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The City of Kitchener is a city in Southern Ontario, Canada. Located approximately 100 km west of Toronto, Kitchener is the seat of the Regional Municipality of Waterloo. It was the Town of Berlin from 1854 until 1912 and the City of Berlin from 1912 until 1916. The city had a population of 219,153 in the 2011 Census. The metropolitan area, which includes the neighbouring cities of Waterloo and Cambridge, has 507,096 people, making it the tenth largest Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) in Canada and the fourth largest CMA in Ontario. The city is adjacent to the smaller cities of Cambridge to the south, and Waterloo to the north. Kitchener and Waterloo are often referred to jointly as "Kitchener-Waterloo" (K-W), although they have separate municipal governments. Including Cambridge, the three cities are known as "the tri-cities".
The City of Kitchener covers an area of 136.86 square kilometres.
On June 10, 2012, the city of Kitchener celebrated 100 years of cityhood. Activities took place throughout 2012 in honour of this milestone.
In 1784, the land that Kitchener was built upon was an area given to the Six Nations by the British as a gift for their allegiance during the American Revolution; 240,000 hectares of land to be exact. From 1796 and 1798, the Six Nations sold 38,000 hectares of this land to a Loyalist by the name of Colonel Richard Beasley. The portion of land that Beasley had purchased was remote but it was of great interest to German Mennonite farming families from Pennsylvania. They wanted to live in an area that would allow them to practice their beliefs without persecution. Eventually, the Mennonites purchased all of Beasley's unsold land creating 160 farm tracts. By 1800, the first buildings were built, and over the next decade several families made the difficult trip north to what was then known as the Sand Hills. One of these Mennonite families, arriving in 1807, was the Schneiders, whose restored 1816 home (the oldest building in the city) is now a museum located in the heart of Kitchener. Other families whose names can still be found in local place names were the Bechtels, the Ebys, the Erbs, the Weavers (better known today as the Webers), the Cressmans and the Brubachers. In 1816 the Government of Upper Canada designated the settlement the Township of Waterloo.
Much of the land, made up of moraines and swampland interspersed with rivers and streams, was converted to farmland and roads. Wild pigeons, which once swarmed by the tens of thousands, were driven from the area. Apple trees were introduced to the region by John Eby in the 1830s, and several grist- and sawmills (most notably Joseph Schneider's 1816 sawmill, John and Abraham Erb's grist- and sawmills and Eby's cider mill) were erected throughout the area. Schneider built the town's first road, from his home to the corner of King Street and Queen Street (then known as Walper corner). $1000 was raised by the settlers to extend the road from Walper corner to Huether corner, where the Huether Brewery was built and the Huether Hotel now stands; a petition to the government for $100 to assist in completing the project was denied.
Immigration to the town increased considerably from 1816 until the 1870s, many of the newcomers being of German (particularly Lutheran, and Mennonite) extraction. Some were from Switzerland, like the founder of The Arthur Pequegnat Clock Company. In 1833 the town was renamed Berlin because of the recent German immigration from the Breuckmann family, and in 1853 Berlin became the County Seat of the newly created County of Waterloo, elevating it to the status of Village.
The extension of the Grand Trunk Railway from Sarnia to Toronto (and hence through Berlin) in July 1856 was a major boon to the community, helping to improve industrialization in the area. Immigrants from Germany, mostly Lutheran and Catholic, dominated the city after 1850 and developed their own newer German celebrations, and influences, such as the Turner societies, gymnastics, and band music. Anti-German sentiment during the First World War led to the abandonment of much of this heritage. For example, churches switched to English-language services. In 1916, following much debate and controversy, the name of the city was changed to Kitchener; named after the late British Field Marshal The 1st Earl Kitchener. After the war, local historians and civic groups promoted a new heritage that emphasized the county's Pennsylvania Dutch roots. Illustrated souvenir books, a popular novel, and site markers celebrated this simplified, nationalistic version of the founding.
On June 9, 1912, Berlin was officially designated a city. And then, after 69 years, on September 17, 1981, the first-ever "blue box" recycling program in the world was launched in Kitchener. Today, more than 90% of Ontario households have access to recycling programs and annually they divert more than 650,000 tonnes of secondary resource materials. The blue box program has expanded in various forms throughout Canada and to countries around the world such as the United States, United Kingdom, France and Australia, serving more than 40 million households around the world.
Kitchener is governed by a council of ten councillors, representing wards (or districts), and a mayor. Council is responsible for policy and decision making, monitoring the operation and performance of the city, analyzing and approving budgets and determining spending priorities. The residents of each ward vote for one person to be their city councillor; their voice and representative on city council. Kitchener residents also elect four councillors at large to sit with the mayor on the council of the Regional Municipality of Waterloo. Municipal elections are held every four years in late October.
The current mayor of Kitchener is Carl Zehr, who was re-elected to his fifth term in October 2010, after first being elected in 1997 and then re-elected in 2000, 2003 and 2006. Before that, he sat as a municipal councillor from 1985-1994. See Kitchener City Council for a complete list of councillors.
In 1976, residents of Kitchener voted almost 2:1 in favour of a ward system. The first municipal election held under the ward system occurred in 1978. In 2010, the city underwent a ward boundary review. A consultant proposed boundaries for a 10-ward system for the 2010 municipal election, adding 4 additional councillors and wards to replace the previous 6-ward system.
The current Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Kitchener Centre is John Milloy. Other MPPs include Michael Harris (Kitchener-Conestoga) and Catherine Fife (Kitchener-Waterloo) who both represent small portions of the city in addition to adjacent areas. The federal and provincial electoral boundaries are now aligned and the federal Members of Parliament (MPs) as follows: Stephen Woodworth (Kitchener Centre), Harold Albrecht (Kitchener-Conestoga) and Peter Braid (Kitchener-Waterloo).
Kitchener is located in Southwestern Ontario, in the Saint Lawrence Lowlands. This geological and climatic region has wet-climate soils and deciduous forests. Located in the Grand River Valley, the area is generally above 300m (1000') in elevation.
Kitchener is the largest city situated within the Grand River watershed, and the largest city on the Haldimand Tract. The Haldimand tract was given to the Six Nations (Haudenosaunee) of the Grand River in 1784 and comprises 6 miles on either bank, for the whole length of the Grand River. Just to the west of the city is Baden Hill, in Wilmot Township. This glacial kame remnant formation is the highest elevation for many miles around. The other dominant glacial feature is the Waterloo Moraine, which snakes its way through the region and holds a significant quantity of artesian wells, from which the city derives most of its drinking water. The settlement's first name, Sandhills, is an accurate description of the higher points of the moraine.
Kitchener has a humid continental climate of the warm summer subtype (Dfb under the Köppen climate classification); there are large seasonal differences, usually very warm and humid summers and cold to occasionally very cold winters. Winter like conditions generally last from the mid-December until mid-March, while summer temperatures generally occur between mid-May to close to the end of September. March 2012 went down in the history books for Kitchener - between March 16 and March 22, temperatures ranged from 21.4 °C (70.5 °F) to 27.0 °C (80.6 °F)—7 record highs in a row. The March 19th high of 24 °C (75.2 °F) is one of the highest winter temperatures ever recorded, while the March 22nd high of 27 °C (80.6 °F) is the highest for March in this area. Temperatures during the year can exceed 30 °C (86.0 °F) in the summer and drop below −20 °C (−4.0 °F) in the winter several times a year, but prolonged periods of extreme temperatures are rare. The frost-free period for Kitchener averages about 147 frost-free days a year, a much more limited number than cities on the Great Lakes due its inland location and higher elevation. Snowfall averages 160 centimetres (63 in) per year, high but not nearly as areas more directly affected by lake effect snow.
Kitchener’s economic heritage is rooted in manufacturing. Industrial artifacts are located in public places throughout the city as a celebration of its manufacturing history. While the local economy’s reliance on manufacturing has decreased in recent years, 20.36% of the labour force remains employed in the manufacturing sector.
The city is home to four municipal business parks: the Bridgeport Business Park, Grand River West Business Park, Huron Business Park and Lancaster Corporate Centre. The largest, the Huron Business Park, is home to a number of industries, from seat manufacturers to furniture components.
In recent years, Kitchener’s economy has diversified to include new high-value economic clusters. In addition to Kitchener’s internationally-recognized finance and insurance and manufacturing clusters, digital media and health science clusters are emerging within the city.
Beginning in 2004, the City of Kitchener has launched several initiatives to re-energize the downtown core. These initiatives have included heavy investment, on behalf of the City and its partners, and the creation of a Downtown Kitchener Action Plan.
The modern incarnation of its historic farmers’ market, opened in 2004. The Kitchener Market is one of the oldest consistently operating markets in Canada. The Kitchener Market features local producers, international cuisine, artisans, and crafters.
In 2009, the City of Kitchener began a project to reconstruct and revitalize the main street in Kitchener’s downtown core, King Street. In the reconstruction of King Street, several features were added to make the street more friendly to pedestrians. New lighting was added to the street, sidewalks were widened, and curbs were lowered. Movable Bollards were installed to add flexibility to the streetscape, accommodating main street events and festivals. In 2010, the redesigned King Street was awarded the International Community Places Award for its flexible design intended to draw people into the downtown core. In 2009, Tree Canada recognized King Street as a green street. The redesigned King Street features several environmentally sustainable elements such as new street trees, bike racks, planter beds that collect and filter storm water, street furnishing made primarily from recycled materials, and an improved waste management system. The street itself was also reconstructed using recycled roadway and paving stones. In September 2012, the City of Toronto used Kitchener’s King Street as a model for Celebrate Yonge—a month-long event which reduced Yonge Street to two lanes, widening sidewalks to improve the commercial street for businesses and pedestrians alike.
The groundbreaking ceremony for the University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy and downtown health sciences campus was officially held on March 15, 2006, and the facility opened in spring 2009. The building is located on King Street near Victoria Street, on the site of the old Epton plant, across the street from the Kaufman Lofts (formerly the Kaufman shoe factory). McMaster University subsequently opened a satellite campus for its Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, located directly adjacent to the University of Waterloo’s School of Pharmacy. The Health Sciences Campus has been central to the emergence of Kitchener’s health science cluster.
In 2007, Cadan Inc., a Toronto-based real estate development company, bought what was formerly the Lang Tannery for $10 million. Supported by the local government, Cadan repurposed the building as a space for commercial firms. Since its refurbishment, the Tannery has become a hub for digital media companies, both large and small. Desire2Learn, an e-learning company, located in the Tannery as the company expanded. In 2011, Communitech moved into the Tannery. Home to over 800 companies, Communitech is a hub for innovative high-tech companies in the fields of information technology, digital media, biomedical, aerospace, environmental technology and advanced manufacturing. Also in 2011, high-tech giant Google Inc. became a tenant of the Tannery, furthering its reputation as a home for leading high-tech companies.
The Province of Ontario has committed to building a new provincial courthouse in downtown Kitchener, on the block bordered by Frederick, Duke, Scott and Weber streets. The new courthouse is expected to create new jobs, mainly for the courthouse itself, but also for other businesses, especially law offices. The new courthouse construction began in 2010. The courthouse is scheduled to open in 2012.
In the downtown area, several factories have been transformed into upscale lofts and residences. In September 2010, construction began on the ‘City Centre’ redevelopment project in downtown Kitchener. This redevelopment project will include condominium units, new retail spaces, private and public parking, a gallery, and a boutique hotel. The former Arrow shirt factory has been converted into a luxury, high-rise apartment building, featuring loft condominiums.
In 2012, Desire2Learn, located in downtown Kitchener, received $80 million in venture capitalist funding from OMERS Ventures and New Enterprise Associates.
Kitchener-Waterloo is served by three hospitals, Grand River Hospital (which is a system of two hospitals), St. Mary's General Hospital, and Cambridge Memorial. Grand River treats patients with a wide range of problems and houses the psychiatric unit, trauma centre, women's and children's services, and the Regional Cancer Care Centre. St Mary's houses the Regional Cardiac Care Centre, serving a population of nearly one million from Waterloo Region, east to Guelph, north to Owen Sound/Tobermory, south to Lake Erie, and west to Ingersoll. It also houses a respiratory centre. Both hospitals have emergency departments and intensive care units. Cambridge Memorial is a general hospital, treating primarily patients from Cambridge and south Kitchener.
Long term rehabilitation and physiotherapy is addressed at the Freeport Health Centre, at the south of the city. Built originally as a tuberculosis sanatorium and home for the terminally ill, its last link with that past is the palliative care unit. It nestles along the banks of the Grand River, and is part of Grand River Hospital.
Family doctors are in short supply in K-W, and a source of great concern among residents. The Chamber of Commerce runs a waiting list for people looking for a doctor, but as of 2006 the wait is over two years. Two urgent care centres cater for much of the routine services for thousands of people without a family doctor, from routine immunisations and health screening, to repeat prescriptions and referral on to specialist services. A third urgent care centre is being added to a renovated supermarket development in the desirable Forest Heights area of the city.
Announced January 2006 was the inauguration of a new School of Medicine, the Waterloo Regional Campus of McMaster University. The campus currently trains 28 students per year. From 2007, 15 new family doctors will be trained each year in new premises being constructed in the downtown core on rehabilitated industrial lands along the railway.
In 2009, the mental health unit is slated for relocation from the downtown core to an unused floor at the Freeport site. By this, patients needing mental health care shall gain options for local long term care and monitoring. The current site for the unit is in the basement of the downtown hospital in an area in dire need of renovations and the absence of options for local long-term mental care forces the transfer of such patients to neighbouring London, Ontario.
After renovations, the Child and Adolescent Inpatient Program will be moved from a small 9-bed wing to the downstairs in place of the current adult mental health unit. Once moved in 2009, upwards of 26 beds shall be available to this program.
Kitchener has several public high schools, with Kitchener-Waterloo Collegiate and Vocational School, founded in 1855, being the oldest. It is located in the northern area of the City not far from the boundary of Waterloo. In the 1950s and 1960s several new schools were constructed, including Eastwood Collegiate Institute in what was then the southeastern part of the city in 1956, Forest Heights Collegiate Institute in the western Forest Heights part of the city in 1964, Grand River Collegiate Institute in the northeastern Heritage Park/Grand River Village area in 1966, and Cameron Heights Collegiate Institute in the southern area of the Downtown core in 1967. In 2006, Huron Heights Secondary School opened in southwest Kitchener. It opened with a limited enrollment of only 9th and 10th grade students, and has since expanded to full capacity in the 2008-2009 school year.
The oldest Catholic high school in the city is St. Mary's High School, which opened in 1907. Originally a girls-only Catholic school, it was transformed into a co-ed institution in 1990 after the closure of the neighbouring St. Jerome's High School, which had been a boys-only Catholic school. The same year, a second Catholic high school, Resurrection Catholic Secondary School, opened in the west of the city. In 2002, St. Mary's abandoned its downtown location in favour of a new one in the city's southwest. The former St. Jerome's High School currently houses the Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work from Wilfrid Laurier University. It opened at this location in 2006, bringing 300 faculty, staff and students to downtown Kitchener. The former St. Mary's High School building, meanwhile, has been transformed into both the head office of the Waterloo Catholic District School Board and the Kitchener Downtown Community Centre.
The Doon neighbourhood, formerly a separate village but now part of Kitchener, is home to the primary campus of Conestoga College, one of the foremost non-university educational institutions in the province. For nine consecutive years, Conestoga has earned top overall ranking among Ontario colleges on the Key Performance Indicator (KPI) surveys, which measures graduate employment rates and satisfaction levels, and employer and student satisfaction. It is one of only seven polytechnical institutes in Canada.
The University of Waterloo is proceeding with opening a School of Pharmacy in the downtown area. The City of Kitchener has contributed $30 million from its $110 million Economic Development Investment Fund, established in 2004, to the establishment of the UW Downtown Kitchener School of Pharmacy. Construction began in 2006, and the pharmacy program was launched in January 2008 with 92 students. It is operating out of a temporary location pending the completion of construction on the downtown campus.
The school is expected to graduate about 120 pharmacists annually and will become the home of the Centre for Family Medicine, where new family physicians will be trained, as well as an optometry clinic and the International Pharmacy Graduate Program. Construction on the $147 million facility was largely finished in spring 2009.
The University of Waterloo's (UW) Downtown Kitchener Health Sciences Campus is also the site of a satellite campus for McMaster University's School of Medicine. The Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine admits 28 students per year to the MD program at the Waterloo Regional Campus. Students complete their clinical placements at hospitals and medical centres in the Waterloo-Wellington Region. McMaster's satellite campus also features the Centre for Family Medicine, a family health team, and the University of Waterloo's School of Optometry clinic.
Kitchener's cultural highlights include CAFKA, The Open Ears Festival, IMPACT theatre festival, the Multicultural Festival, the Kitchener Blues Festival and KidsPark, many of which are free to the public. Kitchener is also home to venues such as Homer Watson House & Gallery, Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, THEMUSEUM, JM Drama Alumni and Centre In The Square. Also the Cities recently had two local and regional museums built in the region, one being the Waterloo Region Children Museum and the Doon Heritage Museum. Live music by popular artists can be heard at venues such as Centre In The Square and The Aud. The Kitchener Public Library is another community stalwart. Kitchener is also home to independent music label, Busted Flat Records which features the music of many Kitchener-Waterloo based musicians.
Kitchener-Waterloo's Oktoberfest celebration is an annual nine-day event. Based on the original German Oktoberfest, it is billed as Canada's Greatest Bavarian Festival. It is held every October, starting on the Friday before Canadian Thanksgiving and running until the Saturday after. It is the largest Bavarian festival in the world outside of Germany.
While its best-known draws are the beer-based celebrations, other family and cultural events also fill the week. The best-known is the Oktoberfest Thanksgiving Day Parade held on Thanksgiving Day; as it is the only major parade on Canadian Thanksgiving, it is televised nationally. Another icon of the festival is Miss Oktoberfest. This position was formerly selected in a televised beauty pageant, with the applicants coming from across Canada and the US. The position is now selected by a closed committee of judges from a panel of local applicants; community involvement and personal character form the main criteria under the new system. A ribald spin-off of the Miss Oktoberfest pageant is celebrated in some local high schools, in which all participants are male, but dressed as women.
Started in 1969.
Various locations in both Kitchener and Waterloo were used to portray the fictional Ontario town of Wessex in the filming of Canadian television sitcom, Dan for Mayor, starring Corner Gas star Fred Ewanuick.
A local folk group, Destroy All Robots, wrote a tongue-in-cheek song jibing the city of Kitchener in the song "Battle Hymn of the City of Kitchener, Ontario".
A 4-day festival in downtown Kitchener dedicated to blues music. The festival has expanded to 5 stages throughout the downtown area, with over 60 performances. The festival has grown from a 1-day event with an attendance of 3,000 to a 4-day event with over 65,000 attending. In 2010 the Kitchener Blues Festival celebrated its 10th year.
This is a 2-day event in Victoria Park commencing usually on the first weekend of the summer. The festival features foods, dance and music from around the world. The festival also showcases several vendors that sell artifacts and crafts from around the world. This festival has been ongoing for well over 40 years. Well over 50,000 attend every year.
Kitchener's oldest and most important outdoor park is Victoria Park, in the heart of downtown Kitchener. Numerous events and festivities are held in this park.
A cast-bronze statue of Queen Victoria is located in Victoria Park, along with a cannon. The statue was unveiled in May 1911, on Victoria Day (the Queen's birthday) in the tenth year after her death. The Princess of Wales Chapter of the IODE raised the $6,000 needed for the monument.
Another significant beauty spot in the city is Rockway Gardens. Adjacent to the Rockway golf course, the gardens occupy a long narrow strip of land alongside King Street as it rushes down to meet the Conestoga Parkway and become Highway 8. Here there are many fountains, ponds, waterfalls and rock grottoes. It is a popular site for wedding photos in the summer months.
Kitchener has an extensive and safe community trail system. The trails, which are controlled and run by the city, are hundreds of kilometres in length. Due to Kitchener's close proximity to the Grand River, several community trails and paths border the river's shores. This convenient access to the Grand River has drawn nature-seeking tourists to the city. However, Kitchener's trails and especially natural areas remain underfunded by city council and as a result, many are not adequately maintained.
In 2011, a bike park located at the newly constructed McLennan Park, in the city's south end, was hailed as one of the best city-run bike parks in Southern Ontario by BMX and mountain biking enthusiasts. The bike park offers a four-cross (4X) section, a pump track section, a jump park, and a free-ride course. McLennan Park also features an accessible play area, a splash pad, basketball courts, beach volleyball courts, a leash-free dog area, and a toboggan hill.
Chicopee Ski Club is also located inside city limit.
Kitchener was very proactive and visionary about its transportation network in the 1960s, with the province undertaking at that time construction of the Conestoga Parkway from the western boundary (just past Homer Watson Boulevard) across the south side of the city and looping north along the Grand River to Northfield Drive in Waterloo. Subsequent upgrades took the Conestoga west beyond Trussler Road and north towards St Jacobs, with eight lanes through its middle stretch.
The Conestoga Parkway bears the provincial highway designations of Highways 7 and 8. King Street becomes Hwy 8 where it meets the Conestoga in the south and leads down to the 401, but Old King Street survives as the street-route through Freeport to the Preston area of Cambridge. Up until construction of the Conestoga, Highland Road through Baden had been the primary highway to Stratford. Victoria Street was then and remains the primary highway to Guelph but this is slated to be bypassed with an entirely new highway beginning at the Wellington Street exit and running roughly north of and parallel to the old route.
There are two interchanges with Highway 401 on Kitchener's southern border. In addition to the primary link where Hwy 8 merges into the Hwy 401, there is another interchange on the west side with Homer Watson Boulevard.
In order to reduce the congestion on Highway 8, a new interchange has been proposed on Highway 401 at Trussler Road, which would serve the rapidly growing west side of Kitchener. Although this proposal is supported by the Region of Waterloo, the MTO has no plans to date to proceed with an interchange at Trussler Road.
Unlike most southern Ontario cities whose streets follow a strict British grid survey pattern, Kitchener's streets are laid out in a complex radial pattern on the Continental models most familiar to the German settlers.
There is good historical reason for this. Kitchener was one of the few places in Ontario where the settlers arrived in advance of government surveyors. The Mennonites who had banded together as the German Company to purchase the township from Richard Beasley simply divided their vast parcel of land by the number of shareholder households and then drew random lots to confer title on individual farms.There was no grid survey done—no lines, no concessions, no right-of-way corridors for roads. When it came time to punch roads through the wilderness, the farmers modelled the road network on what was familiar to them, which was the pattern of villages in Switzerland and southern Germany.
This is a Continental Radial pattern and the result was major streets extended through diagonals cutting across the grid of smaller streets and converging at multiple-point intersections which, as the communities became more prosperous and if the automobile had not displaced the horse, might someday have become roundabouts decorated with circular gardens, fountains or statuary in the style of European cities. Five-point intersections created by converging diagonals are legion in the older areas.
In 2004, roundabouts were introduced to the Region of Waterloo. Besides improving traffic flow, they will help the region lower pollution from emissions created by idling vehicles. In 2006, the first two were installed along Ira Needles Boulevard in Kitchener. Some people argue roundabouts are ideal for intersections in this region because of the aforementioned historical growth along Continental radial patterns versus the British grid systems, but all installs have been at T and cross intersections making the point irrelevant.
For forty years, there has been a sharply controversial plan to extend River Road through an area known as Hidden Valley, but the pressure of traffic and the absence of any other full east-west arterials between Fairway Road and the Highway 401 is now forcing this development ahead.
Most streets that cross the municipal boundary between Kitchener and Waterloo retain the same street name in both cities. However, several streets which are divided into east and west sections in Kitchener shift to a north-south division in Waterloo. This primarily affects Weber and King Streets and Westmount Road. Since these roads do not actually change their primary directional alignment significantly, (Weber Street and King Street, supposedly "Parallel" streets, cross 3 times), the shift in labelling can create confusion, since each of the aforementioned thoroughfares bears the labels north, south, west, and east on certain segments. However, it also reduces the potential confusion that would result from having separate west and east segments of the same street existing simultaneously in both cities.
The problem with giving streets in Waterloo Region compass-based labels, and attempting to divide each of the cities into quadrants comes from the radial layout of the roads, and the historical patterns of development. Waterloo's quadrants, created by the intersection of King and Erb Streets, roughly correspond to compass directions, but Kitchener's quadrants, delineated by King and Queen Streets, do not resemble compass directions whatsoever. A notable case is that of Lancaster Street, which runs almost exactly north-south, but is designated as east-west, since it crosses Queen Street, which divides the "east" and "west" halves of the city, yet follows a northeast-southwest orientation itself.
Since 2000, public transport throughout the Region of Waterloo has been provided by Grand River Transit, which was created by a merger of the former Cambridge Transit and Kitchener Transit. GRT operate a number of bus routes in Kitchener, with many running into Waterloo and two connecting to Cambridge. In September 2005, GRT added an express bus route called iXpress from downtown Cambridge through Kitchener to north Waterloo.
In 2003, Regional Council unanimously adopted the Regional Growth Management Strategy. As a response, proposals were put forth regarding a rapid transit system serving the downtown cores of all three cities. An Environmental Assessment was completed in 2009 which recommended a light rail transit route starting from Conestoga Mall in north Waterloo and ending at the Ainslie Street bus terminal in Cambridge. In June 2009, Regional Council voted nearly unanimously for the recommendations in the EA. Regional staff are currently negotiating funding agreements with the provincial and federal governments, to cover the estimated $790-million cost for the system.
On October 31, 2009, GO Transit began to provide service to Kitchener with regional bus service from Charles Street Terminal to Mississauga, Ontario (Square One Bus Terminal) on weekdays and weekends. On December 19, 2011, GO Transit began train service to Kitchener with 2 weekday each direction to Union Station in Toronto. The route has been renamed from Georgetown GO Line to Kitchener GO Line to reflect this extension.
Passenger rail service has long been a point of frustration for residents of Kitchener and its neighbouring cities. Two main lines come westward out of Toronto and then meet up again in London. The northern line passes through Guelph, Kitchener and Stratford to London. The southern line goes along the heavily populated lakeshore to Oakville, then Brantford, Woodstock, and then to London. This southern line is the primary rail corridor for CN, while the northern line through Kitchener is owned by a short-line railway called the Goderich-Exeter Railway (GEXR). The track and signalling conditions on the north and south route are very different, so that trains on the southern route can operate more frequently and faster, while trains on the northern route take 1 hour and 40 minutes on average to get from Kitchener to Toronto. In addition, because it is a single-track route, trains often need to pull into sidings to let oncoming trains pass. Consequently, Kitchener, with a regional population base equal to London and situated much closer to metropolitan Toronto, gets less than one third the frequency of passenger rail service.
Passenger service is provided by Via Rail. Three trains in each direction travelling between Sarnia and Toronto stop at the Kitchener railway station daily. The station is slightly to the northeast of the city's downtown on Weber Street near its intersection with Victoria Street.
GO Transit bus service began in Kitchener on October 31, 2009, connecting to the Milton GO Station and Mississuaga City Centre GO Terminal. GO Train service from the Kitchener railway station began on December 19, 2011.
Freight trains in Kitchener are operated by the Goderich-Exeter Railway and the Canadian Pacific Railway. These railways serve several customers (including ThyssenKrupp Budd), many of which are located in industrial parks in southern Kitchener.
The closest airport to Kitchener is the Region of Waterloo International Airport in nearby Breslau, but while it is a thriving general-aviation field, it is not heavily served by scheduled airlines. Most air travellers use Toronto's Lester B. Pearson International Airport or John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport. Currently, there are four commercial airlines serving the area (three year round, one seasonal): WestJet to Calgary, Bearskin Airlines to Ottawa, American Eagle to Chicago and Sunwing Airlines to Cancun.
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