Light rail transit, as currently planned, could be a disaster for uptown Waterloo.
LRT is slated to go straight down King through the uptown core (William to Erb), displacing parking, inconveniencing pedestrians, and making street festivals all but impossible. The stations required for LRT are huge; a third of the sidewalk from Willis Way to William will be a station.
The LRT is going to turn left across our busiest uptown intersection, King-Erb, and then run against traffic on one of our busiest uptown streets, Erb between King and Caroline.
There will be two LRT tracks criss-crossing Erb-Caroline, making such a mess of the intersection that railway gates are planned. All this just before construction of the giant BarrelYards development a hundred meters away. Besides being a major driving route, this intersection is the connection between uptown and Waterloo Park, and is the junction of the Trans Canada, Iron Horse and Laurel trails.
In addition, the LRT is going to cut a swath right through the middle of Waterloo Park. And given the turning radius required by the LRT, I don’t see how the Adult Recreation Centre at King and Allen will survive. At the very least it will lose its parking.
None of the planned station locations in Waterloo are in any need of density incentives. The provincial growth targets for uptown Waterloo for the next 25 years are going to be met in the next 5-7 years. The problem in Waterloo, if there is any, is that there may be too much development in the works.
After a lot of hard work uptown Waterloo is a great success, and the current LRT proposal is poised to destroy that success. Anyone who cares about uptown Waterloo should be very concerned about the Region's plans for LRT.
There are alternatives, such as bus rapid transit that merges in with regular traffic through uptown Waterloo; or a King streetcar, similar to the trolley bus we had until the 1970s; or modifications to the LRT route that are more sensitive to the needs of Waterloo.
Update: Published letter