Region of Waterloo International Airport and development of the airport and surrounding lands
* Review of planning and development regulations to encourage a more efficient response to development
* Finding opportunities to support tech companies within our community and support their efforts for growth, including adopting and integrating software and hardware innovation into Regional services and operations like road infrastructure and management
Provincial and Federal Government Relations
As we look towards this election and beyond, it will be important to consider whether we have a Regional Chair that will be able to work with the higher levels of government. I propose to build on the role of the Chair. I propose that the Chair will take a stronger lead role in advocating for the Region with provincial and federal leaders. We rely on the provincial and federal governments to provide programming to benefit our community, to provide us with additional funding for various programs and support for infrastructure projects. We also lobby the higher levels of government for changes to laws that will benefit our community.
The interaction between our Region and the provincial and federal governments is significant. A good working relationship with the provincial and federal government is important. In business I have always shown a strong ability to advocate strongly on behalf of my clients and obtain positive results. Similarly, I have demonstrated in my community work that I can work with other parties and levels of government and advocate to provide benefits for our community. Through working with fellow community members we were able to secure one of the highest levels of funding from the Federal Conservative and Provincial Liberal infrastructure program that allowed us to build a new community centre and arena.
Building and maintaining a good working relationship with the Trudeau Liberals and Ford Conservatives will be important for our community. I feel that I am in a good position to build on that so that our Region can continue to benefit on the strong reputation that we have established over decades of good inter-governmental relationships.
Heritage and Arts
Heritage and arts play a significant cultural and economic role in our community. As our community’s economic base and population grows, the preservation of our heritage becomes a crucial issue. A community that loses touch with its heritage loses touch with its history and with its identity. The Region of Waterloo has done a wonderful job of preserving its heritage.
Arts become imperative in a growing community and reflect the heart and soul of a community. It is vitally important that we continue to take steps to develop a more sustainable community model for the arts. It is important that a supportive nurturing environment and the required infrastructure are created to support the many forms of artistic expression in our community.
Developing a sustainable model is going to require a community effort. The Region can take the lead as a coordinator. There are many pockets of interest within our community; people that want to support the arts. This support can take various forms, not just financial. Many interested individuals and groups in the community want to participate in planning for and creating art. We need to provide them with the information about the extent of our arts community, the existing needs, and the opportunities to provide support.
Finances and Budget
The most visible, effective, and efficient use of your tax dollars happens at the local municipal level. Unfortunately for municipalities, over the years a number of services have been downloaded by the federal and provincial governments, but this increase in responsibilities has not been met with sufficient funding to assist with increased costs. Municipalities have been facing a daunting and growing infrastructure deficit that cannot be dealt with using existing municipal funding sources. Municipalities are dependent on property taxes and do not have any other permanent and sustaining source of funding that would help to relieve the significant costs of delivering the necessary services expected by the community.
It is important that we continue to lobby provincial and federal governments for alternative sources of revenue, preferably from existing tax revenues. Ideally this would be a return of a portion of the taxes that are taken from our community by the provincial and federal governments. The goal would be to let municipalities determine their individual priorities and allocate the revenue to those priorities rather than the federal and provincial governments attempting to develop programs that fit all municipalities across the province and country, essentially telling municipalities what their priorities should be.
The Region of Waterloo, despite extraordinary financial pressures including borrowing charges in connection with the development of the ION, has maintained a very high financial credit rating. This has allowed for member municipalities, especially the Townships, to borrow funds through the Region for capital projects at a very low interest rate.
Moving forward the Region will continue to feel financial pressures from several areas including the infrastructure deficit, debt charges due to borrowing, increasing demand for services – especially police and emergency medical services. These demands and others based will exert tremendous pressure on the Region’s ability to deliver services.
The Region of Waterloo represents one of the leading municipal organizations in Ontario. We have exceptional leadership and staff. I believe that the best and most efficient use of taxpayer dollars happens at the municipal level. While operating within a very large corporate entity, and overseeing substantial growth, especially in infrastructure investment, the Region has consistently maintained an excellent credit rating.
As with any professional organization, it is important to assess whether the Region continues to deliver services in the most efficient manner possible. The Region undertakes internal reviews to seek out cost efficiencies. However, some questions need to be raised, and perhaps even an external review conducted that considers whether there are organizational changes could be implemented to develop a more efficient and effective municipal government for our clients, the taxpayers.
For example, are there areas of duplication of service between the Region and lower tier municipalities in land use planning? Are some departments becoming too large and too unwieldy, like Transportation and Environmental Services for example? Do we have the right management structure in place to meet the challenges for the Region going forward? Should we consider looking to some of the outside community partners to manage certain functions, rather than creating more staff positions within the Region, for example in greenhouse gas projects and climate change carbon reduction initiatives?
The chairs for the three Standing Committees – Administration and Finance, Community Services and Planning and Works, along with the chair of the Police Services Board, represent key positions at Regional Council. In addition to having a leading role for each of these three committee areas, the committee chairs, along with the Regional Chair, lead the budget process. I would seek to institute term limits for these positions.
I appreciate the “experience” argument, but I am also a strong believer in fresh ideas. There are many organizations that institute term limits for directors and chairpersons – the Grand River Conservation Authority and Energy Plus (Cambridge and North Dumfries Hydro) are two local examples. I would propose to council that term limits be introduced for these four committee chair positions. I am open to how the term limits would be implemented. The general idea is a four-year maximum term. After the first two years as committee chair, there would be a confidence vote among council members to determine whether the committee chair would continue for the final two years of the four-year term. I would also advocate for more diversity in the chair positions, including police services board, particularly more female representation.
I am a strong believer in the concept of term limits for politicians. Politics is not a profession; it should represent community service at the highest level. In every community there is a large pool of talented individuals who would be pleased to provide their services. However, one of the largest deterrents to them is incumbency. Term limits would remove the issue of incumbency. If elected as Regional Chair I would commit to serving a maximum of two terms as Regional Chair (presuming I was re-elected).
Waterloo Region 2.0. - The Community Conversation Continues …
There are more policy issues to discuss and this is just a start of the conversation. Over the course of the campaign and beyond the discussions will continue. They will form the basis of a more comprehensive plan, a different way of conducting government in the Region of Waterloo; what I term Waterloo Region 2.0.
Rob Deutschmann ... Ready To Serve.