Local Focus: Waterloo Region
by Gale Beeby
Including Kitchener, Cambridge and Waterloo
Kitchener and Waterloo are mostly made up of single-family homes and there is a great selection of home types, from historic homes to modern townhouses and condos. But single-family homes are still the norm. Click here to see a list of new homes for sale.
The area’s economic heritage is rooted in manufacturing. While the local economy’s reliance on manufacturing has decreased in recent years, more than 20 per cent of the labour force remains employed in the manufacturing sector.
In recent years, Kitchener and Waterloo’s economy has diversified to include high-value economic clusters. In addition to internationally recognized finance and insurance and manufacturing clusters, digital media and health science clusters are emerging within the city.
Public schools are administered by the Waterloo Region District School Board and Catholic schools by the Waterloo Catholic District Schoool Board.
The University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University and Conestoga College offer post-secondary education, while McMaster University has opened a satellite campus for its Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine in Kitchener.
The region has a lot of cultural venues and events, including the Contemporary Art Forum, The Open Ears Festival, IMPACT theatre festival, the Multicultural Festival, the Kitchener Blues Festival, Mill Race Festival and the Rock the Mill music festival.
It is also home to the Homer Watson House & Gallery, McDougall Cottage Historic Site, Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, THEMUSEUM, JM Drama, Centre in the Square, The Cambridge Centre for the Arts and the Doon Heritage Museum.
Cambridge has some of the most historic bridges in Waterloo Region and the Black Bridge Road Bridge — built in 1916 — is Cambridge’s only truss bridge.
And, of course, Kitchener-Waterloo is home to Oktoberfest, an annual nine-day event that is billed as Canada’s Greatest Bavarian Festival and is the largest Bavarian festival in the world outside Germany. While its best-known draws are the beer, other family and cultural events also fill the week. The best-known is the Oktoberfest Thanksgiving Day Parade.
PARKS & REC
Kitchener’s oldest outdoor park is Victoria Park in the heart of downtown. A cast-bronze statue of Queen Victoria, which was unveiled on Victoria Day in 1911, is the centrepiece of the park. Another significant park is Rockway Gardens, occupies a long narrow strip of land alongside King Street. Here there are many fountains, ponds, waterfalls and rock grottoes.
The region has an extensive and safe community trail system and the Grand River draws nature-seeding tourists to the region. The Grand River Conservation Authority operates 11 conservation areas. Many of the parks include places to relax and enjoy the outdoors. Swimming, windsurfing, camping, hiking and bird watching are just some of the activities available.
The downtowns of each of the region’s cities and townships offer some very stylish and forward-thinking retailers, as well as restaurants, cafés, salons and spas. Fairview Park is Kitchener’s largest shopping mall, while Conestoga Mall in Waterloo is also home to the Galaxy Cinemas. In Cambridge, the Cambridge Centre also has an NHL-sized ice rink.
The Conestoga Parkway is the area’s main highway, connecting with Highway 401. Public Transit throughout the Region of Waterloo is provided by Grand River Transit, which was created by a merger of Cambridge Transit and Kitchener Transit. GRT operates a number of bus routes in Kitchener, with many running into Waterloo and two connecting to Cambridge.
GO Transit provides bus service from Kitchener to Mississauga Square One and train service to Union Station during rush hours. Passenger train service is provided by Via Rail.
The Region of Waterloo International Airport is in Breslau.
BY THE NUMBERS
Known best for: Oktoberfest