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.

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