South Kitchener residents say LRT work has cut off neighbourhood

Residents in Kitchener's south end say the LRT is making it harder for them to get around the city by cutting off easy access to Fairway Road.

Residents in Vanier Drive and Trayor Avenue apartments cut off from Fairway Road

Mike Homer, Saleem Ahktar and Paul Metzger live in apartments on Vanier and Traynor Drives. They say that the construction of the LRT has cut off their access to nearby grocery shopping and other amenities. (Andrea Bellemare/CBC)

Residents in Kitchener's south end say the LRT is making it harder, not easier, for them to get around the city by cutting off easy access to Fairway Road. 

In the past, people living in apartments on Vanier Drive and Traynor Avenue were able to use a community trail to walk to the back end of businesses on the north side of Fairway Road. 

But the new LRT has been built where the trail was, so now residents either precariously cross the tracks through a gap in the fence or take long detours along roads that aren't pedestrian friendly.

"Now for walking, we're looking at anywheres from 30 minutes to a 45 minute walk [or] two buses. A big inconvenience," said Paul Metzger, the founder of the KW Tenant Group that represents people who live in the buildings.

"Something has to be done, they can't be cut off like that," said Ward 3 Coun. John Gazzola, who has been talking with residents.

Residents who live on Vanier Drive and Traynor Drive say they're cut off from Fairway Drive thanks to LRT construction. (Google Maps)

The buildings at Vanier Drive and Traynor Avenue include students, people living in subsidized apartments and new arrivals to Canada, including about 20 families of Nepali descent. Between the four buildings, there are about 270 units.

Metzger, along with Saleem Ahktar and Mike Homer who are part of the tenants group, want to see a pedestrian bridge built over the LRT tracks for residents to regain foot access to Fairway Road.

Currently, residents are cutting through this gap in the fence around the LRT tracks to access services on Fairway Road. Soon, even that gap will be boarded up. (Andrea Bellemare/CBC)

Gazzola said he has asked city staff to look into a temporary solution for residents, so they don't have to cross the one section of track they're currently using.

"If there's no safe way for people to get from A to B, they're going to start doing unsafe things," he said. 

"The city should've probably held some kind of a neighbourhood gathering prior to this stage, but that's actually what's happening on Saturday," said Gazzola. "When all the planning is going on sometimes there are some things you don't really stop to think about, you draw nice maps and you put in charts but until people there start to walk and [go] 'Hey I can't walk here anymore,' that's when people start to bring things to the front." 

The city of Kitchener is holding a public consultation meeting on Saturday, January 28 at the Kingsdale Community Centre starting at 1 p.m.