Questions raised regarding LRT
Students’ Union has been advocating to increase accessibility to Seagram Drive LRT stop for students
Questions have been raised by the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union regarding the accessibility of Grand River Transit’s planned Waterloo Park-Laurier light rail transit stop.
The LRT is part of a project initially proposed in 2003 as a solution to the Waterloo Region’s inability to handle the growing amount of motor vehicle traffic.
The proposed project, ION, is set to connect the three major cities which comprise the Region, with the LRT to connect Conestoga Mall in Waterloo with the Fairview Park Mall in Kitchener, followed by a bus rapid transit route connecting the Fairview Park Mall with Cambridge’s Ainslie Street Terminal.
The LRT track is scheduled to serve the Laurier community through its Waterloo Park-Laurier stop on Seagram Drive.
“It’s only about 500 metres from campus, but that is like the edge of campus that we’re talking about, so right where the Library sits,” said Matt McLean, assistant vice-president of university affairs.
“Not a central sub and not a destination for students coming on or off that stop either. Students are going to be heading to the stop, or heading home from the stop, and in some cases if a student lived up near Columbia [Street] and King [Street], that’s about a two kilometre walk from their nearest LRT stop on Seagram Drive.”
Kimberly Moser, manager of community relations for ION rapid transit, said in an email that, “the location of all of the ION stops were determined years ago, including engagement with the community and stakeholders along the corridor (this includes both universities in the town).”
This statement, however, does not align with statements made by the Students’ Union.
McLean said that there was a lack of consultation with Laurier.
“Waterloo was thoroughly consulted because the track runs right through their campus. Laurier was not consulted as heavily with regards to that process.”
As a result of the location of the stop, the Students’ Union has been heavily involved with advocacy work through the Region in an attempt to increase accessibility to the stop for Laurier students.
As well as being a large part of the Students’ Union’s local advocacy week in January, representatives have spoken with the mayors of both Kitchener and Waterloo, the Waterloo regional chair, two regional councillors and the GRT itself.
The main solutions proposed by the Student’s Union have been for improvements to the walkways and lighting along Seagram, as well as for the possibility of a bus or shuttle to serve students between the university and the LRT stop.
Though the mayor of Waterloo, Dave Jaworsky, has expressed support for improvements to Seagram, there are not yet any definitive plans to implement either solution.
“[The LRT is] definitely becoming more and more prevalent as the construction gets more and more aggressive. Our students are wondering what’s going on and how this is going to benefit them,” said McLean.
“Of course students are going to put up with the construction, but we just want to make sure that the end product is something they can use.”