“Waterluminate” fixtures show UpTown Waterloo in a new light

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Photo by Jackie Vang

On Oct. 24, 2018, the UpTown Waterloo Business Improvement Area (BIA) and the city of Waterloo released an official statement about the “Waterluminate LED lighting” that lines uptown Waterloo’s King Street, from Waterloo Public Square up to Bridgeport Road, with the final construction leading all the way up to Central Street. 

The lights are structured up along the trees that currently line King Street, with metal fixtures that will not inhibit the growth of the trees, but protect their bases and are programmable with over 16 million different colour options. 

They are being used for holidays and celebrations within the city and can be rented out by different organizations for a fee of $50 for 30 minutes, to display colours to raise awareness for charities or events.

“So basically, kind of like Niagara Falls, the Eiffel Tower or the CN Tower, there’s an ability to put in a request to illuminate the lights in a specific colour that is in support of a specific cause,” said Tracy Van Kalsbeek, executive director of the UpTown Waterloo BIA. “It’s just to help them bring more awareness to their initiative.”

Uptown Waterloo is forever growing and changing, with new shops, restaurants, boutiques and bars moving into the city constantly. A hub for people not only in Waterloo to come together but visitors from all over, these lights are an addition to further enhance uptown’s core.

The lights are part of a greater scheme to beautify uptown, as much of King Street in the uptown core had been under construction from February of 2016 until December of 2017. 

The addition of these lights along with bike lanes and rainbow crosswalks are all efforts to emphasize the uniqueness of uptown. 

The lights were also put in to replace the upkeep and look of old seasonal lighting — as these fixtures costs mere dollars a day to run.

The lights are also not run 24 hours a day, as they are switched off from 1:30 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. every day to conserve energy as a main focus with these fixtures is to also protect the environment, as the structures keep tree health in mind.

“The whole inspiration behind them is all around place-making and making uptown Waterloo a place you have to be and a place you have to see and experience. I know that the inspiration for it came from the Champs-Élysées in Paris, which is the city of light.” Van Kalsbeek said. 

“If you ever look at that street, they have lighting in the trees all up that street and that’s where the inspiration was taken from.”

The cost of the project was just over $659,000, but 16 per cent of the cost was covered by a provincial Main Street Revitalization Grant, 32 per cent was covered by the City of Waterloo, and the UpTown Waterloo BIA covered the remaining 52 per cent.

Uptown Waterloo is forever growing and changing, with new shops, restaurants, boutiques and bars moving into the city constantly. A hub for people not only in Waterloo to come together but visitors from all over, these lights are an addition to further enhance uptown’s core.

“I think uptown Waterloo is the heart of Waterloo, it’s that beating vibrancy that we have a cool vibe going on here; the shops, the restaurants, all the businesses here, a lot of them are unique and different from going to the mall or wherever else where you just get the regular, trendy stores and that kind of thing,” Van Kalsbeek said.

“Everything here is unique and it’s very cool. I believe that uptown is the beating heart of Waterloo.”

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