Kitchener wins innovation award for housing plan

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

The City of Kitchener was the winner of the 2021 Peter J. Marshall Innovation Awards for the ‘Housing for All’ strategy.

“Kitchener’s innovative approach to housing is an excellent example of how municipal decision making can help contribute to a more equal society,” said Brian Rosborough, AMO executive director. “Other municipalities can adapt Kitchener’s approach, expanding the benefits of Housing for All to more people and communities. Congratulations to the City of Kitchener on your PJ Marshall Innovation Award.”

Officials call the plan a visionary strategy that boldly declares housing is a human right, includes more than 40 actions to support the right to housing in Kitchener, and creates tools that can be used to “help make housing a reality for all”. While still in the early stages of implementation, Housing for All is already responsible for the development of over 100 units of new supportive housing, with half of these units being occupied by the end of 2021.

“We all deserve the right to housing and our Housing For All strategy ensures that we’re building a caring community where people feel a sense of belonging, are connected and have access to basic needs such as affordable housing,” said Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic.

“This award belongs to the many community members and partners, who worked with our Council and staff to develop this important strategy. We’re thrilled about this recognition but there is still work to be done.”

The P.J. Marshall Award is an annual competitive process to acknowledge municipalities who have had creativity and success in implementing new, innovative ways of serving the public. It is sponsored by AMO, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Association of Municipal Managers, Clerks & Treasurers of Ontario, the Canadian Council for Public Private Partnerships, the Municipal Finance Officers’ Association, and the Ontario Municipal Administrators’ Association.

In addition to the City of Kitchener, three other municipalities received plaque awards: The Township of Archipelago for its Tale of a Thousand Turtles project; The City of Markham for its Single-use Plastics Reduction Plan; and Renfrew County for its Virtual Triage and Assessment Centre.

Vrbanovic and other local officials received the award while attending the virtual Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference in August.

“All sectors and so many businesses of all sizes, whether locally owned restaurants to major global organizations, have struggled over the past year. From manufacturing to tech, retail to tourism and entertainment venues, and so many more, all have felt the impact of the pandemic,” the mayor said.  “We know there will be a lot of work to get our economy back on track, and I know we are up for this challenge.

Through the Make It Kitchener 2.0 economic development strategy, the city is investing up to $110 million in the coming decade, including $5 million for local post-COVID business recovery efforts.  We look forward to continuing to work with the Province of Ontario to not only lead the post-COVID recovery but also boosting economic growth.”

“We appreciate the Province of Ontario reaching out to municipalities, over the past 17 months and during this conference, to listen to our concerns, support our residents and businesses, and to help shape our recovery,” Vrbanovic said in a statement following the AMO conference.

“We know great things can happen when governments work together, and the challenges we have faced so far and will face in the future, require tremendous and continued collaboration between all three orders of government – federal, provincial and municipal.”

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