My Waterloo Region Includes Cambridge.

If you say something over and over and it gets quoted over and over, eventually people will believe you, even if it isn’t the truth. For 10 years I have listened to Mayor Doug Craig say that the Region ignores poor Cambridge. Twice in the last few weeks he has claimed that the Region did nothing to help Cambridge get a GO train.

Untrue! The Region commissioned a 100,000 dollar study (That was paid for by Waterloo taxpayers too — more about that later) to show that Cambridge needs GO trains. We have also lobbied for it.

Cambridge is not the poor step-sister of the Region. In fact, as shown by a study done by the Record, my city, Waterloo, gets the least amount of Regional funds.

But lets face it, whining works. Ten years ago when I got on Regional Council, the Region took over transit. When Cambridge owned transit, it sucked. One of my friends in Cambridge had a bus go by her house, but to get the half mile to the city centre, she would have had to travel for an hour because the bus only travelled one way.

Now that bus travels both ways, she can go to the mall and she can take a fast bus to Kitchener and Waterloo when before there was no bus between the cities.

Money has been poured into Cambridge roads, the redevelopment of 150 Main St. into a Social Services building and social housing. Garbage collection now includes large item pick-up. Cambridge has the lion’s share of new industrial lands while poor Waterloo is knocking up against its boundaries.

Cambridge has a Regional Historic Site and  a Regional daycare that has just been expanded. Waterloo has neither. The Police Headquarters is in Cambridge.

Yes KW could have LRT first, but it would cost twice as much to extend it to Cambridge in the first phase. And Cambridge doesn’t have the ridership of KW — see my comments about Cambridge’s previous lack of transit. Guess which city will get the most benefit from Light Rail?  That’s right, Waterloo with its two universities and tech park.

Staff and councillors tip toe around Cambridge. Regional committees I belong to worry that Cambridge is included. They make sure they have meetings in Cambridge. When I was first on the Region, Waterloo citizens often had to go to Kitchener City Hall for public meetings. I got that changed and now there are meetings in Waterloo and /or at regional headquarters. But, Cambridge, they always get public meetings.

Now I don’t begrudge Cambridge a thing. I’m the first to say that Cambridge should get their phase of the LRT as soon as possible after the first phase, should we choose Light Rail.

And I have nothing against people being for Bus Rapid Transit. But don’t be for BRT because Cambridge, for once, isn’t getting what they are whining for.

By the Way, I will continue to ask for a historic site in Waterloo. But really, we don’t have to feel bad about neglect in Waterloo. Some of the costs we don’t get in Waterloo are because we don’t need the social services. If Cambridge is the Quebec of Waterloo Region, Waterloo is the British Columbia. Our Prince Charming turned out to be a tech guy.

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3 responses to “My Waterloo Region Includes Cambridge.

  1. Hi Jane,

    You say, “Guess which city will get the most benefit from Light Rail? That’s right, Waterloo with its two universities and tech park.”

    I don’t think most people in Waterloo consider the route to be a benefit to the city. It’s a benefit to the University of Waterloo, for sure. In fact, you could call LRT a deluxe student shuttle. The main effect will be to let students live further from campus conveniently.

    High tech workers in the R+T Park (I’ve worked for two employers there) will not be well served by the LRT stop in the extreme north-east corner of the Park, as opposed to the current iXpress stop in the middle of the Park.

    LRT cuts our city park down the middle. It creates traffic havoc uptown (especially at the King-Erb, Erb-Caroline and William-Caroline intersections). Have you noticed on the LRT map that Erb street, which now has three lanes crossing King (and is very busy), is reduced to one lane crossing King with LRT (and that one lane also turns right)? This isn’t good for Waterloo.

    The LRT would be a bigger benefit to Waterloo if it ran straight up King to Conestoga Mall, creating density nodes at King-University, King-Columbia and King-Weber.

    It’s not creating a density node in uptown, because uptown is booming all on its own. In fact, the potential traffic problems of LRT threaten the success of uptown.

    It’s not creating density nodes at its two UW stops because that land is not privately owned.

    The R+T Park is booming on its own; the university’s decision to force employers to provide only 2/3 of their employees with parking to force people to take LRT is (again) the one thing that threatens its success. Ditto Conestoga Mall… LRT is a threat to a successful venture, not a help.

    That leaves Northfield as the one potential density node in Waterloo.

    It’s not going to be a convenient way to get to Conestoga Mall, as it stops way up on King Street – a long walk from the mall – as opposed to buses that go right to the mall doors. It’s not bad to walk half a kilometer on sunny days, but over half our days are cold and/or wet – and people go to the mall to shop, so carry bags home.

    As far as I can tell, the real agenda of LRT is to revitalize downtown Kitchener. It’s a disaster for Waterloo, even before the tax hikes. Or at least that’s how it looks to me.

  2. Just a note. The stop at Conestoga Mall will not be a half kilometer from the mall. It will be at Conestoga Rd and King, a spot just beyond the parking lot.
    Other than that, thanks for your comments!

  3. Continual commentary from this Regional Councillor from Waterloo about the state of public transit in Cambridge before GRT takeover means exactly nothing. Waterloo had NO transit system they ran before GRT. The Waterloo bus service was run by Kitchener Transit. Waterloo mooched off Kitchener. To crticize Cambridge, when Waterloo only paid the adjoining municipality for the service, is absurd!!!!

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