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Waterloo is a city in Southern Ontario, Canada. It is the smallest of the three cities in the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, and is adjacent to the city of Kitchener.
Kitchener and Waterloo are often jointly referred to as "Kitchener-Waterloo", "KW", or "the Tri-City" (to include the City of Cambridge), although they have separate city governments. There have been several attempts to amalgamate the two cities (sometimes with the city of Cambridge as well), but none have been successful. At the time of the 2011 census, Waterloo had a population of 98,780.
Waterloo was built on land that was part of a parcel of 675,000 acres (2,732 km2) assigned in 1784 to the Iroquois alliance that made up the League of Six Nations. Almost immediately—and with much controversy—the native groups began to sell some of the land. Between 1796 and 1798, 93,000 acres (376 km2) were sold through a Crown Grant to Richard Beasley, with the Six Nations Indians continuing to hold the mortgage on the lands.
The first wave of immigrants to the area was Mennonites from Pennsylvania. They bought deeds to land parcels from Beasley and began moving into the area in 1804. The following year, a group of 26 Mennonites pooled resources to purchase all of the unsold land from Beasley and discharge the mortgage held by the Six Nations Indians.
The Mennonites divided the land into smaller lots; two lots initially owned by Abraham Erb became the central core of Waterloo. Erb is often called the founder of Waterloo, as it was his sawmill (1808) and grist mill (1816) that became the focal point of the area.
In 1816, the new township was named after Waterloo, Belgium, the site of the Battle of Waterloo, which had ended the Napoleonic Wars in Europe. After that war, the area became a popular destination for German immigrants. By the 1840s, German settlers had overtaken the Mennonites as the dominant segment of the population. Many Germans settled in the small hamlet to the southeast of Waterloo. In their honour, the village was named Berlin in 1833 (renamed to Kitchener in 1916). Berlin was chosen as the site of the seat for the County of Waterloo in 1853.
Waterloo was incorporated as a village in 1857 and became the Town of Waterloo in 1876 and the City of Waterloo in 1948.
Waterloo City Council consists of seven councillors, each representing a ward, and a mayor. The number of wards expanded from five to seven in the November 2006 elections. The current mayor of Waterloo is Brenda Halloran, who was elected in November 2006 and re-elected in 2010. The current Waterloo City Council is constituted as follows:
The City is responsible for fire protection, libraries, parks and recreation, and secondary streets. Many municipal services are provided through the Regional Municipality of Waterloo (often referred to as Waterloo Region or the Region of Waterloo), which consists of the cities of Waterloo, Kitchener, and Cambridge, and the townships of Woolwich, Wilmot, Wellesley, and North Dumfries. Regional responsibilities include social welfare, community health, and policing through the Waterloo Regional Police Service.
Past and present city councils have been committed to providing for the explosive population growth that is coming with the local economic boom. Rapidly developing subdivisions are often described by their critics as urban sprawl that threatens environmentally sensitive areas and valuable agricultural land.
Federally and provincially, the entire city of Waterloo is contained within the Kitchener—Waterloo electoral district.
Waterloo's city centre is located near the intersection of King and Erb streets. Since 1961, the centrepiece has been the Waterloo Town Square shopping centre, which underwent a thorough renovation in 2006. Much of the mall was torn down and has been replaced by buildings that emphasize street-facing storefronts.
Residents refer to the Waterloo city centre as "uptown" (often capitalized), while "downtown" is reserved for the Kitchener city centre.
The city centre was once along Albert Street, near the Marsland Centre and the Waterloo Public Library. The town hall, fire hall, and farmers' market were located there. Amidst some controversy, all were demolished between 1965 and 1969.
There are five main parks in the city. RIM Park occupies 2 square kilometres (500 acres) and is home to a variety of indoor and outdoor sporting facilities, including an eighteen-hole golf course, and the heritage Martin Farm House.
Waterloo Park is in Uptown Waterloo, and contains historical buildings, a bandshell, animal displays, and the Lions' Lagoon water park in its 45 hectares (110 acres). A grandstand was built in 1895 to house spectators for sporting events at the park's former oval track, but it was torn down in 1953. A Park Inn refreshment booth opened in June 1956, designed by a former Alderman, Charlie Voelker. It operates from May until September. The park is also known for its light displays during the Christmas holiday season, known as "Wonders of Winter".
Bechtel Park occupies 44 hectares (110 acres) and has many outdoor sporting facilities along with wetlands, meadows and hardwood forest. The park also includes an off-leash dog park, and adjacent city-operated cemetery. Hillside Park covers 25 hectares (62 acres) and includes two lighted ball diamonds.
Lexington Park includes a ball diamond and a soccer pitch on the former site of the K-W Municipal Airport. The 3 square kilometre (725 acre) Laurel Creek Conservation Area lies in the northwest of the city.
The Grand River flows southward along the east side of the city. Its most significant tributary within the city is Laurel Creek, whose source lies just to the west of the city limits and its mouth just to the east, and crosses much of the city's central areas including the University of Waterloo lands and Waterloo Park; it flows under the uptown area in a culvert. In the west end of the city, the Waterloo Moraine provides over 300,000 people in the region with drinking water. Much of the gently hilly Waterloo Moraine underlies existing developed areas. Ongoing urban growth, mostly in the form of low-density residential suburbs (in accordance with requests by land developers), will cover increasing amounts of the remaining undeveloped portions of the Waterloo Moraine.
Waterloo has a humid continental climate of the warm summer subtype (Dfb under the Köppen climate classification); this means that there are large seasonal differences, usually very warm to hot (and humid) summers and cold (to very cold) winters. Compared to the rest of Canada, it has moderate weather. Winter temperatures generally last from the middle of December until the middle of March, while summer temperatures generally occur between the middle of May to close to the end of September. Temperatures can exceed 30? (86?) several times a year. Waterloo has approximately 140 frost-free days per year.
The city is also home to three well known think tanks – the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, an advanced centre for the study of foundational, theoretical physics and award-winning educational outreach in science; the Institute for Quantum Computing, based at the University of Waterloo, which carries out innovative research in computer, engineering, mathematical and physical sciences; and the Centre for International Governance Innovation, an independent, nonpartisan think tank that addresses international governance challenges.
The city is part of Canada's Technology Triangle (CTT), a joint economic development initiative of Waterloo, Kitchener, Cambridge and the Region of Waterloo that markets the region internationally. Despite its name, CTT does not focus exclusively on promoting technology industries, but on all aspects of economic development.
Waterloo has a strong technology sector with hundreds of high-tech firms. The dominant technology company in the city is BlackBerry, makers of the BlackBerry, which has its headquarters in the city and owns several office buildings near the University of Waterloo's main campus.
Notable Waterloo-based high-tech companies include:
Many other high-tech companies, with headquarters elsewhere, take advantage of the concentration of high-tech employees in the Waterloo area, and have research and development centres there. Sybase, Google, Oracle, Intel, McAfee, NCR Corporation, Electronic Arts and Agfa are among the large, international technology companies with development offices in Waterloo.
Before it became known for technology, Waterloo was sometimes referred to as "the Hartford of Canada" because of the many insurance companies based in the area. Manulife, Sun Life Financial, Equitable Life of Canada and Economical Insurance have a significant presence in the city.
Breweries and distilleries had been a significant industry in the Waterloo area until 1993 when a Labatt-owned brewery was shut down. Now the only major brewery is the Brick Brewing Company. Waterloo was the original home of distiller Seagram (also home town of many descendants of J.P. Seagram), which closed its Waterloo plant in 1992. Of the remaining Seagram buildings, one became home of the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), while others were converted into condominiums.
The hospitals serving Waterloo are all located in Kitchener. There is Grand River Hospital, which includes the K-W and Freeport health centres (formerly independent hospitals that amalgamated in April 1995), and St. Mary's General Hospital.
The Intelligent Community Forum named Waterloo the Top Intelligent Community of 2007.
Until the 1960s, with a few minor exceptions, Waterloo students would attend high school in Berlin/Kitchener. In 1914, Waterloo Lutheran Seminary added a high school department, named the College School, primarily to provide secondary education for prospective seminary students. The College School was discontinued in 1929. Between 1940 and 1950, due to overcrowding in Kitchener-Waterloo Collegiate and Vocational School, some grade nine classes were housed in Elizabeth Ziegler Public School. In a recent online poll Lackner Woods Public School was voted the best school in the Kitchener-Waterloo Region.
Starting in the 1960s, several high schools opened in Waterloo. In 1958 it was announced that Waterloo would have its own secondary school. A $1,247,268 school was built on a 20 acre (81,000 m2) site on Hazel Street. Waterloo Collegiate Institute opened on September 6, 1960. In 1968, Laurel Vocational School (later University Heights Secondary School) opened, and in 1972 Waterloo's third public high school, Bluevale Collegiate Institute, opened. In 1965, St. David Senior School, which served grades 7–10, opened in the north of the city. St. David was turned into a high school in 1985 and was renamed St. David Catholic Secondary School. University Heights Secondary School closed in 2004 and Sir John A. Macdonald Secondary School opened that same year.
As of 2007, there are four high schools based in Waterloo. Three are operated by the Waterloo Region District School Board: Bluevale Collegiate Institute (east), Sir John A. Macdonald Secondary School (west), and Waterloo Collegiate Institute (central). One is operated by the Waterloo Catholic District School Board: St. David Catholic Secondary School.
The main campuses of the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University are located in Waterloo. This includes the many associated universities and colleges, including St. Jerome's University, St. Paul's University College, Conrad Grebel University College, Renison University College and the Balsillie School of International Affairs. Kitchener-based Conestoga College also has a Waterloo campus, located at the former University Heights Secondary School on University Avenue near Weber Street. Conestoga purchased the building in January 2006 for nearly $6 million from the Waterloo Region District School Board. It is double the size of its previous Waterloo campus on King Street, which was sold after the University Heights building was acquired.
Waterloo is home to several notable tourist attractions and areas of interest. These include:
Other nearby attractions include:
The Conestoga Parkway and Highway 8 connect Waterloo with Kitchener, Cambridge, Highway 7/8, and Highway 401.
Waterloo shares several of its north-south arterial roads with neighbouring Kitchener. They include (from east to west) Bridge Street, Weber Street, King Street, Westmount Road, Fischer-Hallman Road, and Ira Needles Boulevard. Regina Street (located between Weber and King Streets) and Albert Street (located between King Street and Westmount Road) are north-south roads located entirely within Waterloo.
The city's east-west thoroughfares are almost entirely located within city limits, with the exception of Union Street, which has a small section in Kitchener, and Bridgeport Road which has its eastern end in the Bridgeport area of Kitchener. Waterloo's major east-west arterial roads are (from south to north) Union Street, Erb Street, Bridgeport Road, University Avenue, Columbia Street, and Northfield Drive.
There are numerous bicycle pathways. The Iron Horse Trail, which originates in Kitchener, enters Uptown Waterloo and links with the Laurel Trail that extends into the northern part of the city.
Public transport throughout Waterloo Region is provided by Grand River Transit, created by a merger of Kitchener Transit (which served Waterloo) and Cambridge Transit in January 2000. GRT operates a number of bus routes in Waterloo, with many running into Kitchener. In September 2005 an express bus route called iXpress was added that runs from downtown Cambridge through Kitchener to Conestoga Mall in North Waterloo. Regional council has supported the construction of a light rail system to connect Waterloo, Kitchener, and Cambridge. In June 2011, regional council approved the plan for a light rail line from Conestoga Mall to Fairview Park Mall in Kitchener, with rapid buses through Cambridge.
Waterloo is not served by any regularly scheduled passenger rail service. Via Rail trains between Sarnia and Toronto stop at the nearby Kitchener railway station southeast of uptown Waterloo at the corner of Victoria Street and Weber Street. The station is accessible by local buses via Kitchener's downtown Charles Street transit terminal.
The nearest GO Transit railway station is Kitchener GO Station, as the Kitchener Line (formerly the Georgetown Line) has extended to Kitchener on December 19, 2011. In addition, Waterloo is served by GO buses which stop at the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University, with destinations of Square One City Centre Terminal and Milton GO Station.
In May 2007, city council gave approval for a non-profit tourist train to run between Waterloo station and St. Jacobs, reviving the route of the Waterloo-St. Jacobs Railway from the late 1990s. The Waterloo Central Railway are run on trains at 10am, 12pm, and 2pm from April to November.
The closest airport to Waterloo 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. WestJet has scheduled daily non-stop service to Calgary from Waterloo International Airport using Boeing 737-700 aircraft. They started service out of Region of Waterloo International Airport on May 14, 2007, for the summer season and then decided to fly year-round due to strong passenger demand. As of June 27, 2010, Westjet also flies non-stop daily from Waterloo International Airport to Vancouver for the summer season. Bearskin Airlines started offering service in the fall of 2007 with three flights daily between Kitchener and Ottawa using a Fairchild Turboprop aircraft. Strong demand has resulted in Bearskin Airlines adding a fourth flight on Fridays. During the winter months Sunwing Airlines offers service to Dominican Republic. As of June 14, 2012 American Airlines operates twice daily service to Chicago O'Hare International Airport. The service is operated by American Eagle using the Embraer 145 jet. Recent upgrades to the runways, approach lighting and terminal building have permitted larger aircraft to use this airport. Past airlines that no longer service the airport include Trillium (to Ottawa), Mesaba (Northwest Airlines feeder to Detroit) and Sky Service (to sun destinations).
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