I’ve uncovered some interesting information that has been hiding in plain sight on the City of Kitchener’s website.

There’s both a vision for the project and a brief. Both appear to be from when the project was announced in 2008.

I’m discovering that sadly it seems the site was never intended to be a true district for people along the lines of the Distillery District. I suggest that including “District” in the name was a mistake if that was the original plan. But maybe it was foresight into what was possible. The vision document has a page devoted to “Places to Gather” that shows outdoor uses, a page on “Outdoor Festivals,” the “vision” and “the steps” pages both feature outdoor dining.

The vision

Create a vibrant community – the Tannery District where people come together to work, play and share ideas

On the upside to implement the vision, have outdoor festivals and places for people to gather, the project requires outdoor spaces that are pedestrian-friendly similar to those found at the Distillery District in Toronto.

The brief by Cadan on its plans (with selected annotations)

Public Realm

Portions of the site will be opened up to general public access.

I don’t see how this statement fits with the vision document unless there are more opportunities for people to mill about, explore and people watch such as those offered by incorporating the four building on the other side of Joseph into the project.

Parking Strategies

The Tannery will incorporate a number of innovative strategies to reduce parking demand and automobile dependence. Spaces will be provided for the use of a car sharing agency (such as Zipcars or Grand River Car Share). This will allow tenants to take alternate means of transit to get to their workplace and still have the convenience of an automobile for out of offi ce meetings or errands.


The site is strategically located near Victoria Park, giving users access to an extensive network of off road trails. Bicycle parking areas will be provided near principal entries and for tenants in secure indoor spaces. Showers will be provided as part of the facilities. Dedicated areas, with separate street address, will be provided for motorcycle and scooter parking to encourage more energy efficient modes of transport.


Proximity to two main bus routes, the Charles Street Transit Terminal, and the Kitchener VIA rail station add alternative methods of transportation to the site. In addition, a proposed future LRT transit will provide even better transit connections.


We expect to attract tenants from the Schools of Pharmacy and Medicine. These tenants will not need cars to access the site as they will be crossing the street.


All of these factors reduce the parking demand anticipated.


Parking will be provided: on the street in the current perpendicular parking arrangement, on site in a new surface lot proposed at Victoria and Charles streets, and on a temporary lot on the adjacent block on Joseph Street.


A couple interesting items to comment on.

  • I was excited to see such a strong emphasis placed upon alternative transit options to reduce the need for parking.
  • Has a car sharing arrangement been made? Is it being promoted to incoming tenants?
  • Unfortunately, I also saw that the plans have existed all along for “temporary” parking lot across Joseph Street. No mention of the buildings but we can assume their demolition has always been a part of the plan. The latter is confirmed in the “conceptual development” section:
    A potential redevelopment opportunity at Joseph and Victoria for either office or mixed uses which could include a multi level underground garage.

My conclusion

While this information appears pessimistic at first, I stand by my earlier posts and remain optimistic that the strong public support for a true district will be heard by both the City of Kitchener and Cadan. Just because we are seeing exciting possibilities should not be a barrier to making them a reality. If we continue to speak with one voice that we love what we’re getting but want the project to take the next logical step, then I believe that can happen. If we can get the city to recognize how a making the Tannery a District can bring the desired street life to downtown, I am sure that city officials can once again take a proactive approach to downtown development and help make it happen.

2 thoughts on “Cadan’s vision for the Tannery District

  1. A little longer term, but somewhat related, the Region is going through a transportation master plan process at the moment, and one of the things they’re talking about is establishing a Parking Coordination Commit with regional and municipal staff to create an area-wide parking strategy to avoid wastelands of surface parking and promote urban development.

    You might be interested in dropping by Regional council tomorrow at 7pm for the formal consultation meeting before the master plan is presented to council. I’m going to try to be there, but it’s looking like I might be pulled away for other things.

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