Stop Deportation of Issam al-Yamani

Hello friends of Palestine in KW and area,

A lot going on right now, here in Canada.

  1. This urgent action came in today from Canadian Friends of Sabeel. Mr ISSAM AL-YAMANI, a Palestinian-Canadian activist in Mississauga, is about to be deported. LETTERS NEEDED BY FRI AUG 4 if possible. At this link Action: Letters of support requested for Issam Al Yamani, facing deportation threat from Canada you will find more information and a sample letter. Issam has lived peacefully in Canada since 1985, and has no country to return to. Here is a letter I wrote today to Ministers Goodale and Hussen. Please act today.

    From: Eleanor Grant <eleanor7000@gmail.com>
    Date: Thu, Aug 3, 2017 at 12:58 PM
    Subject: Stop Deportation of Issam al-Yamani
    To: Goodale.R@parl.gc.ca, Hussen.A@parl.gc.ca
    Cc: Clement.T@parl.gc.ca, Rempel.M@parl.gc.ca, Mulcair.T@parl.gc.ca, matthew.dube@parl.gc.ca, Kwan.J@parl.gc.ca, Virani.A@parl.gc.ca, Chagger.B@parl.gc.ca

    To the Honourable Ahmed Hussen and Ralph Goodale, Ministers of Immigration and Public Safety:

    Re the deportation order against Mr Issam al-Yamani

    Please grant Ministerial Relief from deportation to this man, who has lived peacefully in Canada for more than 30 years.

    And please review his case and reinstate his permanent resident status.

    I draw your attention to this informative letter from the Ontario Civil Liberties Association:

    http://ocla.ca/letter-canadas-record-regarding-the-civil-rights-of-mr-issam-al-yamani/

    In addition to the facts mentioned in the letter, I would add that the PFLP was not a banned group in Canada until 2003, long after Mr Al-Yamani ceased association with it; and that Mr Al-Yamani would become stateless if deported to Lebanon, where he was born a refugee.

    Mr Al-Yamani has no national home but Canada and he has been an exemplary Canadian resident and family man.

    I urge you to let him stay in Canada and to drop all threats against him.

    Yours Sincerely,

    Eleanor Grant
    Waterloo Ont

    cc Opposition critics Tony Clement, Michelle Rempel, Tom Mulcair, Matthew Dube, Jenny Kwan

    cc Arif Virani MP cc Bardish Chagger MP

    I made 2 small mistakes in the recipient list cc line:

    1. Instead of Arif Virani MP I meant to cc it to Omar Alghabra, who is Issam’s own MP.
    2. The address for Matt Dube (NDP critic for Public Safety) should be matthew.dube@parl.gc.ca .

    You will of course want to change Bardish Chagger to your MP if you don’t live in Waterloo.

  2. You may also be interested to hear that Canadian-Israeli journalist DAVID SHEEN is facing a defamation lawsuit by an unsavoury Israeli general. David does exceptional work making known in the West the increasingly racist culture happening in Israel at present; I heard him speak at U Waterloo in 2015. Canadian Journalists for Free Expression is asking the Cdn govt to get involved:

    Defamation suit against Israeli-Canadian journalist David Sheen must be dismissed – CJFE | Canadian Journalists for Free Expression

    As yet they have not requested mass support.

  3. If you’ve been following the case of HASSAN DIAB, the Lebanese-Canadian professor being detained in France on flimsy charges – his supporters are requesting financial support for his mounting legal costs:

    Justice for Hassan Diab | Bring Hassan Home!

    Click on How You Can Help.

  4. Lastly, close to home in London Ont, an assortment of Islamophobic hate groups are getting a foothold. I heard today that a Christian Peacemaker Teams group in Kitchener has been asked to support a Speak Peace rally in London on Aug 26 at one of these hate events. To attend, some training in nonviolence is required – the training will take place in London on Aug 25 and 26. IF YOU THINK YOU WOULD LIKE TO TAKE PART IN THIS TRAINING AND THE RALLY, I will put you in touch with Esther of CPT in Kitchener.

Thank You for all you do to be a light in these times.

Eleanor Grant
on Twitter @eleanor70001

Eleanor Grant comments on Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan

Conservation — Good But We Can Do Better

I greatly appreciate Ontario’s efforts to help homeowners with the cost of conservation measures such as more efficient furnaces and better windows. I also appreciate efforts to build more transit and reduce car use. Much more needs to be done to reach northern communities. Please restore Ontario Northland rail service and expand it. And please do everything possible to expedite rail service on the Kitchener line.

Electricity Supply Mix — Greatly Increase Renewable

The decision to back out of contracts for renewable energy was short-sighted. Please revisit these contracts and ask whether the subsidies could be reduced or eliminated, now that costs are rapidly falling. What Ontario REALLY needs to do is invest in large-scale renewable energy as a public corporation, as we did a hundred years ago with Niagara. Costs are now becoming manageable to buy in and operate such facilities in the public interest. Dalton McGuinty should not have backed down on off-shore wind. Please recommit to off-shore wind, with the lessons learned about obtaining buy-in and participation from affected communities. Please make it easier for small producers to provide their own on-site generation and/or be paid for feeding into the grid. This is the appropriate role for the private sector, NOT the ownership of megaprojects. Encourage local co-ops, First Nations, and municipalities to generate renewable power for local use, including micro hydro. I was pleased to hear that Ontario is entering into agreements with Quebec and Manitoba to purchase hydro power from them. Given all of these real and potential opportunities to increase the renewable supply share, Ontario should set a target for 100% Renewable.

Electricity Supply Mix — Phase Out Nuclear

The Ministry discussion guide states that Ontario plans to rely on nuclear power for the foreseeable future for baseload capacity. Sinking billions more into Darlington and Bruce, and squeezing more years out of Pickering, seems like a huge waste of money. Not to speak of the proximity to population centres and the still unknown cost of future disposal of radioactive waste. We must stop refurbishing Darlington, and set a target for getting out of nuclear power. A combination of local renewable generation, rapidly improving storage technology, and an overall shifting toward conservation and publicly owned large-scale renewable would make possible an increasing share of baseload capacity being reliably borne by renewable sources. Phasing out nuclear is doable.

Public Ownership Is Key — Start By Buying Back Hydro One

Note that leasing out Bruce Power – so that a foreign company could reap profits from operating it while leaving the cost of decommissioning the plant and disposing of the waste to the public – was a bad deal for hydro consumers and the public purse. As for Hydro One, taxpayers are losing hundreds of millions in revenue in perpetuity by selling it. We also lose influence and control, since there’s nothing to stop the shares from being sold and resold and eventually amalgamated by a many-steps-removed foreign investor. Seriously what could Ontario do to stop that from happening? Ontario is going to need a set of policies to facilitate: transmission of power from Quebec and Manitoba, transmission to First Nations and remote communities, transmission to the Ring of Fire, “net metering” with small producers, and possibly the cession of more control over local generation. ALL of these policies are likely to be resisted by private owners. Note as well, that many Local Distributing Companies are in danger of being bought up by Hydro One, resulting in massive loss of municipal control as Hydro One passes to private owners. It’s hard to imagine anything much more short-sighted than losing the ownership of our electricity grid. It’s costly to the treasury, and forecloses on the policy options we will need to prepare for the future. Ontario must reverse course right now, stop any more IPOs of shares in Hydro One, and diligently buy back what has been sold.

Those Rising Costs — Green Energy Is Not The Cause

Ontarians would be willing to pay if we were building public assets for the future, in which we could all take pride and hope. We are not willing to pay for subsidies to large players in a market that’s already shifting toward renewables in terms of costs and profitability. We are not willing to pay for keeping Pickering alive while selling surplus power at a loss. We are not willing to pay for refurbishing Darlington when cheaper alternatives exist. We are not willing to pay for the loss of public revenue that was ours from Hydro One, and for the exorbitant salaries of consultants and managers to handle the privatization. We are not willing to risk also losing our LDCs and municipal control over them.

Conclusion — Reducing Costs And Raising The Funds

Transitioning to 21st century energy will take investment, in renewable projects, transit, EV charging networks, and more. The cost of doing this can be reduced by committing to phase out nuclear, by recommitting to public power and getting rid of corporate subsidies, and by buying INTO renewables now that the cost is falling. But the public will still have to raise funds, perhaps through a mix of a modest increase in rates (not like the ones we’ve seen — many of these need to be investigated and rolled back), combined with a modest increase in income taxes (people might have more trust if the levy were earmarked), the promotion of Green Bonds, and the facilitation of hundreds of local co-ops. There are solutions, lots of them, if public trust is regained. I hope to have shown here some ways that the general public and government can happily work together to build a 21st century long-term energy plan for Ontario.

Proposals to address the lack of affordable housing in Waterloo

I have been drawing attention to the lack of affordable housing in the city of Waterloo, and how the updating of the zoning bylaw now underway could do much to bring more lower-end-of-market rental units onstream.

I have three main proposals:

  1. Reduce the amount of parking required when a condo or apartment building is built. And don’t always require a parking space for accessory apts created in a home. Parking makes construction much more expensive. And in a home, the lack of room for a side-by-side parking spot now means an apartment cannot be allowed – this needs to change.
  2. Remove many other obstacles that now exist to creating apartments in houses and detached garages.
  3. Bring in Inclusionary Zoning in all new developments. This means that every building, subdivision, etc, would have to include a given percentage of affordable units. This leads to a mix of income levels in the same neighbourhood, as opposed to ghettoization.

These three measures could open up the rental housing market substantially.

Here are links to some my recent articles on affordable housing in Waterloo.

Letter to Waterloo Chronicle: City officials have to hear about it on new zoning | Waterloo Chronicle (22 July 2016)

Mention in Waterloo Chronicle (interview with editor Bob Vrbanac): Concerns over new zoning bylaw | Waterloo Chronicle (14 July 2016)

Waterloo Chronicle: Editorial: Take the time to listen (13 July 2016)

Submission to the city’s public input portal on zoning review: Letter to the City of Waterloo on Zoning and Affordable Housing | KWPeace (16 July 2016)

If you think these are good ideas, please write to the papers and your city councillor. There will also be a second round of public input in fall 2016.

Letter to the City of Waterloo on Zoning and Affordable Housing

To Waterloo staff and councillors:

Thank you for the opportunity to give input on the review of our zoning bylaw.

My response pertains mainly to Residential zones. At the end I’ll add some brief ideas on Commercial and Employment zones.

These are the underlying assumptions I am bringing regarding what kind of residential areas would be desirable to live in:

  • Remember that we are building neighbourhoods.
  • Every neighbourhood needs to include green spaces and gathering spaces that facilitate casual encounters with one’s neighbours.
  • Neighbourhood green spaces should be small, frequent, and linked together if possible — user-friendly.
  • Every neighbourhood needs to be walkable and cyclable. No overly long blocks should be allowed, especially if they block access to amenities. Where these mistakes have already happened — on Lester St. and Marshall St. — the city must do its utmost to buy back an easement to insert a walkway. Plus easements to continue these walkways right through to the LRT station beyond Phillip St. and from Lodge St. to the plaza. Extremely important that we find a way to do this.
  • Neighbourhoods would also benefit from having a community centre. Please zone in space for them. Make sure that a conversation is open between staff working on zoning and those developing a neighbourhood strategy.
  • Fewer parking spaces should be required for houses, apartments, and condos.
  • Many apartments and condos could be offered without parking. That is, less than one parking spot per unit.
  • In fact a maximum number of cars should be set, because of the nuisance that cars pose to neighbours. In the vicinity of my house several driveways are being used as parking lots for multiple cars, continually coming and going, so that it’s never peaceful to go to my front yard. I think anything above two cars on a residential lot should have to pay some kind of fee or penalty.
  • What this city lacks most is housing for the whole bottom half of the market, everyone from median income on down. No one is building for them. The young, the pensioners, and the people who serve us coffee, take care of the elderly, clean offices, and provide security at events, should be able to live among us in decency. Providing for this huge demographic should be a prime goal of zoning bylaws. We especially lack lower-end rental units.
  • Every neighbourhood should be planned to include a mix of income levels, and a mix of ownership and rentals.
  • As soon as Inclusionary Zoning becomes available in Ontario — expected in fall 2016 — Waterloo should make use of it for all new development.
  • If density bonusing is used (and I’m not sure it ever should be), the green space and/or affordable housing created should have to be in the same neighbourhood.
  • In traditional neighbourhoods we should make it easier to create secondary units, frequently without parking, to bring lots of affordable housing onstream.
  • And why should we care if a family wishes to use a one-bedroom-plus-den unit as two bedrooms to make it affordable for them? The city should not be in the business of harassing and micromanaging people. Making developers change dens to dining rooms will prevent all residents from having a home office/computer room or guest room. We should do a lot less micromanaging!
  • Finally, every neighbourhood should be visually appealing and where possible reflect the uniqueness of Waterloo and its heritage. New development should fit its context.

I hope these assumptions I’m coming from are also shared by Waterloo officials. How might they apply to the specifics of the zoning bylaw?

Discussion Paper on GENERAL REGULATIONS 2.10 Secondary Dwellings

If a house is spacious enough, why couldn’t it have a basement apartment and/or a coach house unit and/or an upstairs apartment or main floor addition, or even all of these?

Why should it matter that an apartment or coach house be with a detached house and not a semi-detached or townhouse?

Why couldn’t municipal services be connected up to a detached garage in the future (at the owner’s expense); why should the connection have to have existed prior to this bylaw?

Why should it matter what percentage of the floor area of the main dwelling the secondary dwelling is?

Why should every added unit have to have parking?

What DOES matter is that there be adequate green space on the property, that the added units meet standards of safety, space, and decency, and that noise bylaws be enforced. The lot frontage doesn’t matter. Whether the entrance faces the street or the side yard doesn’t matter. We need to pick our battles, so to speak.

I think we should encourage house designs that lend themselves to the future creation of accessory apartments. Give people choice. If a family wishes to create a unit for an elderly parent or a grown child, or both — or if a young homeowner or a widow wishes to add a “mortgage helper” apartment — make it easy to do these things. It should be expected that people will do it. Get rid of the rules that don’t matter. Allow there to be some units designated as no parking.

In this way hundreds of affordable accommodations could be added in the city very quickly, blending into their neighbourhoods and with no ghettoization.

Discussion Paper on LOW-DENSITY RESIDENTIAL

As above, we should anticipate greater density being added by homeowners over the years, and don’t let rules about bedrooms per hectare restrict this too much. It’s the gentlest way to increase density and provide much needed affordable housing.

Discussion Paper on HIGH-DENSITY RESIDENTIAL

I’ve only been able to view a map covering from Erb Street to University Avenue so it’s hard for me to pinpoint locations in the rest of the city.

I think our city needs more RMU-20 throughout the city to provide affordable rentals, now that the province allows frame construction up to six storeys. Not having to provide costly underground parking should allow more affordable units to be built. Don’t require a parking spot for every unit, especially Uptown.

Two good locations for RMU-20 are close to me in the core: Bridgeport Road between Peppler Street and Laurel Creek, and the houses just north of 151 King Street North.

Please change the zoning of 151-161 King Street North so that 151 with its tasteful-density additions is preserved, and the homes between there and the 12-storey building on the corner are designated RMU-20. Best use for that location.

The Bridgeport Road site could have RMU-20 closest to the homes on Peppler, and could step up to RMU-40 nearer the creek. I hope the city will facilitate removing the H provision where the gas station used to be (in front of the carpet warehouse). A good site for development, but not 25 storeys.

These suggestions would both decrease an 81 to a 20. But I’m happy to see an upgrade to RMU-20 proposed for Weber Street, Bridgeport/Royal, and Erb Street East and West. Another spot that should be upgraded to RMU-20 is the apartments at 29 Elgin Street — I’m not sure why it’s shown as R4 on the map. I would also be OK with some R-8 townhouses on King Street between Central Street and 151 King Street North, blending in with 151. That could fit nicely. Alternatively this corner might be a good location for a community centre serving both MacGregor-Albert and Uptown North. Something to think about.

I don’t think there should be any RMU-81 on King between Elgin and Noecker, and perhaps Marshall. (What happened at King/Noecker/James is a ghastly mistake, and I believe the city owes SERIOUS restitution to the St. Sofia church congregation for permitting this encroachment.) I suggest we need a category in between RMU-40 and RMU-81. Say RMU-50, which would allow 14 or 15 storeys. Existing neighbourhoods could more easily live with that.

Less than one parking space per unit should be required, in all of the above. Mandate more and better bicycle parking (this shouldn’t be a “bonus” point but basic). And we need to keep pushing the Region for better transit and be willing to contribute more revenue for it.

So I’m saying: more RMU 20, more allowance for accessory units in R 1-4, less parking, more bike parking, and no 25-storey towers: change RMU-81 to RMU-50.

This option is more affordable for everyone, allows neighbourhoods to feel coherent, and preserves the character of the city.

Discussion Paper on OPEN SPACE …

I like the vision of “urban open space system within built-up areas”. But I didn’t see anything about improving general walkability by avoiding overly long blocks.

Walk/cycle links need to be restored where poor planning in the recent past failed to provide for them: Hickory, Lester, Phillip to LRT and Brighton, Marshall, Lodge to plaza. This must be a high priority, so neighbourhoods can breathe again.

As mentioned above, it is urgent that the city buy an easement for a walkway close to the end of Hickory Street, or else all of Northdale will be locked in forever and frustrating to live in. And make sure the walkway continues all the way to the LRT station and University of Waterloo campus, with some green space along the way.

As for Lodge Street, there’s still time to acquire the land and build a walkway from Lodge Street to the plaza, while working to find a way to get an easement through to Marshall. Please make this a priority.

The ditch running behind University Plaza is a good potential place for green space. Would it be possible to extend it out to Weber and to Regina? This would provide more foot and bike access to the plaza, reducing bicycles on University. A footbridge (or several) over the ditch to the plaza, some trees and stone benches, and a walkway out to Lodge Street and eventually Marshall and Brighton … Please act now to make this happen! Put it on the zoning map. It could be a gem.

A parkette would also be the best use of the low land around the art gallery between Regina and Peppler. And it could eventually be linked across Peppler to Brighton Park. Please pencil it in and work toward assembling it over the years.

These are two or three examples of walking links and green space potential in my immediate neighbourhood. And are there any plans to complete Laurel Trail from Weber Street to Moses Springer Park? Just five or six houses …

Much more could be done with Laurel Creek uptown as well, as regards green space.

Parkettes need to be an integral part of all future development. As mentioned above, it should not be allowed to “horse-trade” parkland fees for green space far away; the green space should have to be where the development is. Same goes for affordable housing; it should have to be on the site.

Affordable housing, walkability, and green space. Zoning can do so much to enhance them all. In these ways we can build future neighbourhoods that feel safe and fostering for all the diverse ages, incomes, cultures, household types, and occupations of people who will live here.


Here are two articles on visioning urban growth that I found inspirational:

Density at a Human Scale, by Kaid Benfield:
http://www.sustainablecitiescollective.com/kaidbenfield/988196/smart-growth-not-all-urban-density-created-equal

Zoning for Happiness in Edmonton:
http://edmontonjournal.com/news/insight/in-a-happy-zone-how-planning-rules-can-improve-a-neighbourhood-vibe

And new info: Ontario’s Climate Action Plan will legislate away cities’
ability to require parking minimums:
http://tvo.org/article/current-affairs/the-next-ontario/why-parking-spots-in-the-gta-could-get-scarcer-and-pricier


Let me conclude with a few thoughts on Commercial and Employment zones:

Less parking! Less parking! Less parking! I support the points regarding parking made by TriTAG at:
http://www.tritag.ca/blog/2016/03/20/can-the-city-of-waterloo-move-beyond-parking-minimums/

Employment districts in north Waterloo need much better bike and bus access. They need to be much better integrated with the city and include mixed uses.

I also think we need a rule that nothing can be built that’s only one storey. Industrial “parks” are huge space wasters. If production needs to be on one level, some other use could be built above.

There also need to be strong incentives to include on-site renewable energy and green roofs.


Thank you for your time in considering all these suggestions regarding how Waterloo should grow. Our residential areas, and commercial and employment areas too, should promote neighbourliness and inclusion, and commitment to place, and good stewardship.

Eleanor Grant

@Eleanor70001 writes a Letter to the Editor on Zoning Review

The letter was published in the Waterloo Chronicle on 22 June 2016: City officials have to hear about it on new zoning

Hi All,

I sent the letter below to the Waterloo Chronicle and they replied accepting it, but unfortunately they didn’t get it in this week. That means they haven’t yet given it a URL link I could have sent out on Twitter.

I am trying to launch a conversation about how we can tweak the zoning bylaws to create more affordable housing. Zoning Review is going on right now in all 3 cities in WReg, but the window for public input will soon close.

Please add your ideas and circulate this. And be sure to send comments to your city.

Much appreciated,

Eleanor

From: “Eleanor Grant” <eleanor7000@gmail.com>
Date: 13 Jun 2016 13:26
Subject: Letter to Ed on Zoning Review
To: “editorial” <editorial@waterloochronicle.ca>

To the Editor, Waterloo Chronicle:

We had a lively meeting at the Rec Centre on June 9, organized by Uptown ward councillor Melissa Durrell, to discuss the new draft zoning bylaw. Everyone should see this new map. (See Waterloo.ca/ZoningReview)

Now’s our chance to let city officials know if we like or don’t like their proposed changes, and suggest our own (within some limits). Comments are open till July 4.

The neighbourhood associations present at the meeting expressed a desire for medium-rise zones to buffer traditional neighbourhoods from new high-rise development. They also wanted to see more local parkettes.

It was a revelation, for example, that high-rise developers were able to increase density in exchange for paying a parkland fee – but the parkland money went to beautify Waterloo Park, not to create green space in the neighbourhood where the fee was collected. But children and seniors need places to play, and meet their neighbours, close to home day to day.

Another topic that came up is affordable housing. The zoning bylaw presents many needless obstacles, for example by making it hard to create “secondary” units and Granny flats in residential neighbourhoods. Why don’t we facilitate this? The “free market” is failing to provide one-bedroom rental units that seniors and low-wage workers can afford.

Get rid of those stringent parking requirements. Allow some rental units to be designated as no parking. The people who need low-rent units usually don’t have a car.

Thanks to the work of outgoing Minister of Municipal Affairs Ted McMeekin, Ontario now allows cities to use Inclusionary Zoning. This means that new multi-unit buildings would have to include a designated percentage of affordable units. If all developers have to do it, then none can complain that they’re at a competitive disadvantage.

Waterloo should act now to adopt Inclusionary Zoning in the Uptown area, so that there will be some affordable housing that’s near transit.

There’s a lot we can do to build a more inclusive and friendly city, just by tweaking the zoning bylaws.

But it won’t happen until the officials hear from us!

Eleanor Grant

Eleanor Grant’s speech on Hydro One to Kitchener city council

This is the 5-minute presentation I made to Kitchener city council on the subject of the privatization of Hydro One, on 2015 June 29.

Mayor Vrbanovic, Councillors & Staff, fellow citizens:

Hydro power celebration, Berlin, Ontario
Hydro power celebration, Berlin, Ontario
We’ve all seen the inspiring pictures of the night when Berlin, Ontario was electrified in 1910. The banners over King St proclaimed POWER FOR THE PEOPLE.

Adam Beck — a staunch Conservative by the way — fought for hydroelectric power to be a public asset — Why? Because he wanted businesses across Ontario to have equal access to affordable power. Later he worked hard to get homes and farms electrified as well. Since the days of Sir Adam Beck, we’ve all come to see Ontario Hydro and its successors as a sacred trust and a source of pride.

If we were to lose public ownership and control over Hydro One, the potential impact on Ontario’s cities and our local distribution companies could be enormous.

You may have seen our MPP Daiene Vernile’s column in the Kitchener Citizen, which outlines the government’s position for privatization. She states that by retaining a 40% share, Ontario could somehow prevent the outcomes we all fear: skyrocketing rates, shares becoming resold and consolidated in foreign hands, and loss of all regulatory influence. Ms Vernile’s arguments don’t add up, to my mind anyway.

Let’s look at the possible impacts on Kitchener-Wilmot Hydro. What if KWH had to start paying a lot more for transmitted power? If our Hydro bills soared, would we have any recourse? Suppose that this Council, or a future one, wished to bring in a local power generation policy, could we be sued under the WTO? How great would the pressure be to let private interests buy up KWH? How would the new “Hydro Ombudsman” that Ms Vernile speaks of, be able to protect us against such forces?

If we don’t know the answers to these questions and more, then we need time to do the necessary due diligence. We need to ask the Province not to go ahead with this privatization plan at this time.

I have received endorsements from the leadership of several local groups: the Waterloo Regional Labour Council, Grand River Environmental Network, and the Council of Canadians, who will be bringing the issue of Hydro One before Guelph Council soon. I’ve also received support from former Councillor Jean Haalboom, and from Councillor Zyg Janecki who happens to be in Sask tonight.

I urge you to look into the questions I raised above with some urgency. The first IPO of 15% of Hydro One is already being prepared. There’s no time to lose.

Please let the Ontario government know that the people of Kitchener still want “Power for the People” to be a continuing reality, and not a distant memory.

Since the clerk’s office had twice refused to register me as a delegation, I had 5 minutes to speak and no standing on the agenda.

After my presentation, Councillor Yvonne Fernandes tabled a motion, seconded by Councillor Frank Etherington, similar to the motion on Hydro One adopted by the city of Oshawa. But Council voted not to debate or vote on her motion.

I hope this isn’t the end of the story …

Readers, no matter what municipality you live in, please tell your Mayor and Councillors that you’d like them to pass a resolution asking the Ont gov to Keep Hydro Public! More than 40 municipalities already have.

Eleanor Grant
Waterloo

Links:

Hydro power celebration, Berlin, Ontario from the Kitchener Public Library Grace Schmidt Room of Local History.
Copyright Statement: Public domain: Copyright has expired according to Canadian law. No restrictions on use.

Oct 19 Vigil to mourn Ashley Smith

Announcement from Shannon Balla:

Remembering Ashley Smith
Community gathering & vigil

October 19th, 7-8pm
Speakers Corner (King and Benton), Kitchener

On the 5th anniversary of Ashley’s death in a segregation cell in Kitchener’s Grand Valley Institution for Women

Come and share a time of collective mourning and a renewed commitment to change as we remember Ashley and others who struggle against the isolation and oppression of the prison system

Hosted by:  We Remember Ashley Smith Campaign

For more information: 226-789-6786; shannon.balla@gmail.com

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/events/198140513653901/

 

Background: 
Ashley Smith (January 29, 1988 – October 19, 2007) died at age 19 in a segregation cell at the Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener.  Having been denied a transfer to a psychiatric facility and on suicide watch, Ashley tied a ligature around her neck and, while staff watched (having been ordered not to intervene), asphyxiated to death. The over four years of Ashley’s institutionalization were marked by isolation, violence, forced injections, and frequent transfers. In the 11 months before her death, while in federal custody, she was moved 17 times between 8 facilities in 4 provinces, largely for ‘administrative reasons’. She was denied access to her family, to advocates and to legal counsel. 

 

Reports of the Federal Correctional Investigator and New Brunswick Ombudsman attribute Ashley’s death to failures of individual staff and to much deeper failures within the correctional and mental health systems themselves.  A provincial coroner’s inquest was launched in Ontario but was halted in September 2011 due to legal challenges and logistical obstacles.  A new inquest is set to begin in January 2013.

 

Ashley’s death in Grand Valley five years ago exposes the inherent violence of the ‘corrections’ system and demands a response from those of us who live in the community where she died.  Remembering Ashley, and all those who have died or been damaged by these institutions, is an act of collective resistance against a deeply unjust ‘justice system’.  Strengthening our shared commitment to building communities of love, equity, and true justice is at the heart of this event. 

Oct 25 Town Hall to Save the Community Start-Up fund

Town Hall Meeting: Save the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit (CSUMB)
Thursday, 25 October 2012
18:30 until 20:30

Kitchener Downtown Community Centre, 35B Weber St West

Presented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees
and the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty

Join the province-wide mobilization to protect this vital benefit!

Calling all individuals, unions, agencies, community and faith groups:
Build a united front against austerity! Demand economic justice for all!

Hosted by Kitchener’s Poverty Makes Us Sick (PMUS)

If you want to help build this event or learn how you and
others in your community can receive the CSUMB, contact us today.

Poverty Makes Us Sick: ph: 226-789-6786 or forspecialdiet@gmail.com

Background:

The 2012 Ontario budget calls for the cancellation of the Community Start-up and Maintenance Benefit and the Home Repairs Benefit (CSUMB). The cuts are scheduled to take effect in January 2013. A province-wide campaign is being built to save the CSUMB and, in Waterloo Region, local organizers are looking to contribute to this in a number of ways.

• October 24th mass call-in to local MPPs, demanding their commitment to saving the CSUMB.
• October 25th Town Hall Meeting, with featured speakers from OCAP and CUPE will help to situate local efforts within the larger provincial campaign to save the CSUMB and to build solidarity between labour and community struggles to promote economic justice for all in Ontario.
• Mass clinics will be held over the next month (beginning on Saturday, October 20th) to make people aware of how they can apply for CSUMB and to help all those who wish to obtain it to fill out application forms.

What is the CSUMB?

The CSUMB provides funds of up to $800 for individuals and up to $1500 to families, once every two years for people on Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) to maintain their housing. Essentially, this is a homelessness prevention benefit. It is also about offering people the necessary economic mobility required to keep themselves and their children in safe living conditions.

The CSUMB helps the nearly 900,000 people on OW and ODSP pay for things like first and last month’s rent deposits. It helps people buy or replace furniture. It helps people put down deposits on utilities or pay overdue utility bills. More than 16,000 people are currently forced to use this benefit every month.

The existence of this program highlights the fact that current OW and ODSP rates are woefully inadequate, leaving those receiving assistance living in deep poverty. These cuts will only further the current crisis in this system. Along with the recent cuts to discretionary benefits, surviving on these meager benefits becomes even less possible.

Cutting the CSUMB will particularly hurt:

• women and young adults fleeing violence at home;
• people trying to move from shelters into permanent homes;
• individuals transitioning from prison back into society;
• people leaving psychiatric units and attempting to resume life in the community;
• people dealing with housing situations that threaten their health, e.g. insufficient insulation and roofing, bedbug infestations or mold;
• people who cannot afford the rising cost of energy.

NO MORE CUTS! Join the growing community response and help to protect the CSUMB!

Oct 23: Yves Engler talk on Harper’s foreign policy

Announcement from Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East:

Yves Engler to speak on his book:
THE UGLY CANADIAN: STEPHEN HARPER’S FOREIGN POLICY
Tues. Oct. 23 at 7 pm

Wilfred Laurier University
BAB202 – Bricker Academic Building, room 202
75 University Avenue West
(Talk location is closer to intersection of Clayfield Ave and Bricker Ave)
Waterloo, ON, N2L 3C5
TICKET INFO
Admission is free.

Home page of sponsoring organization:
http://www.cjpme.org/