Plans from Northdale Land Use study progressive and ambitious

Later this month, Waterloo city council will hear a recommendation to temporarily stop allowing development in the highly-disputed Northdale area. And they would be wise to take this recommendation.

The motion will come from the Northdale Special Project Committee (NSPC), who voted last week to appeal to the city to pause development in the region until the spring when their study is completed. For just over a year the NSPC has been working with a consulting group carrying out the Northdale Land Use Study to come up with a concrete plan for the future of Northdale, which is the area north of Wilfrid Laurier University, bordered by King Street, University Avenue, Philip Street and Columbia Street.

The neighbourhood has been a contentious topic in local politics of late as clashes between students and permanent residents, plummeting property values, increased crime and the rapid development of mediums density apartment buildings have elevated tensions and raised questions about what the area should look like moving forward.

One thing is certain: the status quo is not the answer. As Waterloo continues to modernize, it does not make sense to keep an area that large exclusive to low-density housing and the more recent problem of medium-density apartment buildings. It is these new apartment buildings, like the ones that have taken over Columbia Street and have begun to populate more and more of the rest of the boundaries of Northdale that the committee is looking to stop for the time being, and with good reason.

The vision of the Land Use Study, which was released late last year, paints quite the idealistic picture for Northdale. More green space, mixed-use buildings that combine retail and residence, more pedestrian and bike-friendly areas and even more effective integration of the two universities. Essentially a second Uptown Waterloo. This may seem like a far off fantasy, but it is attainable and the NSPC is simply working towards this plan by asking the city to pause the development of these counter-productive projects.

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