Public transit investment spurs renewal in downtown core

Via the Globe and Mail

With a quiet hum, sleek light-rail trains carve their way along an urban spine from the north end of Waterloo to the south end of next-door Kitchener, traversing a 22-stop route that includes two shopping malls, two universities, two city halls, one hospital and a future multimodal transit hub.

Funded by Waterloo Region, the province and the federal government, the $818-million light rail train (LRT) system – known as the Ion – has proven highly popular since it opened in June. But the Ion isn’t just moving people. It’s been designed to limit sprawl, intensify downtown development and make it more convenient for the area’s youthful demographic to live and work close to the amenities they need in this fast-growing urban centre.

“The Ion represents quite a structural shift in the development pattern,” says Rod Regier, commissioner of planning, development and legislative services for the region of Waterloo. “There is a fundamental shift in the nature of the built form that is emerging.”

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