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Waterloo Park

A man and child walking by a lake

Waterloo Park has a long history as a community gathering place located conveniently in the city's uptown core. Known as the jewel of the city, the park boasts 45 hectares (111 acres) of prime parkland, with a multitude of active and passive uses. 

The park has, and continues, to be dramatically transformed primarily through redevelopment in the area and intensification in the urban core. The population demographics have changed as well with a rapidly expanding and diverse population. In addition, parks are evolving and contribute to broader urban policy objectives related to job opportunities, youth development, public health, arts and culture, community development and the natural environment.   

In light of this, the city initiated the Waterloo Park master plan in 2009 in order to keep the park's programs and infrastructure current with the needs of the community. This plan is linked closely with the recreation and leisure service master plan, the outdoor sports field strategy and the culture plan and is supported by a Waterloo Park Advisory Committee (WPAC), a group of interested citizens who advise council on matters pertaining to the implementation of the master plan.

Out of the master plan came a design brief and preferred concept plan to guide the long-term development of the park and allow council and staff to plan, fund and execute individual project initiatives over an extended period of time that collectively work toward the long-term vision identified for the park.

One of these project initiatives is the creation of new frontage along Father David Bauer Drive opposite to the Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex. The project involved upgrading the streetscape and the development of a series of green rooms that front Waterloo Park along this section. Each green room is defined by a distinct tree species and houses a variety of uses such as a new playground, a picnic area and a play space. Another initiative was the construction for the park's central promenade (the section of the Laurel/Trans Canada Trail that runs through Waterloo Park). This promenade represents the main spine for pedestrian and cycling traffic though the park and will operate parallel to the new light rail transit corridor. The project also focused on making the Central Street entrance to the park pedestrian-friendly.

A current project initiative is the rehabilitation of Silver Lake and Laurel Creek within Waterloo Park. A Silver Lake and Laurel Creek environmental assessment (EA) addendum was completed in early summer 2018 to determine a preferred rehabilitation option. Currently, surface water discharge creates poor water quality and sediment conditions in Silver Lake and contributes to the instability of Laurel Creek. Stream restoration is required to improve water conveyance in the park, while maintaining attention to the flooding limits, natural aesthetics of the park, cultural landscape elements, and the short and long-term implementation concepts. The study identified and evaluated alternatives for enhancing and protecting the ecological function and natural features within the park, ensuring that Silver Lake and Laurel Creek continue to be key attractions in the city. A detailed design and construction plan is now taking place with construction anticipated to take place in 2019/2020.

Plans are also in place to design a new festival area, accessible off Father David Bauer Drive, that will accommodate a number of cultural activities and programs and seamlessly integrates the existing skatepark and the green rooms.