Why the One Roof Pilot Didn’t Get Funding

The following is written by Regional Chair Ken Seiling.

Funding for Roof Pilot – February 5, 2016

A number of people have written to me and/or members of Regional Council with regard to the Roof pilot project which had requested funding through the Region. Hopefully the following information will help you better understand the situation. Unfortunately, media coverage had not carried the full story to date and left some incorrect assumptions of what has happened. This same response is being sent to all of those who emailed my office or various Regional Councillors.

The Province of Ontario revised and consolidated many of its programs with regards to homelessness. In doing so, it provided funding and greater flexibility to allow municipalities to better structure its supportive hosing and homelessness programs. Approximately $3.5 million was given to the Region to support better and increased funding for the hard to house and homeless population. This has long been identified as a pressing need in the community. Not only was there a need to provide more supports to housing providers but there was a need to upgrade many of the facilities operated under the former domiciliary hostel program.

To do this, the Region designed both new and improved facility standards and the ability to finance the staffing necessary for supportive housing. It then issued a call for proposals. Those applying had to meet the new standards. If they did, then they had to identify the number of beds they would provide and the costs.

In the report attached you will see that the Region awarded 291 beds to various agencies and groups at an average cost of approximately $9300 for a total of $2,704,466. There were a number that did not qualify either for not meeting the base requirements or because their costs were too high. Roof already receives assistance to operate its main program but had begun a pilot funded by a foundation. Their proposal was for 10 beds. Although they met the base requirements, their funding request was for $678,000.00 for the 10 beds, a cost of approximately $68,000 per bed. The proposal was simply too costly and to fund it would have meant reducing the number of beds to others in need by almost 73 beds. We simply could not sacrifice 73 badly needed supportive housing beds, real people in our community in need of supportive housing, for the 10 beds of this program. I think it is also important to note that all of the programs awarded beds do take people from the age of 16.

Although it would be great if we could fund every program, the reality is that our budget is set (at not an insignificant amount), that some of the submissions were too costly, and that our mandate  is to get the greatest number of people in need into a safe and good supportive housing situation, in some cases off the streets.  In summary, to fund  this particular program at this cost would have meant leaving more than 70 people without good supportive housing and in some cases possibly in homeless situations.

The balance of the funds are being used to provide supports to Cambridge residents where there were insufficient responses from organizations to award beds. Individual programs will be funded for these people using the balance of the funds.

The impression in the media coverage is that Regional Council has cut funding to ROOF. This is not the case. ROOF has received and will continue to receive approximately $250,000 per year from our funding program. What they applied for was NEW funding for a 10 bed pilot which was not previously funded by the Region. The application was not approved for the reasons outlined above. ROOF will continue to receive its funding to provide services to young people and this has not been cut.

Regional Council in its wisdom sought to properly house the greatest number of people it could with the funds it had at its disposal. This comes just after the Region picked up more than $2 million in discretionary benefits to people in poverty that the Province had discontinued funding.

I have attached the Regional Council reports so that you can read more fully what was done and why. Community Services Nov 2015, (It is the first report)  and Report on page 40 of Dec 2015 Community Services

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Thanks to CTV Kitchener and One Roof on Twitter for correcting the impression that One Roof is closing. The Record had the correct information that it was a pilot — Jane.

So Long and Thanks for All the Fish.

My Good Bye Speech at the End of my Term as GRCA Chair

(GRCA has a term limit of 5 years for Chair)

I have had an amazing five years as Chair. Thank you to the incredible staff at GRCA for all they do. Thank you to Joe Farwell our CAO who started when I did and continues to work hard to make GRCA the best it can be.

There have been many changes in five years. I promised to streamline our meetings and administration and that has happened. We have gone from two vice chairs to one. The meetings only look at the essentials, taking a morning instead of all day. A lunch no one ate has been cut back and moved to delicious snacks.

The GRCA is now much closer to the Grand River Conservation Foundation, though still at arm’s length. The GRCF now raises about a million dollars a year.

A couple of years ago, Conservation Ontario was not meeting with the ministry of Natural Resources. I got a slot at AMO to talk to the minister and Eleanor McMahon MPP who I had met through the bicycling coalition. This led to a close working relationship between Eleanor and Kim Gavine the CAO of Conservation Ontario. Joe is on many committees of CO and I was a Director.

I don’t know if we will have sunny ways ahead. However the Conservation Act review looks hopeful and CO has booked an advocacy day at Queens Park in the spring that the new Chair and Joe will attend.

Climate change looms large with its potential for destructive storms and flooding. GRCA will be part of the climate change preparedness committee of the Region of Waterloo and its cities and I’m sure the other cities are looking at doing this vital work. Emerald Ash Borer continues to spread.

The Source Water Protection plan for the Grand has been approved by the Ministry of Natural Resources and it looks like some funding for implementation will remain.

The conservation areas remain an important part of our income and the new automatic gate at Shades Mills is a good start to increased winter and summer attendance. We have to do something about our passive lands like Snyder’s Flats, Dumfries and Puslinch if we want them to remain refuges for flora and fauna and pleasant hikes for the public. Whether gates or increased enforcement or both remains to be seen.

As always, finances remain important. We now have healthy reserves and Joe continues to work on better staffing, including the introduction of an HR and bargaining position. We will have a new website that will continue to be one of the few places people can get real time data on the watershed and properties, cutting down on many phone calls and staff time. But money is always tight and retirements mean many changes. Joe has done a fine job of encouraging mentoring for promotions in the future.

In June, I am going to the International Making Cities Liveable Conference in Rome to present  a paper on “Using Partnerships to turn an Open Sewer into an Award Winning River and to Protect Local Drinking Water Aquifers”. That’s speaking about our Watershed and our many successes cleaning up and protecting our environment.

Finally, I would like to personally thank Joe Farwell for his leadership of GRCA. I would also like to thank the board for making my job chairing and leading easy. I’m glad I’ll still be on the board for at least the next few years and am looking forward as always to tree planting, LaTornell, and Heritage Day.

 

Why I Voted Against Funding for the Creative Enterprise Initiative’s Supposed Last Year.

The Lantern Walk, Placemaking at it’s Best.

I have read, several times, the CEI report and summary. I liked many of the things that CEI did in the past such as workshops on proposal writing, supporting various organizations like Kwartz Lab and the Jazz Room. Providing office space for organizations like Open Ears. However, I do not agree with the present direction.

 

I do not believe that the website can be saved nor should it be saved. I am retired from my internet business and a former librarian. In my experience, if you can’t get a good website in 8 years, it’s not going to happen in another year. The world and technology have changed since CEI started. We have Evite, Eventastic, Facebook, the Record, Twitter, Snapd and various bloggers who perform the functions CEI wants to develop.  I did a google search for music and art in the Region, which I’m sure new comers can do, and I found a whole list of events, museums, artists, and musicians all easily brought together by a search engine. I found Eventful.com, the Kijiji of events including in the Region and it can be personalized. Not to mention the apps. Will the new website have an app version?

 

The idea of digital media as explained in CEI’s presentation and summary also doesn’t work for me. Yes digital media is hot right now. But Arts and culture is so much more than digital. We aren’t Toronto or Chicago or Paris, France. Let’s not imitate other places but celebrate and develop our own unique Region.

 

CEI has also talked about a lack of placemaking in our region. Once again like the pictures of other places instead of Waterloo Region in their report, CEI doesn’t seem to know about the placemaking I see.

 

People come by the busload to our version of Dundas Square, the markets of St Jacobs, Kitchenr and Cambridge. Want to hear music, see arts and crafts, have a great meal, buy jewellery, attend the theatre, head to the St Jacobs Market. If you want to find someone, you will meet them at the market.

 

Juanita Metzger just did a great blog on the placemaking of Little Libraries in our Region. I just went on The Lantern Walk with my family, part of which is making art (lanterns) before you go. It was over 100 people, families, having a wonderful placemaking time. Facebook and Word of Mouth was the advertising. If anything, the building of the Spur Line trail was the placemaking infusion. We started at the Ambrosia Pastry Shop that was unfortunately closed as they were preparing for the Stitch and Kitsch arts market the next day in Waterloo.

 

I know Roger Farwell, Debbie Currie and their staff have worked very hard to save CEI. We have gotten letters of support from prominent members of the community. That is why I voted for CEI in committee despite my misgivings.  Since then I have had other people talk to me about CEI, not just the “no money for anything” people or angry artists, though their opinions are important, but also prominent people I respect on the other side of this issue. I also did some research on what is out there to encourage people to find out about events, arts and culture in our Region. I have mentioned the results.

 

CEI has done some good things over the last few years. This time, their mandate has changed and I do not believe it is one that will attract workers and businesses to the Region and keep them here. Not to mention I wonder why the mandate of an organization that was supposed to grow art and culture is only concerned about what looks to me like economic development. If at the end of the year, the money is going to Economic Development, then why not have it go there now? Or it could go to the Regional Arts Fund which gets way more requests than it has money for, or the public art fund, the public library ,one of the two important  organizations mentioned in the Community Foundation report on Belonging, or even to relieve our budget percentage.

 

We have as usual, a tough budget before us. Other worthy organizations have had their money stopped in other budget years and I voted to end their money for various reasons. It is not enough to put subject to budget approval as we all know if this passes here, it will remain in the budget.

 

None of us want to see an initiative fail but the world and the technology have moved past the proposed mandate of CEI. Our entrepreneurs tell us; you will fail before you find new successes. That doesn’t mean that you don’t cut your losses.

 

I voted against continuing to fund CEI. The vote was 14 for funding and 2 against, mayor Sue Foxton and myself.  The artists had some very good ideas for the future including creating a start up environment like tech has.

Notes:

Grandsocial.ca  (it has improved since I last saw it about a month ago. Let’s hope it keeps going)

Regional Report and CEI report to council  Page 53. Recommended: Scroll down and find the pay of the CEI staff.

Little Free Libraries Blog

 

Why It Made Sense to Keep the Regional Daycares

I could give you the reasons but part of the presentation by Mary Parker, retired head of child care for Waterloo Region, does it so much better.

“Growing the system” by ending the provision of care in one area and purchasing care from another is not as simple as it may seem.

I believe that the divestment of directly operated childcare centres and licensed home childcare program presents too many risks, barriers and disadvantages for this Region.

What are those barriers and risks?

Capital Investments

The Region, as child care operator, has already invested in a long term capital strategy to fund the replacement of the five centres, three completed to date and two more over the next few years. Closure of these facilities represents the loss of invested tax dollars and uncertainty with respect to the future of the buildings. It is unlikely that community operators could afford to purchase these buildings or afford the actual leasing costs.

Jobs

The Region employs approximately 65 staff in the five centres and 25 staff in the home child care program. Regional staff is unionized and receive pay equity salaries.

If the recommendations of the KPMG report were implemented, 90 Regional staff would lose employment. There are significant implications and risks for the Region’s obligations under the collective agreement and under labour law, especially if the facilities are sold or leased to other operators.

Capacity

It is unlilkely that the childcare community has the capacity to absorb 450 childcare spaces. It is not a matter of simply expanding and transferring the spaces from auspice to another. This is a significant expansion, more than any current vacancies could assume.

Grants

There are no provincial capital or equipment grants to assist the childcare community to expand. There is  no certainty that the current pay equity funding and wage grants could be transferred to new operators and it is not known if the province could provide wage grants for the 200 new fee subsidies.

Subsidy Waitlist

There is not a subsidy wait list at this time. We know that this can change; it will increase and decrease as needs change. But without demand, there is no justification for expansion at this time.

Provincial Funding

Provincial funding relies, in part, on utilization of the fee subsidies. If the additional 200 fee subsidies  are not utilized, the province will reduce its funding for the Region and re-allocate its resources. The Region risks losing provincial funding.

Tax Savings

There are no tax savings for the Region in the divestment of the Regional centres and the identified savings resulting in the transfer of the home childcare program to a community agency are not substantial or verifiable.

Increased Costs

The divestment could represent some increased costs for the Region. At the minimum, there will be expectations from the community for capital, equipment and operating grants to expand their operations. there will be compensation costs resulting from job losses and possible labour issues. There are no guarantees that care purchased from the community will continue to be less costly than care that is directly operated.

Reduced Parental Choice

Parents have chosen Regionally operated centres and the home childcare program. Many families have located close to the centres or have chosen a trusted caregiver in their neighbourhood. they have chosen these programs because of specific curriculums, accreditations and specialized services. Closing the programs will reduce parental choice.

Service Gaps

The Region’s centres have been located in neighbourhoods with demonstrated need for care with consideration for other operators. Closure of the centres will leave some neighbourhoods without access for service.

Mary had a lot more to say about childcare generally. You can find her full presentation and the excellent presentation of other citizens here, http://www.regionofwaterloo.ca/en/regionalGovernment/resources/AF/FM2015-0930.pdf

The End of Gwyneth’s cycle trip from the top to the tip of Great Britain.

The End. of my daughter Gwyneth’s trip from John O’Groats to Land’s End, Britain by bicycle, all by herself!  Remember she is hoping people will donate to the Haven House rebuild in her honour. The link is here http://www.wcswr.org/support-us/donate/

I just donated!

Gwyneth you are amazing. Don’t ever complain about the “younger generation” to me!

 

The Top Ten Reasons You Should Support the Grand River Conservation Authority

  1. Permits and regulations that stop you from building where it floods or erodes.
  2. Recreation. Trout fishing and canoeing on the Grand River. Camping, picnicking, running a race in the conservation areas.
  3. The GRCA helps mitigate climate change by updating the limits of flooding on flood plain maps.
  4. The Rural Water Quality Program and Sewage Treatment Plant Optimization Program reduce the amount of phosphates and nitrites going into the Grand and its tributaries, preventing algae blooms in Lake Erie.
  5. The osprey nest web cam at Belwood Lake. Return of vanished animals and plants to the river.
  6. The new Water Management Plan that tackles future population growth, continuing intensive agriculture and climate change.
  7. Educating children through the Water Festivals in Haldimand, Brant and Waterloo-Wellington. School visits to our nature centres.
  8. Dams that stop the Grand and its tributaries from flooding and release water when the rivers are low. Turbines that produce renewable hydro-electric power.
  9. The Grand has gone from being a sewer in the 1930s to an award winning Heritage River today that won the Thiess International Riverprize for one of the best managed rivers in the world.
  10. A healthy watershed inheritance for our children and grandchildren, down to the seventh generation.

You can find the osprey web cam, camping site registration, and current river flows, among other things, here: www.grandriver.ca.

You can like the GRCA on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/grandriverconservation

Day 0: Wick Airport to Seaview Hotel.

My daughter is riding down Britain from top to bottom. She is asking people to donate to Haven House as part of her ride. Click on the bottom of the donation and say, “In Honour of Gwyneth’s Ride.”
https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/womens-crisis-services-of-waterloo-region-anselma-house-haven-house/

joglewithgwen

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Surly is getting on the plane.

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The plane to Wick. Small and kinda smelly.

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Presto! A fully assembled and packed bike!
Seriously though. The wick airport staff were awesome.
When my bike came off the plane the baggage handlers handed it directly to me instead of putting it on the conveyor belt.
I’m not gonna lie. Surly got bumped around a bit during all the plane, train and bus rides. But it’s barely even worth mentioning.
I had a pretty good ride on day 0. Even though it started out rough. Maybe too much beer sampling? I guess we’ll never know :p
Once again the Wick airport staff were amazing. They even brought me a coffee and a plate of cookies while I was reassembling.
I think I may have been quite the entertainment!
When I was all packed up I said goodbye and cycled out into the VERY WINDY…

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