The best 27 places to go in Waterloo Region ranked for 2019

Photo by Isaak Wong

This month, Waterloo’s Municipal Heritage Committee presented a draft list of 27 locations of significance that represent heritage value for the city and are looking for the public’s feedback.

A Cultural Heritage Landscape is a location that has been modified by human presence and is integral to the landscape of the community. This list is presented to city council, as well as the people of Waterloo, with the hopes of receiving feedback that will help the committee gather a better understanding of what the future will hold for these spaces.

Example locations of this list include both Wilfrid Laurier University and University of Waterloo campuses, as well as Veterans’ Green, Waterloo Park, Mount Hope Cemetery and the Uptown Cultural District. This project launched in 2017, beginning with preliminary public consultation, focus groups and stakeholder meetings.

The consideration of Cultural Heritage Landscapes in land use and infrastructure planning is a requirement of Provincial and Regional policy, which is explained in the executive summary of the “Draft Inventory of Significant Cultural Heritage Landscapes” released by the City of Waterloo.

When taking a look at the map of Waterloo with its highlighted 27 places of cultural significance, it’s clear to see that a lot of spaces have been identified in Ward 7. Tenille Bonoguore, Ward 7 councillor for the City of Waterloo, stated that “it’s about stages of development.”

“In 1947, Veterans’ Green was on the far edge of town … Waterloo was quite small until not long ago, so all of the original architecture and all the original neighbourhoods are mostly uptown. Just by age, it makes sense that we are home to more of the heritage aspects [of the city],” Bonoguore said.

“This is not all going to be preserved. What they’re trying to do is to work out what makes these [areas] special and how do we move forward retaining some of that specialness.”

“When it comes to what is left preserving and how we preserve it, I think that is an important conversation. Other cities have seen that efforts to preserve certain things can end up preventing the kind of development that enables people to live there.”

“I see a lot of value in what we have uptown but we need to be very cognizant of what aspects we’re preserving, how we want to do it, and how we’re still going to make room to be the city that we’re going to grow into,” she said.

Following the current stage of public feedback, the finalized Cultural Heritage Landscape inventory will be presented to council for approval in May.

The report published, outlining the specifics behind this project, clarifies that spaces on this list will not inherently be protected. When the list has been finalized, there remains a discourse on how these areas will be protected and the financial implications that will follow.

“The first step is to figure out what are the areas or neighbourhoods or parks that should be on this list. The next step, is [to ask ourselves] to what extent do we exactly preserve them —there’s a range of approaches,” Bonoguore said.

“This is not all going to be preserved. What they’re trying to do is to work out what makes these [areas] special and how do we move forward retaining some of that specialness.”

It’s also important to recognize how quickly Waterloo region is developing, with the implemetation of the David Johnston Research and Technology Park and the speed of condominium and apartment complex construction taking place, areas of heritage and cultural value need to be evaluated before we continue.

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