Author Archive

Why City Councils’ Should Not Have a Say Over Planning Policy and Regulations

You know what really grinds my gears? An absurd city council.

“Council Hopes New Mall Will Stimulate Economy” was a headline of a recent article in The Cambridge Times online. Council wants to go against the city planners’ expertise in favour of implementing a new strip mall in Cambridge. The councilor’s insist it will help “boost” the economy, so why not reinvest in the city elsewhere instead of creating yet another boring strip mall in an over-serviced area already?

The site is proposed for the corner of McLaren Avenue and Dundas Street, adjacent to Rockwell Automation. Surprise, surprise – “the strip mall will include a new Shoppers Drug Mart as its major tenant and a new unnamed bank in addition to smaller retail stores.” How many Shopper’s does Cambridge need? Maybe it will also house a new Tim Horton’s which would be 2 minutes away from the other nearby coffee shops! Give me a break!

What else is dumbfounding about this decision is that fact that staff say this part of the planning process is required because it sits within a kilometre of another commercial facility or the site is on a major intersection. In this case, the development is too near the Highland Plaza, and McClaren Avenue is not a major street.

I’m glad to see that council can see fit to just override not requiring a recommended official plan amendment!

You know what would be nice in Cambridge?!? Some restaurants and retail establishments on the forgotten west side of Cambridge!  Invest in that to boost the economy!



March 4, 2009 at 1:21 am 2 comments

A Despicable Act

I was spending my Saturday morning catching up on the news back home and reading The Record and The Cambridge Times online. I happened to come across this article in the Cambridge Times and my heart dropped. This article personally made me angry at the individuals who have done this. I had the chance of having Tim Walker as one of my geography teachers during my time at Southwood School. When someone decided to steal the bench that had been left in place to commemorate his death,  it deeply saddened me that there are individuals out there who would do such a despicable act.

If anyone has any knowledge of where the bench and plaque may be located, I urge you to return what has been wrongfully taken.

Thank you,



Atribute to a local environmentalist and well-known Southwood Secondary School teacher has been taken from the rare Charitable Research Reserve, near Blair.

When Tim Walker died in 2006 of a congenital heart defect, his family and friends created a permanent memorial to him at rare, where he had played as a child and helped to establish an environmental educational program as an adult.

Along with donations in his name to the charitable research reserve, they established the Tim Walker Memorial Award for environmental stewardship for high schools students, planted a Bur Oak and located a park bench and plaque in a prominent location.

Now, the bench, which had been painted by Walker’s mother, and its plaque have been taken.

“Is nothing sacred anymore?” said rare executive director Patti Leather in a statement.

“There is a lot of meaning in that bench for the community. It was hand-built to honour Tim and many people have stopped to rest and admire the native trees and Tim’s contribution to saving this land for us all.

“We’d be happy to have it back – no questions asked. And, of course, if that doesn’t happen, we’ll find a way to replace and secure it.”

Leather can be contacted by calling 650-9336 extension 118.

Founded in 2001, the rare Charitable Research Reserve sits within the designated Blair-Bechtel- Cruickston Environmentally Sensitive Landscape and is home to a diversity of organisms, some of which are species-at-risk regionally, provincially, nationally and globally.


February 21, 2009 at 4:41 pm 2 comments

Quote of the Day

Mayor Doug Craig

This quote comes from City of Cambridge Mayor Doug Craig on the topic of change within the Region of Waterloo:

[…] achieving success means daring to be different, “the challenge is the old ideas that anchor us to the past.”

I’m glad to hear that a politician finally realizes this idea.


February 21, 2009 at 4:26 pm Leave a comment

Queen’s Square in Cambridge to FINALLY receive landscaping

Queen's Square at night, before construction.

Queen's Square at night, before construction.

$64,000 is the amount which will be spent on new landscaping for Queen’s Square, as part of the ongoing construction project. During a recent budget session, members opted to spend the money this year and not phase in the landscaping over several years.

Coun. Linda Whetham told the meeting she would not support the expenditure given the current economy. “Times are tough and we’re telling the unemployed to go look at flowers,” she said.

You know what I say back to her, “WAH.” You can’t start a project and half-ass the final elements of the design.

Coun. Be Tucci actually had something intelligent to come back with regarding Coun. Whetham’s statement, “You could say the same thing about any soccer field we build or anything else.”

Coun. Karl Kiefer asked if the project could be phased in over several years, but parks director Dave Stuart suggested “it would be nice to get it done all at once”. TRUE SAY.

Also in support of the beautification of Queen’s Square, Coun. Pam Wolf said it would “look pretty dismal” if landscaping is not approved. “We’ve got to complete what we’ve started,” she said, adding that the construction of the Main Street bridge and Queen’s Square was supposed to take four months to complete. It has now taken more than six months and still isn’t finished.”


February 19, 2009 at 6:27 pm Leave a comment

Be a steward of the land @ rare

Rare Logo
A bit of background about rare:
Founded in 2001, rare is a stunning 370-hectare (913-acre) nature reserve located at the meeting of the Grand and Speed Rivers – right in the middle of one of the fastest-growing areas in Southern Ontario, Waterloo Region!

A registered charity created to sustain the land in perpetuity, rare conveys the message that everyone has a role to play in serving and nurturing our environment if we wish a future living in harmony with nature.

This parcel of land presents a unique opportunity to understand our environment – its role in our lives, our economies and even our survival.

For more information regarding rare you can view their website here.
Now what you can do to help rare:

Volunteers are required for the land stewards project at rare Charitable Research Reserve. This program, like many of the programs occurring at rare, will forge new partnerships between community members, local experts, and dedicated volunteers to build rare’s capacity to do work in restoration ecology, habitat conservation and community education.

Thanks to funding from Environment Canada’s eco action community funding program, rare was able to hire a land steward, Josh Shea,

“We’re thrilled to have Josh on board at rare. His education and work experience are real assets to our team, but what’s really important, and the reason I think he’ll be a great fit in our organization, is his attitude,” said rare executive director Patti Leather in a statement. “Josh is thorough, energetic, and passionate about his work and his other involvements speak to his well-rounded skills.”

Shea has been an environmental interpreter, is a member of the Kitchener-Waterloo Field Naturalists, spends a great deal of his free time outdoors and is an avid birder. The land stewards project will take two years and is designed to increase the capacity of both the community and rare to protect the 913-acre reserve by combining restoration ecology and environmental education.

Volunteers will provide hands-on knowledge and necessary resources to implement and monitor restoration priorities that are critical to the ecological integrity of the reserve.

Volunteer land stewards will receive extensive training, participate in workshops and lectures and learn such topics as basic geography and hydrogeology of the reserve and surrounding area, basic ecological restoration (including what it is, why it’s done and some of the history of restoration at rare), water quality monitoring, tree and shrub identification, plant identification, and bird identification.

Using this information and knowledge, the volunteers will assist with restoration and monitoring projects, lead outings or hikes and provide valuable educational opportunities to their fellow community members. To become involved, call Josh Shea at 519-650- 9336 extension 113.

For more information regarding rare you can view their website here.


February 19, 2009 at 6:15 pm Leave a comment

A Changing Hespeler Skyline


Shawky Fahel, a local developer in Waterloo Region has bought the existing American Standard building in Hespeler and has grand plans for the redesign of the factory’s site. The first draft plan includes approximately 95 housing units and 7,000 square feet of retail space fronting Queen Street. Fahel is also thinking that part of the building might become “transitional housing” for seniors who want to leave their homes, but aren’t ready to move into a nursing home.

With its location on Speed River, the building will be turned into 34 apartment units with studios and storage units on the ground floor. A second large stone building at the east end of the property will be remodeled to incorporate 33 apartment units. Adjacent to it and running along the south side of the property, will be another two-storey stone building with 12 townhouse units. A fourth large building facing Queen Street will be saved and re-used with 16 residential condominium units at the rear of the building and retail/commercial space on Queen Street.

The project is now dubbed 1847 Riverbank, and “keeps the four best-crafted buildings in this industrial campus”, while demolishing the centre of the existing structure to create a two-storey, 141 space parking structure with rooftop terrace.

We want condominiums and mixed use. The building lends itself very well to that,” Fahel said. It’s amazing to finally here those words come out of a developers mouth in the Region.

The site currently is contaminated but has been described as being “manageable” and GSP Group will be working with the ministry over the next six to eight months to complete the required record of site condition.

Construction is slated to start at the beginning of 2010 and Fahel said the apartments will be competitively priced.

Finally Hespeler you have something to be proud of other than your hockey.


February 18, 2009 at 9:41 pm 1 comment

Aclo Compounders sold, potential brownfield redevelopment opportunity

It’s only hearsay currently, but Aclo Compounders Inc. in Cambridge has been sold to an American company who is moving the operations to Guelph, Ontario. There have been rumours of turning the old George Pattinson & Co. woollen mill and former landfill site into a brownfield redevelopment project. I don’t have any plans or know much more other than what I’ve heard through the grapevine, but it would be a nice way to keep the architectural landmark from becoming another run down abandoned factory.

Aclo Compounders

February 18, 2009 at 9:28 pm Leave a comment

Older Posts

We are an urban design blog featuring news stories and ideas from London, Waterloo Region, and surrounding areas.


blog information

  • 70,981 hits