In terms of the usefulness of the trail, this change offers some improvements:
- The minor route change will not cause inconvenience. The new trail meets Park Street at the same point as the old trail, so there’s no need to jog along Park street. (See diagram.)
- The old portion of trail between Park and Caroline is not great. Yesterday, for example, there was a huge puddle across the entire trail at Caroline Street.
- The portion that is being replaced is a pretty, treed, curvy bit of the trail. The new trail will run alongside the SunLife parking garage.
- It rankles that the developer (Mady) seems to have pulled a fast one on us. Had they announced both development proposals for the site (144 Park and 155 Caroline) at the same time, the city could have had some say in the site development to preserve the trail. By announcing 155 Caroline only after 144 Park was well under way, they forced our hand: either sell us the trail or lose the entire 155 Caroline development.
- The developer must not be allowed to do whatever they want with the new portion of trail. The new trail will be very close to a parking garage exit, and sightlines must be very safe (this is a trail used by children!). The trail must be clear of hydro poles, and must be a clearly marked, dedicated trail – not a section of paved space used by the building.
- The trail currently continues along the west side of Caroline to William, with wide asphalt replacing the old narrower sidewalk. That must be continued to the 50 meter portion between the old and new trail. (Trevor Hawkins, the city planner working on this brief, assured me yesterday that that would be done.)
- We need some protection for our parks and trails. City Council shouldn’t be able to sell off part of a trail. Now that the precedent has been set, who knows what developers will start angling for.
- There was a time when developers were required to provide greenspace in consideration for getting zoning approval for large projects. Sometimes public art was required instead. We have now flipped to the opposite situation: they get to take over public greenspace. Something is not right here. The way some councillors were talking after the vote, they think Waterloo needs to lure developers to our core. Nothing is further from the truth: development is booming, perhaps even too quickly.
- The Uptown is supposed to be a mixed-use development environment, with condo buildings having retail and commercial aspects at street level. However, both 155 Caroline and 144 Park are residential-only. That’s the case with all the other condo developments in the Uptown recently, with the exception of the Bauer Lofts – despite the recent adoption of the Uptown vision and Official Plan, which clearly state that new developments should be mixed use.