What’s Up with the Corduroy Road?

First of all, Mayor Sue Foxton of North Dumfries Township wants you to know that North Dumfries still has a lot of corduroy roads. A million snappy jokes jumped into my head, but I like North Dumfries and Mayor Sue is doing a good job!

The one pictured above is, of course, the corduroy road found under King St. in Uptown Waterloo on March 11 when the asphalt road was dug up to put in utilities and set up the new Ion light rail line. An archeologist had to come and examine it and his findings are going to the provincial heritage ministry for approval before work can begin again on the Ion construction. The road is the original Mennonite road built before 1800 by cutting down the standing trees to make the road. You can see large stumps also that became part of the road.

Uptown Waterloo and indeed much of the surrounding housing on Euclid, Alexandra, up to where I used to live on Beverley St, are on the site of the Beverley Swamp. Even today, many houses in this area have sump pumps due to the high ground water levels.

The logs of the road were put over the swamp so horses and carts and people could traverse the swamp ( or as we say today, wetland). Over time, the road was buried and the ground built up. The basement at the Waterloo Hotel where you can descend to a store or bar (depending on who is renting)  is what remains of the original ground floor of the hotel, as told to me by a local resident.

While everyone is concerned what the delay in studying the road will mean for the stores and businesses on King St., it turns out the road has become quite the tourist attraction.

At the Mayor’s Breakfast this morning, Mike Murrary, CAO, mentioned that the Region is working on letting people take a piece of the road if they wish. Tom Galloway presented this idea to me yesterday.

In a previous update memo, Kim Moser said:

The Region will be offering residents a chance to secure their own piece of the corduroy road after it’s been removed
 100, two-foot sections of the corduroy road will be available to the public for free on a first-come, first-service basis, while supplies last in May
 Details on this giveaway will be provided by the Region once the corduroy road has been removed from the area by GrandLinq
 The remainder of the corduroy road and the surrounding soil will be disposed of according to environmental standards and regulations

Here is some information from staff about the process so far.

From Lucille Bish, Director of Cultural Services concerning preserving the road.

The process to preserve wet wood artifacts from archaeological sites is to keep them wet in the field and then in the lab.  Water is slowly removed and replaced with PEG – polyethylene glycol – a process which can take several years.  This cannot be done easily if the wood has been allowed to dry out in the field or the lab.

In the case of the corduroy road section found under King Street, it has been uncovered and fully documented under the direction of an archaeologist.  However, there was no intent to keep it wet and covered, so the cell structure of the wood will have already begun to collapse.  We don’t know how long the wood will stay intact, but any display or use would be short term at best. Without some form of preservation, now that the wood has been exposed to the elements, it will become dust in a matter of a couple years. The resources to preserve the wood are likely limited to federal conservation labs in Ottawa.

The City of Waterloo Museum is planning to take a section, with the knowledge and support of the Region of Waterloo Museum.  There is no need to keep more than one section of the road in the community.  As the actual preservation of the wood is beyond the physical and financial resources of either museum, it would be a temporary exhibit.

Neither can the road be left intact and re-covered with soil, as there are adjacent underground services which must be replaced.

The real value of the find has already been accomplished.  The formal documentation has included photographs, detailed drawings and construction notes, and 3D imaging.  The City of Waterloo Museum plans a temporary exhibit of images at the construction site.  Many people have been attracted to Uptown Waterloo to take a look, which has been good for business.

Here is even more detail about the corduroy road, for those obsessed (like me).

Background:
· On March 11, GrandLinq crews performing light rail transit (LRT) construction at the King/Willis Way intersection, discovered a change in conditions and the presence of wood
o In keeping with requirements of both the Project Agreement and the Ontario Heritage Act, work was immediately stopped and GrandLinq’s Environmental Department was informed
· The investigation, which is nearing completion, has been led by an independent licensed archaeologist, with support from historical experts at both the Region and the City of Waterloo
· On March 18, the lead archaeologist confirmed that the finding was a corduroy road
· Following the confirmation, the lead archaeologist and his team were required to:
o Determine the extent of the corduroy road on King, between William and Erb
o Carefully and completely expose the intact sections of the corduroy road in order to document the findings (i.e. map and photograph the corduroy road)
o Submit a report, for review and approval, to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Sport (Ministry)

Current Situation:
· Today (April 19), the lead archaeologist and his team are expected to complete their documentation of the corduroy road on King, between William and Erb. They will also prepare the report for the Ministry
· Understanding the concerns a prolonged delay will have on ION LRT construction and businesses in UpTown Waterloo, the lead archaeologist has worked closely with the Ministry throughout the investigation and will remove the corduroy road once the documentation process is complete and authorization from the Ministry has been granted. This work will require two steps:
o Step 1: Removal of unsuitable soil that surrounded the corduroy road. Some of the soil in this area cannot be reused due to poor conditions
o Step 2: The corduroy road (i.e. the logs) will be removed
· Once the unsuitable soil and corduroy road materials have been removed, LRT construction in this area will resume

Next Steps:
· At this point, it’s too early to know what impact the corduroy road delay will have on the ION construction schedule for UpTown Waterloo
· Once LRT construction resumes, GrandLinq and the Region will need some time to assess the situation and determine what (if any) schedule time can be gained through other construction methods (i.e. double-shifting and/or a noise by-law exemption, etc.)
· The Region and GrandLinq understand the importance of the Christmas shopping season for UpTown Waterloo businesses. We expect to have an update on the ION construction schedule and the impacts of the corduroy road delay by the end of June
· It’s important to note that during the archaeological investigation of the corduroy road, GrandLinq crews were re-assigned to accelerate the completion of LRT work in other areas of UpTown Waterloo. This will help with the overall LRT construction schedule for UpTown Waterloo. For example, on Allen, and in the Caroline/Allen intersection:
o The Caroline/Allen intersection did not open, as previously planned, on March 24. Instead, the intersection remains closed until mid-June
o When the intersection re-opens, all required work in the intersection will be complete, including installation of the track and related infrastructure
· On-going work in UpTown also continues, as scheduled, including:
o King/Union – construction at this intersection is progressing well and it is expected to re-open May 15 prior to the Caroline/Erb intersection closing
o King/William – construction at this intersection began March 29 and it is expected to re-open May 15. The Caroline/Erb intersection will not close until King/William re-opens

What will happen to the corduroy road?
· As required by the Ontario Heritage Act, the corduroy road has been carefully and completely exposed and documented. A report on the findings, as required, will be submitted to the Ministry for review and approval
o The final report will be shared with both the Waterloo Region Museum and the City of Waterloo’s Museum
· The City of Waterloo’s Museum has requested, and will receive, a piece of the corduroy road for its archives
· The Region has extensive drone footage of the corduroy road
· The City of Waterloo has documented the corduroy road through 3D-imaging. This information will be shared with the Region
· The Region and the City of Waterloo will be creating several banners to document the history of the corduroy road and what was found in UpTown Waterloo
o These banners, once completed, will be displayed along the construction fencing in UpTown Waterloo
· The Region will be offering residents a chance to secure their own piece of the corduroy road after it’s been removed
o 100, two-foot sections of the corduroy road will be available to the public for free on a first-come, first-service basis, while supplies last in May
o Details on this giveaway will be provided by the Region once the corduroy road has been removed from the area by GrandLinq
· The remainder of the corduroy road and the surrounding soil will be disposed of according to environmental standards and regulations

Will GrandLinq be able to complete their work in time for the 2016 Holiday shopping season?
· At this point, it’s too early to know what impact the corduroy road delay will have on the ION construction schedule for UpTown Waterloo
· Once LRT construction resumes, GrandLinq and the Region will need some time to assess the situation and determine what (if any) schedule time can be gained through other construction methods (i.e. double-shifting and/or a noise by-law exemption, etc.)
· The Region and GrandLinq understand the importance of the Christmas shopping season for UpTown Waterloo businesses. We expect to have an update on the ION construction schedule and the impacts of the corduroy road delay by the end of June

What is a Corduroy road?
· A corduroy road (or log road) is a type of road made by placing logs perpendicular to the direction of the road over a low or swampy area
o In some cases, these road sections were sand or earth covered. The result is an improvement over impassable mud/dirt roads
· Corduroy roads are the first instances of roads in Ontario. The corduroy road in UpTown Waterloo predates the 1800’s

Why is it important to document information about historical finds?
· Archaeological features, like the corduroy road in UpTown Waterloo, tell us about our past
o This feature tells us about the earliest Euro-Canadian settlers in the area (pre-dating 1800) and provides an example of the first roads travelled in Ontario
· From discoveries like this one, that connect our present to the past, we can learn about the evolution of Waterloo Region
· It is important – and regulated – that historical specimens discovered during construction be treated in accordance with the steps outlined in both the Project Agreement and the Ontario Heritage Act

What are the costs of the corduroy road?
· It’s too soon to speculate on what the costs will be. However, it is expected that any costs associated with the corduroy road will be managed within the contingencies that are being carried for Stage 1 ION LRT
· As we have done to date, any impacts to the schedule or costs for ION will be included in the staff update to Regional Council. The next update will be later this fall/winter

And finally, an interesting article in the Waterloo Chronicle about a bridge, probably removed when Laurel Creek was buried, across the original street in Uptown.

http://www.waterloochronicle.ca/news-story/6411654-historical-discovery/

Pictures of Uptown Waterloo and Corduroy Road, on April 22nd, 2016, Earth Day

 

 

 

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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

————-

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