Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Regional Municipality of Waterloo Planning and Works Committee Delegate Presentation

November 6th, 2018
Regional Municipality of Waterloo Planning and Works Committee
Delegate Presentation by: Daisy Arseneault

Good morning Chair Galloway and Regional Councillors,

My name is Daisy Arseneault. I'm presenting today on behalf of myself as a resident on Peppler St. in Uptown Waterloo. I'm also presenting on behalf of the Uptown North Neighbourhood Association. My co-founder of the Uptown North Neighbourhood Association, Julie Wright, regrets not being able to attend this meeting as she is currently in Edmonton in fulfillment of her work commitments. It should be noted that she was ready to be a delegate at the previous two committee meetings that were postponed. She would have loved to be here and has provided a slide presentation. Unfortunately my remarks will cover the entire 10 minute delegation and I will not be able to show all the slides so I invite Council to refer to the .PDF version of the presentation that Julie prepared and was distributed to Council by Leslie on Monday.

I'd like to state upfront that I'm opposed to the moving of the Peppler St. Pedestrian crossing as I feel the figures that have been given to the Chair and Council are incomplete.

I'm here to represent the LIVED EXPERIENCE that the figures in the report fail to communicate. The figures in the report that you have been given lack local community context and I hope to bring a true community perspective to this discussion today.

Chair and Council should know that my husband is a local architect. If my husband only looked at the context of a new building from google maps, he would be in a lot of hot water with a municipality. As an architect he is trained to visit the proposed site, research it's history, understand the context that the building would be built in, gather consultation from the client, municipality, engineers, consultants, community members, contractors and other professionals before presenting a proposed design option. This option then goes through several variations of edits based on all these consultations and in a year or two or likely more, a building is built. You're probably familiar with this process.

I appreciate that Waterloo Region staff have initiated consultation but I do believe it is incomplete. Significant Local Community Context is missing.

As presented in the WatReg staff report, a survey was given near the beginning of this process. However, when I received the survey, I felt that the survey was biased towards moving the pedestrian light to the Laurel Trail crossing. Also, I had major concerns that the survey seemed to only provide two options: move the light or keep the light but failed to address what might happen at the very busy and dangerous Peppler St. intersection.

The context of Uptown North is that neighbours are inclusive and united in our Uptown community. There's general support for a walkable and bikeable neighbourhood. Of course neighbours are going to support a crossing at the trail but the survey gave no option to give support for a safe Peppler St. crossing.

The WatReg staff report stands strong that the Laurel Trail crossing is also the preferred route to Elizabeth Ziegler.

The context of my Lived Experience is as follows; I have three children. They are teenagers now and one attends MacGregor PS (a grade 7 & 8 school) and two attend Waterloo Collegiate Institute highschool. My oldest has his eyes set on attending Wilfrid Laurier University next year, all within walking distance of our home but each of my three children attended Elizabeth Ziegler Public School (grade JK to 6). We crossed Bridgeport Rd. EVERY day, twice a day when they were young. Myself or my husband would walk them to school and back again on a daily basis. That's hundreds of days of experience, both ways. Poor weather conditions would have us driving our children to school, where walkability along sidewalks and pathways and sight-lines are not ideal to feeling the route is safe to walk. We know every single route option that you can think of from the Peppler area to Elizabeth Ziegler and I can confidently assure you that the preferred route is not down Bridgeport Rd., where large volumes of rush hour traffic rush past your children at arms length, all the way down to Moore Ave and then across Moore Ave to Erb St., where accidents happen on a regular basis at the Erb St. and Moore Ave intersection, during the rush hour.

Those figures and perspectives in the report are missing the true living experience. Unlike google suggests, the preferred walking route is leaving early, crossing at Bridgeport Rd. on Peppler St., then crossing Erb St. and meeting up with the Spurline trail where trail crossings do not take you through high traffic congested streets and you quickly end up with other children and families walking to school. This is the preferred route that we trained our children to use when they were old enough to walk to and from school. Even with that route, because they still need to cross two major urban highways that are Bridgeport Rd. and Erb St., it caused a huge source of anxiety for my husband and I and we preferred to walk with our children or collaborate walking with other families in the neighbourhood. We are not the only ones that have opinions on preferred routes to Elizabeth Ziegler.

Also within the staff report, I am unidentified as the "one resident" who "continues to request additional traffic calming measures such as a pedestrian refuge island."

True context from staff consultation: when staff invited Julie and I to meet with them and hear why they felt they had the researched evidence to indicate that two lights would be unsafe for pedestrians, both Julie and I agreed that we would not like to compromise the safety of ourselves or our families and neighbours. As I am not a planning expert, I invited Waterloo Region staff to identify what would help our community, which includes a diverse population of abilities in children to seniors who are both pedestrians, bikers and wheelchair and walking aid users. What would help our community members to feel safe crossing the high traffic & speed volume that comes down Bridgeport Rd? Staff indicated that they had no ideas as to what would help. I then suggested the pedestrian refuge island but that was off the top of my head. I also suggested a few other ideas that are not addressed in the report. Having said that, I don't pretend to be an expert in municipal planning. I believe further research is needed to satisfy the safety demands of the Peppler St. crossing. There are answers within the research as to how to address a trail crossing and then a major intersection such Peppler St. & Bridgeport Rd.

The context of the Peppler St. intersection does not even address the need for cars to cross both directions of Peppler St. in order to access Erb. St., going South  or to return home going north on Peppler St. This intersection is widely known in our neighbourhood as being problematic and the staff report does not address this fact. There are no figures provided on how many accidents occur at this intersection vs. the Laurel Trail crossing.

Moving forward, In Appendix A of your report, the Origin-Destination survey, the figures tell us that 61% of users cross at the Laurel trail. It also shows that 38% of users cross at the Peppler St. crossing.

The Context of Origin-Destination survey: what these figures do not indicate is WHO are these users and where is the actual origin of these users? I make three points to address this survey.

  1. Yes, the Laurel trail usage is higher but we all know that the Laurel trail is bringing in people from other neighbourhoods that are commuters through our neighbourhood. As I gave community context earlier, Uptown North neighbours are known to be very inclusive and we welcome commuters flowing through the Uptown.
  2. The Peppler St. crossing still has a significant usership. The difference between the two crossings is approx. 70 people on both weekdays and weekends. Where are the 238 Peppler St. users originating from? My Lived Experience attempts to answer that. My prediction is that those numbers are fellow Uptown residents that work in Uptown Waterloo and use that crossing daily, I know many of them as they're my neighbours. They are also fellow Uptown residents that access the daycare at the end of Peppler St., heading North on Peppler. This is information that the data neglects to show.
  3. Chair and Council should also know further local community context about the Peppler & Bridgeport area. The City of Waterloo has designated this area for increased density. The City of Waterloo can only grow up and not out. This area is prime real-estate for increased density. How will the data change in the near future? My prediction is that the Laurel Trail crossing numbers will not change as significantly as the Peppler St. crossing. As more residents choose to live in this area, there will be increased need to accommodate the walk-ability and bike-ability of this neighbourhood. The Peppler St. crossing is a key pedestrian pathway to the LRT station at the Waterloo Town Square, events at the square or Waterloo City Hall as well as the Spur-line and Iron Horse Trails going down to Kitchener.

In closing, I believe the staff report is incomplete. It neglects to give local community context to both crossings and it neglects to build for the future. I believe staff need more time to research and potentially consult with worldwide experts on this matter as we seek to attract worldwide residents to live in Uptown Waterloo. There are answers to the Peppler St. crossing that address the safety concerns of all users, whether perceived or real. Having said that, my lived experience in this neighbourhood, for over 18 years, can verify that the safety concerns at Peppler St. are real. Livability in this neighbourhood is dependent on walkable/accessible neighbourhoods at all hours of the day and weekend, independent to who is crossing at another intersection.

Thank you,

Peppler St.
Uptown North

There were 3 other delegations from Uptown North and 1 other delegate in support of both crossings to be safely accommodated.
Waterloo Region Council voted unanimously in favour of keeping the Peppler St. light and building a safe crossing at the Laurel Trail - addressing all safety measures. Many comments from Regional Councillors surrounded support for the Uptown Waterloo area to improve/preserve walkability and accessibility in the core neighbourhoods.
Congratulations to all Uptown North residents and all active transportation advocates who personally engaged on this issue that will benefit Uptown North for years to come.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Just Serve

I wonder what Waterloo Region would be like if everyone took at least one hour a week to #JustServe?! 

Saturday, March 31, 2018

The Beautiful Beast

From September 2017 to March 2018 the Youth of the Kitchener Ontario Stake of
participated in a production of

It was a proud Mother moment for me as my Rémi played the Beast 
and blew me away with his acting and musical talents.
He told well the story and transformation of a 
selfish man 
a hideous Beast
and then
finally transforms into 
a tender, caring and loving man.
His emotional intelligence was on strong display
as he took us on this journey and grasped our hearts with 
fear, doubt, hope and love.
So impactful was his performance that my Dad turned to me and said,
"I just can't believe that's Rémi!"
My Dad was so enchanted by his Grandson that whenever he sees Rémi, 
he now refers to him as
"The Beautiful Beast."

Remi was not alone in the telling of this captivating story.
Along with a dedicated cast of his fellow peers in our church, was the 
supporting roles of his brother, Yvon and sister, Melaia.
Yvon played the "comic relief" character, "Nick" who was a villager and die hard 
follower of Gaston, the self-absorbed vilan.
Yvon showcased his singing and comedy chops and 
also showed the ladies 
his silly dance moves and his muscular lifts (of other characters!).
Melaia dazzled us with her infectious smile while 
dancing as an enchanted fork
or roaming through the village as an old lady & bar maid.

The thing I'm most proud of?
I was so pleased to see my children 
bonding together
as they worked together 
to learn lines or songs,
as they gave each other ideas for their characters and
as they celebrated in each of their successes.
They fight less in the home and uplift more.
I'm in awe and I'm so grateful for this experience that they shared together.

Here are my fave pics from the show. 
The first is a "behind the scenes" view of my boys in the "green room," 
waiting for their cues.
Photo taken and posted to Instagram by @Rachel_Sid
You can probably guess why this is a fave pic of mine too...
Yvon (16yrs.), Melaia (12and3/4yrs.), Rémi, the "Beautiful Beast" (15yrs.)

Monday, July 31, 2017

Indigenous Me

My Indigenous Story....

Indigenous Me, 2015

Until recently, I didn't even know I had an Indigenous story.

I'm Canadian, aren't I?

However, what I am as a Canadian is very different than what my neighbour is as a Canadian. I was beginning to feel very confused. We speak the same language but we share completely different perspectives on Canada. 

Why is that?

Through my former Masters program at Wilfrid Laurier University in Community Music, I discovered that I see the world through the experiences that I grew up with, which don't necessarily relate to the experiences of those around me. It absolutely makes sense but I simply was not completely aware of this.

With these new eyes, I'm meeting new people. They're so familiar to me. They're like family to me but we have only just met. They're teaching me and I'm learning so much and I knew that I needed to learn more. I'm now attempting to enter the Masters in Social Work program in Aboriginal Field of Study at Wilfrid Laurier University. I need to connect more with my Indigenous perspective. 

I have so much to learn!

On Wednesday evening, a new friend of mine, Shawn Johnston of Nations and Voices, will be hosting a fundraiser for his inspiring photography project that will give a voice to People of Colour around the world. He's an Indigenous person of Canada who understands the perspective of people of colour. 

He gets me!
I love him!

Shawn will be revealing a picture that he took of me on my 41st birthday weekend, at his fundraiser on Wednesday, August 16th. I was so nervous about him taking my picture and showcasing this side of me that it took months for me to actually do it. He was so patient. He understood my struggle. He waited until I felt comfortable with my voice and now, he will reveal a part of me that I'm still discovering and seeking to understand better.

I feel completely vulnerable but...

I've never felt happier in my life.

Thank you, Shawn for being a teacher of "Indigenous Me."

Come to Shawn's fundraiser on Wednesday night at The Museum in Kitchener. He's been working hard finding sponsors and musicians and will be hosting an incredible evening of Art. Maybe you'll end up buying the picture of me. Good luck, as I'm trying to buy it for myself. 
I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

From 70's to 70

Come back to a post dedicated to my Mum for her 70th birthday.

Sunday, April 30, 2017


Something's happening in my family.
My kids are evolving into miniature adults and it's fascinating. 
I have no experience raising a teenager, 
I'm learning as I go.
My kids have no experience evolving through teenage-hood,
they're learning as they go as well. 
We're all learning together and sometimes we get it completely wrong 
but sometimes we get it right on.
This was a great moment...

After playing in a riveting school music concert, 
my son came home and had to face the 
It was an epic moment.
Life is good!