Overview of Education, Expertise and Professional Affiliations

Diane Freeman is a professional engineer with over 30 years of engineering and project management expertise.  She has over 25 years of experience specific to air quality engineering where she specialized in air quality assessments and dispersion modelling with specific expertise related to odour modelling and management. During her career Diane has managed over 200 air emission assessments and permit applications for a wide array of manufacturing facilities including food processing, particle board, metal coating, chemical and automotive industries.  Diane also has expertise related to land-use planning and compatibility assessments.  Diane is a confident, collegial and strategic leader with a passion to serve and to seek effective solutions to any challenge. She is an expert at identifying opportunities, building consensus, aligning activities, inspiring and gaining confidence with colleagues.  
In addition to engineering, Diane has over 25 years of board and governance experience including serving in a variety of leadership roles.

EDUCATION

  • B.A.Sc. University of Waterloo, Civil Engineering (Water Resources Option), 1992

EXPERTISE

  • Air Quality Engineering
  • Public Speaking
  • Board Governance
  • Public consultation and facilitation
  • Political acuity
  • Media management
  • Land-use planning

MEMBERSHIPS

  • Professional Engineers Ontario
  • Engineers and Geoscientists British Columbia
  • Air & Waste Management Association
  • Fellow Canadian Academy of Engineers
  • Fellow Engineers Canada

RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Project Management
  • Computer Simulations
  • Public Consultation
  • Land-use Compatibility Assessments
  • Technical Report Preparation
  • Business Development

Board and Corporate Governance Experience

L. to R.: Maud Cohen, ing. (OIQ); Kim Farwell, P.Eng., (APEGGA); Margaret Li, FEC, P.Eng. (APEGBC Board member); Chantal Guay, ing., P.Eng., M.Env.; Diane Freeman, FEC, P.Eng., (PEO); Shawna Argue, FEC, P.Eng. (APEGS); Catherine Karakatsanis, FEC, P.Eng. (PEO Board member)

2006-2022 Elected Councillor, Ward 4, City of Waterloo

Elected for four consecutive terms to govern the City of Waterloo. Diane provides Political leadership to all aspect of City Business a municipality with a population of over 130,000 that is home to Canada’s “high tech” industry as well as the Universities of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University and Conestoga College.

March 2021-Present Honourary Lieutenant Colonel, 31 Combat Engineering Regiment, Canadian Army

Serves the community and regiment by communicating functional advice, guidance and assistance to multiple levels of authority through Chain-of-Command. Serves as a liaison between civilian community and military community. Participate in Commanding Officer meetings, training exercises, and regimental events.

2021-Present Director, Share the Road Coalition

Director with Share the Road Cycling Coalition, a provincial cycling advocacy organization working to build a bicycle-friendly Ontario.

2018-Present Director, Waterloo Public Library

Serves as a Director to governed under the Ontario Public Libraries Act, Waterloo Public Library (WPL) delivers library services to citizens of the City of Waterloo.

2003-2016 Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO)

Strategic leader and Director that supported PEO in effectively regulating Ontario’s 90,000 licensed professional engineers and 5,000 engineering firms. Served as the 2010-11 President.  Currently serving as the main invigilator for the profession practice examination – Waterloo Centre.

2013-2019 Director, College of Veterinarians of Ontario (CVO)

Appointed public Director to the College of Veterinarians of Ontario. The College licenses approximately 4,700 veterinarians and accredits over 2,300 veterinary facilities in Ontario.

2010-2019 Grand River Hospital Corporation

Strategic Community Leader and Director of one of the largest non-teaching hospitals in Ontario. Operating out of two hospitals, Grand River employs over 2,300 technical and administrative staff and 500 medical professionals.

2012-2016  Engineers Canada

Director of national organization of the 12 engineering regulators that license the country’s 295,000 members of the profession and accredits the undergraduate engineering programs offered across Canada.

2007-2015  Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony

Board Member of largest not-for-profit arts organization operating in the Region of Waterloo

2011-2015  Air & Waste Management Association

Elected as Canadian Director to the Air & Waste Management Association, a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional organization that provides for information exchange, to more than 5,000 environmental professionals in
65 countries.

2001-2010  Butterfly Learning Centre.

Lead the incorporation, fundraising, building and staffing of a 10,500 SF childcare centre in Waterloo. Chaired the operational Board and lead the transition to a policy Board.

Keynote and Public Speaking Engagements

Over the course of her career, Diane often provides speeches at a variety of events. These include professional engineering events, Iron ring ceremonies, and convocations. The following is a selection of public speaking engagements:

  • 2018 Camp 15 Iron Ring Ceremonies (5 sittings, 2500 students/parents), University of Waterloo
  • 2013 Convocation Speaker, University of Waterloo Engineering Faculty
  • Ryerson University – Stand Above the Rest Conference
  • Conestoga College 42nd Convocation Speaker
  • Science Teachers of Ontario Annual Conference
  • Ontario Public Works Women in Engineering Conference
  • National Conference for Women in Engineering
  • Municipal Engineer’s Association

Awards and Recognitions

  • 2021 – Appointed Honourary Lieutenant Colonel to Combat Engineering Regiment 31
  • 2018 – Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering
  • 2014 – Companion, Order of Honour – Professional Engineers Ontario
  • 2012 – Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal Recipient
  • 2012 – Leading Women Building Communities Award – Ontario Women’s Directorate
  • 2012 – Bicycling Leadership Award from the Share-the-Road Coalition
  • 2011 – Professional Engineers Ontario Lifetime Membership
  • 2010 – Fellow of Engineers Canada (FEC)
  • 2010 – Butterfly Learning Centre – Leadership Award
  • 2009 – Awarded Roger’s Woman of the Year – Professional Category

Colonial Acres Update – August 2022

In response to a Facebook Question related to road resurfacing and preservation of tree canopy in the area, the following information was provided:

The City of Waterloo standards and policies for roads across the City requires roads to be reconstructed with curb, gutters and sidewalks.  I knew the cost to undertake this work in Colonial acres would be extraordinary because the roads are old township roads, made from layers and layers of tar and chip.  There is no traditional “road base” present allowing for the top asphalt to be simply “shaved and paved”.  Further, half the area is still on Septic systems with open channel surface water drainage to Colonial Creek.  I also knew that people valued the rural cross-section of the road (no curb gutter and sidewalk) and that preserving it was important to the neighborhood.

In 2018, the Province of Ontario amended the Heritage Resources to allow for the uniqueness of a neighbourhood to be captured within a Cultural Heritage Landscape designation.  A group of neighbours including myself attended open houses with City Staff and spent many hours at the Kitchener Public Library researching Colonial Acres all in support of securing a designation for the area.  The key things included in the designation are the low lighting standards, the road cross sections, the lot “fabric” (setbacks from the road and adjoining neighbours), and some unique architecture.  While the diversity of trees in the neighborhood is also mentioned, the designation does not limit tree removal. 

With regard to trees.  I have raised the desire mentioned in this Facebook page for a tree bylaw a number of times, most recently in questions to staff at the May 30th Council meeting and staff have taken away the comment to see what can be done.  Here are some important things I have learned over time that I share with you for consideration:

  • One of the most significant challenges is that trees are “chattels” and under the ownership of the homeowner, not the public at large.  It has been explained to me, a number of times, by staff and legal council that tree by-laws cannot be upheld in court.  Under real estate law(s), people have rights to manage their property and associated chattels as they see fit.  Therefore, they have the right to remove anything from the property (such as a tree) without permission, unless of course, it is a City owned tree.  There are few if any City owned trees in Colonial Acres.   
  • In recent years, I know of citizens in Colonial acres removing large trees for other reasons: Fear of damage resulting from the age of the tree combined with the ever-increasing fierce storms (believe it or not, this is a significant concern for many), aging homeowners who are no longer able to maintain/pay to maintain tree canopy and associated leaf management, desire to pursue different landscaping options.  On my street in Colonial Acres (Normandy Avenue) many removed the old growth trees to make way for younger, easier to manage trees. 
  • Conditions placed on the sale of homes related to preventing tree removal could (and many will email to tell me will) reduce home values.
  • Through the current process trees  are typically required to be replaced at a rate of two trees for every one removed.  I think there is a minimum trunk size that is required to be maintained as well. 
  • The provincial planning act governs the type of conditions that can be placed on a planning approval document such as consent and minor variance applications.  Further, there is an appeal process so if the conditions rendered the property “unusable” in the eyes of the landowner, they could appeal the decision to the Ontario Land Tribunal.  In the end, land ownership has rights and the lawyers know those rights very well.  
  • The truth is even a permit process may allow what is going on in Colonial Acres.  Many of the trees are very old and when looked at with a lens of tree health and the roots (drip line), most of the trees would be irrevocably damaged through the new construction works, especially the new septic systems required for a new home build.  This reality would result in a tree removal permit being issued.

With regard to road works.  With the Cultural Heritage designation finally in place staff could look towards resurfacing without having to find millions of dollars related to reconstruction to an urban cross-section.  Prior to the finalization of the designation in 2021, I set up meetings with Staff and the University of Waterloo Centre for Pavement and Transportation Technology group.  A study was undertaken to evaluate the types of resurfacing that might work in the neighbourhood.  We started with Sugarbush, a small road, for a pilot.  Drilling and core samples were collected to better understand the soils and subsurface base under the tar and chip road.  Based on the information gathered, staff advanced application of a traditional asphalt layer in 2019 and are monitoring the road for signs of failure. 

Subsequent to the Sugarbush application and the finalization of the heritage designation, staff are advancing resurfacing efforts throughout the neighbourhood as observed on Grant Crescent this summer.  I do not know the full schedule for resurfacing but have asked staff.  It is my expectation that every year will result in more and more of the neighbourhood roads being resurfaced.  I know the investment is very much needed. 

Whose Foot is on the Gas?

People routinely ask for reduced speed limits within neighbourhoods and refer to other communities that have lowered speeds to 40 km/hour. People believe that speed kills and those vulnerable road users including pedestrians (seniors and children in particular) as well as cyclists are at risk of injury. They are right, according to City transportation information, “the likelihood of survival in a collision between a vehicle and a pedestrian is approximately 15 per cent when the vehicle is travelling at 50 km/h. However, the likelihood of survival increases to 75 per cent when the vehicle is travelling at 40 km/h or below.”

The City is trying some lower speed limits within a few residential neighbourhoods until spring 2021 (Eastbridge, Old Abby and Westvale). The signage will be posted and the lower limits will come into effect in July 2020.

It is fascinating to me that comments on the idea do not centre on supporting a behavioural change, personal leadership or a willingness to adhere to the lower speed. Rather, the comments are about spending “tax dollars” related to “forcing” compliance through street redesign, installation of traffic calming devices and/or police enforcement.

In addition to costing money, these ideas are poor ones.  Street redesign takes years to study, communicate with the neighbourhood, design, and install.  Most traffic calming creates horrible backlash from those who want the traffic calmed, but do not want on-street parking removed in front of their homes or their lands (City easement) used for a roundabout or the pedestrian refuge island blocking their driveway access.  

Information around speed bumps say they increase traffic noise, can damage vehicles and they slow first responders.  Imagine if your loved one is having a heart attack or your house is on fire. According to the October 16, 2017 today.com article by Jeff Rossen and Josh Davis “Research shows that 30 years ago, you had about 17 minutes to escape a house fire.  Today it is down to three or four minutes. The reason: Newer homes and the furniture inside them actually burn faster. A lot faster.”

Do people really believe police traffic enforcement is our #1 issue in the Region? Geez whiz folks, people are dying from drug overdoses! Further, a new report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says Waterloo Region is the least safe major city for women to live in Canada.

If you want to help keep taxes at or below inflation rates, if you want to support police services to be delivered where they are needed and if you want to see traffic speeds reduced in your neighbourhood then simply take your foot off the gas.

Diane

2020-2022 Budget Release

On Monday December 9, 2019 the draft of the 2020 – 2022 operating and capital budgets and the 2023 – 2029 capital budget forecast was released (in principle) for Council consideration. Staff will be seeking council’s approval of this budget on Feb. 10, 2020. The budget documents can be downloaded and viewed at the following on-line location https://www.waterloo.ca/en/government/budgets.aspx.

Highlights of the proposed three-year budget include:

  • A net operating budget of $79 million in 2020; $83 million in 2021 and $87 million in 2022
  • For 2020-2022, $2.4 million in budget efficiencies, and revenue opportunities (including budget adjustments from previous years) have been identified and included in the proposed budget submission before council
  • $658.8 million of capital spending for the next 10 years with 58 per cent of spending going toward road reconstruction, facility expansion and refurbishment and park expansion, rehabilitation and sidewalk and trail improvements
  • Base budget and operating impact of capital and growth are increasing 1.7 – 1.9 per cent, which is comparable to the rate of inflation. Service level increases and infrastructure investments bring the average property tax increase to a total of 3.4 per cent for each year which works out to an average annual proposed property tax household increase over 2020 – 2022 of $45.39
  • Annual average utility rate increase of 3.9 per cent which works out to an average annual proposed utilities rate increase over 2020-2022 of $43.70 (including the Region of Waterloo’s portion of $17.88 annual average)

Get involved!
Between now and budget day on Feb. 10, 2020, elements of the budget will be featured as part of the following regular council meetings:

Jan. 13, 20, 27, 2020 – Department business plans are presented to council
Jan. 13, 2020 – City utility rates are approved
Feb. 3, 2020 – Proposed capital budget is presented to council
Feb. 10, 2020 – Three-year operating and capital budgets are approved, a capital forecast for 2023 to 2029, in principle, is approved and a summary of the public engagement results is presented to council

Residents are encouraged to attend these council meetings to learn more about the city’s proposed budget. In addition, between Dec. 10, 2019 and Jan. 11, 2020, the city is hosting a public engagement survey to collect feedback from residents regarding the priorities set through the proposed budget. Visit engagewr.ca/waterloo after Dec. 10, 2019 for more details.

Community building unites us in improving quality of life

Waterloo Chronicle Article – March 18, 2019

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be a columnist.  I plan to use this space to explore ways that together, as a city and a community, we can grow as a place where everyone feels like someone really cares. 

I believe that if we truly cared more about one another, then we would care to drive through neighbourhoods at or below the speed limit; that we would want to be the house with the ice-free sidewalk;and that we would see sharing our roads with all road users as an expectation.

I grew up on a crescent in Woodstock, Ontario.  I remember so vividly the “make shift” BBQs that organically occurred, where lawn chairs, children and adults migrated into a neighbours yard.  These get togethers fostered a strong sense of safety and well-being.  We knew when our neighbours were traveling and if we needed to shovel their driveway.  We knew when someone was sick because they had not been seen walking around the block.  We knew if someone had received bad news or a death in the family; then food was made with love and delivered to show both solidarity and support. 

Loneliness and isolation is a growing concern in Canada and we need to find ways to see, hear and talk to one another.  

In 2018, City of Waterloo Council approved the city’s first neighbourhood strategy. This plan “encourages neighbour interaction, empowers residents to lead and commits the city to an enabling corporate culture.”  I am so encouraged by my new colleagues on council who, during the budget conversation, said we need to support this work, fund it and make it happen.  

What excites me the most about the neighbourhood strategy is that it was developed by neighbours for neighbours.  While there is certainly, a role for the city related to implementation, the strategycreates a vision for resident-led neighbourhood community building. Essentially, this strategy encourages the city to support volunteer capacity building and then “get out of the way”.  We need to let those leaders do what they do best and strengthen their neighbourhoods through organizing neighbourhood specific events for people to gather , share experiences, meet one another, make new friends, and learn new things.

On March 4, council approved the Uptown Public Realm Strategy.  I hope residents have a chance to look at this document.  Many citizens participated in building the strategy and it speaks directly to how uptown can continue to transform with a clear focus on creating places and spaces for people to be.  I firmly believe that we need to find ways to interact with each other in such a way that people feel apart of a bigger community.  It is my hope that through implementation of the uptown public realm strategy Waterloo willcontinue to view uptown as a unique place that fosters togetherness, encourages people to go out, walk a dog and enjoy the sunshine. 

Most importantly, I hope uptown, like our neighbourhoods, will be a place where we can find a way, everyday, to pause, see one another, say hello and demonstrate how much we care.

Diane Freeman, P.Eng., FEC, FCAE, Councillor, Ward 4, City of Waterloo 

Career Insight Event – Lester B. Pearson

Professional Engineers talking to students about careers in Engineering

Jason Kipfer of Eastbridge Business Connections, “hit it out of the park” with his home run “Career Insights from Industry Professionals”  event at Lester B. Pearson Public School on Wednesday March 6, 2019.

The day was divided into two parts, where the first saw over 40 mentors providing three 30 minute industry-themed classroom discussions. Students moved from class to class and heard from one of the 12 industry specific panels.

The students then relocated to the gymnasium where they listened to two featured panel discussions “investment in education”, and “the big picture”.

I was thrilled to participate in the Engineering mentors panel along with four others.

Thanks Jason!