Posts tagged ‘Design’

Waterloo Region Says Rapid Transit Project Attractive to Builders

Regional officials say the $818-million rapid transit project is getting a lot of attention from potential bidders.

“Our project is actually looking very attractive right now,” Thomas Schmidt, commissioner of transportation, told regional council on Tuesday.

“We are anticipating that between six to eight firms are interested in the request for qualifications.”

In October, the region will invite potential bidders to have their qualifications to design, build, finance, maintain and operate rapid transit evaluated.

Companies interested in bidding on the contract will answer questions on such issues as partnering, financing, construction experience, maintenance and operating experience.

Three front-runners will be shortlisted and invited to bid on the project in the spring. Construction on bus rapid transit is slated to start next summer and rapid transit in 2014.

“It’s attractive in different ways to different teams,” said Mike Murray, chief administrative officer.

Schmidt said bidders would be attracted by the scope of the project — without any tunnelling or other complicated work — and because of its scale.

“There are not very many, if any, big projects like this moving forward at this time,” Schmidt said.

The region expects capital costs involved in building tracks and infrastructure to be about $600 million.

About 25 per cent of that will likely be held back from the winning team and paid over the life of a 30-year contract as part of the design, build, operate, finance and maintain model.

The cash serves partly as an incentive to the contractors to do a good job and keep them from walking away from the project.

Coun. Jean Haalboom, who originally voted against using the private partnership model, said she still wasn’t satisfied.

“I remain very concerned about this,” she said.

Taking point on rapid transit is Darshpreet Bhatti, who was named director of rapid transit Sept. 25.

Bhatti, 33, has been acting director since Nancy Button resigned in March to take a consultant position in Toronto.

The University of Toronto engineering graduate has worked provincially as a consultant on transit, road and highway projects. He started on the region’s rapid transit project four years ago.

“I feel confident and I look forward to the future,” he said. “The experience over the last four years has given me that broad spectrum of what to expect.”

He added, “We need to make sure that we go out, we inform as much as we possibly can, and work with the community to give them the best product and service.”

Bhatti was appointed after the region searched across Canada and the U.S. for a new director and interviewed candidates from both countries, Schmidt said.

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October 1, 2012 at 7:57 pm Leave a comment

Rediscovering Dickson Street

These days there are few if any stores available on Dickson Street, as more businesses flock to the Galt core.

Ben Schmalz and Emily Pederson are the latest entrepreneurs to establish themselves on Dickson, opening One Rebellion just last week. It’s an upscale clothing store catering to people over the age of 30.

“We’ve had so much traffic this week and people are so happy to see the store because there is nothing else quite like it down here,” said manager Pederson.

“We grew up in Galt, and I was looking to expand the business,” said Schmalz, who also operates a store in Dundas. “I took a look around and I was impressed with the revitalization that’s taking place in downtown. I loved the architecture and the ambiance. It was the perfect fit for us.”

Merryn Edgar, Patricia Cooley and Jennifer Gralec all opened their businesses the same day two years ago and became known as the “Dickson chicks”, following a television story on their enterprises.

Edgar runs Gallery M, an art shop that features works of many local artists.

“We’ve been doing really well since we opened and today I just sold two paintings, so it’s a big day for us,” she said.

In each area of the shop, Edgar has worked to bring together pieces of art that complement each other. In a similar way, she said each of the new businesses on Dickson Street does the same thing.

“There is a good mix of businesses down here. We do a lot of cross promoting and a lot of scratching each others’ backs when we can,” she said.

When Jennifer Gralec returned to work after having children, she decided that if she had to be away from her girls it would be to do something she loved. Baking is her passion and Tiny Cakes, her baking boutique, is a labour of love.

Since opening in December 2010, Tiny Cakes has become a regular stop for many people working on Dickson Street.

Gralec, like many of the other new businesses on Dickson Street, has used social media to get the word out on their businesses.

“I religiously post on Facebook, so people know what’s going on.”

Re New owner Patricia Cooley knew she had the right place when she walked into the office.

“This is a great space and with that big front window, it just called to me,” she said.

Re New is a medical laser and skin care aesthetics business, operating on the second floor of 65 Dickson St., across from city hall.

When Edit Kasza decided to move from St. Catharines and open her new business, she looked no further than Cambridge.

“I came for a visit and I absolutely love it here, especially Galt. I love all the architecture. It’s like a tiny, tiny version of Budapest.”

Kasza opened Edit Design Inc. in November and says the outdoor/indoor kitchen studio is slowly getting going.

“It’s taken time, but people are discovering I’m here,” she said. “You really have to see my studio to understand what I do.”

Eighty per cent of her business comes from outside of Cambridge, so her studio is becoming a destination for clients.

Baldeep Duggal can say the same thing of Phildon Pens.

“We’re one of a handful of pen shops in the country. We have local clients, but we are a destination for people who love pens and paper.”

Phildon Pens has been on Dickson Street for four years and Duggal sees a difference with the new businesses arriving.

“They are all small business owners who all  have good business plans. They all try to offer unique products and good services. When you have small businesses there is a certain sense of pride that you don’t see in big box stores.”

Decorators Kim Turner and Michelle Jones, who met at the Cambridge Centre for the Arts, opened The Relique Studio on Dickson Street. After teaming up to refinish a dining room suite, the pair went for coffee at Tiny Cakes and their concept of opening a shop evolved.

“As we were talking we were watching people come into the shop and realized these people could all be our customers. That’s when we started looking for a shop,” Jones said.

The shop opened eight months ago and there is no lack of business.

Bill Schwarz has been practicing law and painting in the Galt core since 1969.

“We used to have our law office on Dickson Street and things are really changing. I think the work that David (Gibson) is doing on Main Street has brought a lot of attention to the downtown.

“I think we’ve seen more change in the last 18 months than we’ve seen in the last 40 years. It’s really great to see.”

Source: The Cambridge Times

September 6, 2012 at 11:18 pm Leave a comment

Revamping A Galt Downtown Heritage Building

Remember the ‘Right House’? Which was then cladded in metal and became a Big V Drugmart, then a Shoppers Drugmart… and it is now being rejuvenated! The makeover is part of a large-scale revitalization project of the Galt core by developer David Gibson.

I can’t wait to see the end result!

September 6, 2012 at 11:12 pm 1 comment

Gearing Up For Roundabout Battle

Coun. Nicholas Ermeta is ready to fight to keep roundabouts like this one on the Can-Amera Parkway from being built along the length of Franklin Boulevard in just two years. He plans to launch his battle at Tuesday’s council meeting.


What this councilor needs to do is his research regarding signalized roundabouts, and roundabout history in general. It’s time to move forward, not sit in traffic… I’ll even give him a little push. Amazing how Google can sometimes be your best friend. I personally drive roundabouts on a daily basis as I am a delivery driver and wish there were more of them in the region. The amount of time I sit at red lights in this Region is disheartening.

The only part I don’t agree with regarding the installation of these roundabouts is the cost factor. I’m sorry to hear that the Region has put a price tag on human lives, all in the name of saving money.

Traffic signals are much more costly than is commonly realized, even though they represent a sound public investment when justified. A modern signal can cost taxpayers between $80,000 and $100,000 [U.S. $] to install – depending on the complexity of the intersection and the characteristics of the traffic using it. On top of this, there is a perpetual cost which is almost never considered – the cost of the electrical power consumed in operating a signalized intersection 24 hours a day. This now averages about $1,400 per year.

Arizona Department of Transportation

Why not pay a little bit more to save a life? This way we don’t have to repeat the tragedy that happened near St. Mary’s high school, at the intersection of Homer Watson Boulevard and Block Line Road.

Coun. Nicholas Ermeta is mad as hell and is demanding that Waterloo Region listen to the wishes of people in Cambridge.

As council resumes after its summer hiatus, Ermeta will be bringing forward a motion to Cambridge council calling on it to condemn the region’s decision to set aside previously approved plans to gradually install roundabouts at 11 intersections on Franklin Boulevard in favour of completing all of them within two years.

“It’s very important that we fight for what’s right for Cambridge. People aren’t ready for this,” he said. “We’ve got to send a strong message to the region that we don’t want this.”

Since posting his notice of motion in July, Ermeta says he has been deluged with phone calls from people upset about the region’s plans.

“I’ve gotten overwhelming positive feedback from people in Cambridge,” he said. “I’ve even had calls from people in Kitchener and Waterloo supporting me. They aren’t fond of what’s happened with Ira Needles Boulevard.”

Another concern raised is that the volume of traffic on Franklin Boulevard may make it impossible for drivers to safely enter roundabouts from the sidestreets.

Ermeta also vehemently objects to plans to install a roundabout in front of St. Benedict Catholic Secondary School.

“They installed a roundabout near St. Mary’s (High School) in Kitchener and it’s been a disaster,” Ermeta said. “I’m in favour of the status quo at Franklin and Saginaw. If anything, the lights should be extended there to give people more time to cross the street.”

Ideally, Ermeta wants Waterloo Region to go back to its original plan to install the first three roundabouts at the top of Franklin Boulevard and then take a year to evaluate.

The region initially supported that plan until transportation planning staff filed a report recommending all 11 roundabouts be installed over a two-year period to minimize disruption to traffic and cut costs. That recommendation was accepted, but the decision was far from unanimous.

“All three (Cambridge) representatives voted against the change. So did the mayors of North Dumfries, Woolwich and one of the other townships. It’s the K-W councillors that are telling Cambridge what to do.”

Ermeta’s motion calls on “Cambridge City Council to condemn the (May 16) decision made by the Council of the Regional Municipality of Waterloo”.

It further asks council to request that the regional council reconsider and approve a new motion similar to the original recommendation previously passed.”

Source: The Cambridge Times

September 6, 2012 at 10:54 pm Leave a comment

Kitchener Civic District Update

Previous Posts on this Topic:

BIG BIG BIG NEWS! Waterloo Region’s $790M Rapid-Transit Proposal Unveiled, and GO Services announced

Wow, what a story! Waterloo Region has finally unveiled its rapid-transit proposal after so many years of planning. The ambitious proposal could be the biggest public works project ever undertaken here, in a community where almost everybody drives to work. Could this reshape the Region forever? Will it become the leader it wants to become on a national and international level? Council has proposed the rapid transit, not because regular transit is overwhelmed, but because it is seen as a planning tool to draw homes and jobs to the underused urban spine. It’s meant to help intensify neighbourhoods, ease pollution and help keep cities from spilling into the country, as the region heads to a population of 729,000 by 2031.
Rapid Transit Line
But, not everyone is happy. It seems once again that the City of Cambridge gets the shaft from Waterloo Region. Instead of having light rail like Kitchener and Waterloo, they will receive buses that leave from Fairview Mall, and travel to the Ainsle Street Bus Terminal. How hard is it to run a transit line down the 401? After all, it does have an extremely large right of way seeing as it’s MTO owned land… Mayor Doug Craig doesn’t think this city will ever have rail transit. “We will never see light rail in Cambridge,” Craig said. “It costs too much money for a system from Conestoga Mall down to Ainsile Street.” The reasoning behind the move is that Cambridge doesn’t have the population density to warrant light rail, Craig said. “When you put Kitchener and Waterloo together, there’s enough density. But it would work the same way if you put Cambridge and Kitchener together as well,” he said.

Grand River Transit would be realigned to work in cooperation with the new rail lines. Electric trains on dedicated tracks, displacing traffic between Conestoga Mall in Waterloo and Fairview Park mall in Kitchener. It would cost $710 million to build in today’s dollars. Fast buses driving in mixed traffic between the Fairview Park mall and the Ainslie Street transit terminal in the Galt core of Cambridge. It would cost $80 million to build in today’s dollars. The system would have 18 stations and would draw up to 22,500 daily boardings upon its launch, planners contend. That’s more than double today’s boardings for express buses on a similar route.

Public feedback will be sought at meetings this month. Be sure to join Waterloo Region at a public consultation centre this May to provide your input on the preferred rapid transit system.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 from 2 to 8 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 54 Queen St. N., Kitchener. Public parking is available at Queen and Ahrens streets and is free after 6 p.m. Please do not park in the church lot.

Thursday, May 21, 2009 from 2 to 8 p.m. at the United Kingdom Club, 35 International Village Dr., Cambridge. Located across from Dunbar Road and the Cambridge Centre Transit Terminal.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 from 2 to 8 p.m. at First United Church, 16 William St., Waterloo. Public parking is available off of Caroline Street. Please do not park in the church lot.

Council may endorse the proposal June 24, with final provincial approval by December. Construction could launch in 2012 and conclude in 2014.

GO Transit Bus
Another very important transportation decision was iniated this week as well and will immensely help the commuters who travel from the Kitcher and Cambridge areas. GO Transit buses will ferry local passengers to GO commuter trains in Milton and to a transit hub at Mississauga City Centre, but not directly to downtown Toronto. They will depart from park-and-ride sites that are not yet selected but are anticipated to be in Kitchener and in Cambridge. Rates, routes and schedules for the buses have not been finalized. A GO spokesperson said up to a dozen buses will operate daily along Highway 401, carrying 800 to 1,200 passengers a day within two years. The federal and provincial governments are spending $2.5 million to build four park-and-ride sites in and near this region.

Rapid Transit
Waterloo Region Rapid Transit Homepage

GO Transit

Now playing: North Lincoln – Leveling
via FoxyTunes

May 11, 2009 at 2:02 pm 1 comment

Affordable Housing Forum

When designed with purpose and community-minded sensibilities, affordable housing can be the cornerstone of a vibrant neighbourhood, not a catalyst for deterioration. On May 13, 2009, Cambridge residents will get a chance to hear more about Cornerstone Initiative (an affordable housing project in Fernwood, British Columbia) at an affordable housing forum hosted by the City of Cambridge, the Cambridge Poverty Reduction Roundtable on Affordable Housing’s subcommittee and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. The forum will be held at the Cambridge Centre For the Arts at 60 Dickson St. in the Toyota Room, from 9 a. m. to 1 p. m.

For more information about the affordable housing forum, the planning council’s David Palmer by phone at 519-623-1713, extension 230 or by email at .

The event is free for everyone. Maybe the City of Kitchener should attend this? (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here is a little news story to read: Cedar Hill Debauchary) 🙂


May 11, 2009 at 1:37 pm 1 comment

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