Commercial Real Estate and Community News from Waterloo Region

As winter comes to an end, there is optimism in the marketplace that the interest rate hikes will be on hold for the time being. There is no question that these hikes had a significant effect on all facets of the real estate industry.


The residential market has certainly cooled; while the velocity of transactions has slowed, there are still strong sale prices in the high end market. The investment market was very slow through the new year, however with recent changes in the Bond market, we are seeing banks quote lower rates today than the beginning of Q1. Investors are coming out of hibernation with these changes. People like certainty and that is what the marketplace hopes to see more of in the coming quarters.


The regional land market has peaked in recent months, however there are still aggressive buyers with positive long term views on our Region.


Enjoy our Q1 2023 edition of Insite. We want to keep you informed on what’s happening in Waterloo Region.

John Whitney

Broker of record, ceo, sior

17 new dwellings replace every demolished home as Waterloo intensifies its housing

Source – The Record | Jeff Outhit | 02/21/2023

Housing redevelopment has reached a six-year high in Waterloo.


Housing redevelopment has ramped up to its highest level in six years as the region’s densest city puts more people into the same space.


City records show 57 Waterloo dwellings were approved for demolition last year to make way for 988 dwellings proposed at the same addresses. It’s the highest amount of new construction in figures city hall has published since 2017.


Typically, detached houses give way to apartment buildings. This happened up to eight times in 2022, when 26 houses were demolished for bigger developments. Developers proposed to replace the single-family homes at the same sites with eight apartment buildings ranging from four to eight storeys.


Sometimes a building bigger than a house is demolished to make way for an even bigger building.


This happened at 194 Erb St. W., where eight units in a small apartment building were approved for demolition, to make way for 139 apartments in a 12-storey apartment building. A building permit is in place for the new building.

It also happened at 101 Golden Eagle Rd., where 11 townhouses were approved for demolition, to be replaced by 105 apartments in a six-storey building. A building permit is in place for the new building.

Census data shows Waterloo leads the region in housing intensification. It has been adding highrise dwellings and growing its population more quickly than Kitchener or Cambridge.

This led Waterloo to overtake Kitchener and attain the highest population density in the region in 2021. Waterloo now has more people per square kilometre than many southern Ontario cities, although it remains less crowded than Toronto, Mississauga or Brampton.

The accelerating pace of change may still fall short of housing demand. City council recently surveyed residents to find that unaffordable housing is their top public concern.

Since 2017, city hall has approved the demolition of 227 Waterloo dwellings to make way for 3,888 proposed dwellings, data shows. This works out to an intensification rate of 17 new dwellings on the site of every dwelling to be demolished.



Blocks of townhomes planned for long-vacant Margaret Avenue site near downtown Kitchener

Source – The Record | Brent Davis | 02/09/2023

Prominent property in heritage conservation district has sat empty for decades following demolition of several mansions.


Developer Activa wants to build eight blocks of townhomes in the latest proposal for a long-vacant site on Margaret Avenue.


The large, prominent property, spanning 30-40 Margaret Ave., sits in Kitchener’s Civic Centre Neighbourhood Heritage Conservation District. Members of Heritage Kitchener were invited to weigh in on the plan and a related heritage impact assessment at a committee meeting Tuesday.


City staff will consider the comments as they continue to review the development application. New developments on the site are subject to specific design guidelines to ensure compatibility with adjacent properties in the heritage conservation district.


A number of proposals have been made for the site since several stately mansions were torn down by a previous landowner in the late 1980s. The property, abutting the Church of the Good Shepherd and its parking lot at one end, has been empty ever since.


“The vacancy has created a void along the Margaret Avenue streetscape,” said Rachel Redshaw of planning firm MHBC, on behalf of Activa.


“It was historically for residential buildings, so infill in this case is recommended as a form of conservation for the general rhythm of the neighbourhood.”

A couple of years ago, Activa scrapped plans to build two six-storey condo buildings with a shared podium on the site; that plan had received Heritage Kitchener’s approval.

The new proposal features eight blocks of three-storey townhouses, with a total of 48 units and 53 parking spots, primarily in individual garages accessed via an interior laneway.

Landscaped areas are planned at the rear of the complex, with a small park on the east side. Redshaw said 18 of 20 mature trees on the site would be retained.

Committee members generally agreed that the low-rise townhomes proposed are a better fit for the neighbourhood.

The site backs onto single-family homes on Ellen Street West; most of its Margaret Avenue neighbours are also detached homes, although a highrise apartment building stands across Margaret at the eastern end of the Activa property, and there’s a four-storey apartment building near the west end.

“I think these look lovely,” said committee member Coun. Christine Michaud.

“I really can’t find a whole lot of fault with this,” added Peter Ciuciura. “I hope this one makes it into construction.”

But Ilona Bodendorfer took issue with the flat-roof design of the contemporary townhomes, saying heritage homes in the area tend to have peaked roofs.

“Having a flat rooftop, I don’t think fits in at all,” she said. “So many of those buildings were built in the 1900s, and when you put in modern buildings like that, it really doesn’t fit in with the character of the neighbourhood.”

The flat roofs allow for rooftop terraces and mimic the style of many Victorian-era townhouses, project representatives said.


Tallest of five towers now 44 storeys in revised plan for new central Kitchener community

Source – The Record | Brent Davis | 01/25/2023

Proposal could put more than 4,000 new residents on the doorstep of the Mill LRT Station.


A revised plan would see five residential towers with 1,500 units anchoring a new mixed-use community on the doorstep of the Mill LRT station in Kitchener.


The latest iteration of a development proposal a decade in the making was outlined during a neighbourhood information meeting on Tuesday night.


“We’re excited to bring this proposal forward to you,” said Joseph Puopolo, co-chief executive officer of developer Polocorp Inc. “This is a culmination of over 10 years of work, both with the city as well as the region.”


The plan would take shape on eight properties at 455-509 Mill St., just in from Ottawa Street and next to the transit station. The lands are now occupied by single detached homes and two industrial buildings.


A revised application coming to city planners would see five towers built, ranging from 15 to 44 storeys and containing 1,500 units. An earlier concept called for the 1,500 units in six buildings of heights between 11 to 32 storeys.


Puopolo said clarification around airport flight path height rules allowed for the taller redesign of the project.

At full occupancy, senior city planner Craig Dumart said the community could house more than 4,000 people.

A mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units are proposed, including 50 affordable units. It’s not yet been determined whether the units would be condos or rentals.

Public spaces within the complex would include Station Plaza, with a four-season water feature, another entry plaza with a covered walkway connecting the neighbourhood to the LRT station, and a playground.

“Our goal for this entire development is to create high-quality urban spaces for pedestrians and cyclists,” Puopolo said. “We saw a unique opportunity to really integrate the community into the LRT station.”

About 21,500 square feet of retail and commercial space is also planned — Puopolo said they’re focusing on attracting a pharmacy, small grocery store, a restaurant and a daycare centre.

Almost all of the 1,100 parking spaces would be underground or in building podiums. About 100 of those would be visitor spots shared between the shops, services and residential buildings, and 1,250 bicycle spots would be provided.

A development such as this, at the heart of a Major Transit Station Area, would help the city achieve a minimum density target of 160 people and jobs per hectare in the Mill Street area, Dumart said. Those targets are set by the province and Waterloo Region.

“Based on the current information we have, there are only 34 people and jobs per hectare (in that area),” he said.

The Polocorp proposal requires official plan and zoning amendments. Planning staff will prepare a recommendation that will likely be presented to council this spring.

If approved, construction would be phased and could begin toward the end of 2024 or early 2025, Puopolo said.

Feedback from the community to date includes “a lot of support for this proposed redevelopment, and support to redevelop the underutilized properties,” Dumart said.

Concerns have been raised about increased traffic, especially with several other developments planned in the Ottawa Street and Courtland Avenue area.

Dumart said transportation staff at the city and region have said existing roads can handle the forecast demand.

Given the scope of the Polocorp development, questions also came Tuesday about city bylaws that permit construction seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

In responding to concerns raised about the potential to disrupt services at a nearby church, Puopolo said he was willing to take those times into consideration when construction begins.

The phased approach would also allow construction workers to park on the Polocorp property and not on area roads, he added.


Downtown fire station, park upgrades among big-ticket items in Kitchener’s capital forecast

Source – The Record | Brent Davis | 01/23/2023

Proposed 10-year capital budget includes $1.6 billion for more than 400 projects.


Park upgrades, road work and cycling infrastructure, and a new downtown fire station are among millions of dollars in proposed capital spending being considered through Kitchener’s budget process.


The city’s 10-year proposed capital budget includes more than 400 projects with a total cost of $1.6 billion.


Councillors had an in-depth look at capital items on Monday. Funding sources for projects include city enterprises such as water and gas utilities, development charges, property taxes and reserves.


The city is proposing a property tax increase of 4.8 per cent, representing an extra $56 on the tax bill for the average household. A previously approved water rate increase will add $42 a year for the average home’s water bill.


Final approval of the 2023 capital and operating budgets is set for Feb. 2.


Capital forecasts do not account for potential impacts from the province’s new housing law (Bill 23, or the More Homes Built Faster Act), which limits the development charge revenue and parkland fees a municipality can collect.

“We are still assessing the full financial picture,” chief financial officer Jonathan Lautenbach said.

Supply chain challenges and inflation have sent costs skyrocketing. Some projects are seeing cost increases of 30 per cent, Lautenbach said.

A 10-year city infrastructure funding gap was estimated at $442 million in 2020.

Major projects in the 10-year capital forecast include nearly $100 million for new amenities such as an aquatics centre and indoor turf field at RBJ Schlegel Park in southwest Kitchener in 2023 to 2025, $37.5 million to fund full road reconstruction projects in 2023, and $15 million for a new downtown fire station in 2023 to 2025.

Other proposed capital spending for 2023 include $2.3 million for new neighbourhood parks, $2 million in cycling infrastructure, $1 million for urban forestry, and $155,000 for more outdoor winter rinks.

There’s also a total of $7.8 million earmarked in 2023 and 2024 for the Rosenberg and Mill Courtland community centres.

With climate change an ever-increasing concern, some questioned the logic of spending $540,000 for outdoor rinks over 10 years.

Those funds would clear a backlog of four awaited rinks and allow one other, staff said, adding they are monitoring the impact of climate change on the viability of the rinks.

Infrastructure spending for rinks, such as water connections and storage sheds, could also be used for such things as community gardens, deputy chief administrative officer Michael May said.

Councillors also wanted to know more about a planned $750,000 upgrade to audiovisual equipment in council chambers.

Much of the money would go to addressing problems that have come up with hybrid meetings, such as poor audio connections when people join remotely.

Existing equipment is at the end of its lifespan, chief administrative officer Dan Chapman said. If council balks at the cost, he recommended deferring the upgrade rather than taking a cheaper, piecemeal approach to replacing equipment.

Several area municipalities and organizations have undertaken similar projects at costs of $1 million or more, Chapman noted.


Historic Waterloo pumping station faces overhaul to help make it into gateway to the downtown

Source – The Record | Jeff Outhit | 02/06/2023

The one-storey, yellow-brick pumping station was built in 1899 on William Street and is still used to distribute drinking water.


The historic, downtown William Street pumping station is facing changes that will alter the look of the protected property and bring part of it into a new public park.


Waterloo city council has been asked to approve the changes Monday after heritage advisers endorsed renovation plans.


The one-storey, yellow-brick water pumping station at 17-23 William St. E. was built in 1899 and is still used by regional government to distribute drinking water drawn from underground wells. It is designed in the Victorian industrial style and was designated a heritage property in 1990.


The proposal is to consolidate all water pumping activities to the eastern corner so that the balance of the property may be incorporated into a new public space.


That public space, described as a civic common, aims to use the waterworks property and other spaces at William and King streets as a gateway to the downtown. It would connect to the Ion rail transit station at King and Allen streets, stress nature and resilience, and showcase the boundaries of the original town square.


To help make this happen, regional government proposes to replace existing wellhouses, decommission a reservoir, replace some equipment and add a new entrance on Herbert Street.

Heritage advisers at city hall have endorsed the changes because heritage buildings will be preserved and protected during construction, and because the renovation meets best practices for heritage conservation.

“It’s nice to be able to have a city that keeps its character through the ages in its built form,” said Coun. Jen Vasic, a former member of the heritage committee. “And it’s nice to be able to use it as a talking point to understand the history of how a city has come to be.”

Vasic supported the pumphouse renovation plan when it was put before heritage advisers last year.

Wellhouses facing demolition are cinder block and not historic. A new wellhouse proposed on the site will be compatible with the original pumping station nearby, but it will not be designed to look old. 

“It is contemporary in terms of materials and employs a more simplified design to avoid creating a false sense of history,” according to a report to councillors.

A heritage register says the pumping station has historic value because of its Victorian design, its pattern of yellow bricks, its decorative brickwork and concrete keystones above each window, and the ornamental pattern that projects along the roofline.


Iconic Sonny's Drive-in has been sold

Source – The Record | Bill Jackson | 02/22/2023

The sign for Waterloo’s iconic Sonny’s Drive-In has been removed, and the Chronicle has learned the property at 256 Weber St. N. was purchased by Conestoga College.



  • The iconic fast-food business established back in 1965 was listed for sale last spring with two options for prospective buyers — the business for $775,000, or the business and property, including a single-storey building and 30 parking spots, for $2,995,000.


  • The restaurant shuttered last summer, and the former owner posted notes in windows thanking customers for their loyalty over the years; however, it was unknown at that time if the drive-in would reopen under a different owner.


  • The Chronicle has since learned the property was purchased by Conestoga College for $2,995,000. The transaction closed last September.


  • A spokesperson for the college confirmed the purchase but said plans for the future use of the property are currently under development and nothing specific can be shared at this time.


  • The college’s John W. Tibbits campus located at 108 University Ave. E. sits adjacent to the property at 256 Weber St. N. as well as the property at 250 Weber St. N. that’s still in operation as an Economy Lube and Tire, located at the corner of University Avenue.


  • The college’s Waterloo campus provides programs related to the skilled trades, hospitality and culinary arts, information and communications technology as well as academic upgrading, English language studies and other career-focused programs.

This super-narrow building is a unique use for a vacant scrap of land in downtown Kitchener

Source – CBC News | Carmen Groleau & Cara Nickerson | 03/10/2023

Once complete, the building will have 2 residential units and office space.


Over the next few months, people coming to downtown Kitchener, Ont., will notice the construction of a very unique building.


Right away people will notice its narrow foundation, which has already been poured. Once complete, the freestanding building — located on King Street between Benton and Queen — will be no wider than three metres.


Sean O’Neill with Elev8 Properties Inc., told CBC News he wanted to bring something new to the downtown core.


“It presents a unique opportunity as well as a challenge,” he said. “It’ll be eye catching and it’s something different and that’s part of what drew us to it.” 

Doug McIntosh, director of projects and a partner with Neo Architectures, said the building is so narrow because it is an infill lot, which is a form of housing development that makes use of vacant city lots to create denser neighbourhoods and lessen urban sprawl. 

“There is an ability for somebody to build right beside us,” McIntosh said. 

Once complete, O’Neill said the building will have space for two residential units and office space, which could also be used for retail.

McIntosh said he and his team have worked on many projects that require problem solving, but nothing like this particular building.

McIntosh told CBC News that while the outside of the building will be around three metres wide, the interior will only be around two-and-a-half metres.

“Coming up with the design plan that works in a narrow space was not the biggest challenge. The biggest challenge is construction,” he said.

And the building being three storeys tall creates another unique challenge: wind. 

“You have a building that doesn’t have enough width to support any wind load that’s applied to the side of it. Imagine the side of the building as a big sail,” McIntosh said. 

O’Neill said the architects found a way for the sail-like building to stand without support from the building beside it, but it wasn’t an easy task. 

“The engineer described it as trying to stand a piece of paper up on its side. It was very long, it’s 132 feet long. It’s very narrow and it’s very tall,” he said.

“There was a lot of careful engineering to get this designed and to be able to build it.” 

O’Neil said Elev8 Properties anticipates the building will be complete by fall 2023.


‘Family-oriented’ affordable housing project coming to Kingscourt Drive in Waterloo

Source – The Record | Liz Monteiro | 02/10/2023

The housing development will feature 73 units with one to five bedrooms for families.


The construction of a new “family-oriented” affordable housing project with 73 units, some with five bedrooms, is underway and could be ready in two years.


Region of Waterloo officials, along with Waterloo MP Bardish Chagger, kicked off the construction of the six-storey housing development at 420 Kingscourt Dr.


“This is an exciting milestone,” regional Chair Karen Redman told those gathered in a community room at the adjacent Shamrock Co-op housing complex.


The region is making housing a priority and addressing the shortfall with projects such as Kingscourt, which is offering “safe and affordable housing for families,” Redman said.


The project is part of the region’s plan to build an additional 2,500 affordable housing units in five years, which was started in 2021.


The region looked at its existing 78 housing sites to find potential locations where extra housing could be added, Redman said. The Kingscourt site already has a three-storey building with 54 units. The new project will be built behind it, providing “family-oriented” housing.

“Looking at our inventory of land allows us to build it more quickly,” Redman said in an interview.

The region is funding the project with $26 million, while the federal government is contributing $5.5 million.

The building, offering underground parking, will have one-bedroom to five-bedroom units. Nineteen of the units will have enhanced accessibility and the housing project will include an accessible playground. Seniors programming will be offered in a 2,125-square-foot space.

Residents in the new building will come from the region’s housing list. The affordability will range from rent geared to income, low market rent and 80 per cent of the median market rent.

The Kingscourt site is walking distance to the Conestoga LRT station and Conestoga mall, as well as a city park.

Jason Wedlake of London-based Norlon Builders said the project is set for completion by February 2025.

The new building is being designed to meet LEED Silver certification, as well as zero-carbon building design, he said.

The housing project is also part of a pilot project in which workers will be hired who have traditionally been under-represented in construction work.

The pilot project will see women, Indigenous and racialized people, immigrants, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ people, veterans and youth actively recruited to work on the job sites of the two regional housing projects — 420 Kingscourt Dr. and 82 Wilson Ave. in Kitchener.

Wedlake said the pilot will give up to four people pre-apprenticeship work in the trades, gaining on-the-job training and experience, with the potential to lead to full-time work with a unionized trade.

The Wilson Avenue housing project for seniors will add 32 units on an existing site. The site encompasses three properties owned by the region.

Other projects on regionally owned land include: a plan to build 46 units on land at 55 Beechwood Dr., that’s now vacant after a pumping station was demolished in 2016; and a project that built six small units out of shipping containers on an existing regional housing site on Bechtel Street in Cambridge.


Things to Do in Waterloo Region - Spring Edition

Pair of projects in Kitchener look to incorporate historic buildings into new developments

Source – The Record | Brent Davis | 02/10/2023

Former industrial, residential buildings would be included in new housing projects.


A pair of proposed developments in Kitchener would see historic buildings incorporated into the new projects.


One is the latest proposal for 149-151 Ontario St. N. and 21 Weber St. W., where portions of the Ontario Street building, believed to have been built in 1876 as a working-class duplex, would stand at the base of a 27-storey apartment building.


The existing building on Weber Street is not a heritage structure and would be demolished.


The second plan involves a former century-old industrial building at 97 Victoria St. N., currently home to the Worth a Second Look store and St. John’s Kitchen, operated by The Working Centre.


That proposal would expand the two-storey building by adding a third storey and a separate single-storey addition, to relocate St. John’s Kitchen and community clinic services and construct 44 affordable and supportive housing units for people experiencing homelessness.


Two existing non-heritage buildings at 83 and 87 Victoria St. N. would also be retained as part of the development.

Both plans came before Heritage Kitchener for comment this week, as city staff continue to review heritage impact assessments for the proposals as part of the planning process.

The two historic buildings on Ontario and Victoria streets are both listed as non-designated properties of cultural heritage value or interest on the city’s municipal heritage register.

Previous iterations for the project at Ontario and Weber streets included an 18-storey tower wrapped around the heritage building, and a 14-storey highrise that would have enclosed the brick building in glass — something Heritage Kitchener member Peter Ciuciura termed a “heritage snowglobe” at this week’s meeting.

The latest design would integrate two exterior walls — the front façade and south elevation, including the chimney — of the two-storey building into the new tower. Badly damaged in a fire last April, the roof of the old building would be replaced with a sloping glass roof.

Standing across from the Civic Centre Neighbourhood Heritage Conservation District, the proposed building’s 27-storey height has raised concerns about shadows that would be cast over residential homes in the area.

“I think it’s going to have an impact on the viability of Roy Street, and it’ll have a serious impact on our neighbourhood,” said committee member Ilona Bodendorfer.

Suggestions were also made to improve the design for the front façade of the heritage building, where existing wooden steps to the former front entrances would be replaced with concrete steps that could be used for seating; the doorways would be retained but wouldn’t be used as entrances.

The Victoria Street project, on the other hand, received ringing endorsements from committee members; the proposal has already received conditional site plan approval, subject to conditions including final approval of the heritage impact assessment.

The project, first outlined last year, will see The Working Centre and private-sector partners collaborate on the expansion, which aims to achieve an energy-efficient net-zero status.

Built in 1927 for the Mitchell Button Company, which later became Mitchell Plastics, the two-storey brick building features a distinctive shaped parapet on the front façade.

“The building is recognized as a contributing industrial property that supports the character of the City of Kitchener’s Warehouse District cultural heritage landscape,” says the heritage report prepared by consulting firm LHC Heritage Planning & Archaeology.

“I just want to commend the applicant for taking on this project,” said committee chair Jean Haalboom, who added her desire to see as many of the existing wooden windows retained as possible.

“I’m really happy to see this project come,” said Coun. Christine Michaud. “We are certainly in need of more affordable housing, so this is terrific.”


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New apartment complex at 36 Blue Springs Dr. in Waterloo

Source – The Record | Bill Jackson | 03/14/2023

Site plan drawings are being finalized for a 15-storey apartment complex at 36 Blue Springs Dr. in Waterloo.



  • The Willowells community was created from a former aggregate quarry in the 1970s. The subdivision included the lands currently occupied by Manulife, East Side Mario’s and the six condominiums comprising the Willowells community.


  • The vacant development site — an area of about two acres with a frontage of approximately 114 metres — is the location of the former Club Willowells amenity building, which was operated by the various condominiums. The land was sold to a developer and the building was demolished.


  • Prior to selling the land, Club Willowells secured approval in 2019 to amend the zoning bylaw to restrict the height and density of the new building. At that time, the development proposal consisted of a new apartment building with a six-storey podium and a nine-storey tower containing 182 units (298 bedrooms). According to city staff, the design is now different but still has similar massing, height and density.


  • Additional council approvals won’t likely be required. Once a building permit has been issued, the owner can proceed with construction.


  • The property at 40 Blue Springs Dr. includes the “Four Wells Lake” and ponds, boardwalks and trails that will retain their current “open space” designation.



Waterloo Region Tech Update

Source – Waterloo EDC & Waterloo Tech Highlights

Whitney & Company commercial real estate

Mappedin has raised US$8.6M in a funding led by Channel Equity Partners. They also added mapping industry veteran James Killick to the company’s Board.

Plum raised C$8M of funding on a convertible note led by new investors Pearson Ventures, JFF Ventrues and Strada Education Network. Existing investors EDC, Real, BDC, EduLab Capital and Impact Engine also participated.  They have now raised C$19M to date. Plum has also achieved 100% YoY ARR growth for 2022.


Miovision has acquired MicroTraffic and their 21 Winnipeg-based staff. This is their second acquisition in the past six months.

Whitney & Company commercial real estate

Apply Board’s CEO, Martin Basiri has left the company and his brother, co-founder Meti Basiri has taken over. Martin plans to build a new ed-tech startup in the near future.

eleven-x has won a deal with Arlington County, VA.  It is one of the largest smart parking contracts awarded in North America to date and will cover 5,000 parking spaces. They also signed a reseller deal with Telus to resell their eXactpark solution in Canada. At the same time a year after launching in the US, 80% of their new business is coming from south of the border.

Whitney & Company commercial real estate

Intellijoint closed their year with 50% revenue growth on the prior year. They are known to develop and commercialize surgical navigation solutions for total joint replacements and are committed to improving patients’ lives by providing every surgeon with effective, easy-to-use technology.

Vidyard hired Jonathan Lister as their new COO. He joins from LinkedIn where he grew the Sales Navigator business to $1B of revenue. The company is also now cash-flow break even.

alchemy logo

Alchemy raised $2.75M of funding and completed their second contract with the Canadian Armed Forces for infrared camouflage solutions.  They’re working on a contract to industrialize the solution.

Water and shade are coming to the concrete oasis in Waterloo’s downtown

Source – The Record | Jeff Outhit | 02/23/2023

It seems this will be the first summer of water and shade at the sun-baked public square in Waterloo’s downtown, thanks to upgrades costing more than $2 million.


City council votes Monday to confirm a construction tender for a water feature delayed 14 years since the opening of the concrete square in 2009.


It is described as a wall of water that falls into four cascading pools, creating visual ripples and a sound meant to soothe. It will gurgle at the west edge of the square beside a restaurant patio.


Construction is to start this spring and end by summer.


Also planned are five giant leaf sculptures made of reclaimed wood and steel. They will be permanently installed to cast dappled shade on parts of the square.


The sculptures are meant to play on “the deconstructed form of a barrel, linking to the city’s historic distilling industry, and also capturing the natural form of a leaf.” They may be installed by June, pending council approval of a construction tender that closes March 2.

“I’m very excited about these upcoming improvements,” said Coun. Julie Wright, who represents the downtown ward. “The water feature is a lovely, long-anticipated addition and we really need the shade options.”

The public square was busy last summer and “to have these improvements in place by the summer season is ideal.”

As originally designed, the public square included a fountain. It opened without one because of concerns about the high cost, and about pending rail transit construction, now completed.

Plumbing and electrical work is in place, installed when the square was built. City hall has floated multiple plans to install a water feature over the years but all were delayed.

Developer Jamie Crich donated $500,000 to help pay for the water wall. He’s building the residential Barrel Yards towers nearby and has said he wants to give back to the community.

In 2021 city hall heard in public consultations that people want more shade at the concrete square. Many people wanted trees but the city says the square is generally not suited for urban trees.


Try Something New

Pilot Coffee Roasters will be opening spring 2023, located at 114 King St S Uptown Waterloo, serving seasonal coffee, fresh baked goods, brewing gear and much more!

The Humble Lotus is a Dharma-inspired, take-out, delivery and grab & go sushi-market with creative options for everyone. Located at Unit B – 388 King St E, Kitchener.

Môr Elevated has officially opened its doors at 1458 Weber St E Kitchener, cooking up top shelf quality dishes and fine cocktails.

Karahi Point is a new authentic top rated Pakistani restaurant featuring delicious halal food located at Unit 1 – 655 Parkside Dr, Waterloo.

Poppy’s Bagel & Bakery will soon be opening its doors in Uptown Waterloo at 35 King St N, Waterloo. Stay tuned for fresh, delicious bagels!

Bodega Rose is officially open in Uptown Waterloo, located at 17 Erb St E. Offering high-end dining, daily baked goods, handcrafted cocktails, a coffee selection using beans from a Canadian roaster and more!