Grandlinq contractors and region officials gathered at Kitchener City Hall Friday to celebrate a momentous announcement for the region’s LRT system…and commuters. Plans were unveiled to keep the region in a permanent state of LRT construction.
“This new, extended project will put Kitchener-Waterloo on the map,” explained Grandlinq spokesperson Robert T. Builder, as he gestured to a Map of Southern Ontario Cities People Have Heard Of. “We intend to build the tallest-ever LRT in the world”
This announcement has been expected ever since Waterloo’s Caroline Street was officially declared “under construction forever.” The celebrations featured an LRT-shaped cake and legendary Debrodnik’s donuts.“Personally, I’m quite excited to hear the news”, said area resident Summer Straphanger. “It will keep my daily commute fresh and exciting. I really like how I never know what detours, road closures or short-turns to expect next.”
Straphanger lives in Waterloo, and takes the bus daily to and from her workplace in downtown Kitchener.
“The other day I was sitting on the iXpress hoping to get to Uptown Square in Waterloo. Then, all of a sudden, whoops! The bus makes a left on Erb street. I was so surprised I took the bus all the way to Cambridge. It was such an adventure!”
Chain Businesses Will Be Fine
University of Waterloo student Diana Porter was also present. Porter is the head of a team of researchers from the School of Planning working with the region to study whether Kitchener’s downtown core will continue to see rising rent prices for commercial spaces, despite the ongoing construction.
“It’s really a strange phenomenon we’ve seen already, with rent for commercial spaces increasing even during LRT construction, and even before the population density required to support potential businesses for these spaces is present,” Porter said, referring to the increased density expected to be brought by the new condo towers and other planned developments near the downtown core.
“We’re not sure what to expect now, given plans for an indefinite state of construction. Perhaps rent prices will continue to increase indefinitely as well.”
Builder, who expects closing local businesses will make way for brand-name chain stores, thinks it will make Kitchener a more welcoming place for visitors from Toronto and elsewhere.
“If I live in a suburb, and I drive to a box mall to do my shopping, I’d like that I can go all the way to downtown Kitchener and buy the exact same stuff from the exact same stores out there.” Builder says.
“We can replace all the local business with signs indicating where they used to be.”
Additional LRT Attractions: Roller Coasters?
With the new LRT construction plans, rail lines will eventually be installed in every road in the region, with some routes even featuring multiple sets of rails.
The largest and most expensive development is a planned six million square-foot GRT-themed theme park at the Conestoga Mall end of the line. Transit users will be allowed entry to the park with the presentation of valid proof of ticket payment.
The park will come complete with a 94 meter high “RolLRT-coaster”, and a “House of Wave Hand Here Doors”, full of the automatic rear doors of GRT bus fame, some of which open, and some of which never do.
“We have had people ask us if this is really something we can do,” said Builder to the gathered audience, many holding balloon animals riding balloon trains.
“Well, as Grandlinq spokesperson, its my job to tell them, yes. Yes we can.”