Residents in the Traynor-Vanier neighbourhood of Kitchener have started a petition to ask for a pedestrian crossing over LRT tracks that keep them from getting to businesses on Fairway Road.
"While LRT will improve transit and walkability in our region, a fence built along the one kilometre hydro corridor stretch between Wilson and Courtland is cutting off residents from their sources of shopping, food, and work," the petition on Change.org says.
It notes many who live in the now cut-off neighbourhood are newcomers to Canada, seniors, single parents, international students and people who live on tight budgets.
"The current LRT plan cuts off the pathway for residents to Food Basics and all other sources of food and work in the area and has forced residents to take a taxi or two buses to access basic needs," the petition says.
The petition has 250 signatures.
Needs of residents not addressed
The KW Tenant Group wrote to the region in August to say no one has communicated with residents about the long-term plans for this stretch of the light rail transit system.
Hydro One began work on the property where a park and trail had been in 2014, then tracks for the LRT were laid and a permanent fence went up along the side of the tracks.
They expressed concern the needs of residents were not considered during planning and construction of the LRT tracks.
"Our wish is to go back to the way we lived before, going to our daily walks to the businesses we like and not being late for work," the letter said. "The conversations we had with the businesses on the other side of the tracks tells us they share our worry."
'Connect us, not to divide'
The group has received support from the local advocacy group TriTag (Tri-Cities Transport Action Group) which said there were concerns about the fence in Waterloo Park, but "it is proving not to be a barrier at all, as plentiful crossings of the rail corridor at Father David Bauer and Central Drive keep the sides connected."
The group said the LRT is meant to make the community more walkable.
"However here, we see a community that was already walkable have their access removed. It's unreasonable to expect residents to walk the one kilometre detour being imposed upon them," he said, noting this is the second longest stretch of track between stations in the entire system.
"There is still time to fix this," TriTag wrote. "The purpose of the ION is to connect us, not to divide."
- K-W cyclists also struggle with navigating LRT construction
- LRT delayed until early 2018 due to Bombardier train delays
Public meeting this fall
The City of Kitchener has said it is working with the Region of Waterloo to address residents' concerns.
Two public meetings will be scheduled – the first one later this fall – where residents will be able to speak to staff about the problem. Those meetings have not yet been booked, but residents will be given at least two weeks notice, city staff said.