Kitchener-Waterloo

Waterloo council drops glowing trail project for Waterloo Park

Waterloo city council has cancelled plans for an expensive glow-in-the-dark trail in Waterloo Park, which would have been the first of its kind in North America, citing cost and uncertainty around maintenance and if it could hold up against Canadian winters.

Council will still upgrade promenade trail and bridge at a cost of $2.5M

Waterloo City council said the glowing path in Waterloo Park would have been similar to the Van Gogh-Roosegaarde bicycle path in the Netherlands. However, they decided to drop the idea Monday. (ThisIsEindhoven.com)

Waterloo city council has cancelled plans for an expensive glow-in-the-dark trail in Waterloo Park, which would have been the first of its kind in North America. 

Earlier this year, council decided to upgrade the central promenade trail, which runs from Seagram Drive to Caroline Street, to a hard surface with part of it incorporating glow-in-the-dark stones.

It would have been similar to the Van Gogh-Roosegaarde bicycle path in Eindhoven, in the Netherlands, and would have been a draw for tourists. 

However the city has now dropped that part of the project as a result of high cost, the soon-to-be remediation of Silver Lake and too much uncertainty around maintenance and if the glowing pathway could have held up against Canadian winters.

"I think the glowing stones project would have added to the enhancement of the park...but it is a very large project and a costly project," Mayor Dave Jaworsky told CBC News. 

"It's not something we can fund at this time."

'We had a lot of explaining to do'

When council announced that it would look into implementing a glowing trail in Waterloo Park, the project received support from some councillors, including Coun. Diane Freeman who liked that it would have been both a path and public art.

However, the project raised a lot of eyebrows in the community, with many feeling there were better ways to spend $800,000.

"When you looked at the number of people around the city who liked the project, unfortunately that number was 11 people and we had a lot of explaining to do in the city," Jaworksy said.

What now?

The price tag for the glow-in-the-dark trail was around $800,000, but council decided that money could be put to better use.

Council approved continuing with the upgrade of the promenade trail and bridge, which will still cost more than $2.5 million.

That money will be used to separate the trail for cyclers and pedestrians, a boardwalk, benches, trees and new lighting.

"I think you can envision the usage [of the trail] will dramatically increase in conjunction with active transportation," said Freeman.

Jaworsky adds that in the future, the city may add an "interior perimeter walkway" that will go around Waterloo Park.

"I think it's part of the grand vision for the park that I think citizens will really stand up and notice," he said.