Thoughts on the Transit Hub

Ambitious

Ambitious is the best way to describe the plan for the new Transit Hub, or the ‘Gateway to Downtown Kitchener’, as it was described. This original rendering is WAY beyond what I had anticipated, and the vision is exciting!
Last night the School of Pharmacy hosted an open house and presentation for the Transit Hub.  Kevin Eby warmed the crowd up with a great explanation of The region’s vision for the area.  Glenn Scheels, gave us the meat of the whole thing.  He talked about some of the important changes regarding zoning for the site.  Then John Hill took over to cap off all the things that we were thinking of, but never thought the planner would think of.


I have to say, after listening to each of them speak, I was inspired by their vision.  You can tell that these people are invested in this project.  They are not looking for this to be a ‘building’, they genuinely seem to view this as a Landmark.  The vision is for ‘DESIGN EXCELLENCE”.  It’s exciting!
One of the residents asking a question, referred to taking his great grandkids to the site.  That thought is exciting.  They are not looking for today, or tomorrow, or even 50 years from now, this will be a landmark in our city. 
While I could drone on about the specific plan laid before us, I won’t.  I felt while listening to the questions from the residents that they were debating the final plan.  It is not.  It is the seed, the DNA, of what will be grown in this community, and indeed in our neighbourhood.  You can see the plan here, TRANSIT HUB PRESENTATION BOARDS
I could sense a real fear from some of the questions, that there is some skepticism as to whether the Region, City, and Province can pull this off.  I suppose I understand (remember the Kitchener Market), but there seemed to be sense of responsibility for this project.  Like they (Planners) know they can’t screw this one up. 
The important parts of this process that will make or break it are this.
  • We must have our best people working on this.  We need to have people that deeply understand our region as well as regions around the world that have taken on this kind of ambitious Landmark/Transit/Downtown projects.  We need to use local workers and materials wherever possible, and we need to have a spectacular design.
  • We need buy in from the residents.  We need everyone that was at the open house, to submit his or her comments.  We need all of our residents, and especially those in our neighbourhood, to take the time and look at the plans, and tell them what you think.  Good, bad or indifferent.  Sometimes a little kernel of a comment can pop into something brilliant.
  • We need to understand that this is not the final plan, nor is there a price tag attached to it.  We need to remember that this is a public space, and it will cost us money.  There are no two ways about it.  But remember this is a Landmark, not a building.
I’m excited, and I hope you are too.  This is a great boost for our community.  We need to all participate in this process. The planners seem to be listening, and in my past experience in these kinds of processes, they do listen.  Would you want to build something that the residents don’t want? 
So please come out to all the meetings, answer the questionnaires and have your say!  You’ll be paying for it, so might as well get a hand in the process.  Most of all, keep an open mind.  I heard a lot of negativity last night, and a lot of questions that no one could possibly answer.  We must remember, this is the step after the City told us they have assembled the land for a Transit Hub.
Lane Burman

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