Brownfield Roundup in the MHBP 'hood

There are many exciting things happening to old industrial buildings in our neighbourhood. It seems that genuine urban renewal is underway and that is a great thing.

Before discussing the brownfield areas I wanted to summarize some of the general plans for the Victoria and King street area. As we all know, the University of Waterloo's School of Pharmacy has been located at the King/Victoria intersection for a few years, and next to it McMaster University has a satellite medical campus. These buildings are just across from the revitalized Tannery building and the pub there has become a popular hub.

I listened to several great bands at the Kitchener Blues Festival this summer and was walking back home along Charles St. and the pub's patio was full of people eating and drinking and many were inside as well, and the colourful signs of Google, Desire2Learn etc. adorned the old brick walls. It was easy to think that things were turning around for the downtown and, by osmosis, the MHBP area as well.

Future development in the Victoria Street area, from King to Duke, will include a transit hub described in articles here and here.  GO trains traveling between Kitchener and Toronto on December 19 and the transit hub will only increase their ease of access. Of course there will also be an LRT stop in this area which will make it extremely easy to travel to here without a car. So we will have science and technology and transportation within a few blocks of each other. Awesome!

Right next to all this activity is The Breithaupt Block which is currently being renovated.  There are some great photos of this work on the Breithaupt Block's Facebook page. The MHBPNA Blog has posted two articles on this development: the background to the buildings and a very special "inside" the Breithaupt Block tour.

Speaking of the Breithaupt Block and Facebook, there are rumours that Facebook is planning a "major presence" in Kitchener and will be renting space in this development. If this comes to fruition then it will be a real coup for the BB folks.

Another brownfield project is located on the opposite side of our neighbourhood at Louisa and St. Leger on the old Breithaupt Tannery/Pannill Veneer site. The buildings burned down a few years back and it was a great place to ride a mountain bike. For the past several months there have been environmental assessments and analysis and many big machines levelling the area. Wonderful Waterloo has posted this excellent series of photos. Be sure to read down to the bottom because there are some great "artist renderings" of the condos to be known as "1 Adam Street" and some good discussion. Pretty impressive.

Thanks to our Blog reader Ryan for drawing my attention to the above set of photos and discussion.

Finally, the third brownfield is at the corner of Shanley and Duke. Last year The Record published an article about this building and its long history of contamination and tax evasion. This summer I was part of a group that saw some tentative plans for the building and they looked fabulous. The latest news is that a developer is working on purchasing the building to develop into condos. There are many issues to deal with including legal wrangling, back taxes and environmental cleanup but there is room for optimism. We should know by next summer and the MHBPNA Blog promises to update all our faithful readers at that time.


Christmas is coming

Blog updates are coming as well. Remember that you cannot park overnight on streets or tickets will accrue. Lots of great things happening in our neighbourhood including the apparent arrival of Facebook! Still no snow and the weather is balmy for this time of year. Of course rainy and grey doesn't help a lot, but it is still nice.

The next NMA meeting is in February. I will post at year end update at some point but the MHBPNA Blog wishes everyone a great holiday season.


Spur Rail Line proposals

One of our Blog readers sent the following information which is very interesting. Thanks so much for the update!

The Region is proposing to create a multi-use trail along the Spur Rail Line (the one that cuts across Weber at George Lippert Park and runs all the way to uptown Waterloo). 
Here are the draft plans from last week's public consultation open house at regional headquarters (I think this was the 2nd public consultation on the plans, with the first held sometime late summer). Starting on p. 12 are some maps/graphics of where the trail would run through the neighbourhood, and what they’re recommending for design of the trail.
I think this is a pretty cool project to formalize the use of the rail line as a path for cyclists, walkers, etc., and to connect neighbourhoods with one another. From a public health (i.e. encouraging active modes of transport/commuting/physical activity) standpoint trails like this are a great thing. From a neighbourhood building perspective (getting people out of their houses and talking to each other) trails like this are also a great thing. 
The proposed designs so far seem pretty thoughtful from an accessibility and user safety perspective. After reading the plans what do you think? They’re still looking for public comment from people in the neighbourhood, so if you have any thoughts for or against the idea, or recommendations to the coordinators/designers for how to do ensure the end product is something we all want to use and are proud of, you can send an email to the project coordinator, Hanan Wahib HWahib@regionofwaterloo.ca.
I guess this whole thing is still in the "proposed" stage and that funds haven't been officially approved/allocated for the construction, so perhaps they are still waiting to make sure that there is public support for the idea. I guess it's been in the works for many years now. Some neighbourhood residents at the consultation last night talked about having used the trail (the informal worn path that's there now along the rail line) for 40 years!

On page 9 of the report it states they would like feedback by November 10.


Great neighbourhood pumpkin patch

In Duke Street Playground, on November 1st, we had the first "pumpkin patch" organized by the folks at Little City Farm. It was fun to see the people and their children out (swinging and playing on the equipment in the spooky evening). 

The trek to the playground was made via cars, vans, feet and lots of wagons. Much conversation and fun was had and it is planned to be repeated next year. For more information, and better photos, click on this link.


Central Art Walk this weekend!

The annual Central Art Walk is coming to our neighbourhood this weekend (Oct 22 and 23, 2011). For a map of all artists who are participating, click on this link.

For a nice poster of the event, click here. Feel free to print the poster and advertise the walk.

The main website for the art walk is here and includes a brochure you can view or print out.

It is always an enjoyable activity to go for a weekend walk around the area and drop in on a few artists to see what they have been doing. See you there!


Survey for Waterloo Region NetSquared Group

Here is a link to a survey. NetSquared is a social networking organization interested in technology and social impact. They have groups in over 80 cities around the world and KW seems like a logical area for them start another.

OK, the above link was to the general posting about interest in a local NetSquared group. The actual survey is here.


The Boathouse thing

I find the current situation with the Boathouse to be ridiculous and sad at the same time. I have written to city councillors to voice my frustration with the way the city is handling this. The Boathouse has provided 6 nights a week of music and after it is closed there will be silence.

Here is a link to a Facebook Group organized to "save the boathouse". And here is a link to the city's explanation which seems a little flat. The city will close the Boathouse  and then a city committee is going to direct "staff to explore ways the city can lend this community a helping hand". Wow. They can lend a hand by continuing to lease the Boathouse after they dredge the lake!

Frankly, I think the space in the Boathouse is too small, but the location is excellent and it has been a vibrant part of the arts community for several years. What does the city think they will replace it with?

The city's article ends: "The city has not yet considered the future use of the Boathouse building or the building at 79 Joseph St. to determine the best uses for both in the long-term." The sentence is ungrammatical, bureaucratic and just plain sad.


Election Forum on Environment

For those who are interested, there is the following forum:

Environmental Election Forum
Date: Thursday, September 29, 2011
Time: 7-9 pm
Cost: Free!
Location: Rockway Mennonite Church, 32 Weber Street West (rear entrance), Kitchener (http://mapq.st/o4u8j5).

Description: Learn what candidates from all four parties have to say about water, energy, smart growth, heritage preservation and other environmental issues at a Provincial Election Forum on Environmental Issues. For more information, visit the Facebook Event page “Provincial Election Forum on Environmental Issues (http://on.fb.me/n9NuVR).


Word on the Street on Sunday the 25th

Let us not forget the great Word on the Street this Sunday in Victoria Park. There are always many things to see and hear and read there. Many booths will be set up with deals on books, author signings and readings.

The park comes alive and it is a great place to stroll around. We go every year and buy a book and listen to a few people reading and talking about books. It is ALL GOOD.

For information about this year's 10th anniversary edition, click here.


NMW Meeting for tonight Cancelled

Our apologies for the late notice but our September NMA meeting scheduled for this evening will be cancelled.

As there are no pressing issues, we will resume our regular bi-monthly meeting Wednesday, November 16th at 7pm at City Hall, Conestoga Room main floor.


Cars, Bikes, People and getting around

As I posted in an earlier entry, Kitchener and Waterloo tried to work together on something called "Square2Square" which is also known, somewhat confusingly, as "car free Sunday".  I call it confusing because I prefer when events have only one name and not two or three. This Sunday (Aug 14th, 2011) Waterloo is closing down their downtown to repeat their part of the event, but Kitchener has decided it costs too much and not enough people attended last time. So it's not really "square2square", it's just "square" but I guess they have to use the full name because that is their website's address.

Should Kitchener keep participating despite the costs involved? Jeff Outhit has written an excellent column on this issue that I encourage everyone to read. I agree with his opinion to "Soft-pedal the anti-car vibe. Promote the day more positively." As I rode my bike from Kitchener to Waterloo during the last event I was thinking "Car-free? There are cars everywhere, just no cars on parts of King street for a few hours". Of course this past weekend we had an excellent Blues Festival in Kitchener and we enjoyed three days of fabulous music and food with vendors all over King Street. In my opinion that was pretty much a "car free" weekend in Kitchener.

I started to write this Blog entry because of an article I read in the Record titled "Car, bike sharing programs motoring to new heights." It was reprinted from the Canadian Press and I found it online here. I was on vacation in July with my family in Toronto and we saw the Bixi bikes which looked very cool. But, as the article points out, it is easy for the Bixi rental to become very expensive if you do not read the fine print. I found it was handy if you lived in the city, but not so great for tourists wanting to ride around. My son and I wound up renting from a bike place at Harbourfront for our ride along the lake to the Humber river. The next day we were very impressed with a specific Bixi rider as we ate our (vegetarian) hot dogs on the University of Toronto campus.  A young fellow with dress pants and jacket came up riding his Bixi bike onto the sidewalk and then rode it directly into its stall (!!) where it clanged into its spot. He nimbly hopped off and skipped up the stairs off to class. I thought "wow, is there going to be a new type of stunt riding for Bixi bikes?" I wonder if we will be at a bar or concert and ask some friend how they got there and they will respond, "Oh, I just Bixied it". Perhaps they will add "it's just so fast and convenient". 

The article about the Zipcar sharing and Bixi bikes is meant for a national audience. The Record provided information in their article on our local programs which include Grand River Car Share and Community Access Bicycles, a pilot project of The Working Centre and the City of Kitchener. Our family has one car, which it used by my wife to get to herself and a couple of co-workers, to their jobs, so I am on my own for getting to work. I often work at home, or take the iExpress, or ride my bike into the office which makes me pretty lucky. I was looking at the Car Share plan and locations to see how much the program costs and how convenient it would be. In the Mt Hope -- Breithaupt Park neighbourhood there is just one Car Share location at present: the Tim Hortons at 730 King Street West. There are two more at Sun Life (King and Union), and the Tannery which are close as well. There are also two "future" locations at Kaufmann lofts and the Breithaupt Centre.

For now I don't think the Car Share is worth it because we manage well enough with one car. It helps that Central Fresh Market is so close and we can walk to it (or send our son!) if necessary. There are three simple things I want to commend Central Fresh Market for which really help our sustainable community in subtle ways: 1) They have a water fountain. It is great that after a hot walk to the store, you can just drink from a fountain that is so accessible. You can even refill your water bottle. 2) They put bike locking posts in front of the store to make it easy to lock your bike. I cannot believe how many places have either no bike posts, or those cheap stands where you risk wrecking your tire. 3) cardboard boxes to pack groceries. So many stores charge you for bags, but Central still gives them away but also gives you a huge selection of recyclable cardboard boxes for packing groceries. 

Overall, living downtown with a variety of services nearby, and so much happening in Kitchener and Waterloo (with or without Square2Square), makes it easy to get by with only one car (or no car at all as a few people manage to do). Let's appreciate our neighbourhood for its convenience and location as well as its people.

Ted Parkinson


Great article on Kitchener-Waterloo

First off, the MHBPNA Blog apologizes for the lack of recent articles. We can only blame it on the heat which makes us slothful in all ways. Plus, there are always lots of events in Kitchener and Waterloo over the summer, so perhaps people are not as interested in Blog related items anyway.

The next Big Event will be the Kitchener Blues Festival, and this is an easy walk for most areas of our Neighbourhood.

There are some updates we've received from city hall on three "brownfields" in our area and information will be posted on those. Perhaps I will have some time on this beautiful long weekend for that.

In the meantime, we wanted to point out a great story about Kitchener and Waterloo published online by Macleans's magazine. Click here for the story. It is well written indeed, so enjoy.


Square2Square and "car free" on Sunday

The MHBPNA Blog attended this event in 34 degree heat (!!) to show total dedication for reporting about our community. In an effort to combine this with taking in the last concert at the Waterloo Jazz festival, I rode my bike from down town Kitchener to Waterloo starting at 2:20.

The event was from 11 to 3 so some folks were packing up. Not a lot of activity in either down town so most people probably passed through earlier in the day. Some nice items were for sale from independent craft people and artists.

It was fun riding on the reserved lane along King street between the two city cores but it did not really feel "car free" since three lanes were open, and cars were crossing at all intersections as well with police monitoring them. So there were plenty of cars on this "car free" Sunday.

The highlight for me was watching a few minutes of the "bike polo" game in front of the Bauer Lofts area. Who knew there is even a club with a website?


Square2Square, July 17, 2011

Full slate of ‘active’ planned for Square2Square

KITCHENER – Get ready to get squared! On Sunday, July 17, King Street will be closed from Civic Square in front of Kitchener City Hall all the way up, past Waterloo’s Public Square, to Central Street, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., in honour of Square2Square - Car-Free Sunday.

Square2Square is an opportunity to walk, bike, rollerblade, skateboard, hop, skip or run from downtown Kitchener to uptown Waterloo. The event promotes healthy, inviting and fun activities to engage both communities, while aiming to protect the local environment.

King Street will be closed in Kitchener from Gaukel to Victoria streets. Three of the four lanes of the main artery between the two cities -- two westbound lanes and one eastbound lane -- will remain open to traffic between Victoria and Union streets. The on-street fun will pick back up again from Union to Central streets in Waterloo, where visitors will enjoy plenty of family-friendly fun.

Join us downtown! 
In downtown Kitchener, two stages will be set up in the people-friendly street space, between Gaukel and Victoria streets, featuring musical and multicultural entertainment.

Solo musicians Mike Erb, Tyler Schwende, Alysha Brillinger and Alisha Nauth will perform on the stage at Civic Square. The second stage, located at the CHYM FM building, will celebrate African culture with a steel drum band and full costumes presented by LINK. Also, a South Asian Mela will feature dancers in full costumes.

Street activities include street scrabble, inflatables, an artist market, bike safety workshops, music and sidewalk art, and zumba class demos. The reflecting pool at Kitchener City Hall will be a microcosm of a marina as model boats sail around during the event.

Additional entertainment will be provided by our media partners, Rogers TV, CHYM/570, News/KIXFM, 91.5 The Beat/Dave FM and The Record.

Picture-perfect walking tour 
If that’s not enough, join City of Kitchener 2011 Artist-in-Residence, Sean M. Puckett, for a walking tour of downtown Kitchener to photographically explore an urban streetscape, fascinating local architecture and the natural splendour of Victoria Park. The workshop is on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Meet in the rotunda on the ground floor at Kitchener City Hall at 10 a.m.  The 'crawl' begins at 10:15 a.m., rain or shine!

Tempt your tastebuds 
Also in downtown Kitchener, don’t forget to feed your stomach with barbecued ribs and chicken and craft-brewed beer at the Downtown Kitchener Ribfest & Craft Beer Show in Victoria Park, which runs from Friday 5-10 p.m., Saturday noon-10 p.m. and Sunday noon-6 p.m. There is also live entertainment and a children’s midway.

Admission is free but donations to the Food Bank of Waterloo Region will be accepted at the gate. Please note that due to the nature of the event, anyone under the age of 19 must be accompanied by an adult to be admitted.

All events and activities on Sunday will keep pedestrians busy and active. If you have to drive, please find an alternative route.


Happy Canada Day everyone!

It is a wonderful day to celebrate another birthday of our great country. This one marks 144 years and a bright future lies ahead. There are events in so many communities and in southern Ontario we are getting some excellent weather as well.

The Globe and Mail is producing a series on "great communities" and the MHBPNA Blog felt that was very relevant to what we are trying to do here on the web. You can read the article by clicking here.

Have a great weekend (the Blog will post some more neighbourhood news when its editor is back from vacation).


LRT passes regional council, existing LRT running fine

It is a fact that the LRT has passed at Regional Council and by 2017 we are supposed to be riding on the rails of the future. The MHBP Blog believes Kitchener gets a better deal with the route which is supposed to go on Charles Street and leave the updated King street alone. On the other hand, the LRT is slated to run through King street in Waterloo eliminating street parking, Buskerfests on the street and perhaps disrupting traffic at King and Erb.

Perhaps some of these finer details will be changed over time. Now that the vote has been taken the route may be fine-tuned.

With all the publicity over LRT, buses, cycling paths etc. it has been forgotten that Waterloo already has an LRT in place! I was riding my bike to work up at the U of Waterloo Research park the other day when I came across Waterloo's LRT doing its business with little fanfare or public attention. I am including this picture I took of it, and you can see there is a great deal of room for expansion of the service into more trains. The upside is unlimited!

Click on image for larger picture


End of May Blog updates

We had a very interesting Neighbourhood Mobilization Alliance meeting last Wednesday at Kitchener City Hall. Among the items discussed was some encouraging news about "brownfield" areas and development plans for them. The Blog will be posting more information on this topic in a week or so.

Transit discussions are heating up. Practically half the letters to the Editor in The Record are on the transit issue. The MHBPNA Blog is completely in favour of better transit but is disappointed we have only two options, LRT or one rapid bus proposal. There are many other innovative possibilities but long ago our planners chose to ignore them.

During our recent Jane's Walk, we discussed plans for a mixed use trail to be constructed along the current rail spur line from Ahrens street in Kitchener to Willis Way in Waterloo. In today's Record there is an article about these plans. Click here to read the article which includes a nice map. I am putting the meeting on our Blog's Calendar.

It has rained for many days. Then we had a great weekend and now it's raining again. I know the plants have to grow, but I think we deserve some sunshine in our Mt Hope - Breithaupt Park area!


Events Observed on Post

On a recent walk past the Duke Street Playground I observed the following posters stuck to the large post at the front by the street. This seemed like a viable way to communicate information and has a rich history, so I took a photo of it and am posting it here in case anyone is interested in the events.


Duke Street Playground Pot Luck

(Breithaupt-Mount Hope)

When: Sunday, May 22 starting at 4 pm
(Raindate: Sunday, May 29 starting at 4 pm)

Location: Duke Street Park (near Stahl and Bismark, on Duke St)

What to bring:
- dishes, cups and cutlery for yourself
- dish of food to share (due to allergies please write ingredients of your food item)
- picnic blankets or lawn chairs to sit on
- soccer ball, lawn bowling, botche, frisbee, etc

Let's try to make this a litter-free potluck picnic!  Please bring reusable plates and cups, and your potluck foods in reusable containers if at all possible.

Please invite your friends and neighbours - everyone most welcome!

If you haven't already seen it, the Duke St Park has a great new playground/climbing structure for kids - so have your kids come along to check it out!

IN CASE OF RAIN a cancellation sign will be posted at Duke St Park and this Blog will update


Jane's Walk, 2011: a resounding success!

This is the third year the MHBPNA has organized a Jane's Walk in our area and it was the most successful so far. Close to 50 people met at 10 am on Saturday, May 7th in the Duke Street Playground! We talked about the water tower that used to reside there and learned a bit about the early history of "water" in the Kitchener area.

We then walked across the street to talk about a house that had been moved many years ago and get a look at the proposed bike trail to be build beside the rail tracks.

We then walked down the street to Little City Farm where Greg, Karin and Maya welcomed us onto their 1/3 acre of "country in the city". Greg talked about their philosophy of living in a sustainable fashion--which included building their addition out of straw bales. By the end of our time there Karin's bread was ready from their clay and brick oven in their back yard and it was delicious.

We then walked up Duke and Guelph streets for Wayne's fascinating talk about the Mount Hope Cemetery.

We learned about the original division between Catholic and Public portions and also some great stories about some of the people buried there (some famous, some just interesting). Wayne even brought an "ivory nut" for show-and-tell so we could see what buttons used to be made from. If you want to take your own tour of the cemetery click on this link for the city's helpful guide.

We received many nice comments and "thank yous" from the people attending. It is always great each year to meet so many people from our area and surrounding neighbourhoods as well. It is a great way to spend two hours.

We are planning to have another walk next year. Please contact us if you would like to help out, or if you have any stories from our 'hood. One of the highlights of the walk is when people who have grown up in the area come along and share some of their stories.

Here are links to two other Jane's Walks that occurred on the weekend in Kitchener:

"Downtown after Dark"

"Pedestrian" in the City walk.


Evolution of the King and Victoria Corner

The MHBPNA Blog is very excited to post a contribution by Matt, who lives in our neighbourhood. If any of you have content, events, observations etc., please send them to our email address and we will share.

I wanted to give you a street level update of the King and Victoria street area. I walk by this corner each morning on my way to work at the Tannery.
I recall this still being the Tin Roof a coffee shop in the 90's but can't recall when that stopped. Over the last few years it was an Asian grocery store and I think it's been vacant for the last year or two at least. Seeing it usually prompts a few moments of speculation. Especially with the pharmacy school open, it seemed inevitable that this land would be repurposed. I imagine it's in line with the exciting transit hub plans, but for the interim, this blended spectacle of a long time Kitchener landmark and decaying retail is no longer.

I plan on asking my neighbour, who grew up in the house he's in, what he remembers of the location. It was a sketchy area in the 90s as some of us I am sure recall. I am often guilty of not perceiving enough change in the downtown, but that intersection has really transformed in the last 20 years.



Check us out, Jane's Walk is all official now

We must be really going to do this! We are now listed on the Jane's Walk website so click here.

There are lots of other great walks in the KW area on Saturday afternoon and Sunday. It is a great opportunity to meet neighbours, or strangers, and have great conversations about buildings and history of our region.


Community Cultural Fair, May 12, Victoria Park

“A Night in the Park”
Community Cultural Fair – Victoria Park
Crafts and Food Vendors / Musical Artists

Thursday, May 12, 2011
Victoria Park, Kitchener
Clocktower area at the Joseph st. / Gaukel St. Entrance
5:30 pm – 9:30

The Centre for Community Based Research, in partnership with the City of Kitchener and KW Community Foundation, is organizing a multicultural faire event in Victoria Park, on May 12, 2011. 
Join us for "A Night in the Park" -- a multicultural experience in Victoria Park, downtown Kitchener.
  • Showcasing of the Kitchener-Waterloo community and local artists and craft vendors
  • Multicultural food vendors
  • Entertainment including theatre and musical performances: Healing of the Seven Generations, Asphalt Jungle Shorts, Jaru and the Pyrotechnix dance crew, latin guitarist Juneyt, celtic band Failte
Open and free for all! 


Tree Stump Carving and other agenda items

Our neighbourhood has older trees, some of which will die in the next few years. As you walk around you can easily identify some of these trees and there are a few that have already been cut down or just have a tall stump remaining. (We learned on one of our Jane's Walks that a tree with two pink dots means it has been identified as being ready to be cut down). Some cities have turned this fact of nature into a positive element by having artists carve the trees into innovative sculptures. For example, London ON has a great website listing all their carved trees and Orangeville is famous for their carved trees as well.

A few people in our neighbourhood think it would be great if we could have a similar set of carvings. It doesn't have to be city wide (but it could be) and there are artists willing to donate their time so it doesn't need to cost very much either.

The City of Kitchener has been approached in the past about this concept (regarding trees that were on boulevards) and they informed us that decay of the roots made tree trunks unstable. They considered it a liability and were unwilling to be involved in any tree trunk art project. It is possible that we might have more success with trees that are on private property.

The MHBP Neighbourhood Mobilization Alliance meets every other month to discuss many issues in our area (By-Law enforcement, policing issues, community gardens etc.). The next meeting is Wednesday, May 18 (7 pm, City Hall) and is on the BLOG calendar. Tree Carving is one of the issues on the agenda so if you are interested in this idea, or anything else that happens in our neighbourhood, please come out to the meeting and talk with your neighbours.


Open Your Ears at OpenEars

I have had many conversations where someone has said something like "KW is ok, but there is not a lot going on, like in Toronto". This makes me get a bit fired up because there are many events that occur in this great area. In fact, with two universities and all the cultural organizations and clubs, it is often difficult to attend all the concerts, plays, films etc. that are being presented. And of  course there is the Kitchener Blues Festival and the Multi-Cultural festival and many other exciting music and cultural presentations in Victoria park. 

But one of my favourite events is the OpenEars festival which occurs every other year. It is on right now with both free and paid concerts. Their website is www.openears.ca. I encourage everyone to take in one or two events at this very special series and I highly recommend the sound installations. They are always fascinating and make you think about sound and music in very different ways. See you there!


MHBPNA Jane's Walk is Announced!

The MHBPNA Blog are pleased to announce another neighbourhood Jane's Walk for the third consecutive year. Details of the walk can be found here. It is on May 7th at 10 am (but you should still click this link because there are details of our route and highlights of the walk).

There are other walks scheduled around Kitchener and Waterloo on both Saturday and Sunday so please visit the www.janeswalk.net website for more information.

"Who is Jane?" you ask? There is information here about her life and legacy.

Please come out to the walk and tell others about it as well. In the past some people have come from other neighbourhoods just because they wanted to see a different part of the city. The best part of the walk is when neighbours talk to each other and we all learn things we didn't know when we started out.

We look forward to seeing everyone on May 7th.


MHBPNA Jane's Walk Meeting Very Soon

In the next couple of days some of us are meeting to discuss our 2011 Jane's walk through our neighbourhood. This year's walk was first announced here. If you would like to participate and share information about the neighbourhood along the way please email us at the Blog and we can include you. If you have any information you would like us to impart to the crowd, then please email that as well. Finally, if you have any ideas or requests, please send them in.

When we have a time, date and subject matter figured out, we will post it to this Blog. Tentatively, we will have our Jane's Walk on May 7, 10 am so put that in your calendars and stay tuned to this station!


Long time neighbour has passed on

It is with sadness the MHBPNA Blog has learned that long time neighbour Claude Schafer passed away earlier this month. He was 94 which is a remarkable achievement. As some readers will remember, Claude's history in our neighbourhood was featured in the MHBPNA Newsletter back in 2008.

The article was very interesting and revealed a great deal about how our area has changed over the years. Here is a link to the article in case anyone wants to read it and remember Claude and the many businesses he was involved in over the years.


The "mini" School of Pharmacy

The School of Pharmacy is located just outside the perimeter of our neighbourhood association, but it is still very close and has an impact on our area. The MHPBNA has learned they are offering a "mini" school which is open to the public. It costs $100 ($75 for students and seniors) and there is quite a bit to learn.

For details, click this link and you will get a PDF version of the full poster. Then you can post an article to this blog about brain disorders, neurodegenerative diseases or nutraceuticals!

Come Join us in Jane's Walk, May 7, 2011

For the past two years, local neighbourhood folks have led Jane's Walks through our neighbourhood. We've learned about the cemetery (its history, some of the people who are buried there), the water tower, the industrial and commercial history of the neighbourhood including the many local businesses and corner stores. And much more!

Here is a photo from last year.  And a few pictures from our first Jane's walk in 2009.

Do you have a story to tell? We are working to pull together a Jane's Walk for 2011. We will have some of the same stories and a few new ones. If you would like to help out, even with a short presentation, please contact us at mhbpna@gmail.com.

Each year new people attend the walk and we share interests. Come and be a part of it. We will post more information when we have it.


Transit Info sessions

The MHBPNA Blog has faithfully announced the public information sessions regarding the transit plans. Your Blogster even attending the session in downtown Kitchener a couple of weeks back and was welcomed by the following sign:

There was a lot of information, most of which is available on the region's website. Here is an example of their display:

They had a film playing and lots of large engineering diagrams of how the tracks would integrate with the various streets. Cookies and coffee were also present.

Here are some thoughts I had:

--The LRT looks nice and I'm one of its prime candidates. I currently use the iExpress when I travel from my home in downtown Kitchener to my job at the Research Park north of the U of Waterloo. I like the idea of the nice quite, comfortable train where I might be able to get a seat. Currently, the iExpress is often full of students and it is quite noisy.

--On the other hand, why don't they just run more iExpress busses, or get articulated ones that could carry double the load? This simple solution was not addressed at all.

--The current plans for the LRT would drop off people at the edge of Conestoga Mall instead of right next to the door which the current busses do. None of the "planners" sounded like they had really thought about this. I can't see this kind of a system appealing to anyone (except the very young) to leave their car at home when they go to the mall shopping.

--I like the idea of the LRT, but I also think the panic about how many more people we are going to get in our cities, and how they will overwhelm the roads, is a little hyperbolic. If you drive around, the only areas that are constantly crammed with cars are the roads in and out of the city, yet this transit does nothing for that congestion. Widening the road to the 401 helps which is what they are doing.

--I was surprised by how convincing the "planners" were about LRT, yet the actual figures of bus riders were not available.

--I hope everyone reads the material online, or at one of the presentations and lets our representatives know how you feel.


More transit plan info

One day, perhaps twenty or thirty years down the road, some of us will be able to say "I was there during the great transit debate of 2011"! It is certainly an important topic and one I find continually mysterious. One day I'm committed to the LRT because it will get me to work much faster and the next day I'm saddened by how I think it will tear up downtown Waterloo. And just when we were balancing buses versus LRT, the region has thrown a wrench into that simple plan and produced 11 options! I'm not sure if my brain can understand that amount of variety.

But help is here. The King and Ottawa blog has a great article with lots of links to information about the different plans, how much they cost and where they will go.

Here are some links to other blogs of interest: TriTag which hasn't been updated in several months, but has interesting content. This blog has several reasoned and critical posts regarding the many transit plans and has some feisty comments on many of those posts.

It is important for us citizens to read through the region's website with the many documents and diagrams. And the full list of public consultations is posted in an earlier entry on this Blog.

I am happy to make a date with anyone for 2031 for a drink to talk over the "olden days" before the portable transporter industry made public transit obsolete!


Region of Waterloo Rapid Transit Presentations

The presentations will address a number of questions, including:

Why does the Region of Waterloo need rapid transit?
How do Bus Rapid Transit and Light Rail Transit compare?
What are the implementation options for the Region's rapid transit project?
What are the next steps in the project?
Public Consultation Centers in March 2011

• Thursday, March 3, 2-8:00 at the Albert McCormick Community Centre on 500 Parkside Drive in Waterloo;
• Thursday, March 3, 2-8:00 at the Regional headquarters on 150 Frederick Street in Kitchener;
• Wednesday, March 9, 2-8:00 at 150 Main Street in Cambridge;
• Wednesday, March 9, 2-8:00 at the First United Church on 16 William Street West in Waterloo;
• Thursday, March 10, 2-8:00 at the United Kingdom Club on 35 International Village Drive in Cambridge; and
• Thursday, March 10, 2-8:00 at the Faith Lutheran Church on 247 Westmount Road East in Kitchener.
Public information booths in March 2011

• Saturday, March 5, 9-6:00 at Fairview Park Mall on 2960 Kingsway Drive in Kitchener;
• Saturday, March 5, 7-2:00 at the Kitchener Farmer's Market on 300 King Street East in Kitchener;
• Saturday, March 12, 9-6:00 at Conestoga Mall on 550 King Street North in Waterloo; and
• Saturday, March 19, 9-6:00 at Cambridge Centre on 355 Hespeler Road in Cambridge.
These engagement sessions will have staff on hand to answer questions, address concerns and accept feedback.

Public feedback is very important to us at the Region of Waterloo.
 for up to date information. http://rapidtransit.region.waterloo.on.ca

You can also use the region website to provide feedback right from home.


Victoria Park Lake and Taxes

Many of us living in the Mt Hope - Breithaupt Park neighbourhood enjoy spending time in Victoria Park. There are many activities there throughout the summer (Multicultural Festival, Blues Festival, Word on the Street etc.) and it is a great place to walk and bring kids.

In the middle of the park is a lake which needs to be cleaned up. There was a long debate about the costs chronicled in The Record and elsewhere. The city decided last year to procede with the cleanup and take the money from the storm water management fees.

There is a newly elected council and for some the mandate is to cut taxes as much as possible. Some councillors believe the lake cleanup is less of a priority. On Tuesday, Feb. 15th council is having a meeting (in council chambers) dedicated to public input on budget matters.

If you use Victoria Park, and have an interest in seeing that the lake is cleaned up for all to enjoy, please attend this meeting to show your support. Many residents from around the park will be there and it would be great to have those from throughout the city show that we all care about this great resource.

You can also provide budget feedback by emailing "citybudget@kitchener.ca".


Breithaupt Centre Pool re-opening mid-March

Breithaupt Centre 25-yard pool re-opening mid- March

KITCHENER – The 25-yard pool at the Breithaupt Centre, which was scheduled to reopen in February, will remain closed until mid-March due to construction delays.

The closure will impact swimming lessons in the 25-yard pool. The lessons, which are scheduled to begin in late February, will be delayed 3-4 weeks. Lessons and swims in the centre’s exercise pool remain unaffected.

Registrants who will experience any changes to their swimming lesson schedules are being notified and presented with alternatives by city staff over the next few days.

Recreational swims will not be held at Breithaupt until the 25-yard pool reopens in March.
The Breithaupt pool renovation includes filter system upgrades, complete re-piping, and pool tank upgrades to the 25-yard pool. The main floor will be re-modeled to include a family changeroom, upgraded accessible washrooms and renovated men’s and women’s changerooms.
The delays include work needed to address unanticipated structural issues encountered during the construction and the unexpected need for redesigned plumbing and electrical systems to accommodate the family change room renovations.
Program schedules and renovation updates are available online at www.kitchener.ca, or by contacting Breithaupt Centre at 519-741-2502. 


Winter, cold, community, work, television

OK, there is not a lot to report on things going on in our neighbourhood. I think everyone is aware that it is winter and really cold. So we are inside working, or inside reading or watching television or YouTube. Sometimes we have to make the trip from home to work and we appreciate having a car.

The Museum is inside and we will be attending the Tom Thompson exhibit soon, but we have not seen it yet, so cannot write about it.

Snow alerts: it has snowed a great deal and you can get a ticket and have your car towed if you leave it in the wrong place. I just thought you should know.

Here is something new: we at "the Blog" and the neighbourhood association received an email from an energetic fellow named Andrew Coppolino about a new blog/news/interactive media thing called "openfile". You are supposed to "open files" on topics of interest and other people add files of their own. Pretty soon it's a movement! The address is http://waterloo.openfile.ca. Despite the name it is supposed to be "Waterloo Region" so all of us in Kitchener are included. Check it out. There does not seem to be much there so far but I'm sure it will grow.

Hey, it is cold but the days are getting longer! It is nice to come home from work and have some daylight left.

The symphony is inside as well and they perform all through the winter so go see them in the next month or two. Kitchener/Waterloo is lucky to have such a fine orchestra. I went to a concert a couple of weeks ago and I don't think there is a much more thrilling opening in classical music than the Tchaikovsky Piano Concert #1 with the beautiful melody and crashing piano chords! Natasha Paremski's playing was powerful but nuanced.

That is the end of your MHBPNA Blog update for February 8th. Perhaps by next week we will have news and it might even be a bit warmer!


The ship has finally sailed

As shown here, the Titanic exhibit has been taken apart and is on its way to Edmonton where it will be viewed by many lucky people in that western city.

On Friday evening, around 10:30, my family and I visited the museum and wandered through the exhibit. We only had to wait about 15 minutes to get in, but by the time we finished (about 2 hours later) the line-up was longer (in the photo below, taken around midnight, people are lined up on the top and bottom levels).

It was a great exhibit and it is a privilege that "The Museum" is able to provide fascinating exhibits like this for us to enjoy in the comfort of our city. Downtown Kitchener is easy walking distance from our house but since it was -13c we took the car! I enjoyed seeing dishes, shaving equipment and other artefacts taken from miles beneath the ocean. It was amazing that so much paper survived (writing paper, music, cards).

After viewing the exhibit I became temporarily enthused (obsessed?) about Titanic trivia and read several websites full of information (the best source was, of course, Wikipedia). I was willing to share much of this with my family, but for some reason they became strangely distant when I moved on from the Titanic to discuss its sister ship the Olympic! One noteworthy issue that came up on-line, but not in the exhibit itself, was the number of lawsuits that have been filed over the more than five thousand artefacts recovered from the ocean. Although the Titanic was discovered in 1985, there are still cases before the court. Of course there are many travelling exhibits (when I was in Las Vegas a few months ago, the Luxor was hosting a Titanic exhibition).

Next up at The Museum is Tom Thompson who, like the Titanic, ended his life underwater. I hope readers of this Blog support our local events and visit this show.


Environmental Testing around Shanley and Duke Factory site

The Neighbourhood Mobilization Alliance (NMA) has formed a sub-committee to work with local politicians and the government and find a resolution to the former Electrohome factory at the corner of Shanley and Duke. We are hoping someone will purchase the building, clean up any contaminants still present, and develop it into condos, offices or some other purpose that will contribute to the neighbourhood. Those of us who have attended the NMA meetings have heard of some positive developments after many years of inaction.

One positive result has been the Ministry of the Environment's agreement to perform indoor air testing of homes in the immediate area. As the Ministry states in their letter, "Previous environmental assessments within the vicinity of the contamination have indicated that unacceptable impacts to indoor air are not anticipated." It will help our community if home owners volunteer for the testing because rumours about contamination will be dispelled.

The Ministry will be delivering notices to the doors of those who live in the area and the MHBPNA Blog is posting the letter here for anyone who wishes to read it.

Please read the Ministry's letter so you can remain informed about your neighbourhood.


Remember the Neighbourhood Mobilization Alliance

On the Calendar (to the right) you will see the meeting for this Wednesday advertised. All meetings are in the Conestoga Room at Kitchener City Hall. 

Please come out to meet our new Ward 10 Councillor - Dan Glenn Graham. On the agenda: traffic calming around Margaret Street, graffiti removal, and environmental testing related to the Electrohome Building (Shanley and Duke). Also, updates from the Downtown Advisory Committee and discussion of the widening of Weber Street.

Attending this meeting is a great opportunity to meet your neighbours and find out what is going on around the area.


Breithaupt Centre Closure, Monday January 17, 12-4

On Monday January 17, Breithaupt Centre will be closed from 12-4pm. During this time, the water will be turned off to the entire building for the renovation project. Breithaupt Centre will be closed to patrons and staff will not be on site. Breithaupt will be open until noon on Monday and will re-open again at 4pm when the water is turned back on. 

Information about the closure has been posted throughout the centre and on the City's website. A media advisory is also being prepared. Please inform patrons of this closure over the next few days if you receive any inquiries. Thanks for your assistance with this!


Kitchener declares a "Snow Event", Sounds Exciting!

The MHBPNA Blog thought everyone could benefit from knowing what exactly a "snow event" means. Hint: it's not an invitation for a tailgate party!

IMPORTANT NOTICE FOR KITCHENER RESIDENTS: City Declares Snow Event, Effective at 11:59 P.M. On Jan. 12 - Residents to Remove Cars from Streets by Midnight or Risk Being Ticketed and Towed

KITCHENER  -  Based on credible weather forecast information, the City of Kitchener has now declared an official snow event. Residents have until 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 12 to remove their parked cars from city streets or risk receiving an $80 ticket and being towed at the owner's expense. The parking ban will remain in affect for 24 hours - until 11:59 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 13.

Notification will be given in advance of that time as to whether or not the city will cancel the snow event or extend it for another 24 hours. That decision will be made based on weather conditions and credible forecasts.

Tag-and-Tow Bylaw:

To help city crews clear all streets of snow within 24 hours of the storm ending, under the city's "tag-and-tow" bylaw residents are prohibited from parking their cars on city streets at any time when a snow event has been declared by the city. Snow events are declared when the city anticipates a significant amount of snow to accumulate.

Residents should tune into local media for updates, or visit http://kitchener.ca/en/insidecityhall/Tag_tow_bylaw.asp to join the city's snow event email distribution list. Members of that email distribution list will receive a direct email when the city declares future snow events and when snow events are extended or declared over.

Residents who suspect their car has been towed should call 519-741-2330 to find out where their car has been relocated.

Enforcement of the Tag-and-Tow Bylaw:

During snow events, City of Kitchener bylaw enforcement staff will be asked to attend locations where parked vehicles are impeding snow-removal equipment from clearing the street. Enforcement staff will assess the situation and may ticket and tow some of the vehicles on the street to help the plows remove snow from that street.

Vehicles will not be ticketed and towed based on calls from the public.

Enforcement will only tow the number of vehicles necessary to allow the snow-removal equipment to do its job. It is possible that only a certain number of vehicles on a street will be removed, regardless of how many are actually present and in violation of the bylaw. In the event that some, but not all, vehicles are towed away, the remaining vehicles found in violation will be ticketed.


Ice and snow on sidewalks

The City of Kitchener posted the following information on their Facebook page, and we thought it might be helpful for some of the readers of this Blog. You may wish to share this information with your neighbours who may not have an internet connection:

If you are unable to clear your sidewalk of ice and snow due to health or mobility restrictions, there are agencies that can help: 

Waterloo Home Support Services, 519-579-6930
The Working Centre (Job Cafe), 519-569-7566 x229
House of Friendship, 519-742-8327
Community Support Connections/Meals and Wheels and More, 519-772-8787 
Fees and eligibility requirements may apply - call for details.