The making of an intelligent city
The Perimeter Institute (PI) was founded in 2000 by Mike Lazaridis, co-CEO of Research In Motion, who contributed $100 million to establish this research centre for theoretical physics. PI’s original location was the historic clock tower post office on King Street, though it has since relocated to its current architecturally acclaimed facility just south of Waterloo Park. Since its inception, PI has achieved international recognition for its scientific leadership with extensive study of quantum theory and spacetime research, and renowned scientists from around the world visit Waterloo to conduct research at the institute.
RIM Park, titled to recognize the vast contributions of its primary donor, Research in Motion, was officially opened in Nov. 2001. Situated at the north-east edge of the city, RIM Park is a 500-acre recreational facility offering both outdoor and indoor amenities. It includes trails, sports fields, heritage park areas, access to the Grand River for water activities and a recreational complex that provides for a variety of sports needs.
The Centre for International Governance and Innovation
Established in 2002, The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) is a global think tank committed to applying sophisticated research to tackle governance issues worldwide. It was founded by Jim Basillie, Research In Motion co-CEO, through a combination of private investors and national and provincial government support. Expert practitioners and scholars contribute to CIGI’s objectives by addressing ways in which to effect change in public policy and improve multilateral governance. CIGI generates dialogue surrounding current challenges through publications, conferences, workshops and other events.
Waterloo Region Children’s Museum
The Waterloo Region Children’s Museum officially opened in September 2003 after years of planning. In 1995, a combination of support from private donors and the City of Kitchener sponsored local artists to attend a conference on the development of a children’s museum. Over the next several years, the location of the former Goudies department store on King Street was secured and renovated, and funding was acquired from government, corporate and private sources. The museum offers some exhibits created specifically for children and toddlers, but others are suitable for a more mature audience as well, such as the 2009 Andy Warhol Factory or next year’s plasticized human body exhibit.
In 2004, city council approved the Project 2007 report, which detailed the revised vision for Uptown Waterloo. Responsible for the promotion and implementation of the plan, the Uptown Vision Committee regularly met to discuss the advancement of projects pertaining to Uptown development. The committee aimed to enhance the Uptown core through economic, social and environmental improvement efforts, pursue beautification and image initiatives and tackle issues regarding transportation and telecommunications services. Many of the objectives of the vision have been accomplished through collaboration with volunteers and community partnerships. The plan has been appropriately re-titled Project 2007 and Beyond to reflect the fact that many additional initiatives are planned for the future to continue the development of Waterloo’s Uptown core.
In 2005, the Veterans’ Green parkette, located across from Wilfrid Laurier on University Avenue, was redeveloped to show respect for the numerous veterans who settled in the area following WWII. Previously referred to as Scholar’s Green, the revival incorporated commemorative plaques into the parkette to recognize the veterans’ historical significance and to communicate the heritage of the region. The timing of the project was fitting, given that 2005 had been dubbed “the year of the veteran.” The bronze sculpture currently in place at Veterans’ Green was added in 2006 just prior to Remembrance Day.
Entrepreneur Hall of Fame
In 2006, the Waterloo Region Entrepreneur Hall of Fame was launched to recognize, display and celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit of regional leaders in business. Focusing on commemorating success and fostering new endeavours through inspiration, the Hall of Fame supports start-up organizations in Waterloo Region and showcases exemplary performance in entrepreneurship as a model for potential entrepreneurs. Each year, the Hall of Fame chronicles entrepreneurial legacy through its induction of up to ten figures who have demonstrated outstanding motivation, perseverance and innovation in entrepreneurship.
The Intelligent Communities Forum (ICF) dubbed Waterloo the world’s Top Intelligent Community in 2007, recognizing the city’s innovation and exemplary performance in technological advancement to benefit the community.
A tremendous benefit to the community
is the students that have been coming
into the community over the years and
what they represent to its economic
-– Andrew Telegdi
Waterloo acknowledges a number of institutions and organizations who contributed to this prestigious title, including the universities, the Perimeter Institute, the Institute for Quantum Computing and companies such as Sybase, RIM and Open Text. The Intelligent Community honour reflects the community’s collaborative and forward-thinking nature and collective use of information technology and broadband to create a culture of learning, prosperity and growth in Waterloo.
Victoria Park in downtown Kitchener was revamped in the summer of 2008. In addition to gardens, picnic areas and sports fields, the 59-acre park also has a band shell and pavilion, lakeside restaurant and banquet hall. The historical clock tower that initially was located at Kitchener City Hall also resides in the park. The 2008 improvements added a new entrance feature off of Gaukel Street, adorning the walkway with ornate gates, fresh lighting, flowering plants and a pond complete with limestone sculptures, waterfalls and natural rock landscaping.
After extensive deliberation, the Waterloo’s Public Square was constructed, and its opening ceremony was held in May 2009. The space is intended as a community gathering place and event venue in the core of Uptown Waterloo. The city hired a program co-ordinator to liaise with community members and facilitate planning of concerts, performances, fundraisers and other events in the Public Square. Within the past few months, the square has hosted a variety of activities from morning tai chi to Oktoberfest festivities and the Waterloo Farmers’ Market. Plans for an outdoor ice rink in the square are also underway, scheduled to be available for public use this December.
Light rail transit connecting the Region
Studies to investigate the development of a rapid transit system in the Waterloo region have been in progress since 2004, funded by the Government of Canada, the government of Ontario, and the region of Waterloo. The Light Rail Transit, approved in June 2009, will have a route running from Conestoga Mall to Fairview Mall, through Uptown Waterloo and downtown Kitchener, and eventually connecting to Cambridge. The project’s sustainability supports positive environmental change in Waterloo Region, through publications, conferences, workshops and other events. The light rail project may be ready as early as 2014 and rapid busses in 2011.
Domain Hotel providing upscale accommodations
Construction of the Domain Hotel, to be located on Erb Street, will begin in 2010, with completion planned for the spring of 2011. Its architecture and design are described as modern and high-tech, with 8 floors and 160 suites. Positioned in the hub of Uptown Waterloo, close to a multitude of highly frequented corporations and institutions, Domain is hoped to be considered an ideal business and pleasure travel destination. The hotel is anticipated to facilitate an economic boost, not only by attracting visitors, but also by offering a variety of local employment opportunities.
Balsillie Centre of Excellence
CIGI announced in May 2009 that it has received grants to fund the building and infrastructure for the proposed Basillie Centre for Excellence. Matching Jim Basillie’s contribution of $50 million, the governments of Ontario and Canada pledged $25 million each to the project. The centre will run educational programs in conjunction with the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, and other educational institutions throughout Canada and the world. The programs offered will add to the already established Basillie School of International Affairs. Construction was set to being in June 2009, but has been delayed due to funding complications. Adjacent to the Seagram Museum, the only visible progress on the project has been the removal of the historic barrel pyramid.
Ira Needles Boulevard retail development
This past summer, City Council approved the future development of a commercial centre along Ira Needles Boulevard at University Avenue West. The 1.1 million square foot strip mall is planned to accommodate retail, industrial and office needs. With minimal commercial development in this southwest area, the centre will provide a wider array of options and greater convenience for local residents. Although concerns have been raised regarding the close proximity of Waterloo’s landfill site and the potential effect that the development will have on traffic and transit, the city council is working toward solutions that will minimize public health risks and maximize pedestrian safety.
The City of Waterloo projects that there will be a population increase of 35,300 people between 2006 and 2029.
It’s also projected that there will be 23,930 new jobs in the area.
The University of Waterloo’s Research and Technology park is expected to hold 9,750 to 13,750 jobs by 2029.