|| Kitchener ||

The City of Kitchener, formerly the City of Berlin (1854 1916), in southwestern Ontario, Canada, has a population of 209,000. The metropolitan area, which includes the two neighbouring cities of Waterloo and Cambridge, has 497,900 people, making it the tenth largest CMA in Canada by population. It is the seat of the Waterloo Regional Municipality, and is adjacent to the smaller cities of Cambridge to the south, and Waterloo to the north. Kitchener and Waterloo are often referred to jointly as "the twin cities" or "K-W" (Kitchener-Waterloo), although they have separate municipal governments. The three cities are also known as "the tri-cities".

The City of Kitchener covers an area of 136.86 square kilometres.

In 2004, Kitchener celebrated its 150th anniversary.

The name Kitchener is pronounced as three syllables [ˈkɪ.tʃə.nɝ].

History

In 1784, the land on which the City of Kitchener would be established was part of a large tract of more than 2400 square kilometres of land, set aside by the British Crown as a grant to the Six Nations Indians for their loyalty to the Crown during the American War of Independence. Between 1796 and 1798, the Six Nations Indians led by Joseph Brant, sold off 380 km of land to Colonel Richard Beasley, a United Empire Loyalist. While located far inland and isolated from centres of commerce, the land owned by Beasley appealed to a particular group of Pennsylvania German Mennonite farmers.

Fuelled by the fear that their religious freedoms and exemption from military service under British rule would not be guaranteed following the American Revolutionary War, Pennsylvania German Mennonites began to search for new areas of settlement. In the 1790s Mennonites responded to advertisements for Upper Canada promising inexpensive land and the guarantee of freedom of worship and beliefs. It is reported that a small group of Mennonites, members of the Betzner and Sherk families, learned of Richard Beasley's tract of land, and by the end of 1800 the first permanent non-native settlement was established in what is now the City of Kitchener. Soon afterward, a group of Mennonites pooled resources to purchase all of the unsold land from Beasley, forming the German Company Tract and dividing the lands into 128 farms of 181 hectares and 32 farms of 1.2 hectares each for distribution. At the time of the pioneer settlement, Kitchener was a land abundant with dense bush, swamps and sand hills. Streams found throughout the area would become very important in supplying the power for saw and grist mills, in what was still however a farm based economy.

In 1816, the Government of Upper Canada elevated the German Company Tract to the Township of Waterloo. The establishment of the Township also marked the beginning of a steady migration of German speaking Europeans to the area. The German language of the Mennonites and their tolerance for other religions and cultures attracted many German speaking immigrants from Europe particularly from the 1820s to 1870s. Population growth and improvements made to roads helped establish the beginnings of a true urban centre that would become a hamlet named Berlin in 1833, in honour of the settlers' German heritage. In 1853 Berlin would become the County Seat of the newly created County of Waterloo and with that so came the status of Village. Three years later in 1856 the Grand Trunk Railway was extended to Berlin, opening up the area completely to Upper Canada society and to future industrialization.

The increase of German speaking immigrants from Europe also contributed greatly to Berlin's industrialization. Their skilled trades and industrial knowledge would help lead to a period of rapid growth and prosperity. By the end of the 19th century, Berlin had established itself as a major industrial centre within the Dominion of Canada, boasting furniture factories, tanneries, a foundry and button factories.

On June 9, 1912, Berlin officially became a City and was considered to be Canada's German Capital. However, with the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 came anti-German sentiment and an internal conflict ensued as the City was forced to confront its cultural distinctiveness. There was pressure for the City to change its name from Berlin, and in 1916 following much debate and controversy, the name of the City was changed to Kitchener, after the British general Lord Horatio Herbert Kitchener, who won fame during the Boer War.

The extensive industrialization of Berlin in the 19th century had a significant impact on the urban landscape. Large factories and the homes of industrialists and labourers replaced many of the buildings from Berlin's pioneer era. Kitchener's rapid growth led to a need to plan for the orderly development of the City, and in 1925 the first City Plan was approved. The Adams-Seymour Plan was characterized by a comprehensive zoning by-law establishing distinct residential districts and locating commercial and industrial areas along primary arterial roads. It also contemplated the growth of Kitchener beyond the established 19th century form of Berlin, and significantly influenced how the City would develop in the 20th century.

While Kitchener suffered during the great depression, the diversification of industry enabled the city to weather the worst years of the depression era and return to a period of growth as early as 1936. The tension that had marked the City in the First World War did not reappear during World War Two. Kitchener rallied as enthusiastically as its neighbours to the Canadian cause and shared fully in the years of great economic growth in Ontario in the post war years. By 1965, Kitchener had become Canada's fastest growing City and one of the Country's leading industrial, financial and distribution centres.

On September 17, 1981, the first ever "blue box" recycling program was launched in Kitchener. Today, more than 90% of Ontario households have access to recycling programs and annually they divert more than 650,000 tonnes of secondary resource materials. The blue box program has expanded in various forms throughout Canada and to countries around the world such as the United States, United Kingdom, France and Australia, serving more than 40 million households in countries around the world

Economy

Whereas Waterloo has benefited from the presence of two universities and a number of high tech companies, Kitchener has been a more blue-collar town. The auto-parts manufacturer Budd Canada continues to employ over 1500 workers. The Huron Business Park is also the site of a number of industries, from seat manufacturers to furniture components. A number of the old industrial companies of Kitchener have fallen on harder times: the Kaufmann shoe manufacturer has closed its factory, Schneider Foods (a meat producer) has been bought out and operations scaled back, and companies like Electrohome have ceased local production in favour of licensing or supply agreements with overseas makers. Still, occupations unique to manufacturing, processing and utilities cover as much as 15% of the local workforce.

Kitchener's downtown core, though somewhat improved in recent years, has experienced considerable urban decay, thanks largely to the decline of industrial jobs in the city and the growth of its suburbs. Things worsened when urban renewal plans in the 1960s cost the city its neo-classical city hall and did not achieve its goals of redevelopment. When an arsonist began destroying abandoned and underused buildings in Kitchener's downtown, the issue of downtown renewal and cleanup of the adjoining Victoria Park neighbourhood came to the fore in municipal elections and has been the focus of city council for the past ten years. Achievements during this period include selling off a dying mall and converting it to office space for Manulife Financial, a major insurance firm, relocating a theatre downtown, converting the old Goudies department store to a Children's Museum, and converting vacant industrial space into residential units.

The city now boasts a new city hall, and a new farmer's market opened in 2004. Other projects include an assortment of lofts, utilizing old factories. Plans are in place for a new central library that will be considerably larger than the existing facility. Various plans for 20 floor condo units have been put in place. And although Waterloo is home to many insurance companies, two universities, and high-tech industries, Kitchener is hoping to increase demand for office space by building office towers and inviting companies from around the golden triangle to move in.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the University of Waterloo school of pharmacy and downtown health sciences campus was officially held on March 15, 2006.

Economic and social impacts from the new health sciences campus that are expected to be felt locally include: the potential for more family doctors and other health professionals practicing in the city and region; significant economic benefits associated with an injection of as many as 1,200 students, faculty and staff to the downtown core each day and spin off business and industry that will diversify the economy and bring additional jobs to the area.

Demographics

According to the May 2001 census, the population of the Greater Kitchener Area was 414,284, of whom 190,339 lived in the city of Kitchener. 49.2% of the population was male and 50.8% was female.

Children under five accounted for approximately 6.3% of the resident population of Kitchener, compared to 5.8 % in Ontario, and 5.6% for Canada overall. 11.2% of the resident population in Kitchener was of retirement age, compared with 13.2% in Canada. The average age was 35.3 years, compared to the 37.6-year national average.

In the five years between 1996 and 2001, the population of Kitchener grew by 8.2% compared with an increase of 6.1% for Ontario as a whole. Population density of Kitchener averaged 501.0 people per square kilometre.

Racial groups

  • White: 362,030 or 90.0%
  • Asian: 10,850 or 2.7%
  • Black: 6,150 or 1.5%
  • Chinese: 5,500 or 1.3%
  • Mixed: 4,150 or 1.1%

The six largest reported ancestries in the metropolitan area of Kitchener-Waterloo are: German (22.8%),English (20.8%), Serbian (19.7%), Scottish (17.1%), Irish (16.1%), and French (8.9%).

Religious groups

  • Protestant: 41.3%
  • Roman Catholic: 32.4%
  • other Christian: 5.0%
  • Muslim: 2.2%
  • none, other: 19.3%

Government

Kitchener is governed by a council of six councillors, representing wards (or districts), and a mayor. Kitchener residents also elect four councillors at large to sit with the mayor on the council of the Regional Municipality of Waterloo. The current mayor of Kitchener is Carl Zehr, who was re-elected handily to his third term in November 2003, after first being elected in 1997 and reelected in 2000. Before that, he sat as a municipal councillor from 1985-1994.

In 1976, residents of Kitchener voted almost 2:1 in favour of a ward system. The first municipal election held under the ward system occurred in 1978.

The City Councillors, plus the Mayor, make up the entire City of Kitchener Council. Council is responsible for policy and decision making, monitoring the operation and performance of the city, analyzing and approving budgets and determining spending priorities. The residents of each ward vote for one person to be their City Councillor; their voice and representative on City Council

Education

The Doon neighbourhood, formerly a separate village but now part of Kitchener, is home to the primary campus of Conestoga College, one of the foremost non-university educational institutions in the province.

For six consecutive years, Conestoga has earned top overall ranking among Ontario colleges on the Key Performance Indicator (KPI) surveys, which measure graduate employment rates and satisfaction levels, and employer and student satisfaction.

Renovations have begun on the former St. Jerome's High School in downtown Kitchener, in preparation for the Faculty of Social Work from Wilfrid Laurier University.

The University of Waterloo is investigating opening a School of Pharmacy in the downtown area. The City of Kitchener has contributed $30 million from its $110 million Economic Development Investment Fund, established in 2004, to the establishment of the UW Downtown Kitchener School of Pharmacy. As of January 2006 there is no formal commitment to the creation of the school from either the University of Waterloo or the provincial government, but most local politicians and journalists ignore this.

The school is expected to graduate about 120 pharmacists annually and will become the home of the Centre for Family Medicine, where new family physicians will be trained, as well as an optometry clinic and the International Pharmacy Graduate Program. Construction on the $147 million facility - expected to create an influx of 1,200 staff and faculty into the city's core - is slated to be complete as early as the summer of 2007.

The provincial government has also announced that the University of Waterloo's (UW) Downtown Kitchener Campus will be the site of a new satellite campus of McMaster University's School of Medicine. This is expected to train 12 doctors a year, primarily through distance learning.

The training of medical professionals in downtown Kitchener include developments such as:

  • In 2007, the UW School of Pharmacy about to begin admitting 120 pharmaceutical students each year.
  • Eventually, the UW School of Pharmacy campus will evolve to become the UW Health Sciences Campus, offering more programs and with a daily population of more than 1,200 students, faculty and staff.
  • There are plans for an Integrated Primary Health Care Centre on the UW site that will provide as many as 12 more family physicians locally, as well as training for many more medical doctors.
  • The Centre for Family Medicine, which is already up and running in the former Victoria School Centre in downtown Kitchener, is slated to move to the UW campus sometime after it opens. Currently, there are six practicing family physicians in the centre and plans are to boost that number to as many as 14 family physicians.
  • New physicians trained either at the new Integrated Primary Health Care Centre or the Centre for Family Medicine will learn in and create holistic health care models of the future.
  • In September 2006, the Wilfrid Laurier Faculty of Social Work will open in the former St. Jerome's High School building on Duke Street adding yet another dimension to the "health care" theme in downtown Kitchener.

Health Care in Kitchener

Kitchener-Waterloo is served by two large general Hospitals, Grand River Hospital and St.Mary's General Hospital. Grand River treats patients with a wide range of problems and houses the Psychiatric Unit, Trauma centre, Women's and Children's services, and the Regional Cancer Care Centre. St Mary's houses the Regional Cardiac Care centre, serving a population of nearly one million from Waterloo region, East to Guelph, north to Owen Sound/Tobermory, south to Lake Erie and West to Ingersoll. It also houses a Respiratory Centre. Both hospitals have Emergency departments and Intensive Care Units.

Long term care and rehabilitation is catered for at Freeport Hospital, at the south of the city. The site of the old sanatorium, it nestles along the banks of the Grand River, and is part of the Grand River Hospital management group.

Family doctors are in short supply in KW, and a source of great concern among residents. The Chamber of Commerce runs a waiting list for people looking for a doctor, but as of 2006 the wait is over two years. Two urgent care centres cater for much of the routine services for thousands of people without a family doctor, from routine immunisations and health screening, to repeat prescriptions and referral on to specialist services. A third urgent care centre is being added to a renovated supermarket development in the desirable Forest Heights area of the city.

Announced January 2006 was the inauguration of a new School of Medicine attached to the University of Waterloo. From 2007 15 new family doctors will be trained each year in new premises being constructed in the Downtown Core.

City issues

Crime

Despite having one of the lowest crime rates in Canada, Kitchener has had a rapid increase in crime over the past two years. Violent crimes such as robberies and sexual assaults have gone up 20% since 2003. Drug crime has also gone up, in relation to robberies. However, the drug crimes tend to be related to less serious drugs such as marijuana. Cocaine and crack are on the rise as well, but have not increased much in the recent years. In 2004, there was a +5 increase in murders compared to earlier years. The rise in crime is most likely a result of the rapid increase in population.

Illegal gun possession is on an increase as well. While the majority of the guns make their way up to Toronto, illegal guns are being seen in London, Hamilton and Kitchener. Of the suddenly increasing number of robberies, many are carried out with guns, although knives and BB guns tend to be more common.

Homelessness

Unlike bigger cities in Ontario, Kitchener has a rather low number of homeless people. Only a few hundred people suffer being homeless. The city is constantly setting up shelters and investing millions in constructing homes and drop-in centres for the homeless. Unfortunately, most shelters used are "unofficial" abandoned or extremely decayed buildings. Many prefer to sleep on benches and in doorways downtown for moral reasons. Drugs and drug dealing is quite frequent at many of the shelters.

Poverty

In total, Waterloo Region is home to nearly 50,000 people who live below the poverty line. Many services are provided to tend to the problem, such as food drives, clothing drives, and labour. Despite the high number of those living below poverty, most have jobs, as Kitchener has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Canada.

Heritage Conservation

In 2006, the Heritage Canada Foundation listed Kitchener's demolition of the historic Forsyth Factory as the worst heritage loss of the last year. This designation was partly because of the importance of the building, which was officially designated as a protected property in 1999, but also because of the city's refusal to take responsibility for maintaining the building.

In 2001 the city of Kitchener bought the Forsyth shirt Factory building for nearly $1 million. Since then Kitchener Council has done virtually no maintenance of any sort on the building, including repeatedly voting to not fix leaks in the roof. As a result of several years of water damage, a city inspection on January 9 2006 determined that the building had developed structural problems and recommended demolition for public safety. On January 14 demolition started. Many residents questioned the report, since a similar report commissioned by the city just a few months prior indicated no structural problems and suggested that the best and least expensive option for redevelopment was to repair the extensive water damage and covert the building to lower floor commercial, and upper floor residential uses, as was done successfully with the Kaufman factory. Exterior examination by citizens' groups indicated no dangerous structural problems, but the city refused to allow anyone access to the property to do a more detailed analysis. The safety of the building was a key consideration since public safety is one of the few reasons that a property with a provincial heritage designation can be demolished.

Part of the issue is that the Forsyth building is on what should be prime downtown Kitchener real estate, yet the block is not well developed. The citys plan was to construct a library on this peice of land as the other branch located downtown was old and obsolete. The idea was that part of the factory could be included in a new building, however, it was ultimately demolished. Public opposition to the demolition had a substantial effect on the future of the block. Since taking ownership of the building, Kitchener has also rejected several proposals from developers and community organizations for ways of using the property. In 2004 Kitchener held public meetings to determine what people wanted to be done with the block. In 2006, due to the opposition from the public regarding the library, and the need for parking, the city agreed to contruct a temporary parking lot until the coucil decides what to do.

Because the factory was actually three connected buildings, even with the structural report, the city could only demolish the largest building, the other two are still standing, although with missing walls. As of March 2006 the city of Kitchener has not protected the remain buildings from water and is arguing that they are no longer safe.

When discussing the Forsyth building, many residents compare it to the similar destruction of the old Kitchener city hall in 1973.

Oktoberfest

Kitchener's Oktoberfest celebration is an annual eight-day event. Based on the original German Oktoberfest, it is billed as Canada's Great Bavarian Festival. It is held every October, starting on the Friday before Canadian Thanksgiving and running until the Saturday after.

While its best-known draws are the beer-based celebrations, other cultural and entertainment attractions also fill the week. The most well-known is the parade held on Thanksgiving Day; as the only major parade on Canadian Thanksgiving, it is televised nationally.

Another icon of the festival is Miss Oktoberfest. This position was formerly selected in a televised beauty pageant, the applicant coming from across North America. The position is now selected by a closed committee of judges from a panel of local applicants; community involvement and personal character form the main criteria under the new system. A ribald spin-off of the Miss Oktoberfest pageant is celebrated in some local high schools, in which all participants are male, but dressed as women.

City parks and trails

Kitchener's largest and most famous outdoor park is Victoria park, in the heart of downtown Kitchener. Numerous events and festivities are held in this park.

A statue of Queen Victoria is located in Victoria park. In an effort to display loyalty to the queen, the statue was placed in the park, after the city's name was changed to Kitchener.

The city has announced the construction of a new Gaukel Street entrance to Victoria Park. Gaukel Street is going to be used as a corridor linking Victoria park to City Hall.

The new Victoria Park entrance will include a complete streetscape upgrade on Gaukel Street with new lighting, stamped concrete, and other features. The new entrance to the park itself will include stone masonry gates, walkways, new lighting, flower gardens, a pond complete with waterfalls, and a sculpture created by a local artist.

Kitchener has an extensive community trail system. The trails, which are controlled and run by the city, are hundreds of km. in length, and are well maintained and safe.

Due to Kitchener's close proximity to the Grand River, several community trails and paths border the river's shores. The convenient access to the Grand River has drawn nature seeking tourists to the city.

Transport

Highways and expressways

 
 
Highway 8 as seen from Franklin Street bridge.

There is an interchange with Highway 401 on Kitchener's southern border, and Highways 7 and 8 and the Conestoga Parkway run through the city and connect it to the 401 and to Waterloo. In order to reduce the congestion on Highway 8, a new interchange has been proposed at Trussler Road, which would serve the rapidly growing west side of Kitchener. Although this proposal is supported by the Region of Waterloo, the MTO has no plans to date to proceed with an interchange at Trussler Road.

City streets

Unlike many southern Ontario cities whose streets follow a strict grid pattern, Kitchener's streets are laid out in a complex, disorderly fashion; few follow any particular arrangement, and nearly all converge on main roads.

Historically, attempts to simplify the street system have met limited success. With the influx of soldiers returning from service in World War II, the region was threatened with a housing crisis; seeing this as an opportunity to improve road layouts, the city constructed new neighborhoods in a grid pattern. The project was largely unsuccessful, however, and with the exception of a few isolated areas, road layouts remain complex to this day.

More recently, expansions of many high-traffic roads, such as Fairway Road, River Road, and Manitou Drive, have been proposed to deal with the rapid expansion of the suburban areas.

Public transport

 
GRT bus

Since 2000, public transport throughout the Region of Waterloo has been provided by Grand River Transit, which was created by a merger of the former Cambridge Transit and Kitchener Transit. GRT operate a number of bus routes in Kitchener, with many running into Waterloo and two connecting to Cambridge. In September 2005, GRT added an express bus route called iXpress from downtown Cambridge through Kitchener to north Waterloo.

Recently, proposals have been put forth regarding a rapid transit system serving the downtown cores of all three cities. The region currently favors a light rail transit system, though it is considering alternatives such as improved bus service or a monorail.

Railways

Passenger service is provided by VIA Rail. Three trains in each direction travelling between Sarnia and Toronto stop at the Kitchener railway station daily. The station is slightly to the northeast of the city's downtown on Weber Street near its intersection with Victoria Street.

GO Transit do not serve Kitchener; their railway station most easily accessible from the city is Milton station. City councillors and public petitions have called for the extension of GO trains to the Region of Waterloo, but at present GO do not plan to go beyond already-announced bus links.

Freight trains in Kitchener are operated by the Goderich-Exeter Railway and the Canadian Pacific Railway. These railways serve several customers (including ThyssenKrupp Budd), many of which are located in industrial parks in southern Kitchener.

Air

The closest airport to Kitchener is the Region of Waterloo International Airport in nearby Breslau, but while it is a thriving general-aviation field, it is not heavily-served by scheduled airlines. Most air travellers use either Toronto's Lester B. Pearson International Airport or Hamilton's John C. Munro International Airport. Although there are no permanent public transport links from Kitchener to any of these airports, Northwest Airlines has three flights daily to Detroit's Wayne County Metropolitan Airport. Mesaba Airlines, using Saab 340 twin prop aircraft, is the regional carrier affiliated with Northwest and operates under the name Northwest Airlink. During the winter vacation period Dec. 2005 to March 2006 there are also flights to Cuba, Mexico and the Dominican Republic, using Airbus 320 Aircraft. Recent upgrades to the runways and terminal building are permitting larger aircraft, such as the Airbus, to use this airport. Air Canada has been in talks with the Region with an eye on starting flights to Ottawa and Montreal

Neighbourhoods

Kitchener has many neighbourhoods, however only the main ones are recognized.

  • Forest/Rockway
  • Victoria Park
  • Fairview/Gateway
  • Chicopee/Grand River
  • Bridgeport
  • South Ward

Stanley Park and Forest Heights are considered neighbourhoods, but officially, only 6 main wards are recognized.

Sports teams/leagues



Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League who play at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Complex

Kitchener Panthers of the Intercounty Baseball League who play at Jack Couch Park

Kitchener Dutchmen of the Ontario Hockey Association who play at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Complex

KW Braves Jr. A Lacrosse of the Ontario Lacrosse Association who play at the Waterloo Rec Centre.

Kitchener Fastball League contains 13 teams and plays at Budd Park

Famous people

Raffi Armenian, conductor, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony

Don Beaupre, retired NHL ice hockey player

Todd Bertuzzi, NHL ice hockey player, though a native of Sudbury, Ontario, lives in Kitchener

Christopher Chalmers, freestyle swimmer

John Robert Columbo

Gary Cowan, golfer

Tim Deegan, winner of the 2006 MuchMusic VJ Search competition

Woody Dumart, NHL ice hockey player, who with Milt Schmidt and Bobby Bauer made up the Boston Bruins famous Kraut line

Helix, a popular heavy metal band

Jill Hennessy, actress, Law & Order (1993-1996),Crossing Jordan

William Lyon Mackenzie King, Canada's tenth, and longest serving prime minister

Merrick Jarrett, folk singer, (Mariposa Folk Festival)

Lennox Lewis, retired boxer, grew up in Kitchener and still owns a house in the city.

Ross Macdonald, pseudonym for Kenneth Millar, author, mystery writer, creator of Lew Archer

Margaret Millar, author, mystery writer, wife of Ross Macdonald

David Morrell, award winning author, creator of Rambo

Moe Norman, golfer

Carl Arthur Pollock, industrialist, Electrohome Ltd

Jeremy Ratchford, actor, Cold Case Files

Jason Reso, professional wrestler (competes in TNA under the name "Christian Cage")

Frank J. Selke, NHL manager

Milt Schmidt, NHL ice hockey player, who with Woody Dumart and Bobby Bauer comprised the Boston Bruins Kraut line

Dave Sim, creator of the comic book Cerebus the Aardvark

Darryl Sittler, retired NHL ice hockey player

Scott Stevens, retired NHL ice hockey player

Paul Reinhart, retired NHL ice hockey player

Homer Watson, landscape artist

Walter P. Zeller, the founder of Canada's largest discount department store chain, Zellers, was born near the city