115 ALLEN Street W, Waterloo, N2L1E8
115 ALLEN Street, Waterloo, Ontario N2L1E8
83 GRUHN Street, Kitchener, N2G1S5
83 GRUHN Street, Kitchener, Ontario N2G1S5
#205 -55 DUKE ST W, Kitchener, M2G1A6
55 Duke Street, Kitchener, Ontario M2G1A6
21 CENTRAL Street, Waterloo, N2L3A5
21 CENTRAL Street, Waterloo, Ontario N2L3A5
#2401 -108 GARMENT ST, Kitchener, N2G0E2
108 Garment Street, Kitchener, Ontario N2G0E2
183 Victoria Street N|Unit #2, Kitchener, N2H5C5
Kitchener, Ontario N2H5C5
What Is the LRT?
Light Rail Transit is relatively new: after streetcars were forced from cities by the growing automobile industry in the ‘50s and ‘60s, a new idea surfaced to serve as a possible alternative. First referred to as LRT in the early ‘70s, the new mode of transportation would resemble a train, be capable of holding quite a few passengers, and run quickly and quietly through urban areas.
Kitchener-Waterloo’s LRT system is officially called Ion (or ‘iON ,‘ as it appears on the signage), and it will be part of the greater Grand River Transit (GRT) network. Ion will consist of 14 Light Rail Vehicles (LRV’s), running from northern Waterloo to central Kitchener. In the years to come, there are plans in place for the LRT route to extend all the way to southern Cambridge.
Note: we’ll be using LRT and Ion interchangeably: Ion because it’s the official name, LRT because it’s the way locals typically refer to it.
Which Areas Will Be Impacted?
First of all, the truth is that all of Kitchener-Waterloo will feel the impact of the LRT, particularly once the LRV’s hit the tracks and it all becomes operational. Even areas physically separate from the LRT route stand to reap the rewards of greater interconnectedness.
But it is true that the neighbourhoods along the LRT path will see the most immediate effects. So, which Kitchener-Waterloo neighbourhoods will the LRT run through? Let’s start with Waterloo.
LRT in Waterloo
The Ion starts its journey at Conestoga Mall, in northern Waterloo. The neighbourhood to be aware of here is Colonial Acres. Conestoga Mall is the City of Waterloo’s largest mall, and the Conestoga Mall Transit Terminal is one of the city’s most important transit hubs. Already, numerous bus routes pass through here (including several iXpress routes, and service to the Township of Woolwich).
Because the Conestoga Mall Transit Terminal will serve as the northern terminus of the LRT, an already important area will become even more important. The area around this LRT stop stands to see much more activity and foot traffic, and due to this, and the important transit links converging here (for example, this Ion stop will serve as the portal to St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market), it is a great time to find a home in one of Colonial Acres many residential areas.
The next Ion station, Northfield, is slightly more removed from densely-populated, residential areas, but the neighbourhood to be most impacted here is Lakeshore. The benefit of Northfield station is its close proximity to the Conestoga Parkway (Highway 85). Its Park and Ride facility makes it a great option for commuters. We’re not quite done with the Lakeshore neighbourhood yet, though.
As the LRT proceeds south, the next two stations (arguably the next three) will serve the Lakeshore community. Research and Technology Station, close to the David Johnston Research and Technology Park, and University of Waterloo Station are both on the cusp of Lakeshore’s residential areas. Adding in the next station, Laurier-Waterloo Park, this is a vital little corridor for Kitchener-Waterloo’s university student population.
Lakeshore’s close proximity to both Wilfrid Laurier University and University of Waterloo already made it a popular place for families, faculties, and students alike; the nearby LRT stops will make it even more so.
The next batch of stations are all part of Uptown Waterloo: Laurier-Waterloo Park; Waterloo Public Square; Willis Way; and Allen. Uptown Waterloo is already an incredibly popular place: both to visit and to live. Its unique mix of activity and refinement make it popular with young and old alike. Once the LRT is running, it is poised to become even more impressive.
With robust public transit serving Uptown Waterloo, the potential for residents (and students) to live in and around here and the Universities without vehicles will increase. Likely outcomes: the LRT will enable denser urbanization within the Uptown core, independent businesses and restaurants will be able to rely on greater foot traffic, and Waterloo Public Square will become quite the hotspot.