UPDATE May 15: City eases restrictions on market retail space to accommodate high-tech business (Waterloo Region Record) Is this a good move?

Here is my letter to the Waterloo Region Record in response to its editorial yesterday that followed a great article in Saturday’s paper asking if the Kitchener Market has fulfilled its promise. The title given my letter by the Record doesn’t match my perspective and so I’ve revised it.

I believe it’s too early for the Record to declare that Kitchener’s market gamble has paid off.

We can’t think the market has fulfilled its promise as long as the retail space at King and Eby remains unfinished and vacant.

Yes, the Saturday market is a great success and subsidies are decreasing but that falls short of a 7 day a week operation that transforms the east end of our downtown core.

I’m confident that promise can be fulfilled—and sooner than later—if we work to turn it into a successful people place all week long.

Having the piazza host a summer arts market and allowing food vendors and buskers on King East are a few of the ways that we could attract more people and give them reasons to stay.

And we don’t need to wait for people to be living downtown as Ian MacNaughton suggests. People are living downtown and we live and work within walking distance of the market. We can easily attract more people by simply adding an iXpress stop at Cedar and Charles to help people get to market who live further away.

When that space at King and Eby is contributing to the success of the Market District rather than detracting from it, we can say Kitchener’s Market gamble has paid off. Until then, we need to put our energy into making the district a vibrant public place.

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