What needs to happen next for the Tannery to be a true District


There were more meetings with Cadan yesterday. On the upside, we’re still talking. On the downside, there have been no breakthroughs. Parking continues to cloud the bigger issues of heritage and how the second half of the Tannery could influence downtown revitalization and our area’s economic development.

Unfortunately, Cadan is so focused on the short term need for parking that their minds aren’t open to possibilities. Unless the short term parking need is taken off the table the fate of the buildings on the second Tannery block are doomed.

There is a definite parking shortage for office workers in downtown Kitchener. Space is empty at the nearby MacPherson Centre (former Canada Trust building) because it doesn’t come with parking. I’d suggest that the City of Kitchener, Manulife, Cadan, the University of Waterloo and the MacPherson Centre look at building a parking structure on Manulife’s current surface parking lot. A collaborative effort is in their individual and collective self-interest as well as being the actions of good corporate citizens. I suspect it wouldn’t need the full block and so all its parking would not be lost.

Hard numbers on short term parking “shortage” needed

At the same time, I’m not convinced there is a short term parking shortage because I’m still looking for hard numbers that prove there is an immediate need for parking. I’m looking for hard numbers on how many spots are needed and when. I’m also looking for hard numbers on the arrangements for parking so that I can determine when the bottom line indicates if there is a deficit, when it starts, the size of the deficit and how long the deficit lasts.

Where there is a will there is a way

But if we give the benefit of the doubt that the spaces are a must, even by Cadan’s own admission they only gain 75-80 spots by tearing down the smaller buildings. I remain convinced though that if the Mayor and City Council wanted to, they could take the short term parking issue off the table so that adaptive reuse of the other half of the Tannery District could be explored. I’m convinced that where there is a will there’s a way but that up to this point, the will has not been sufficiently strong.

  • The City should ask the University of Waterloo if it can store some of the material normally stored at the Bramm workyards in the warehouse UW owns at 280 Joseph Street to free up spots there.
  • City Council could direct public works staff to find creative solutions that could free up even more space sooner.
  • Can the University of Waterloo downtown Kitchener campus continue to accept some Tannery Parking after the end of August—at least until the Charles & Benton Parking garage is down with its 200 spaces for the Tannery. [Note: I understand that those spaces are for future tenants but until they are needed for future tenants, can’t they be used for existing tenants?]
  • Manulife’s parking lot across Francis Street regularly has 50 or more empty spaces on the Tannery end. I expect those spaces officially are spoken for but not used. But based on my observations over a number of months, the number of empty spaces is consistent. Why wouldn’t Manulife make 50-100 spaces available to the Tannery tenants?
  • The City could approach the owner of the former Asian store at Victoria and King to see if it could be torn down and used as a temporary parking site.

Who can make a difference?

  • We need prominent community leaders to start speaking out publicly or even discretely to the decision-makers (City Council & Cadan). When Tim Jackson spoke out on funding for the arts, people took notice just as they did when David Johnston gave his prescription for making Waterloo Region a knowledge capital. Are prominent business leaders such as those behind the Prosperity Council or Communitech willing to put their words into action?
  • You!
    • Join the Facebook group “Save the Lang Buildings”
    • Write a letter to the editor of the Waterloo Region
    • Attend the June 7 Committee of Council DTS (Development and Technical Services) meeting at 7:45 p.m. (Unfortunately, I can not attend.)

What do the Tannery’s tenants think?

The vast majority of the tenants have been silent on whether they would like to see the Tannery turned into a true District for people. I would love to hear what they—or possibly more importantly their staff or customers—think. They include:

If that’s you, let me know by leaving a comment!

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