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Eye on the future of Waterloo

Eye on the future of Waterloo

Eye on the future of Waterloo
July 18
16:40 2016

Waterloo Region has a well-defined vision for its future, a vision that was forged almost 40 years ago. Today, that vision is becoming a reality.

In 1976, the Region of Waterloo completed its first official plan, a legal document to guide future growth in our community. The Plan was very forward thinking for its time, considering the future in ways that have become standards for sustainable living today. In addition to protecting the urban and rural communities, farmland and environmental areas, the vision included a transportation spine and a greater focus on transit.

Today, Waterloo Region is already the fourth largest community in Ontario and the 10th largest in Canada, and the construction of ION, our new rapid transit system, is under way. Set to open in 2017, it will join Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo.

Moving people with ION, however, is only part of the story. Building a new rapid transit line creates major opportunities for development and re-development in station areas and elsewhere along the transit corridor. In short, the ION investment opens the door to further shaping the community in new and exciting ways. That’s where the Community Building Strategy comes in.

The Region of Waterloo, together with the Cities of Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo, spent three years developing one of the most important investments plans in their history: the Community Building Strategy. The success of this Strategy was also founded on incredible community input and experts from around the world.

The Community Building Strategy (or CBS) identifies opportunities for new development, and for associated public and private investment in the ION rapid transit corridor. It also identifies how we need to protect and promote some of our most valuable community assets, like stable neigh- bourhoods, heritage buildings and world-class institutions. The CBS also directs growth away from the more than 220,000 acres of prime farmland and 35,000 acres of sensitive environmental areas in Waterloo Region.

The CBS is founded on real economic considerations. Our consultants, led by nationally-renowned Urban Strategies, engaged the experts from Colliers International to help both define and identify market areas and investment potential. The CBS is truly an investment strategy, but not just in the traditional accounting sense.

Our community investments have included the protection of heritage neighbourhoods, vibrant downtowns, cultural events and attractions, cycling routes and diverse choices for business location. These are all assets we need to protect. At the same time, we need to attract new investment that will build on these great community assets.

A 40-year vision must be grown. Today, the realization of our vision is being viewed by many as a sign of continued prosperity. The Provincial Government, for example, further increased its growth projections for Waterloo Region, estimating a population of over 830,000 people and 400,000 jobs by 2041.

The Province has also committed to increase daily GO train service to and from Toronto, recognizing very important economic relationships.

The Conference Board of Canada continues to forecast positive economic prospects for our community, consistently citing ION rapid transit investment as a major catalyst for growth. All of this makes the CBS a key investment tool to further support our prosperity.

Visit to learn more about the CBS and to download an electronic version of the complete document.

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    Lloyd Stevens has been writing Canadian business news for over 20 years with articles appearing in Perspective which appears in The Globe & Mail and contributing to and

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