Sitting in our new public square on a recent Saturday afternoon with several hundred people watching Rossini's opera La Cenerentola (Cinderella), I had one of those happy moments of optimism, a glimmer of what we as a community are becoming. The event was enlightened. It's a fun opera with good tunes and lots of laugh lines. Little kids danced around in front of the orchestra. People sat in folding chairs or on the concrete steps around the square while cars drove by on King Street (and surprisingly, the car sounds weren't intrusive). There's a bus stop by the square and most of the people who got off the bus, as well as pedestrians and bikers going by, stopped for a while.
The city has a full-time programmer for our new public square, with events throughout the summer. This is the only opera: there will be events for all ages and interests, during the day and in the evenings. The city has a calendar of events here.
The fully-programmed public square is the final piece in the new Uptown envisioned in the planning document project2007 - a document whose planning started in 1992. Many Waterloo citizens, city staff and councillors have worked hard to transform uptown into what it is now. It isn't exactly what everyone wanted, but it's pretty damn good.
I'm on a Waterloo city council advisory committee that's engaged in the next stage of long range planning for Waterloo, and is currently working to write Vision 2025. I have been working on that for a couple of years now (which is why I have such strong feelings about the impact of LRT on the uptown). I'll be writing more about uptown vision in the coming months, and always appreciate feedback and ideas.