Here is my feedback on the central transit hub for King and Victoria as proposed by the Region of Waterloo. You can submit your own feedback here.
What do you like about the design?
It looks nice enough.
Great to see there is a community room.
What do you dislike about the design?
This design is much too sterile and purely functional. It totally lacks the “stickiness” required to be a successful people place. People will move through as quickly as possible in part because it will be a space that doesn’t have enough people in it to feel comfortable and safe.
The Hub could learn much from Union Station in Toronto. There are no places to get a coffee, a quick meal, or flowers. Convenience type store outlets are a must. A child care centre would be appropriate. There must be opportunities to showcase the arts.
Similarly the outside is not a place that is inviting to people. It’s just a large empty space that people will rush through hurriedly to get to their destination. I didn’t see any natural gathering places. There’s no benches and appears to be too little shade. There needs to be multi-purpose space that can be used for events especially downtown festivals such as the blues festival stage. And there should be spaces for artisans and local food to be sold. If there are no spaces inside for cafes or restaurants, there must be space outside for food trucks and/or outside cafes.
Get rid of the surface parking lot. The space should have a building on it or be a people place. There could be a drive through drop off and pick up zone. An underground parking garage is required that can meet short term needs but needs to be big enough for people who want to park for out of town trips. We want to encourage transit use and active transportation but if people are not already doing so that is not going to happen to get to the transit hub for out of town trips especially if they live a drivable distance away and/or with luggage involved.
What else should we consider?
Stop work on this plan immediately and go back to the drawing board.
This plan reflects far too much the thinking that made the Charles Street terminal a place that people avoided unless forced to be there. It is prioritizes function over being a place for people. We have learned much about what a centrally locate transit hub needs to be successful since then but this plan doesn’t reflect any of it.
The Central Transit Hub must be part of a larger mixed use development. It should have retail, hospitality and services like a pharmacy or dentist. Some of them should have street level access. Additional floors featuring office space are required. The nearby new Gowlings and Google offices show the demand for it at that intersection.
More buildings are expected on this site but I’m not seeing any proactive plan to have them work as one. If a future phase includes residential, a perk of that location should be being able to access transit without going outside.
This plan deserves an F. We will come to regret it if built as proposed. I predict we will want or need to redevelop it. Let’s get it right the first time.