Tag Archives: city of waterloo


Potential changes to parking for Uptown and around ION light rail

The new draft Station Area Plans for light rail in the City of Waterloo suggest applying maximum parking requirements in transit station areas, as well as deeper parking reductions in areas closest to stations. Meanwhile, the city is undertaking a parking utilization study in Uptown, with an eye towards possibly beginning to charge for parking. (more…)

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The future of parking in Waterloo

Part 7 in our series on parking in the City of Waterloo draft zoning bylaw.

There’s an old joke that says, the trouble with parking is that it isn’t going anywhere.

If you read the City of Waterloo’s draft zoning bylaw, you might think they took the joke literally. But will we always need parking, especially copious amounts of it? What will the future bring?

We’re on the cusp of some pretty major shifts that will greatly alter how we get around and consequently, how much parking we’ll need. (more…)

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OGS Parking Lot

Shared parking, reducing the burden on local businesses

Part 5 in a week-long series on parking in the City of Waterloo draft zoning bylaw.

Commercial zones could foster thriving businesses and walkable places if we avoid burdening them with too much parking.

Of all the zoning types, commercial can be the most flexible. For most commercial zone categories, you can build retail, restaurants, office space, places of worship, and even apartments and condos. Over half of these categories in the City of Waterloo’s draft bylaw have the words “mixed use” as part of their name. (more…)

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Photo by Radcliffe Dacanay - https://www.flickr.com/photos/kworth30/2271118974/

Bigger parking lots for new workplaces?

Part 4 in a week-long series on parking in the City of Waterloo draft zoning bylaw.

Is Waterloo’s proposed zoning preventing workers and their employers from reaping the benefits of rapid transit?

The zoning bylaw review seems to drastically increase the amount of parking that “employment lands” will require. In a time where our region seeks to reduce congestion and sprawl by enabling commuting by other means than driving, it seems that the city of Waterloo is ready to force employers to build more empty parking spaces.

Minimum parking for industrial malls stands to increase by 20% [1]. Single occupant buildings, if large enough, could see their parking requirements triple! [2] While the old bylaw might have envisioned large warehouses and factory floors, the new rules clearly have offices in mind. Space-intensive industrial tenants may need to look elsewhere.

The good news is that Waterloo plans on applying reductions to parking in certain areas like major nodes and major transit areas. The bad news is that the baseline requirement will be raised first, so a reduction of 30% near transit stations is actually a modest 16% from the old rate. Meanwhile new developments in the rest of the city must build more mandatory parking than before.

The Northfield Station development, placing parking next to an LRT stop

The Northfield Station development, placing parking next to an LRT stop

Much like with residential parking, the additional cost of extra parking on employment lands must be borne by the employer. The presence of extra parking will serve as a powerful incentive for driving, even when it is unnecessary, and will be discourage employers from offering parking cash-outs or alternative benefits (such as free transit passes) to reduce their parking needs. These reduce the chances their employees will do anything but drive.

By raising minimum parking requirements for employment lands, the City of Waterloo could be undermining a host of measures designed to give people more transportation choice, and  increasing the space and costs for employers to locate in Waterloo. Ultimately this could result in more drivers on the road at rush hour.

Take action:

Write to the Zoning Bylaw Review staff and your city councillors, and share your concerns about parking requirements for workplaces in the City of Waterloo’s next zoning bylaw.

Editor’s note: This post is part of a blog series on parking requirements in the City of Waterloo’s Zoning Bylaw Review. Read the other articles in this series:

[1] Existing industrial parking rate: 2.5/100m^2 floor space.  New employment parking rate: 3.0/100m^2 floor space

[2] The existing rate of 2.5/100m^2 applies to the first 1000m^2 of space. A reduced rate of 1.0 applies after that, eventually dropping to 0.75 for space beyond 5000m^2. The new rate of 3.0 appears to be a flat rate.

Photo credit: radcliffe decanay on Flickr, (c) 2006. Licensed under CC-BY.

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A failing grade in parking requirements

Part 3 in a week-long series on parking in the City of Waterloo draft zoning bylaw.

Update: we have heard that  staff have admitted an error in the draft bylaw and are reviewing the proposed parking requirements for schools.

Kids can’t drive. So why should schools need more parking than a shopping mall?

The current City of Waterloo zoning bylaws require 2 parking spaces per teaching area when a new school is built. But the proposed draft bylaw changes up the formula, requiring 4 parking spaces for every 100 square metres of floor space, plus an extra 5 spaces for visitors parking [1], which is more than what the City requires of Conestoga Mall. (more…)

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parking deck

Housing and parking minimums – or why the rent is too damn high

Part 2 in a week-long series on parking in the City of Waterloo draft zoning bylaw.

The City of Waterloo’s current and proposed zoning bylaws require significantly more parking for apartments and townhomes than what is needed, raising the cost of housing.

If you live in a house, odds are your family owns two cars, and you’re almost guaranteed to own at least one. But if you live in an apartment, a quarter of you own no car at all, and few of you own more than one. (more…)

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Big Changes for Bridgeport, Erb, Caroline, and Albert

There’s going to be another major road project coming to Uptown Waterloo.

Reconstruction of Bridgeport, Erb, Caroline, and Albert.

That’s right. After LRT construction wraps up in 2017, and after the King St improvements bring protected bike lanes to King St in 2018/2019, the city and region will be replacing aging services underneath Bridgeport, Erb, Caroline, and Albert, and are taking the opportunity to revisit the design of these streets as they cut through central Waterloo.

Here’s a look at what’s proposed, (page 46, 12MB PDF) and below we’ll talk about what works, what doesn’t, and what needs serious improvement.

Concept plan for the reconstruction of Erb/Bridgeport/Caroline/Albert

Concept plan for the reconstruction of Erb/Bridgeport/Caroline/Albert

Major changes include:

  • A multi-use trail along the north side of Bridgeport/Caroline linking the King St bike lanes to the Laurel Trail at Erb
  • Narrowing Caroline north of Erb St to two lanes, and adding a new sidewalk on the East side
  • Narrowing Albert from two lanes to one, with a northbound bike lane and parallel parking
  • Changing Albert/Erb to a T-intersection
  • Sharrows on Erb St from Caroline to King

What Works

Adding a multi-use trail along Caroline provides a great bicycle link between King St and multiple trail entrances for Waterloo Park, and finally allows northbound cycle traffic up Caroline.

Crossing Albert on the north side of Erb will be made much easier. The current multi-lane off-ramp nature of Albert St is dangerous, making walking around the old Police Station unpleasant. The new T-intersection design reduces crossing distance, turning speeds, and even introduces new green space.

Reducing Caroline to two lanes helps solve the problem of traffic backing up in the right hand lane of Bridgeport east of King. Now traffic intending to go beyond King will use the centre lane, while those turning onto King and Regina Streets will be on the left and right hand lanes, distributing traffic better across the three lanes.

Potential Improvements

Albert St still needs a legal way to cycle southbound. By moving the parking to the east side of the road, there could be a contra-flow southbound bikelane on the west side, with the northbound lane shared between cars and bicycles, with a more appropriate use of sharrows. This also puts the parking on the traditional right-hand side, which will be easier for drivers to use. Parallel parking is tricky enough, and even more so when it’s on the opposite side of the car.

If the bicycle route along Bridgeport/Caroline is a multi-use trail, then why is there a southbound on-street bike lane and bike box approaching Erb? There is no way for bicycles to access the on-road bike lane from the trail, and if they could, it would be unsafe to merge cross the constant stream of right turning traffic. The intersection design assumes that cyclists are on the road instead of the multi-use trail, when the reverse should be true. We can’t keep ending trails at crosswalks, asking cyclists to dismount to continue. With the first cross-ride in Waterloo now in service at Erb/Peppler, there is now precedent for a two-way crossing on the west side of Caroline, which will finally allow the connection of the Laurel and Iron Horse trails.

What Doesn’t Work

Erb St, unfortunately, has a long way to go.

Erb, as proposed, with many lanes and large excessive shoulders.

Erb, as proposed, with many lanes and large excessive shoulders.

The sharrows proposed for Erb St are inappropriate. Sharrows work on low speed roads, not major high-speed multi-lane arteries. Sharrows are not a replacement for dedicated cycling infrastructure, and 2016 should be the year we stop pretending they are.

The width of Erb St is drastically wider than the planned use. There is no need for 3 through lanes and a painted shoulder lane. Staff mention a potential possibility for on-road cycle tracks, “without the need for additional construction,” but it would require waiting for “a separate, broader study to consider implementation of a two-way cycle track on Erb Street from Caroline Street to Margaret Avenue [which] will be completed by the Region of Waterloo in the future.” In the meantime, Erb will remain gratuitously wide.
A pedestrian crossing at Erb/Albert is dismissed, because there are fewer than 250 people crossing day, a number that is unlikely to change if Erb remains wide and hostile. Bridges are not built by counting the number of people swimming across a river; crosswalks should not be dismissed because few are willing to unsafely cross a high-speed 4-lane arterial.

An alternate concept for a right-sized Erb St featuring a shared bike and turning lane.

An alternate concept for a right-sized Erb St featuring a pedestrian crossing, and a shared bike and turning lane.

Here is a potential way to correct some of these issues. The right hand lane of Erb is used as a turn lane for the WTS entrance, and for King St. To prevent the speeding, cars cannot use it to drive from Caroline to King, only allowing cyclists to continue through, in what will now be a much lower-speed lane. The painted shoulder on the north of Erb is now removed, with the sidewalk moved south where it was. A pedestrian crossover is installed at Albert, allowing direct access from Albert to The Shops at Waterloo Town Square.

Send Your Feedback

These are just some of the suggestions that we have, but we’re sure you have more. Please send your own feedback, and be sure to attend the upcoming public information centre.

Feedback should be sent to:
Mr. Jim Ellerman, jellerman@regionofwaterloo.ca
Project Manager, Capital Projects
Regional Municipality of Waterloo

Mark Christensen, mchristensen@walterfedy.com
Project Manager

Public Consultation Centre #1
Wednesday, January 27th, 2016
5:00p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
The Canadian Clay and Glass Museum
25 Caroline Street North, Waterloo

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Photo credit: Paul Krueger on Flickr

Uptown Streetscape Ride: May 25

Wider sidewalks, two traffic lanes, parking, and protected bike lanes.

Proposed Uptown Streetscape cross-section

After many years of planning, the City of Waterloo will be making a decision on the future design for Uptown King Street on May 25. The recommended design includes wider sidewalks with more space for seating, trees, and other amenities, improvements to the road design to make driving better, and, for the first time in Waterloo, protected bike lanes separated from traffic by raised curbs and parked cars.

To celebrate this milestone for Uptown, and to support the recommended design, the Tri-Cities Transport Action Group and WaterlooBikes.ca are organizing a community bike ride through Uptown Waterloo. We’ll be gathering in the Public Square around 5:45pm on May 25, and bike up King Street where the protected bike lanes are proposed, circling back to City Hall to join the council meeting beginning at 6:30pm.

The proposed design has lots of support – from staff, elected representatives, many of the Uptown businesses, and over 1000 petitioners, and is further encouraged by a study of travel modes and spending habits in Uptown.  However, the more encouragement City Council receives for this project from the community, the more likely they will be to continue expanding the active transportation network with infrastructure of this high level of quality.

We hope to see you in Uptown next Monday.

Photo credit: Paul Krueger on Flickr

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