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Country Hills Area in Kitchener
The approximate boundaries of Country Hills are Block Line Road in the north; Courtland Avenue and Manitou Drive in the east; Bleams Road in the south; and Fischer-Hallman and Westmount Roads in the west. The neighbourhood is roughly subdivided into Country Hills East (east of Homer Watson), Country Hills West (west of Strasburg Road), and Country Hills (in the middle). The western portion is the largest, and the bulk of Country Hills East’s residential areas are along Fallowfield Drive – the rest is primarily undeveloped, forested land, and a shopping area. Community-wise, there is overlap between these three segments, and for the purposes of this article, we’ll just be referring to them all collectively as ‘Country Hills.’ So, with all that preamble out of the way, let’s dive into one of Kitchener-Waterloo’s most family-friendly neighbourhoods!
Country Hills has a well-earned reputation as a perfect place for families. As mentioned before, homes are typically built on large properties, with sizable backyards, which is great for kids (both of the human variety, and young goats). Beyond the homes and yards themselves, there’s an abundance of outdoor spaces for families to enjoy throughout Country Hills. Prominent parks in the neighbourhood include Lions Park, which is connected by a lovely green trail to Erinbrook Park; Country Hills Park; Countryside Park; and the sizable Lions Park, which includes Lions Arena and has access to Country Hills Community Centre. The undeveloped land of Country Hills East offers some beautiful sights, as well: Balzer Creek and Schneider Creek meet here, and there are lovely trails along which Country Hills residents can enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of Kitchener-Waterloo’s natural environment.
Two of Country Hills greatest assets for families can be found between Block Line and Homer Watson: Country Hills Community Library and the Activa Sportsplex. Country Hills Library is part of the Kitchener Public Library network, and it hosts events throughout the year and provides a wonderful setting for a social outing – or just a place to sit and enjoy the wide variety of books and magazines available. It’s the newest branch of the Kitchener Public Library network, and also the largest branch other than the downtown one. There is a well-equipped children’s area in the front of the branch. The Activa Sportsplex is a massive complex – over 100 000 square feet – and it has facilities for hockey, basketball, and more. The Kitchener Rangers (Ontario Hockey League) play here. Activa Sportsplex is the first arena in Canada to receive LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) gold certification, so it’s both functional and environmentally friendly – two of the best things a facility can be!
There are shops, restaurants and services all around Country Hills, along the major streets that make up its boundaries. Some suburban neighbourhoods lack variety – this is not at all an issue in Country Hills. Forest Glen Plaza, at the intersection of Block Line and Strasburg, has quite a few options. Included here are large chains like No Frills and Shoppers Drug Mart (for all of your grocery and health and wellness needs); fast food (including Harvey’s and Mary Brown’s); and more. Country Hills residents – depending on where they live within the neighbourhood – are quite close to either Sunrise Shopping Centre in the west, and Fairview Park Mall in the east, as well as the plethora of shops and restaurants dotting Fairway Road along the way. In Country Hills, residents have the best of both worlds: they’re close to the huge shopping areas, but far enough away that traffic during peak seasons will not disrupt their day-to-day lives.
Country Hills has fairly good access to the Conestoga Parkway (Highways 7 and 8), and there are several on- and off-ramps to choose from (particularly useful are those at Homer Watson Boulevard, and those at Fischer-Hallman near the Sunrise Shopping Centre). Prominent bus routes travel around the Country Hills neighbourhood, making it easy for residents here to make use of the Grand River Transit (GRT) system. Especially helpful is the Forest Glen Plaza Terminal, which has multiple bus lines running through it throughout the day, covering a wide range of locations (including express service to Conestoga College, and direct routes to Fairview Park Mall and Conestoga Mall in Waterloo). You can see the layouts, and what lines come here, here. It should be noted that Fairview Park Mall itself is not very far from Country Hills, and even more bus routes run from here. Additionally, once the LRT is operational, Fairview Park Mall will serve as its initial terminus. Come 2018, Country Hills residents will be able to easily take a bus from Forest Glen to Fairview Park, get a free transfer, and hop on an ION electric train car. The future is (nearly) here!
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Country Hills is a great place for families. Indeed, families make up the largest single group of residents in the neighbourhood. Part of what makes it great is the access to schools here. There are numerous elementary schools within Country Hills’ boundaries: Blessed Sacrament Catholic Elementary School; Country Hills Public School; Elementary School Catholic Cardinal-Léger; Glencairn Public School; and St. Mary’s High School. For students in the public school board (WRDSB), those living east of Strasburg (in the Country Hills and East Country Hills) are zoned for Country Hills Public School, and those living west of Strasburg (in West Country Hills) are zoned for Glencairn. Both of these schools serve students from Kindergarten to Grade 6 – for Grades 7 and 8, all students living in Country Hills will attend Laurentian Public School, which is a few minutes north along Westmount Road. For high school, Country Hills students will attend Huron Heights Secondary School – Kitchener’s newest high school (read more about Huron Heights S.S. in the WRX article on it here). Students in the Catholic board (WCDSB) living west of Strasburg (West Country Hills) are zoned for Blessed Sacrament; those living east of Strasburg are zoned for Our Lady of Grace School. Cardinal-Léger is available for students interested in pursuing a French education in a Catholic setting; it’s part of the Conseil Scolaire Catholique MonAvenir, and it’s available to students between the ages of 4 and 12. St. Mary’s serves as the high school for WCDSB students living in Country Hills.
Country Hills is one of the best suburban neighbourhoods in Kitchener-Waterloo. It has great access to a range of activities, parks, stores, and more. So if you’re interested, check out the Country Hills Community Library and the Activa Sportsplex, in particular, and see if you and your family would like to live nearby.
Written by Will Kummer