All posts by Michael Druker

The Week’s News

It’s Committee week at the Region, which means lots is happening. But first, two other things. Our almost-monthly pub night is tomorrow evening, and you should join us!

Today, the Ontario Coroner’s Office has released its Cycling Deaths Review (HTML / PDF). I have not read through it yet, but it is supposed to claim that all the cycling deaths it looked at were preventable. It also recommends a mandatory helmet law for everyone, which is deeply problematic if the goal is making cycling a safer and larger part of the transportation system. We’ll have more on this later.

Tomorrow is Committee day for the Region of Waterloo. Agendas are always posted here at around 4pm on the preceding Friday. Typically, most issues and reports go to initially to the appropriate Committee, where motions are made, to be finalized at the full Council meeting on Wednesday of the following week. (See Council agendas.) As the standing committees are currently composed of all the councillors, the decisions are effectively made at the committee level, with rare exceptions. (more…)

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Preserving the Integrity of the Iron Horse Trail

The Iron Horse Trail is under threat from development, as we’ve posted about before. We need you to tell city council that development should be designed around transportation, rather than vice versa. Mady Corporation is proposing to buy the Iron Horse Trail between Park and Caroline Streets in Waterloo in order to facilitate a second tower adjacent to the 144 Park development, rerouting the trail to what we believe is an inferior alignment. The idea does not respect the intention of the trail as an important transportation corridor, appearing instead to serve a goal of land consolidation. The issue and the details have been covered well by Chris Klein and Mike Boos, so please follow those links for more information.

From the comments to our previous post, a couple of practical suggestions for the site included developing instead a triangular shaped building that fronts the trail with balconies or having the existing corridor go through the building complex. It is possible to develop the site in a way that works around and with the Iron Horse Trail, instead of moving it out of sight. If this developer isn’t willing to do that, the location one block away from an LRT station will ensure that another developer will.

Do you want the Iron Horse Trail moved to make way for condo development, so it travels in a shaded alley between two parking garages? Or would you rather see it preserved and improved instead, with development respecting the trail? It’s Waterloo City Council’s choice to allow the land swap, and it’s up to you to let them know what you think.

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TriTAG June Pub Night

On Tuesday the 19th, TriTAG will be hosting our almost monthly pub night to chat with anyone and everyone interested in transit and active transportation in Waterloo Region. We generally hold these the third Tuesday of every month.

Stop by and bring your friends – we’ll be at McCabe’s at King & Francis in downtown Kitchener. You should see us straight ahead past the entrance, but if not, ask when you enter. (If you like, join the Facebook event.)

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Upcoming events and meetings

A number of things are happening in the next two weeks, which you shouldn’t miss!

Next week is the Commuter Challenge, aimed at getting people to rethink their commutes. Check that link for details on all the constituent events. On Monday, June 4, is the launch event, which is also an open house and consultation for both the King/Victoria transit hub walking/cycling access plan and for the Region’s active transportation master plan. If that weren’t enough, there will be a presentation by Hans Moor on developing a cycling culture, including a discussion of the successful Dutch approach. The event is from 4:30pm to 8:00pm at the UW School of Pharmacy, with the presentation at 6pm. (It is not entirely clear whether the public consultation / open house continues through the presentation.) You should attend. More information is available from the Region and from Sustainable Waterloo; people are encouraged to register.

The following week is the final one of three week-long public forums on the Central Transit Corridor development strategy. The topic for the week is how the LRT can strengthen existing aspects of the community. It will include two open houses, one in Cambridge and one in Kitchener. The first open house will be followed by a keynote talk by Sue Zielinski; if it’s anything like the previous two, it is well worth attending. Details are in this document; you can also check the project website as well as the storefront office by Kitchener City hall. There is a Facebook event for the talk that can help you spread the word.

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Designing to Improve the Iron Horse Trail

We need your help and creativity. There’s a development proposal in Waterloo right by a planned LRT station. It’s for a second tower on the block bounded by Caroline, Allen, Park, and John streets, in addition to the one currently under construction at the corner of Park and Allen. (Details of the submission are here, along with slides from a recent meeting.). Apart from the egregious planned amount of parking either required by the city or desired by the developer at what should be a transit-oriented development, there is a bigger issue. The developer wants to build on top of the current Iron Horse Trail and replace it off to the side, lengthening it and making it worse as a transportation corridor. Chris Klein has written about the need to think carefully before trading away a main transportation corridor for a developer’s benefit. But more on that later.

Here’s where you come in. We want to see what ideas people have for how to develop this parcel and make the Iron Horse Trail better at the same time — by bringing it back to the original rail corridor alignment and taking out the current 90-degree turn. This is what I mean:

View Iron Horse Trail and Allen/Caroline in a larger map

Let us know in the comments or email us your depictions (or examples from elsewhere) of what could be done with that area, perhaps with some creative use of the space above the Iron Horse Trail. We don’t have much time to get this out to the developer and Waterloo City Hall, so e-mail us your ideas or examples to . We’ll put up the submissions in a follow-up.

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TriTAG April Pub Night

Next Tuesday the 17th, TriTAG will be hosting our monthly pub night from 6:30pm to 9:00pm to chat with anyone and everyone interested in transit and active transportation in Waterloo Region. Our plan is to hold these the third Tuesday of every month.

Stop by and bring your friends – we’ll be in the Harp Room at McCabe’s at King & Francis in downtown Kitchener. (If you like, join the Facebook event.)

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LRT Corridor Building Strategy

This weekend was the official launch of the Central Transit Corridor Community Building Strategy (CBS). (The launch was webcast, as other Regional proceedings now are, and should be soon available in the archive.) This Tuesday the 27th, there will be a CBS open house from 3 to 6pm at Knox Presbyterian Church (at Erb & Caroline in Waterloo); there will be a presentation from 5:30 to 6:15 and a workshop from 6:15 to 8:15pm. (Details from here.) We encourage everyone to attend the presentation and workshop.

Though the name of the project is daunting, the idea is both simple and rather important. The Rapid Transit / LRT project is designed to function as a regional transit spine and to attract and handle a large amount of development as urban infill along Waterloo Region’s central corridor instead of as sprawl. The CBS will set out the vision for land-use planning and street networks around stations.

LRT is already attracting development near station areas, but with the zoning currently in place and without a coherent strategy for LRT corridor development, those buildings may not be creating transit-oriented and human-scale places. The “Northfield Station” development is a likely example of a missed opportunity. It isn’t a given that LRT changes its station areas much by itself. For example, outside of Calgary’s downtown, its LRT appears to have primarily influenced the land-use around its stations through the copious provision of parking.

So that the line can create dense, urban, transit-oriented places along the line, the zoning needs to change so that it allows for density, so that it does not require off-street parking, and so it allows and encourages a built form that makes for pedestrian-oriented neighbourhoods. The attraction of a new light rail line is going to result in much development interest of various kinds along the entire line. The CBS should be a guiding mechanism to turn that interest into city-building along the LRT line.

It’s important stuff, and crucial to the Region’s reurbanization and growth management priorities. Attend the Tuesday workshop if you can, and if not, send your comments online or stop by the storefront the project will be opening soon in downtown Kitchener.

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Hourly GO Transit to Mississauga

Amidst the talk of GO trains (or the lack thereof) between Toronto and Waterloo Region, GO Transit has quietly and steadily been increasing service on its Waterloo-Mississauga Route 25. Starting March 31, when university-related service is cut back, it is actually adding an extra regular weekday run in both directions. (At the same time, it is cutting back on some Friday express runs and extending others to run on Thursdays as well.) Details are available at GO Transit’s schedule page, as well as on Google Maps when you ask for transit directions.

That will bring us to pretty much all-day hourly scheduled bus service between Kitchener and Mississauga on weekdays and Saturdays. It’s less than hourly in the early morning, evening, and Sundays, but still pretty impressive for a service that doesn’t seem to get much media attention. Yet, GO is increasing the service likely because there is high demand for it.

Why would you want to go to Mississauga, apart from the city itself or the Square One mall? At the Square One terminal, there are regular buses to Toronto-Union station (Route 21), to York University (Routes 45, 46, 47), and mostly commuter runs to Yorkdale and North York (Route 19).

In addition, with a Presto card you can easily ride both GO buses and MiWay local buses without buying tickets (and with a transfer discount). MiWay routes 26, 3, and 20 will take you from Square One to Islington station on the TTC Bloor-Danforth subway line. Routes 107 (weekday only rapid) and 7 both go to Pearson Airport — the 7 goes directly to Terminal 1 and the 107 stops at the Viscount LINK train station. Apart from being dropped off and picked up at the airport, GO + MiWay is by far the cheapest way of getting to Pearson from Waterloo Region.

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TriTAG March Pub Night

On Tuesday, March 20, TriTAG will be hosting our now monthly pub night to chat with anyone and everyone interested in transit and active transportation in Waterloo Region. We’ll be there from 6:30pm to 9:00pm. (Facebook event here.) Stop by for some food, drink, and friendly conversation. (Food and drink at your own expense.)

We’ll be in the Harp Room at McCabe’s at King & Francis in downtown Kitchener. There will be a digital projector set up for those who want to share something on a larger screen.

We hope to see many of you there!

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LRT Communications Manager Needed

Waterloo Region has a position open for “Manager, Rapid Transit Community Relations” (main job site), and we’re linking it here because effective communication with the public and numerous stakeholders is one of the most important aspects of the LRT project’s success. If you have the necessary background and care about effective transit, growth management, and reurbanization, please consider applying.

Oh, and the perhaps also important position of LRT Project Director is now available (no listing). As is this interesting (and new?) position of “Coordinator, On-Street Passenger Amenities” for Grand River Transit.

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