The Region's Nuclear Bunker: The Historic Waterloo County Municipal Emergency Government Headquarters

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This project supports the Region of Waterloo's strategic focus area(s):

Icons representing the Region's strategic focus areas Thriving economy healthy, safe and inclusive communities.

Concrete entrance to stairwell down into the Waterloo County MEGHQ"There is a nuclear bunker in our community?! Why haven't I heard of it?!"

In 1966, at the height of the Cold War, Waterloo County built a Municipal Emergency Government Headquarters (MEGHQ), a fall out shelter to house the people they felt they needed (government officials, engineers, etc.) to keep the government going in the event of a nearby nuclear attack. Luckily, we never needed to use the bunker for its intended purpose and it was "decommissioned" in 1992. Since then, it has been used in training exercises

This project supports the Region of Waterloo's strategic focus area(s):

Icons representing the Region's strategic focus areas Thriving economy healthy, safe and inclusive communities.

Concrete entrance to stairwell down into the Waterloo County MEGHQ"There is a nuclear bunker in our community?! Why haven't I heard of it?!"

In 1966, at the height of the Cold War, Waterloo County built a Municipal Emergency Government Headquarters (MEGHQ), a fall out shelter to house the people they felt they needed (government officials, engineers, etc.) to keep the government going in the event of a nearby nuclear attack. Luckily, we never needed to use the bunker for its intended purpose and it was "decommissioned" in 1992. Since then, it has been used in training exercises and by community groups, but- has been vacant since 2017 due to the presence of asbestos and mold within the building.

The Region is looking for ideas from the community about how this unique structure, in a beautiful setting, could be adapted for modern uses. To go directly to the survey please click here: Adaptive-reuse-survey

About the Structure

  • The 5,720 sq. ft. structure is next to the Grand River on approximately 1.5 acres of land.
  • Mounded earth structure was built into the landscape to be inconspicuous.
  • It was built to be self sufficient with its own sewage and water systems and generator for electricity.
  • It could house about 40 individuals for several weeks.
  • There were women's and men's dormitories, toilet and shower facilities, a kitchen, operations room, lecture room and decontamination areas.
  • The 10 inch thick concrete walls and roof give it a nuclear fall out rating of 500 (the radiation inside the structure was 1/500 what it would be outside the structure)

Today, washrooms and several smaller rooms remain as well as a large 1,600 sq. ft. room that opens onto a lawn leading to the river.

There are limitations on what the MEGHQ could be used for today. Because of the close proximity of the Grand River and flood plain, it can not be used for any sort of overnight accommodation.


"Where is the MEGHQ Bunker?"

The Bunker is located on the banks of the Grand River adjacent to:

  • the Schneider Park boat launch;
  • the Walter Bean Trail;
  • the Freeport Campus of Grand River Hospital;
  • the historic Freeport Bridge;
  • an iXpress bus stop (Route 206);

The Bunker is just minutes away from Fairview Road, and less than 2 km from the proposed Sportsworld Crossing ION LRT station.


"The Cold War wasn't so long ago, this represents a dark part of our history that most want to forget. The Bunker is not a significant cultural heritage resource we should be saving."

Heritage Significance

  • This structure is unique: It is believed to be the only example of a purpose-built Municipal Emergency Government Headquarters (MEGHQ) still in existence and in government ownership in Canada.
  • It was designed by the same architectural firm that designed the CN Tower.
  • It uses a form of construction that is unique and will rarely, if ever, be replicated again in modern times.
  • It is a relic of a relatively short but impactful and scary time in our nation's history.


"So what is happening now with the MEGHQ nuclear bunker?"

Please give us your opinion on this rare piece of Cold War history and tell us how you think the bunker could be used.

To take part, please complete the survey : Adaptive-reuse-survey

You may also email your comments to Regional staff at: bcoady@regionofwaterloo.ca

  • Discussions on the Future of the Nuclear Bunker

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    The future of the Nuclear Bunker is being discussed as part of the Region's 2022 Plan and Budget. The date that the Nuclear Bunker will be considered for possible budget allocations is at the November 24, 2021 meeting of the Budget Committee. If you are interested in following this discussion, registering as a delegation, or submitting feedback regarding possible budget allocations for the Nuclear Bunker structure, please visit: Region of Waterloo Council Calendar. The agenda and YouTube link for this meeting will be posted shortly.

    Further, the Region's 2022 Plan and Budget process has an Engage Region of Waterloo page. Use this link to find pertinent information and other methods to provide feedback on the Budget process: Budget 2022

    Thank you all for your ongoing interest.



  • Thank You For Your Feedback

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    Almost 1,000 individuals responded to the "Repurposing the Region's Nuclear Bunker" survey! This feedback has been summarized within a report that will be presented to the Region's Committee of the Whole on September 14, 2021. A link to the Agenda which includes the Report (# PDL-CUL-21-03) titled: Regional Bunker: 3571 King Street East Community Engagement and Next Steps" can be found HERE

    Thank you for taking the time to share your opinions on the Region's Nuclear Bunker.

Page last updated: 16 November 2021, 10:19