The Shift West
In the past 10 years the Tri-Cities, including Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge, have been rapidly increasing infrastructure and commercial developments. Before this shift in the city scape, the Tri-Cities have been known as suburban areas with low-rise buildings. These buildings housed local businesses, many that were part of the technology community. However, in recent years the city’s boundaries are expanding outwards to make room for these fast-growing, international tech corporations and large commercial additions. The shifts in the Tri-Cities infrastructure comes at the same time that Toronto is becoming increasingly compact and over-saturated with high-rises and commercial developments.
The Tech Industry
Both Waterloo and Kitchener have been known for their tech industry, however, we are seeing more and more diversity when it comes to the companies that are shifting west of the city. There’s a large community of start-up corporations that take advantage of the young graduates from the Universities in the area.
The city of Waterloo has formally recognized Ontario’s mandate that calls for higher density cities that form more integrated communities. A number of new developments have been constructed in the uptown core and West side of the city. What used to be an unassuming skyline has now become flooded with cranes and ascending buildings on the horizon.
Although the business market in the Tri-Cities is becoming more diverse, the tech corporations are standing their ground and growing rapidly within the cities borders. This January, Google unveiled their new 185,000 sq. ft. office addition in the heart of Kitchener. It is home to over 350 engineers and includes all the modern and accessible amenities Google offices around the world are known for. However, this expansion is only in its early phases. Google aims to employee over 900 staff within the Tri-Cities. At this pace of growth, the Waterloo Region is well on its way to creating a competitive, progressive corporate atmosphere.
The shift west for many start-up corporations and tech companies is happening quickly, therefore, transit must follow suit. Kathleen Wynne has announced that Ontario will commit $43 million to fund a new light rail that provides two-way, all day transit for commuters to the Kitchener and Waterloo Region. In the meantime, GO will extend their regular operating hours. GO is adding two morning and afternoon peak train trips between Georgetown and Union Station. GO will also create an express bus route from Kitchener to the existing Bramalea GO station. These new transit developments are essential to attracting new investors to the area and improving the growth of businesses and the efficiency of the Tri-Cities.
The pace and direction that the Waterloo Region is moving towards guarantees new and diversified corporations a competitive placement in the global market. The Move West is not slowing down anytime soon.