Easy Actions on Health Care, Fair Elections, Fair Taxes, and new Costco in Waterloo

Eleanor Grant writes:

A lot going on these days!

Please sign these action alerts and tell others.

Peace,

Eleanor Grant

HEALTH CARE

VOTE Sat April 5 to Save our Local Hospitals!

Please go to Ontario Health Coalition for location of “polls” in KW where you can express your preference for maintaining our public hospitals.

If you miss the poll you can vote on-line.

Background:
Ontario’s Wynne Government Plans to Bring In Private Clinics: Threatens
Non-Profit Community Hospital Care

The Ontario government plans to introduce private specialty clinics to take the place of local community hospitals’ services. The government’s proposal would bring in legal regulations under the Independent Health Facilities Act and the Local Health System Integration Act to usher in private clinics and shut down services in community hospitals. Ontario’s Auditor General reported in 2012 that more than 97% of the private clinics under the Independent Health Facilities Act are private for-profit corporations. The Ontario Health Coalition warned about the costs and consequences of private clinics for patient care in a press conference at Queen’s Park today. In addition to the danger of for-profit privatization, coalition director Natalie Mehra raised concerns about poorer access to care and destabilization of local community hospitals.

The coalition challenged the government to:

  • Amend the IHF Act to specify that no future Independent Health Facilities
    can be for-profit.
  • Amend the LHINs Act to specify that LHINs cannot transfer services to
    for-profit corporations.
  • Ensure that all clinics or satellites are brought in under the Public
    Hospitals Act and therefore covered by its legislative and regulatory
    protections for quality of care, non-profit governance, and the public
    interest.

ALSO, as the Canada Health Accord for federal transfers to the provinces for health care expires TAKE THE MEDICARE PLEDGE.

STOP THE UNFAIR ELECTIONS ACT !

Leadnow.ca: Stop US-style voter suppression from becoming Canadian law

and

Council of Canadians: PETITION: Investigate and prevent electoral fraud with a truly fair Elections Act

Background Articles from the Cambridge Times

DONE YOUR TAXES YET?

How much revenue does Canada lose every year to tax havens? Please visit Canadians for Tax Fairness to send a message to your MP to look into this.

AND IF YOU LIVE IN WATERLOO

At 6:30 Monday night, April 7, Waterloo city council will consider a zoning change that would allow a COSTCO store to be built on Erb St W, right across from the dump.

Here’s a backgrounder from Kevin Thomason of Grand River Environmental Network (GREN).

Please send a message to your city and regional councillors – links at end of Kevin’s message. I will be one of many delegations at the council meeting Monday. Come out if you can!

Hello GREN folks,

This coming Monday, April 7th, Waterloo City Council will vote to approve a proposal to build a Costco Membership Warehouse on Erb St. across from the Waterloo Landfill. The facility is expected to total over 200,000 square feet with a 975 car parking lot, a 16 pump gas bar, and additional big-box stores. It is estimated the development will attract more than 5,500 cars per day with weekend peak hours surpassing 1,400 cars per hour. The projected opening date is December, 2014.

While many people in Waterloo are excited about a Costco coming to town, few are aware of the significant issues we face. There are a numerous unanswered questions and issues that need to be addressed before a final decision is made:

  1. Widespread Traffic Congestion – Almost all other Costco’s are located near multiple arterial roads and freeways designed to handle high traffic volumes. This Erb St. location is a two-lane road already facing traffic issues. As a result planners are predicting:
    • Severe delays and widespread congestion on area roads with overflow traffic impacting residential streets and even rural roads in Wilmot Township
    • Travel times to increase dramatically, as speeds on some roads during peak times drop to below that of walking speeds. For example, parts of Erb Street with current travel times of less than 1 minute, are expected to increase to 7 to 9 minutes to travel less than 750 meters. This is even after a widening to four lanes in 2018.
  2. Infrastructure Issues – Commercial development is part of the City Official Plan but development was not expected until 2018 after area roads such as Erb Street, Ira Needles and Columbia Street are widened. And such large scale development surpassing 200,000 sq ft was never anticipated. Other necessary infrastructure such as sidewalks, trails, bus routes, etc. isn’t expected to reach the development until several years after opening.
  3. Communications and Public Engagement – Neither the City of Waterloo, The Rice Commercial Group (the developer), or Costco are planning any public information sessions, open houses or consultation events about this proposed development prior to the final vote this coming Monday, April 7th. Staff reports and most studies were just released to the public days ago and most citizens have learned about this plan in recent newspaper articles from the Waterloo Chronicle:
  4. Other Area Impacts – Both Costco and the Regional Landfill share the same peak hours. The landfill is already experiencing queuing issues, causing cars to back up out onto Erb Street right where new roundabouts are to be located for Costco. This would bring traffic to a standstill as cars would be unable to get through the congested roundabouts.
    • Severe congestion could restrict the ability for Fire, Police and Ambulance services to reach the Costco area, the communities beyond, or even return to the city from the EMS training center in case of an emergency.
    • Environmental and ground water recharge areas to the north could be overwhelmed by traffic seeking to avoid the predicted severe traffic congestion on Erb St, Ira Needles Blvd, Columbia Street, etc. This could reverse years of efforts to protect these vital parts of our community.

Few can fathom that a high volume store such as Costco could be built with only one two lane road for access on the onset and ultimately only two roads reaching the store by 2018. The resulting long-term congestion could so negatively impact so many Westside area roads and neighbourhoods. However, this is the plan being recommended by City Staff (report link below) for final approval this Monday night.

What You Can Do

It is really important that we raise the awareness about the importance of Monday’s City Council vote as our community could be impacted by a hasty decision here for decades. Here are some easy things that you, your family, friends, and neighbours can do:

  • Contact City and Regional Councillors: Tell them that an approval would be premature and ask them to support a motion to defer decision until after public consultations and integrated traffic plans have been completed. You can reach all City Councillors at one simple e-mail address – council@waterloo.ca and Regional Councillors at regionalcouncillors@regionofwaterloo.ca
  • Get your social networks involved: Start conversations and ask questions on Twitter and Facebook about the issues that concern you the most. Use the hashtag #WCostco so the community can easily follow the conversation;
  • Write a letter to the editor and get local media engaged in the vital community discussions surrounding this proposal and what sort of community we seek to become;
  • Attend Monday’s City of Waterloo Council meeting for the vote on the Costco development proposal. Register to speak if you like or simply be present to support other presenters. A strong attendance and showing of concern from the community will be important as an empty room sure wouldn’t send a strong message to Council;
  • Learn more by reading the City and Developer Reports.

Hopefully we can collaborate as a community with the City, the Region, the developers, and Costco to find the best path forward for our community and not rush into a situation with so many unanswered traffic, EMS, environmental, and financial questions with no way out after the zoning approval being sought on Monday.

Please let us know any questions, thoughts, or ideas.

Kevin.


Kevin Thomason

1115 Cedar Grove Road
Waterloo, Ontario Canada N2J 3Z4

Twitter: @kthomason
E-mail: kevinthomason@mac.com

Eleanor Grant writes a semi-regular e-mail newsletter on social justice issues. You can contact Eleanor at eleanor7000@gmail.com

Author: Bob Jonkman

Bob Jonkman runs SOBAC Microcomputer Services, providing technical support to large and small businesses. A social justice advocate, Bob was the Green Party candidate for Kitchener--Conestoga in the 2015 federal election.