It’s Saturday morning, but you’re stuck in traffic. You’re on your way to the Kitchener Market, and the cars on King Street are inching forward slower than rush hour.
You grit your teeth as the bus you’ve been creeping behind lurches and stops to let off a few impatient passengers. They’ve been waiting to move as long as you have, and they scurry to the corner to cross, dodging turning vehicles. You finally make the turn onto Cedar Street and find the parking lot full, again.
Frustrated, you loop the nearby neighbourhood a few times, finally snatching a parking spot. A good part of your morning wasted already, you hurriedly pick up your eggs, meat, and a few veggies, and head back to your car as quickly as you can, just to face the traffic all over again.
Fast-forward 15 years from now. King Street is still busy, and the parking lot is full, but that no longer bothers you. You find your ride in a light rail vehicle relaxing as you glide to a stop at Cedar and Charles streets. A wide promenade to lead you to the market awaits, lined with shops and cafes.
The street has been closed to traffic today, and vendors have set up tables here outside the market to keep pace with demand. You catch the eye of a friend — she’s just come downstairs from the apartment she recently moved into on Cedar — and she invites you to join her at the little café below her new place. You grab some patio chairs and chat for a while before parting ways to browse the many shops and vendors. Arms loaded with food, you head back to Charles Street. As the train approaches, you remember you’ve forgotten the cheese! No worries, another train will come again in just a few minutes.
This is just one of many place-making opportunities that light rail will bring Kitchener and Waterloo Region, identified in the Central Transit Corridor Community Building Strategy.
Over the last year, the three cities, the region, and its consultants have been hearing from stakeholders and the public about the things we love about our communities and how rapid transit could help enhance them as they grow.
The input from all these workshops and open houses has been compiled into a breathtaking vision, with one final opportunity for feedback before the report goes before Regional Council.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to attend one of the Community Building Strategy open houses, (advertised on portable signs all over the place these past few weeks), I strongly encourage you to see the draft strategy at www.centraltransitcorridor.ca and send your feedback to the Region.
If you’ve been on the fence about light rail, I believe this vision will convince you of rapid transit’s potential when combined with wise choices in transportation infrastructure and land use to make Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge even better places to live, work and play.
I’m excited for the future of our region, and proud to have contributed to its plans through the Central Transit Corridor Community Building Strategy. I hope you can be too.
• • •
Mike Boos is a citizen of Kitchener who looks forward to riding a train to work on days when his bicycle has a flat tire.