High Speed Rail: The Kitchener-Waterloo Impact

Cliff Rego
Published on May 23, 2017

High Speed Rail: The Kitchener-Waterloo Impact

Downtown Kitchener to Union Station in 48 minutes – while you work! (or nap…)

While last week’s High Speed Rail (HSR) announcement is sure to ignite an ongoing cost-benefit analysis – our tax dollars are in play, after all – the prospects of a quicker commute is music to the ears of the many who call the 401 their second home.

But aside from saving local commuters hours of gridlock, what broader impact would HSR have on Kitchener-Waterloo?

Urban Growth

Right now, for many of those who commute to the GTA, the most attractive K-W home is the one that is 2 minutes from the 401.

With HSR and a fully-functioning LRT, living in the downtown core becomes a practical, commuter-friendly option both for locals and those in the GTA looking for less expensive housing options.

Business Growth

With a direct link to Downtown Toronto and being just a short 32-minute hop from Pearson International, K-W will become an even more attractive destination for corporations, either as a location for a HQ or satellite office.

As well, increased population density will create opportunity for small businesses: restaurants, nightlife, attractions – a more vibrant, entertaining, Toronto-esque downtown lifestyle that will continue to breed more residential and commercial investment.

Home Price Parity with Larger Markets

As our communities become less distant/more easily accessible, you can expect the price gap between Kitchener-Waterloo and GTA real estate markets to shrink.

Exodus

Note that I didn’t say mass exodus; our population will grow overall, not just from HSR, but from the ongoing investment in our region. That said, with the commute from London to K-W expected to be just 25 minutes, London may present a more attractive and affordable option for those working in Kitchener-Waterloo. And, by 2031, you’ll be able to add Chatham and Windsor to the list of bedroom cities for K-W.

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To be clear, I don’t believe high speed rail is the catalyst for the growth in our region – there are a variety of factors that make K-W a great place to live, work and invest – but I do contend that it will make our region more accessible and, therefore, aid in its growth.

If executed efficiently and in a cost-effective manner — and that’s always a big IF with these kinds of projects – high speed rail could be a boon for our region, and benefit more than just Kitchener-to-Toronto commuters.

High Speed Rail: The Kitchener-Waterloo Impact
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