Crime, transit top issues in 2010-11

LRT project slated
Originally reported June 29

The provincial government announced on June 28, 2010 that it would contribute $300 million towards the foundation of rapid transit. The system initially proposed and approved by Waterloo Regional Council in June 2009 included a light rail transit (LRT) line through Kitchener and Waterloo and a bus rapid transit (BRT) system stretching to Cambridge. The plan was intended to prevent urban sprawl and improve transportation as the region is projected to have a population growth of over 200,000 by 2031.

The provincial funding, however, fell short of the estimated $790 million cost of the project. On Sept. 2, the federal government announced additional funding to the tune of $265 million for LRT. With a shortage still existing, the region has begun re-evaluating the plan to determine how the remaining $225 million could be managed or reduced. Regional staff produced a report comparing various options for the project in Feb 2011 and currently public consultations are on-going.

—Compiled by Linda Givetash

National columnist sparks protest at UW
Originally reported Nov. 12

After a small group of protesters shut down her speech on Nov. 12 at the University of Waterloo (UW), Globe and Mail columnist Christie Blatchford returned to UW on Dec. 7 to speak about her book Helpless: Caledonia’s Nightmare and Fear of Anarchy and How the Law Failed All of Us. The initial protest ended when Blatchford’s speech was cancelled before she took the stage because security couldn’t guarantee her safety.

The subsequent event was held at a much larger venue on the university’s campus and between 300 and 350 people attended. Blatchford’s second speech had a strong Waterloo Regional Police Service presence, including two officers on the stage with Blatchford. Despite a small disturbance outside the venue, the event itself was left undisturbed.

—Compiled by Alanna Wallace

Elections
Originally reported May 18

The months leading up to the municipal election on Oct. 25 were as significant to the city’s future as the election itself. On May 17, Wilfrid Laurier University student Erin Epp became the first official candidate for the Uptown Ward 7 in which the university resides. The youngest candidate to enter the municipal race to date, Epp finished third, 834 votes behind the successful candidate Melissa Durrell.

University of Waterloo alumnus Jeff Henry was successfully elected to Ward 6 that encompasses the student residential area, Northdale. Most notably, incumbent Brenda Halloran was re-elected as mayor of Waterloo with more than a 5,000 vote lead. Halloran was the first mayor to be re-elected since 1994.

Many of the issues raised in the election — including student housing, light rail transit and poverty — continue to be prevalent in the city’s discourse.

—Compiled by Linda Givetash

More Top Stories

Rental by-law

The proposed rental home licensing by-law is an on-going issue that could change the landscape of student accommodations in the city. The proposal, brought forward in January, is to be discussed again in city council on Apr. 11 where it will be reviewed for amendments and considerations brought up during public consultations. Next steps will also be decided that Monday.

RIM Park litigation

In response to a freedom of information request, the city of Waterloo released its litigation fees spent Dec. 2003 and May 2008 in a lawsuit regarding RIM Park. The costs amount to nearly three million dollars. The city is currently seeking to have the damages related to the legal proceedings recovered.

Gen X closes

After 16 years of providing the community with unique films, Generation X Video & Media closed its doors to the public on Feb. 28. Film lovers piled in to the store in its last weeks to buy up their favourite merchandise.

Homelessness

Issues of homelessness and poverty have been on the forefront of community discussions. With movements such as Strip the Streets, a fundraiser organized by local high schools, and the opening of Supportive Housing Of Waterloo in June . 2010, the community continues to combat the problems associated with poverty.

Crime in Northdale
Originally reported Nov. 17

Sparked by the assault of an 18-year-old student on Oct. 5 who was running at Hickory and Hazel around midnight, the ongoing problem of crime in the Northdale neighbourhood came into the forefront of students’ minds this year.

Due to the incident and the reputation the perimeter between University Avenue, King Street, Albert Street and Columbia Street has for being notoriously unsafe, Foot Patrol at Laurier saw a drastic increase in the number of calls they received this fall.

Students, permanent residents and politicians have continually noted the area’s mixed population and dilapidated housing as factors contributing to the problem. The neighbourhood was also a hot topic issue in the Waterloo municipal election held on Oct. 25, 2010.

—Compiled by Rebecca Vasluianu

Fire destroys local businesses
Originally reported Apr. 22

At 5:30 a.m. on Apr. 22, a fire broke out at the University Avenue West Campus Court plaza. Numerous businesses were destroyed including Mel’s Diner, Tabu Nightclub, 140 West Nightclub, Sugar Mountain and Mr. Sushi. At the time of the fire, homes across the street from the blaze were evacuated and some students from the University of Waterloo were sent to the Student Life Centre. No injuries were reported however.

The cause of the fire was reported on Jan. 12 after the Ontario fire marshall released a report confirming the fire was being treated as arson.
The criminal investigation has since been turned over to the Waterloo Regional Police Service to identify any suspects related to the fire that caused approximately $3 million in damage.

No further details have yet been released.

—Compiled by Linda Givetash

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