Posts tagged ‘Mall Redevelopment’

De-Railing Light Transit?

An example of a LRT station.

An example of a LRT station.

A local group, Taxpayers for Sensible Transit (T4ST), launched a formal public education campaign last week running ads in local media, which declared their preference for improved bus service that comes at a much cheaper cost than the proposed $790 million Light Rail Transit (LRT).

The iXpress bus service is great already, but LRT would work much better in the case of Waterloo Region. Faster service, dedicated lanes, improved pedestrian connections, and new development construction are just a few of the benefits, oh my!

Current iXpress bus route through Waterloo Region

Current iXpress bus route through Waterloo Region

While Regional council gave formal approval of the LRT plan at the end of June that would bring electric trains to a new Kitchener-Waterloo rail corridor, it meant that Cambridge would be linked in a regional transit system by a fast bus service instead. Lucky Cambridgites… is that what we’re called? Ew!

The local grassroots movement is based in Waterloo and is was formed to express concern about the Region of Waterloo’s planned Light Rail Transit. The group’s other objective is to promote positive ideas for better transit planning in Waterloo Region.

I personally disagree with T4ST and would love to see LRT and BRT systems enacted in the Region. People are crying that there will be low ridership, but how will one know if one does not build? Oh I know how we can fix this idea! Perhaps Waterloo Region’s Growth Plan (warning: pdf format) would like to comment? Yes, I think that would be a fine idea!

The Growth Plan requires that by the year 2015, and each year after, a minimum of 40% of all new residential units must be built within the Built Boundary. The Regional Land Budget assumes a regional intensification rate of 45% by the year 2015, and each year after, thereby allowing for both slightly lower densities within the designated greenfield areas and a larger proportion of higher-density developments to be located closer to high frequency transit. The Regional Land Budget assumes a straight line increase in the annual rate of reurbanization that between the rate of intensification experienced in the region in 2006 (29%) and the proposed rate in 2015 (45%). As a result, the average annual re-urbanization rate from 2006 to 2029 would be 42%.

We are in hard economic times, yes? A recession to be exact, yes? The formation of an LRT system will help bring much needed jobs to the Region, furthering a spur in new transit oriented developments (TOD). The Region will be receiving major funding from upper levels of government, but local taxpayers will still be on the hook for millions of operating costs. I think we as taxpayers in the Region can deal with this seeing as how it can benefit all that use it. According to Ruth Haworth, “the provincial growth targets for uptown Waterloo for the next 25 years will be met in the next five to seven years. The problem in Waterloo, if there is one, is that there may be too much development in the works.” How can too much development be a bad thing? TODs are great places to create wonderful new development either through intensified housing or commercial projects.

Taking an excerpt from Section 2.1 of the Places to Grow Policy, one can understand why the Region of Waterloo wishes to construct an LRT; “communities will need to grow at transit-supportive densities, with transit-oriented street configurations. Compact urban form and intensification efforts go hand-in-hand with more transit: not only do they support each other, they are all necessary.” It’s not only what the Provincial government would like to see happen, but also what many residents of the Region would like as well.

Many areas would start to see fresh new ideas popping up, and help develop new partnerships within in the community. I see the light at the end of the tunnel, and hope people will embrace this planned proposal with arms wide open.

Can we not formulate something from other cities that have such systems already in place, such as Toronto and Portland, Oregon? Yes I know it will cost a lot to build, but would you rather build in 20 years when it’s too late, and cost an additional $700 million?!

I guess all I am is just a daydreamer.




October 5, 2009 at 1:58 pm 1 comment

Westmount Shopping Center – Progress on Redevelopment – Theater Now Open

Previous Posts on this Topic:


The day has come for all those wanting to have a  “new movie going experience”, as of today ( May 8th, 2009), the new Cineplex Odeon Theater is now open! –  Within this post there are a few pictures of the completed exterior of the new Cineplex Odeonmovie theater which features 8 screens and 3 VIP screens, a Licensed Lounge, and an Interactive Gaming Area. I still feel that it is unfortunate for the tenants of the shopping center that their newest attraction, expected to draw large crowds, is actually located outside of the mall with no internal connection.

The New free standing TD Canada Trust has also been opened.

It seems like Westmount is already taking the next steps and continuing their revival by demolishing the old Cineplex/TD building on the corner of Viscount and Wonderland. The plans call for two restaraunts at this location with a pedestrian square coming off the corner, between the two restaurants. One of the restaurants, that has been named by Westmount management, is to be Shoeless Joe’s a sport-themed restaurant, new to the London market.



May 8, 2009 at 12:59 pm Leave a comment

Galleria – Now Officially Citi Plaza

As of yesterday (May 7, 2009) galleria has officially become Citi Plaza, as to my previous post on the redevelopment of Galleria I still do no believe that the physical changes made to the “centre” have improved it from an urban design point of view. However it has successfully reinvented itself into an office/shopping/learning/eating destination and cleaned up the southern portion. I was at the opening ceremony on Thursday morning, there were many Citi bank employees and officials as well as others who joined in the morning ceremony. I was hoping for the announcement of a new tenant – maybe the rumored grocery store?- but no luck.

Here are some pictures of what the new entrance off of Wellington Rd. looks like; also there is a couple pictures of the new food court.

The Fox & Fiddle along with Country Style and Cotton Ginny are all now officially open.

The following article is from the London Free Press, about the Fox & Fiddle;

“Pub lovers can return to Citi Plaza, the mall formerly known as Galleria London. The Fox and Fiddle is opening in renovated space vacated by the Elephant and Castle.  Renovations have made the interior brighter and more spacious and a new long bar has been built along one wall.  The face behind the bar will be familiar. John Young,  the veteran bartender from the Elephant and Castle, was one of the 40 people hired to work at the pub. “We saved the best of the old and added something new,” said Mark TenEycke, director of operations for the chain.  The menu features traditional pub favourites such as fish and chips and bangers and mash. But there are also burgers, sandwiches and Asian dishes such as butter chicken and curry.  TenEycke said it’s more than “pub grub,” with an emphasis on quality.  The Fox and Fiddle was founded 20 years ago in Mississauga and has expanded to 20 locations in Ontario and one in British Columbia.  Most of the locations are in the Greater Toronto Area but the chain has also expanded to Hamilton, Guelph and Waterloo. ” Hank Daniszewski is a Free Press business reporter.


May 8, 2009 at 12:02 pm Leave a comment

Galleria Redevelopment Well Underway

Taking the bus down Wellington last week i couldn’t help but stop at Galleria to check up on the construction that has been on going there for the past year.

While most of the chain stores have left over a decade ago, Galleria has seen a huge transformation. From an Urban Design point of view, I think having a retail mall in the downtown of a city the size of London is a bad idea, as it usually creates empty storefront and quiet streetscapes. However Galleria has transformed itself away from the traditional mall and become a true mixed use center with the new Library, Office spaces, Post Secondary satellite campuses- . Sure many improvements could still be made- such as making whats left of the perimeter of the building, more pedestrian friendly maybe by adding more windows and entrances to get rid of the solid brick walls- but I think they are on the right track.  The new atrium glass entrance is almost complete( they have now taken out concrete barriers placed on Wellington), all that is left is the installation of the architectural panels, new doors and the new sign “Citi Plaza”. Personally I am still on the fence on whether or not I like the design of the new entrance. It seems like it was a quick fix and not much thought was actually put into it. What I mean is that the section between the former Eatons store and King St has so much more potential and it is too bad that all they did was add a  3 storey glass structure and replaced the old glass with new glass adding a metallic gray stripping between them instead of the old green metal. None the less at least they are trying to renovate and create a new identity. The inside looks awesome; it boasts some interesting contemporary ceramic tile floor patterns,  a Stainless steel/ Dark Hardwood look through out the first level, colour changing L.E.D. lighting on the ceilings, new modern washrooms, and a great new foodcourt, which is now downstaires, with 5 food establishments – Arbys, Subway, Golden Wok, Taco Del Mar, Sushi (the name escapes me) and 1 more on the way- soon to open will be a Country Style Bistro Deli which will occupy the space between the Suzy Sheer and the food court.

Fox and Fiddle

Another welcoming addition to the Galleria that will hopefully bring some life to the patio scene on Wellington St. is Fox &  Fiddle which is a pub.  F&F will occupy the space of the former, very dated, Elephant Caslte- that space is also going through a total remodel to fit with the F&F franchise look.

Here are a few pictures of the new entrance to the soon to be CitiPlaza, more pictures will follow when it is complete.



March 27, 2009 at 11:42 am 2 comments

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


blog information

  • 70,554 hits