Municipal Innovation alive and well in our region

Mayor Dave Jaworsky – City of Waterloo

Welcome to my first quarterly Chamber blog. I appreciate the opportunity to share with you some of the initiatives and successes the City of Waterloo has experienced this year, but I also plan on discussing some of our challenges in future blogs.

One of the areas that I think Waterloo excels in, as well as the other local municipalities in our region, is in our shared commitment to taking creative and innovative approaches to the opportunities and challenges facing our cities. A few years ago Waterloo was first out of the gate with Ping Street (an app that provides information about local municipal services, locations, and programs) and Engage Waterloo (online public engagement tool). Both of these tools were adopted very early on by the other local municipalities, as well as the Region because they saw the value of offering these innovative options to their respective communities.

Sometimes our innovative and creative efforts result in external recognition for the great work that our staff is undertaking. This year three separate initiatives have been recognized by external organizations for their quality and uniqueness.

First is a sports app known as PickupHub. This easy-to-use app coordinates game schedules, registration, payment, and social networking. It allows players the opportunity to join a team on a game-by-game basis, either in advance or at the last minute. This app was developed by two local entrepreneurs and won awards from the Association of Ontario Municipalities (AMO) and the Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators.

We also took an effective approach in the way we used the federal gas tax money we receive. Our new asset management plan was recognized by AMO as well as the Canadian Asset Network of Asset Managers. The City of Waterloo has $1.6 billion in assets, so it’s imperative that we make wise investments. Our new asset management system will help us prioritize our limited dollars, so we can renew our infrastructure in a way that meets the public’s expectations. Innovative ideas need investment dollars.

The Northdale Streetscape Master Plan and Class Environmental Assessment Project was also recently recognized. The initiative received an award of merit from the Grand River chapter of Consulting Engineers of Ontario. These awards are determined by a selection committee and given only to projects that demonstrate high quality engineering, imagination, and innovation.

It’s great to see the talented staff at the city receive external recognition for the work they do. The awards, of course, aren’t as important as the fact we are committed and are delivering innovative and creative services and solutions to our community, and I think that’s what sets the communities in our region apart – we work very well together, and we have a shared vision and commitment.