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3 reasons why UpTown/North Ward is better than the Laurelwood neighbourhood

Uptown/North WardI like Laurelwood. It’s got modern houses, a great school and its near both nature and shopping. Laurelwood is a great place to raise a family.

But suburbia isn’t for everyone. There is a big move across North America back to the cities. There are a lot of people who shun the suburbs, wanting to live closer to the urban core, where there are shops, galleries and parks, where the festivals happen, where the trees are higher than the houses.

This blog post is about the Uptown/North Ward real estate area (0114) of Kitchener Waterloo.

 

Uptown/North Ward

From the large stone and brick homes of the Mary Allen neighbourhood to the single story bungalows in the Breithaupt neighbourhood, from the new condos in UpTown Waterloo to the almost 100 year two storey homes on the edge of downtown Kitchener, Uptown/North Ward is a diamond in the rough, an undiscovered gem and an area that will appreciate well as Kitchener Waterloo quickly evolves into a city.

 

Mary Allen Neighbourhood – The other UpTown

John, Herbert, Allen, Mary, and George Streets comprise the heart of the Mary Allen Neighbourhood. With close proximity to UpTown Waterloo, shopping, great public transportation including the future LRT, large employers like Sunlife, and the Grand River Hospital, this urban enclave has long been a quiet and unpretentious favourite place to live.

The Mary Allen neighbourhood has a walk score of 85 (very walkable), with lots of restaurants, coffee shops, night spots, grocery stores, and a library all within walking distance. If you like to be close to the action, not only is UpTown Waterloo on your doorstep, but two future LRT stops will be within a ten minute walk from the Mary Allen neighbourhood.

 

The Breithaupt Neighbourhood

Another favourite neighbourhood in the Uptown/North Ward area is the Breithaupt neighbourhood. Tucked around Breithaupt Park, the neighbourhood has great little bungalows on large lots, as well as an abundance of side splits and two storeys built mostly in the 1960’s. The neighbourhood has a wonderful community centre and pool, nice wooded parkland and some terrific restaurants along Lancaster Street.

 

Transportation

In terms of transportation, UpTown/North Ward is unbeatable. The LRT will run down King Street – the west side of the neighbourhood – connecting it with Downtown Kitchener and Cambridge to the south and UpTown Waterloo, the University of Waterloo and Northfield to the north.

On the corner of King and Victoria, the Inter-model transportation hub will be a meeting place for the LRT, GRT, Via, GoTrail, and Greyhound.

By car or bus, the neighbourhood of UpTown/North Ward is bordered by some of our most important roadways: King, Weber, Lancaster, Erb, Union, and Victoria.

By bike, the old railway spur line into UpTown Waterloo is being converted into a biking and walking trail, much like the Iron Horse Trail. In fact, when completed, the “Spur Trail” will connect with the Iron Horse Trail and the trail that runs north through Waterloo Park and past the University of Waterloo.

 

Shopping and Restaurants 

Depending on where you live in UpTown/North Ward, grocery shopping is within an easy walk to ValuMart in UpTown, Vincenzos near the Bauer Kitchen or the Central Fresh Mart across from KCI. Uptown also has all retail including banks, hardware store, sports and bike shops, health and beauty shops, spas, barber shops, a book store, restaurants and bars. Near Vincenzos there are high end retail outlets for eyeglasses and home decor. Along Lancaster Street, two of my favourite restaurants – the Public Kitchen and Bar and Kypreos are located.

 

Parks and Other Amenities 

Woodside – the childhood home of Mackenzie King, Breithaupt Park with its wading pool and wooded area, Don McLaren Arena, Breithaupt Community Centre and downtown Kitchener’s Victoria Park on your doorstep are all other features of this neighbourhood.

 

Schools

The Schools serving the neighbourhood include Elizabeth Ziegler, Prueter, KCVI, Sacred Heart, St Teresa and Margaret Avenue School.

 

Real Estate Statistics

Realtor Alasdair Douglas in a recent blog post looked at the real estate area of Uptown/North Ward. He found that over this winter the $200,000-$250,000 price range sold well and the $300,000-$400,000 did not sell well at all.

 

3 reasons why UpTown/North Ward is better than Laurelwood

1) You can walk/bike or bus into either downtown Kitchener or Uptown Waterloo in minutes.

2) Restaurants: Greek, Thai, Chinese, Italian, American, British…

3) Public Amenities: Civic Square, Waterloo Town Square, Clay and Glass, Perimeter Institute, Bike Trail

What’s it like to live in Uptown Waterloo?

living in uptown waterlooWith more than 400 businesses and a busy public square, Uptown Waterloo offers the vibrancy of all of Waterloo condensed into a neighbourhood that is great for both living and finding entertainment. Deemed the bustling downtown core of the city, Uptown Waterloo is the heart of tourism with its many dining and shopping opportunities, as well as its cultural amenities. The area also offers a great place to live with much diversity in Uptown Waterloo real estate.

 

Walkability of the Area

Waterloo Public Square is located at King Street and Willis Way, and offers many modern shopping and dining opportunities. Banks and other financial institutions, as well as coffee shops and clothing stores are plentiful around the public square. The main branch of the Waterloo Public Library is near the square, at the southeastern border of the University of Waterloo campus, where residents and visitors can also enjoy Lions Lagoon Splash Park, The Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery, and the large Waterloo Park, which includes Silver Lake.

Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex is also located here, which includes opportunities for ice skating and swimming, and also has meeting and banquet halls for rent. There are also several churches near the Uptown area, including First United Church, Church of the Holy Saviour, Knox Presbyterian and Emmanuel United Church. Grand River Hospital, which is located south on King Street past Union Boulevard, serves the area of Uptown Waterloo.

 

Local Access and Public Transportation

Public transportation in the Uptown Waterloo area is convenient and plentiful.  Grand River Transit operates many bus routes through Waterloo, with a large number of bus stops along King Street as well as Erb Street. These bus routes provide transport through the Uptown area north and south along King Street, as well as east and west on Erb Street, and also provide access to the University campus.

 

Education: Elementary and Secondary Schools

MacGregor Public School, located at the corner of King Street and Central Street, is the nearest school to Uptown Waterloo and offers a rich history. Beginning as a farm owned by Waterloo’s founder Abraham Erb, MacGregor Public School started in 1820 as a log schoolhouse. Today the school educates 400 to 600 Grade 7 and 8 students each year. Students that attend MacGregor Public School come from the surrounding elementary schools including Westmount, Empire, Sandowne, and Keatsway, which are all found outside of Uptown Waterloo in the surrounding areas. Elizabeth Ziegler is the nearest elementary school to the Uptown area, educating children from junior kindergarten through grade 6. Residents’ children in Uptown also attend Empire Public School and Our Lady of Lourdes.

The University of Waterloo, as well as St. Paul’s University, Renison University College, and Conrad Grebel University College are all situated near Uptown Waterloo. The University of Waterloo ranked third in Maclean’s comprehensive university rankings for the 2013 and 2014 academic years, and consistently ranks among the top five universities in Canada.

 

Income Demographics and Local Tax Rates

The residential tax rate for the City of Waterloo is 0.370238 percent, of which there are three main components: education taxes (18 percent), municipal taxes (31 percent), and regional taxes (51 percent). Calculated with a metered system, the water rate in the city of Waterloo is $1.55 per cubic metre, and $1.91 for wastewater per cubic metre. Monthly service charges for water are $2.78 for single-family homes and $5.61 for residential apartments. If you are calculating your potential water expenses in Waterloo, I would recommend $30 per person per month.

As of 2006, Uptown Waterloo was home to 7,745 people, of which 16 percent of the total population were between the ages of 20 to 24. The median household income was $47,006, compared to the rest of Waterloo at $71,322. I live in UpTown Waterloo, so I’m partly responsible for our shortfall relative to the rest of Waterloo.

 

Annual Events and Festivals

Each year, Uptown Waterloo brings plenty of annual events that many residents travel into the downtown area just to watch. The annual Ice Dogs Festival is just one of them. (It has been rebranded this year as “Winterloo”.) Every year in mid-February, this event offers a weekend full of family fun. With indoor and outdoor activities, there is something for everyone, including ice sculpture carving, dogsled rides, Button Factory art activities, complimentary ice-skating at the Waterloo Public Square and complimentary movies. Attendees can also warm their hands – and mouths! – at the chilli cook-off that features some of the finest eateries from around town.

 

Issues Facing the Community

A recent petition with more than 750 signatures of cycling advocates has asked for bike lanes to be built on King Street in Uptown Waterloo. These proposed curbside lanes will change the streetscape of King Street, slimming it down to one lane in each direction. Safety concerns for these proposed lanes have been posed, which – if built – could be of danger to cyclists and commuters alike.

Living in the downtown area of Waterloo, which is congruently named “Uptown,” has never been more appealing. With a young and friendly atmosphere, and being within steps to all amenities, Uptown Waterloo offers an ideal location for anyone who enjoys a bustling scene with lots of activity and constant entertainment.

What are some popular and growing KW neighbourhoods? Forest Heights, Eastbridge, Uptown.

Spots to Watch: The Fastest Growing KW Neighbourhoods

If you’re relocating, upsizing, or downsizing in the Kitchener Waterloo area, you may be beginning to ask the typical question, “Where are the best KW neighbourhoods to purchase a property?” As with most real estate purchases, widely sought after and growing neighbourhoods are usually the most ideal places for an investment, especially when it’s possible to purchase a home before the property values in the area get too high. If you’re in the market for a property in the Kitchener Waterloo area, whether for you and your family to live in, or for investment purposes, keep your eye on these fast growing KW neighbourhoods for a great opportunity for future gain.

 

Affordable Housing in Growing Forest Heights

forest heightsLocated just a ten minute drive from downtown Kitchener, to the southwest Forest Heights is a recommended neighbourhood to purchase a single detached home. Suitable for first-time homebuyers looking for Kitchener real estate, Forest Heights is an affordable area that has a lot of potential for future growth. The area is home to many parks and green spaces, including Forest Heights Community Trail, and offers very easy access to Conestoga Parkway. The neighbourhood is also very close to the Boardwalk Shopping Plaza and the Sunrise Shopping Centre. Volunteer programs and events in the area are run by Forest Heights Community Association, which is based in the Forest Heights Community Centre. The area also offers a public library, and Forest Heights Collegiate Institute is a large high school that educates 1,600 students from Forest Heights and the surrounding neighbourhoods.

Forest Heights is a nice older KW neighbourhood with mature trees and winding drives and crescents. If you’re looking for a neighbourhood with wide lots and large backyards, with bungalows, side splits and two storeys in a forest like setting, Forest Heights is a great place. It is the kind of neighbourhood that many of us grew up in.

 

Comfortability in Popular Eastbridge

eastbridgeTucked away in the northwest corner of Waterloo is a small but popular pocket community of Eastbridge. About a twelve minute drive from UpTown Waterloo the neighbourhood is one of the best lifestyle choices for young families because of its comfortable housing, great schools and convenient location. This growing neighbourhood is home to Rim Park, which is a large green space with trails and a great spot for sports like soccer, hockey, and baseball. The park also offers a golf course and a recreational facility. Eastbridge is close to shopping at Conestoga Mall and the area offers easy access to Conestoga Parkway for commuters.

 

Westmount/Uptown: A Favourite to Many Locals

Uptown/WestmountAs a favourite in the eyes of homeowners and Realtors alike, the area of Westmount/Uptown offers one of the best walk scores for Kitchener Waterloo real estate. Still offering affordable housing, this area is vibrant in its opportunities for continued growth, and, as it stands today, is a wise decision for your real estate investment. When living in Westmount/Uptown, perhaps in one of the area’s 1000 Square foot bungalows, everything you could need—shopping, nightlife, restaurants, schools, parks, and more—is within walking distance. This notable KW neighbourhood is also adored for its mature trees and historic churches.

 

Luckily for homebuyers in the market for Kitchener Waterloo real estate, there are many different enclaves and neighbourhoods that are unique and specific to different requirements and tastes for daily living. And with many already established and fast growing neighbourhoods in the city, finding a great investment for the future while enjoying a new neighbourhood you can call home is a welcomed feat for many.

 

Where are the best condos in UpTown Waterloo?

It wasn’t that long ago when we didn’t have any condominiums in UpTown Waterloo. Now we have lots and lots more on the way. I thought it was about time to make a list. Where are the best condos in Uptown Waterloo?

 

bauer loftThe Bauer Lofts

The Bauer Lofts are one of the most popular condominiums in UpTown Waterloo, not only due to it’s convenient location, just south of the Waterloo Town Square, but also because it is a small community onto itself with fabulous dining and shopping right next door at the Bauer Kitchen, Vincencos and a host of other great and high-end retailers.

About the building

The Bauer Lofts is located at 191 King Street South, Waterloo, just south of the Waterloo Town Square. The building is a sleek 15 storeys, with 157 units ranging in size from 673 to 2715 square feet. The building was completed in 2009.

Likes

I like the high ceilings and the large master bedrooms in this building. You have to use a security key for the elevator between floors and to get into the underground parking. The party room is nice and opens to a large outdoor terrace with barbecues. The units have large balconies big enough for four people to lounge comfortably. From the upper floors the views are stunning. However with the construction of 144 Park and 155 Carolina the west side of the building will be blocked.

It’s will be on the LRT line about equidistant between the Grand River Hospital stop and the Uptown stop.

Neutrals

Some people like the exposed ductwork and unpainted concrete walls. Those features give it an urban feel.

Dislikes

I find that there are cramped entranceways to some units. The units are small and with large bedrooms, bathrooms and balconies, the living room and kitchens tend to be a little cramped. The building’s fitness room is quite small and does not have a lot of equipment for a building of it’s size. Of course parking for guests is an issue.

 

144 park144 Park Uptown Waterloo

Located at 144 Park Street, Waterloo, this is a great looking building towering above UpTown Waterloo with 19 Storeys. 144 Park has 142 units ranging in size from about 660 to 2500 square feet. There are standard and penthouse units  as well as street level town homes. Currently, still under construction it is scheduled to be completed before the end of 2014.

About the building

144 Park is the only building in Waterloo to have an on site concierge, guest suites for overnight visitors and a theatre! This building will be the home to the urban chic looking for cool comfort in a luxurious cosmopolitain lifestyle. Besides being just south of UpTown Waterloo, and on the future LRT line, the shops at the Bauer Marketplace are just steps away.

The underground parking has a car wash bay. The large outdoor terrace is a few levels above street level and will connect with 155 Caroline when completed. Of course, there will be barbecues, patio furniture.

 

155One Fifty Five Uptown Waterloo

Much like it’s sister building at 144 Park, One Fifty Five Uptown Waterloo located at 155 Caroline Street, Waterloo will be 19 storeys high. Currently under construction, this second phase of the development is slated to complete in 2016. The building will have 184 Units. Because of popular demand, the units in this building are more expensive than 144 Park.

If you have money to burn, go for the brownstone townhouse units at the base of these buildings. They are going to be awesome.

 

Red Condominium

There was a lot of excitement when the Red Condominium project was announced. Like many other projects in UpTown Waterloo, it’s pre-construction phase sold out virtually overnight. In the same neighbourhood as the Bauer Lofts and 144 Park and 155 Carolina, it’s location is excellent for shopping, the LRT and UpTown amenities.

redAbout the building

The Red Condominiums are located at 188 King Street South in Waterloo. The building is a comfortable 6 storeys high with 63 Units ranging in size from 524 to 1640 square feet. The building is currently just finishing up construction and will be completed later this in 2014.

Observations

Last week I visited a bright and sunny unit on the third floor. It was southern facing and had a wall of windows letting in lots and lots of sunlight. The kitchen was very large, but the bedrooms were puny and the main living area would be tough to furnish. The overall finish was not as good as expected – we noticed the drywall taping wasn’t done very well.

The party room overlooks backyards and roof tops of the Mary Alan neighbourhood, which is interesting but the fitness room is accessed through party room, which means that if you are hosting a party, there may be people wandering in to have a look on the way to their work out.

The Red Condominium has a very different feel than it’s neighbouring buildings. It’s quieter and less trendy.

 

seagramThe Seagram Lofts

Ever since they were completed in 1999, the Seagram Lofts are the place to be in UpTown Waterloo. With floor to ceiling windows, exposed brick and the best location in terms of proximity to shopping, the future LRT, nightlife and other amenities such as the Waterloo Public Library and Waterloo Park, this project is a once in a lifetime, one of a kind lifestyle experience.

Located at #3 and #5 Father David Bauer Drive, Waterloo both buildings comprise a number of two-level spaces with live/work options on the ground floor level. In all, there are 103 units in the two buildings of five storeys each.

The Seagram Lofts are the buildings that kicked off our condo craze. They represent true loft living.  The units are much larger than the average condo unit in UpTown ranging from 1115 to 2435 square feet.

About the buildings

The buildings have a real urban factory feel. The hallways are tall and stark and wide. The doors are heavy. The units open up to 17 feet high ceilings, windows all the way. The kitchens tend to be quite large – great for entertaining.

Unlike most of the other buildings in UpTown Waterloo, the garages are individual ground level units.

 

the @lexThe Alex

Like the Seagram Lofts, the Alex was completed in 1999. And also like the Seagram Lofts the Alex features high ceilings and big windows and a fabulous location in the heart of UpTown Waterloo. This converted school has lots of personality with wide hallways and stairs. It even has the old chalkboards!

The Alex is a three storey all brick building housing 22 units, ranging in size from 608 to 1400 square feet.

It is located at 35 Alexander Avenue, Waterloo. There is lots of parking for residents.

 

keatswayKeats Way on the Park

Keats Way on the Park is located at 255 Keats Way, Waterloo. This 13 Storey building was completed in 2003. There are 104 Units.

Not really in UpTown, it’s location in Beechwood and proximity to University of Waterloo make it a favourite to those who want to be in this neighbourhood.

Keats Way on the Park is an upscale building with bright airy units featuring open concept design. There are spectacular views from the upper floor balconies. There is a party/games room, a fitness room and indoor parking.

The units range in size from one bedroom 1259 square feet to three bedrooms at about 2500 square feet.

There is a special assessment pending. There is a problem with the stucco and perhaps the balconies.

42

 

THE 42 – Eco Chic Loft Living

THE 42 is a six storey condominium building conveniently located near the heart of UpTown Waterloo. This building, completed in 2011 has a stylish modern design, with big windows and glass balconies. It is really unique for its attention to sustainability and eco-friendliness. The 42 has a real upscale and luxurious feel and features a really nice fitness room, lounge and lobby.

The 42 is located at 42 Bridgeport Road East, Waterloo. It has 6 storeys and 54 units ranging from 630 to 1605 square feet. The 10 foot ceilings and large windows give the units a nice airy feel.

The parking is underground. I hope you have a small car or are a much better parker than I am.

 

bprBPR Lofts at Bridgeport and Regina

If you thought The Alex is quaint with four storeys and 18 units, you’ll love the BPR Lofts at 36 Regina Street South, Waterloo. It is a boutique condo loft building with 4 storeys and only 18 units, ranging in size from 672 to 857 square feet. The units are small but comprise either one bedroom and a den or two bedrooms. Again, like most of our condos, the 10 foot ceilings and large windows give the units a warm, comfortable feel.

Completed in 2010, it is really in the core of urban UpTown Waterloo.

This building feels a lot like the 42, but smaller.

silver thread

 

Silver Thread Lofts

Tucked away at 15 Devitt Avenue South, Waterloo, the Silver Thread Lofts is another boutique loft project within an easy walking distance to UpTown Waterloo. The former Silver Thread Sauerkraut factory has 15 Units of 653 to 1135 square feet over three floors. It fits in snugly and nicely on the fringes of the very popular Mary Allan neighbourhood.

Completed in 2011, the units have an industrial chic feel with exposed ceilings and ductwork. There are bachelor, one bedroom, one bedroom plus den and two bedroom units in the building.

Silver Thread Lofts has a fitness room with a rock climbing wall. The parking is underground.

 

waterpark placeWaterpark Place

Build in 1990, Waterpark Place is one of the oldest condominiums in UpTown Waterloo. It is located at 4 & 6 Willow Street, Waterloo, just a short walk from UpTown.

The building has 176 Units ranging in size from 940 to 2815 square feet in 23 Stories.

Waterpark Place amenities include an indoor pool with skylights, sauna, a party room with library, an exercise room, billiards, workshop, guest suite all situated on gorgeous grounds with water features

Observations

How do I say this politely? There are a lot of really old people living in this building. It is a really nice building in a great location and perhaps 20 years ago many of them downsized, moved in and have not left since.

I really like the large room sizes including the balconies.

The condo fees are a little on the high side.

 

westmount grandWestmount Grand

Located on the corner of Westmount and Erb at 233 Erb Street West, Waterloo the Westmount Grand is a beauty. It offers stylish luxury with nine foot ceilings, engineered wood floors, granite countertops and stainless steel appliances.

The Westmount Grand towers over the neighbourhood with 11 Storeys providing commanding views of the Westmount Golf and Country Club, to the south, UpTown Waterloo to the east and the University of Waterloo to the north.

There are 72 Units ranging in size from 946 to 2491 square feet, a library, a roof top study, a party room and roof top patio. The small fitness centre has a steam room!

Completed in 2011, there is everything from one bedroom to three bedrooms with den units. The building has underground parking.

I wrote about the Westmount Grand here.

 

k2K2

Wilfred Laurier is just a five minute walk away. University of Waterloo is a five minute bus ride.  Located at 158 King Street North, K2 is just north of UpTown Waterloo.

When completed, K2 will have 185 units in two towers – a 21 storey tower and an 11 storey tower.

 

IvyTowns

ivy townsJust announced, IvyTowns is a four storey boutique townhouse project comprising 68 units. Like the K2 project, this development focuses on the university student housing investment market. But unlike K2, Ivytowns is aimed at University of Waterloo students. There is higher demand for UW student housing as the University of Waterloo is not near a lot of student housing opportunities, at least not near as many as WLU.

Observations

I’m a little suspicious of the math in this video. 

 

Reflections at Laurelwood 

Not really in UpTown Waterloo, I wrote about Reflections at Laurelwood here. Personally, it is too remote for me. If I’m going to live out in the boonies, I at least need a townhouse. Reflections at Laurelwood has all of the disadvantages of condominium living without any of the advantages. When I was speaking with the marketing guy, he stressed a couple of times that this was the cheapest per square foot condo purchase on the market. He didn’t mention that the furnace-A/C unit is rented adding monthly expense on top of condo fee to the bills.

 

The Barrel Yards

I wrote about the Barrel Yards here. It is coming soon, not soon enough for a lot of people. I get an inquiry weekly asking about floor plans and prices.

 

I’ve lived and worked in UpTown Waterloo for more than a decade. I love it here. If you want to chat about your options, please contact me.

Columbia Forest is green space, great schools, lots of shopping, and easy proximity

Columbia ForestNamed for Columbia Lake near the University of Waterloo, the community of Columbia Forest is a suburban neighbourhood backing onto the greenbelt surrounding the Waterloo Region. Part of the Laurelwood neighbourhood, the area was originally settled by Mennonite farmers. Edged with forests, lakes, and streams, this tranquil, planned community is mindful of maintaining the rural values of the farm and forestlands surrounding it, while providing residents with recreation amenities and transport options to the business and downtown centres.

 

Walkability of the Area

Since its construction through the ’00′s, the Columbia Forest neighbourhood has attracted amenities such as shopping plazas, cafes, gas stations and banks without losing its semi-rural character. Recreational opportunities abound: Situated on Columbia Forest’s western edge, Laurel Creek Conservation Area is an ideal green space. The conservation area offers 4.5 kilometers of forested hiking trails, camping and picnic spots, and the jewel of its crown: a swimming lake open to windsurfers and boaters. In the winter, the same geography plays host to cross-country skiing and pick-up hockey games. Laurel Creek runs through the 600-acre reserve. With the Laurel Creek Nature Centre offering interpretive nature walks and talks to students and families, the site is a green oasis that preserves the heritage of Ontario’s wilderness, conveniently located in the Columbia Forest neighbourhood. Opened in 2011, a new Stork Family YMCA and the John M. Harper District Branch Library on the corner of Laurelwood Drive and Fischer Hallman Road in Waterloo feature a four-lane lap pool, recreational pool, a fitness centre, multi-purpose rooms, a gymnasium, a track and family change rooms.

Regency Park features winding paths for on-leash dog walking and a central picnic area with playground and swing set. Community teams offer entertainment for soccer and baseball enthusiasts all summer long. Neighbourhood parks include the Bonn Avenue and Brandenburg Boulevard Playground, with slide, swings and monkey bars, and the Old Oak Park soccer field and kids’ jungle gym.

Golfers will appreciate the proximity of Columbia Forest to both the 18-hole Westhill Meadows Golf Course and the 9-hole Waterloo Golf Academy, also featuring a family friendly mini-putt course.  For fast family fun, Erbsville Kartway go-carting track offers remote control and you-drive rentals.

 

Local Access and Public Transportation

Grand River Transit provides daily bus services to and from uptown/downtown and the business cores and between Columbia Forest and the University of Waterloo. GRT operates the Mobility Plus service for those requiring boarding assistance such as wheelchair users and the elderly. This year, work starts on a light rail system that will link the cities of Waterloo, Kitchener, and Cambridge. This is a long-term, environmentally sustainable solution to deal with the region’s growth to maintain the character of the area while offering green options for commuters.

 

Education: Elementary and Secondary Schools

Opened in 2004, Sir John A. MacDonald Secondary School, home of the Highlanders, combines dynamic sports programs with advanced placement programs and an active student club scene.  The school fosters social responsibility through its Building Bridges program, placing student volunteers in community soup kitchens, and reaching out across the globe with awareness and fundraising walks, dinners, and film screenings. It is one of the top ranked secondary schools in Waterloo Region.

Named for author and journalist Edna Staebler, the Edna Staebler School is a K-8 school working to develop a safe, respectful school community and raise future leaders. At the YMCA, Kindergarten After School spaces are available in the daycare’s junior and senior kindergarten program in coordination with Edna Staebler.

 

Income Demographics, Real Estate and Local Tax Rates

The regional population has grown 6 percent in the past three years,  in part due to a high tech manufacturing boom. The area is becoming known as an Intelligent Community, with four local universities and colleges driving innovation in business and technology. As a result, average family income in Waterloo is slightly higher than that of the rest of Ontario, at $75 000. The median Waterloo real estate prices are on the rise, from under $200 000 in 2003 to just over $300 000 in 2013, according to the Kitchener Waterloo Association of Realtors; the current average list price of Columbia Forest real estate is slightly higher, at $388 000. In 2013, a homeowner with an average assessed property value of $323 000 will pay $3,908.56 in total property taxes.  Columbia Forest, due to its close proximity to the universities and the high tech business located near Columbia Street is home to many young families employed in the high-tech sector.

 

Annual Events and Festivals

Winterloo (formally Ice Dogs), running this year from February 15 – 17,  is a family-friendly weekend festival that has run for 11 years. Dog sled races, ice sculptures, hands-on arts and crafts displays, skating, and a chilli cook off are all traditions that attract thousands to “Winterloo” every year.  The Sun Life Financial Jazz Festival is another free family activity that brings 35,000 people out each summer to enjoy up and coming and established jazz performers. Sun Life Financial also sponsors the  Waterloo Busker Carnival, which celebrated its 25th birthday last year. At this busker festival, jugglers, magicians, and street performers of all kinds regale crowds at the Waterloo Public Square.

The Kitchener-Waterloo area is also home to a number of German settlers, which is unsurprising, given Kitchener’s former name of Berlin. Undoubtedly the biggest and most famous of festivals, the annual Oktoberfest and Thanksgiving Parade offer nine days of entertainment to the 700,000 people who flock there every year. From “Stein and Dine”, the premier culinary event of the year which pairs German food with local beers, to the Miss Oktoberfest coronation, Oktoberfest brings in upwards of twenty million dollars for local businesses and non-profits, and introduces the region’s heritage to youngsters and newcomers alike. The Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest is the largest Oktoberfest celebration outside of Germany, and is a can’t-miss event for anyone in Waterloo Region.

 

Issues Facing the Community

Like every other Canadian community, an aging population means advanced care planning is a major concern. Columbia Forest is located 15 minutes, or 10 kilometers, from St. Mary’s Hospital, one of Canada’s most highly recommended hospitals, according to a National Research Corporation Canada (NRCC) report rating patient satisfaction for 2011-2012. Revera, a national leader in elder care, operates a long-term care facility in Columbia Forest, housing seniors and individuals needing assistance for daily living. The facility is engaged in outreach with area schools, building bridges between the generations and a lasting sense of community.

 

Call to action

Considering a move to Columbia Forest? Located in the greenbelt west of Toronto, the character of the community blends rural appeal with urban amenities. Schools, recreation centers, parks and libraries offer an excellent array of family friendly options, while retirees and elders will find an inclusive, stable community.  The festivals and events that take place year round make this a wonderfully diverse, welcoming place to live. Please call or email with your comments and questions. I love it when I can help a family find a comfortable home in great neighbourhood.