The tallest tower will block out sunlight

KW balanced community

the tallest tower will block out sunlight” said City of Waterloo planner Laura Dewar as reported by Paige Desmond in The Record last week.

The comment wasn’t referring to this Waterloo condo pictured above at Allen and Caroline Streets, which will be disrupting the Iron Horse Trail. The comment was, rather, about the Waterloo City Council approval of a 21 storey and 11 storey tower bracketing the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of St. Sophia at King and Noecker Streets. Read Paige’s writeup for the details; I’m considering the broader picture.

Y’all know I’m out in the street a lot, looking for interesting images to photograph. I saw a particularly arresting image of the shadow cast by the 14 to 22 storey condos built on the west side of King Street, south of Columbia. Those buildings square off against mostly two storey houses across the street on the east side. The effective sunset for those east-side houses probably shifted from 8pm to 4pm. That blows my hair back. Stay tuned for that photo project. That sparked a running thread for me: what shapes the makeup and evolution of our physical community?

Are you thinking, “Here we go, another crusader?” Well, not really. I’m more of a curious explorer. I’m old enough now to know that I always have incomplete information. And having seen the downtown of my hometown gutted by suburban malls, I support core intensification and higher density living. I also believe there is a lot of win in collaborative change. I’ve even accepted the LRT as probably a good thing for the future and that it will likely cost twice the $2B price tag, but just like buying a house, once you start paying the mortgage you might as well love everything about that house.

And still the questions ring in my head and now I’m putting them out to people with whom I cross paths. Where is the conversation? Generally speaking, does anyone care? Who are the decision makers? Is it uncomfortable to talk about this without seeming anti-development, anti-progress, anti-new-tax-revenue, anti-change? Who has the vision for a comprehensive aesthetic of our cityscape?

Ultimately, I’m hoping for a community accessible at a human scale. So I just have a few questions…


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