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About the City of Kitchener
The Waterloo Region is nearly 1,400 km2 in size (the Region shape roughly resembles the 2012 London Olympic logo), and more than half a million people live here. Most of the population lives in one of the ‘Tri-Cities’ (Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge). Today, we’re going to dial back our investigative lens and take a look at the Cities of Kitchener and Waterloo. Kitchener is located in Southern Ontario, nestled between the cities of Waterloo and Cambridge, along with the towns of Wellesley, Woolwich, Wilmot, and North Dumfries. It has a population of around 230 000. The Grand River runs along Kitchener’s eastern border, and to the west are fields and rolling hills, the tallest of which are called the Bade Hills. These hills aren’t all that tall, but they’re the highest things for kilometers around, and thus serve as a perfect place for TV and radio antennae.
When you’re choosing where to live, you need to know that you’ll be able to make your livelihood. And in that regard, Kitchener (and indeed, the entire Waterloo Region) has plenty of opportunities. Historically, Kitchener has been a prominent manufacturing centre, stretching back to the furniture factory and sawmills of its earliest days. Manufacturing remains an important part of Kitchener’s economy (and a significant employer, with 20% of the work force), but the city has become increasingly economically diversified over the years.
Kitchener has plenty of job opportunities – large health care facilities and three hospitals, Conestoga College, multiple elementary and secondary schools, tech companies, municipal jobs, and countless retail and service opportunities (including Fairview Park Mall, the largest mall in the region). Another key benefit of Kitchener is its proximity to Toronto. Businesses are connected to Canada’s largest city, with all the opportunities that provides, as well as Toronto Pearson International Airport. Click here to read more about the City of Kitchener.
About the City of Waterloo
Waterloo is the smallest of the Tri-Cities, but it’s still got a fairly sizable population at just over 100 000. Kitchener borders Waterloo to the south, Wilmot, Wellesley, and Woolwich Townships surround it to the north and east (that’s a lot of ‘W’s), and the Grand River runs (or flows, to be more accurate) along the east.
One of the defining characteristics of Waterloo is its top of the line education. Put simply, Waterloo has excellent schools, for every age. Waterloo is served by both the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) and the Waterloo Catholic District School Board (WCDSB). Both have schools throughout the Tri-Cities, and several in the surrounding areas, but there is a common theme amongst them. Typically, the schools in Waterloo itself are the highest performing in the entire region (and many of them are ranked among the best in all of Ontario). Indeed, for many parents, moving to a particular area of Waterloo in order to ensure their children are zoned for a specific school is a significant factor in choosing a new home. The Laurelwood Neighbourhood (read about it in our ongoing series on Waterloo Neighbourhoods) specifically has excellent elementary schools, including Laurelwood Public School and St. Nicholas Catholic School, tied for top school in Waterloo according to the Fraser Institute in 2015-2016.
With an educated, motivated population, Waterloo has many technology and service-based job opportunities. Major employers in the city include both universities, the Catholic and public school boards (WCDSB and WRDSB), Manulife Financial and Sun Life Financial, many start-ups and tech companies, as well as several think tanks. And of course, we would be remiss not to mention one of Waterloo’s most widely known exports, and one of the largest employers: BlackBerry. BlackBerry is nearly synonymous with Waterloo, with its ties to the University of Waterloo stretching back to the mid 1980s. The legacy of Research in Motion (RIM), as it used to be called, looms large in the ‘Loo, and the company carried the torch (and continues to serve as a beacon of light) for the burgeoning tech movement in Waterloo. Waterloo is served by Grand River Transit, which has bus routes running throughout the region. By 2018 the LRT route should be operational, which will see ION electric train cars running from Conestoga Mall in Waterloo past the universities, uptown Waterloo, downtown Kitchener, and all the way to Fairview Park Mall in Kitchener. Click here to read more about the City of Waterloo.
Written by Will Kummer