Waterloo Street Update

A few weeks ago in this article, we discussed how the Region is planning on placing a Traction Power Sub Station (TPSS) on Waterloo Street and our many concerns over that decision. The MHBPNA met with Rob Horne (Commissioner of Planning), Thomas Schmidt (Commissioner of Transportation and Environmental Services) and John Hill (Manager of Development, Reurbanization) in mid-February to talk about the plans for the Hub and also Waterloo Street. In a previous article I discussed general plans for the Transit Hub and in this post I’m providing an update on Waterloo Street.

According to quantum physics “everything is connected” and in this case the Region has control over much of this area. However, the TPSS is part of the current LRT/ION project and Waterloo Street will also be a neighbourhood entry point to the future Transit Hub. So they are separate, yet connected, issues.

Originally, the TPSS was slotted to be built behind the School of Pharmacy at King and Victoria. However, placing the TPSS there would involve digging into contaminated ground that is already being “managed” by a private company. We were told that if the Region disturbs that area it makes them liable for the cleanup or containment of a much larger section of land along the railway tracks. This cost could be enormous. Or, they could leave it and it would continue to be contained as it is today.

The Region showed us about 9 potential sites they had available in which to situate the TPSS and Waterloo Street was by far the best option. They provided us with a diagram showing the accurate scale of the TPSS and the street (click to enlarge):

Their pedestrian path is planned to be 7 metres wide which is more than twice the official requirement for a “shared use path”. There will be access maintained for the deliveries to the back of the Google building but these occur about twice a week for a short duration of time and there would still be plenty of room for pedestrian access to the Transit Hub even during those times.
MHBPNA is committed to working on a “smart access” entry to the Transit Hub via Waterloo street. The Region is aware they have dropped the ball a bit with a lack of communication and are committed to having a public meeting about Waterloo Street and related issues in April or early May. We will keep everyone posted on that meeting via our Blog, website and Facebook. They would like to have our input on the potential design of the area which could include landscaping and various options for the path and open areas.
Related issues: The latest report (Feb 23, 2016) on the Transit Hub is available on this link and commits to “Holding a Public Information Centre to update residents and adjacent land owners on the King-Victoria Multi-modal Transit Hub project, including feedback on the Waterloo Street pedestrian access options, and invite the City of Kitchener to co-host and provide updates on associated planning initiatives”. 
The report also states: “An important component of the project is a pedestrian connection envisioned for Waterloo Street. The Steering Committee reviewed and recommends that a pedestrian overpass be considered as an additional option for the Waterloo Street pedestrian connection. Conceptually, the overpass would be an enclosed bridge with lighting that could also be an architectural feature of the Transit Hub. To consider this option, additional consultation is required with Metrolinx, the City of Kitchener and the community. To date, only an underground pedestrian access has been discussed. Staff recommend holding an additional Public Information Centre to update the broader community on the Transit Hub project.”
We urge all residents to read through the February 23 report as it provides a welcome update to a very large project that will forever alter our neighbourhood. We were told bike access would be allowed through Waterloo Street but the main bike route would be along Duke St. to Victoria and they are proposing a multi use trail along the rail corridor all the way to the Bramm St. Yards which will be the site of future development. 

Ted Parkinson


Transit Hub Update

Some very exciting things are happening in the Mt Hope – Breithaupt Park Neighbourhood and probably the biggest will be the “Multi-Modal Transit Station” (AKA “the Hub”) planned for Victoria and King Streets.
This is a Region project just like the LRT. And, like the rapid transit system, government is hoping to engage in a “private/public partnership" (3P) to build the Hub. In 2012 and 2013 the Region hosted a number of public information sessions and all the information can be found here. Things seemed to be moving along in a transparent manner but then there was silence for almost two years.

MHBPNA CoChairs Lane Burman and Ted Parkinson met with Rob Horne (Commissioner of Planning), Thomas Schmidt (Commissioner of Transportation and Environmental Services) and John Hill (Manager of Development, Reurbanization) in mid-February to talk about the plans for the Hub and also Waterloo Street. A few days after this meeting the Region released a new update report (February 23) which can be accessed on this page.  

Officials admitted they had been very quiet for a couple of years but part of the reason is that their negotiations with potential private partners are “delicate” and there is not much that can be revealed publicly. Construction on the Hub will not begin until 2017 and its actual structure is still to be determined.
We have seen plans like this:


 And this:


But the final shape is a work in progress and depends on a number of circumstances. For example, if more condos are built around the downtown then there will be less demand in the Hub. A number of options exist for retail, restaurants, offices etc. The different sections (or “towers”) could be built in different phases according to changing demands for different types of space. So this is an ongoing discussion.
MHBPNA has specifically asked for community space to be made available. There has been much condo development in downtown Kitchener over the past few years and more is planned as the province and city have plans to build up intensification. But no new community centres have been developed for many years. We believe people should have places to meet and socialize other than bars and restaurants. Bars can be great, but it is hard to run a Lego or “self-defense” program in them. The Region’s response to the community space issue was “that is up to the City of Kitchener to pay for so you should talk to them”. We were a little disappointed in this reaction but will press the issue at every opportunity.
Please read the latest report for all the Hub details. Public Meetings are being planned within the next couple of months.
Ted Parkinson, CoChair MHBPNA
Update on Waterloo Street will be posted on this Blog soon!