12/24/12

Weber, Wilhelm and our meeting with Regional staff



Background info: 

As many readers will know, the Weber Street widening is posing several challenges in our neighbourhood. One issue is how pedestrian and bike traffic will cross the new 4-lane street and how we can encourage different parts of the neighbourhood to communicate, and keep in touch.

On Wednesday, November 21 members of the MHBPNA executive presented our concerns to Regional Council. We had been passing around flyers that described this issue and many councillors were impressed by the number of emails and letters they received from citizens of the neighbourhood.

The Kitchener Post wrote an excellent article about our presentation. Many councillors supported our position that we needed some kind of light at the intersection and certainly something more than the currently proposed "pedestrian refuge island". In fact, Kitchener councillor Jean Haalboom is quoted as saying "I agree with the residents. I don’t think pedestrians have been given the full thought".

At the November 21 meeting, council directed engineering and planning staff to meet with members of the MHBPNA executive and possibly modify the current plan to respond to residents' concerns.

Meeting with Regional Staff:

On Wednesday, December 12, members of the MHBPNA met with city staff to address the issues that have been raised by neighbourhood residents.

Although we thought this meeting was intended to arrive at some compromise, as suggested by Councils' directive, city staff seemed primarily interested in explaining to us why their original plan for the refuge island is correct, and why our idea of a pedestrian-activated stop light is wrong.

We were told that they have hundreds of requests each year for more pedestrian activated lights and that they had to be "fair" in their process. They said "what if we put a light in and only one person uses it?". We were told that only that morning someone had called to request a pedestrian light be added on Fairway Road because of the increased traffic due to the newly-opened bridge to Cambridge. And we were given the example of the light on Frederick Street next to the courthouse: apparently this light is not used by many "courthouse visitors" as they run across the street to get coffee and food at the Tim Hortons.

Staff told us that they did not believe the Wilhelm Street crossing would have the 200 crossings a day they would require for a light to be implemented. They also admitted they have done no studies of pedestrian traffic in our area (several days after our meeting they wrote to us and claimed that they did have data which indicated 40 crossings per day, but did not reveal how and when this data was collected). Last week, on a cold and rainy day when few people would be out walking, a car from the Region was observed close to the intersection, apparently collecting more data to bolster staff's view that we do not have enough traffic to warrant a light.

Staff also told us they believed a pedestrian refuge island was "safer" than a light and directed our attention to this page on their website. The statement they kept repeating was "Studies suggest a traffic signal generally does not improve pedestrian safety. Most pedestrian collisions in the Region occur at signalized intersections, most often while the pedestrian is in the crosswalk and has the right of way." However, this statement ignores common sense. We all know that accidents do happen. If the majority of pedestrians follow the law, and cross the street at a signal, then where else would pedestrian collisions occur? Of course they will tend to occur where we have the highest concentration of pedestrians!

There are several issues we believe the current plan ignores:

1. If you walk or bike to the "new" Weber Street, with 4 lanes of traffic, would you prefer navigate all those lanes on your own, resting at the "refuge island", or would you like a light that you could press and force traffic to stop? All of our discussions with neighbours have strongly indicated we prefer a light. What about our children walking across Weber to Margaret Avenue School, KCI or King Edward?

2. The traffic will only increase when the spur line trail is finished. It will "end" at Wilhelm and funnel more bikers and pedestrians to this corner. The current plans are for the trail to turn down Weber Street into the downtown. But a crossing light would encourage more west/east traffic to places like CITS, the Library etc.

3. We want to encourage more use of Lippert Park and believe a stop light on Wilhelm will do that. On a related issue, we were surprised that no one seems to have thought about parking at Lippert Park. Currently, there is a boulevard area where cars can pull over if parents with young children want close access. Although Lippert Park will gain a substantial amount of land when Weber Street is straightened, there are no plans to allow any parking. Staff were not prepared to discuss this at our meeting, but we think it is another important consideration.

4. Pedestrian traffic should be encouraged and prioritized in the downtown area. The Regional Planning staff talk about "safety" quite a bit, but all their plans promote moving more cars through our downtown and not having them slowed down by students walking to school, recreational bikers, or residents visiting one another.

NEXT: WHY WE ARE DIFFERENT (Blog entry to follow....stay tuned)



12/19/12

Dance, Dance, Dance!



The Mount Hope Breithaupt Park Neighbourhood Association is very excited to sponsor a Much Video Dance night on December 28 at the Breithaupt Centre!

Admission is only $10. The videos are selected for ages 9 and under at 6:30 pm and 10 and over 8 pm to 11 pm. 

There will be pop, chips etc. for sale as well.

Come out and have a great time with a professionally organized show. 

12/6/12

It's the time of year for .....

It is now December, when work and home-related social events are piling up and everyone is thinking of the holidays.

This is just the time of year to kick back, relax, and consider filling out your application for a storm water rebate. Of course, the deadline is not until March 1, 2013, but you know how crazy things will get very soon. And then in January work will start up again and you will have to get caught up on all that got pushed aside. So mix up a nice glass of egg nog, and get that application started!

You can find the information on the city's website here.




12/1/12

Breithaupt Centre Skating Rink

We are looking for people who are interesting in volunteering to help run the ice skating rink next to the Breithaupt Centre. The city supports this activity and provides funds for running it and even training for flooding it and managing over the increasing shorter winters.

Out neighbourhood association also has a snowblower to help clear the snow off it.

Please email us at mhbpna@gmail.com if you have any interest. The more volunteers the better! This rink has run for several years and is a lot of fun in the winter.

11/22/12

MHBPNA delegation to Regional Council about Weber Street widening crossing

As many of you have noticed, members of the MHBPNA executive have been handing out flyers and talking with residents about putting a cross walk with a light at Wilhelm Street during the Weber Street widening.

We thank all of you who contacted anyone on the Regional Council about this very important issue. It is crucial that citizens continue to make their feelings known to their elected officials. 

On Wednesday, November 21, Chris Dewar and Lane Burman (pictured below) led our delegation to Regional Council to officially ask for the current Weber Street widening plan to be altered to include a cross walk with a light to stop traffic. (click on image for a larger picture of democracy in action!)



As we expected, Regional Council forwarded the issue to the Planning and Works committee because no decision could be made on Wednesday evening. Also, council indicated that staff should contact our association and engage in a productive dialogue about what kind of crossing would be best.

The next committee meeting is on November 27th so our hope is to meet with staff prior to that although they may not be able to recommend anything by the 27th. There are several possible options for a pedestrian-activated light including one that is solar-powered. And the exact location, particularly in respect to the railway line, must be studied.

One of the most encouraging elements of Wednesday's meeting was the support given by councillors Jean Haalboom and Tom  Galloway. Both expressed verbal support for our proposal and they wondered if detailed consideration of the pedestrian element had somehow been missed in the planning for Weber Street.

The Blog will post updates on this issue after we have met with staff to work out some of the planning options.

Many other councillors have also expressed support to many of us who have sent emails or called. This is very encouraging because the light at Wilhelm is not the only issue we will need to address in the coming weeks.

For example:

--Waterloo Street will end at Breithaupt when the Transit Hub is built. This will block one current pedestrian, car and bike route to Victoria Street. Current plans for biking or walking through the Transit Hub are unclear.

--Breithaupt Street will not cross Weber as it currently does, and there are plans for a truck turn-around into a lane way. This seems like it will disrupt current walking and biking patterns and negatively affect use of the lane way.

--There are plans for a noise barrier wall along part of Weber that looks like it could become a graffiti magnet.

All of these issues need to be explored in more detail and this requires reading through many documents. There is surprisingly little information for citizens to get a clear idea of what is happening with this mega-project. The only clear image that is easy to find online is the artist's rendering of the railway crossing bridge at Weber and Victoria.

Watch this Blog for updates.


Thank you all again for your support and please join the MHBPNA Facebook group if you would like to be automatically notified about Blog updates!




11/16/12

The Record publishes article on Weber Street Widening

Here is a link to the Record's article in today's paper which details some of our concerns.

http://www.therecord.com/news/local/article/837124--residents-demand-crossing-lights-on-expanded-weber

Our delegation to the Region on November 21 will have many concerned residents in attendance as well as members of the MHBPNA executive.

Who are the executive you ask? The Blog will be updated with more information on that, but for now here are the basic details:

Lane Burman (President), Kathy Mortimer (Secretary), Colleen Burbach (Treasurer), Ted Parkinson (Communications Director),   Ralph Erdman (Program Director).  Other members: Louis Burbach, Chris Dewar, Laura Dowell, Trudy Beaulne.

As always, you are free to post comments on the Blog and to contact us via "mhbpna@gmail.com".

If you are doing something interesting in our area and would like to tweet about it, use the hashtag: #mhbp!

Be our friend on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mounthope.breithauptpark

11/5/12

Our Neighbourhood and the Shape of the Future

Many of us have wondered, just what exactly IS the Mount Hope - Breithaupt Park neighbourhood? Our boundary is shown here. One thing that is evident is the vast size of our 'hood. Someone living on Moore and using the King street transit corridor might wonder how anything east of Weber might be related to their lives. And likewise, someone living around Hillside Park might wonder how they can relate to those folks who live around the Mount Hope cemetery.

All of Kitchener's neighbourhood boundaries are a combination of geographical, cultural and political influences. For example, one quarter of Mary Street is in our neighbourhood and about one sixth of the Mount Hope cemetery is not: both or cut off because they run into Waterloo. But the people who live around that area generally don't care about that political boundary when they visit, shop, play etc. It briefly becomes an issue when they pay taxes or vote for city council.

(n.b. You can still join our Neighbourhood Association even if you live outside our boundaries).

The MHBPNA is an organized structure that allows us to be recognized by the city and sometimes get their help. We can use it for whatever purpose we want. We can ignore it, or be creative and use it to engage each other. The Neighbourhood Mobilization Alliance is an example of an initiative that came out of the NA but operates autonomously.

Recently the MHBPNA sponsored a culture walk around the issue of the Weber Street Widening and some of the issues we discussed were "how do you interact with the rest of the neighbourhood"? "Where do you walk?" "Drive?" "What streets do you use?" 

One thing that was easy to identify was how Weber Street is a major division and it will become even more so when it is widened to four lanes. Around the same time, the "Waterloo Spur Line Multi-Use Trail" (commonly referred to as the "spur line") will encourage more movement within our neighbourhood. Many people walk and bike along it currently, but when the trail is properly built this use will increase and be much safer. 

Despite Weber being something of a dividing line, there are many reasons to cross over it. The Breithaupt Centre is located on the east side and many people on the west side use its facilities to swim, exercise, take a course or use one of its meeting rooms. In the winter we might walk or drive to Hillside Park for tobogganing. Lippert Park, which is kind of a centre, has a tennis court, community garden and (in the winter) a skating rink. Many neighbours walk to Central Fresh Market and Giant Tiger and young people cross Weber every day to attend Margaret Avenue School, King Edward and KCI.

With the culture walk, and subsequent discussions among the MHBPNA executive, two major issues have emerged and they both have Wilhelm and Weber as their crux. 

1. The spur line trail "ends" at Wilhelm and does not cross Weber. The official plan is that cyclists and walkers would be funneled into the downtown. 

2. There will be no stop lights on Weber between Guelph and Wellington streets. The region will add a "pedestrian refuge island" so people can cross the street and rest in the middle with two lanes of traffic on each side. 

We believe the "refuge island" is not adequate for the amount of traffic and we need a light at Wilhelm street. During our culture walk (on a Sunday afternoon) we hung out at the corner of Wilhelm and Weber for a half hour and saw a dozen people run across the street during traffic lulls and two people cross in electric wheelchairs. 

Everyone agrees that walking to school is desirable but having only a refuge island in four lanes of traffic would endanger children walking to Margaret Avenue and KCI schools. We are sure it would discourage some parents from allowing their children to walk. It would also make it much trickier for people in electric wheelchairs to cross and it would discourage the rest of us from using this route.

A traffic light would encourage more pedestrian and bike traffic along this route and would help the two parts of the neighbourhood to converse with each other. Bike traffic coming south from the spur line would have an option to continue south to the downtown core or east into Lippert Park, Margaret Avenue, Hillside Park, the Kitchener Library or even Centre In The Square.

ACTION PLAN

We arrived at these conclusions late in the process because designs have been submitted and we need to approach regional council to re-open a small part of the contract. We feel it is very important to encourage as much East-West pedestrian and bike traffic as possible in order to make our neighbourhood stronger. 

Therefore:

1. We ask everyone who is concerned about this issue to contact their Regional Councillors through phone, email or letter. Showing support for these concerns is very important.

The main issues and councillor contact info are in this document.

Here is a sample letter you can print or re-write and send to your councillors.

2. The next meeting of Regional Council is November 21, 2012. We will have a delegation from our neighbourhood association address this meeting and we hope many residents can attend as well to show support. We hope that councillors will have received many letters by that time expressing our concerns about the current design.

11/2/12

Pumpkins 2012!

Last night in Duke Street Playground, many of our Halloween pumpkins took a little trip and lined themselves up with their candles flickering and enjoyed one last moment of glory before being consigned to the compost of history. 

It was great to see many creative designs and they presented a very effective row of mysterious heads. Thanks to Karin and Greg of Little City Farm for organizing it again and it was nice to see our councillor, Dan Glenn-Graham out for the short event. 

Over a dozen people from around the area participated, some bringing pumpkins and others just dropping by.

Click on image below for larger picture:


10/26/12

Follow up for Weber Street Widening meeting

On Wednesday, Oct 24 at 5:30 (Lippert Park) several people form our neighbourhood attended a meeting with councillor Dan Glenn-Graham and a regional staff person to talk about the Weber Street Widening design.

The meeting was very informative. The region has approved a pedestrian crossing with a "rescue island" in the middle, but no light. We don't think that is adequate, particularly for all the young students walking eastwards to Margaret Avenue school or west to KCI. But we have to act fast if we want our ideas to influence the  design. More information will follow.


10/18/12

Central Art Walk this weekend!




It is the end of October (how did that happen so quickly??) and so it is time for the annual Central Art Walk.

This event happens on Saturday and Sunday and is in our calendar on the right of the Blog.

I could say lots of nice things about this even, but their website is very well organized so just click HERE to find out all about it.

I recommend clicking on their brochure  because they have great photos of what each artist creates. So if you prefer paintings to stained glass, it is easy to decide where to go. So have a good weekend of fabulous art and you can get some exercise walking around the 'hood as well.

10/13/12

Weber Street Widening Culture Walk

On September 30, 2012 John MacDonald led members of the Mount Hope Breithaupt Park community on a "culture walk" to discuss the implications of the Weber Street widening. This walk was a result of our neighbourhood winning a "cultural" prize at a Festival of Neighbourhoods event a few years ago.

The MHBPNA would like to thank John for his time. We appreciate his insight into how neighbourhoods work and the many questions he encouraged us to consider about our area.



We met at Lippert Park and talked about some of the issues around what builds a community and the different types of streets and traffic movement that can encourage or discourage people talking to each other and interacting.

John asked us to talk about our patterns of walking, biking and driving and it became clear that Weber street is a dividing line within our rather large neighbourhood. There is a "Mount Hope" side and a "Breithaupt Park" side but many people cross this divide to attend school, walk to Central Fresh Market to shop, or walk or drive over to the Breithaupt Centre.

After discussing some of the general traffic patterns through our neighbourhood we walked over to the west side of the Wilhelm and Weber intersection (The MHBP Blog recognizes that using words like "west" and "north" in the Kitchener/Waterloo area is controversial, but we will use them anyway!).



It quickly became clear this intersection is a "hot spot" for problems with the widening. In the short time we were talking more than a dozen people crossed Weber street including two people in wheelchairs! As far as we know, the plan is to have Weber Street expanded to four lanes with no additional crossing lights from Victoria to Guelph streets. Yet we know children cross this street every day to attend KCI or Margaret Avenue schools and many others cross for different reasons.

We all agreed that we needed an additional crossing, perhaps with a light. Councillor Dan Glenn-Graham attended our walk and said he would discuss this issue with council.

Here is a view looking "south" on Weber Street towards Victoria Street. Lippert Park is on the left and a used car dealership is on the right:



Two big questions were raised about this:

1) What happens to Lippert Park when the road is widened? Apparently it will become a bit larger but it would be nice to have some influence on what gets added. We would like it to be attractive and invite people from both sides of Weber to use it, in spite of the busy street right next to it.

2) The used car dealership on the right will be torn down and Weber street will be straightened so Lippert Park will gain some land. But there will be a strip of land (where the car dealership presently sits) between the road and the train tracks. What will this land look like? Will be be a park (or "parkette") with grass and flowers? Or will it be a vacant "no man's land" with discarded coffee cups?

There will also be a bike trail along the present railway tracks which will end around the new railway bridge to be built over Weber.

It has been very difficult to find any solid information about how this is all going to look. In contrast, the Transit Hub project has invited lots of public input and has elaborate Information Boards they have put on the Web. I have searched the City and Region websites and there is almost no information. Searching for "Weber Street" on the Region's website found a document mysteriously titled MHSW Background which contains several swell "artist's renderings" of what the bridge might look like, including this one:



The Mount Hope - Breithaupt Park Neighbourhood Association is committed to finding out more about the widening which will have a huge impact on our area for many generations to come. We would like to have input into traffic calming, street crossings, making the railway bridge area inviting and "pedestrian and bike friendly" and many other things.

There are lots of questions with few answers so we hope to sponsor an information session in the near future.

Stay tuned to this Blog!

Ted Parkinson
Communications Director
MHBPNA


10/10/12

Annual General Meeting -- Come One, Come All

OK, so if you have been following our NA you might have noticed that the General Meetings have not quite been "annual". But we think it is time to have one and we hope you can join us.

Here is the basic agenda:


We will meet in the Solarium at the Breithaupt Centre at 10 am, Saturday, October 13.


Agenda is:

1. welcome and introductions
2. report on activities in 2011-2012
3. Financial report
4. Appointment of Board
5. Discussion of Priorities for 2012-2013
6. engaging participation in Festival of Neighbourhoods

Please come and bring a friend. This is your change to meet the current executive of our MHBP Neighbourhood Association and perhaps get involved. Or at least, become informed.

For more information about our group, our website with documents is here.

Our constitution is here.

Please drop by at 10 am, Saturday morning.

FREE FRIDGE MAGNETS for the first 150 people!!!

9/30/12

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

9/26/12

MHBPNA Cultural Walk, September 30, Come join us



The MHBPNA is pleased to announce a culture walk, led by John MacDonald, in our area. 

The main focus of the walk is the Weber Street Widening and how it will affect people in our neighbourhood. A new transit bridge will be built, businesses will be re-located or closed, houses will be torn down and these events will all affect how we travel to work, form neighbourhood communities and experience our lives in Kitchener.

Another topic will be about "living with regional transit."

This walk is generously provided by John MacDonald as part of a "cultural prize" MHBPNA won at the Festival of Neighbourhoods a couple of years ago.

The walk will begin at Lippert Park at 1:30 and end there at 3:30. Lippert Park is located at Weber and Louisa Streets. 

This will be "interactive" and we hope to have many neighbours attend and provide their perspective on Weber Street and how we walk though our area, places we visit etc.

The widening of the street and the construction of the transit hub will change our area forever and while it is mainly positive, it is difficult to imagine how profound the changes will be.

This walk is sponsored by the Mount Hope -Breithaupt Park Neighbourhood Association, but there are no limits on who can attend. Anyone who is interested in these issues is welcome.

Sunday, September 3o, Lippert Park, 1:30.

9/9/12

MHBPNA Culture Walk, September 30

The MHBPNA is pleased to announce a culture walk, led by John MacDonald, in our area. The main focus of the walk is the Weber Street Widening and how it will affect people in our neighbourhood. A new transit bridge will be built, businesses will be re-located or closed, houses will be torn down and these events will all affect how we travel to work, form neighbourhood communities and experience our lives in Kitchener.

Another topic will be about "living with regional transit."

This walk is generously provided by John MacDonald as part of a "cultural prize" MHBPNA won at the Festival of Neighbourhoods a couple of years ago.

We will publish more information later but please keep September 30, 1-3:30 in mind and mark it in your calendars.


8/15/12

Election --- Candidates --- Questions

The Kitchener-Waterloo electoral district will go to the polls on Sept. 6. It is only a few weeks away! 

We have PC, Green, NDP, Liberal candidates.

Let's ask them some questions. For the next few days the MHBPNA Blog will accept questions you send in. We will look them over and ask all the candidates the same two or three questions we select and then we will publish the answers.

The Blog did this for the municipal election as well.

OK, send in your questions please to our email address!


8/13/12

Life, the Universe and our Neighbourhood

Once again, it was a marvellous weekend with the Kitchener Blues Festival. There were many stages with free music and even though we had some rain, overall the weather was pretty good. Of course downtown Kitchener is not in our neighbourhood boundaries, but it is so close, most of us can walk there.

This week, there is another event you can walk or drive downtown for, and that is the Wednesday evening meeting of the Neighbourhood Mobilization Alliance (NMA) which takes place in the Conestogo room of Kitchener City Hall.



What is the NMA you ask? It is neighbours getting together with city officials to talk about our area. Topics can include: traffic calming, bylaw enforcement (is your neighbour ignoring the fire ban or replacing their car engine on their front lawn?), city initiatives, industrial activity infringing on residential life, upcoming events etc. etc.

This organization meets every other month and dates are always posted in the Calendar section of our Blog.

The history of the NMA is recounted on Page 10 of this newsletter. Please read it to get an idea of how far we have come.

We appreciate it when more neighbours attend these meetings because it helps us get more support (or "buy in") from the Police, By-Law and other city officials who regularly attend.

See you there on Wednesday!



7/31/12

Transit is still with us

There are many activities going on throughout the summer. We had the Lippert Park party and last weekend the art gallery had a "block party" and there were motorcycles and loud rock music in downtown Kitchener. The Waterloo folks had some jazz a couple of weeks back.

And in early August we have the Kitchener Blues Festival!

Anyway, we might forget the 800 million + dollars going into transit over the next few years. We will certainly remember it when the roads are torn up and railway tracks are being built. And we may continue to remember it when we can no longer park on our favorite streets. And hopefully we will remember transit when we can say "hey, transit is now convenient and we can get rid of our second car!".

So just so we don't forget about it, the MHBPNA blog is re-posting information from the city of Kitchener about their storefront information office which is next to city hall. And there are several meetings in September.


The Central Transit Corridor Community Building Strategy will provide a framework for how our community will be built around rapid transit. Over the past several months, a great deal of effort has gone into understanding the context of the corridor and the direction it will take as it develops through dozens of stakeholder interviews, workshops, open houses, speaker events, and regular storefront hours. Through discussing and exploring new opportunities for mobility, place-making and strengthening the community, we have a solid foundation for drafting the vision and strategies for the corridor which will include enhancing mobility, encouraging healthy communities, fostering a green corridor, creating great places, strengthening the economy, and enhancing learning.  

We would like to thank you for participating and taking the time to come and provide feedback for this important project. Your input will be used to shape the neighbourhoods and communities around rapid transit.
If you didn't get a chance to participate, it's certainly not too late! Here are some other ways to provide your input:
  
Summer Events:
It's summer! But that doesn't mean the Community Building Strategy is on vacation. We want to meet you where you're at, so we've arranged to be at some of Waterloo Region's favourite summer events and festivals. Check out the summer events flyer and be sure to come by and say hello!

Storefront:
Our storefront, located at 220 King St. W. in Kitchener, will continue to be open during the summer months. Please drop in, chat with staff and provide your comments. We're open Tuesday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Thursday noon to 5 p.m. and Friday noon to 4 p.m.  

Fall Public Meetings and Events:
Plans are being made for a series of open houses this September for you to see the draft Community Building Strategy and provide your input.
Sept. 17, 4-7 p.m. at Cambridge Centre for the Arts
Sept. 18, 4-7 p.m. at Knox Presbyterian in Waterloo
Sept. 20, 4-7 p.m. at the Storefront, 220 King St. W. in Kitchener

Mark your calendar for guest speaker Karina Ricks, a planner with Nelson Nygaard whose work has helped demonstrate that the decisions we make today in Waterloo Region will shape and drive our communities, economy, and environment for the next century or more. She will speak at 7p.m. on September 18 at the Knox Church directly following the open house.

7/21/12

Lippert Park comes alive with a party

July 14th, 2012 saw the return of the summer party to Lippert Park. Lots of parents and children enjoyed the afternoon events in a relaxing park. It was great talking with neighbours and enjoying the warm sunshine, partial shade, music, popcorn etc.

The MHBPNA would like to thank all those who worked to put the event together, and all you folks who came out.

Please click on any of the pictures below if you would like to see them larger.




Several businesses displayed their cards and helped support the event.


The Mount Hope - Breithaupt Park Neighbourhhood Association had a table and gave away some shiny things for everyone. And the City of Kitchener also had a couple of people at another table asking interview questions about the neighbourhood and the event.


Glen Soulis started the musical entertainment by playing violin and penny-whistle. That man can play the heck out of the penny-whistle and seems to have memorized hundreds of songs!


Lippert park is also the site of a great community garden and if you click on the image below and look in the back you can see a hard working member of our community weeding the garden.



One of the party's attractions was the face-painting table:


The fire department sent a couple of trucks for people to climb into and have some fun with, although one of them got pulled away for actual fire duty!


The main entertainment for the afternoon was the children's band The Skalywags who played a popular brand of energetic and inclusive music.


Below you see Skalywag Tammy (on right) getting some young audience members involved in a participatory activity:


Up close and personal: Skalywags Steve Ofner and Tammy Stinson rock it out.



Free popcorn and cotton candy rounded out the activities.

Thanks to Lane Burman and his many volunteers for setting this up. And thanks to our business sponsors as well: Queensgate and Victoria Common sponsored The Skalywags, Chris Tire Discounter supplied the popcorn and cotton candy and Cocoon Apothecary set up the face painting. 

This was a great community event and we hope to see everyone back next year!



7/15/12

It was a long picnic indeed

MHBP folks were there in downtown Kitchener today helping to try and set a Guinness World Record for longest picnic.

It was certainly long but we won't know if we broke a record for a few days. Kitchener city hall should announce it.


The MHBPNA Blog salutes all of you who braved the crazy heat and humidity to sit at those tables for an hour or so while they prepared to "measure" everyone.  In the photo below you can see the official measuring and video verification.

Overall, it was very well organized with an army of volunteers. Good on you City of Kitchener!


Former Electrohome Building Unstable

There was quite a crowd around the Electrohome building at the corner of Shanley and Duke Street West on Saturday evening (July 14, 2012). The two fire trucks and yellow tape contributed to the interest.


This building has frustrated the neighbourhood for many years. It has been allowed to deteriorate, has severe water damage, is a source of contamination and owes several hundred thousand dollars in back taxes to the city.

Residents have contacted our representatives at Kitchener City Hall for many years as well and it seemed like virtually nothing was being done. There was an article in The Record a couple of years ago which highlighted many of the issues. The air has been found to not be contaminated and the ground pollution has not moved in many years, but nothing has been done to clean it up.

In the past couple of years we have heard reports there has been interest in the build for possible condo development and the Neighbourhood Association has been told that positive information might be forthcoming this summer.


However, on Saturday a neighbour called police because of concerns about the further deterioration of the building. 

If you look at the bricks at the top and right of the picture below you will see how the exterior is starting to fall back and perhaps down. It is clear this portion of the top floor is structurally flawed and it brings into question the stability of the whole building. (Click on the picture for a larger image)


We have to wonder how a building in the middle of an active and engaged neighbourhood could have been allowed to deteriorate to this extent. Why have politicians not responded with action despite many years of citizen's complaints?

If there is still a company interested in developing this property, what impact will this deterioration have? 

Many residents have said "tear it down" or "better that it just fall down" but neither of these solutions will help remove the contamination in the ground or turn it into a viable and useful property. Residential development was a great solution but we would like someone to let us know if this is still a possibility. 

For now the building is taped off and pedestrians should avoid that side of Duke and Shanley streets.

The MHBPNA Blog will provide updates as we know them.

7/9/12

Neighbourhood Party at Lippert Park



The party returns to Lippert Park on July 14 (Saturday) from 1 - 4 pm


For ten years Ken and Helen Lippert had organized a picnic in Lippert Park as shown here and here. This was a chance for the neighbourhood to use this valuable space for meeting, skateboarding, face painting and many other forms of community building. 

There was no event in 2011 but this year Lane Burman has taken up the challenge to organize a neighbourhood party this coming Saturday. Lane says "This is a great opportunity to gather as a neighbourhood, enjoy some live music and let the kids have some fun. Our neighbourhood is changing, our neighbours are changing and being able to gather and meet everyone and talk about our area of the city is an important way to build our community.



The activities include a face painting / princess makeup table, soccer, temporary tattoos, popcorn and cotton candy. There will also be tables from the Neighbourhood Association and Community Gardening. Police and the Fire Department may also attend (depending on whether or not there is a fire somewhere!). There will be chalk painting and the party will end with a percussion parade. 


Music will also be a major part of the event: at 1 pm Glenn Soulas will perform and at 2 pm the children's band The Skalywags will play. 


Lane has gotten support from some of the neighbourhood businesses to help with the cost of the event and these include Queensgate and Victorian Common, Cocoon Apothecary and Tire Discounter Group.


The MHBP Neighbourhood Association hopes you will all come out on Saturday afternoon to have some fun, listen to some music and meet your neighbours.


Volunteers are always welcome so if you would like to help in any way, please contact Lane at his committee at "lippertpark2012@gmail.com".

6/21/12

The Condos are Coming!

The Condo development 1 Adam Street, which no longer has Adam street going through it, is now branded as Victoria Common. They have had a couple of public meetings where the community was invited and have recently been having open houses for real estate agents, brokers etc. They have an office on Louisa which will be open soon three days a week on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.



On Tuesday, June 19, there was a special event for invited groups and the MHBPNA Blogster was happy to attend. The organic Mill Street beer and gourmet pasta were fabulous!


The units are selling in the $100,000 to $200,000 range with more several buildings and town-houses planned. Over a period of 7-8 years they plan to build 1200 units.



This will be one extremely large development with a combination of condos and town-homes, a large green area with many amenities for the owners and the surrounding residents. We have heard rumours about eventually a skating rink, karaoke bar, green space and more being built there!

Most of the development in the MHBPNA area has been over on the west side: we have the Tannery, Pharmacy, Breithaupt Block and other development going in. This is the first large scale development on the eastern side and promises to be a very positive influence for increasing property value and putting Kitchener on the map for quality residential condos. 

The real estate agent we talked with was very friendly and told us how the developer (Queensgate) had reached out to the local community and were committed to using local people for all phases of the project. The land used to have Breithaupt Tannery and Pannill Veneer on it. The buildings burned down and the land has been vacant for several years. It was fun for small scale mountain biking!



So many things about this development are positive. But it will certainly change the whole character of the surrounding neighbourhood. The MHBP area of Kitchener used to offer a great value for the first time home owner, but we have seen prices increase steadily over the past several years and this development will only contribute to further rises.

In Toronto the approval to develop condos is often tied to providing a certain number of affordable housing units, but not so in Kitchener/Waterloo. The LRT is spurring development and rising land prices along the King Street corridor, and this development will do the same further east. If you have $200,000 for a 640 square foot condo, then that is great. But if you would like to buy a half decent home for your family for under $250,000 you will have to look pretty hard (and probably somewhere outside of the MHBP neighbourhood).

So there are always different ways of looking at development. There are many positive elements to these plans and it is exciting that the value of downtown Kitchener is being realized. Our area is just not the "hidden bargain" it was a decade ago.






6/12/12

From the Boathouse to the Box Factory

On Saturday, June 9, The Boathouse ventured into the Mt Hope - Breithaupt Park Neighbourhood. They put on a fund raising show in the Box Factory on Duke street. Musical hi-jinx ensued!

The MHBP Blog visited and took a few pictures of the "headlining" act, Sheesham, Lotus and Son. Banjo, Tuba and either fiddle or harmonica with a strange amplification device. What a venue, and what a crowd. We are going to be very excited when the Boathouse finally opens in July. OK, it is not in our neighbourhood, but it is a short walk in the summer!


6/5/12

Lippert Park Picnic planned for July!


Lippert Park Picnic 2012
Fun in the Sun- Rain or Shine


For the 10 years prior to last, the Lippert Family, Helen and Ken, and many of their relatives, have organized the annual George Lippert Park Neighbourhood Picnic.  After many years, and many good times, the Lipperts are passing along the torch. 

I would like to cordially invite the Mt Hope/Breithaupt area residents to this years neighbourhood picnic.  Well perhaps less of a picnic, and more of a gathering with a tonne of fun things to do for all ages.  We’ll call it Fun in the Sun, Rain or Shine. 

The date is July 14th from noon to 3 o’clock.  Join us for fun and games for the whole family, including face painting, family games, a family yoga session, crafts, and much more,….. and a special performance from Kitchener’s very own “The Skalywags”.  Check them out! http://www.theskalywags.com


We want to continue the fun that has been had by so many children for so many years.  Come out and have some fun with the family, meet your neighbours, and learn about what is going in the neighbourhood.

If you are interesting in volunteering, or getting involved, please email Lane Burman at lippertpark2012@gmail.com.  The more help we can get, the more fun we can provide for the kids.

If you are a local business in the neighbourhood, or live in the neighbourhood and own a business, we would like to spread the word, send me an email at lippertpark2012@gmail.com.  There will be opportunities to spread the word about your business to the people in the community.

I am looking forward to a great turnout, and a lot of fun for all.

Lane Burman


Here is a link to the Blog's story on the last Lippert Park Picnic!

6/2/12

Photo from around our neighbourhood

Meg Leslie recently tiled the side of her house. This adds a nice bit of colour to the Duke St and Waterloo St corner.

Please send us your photos if you see something in our area you think is interesting!



5/13/12

Jane's Walk 2012: Growing Every Year!

On May 12, 2012, the Mount Hope - Breithaupt Park neighbourhood sponsored two Jane's walks and we counted approximately 60 people for each one! Last year we had around 40 people for the one walk and I think we can thank Terry Pender from The Record for this article he wrote advertising all four Jane's Walks in Kitchener over the weekend.

(There were no walks given in Waterloo this year so as a side note we will suggest "Hey Waterloo, step up next year and produce a couple of walks!")

Our first walk began at 10 am in the new parking lot across from the Breithaupt Block where Ted discussed the history of the area, from its agrarian roots to manufacturing (pianos, leather, rubber, buttons) and now into the current knowledge economy.

(Click on any of the images below for a larger picture)


Then we walked to the Beohmer Box building which, unlike the Breithaupt Block, is not being renovated. But it is an active building which houses many interesting and eclectic tenants. In the picture below Wayne is discussing the old Fire Hall #2 which has been modestly renovated into studios and has dance classes on the main floor.



After discussing some more old buildings, including the former Electrohome building at Duke and Shanley, we all headed to Little City Farm.


At Little City Farm Greg and Karin were great hosts. Greg explained their "back to the land inside the city" philosophy and Karin fed us bread baked in their outdoor oven. What an excellent end to a great Walk. Thanks to everyone who came out!



But that's not all! In the afternoon, Wayne hosted a walk in Mt. Hope cemetery. In past years, this has been part of our main walk, but there are so many stories to tell, it become a walk on its own. And about 60 people attended.

We initially met "under the angel":


There are many great works of sculpture to observe in the cemetery when you wander through and take some time to observe:


Many of the older headstones are deteriorating with time, acid rain and other weather. But that is part of life and evolution. 


Wayne fascinated us with many great stories of early settlers, businessmen and former slaves who are all buried here. It is a great way to learn the history of Kitchener and many of the people who contributed to our rich culture.

Sometimes a man with a megaphone needs a helper!



Thanks to everyone who came out. It is a real pleasure to help with these walks each year. This is our fourth year (!!!) and the Blog has pictures from all the others if you want to browse back in the archives.





5/10/12

Animate, Meet Up, Bang a Gong on the Trail



On May 27, 2012 Kitchener is hosting a "trail event" on the Iron Horse trail. Initially called "Animate the Trail" it seems to have evolved into "Meetup on the Trail" and is being held at the same time the Victoria Park folks are holding their 2nd annual Henry Sturm festival.


To view the website for this event click here.


To view a poster for the event click here.


There will certainly be many things to celebrate and everyone is invited to take part of the trail and do pretty much whatever you want there.


It will be fun to walk the trail (which many of us do anyway) and see how many folks come out to this event. At some point we hope the organizers settle on a theme and name. This event started last year as a "car free" day. It was expensive to block off the road and impossible to make the many blocks between Kitchener and Waterloo very interesting and Kitchener council voted against spending any more money on it.


Relocating the event from the street to the trail is a great idea because the Iron Horse is already "car free". But with all the activity inside Victoria Park for the Henry Sturm festival, we will see how many folks venture away from that space and onto the trail itself.


Let's all come out and see what is happening on May 27th. Bring a gong to bang!