University Avenue Gateway

The City of Waterloo, in partnership with the Region of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of Waterloo, and Conestoga College, is undertaking a study to develop a vision and design plan for University Avenue.

University Avenue is the primary gateway and access to the city’s and region’s learning, innovation, discovery and entrepreneurial centre. The avenue is home to the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University and Conestoga College. An opportunity exists to celebrate the distinct landmarks, businesses and institutions located along and adjacent to the corridor.

Thanks to everyone who provided input during consultations throughout 2018 and 2019. What we heard from you:

  • there is limited placemaking along the corridor
  • landmarks along the streetscape are not prominent
  • the avenue is like a highway for cars and trucks and uncomfortable for pedestrians
  • there's a lack of greenery and street trees
  • inadequate cycling lanes
  • there is little connection and overall cohesion in the street today
  • good design should be used to increase balance in the street
  • we need to prioritize safety, signage and wayfinding around institutions
  • the street is perceived as an unwelcoming environment
  • need to focus on making the street safe, enjoyable and efficient for people

Based on research and what we've heard, study recommendations are as follows:

  • more green space and more street trees
  • traffic needs to be slowed down and made safer for pedestrians
  • wider sidewalks along most of the corridor
  • more patios and urban plazas for people to rest, enjoy and to animate the streetscape
  • wider and enhanced crosswalks to make it safer and easier to cross the street
  • make cyclists and pedestrians the priority along this corridor

Draft concept plans are now available and we want to hear from you!

You are invited to drop in to view and comment on the draft concepts on Oct. 24, 2019, between 5 and 7 p.m. at Waterloo City Centre, 100 Regina St. S., Waterloo. If you can't make this meeting, please check out the presentation boards for this meeting that outline the draft concepts and share your thoughts below or complete our short survey.


The City of Waterloo, in partnership with the Region of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of Waterloo, and Conestoga College, is undertaking a study to develop a vision and design plan for University Avenue.

University Avenue is the primary gateway and access to the city’s and region’s learning, innovation, discovery and entrepreneurial centre. The avenue is home to the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University and Conestoga College. An opportunity exists to celebrate the distinct landmarks, businesses and institutions located along and adjacent to the corridor.

Thanks to everyone who provided input during consultations throughout 2018 and 2019. What we heard from you:

  • there is limited placemaking along the corridor
  • landmarks along the streetscape are not prominent
  • the avenue is like a highway for cars and trucks and uncomfortable for pedestrians
  • there's a lack of greenery and street trees
  • inadequate cycling lanes
  • there is little connection and overall cohesion in the street today
  • good design should be used to increase balance in the street
  • we need to prioritize safety, signage and wayfinding around institutions
  • the street is perceived as an unwelcoming environment
  • need to focus on making the street safe, enjoyable and efficient for people

Based on research and what we've heard, study recommendations are as follows:

  • more green space and more street trees
  • traffic needs to be slowed down and made safer for pedestrians
  • wider sidewalks along most of the corridor
  • more patios and urban plazas for people to rest, enjoy and to animate the streetscape
  • wider and enhanced crosswalks to make it safer and easier to cross the street
  • make cyclists and pedestrians the priority along this corridor

Draft concept plans are now available and we want to hear from you!

You are invited to drop in to view and comment on the draft concepts on Oct. 24, 2019, between 5 and 7 p.m. at Waterloo City Centre, 100 Regina St. S., Waterloo. If you can't make this meeting, please check out the presentation boards for this meeting that outline the draft concepts and share your thoughts below or complete our short survey.


Share your comments regarding the University Avenue Gateway Plan and the draft concept plans that highlight University Avenue's potential in five representative areas along the corridor. See the document library located on this page for details. 
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University Avenue is a connecting road for those getting to Conestoga Parkway. It is ugly and noisy but how else can you handle that much traffic? Slowing it down and putting in barriers to cars just cause more traffic issues. Widen the road and make designated and separate sidewalk/bike lanes. Narrowing the road to put these in makes it a dangerous street. And why are you doing this as we approach winter? For the 12 winter cyclists in town?How many planter boxes have now been destroyed on Albert?This is all so costly and i am very disappointed in how it was all just pushed through, however I am excited to see how the road plows, bike lane plows and sidewalk plows all meet together to try to keep everything clear.

MSnyder 8 days ago

I personally like the fact that the region is making it more public friendly. Although I have noticed the new plastic posts put to divide the bike lanes on columbia and university make the city buses stay closer to the middle of the two lane road going in either direction. I also noticed when it was just the concrete slabs they didnt do it. Maybe keeping just the slabs is better than also adding the plastic posts. It gives less opportunity to a collision happening between the city buses and the the publics vehicles.

Aperez 27 days ago

Although I filled out the survey emphasizing pedestrian access and safety, I'd also like to emphasize the importance of having safe *separated* cycling lanes that can't be impeded on by cars or (infamously) mis-used as "free parking". The primary reason myself and several others I know don't cycle is simply because it's currently quite unsafe: we know people who cycle have been repeatedly hit by cars.As well, a bus priority lane would be fantastic.Additionally, I'd just like to say, a lot of the improvements look excellent when put together and I would love to see many of them implemented, so that University Ave is less like a concrete-asphalt hell-scape. Seeing more of this across the city would be wonderful - having a livable (and accessible) city rather than the usual North American city which is a giant, sprawling, dysfunctional, unhealthy, hideous, and socially isolating mess.

Andrew R. 27 days ago

I like the concepts.I agree that the condition of the avenue has deteriorated to the point of being an embarrassment for the city. All of the points in the recommendation will help, and I'd like to add my idea.Instead of trying to slow down traffic along the avenue, which might frustrate drivers, can we have underpass or overpass (like in Japan, Korea, China, Mainland Europe, Britain, etc...)? Now no one has to wait at intersections.

Tu Nguyen 27 days ago

Leave as is. Stop wasting tax payers money on vanity projects. Any lane reductions would result in more congestion and grid lock. You're not going to get people into public transit by disrupting their commute, they'll just get more resentual at their current level of government. Stop with this madness amd stop complaining there isn't enough tax dollars when you continually waste tax dollars for needless projects

Daniella Sisterston 27 days ago

(Survey tab says "Unauthorized"). I don't have any specific feedback though—Like I believe the majority of residents, I'm pleased with the overall planning direction, and I hope you keep up the good work.

paulb 28 days ago

The idea of slowing down traffic is an immediate concern, because this is also were many people work and University Ave is the primary street used to access our work places. Great concepts and ideas otherwise.

Jjjkkklll 29 days ago

Let's talk about winter. Maybe we should prioritize some quick wins that would be equally beneficial once the snow falls, whatever that looks like. Winter really is one of the most unpleasant and unsafe ways to experience University Ave.

littlebird 29 days ago

A well laid out vision. I don't disagree that innovation, entrepreneurship and learning are important themes and part of our sense of place here, but do consider that students are already inundated with those themes on the campuses themselves. This project has the potential to put the best of modern streetscape design to use to boost students' mental and physical health and overall feeling of CONNECTION to each other, their environment and the community in which they live. The connection element comes across in subtle ways in the draft concepts but should be at the heart of every decision made, and perhaps called out more.Related to the mental health theme is an opportunity to create healthy and peaceful spaces where students can de-stress and escape the pressures of the fast-paced academic and entrepreneurial environment. The current state of the street is highly stress inducing. Providing a bit of peace, relaxation and fun with the proposed treed areas, water features and connections to the trails and park should be balanced with highly social and open spaces.Lastly, although I used to be a student here and then I worked on one of the campuses for many years, I can't speak for the students - only they can speak for themselves. I hope there will be many and consistent attempts to actively seek their feedback in accessible ways. The ability to review plans and comment here online is a great start!

littlebird 29 days ago

I like that potential for transit only or transit priority lanes are included in the draft concepts. University Avenue is the best corridor for dedicated bus lanes or priority signals in Waterloo due to the sheer volume of routes and traffic that traverse it. Making these a priority (horrible pun intended) would let the city grow into good, expanded service over time. At some of the busier bus stops, higher quality shelters could be put in - even like the ones that are at ION stations. If you want to shoot for the moon, put in heated shelters at the busiest stops along the corridor. We all know how miserable it can be to freeze as we wait for a bus in -10 degree winter weather. Overall, the highest priority should be put on pedestrian access and safety. The University Avenue corridor likely has the highest levels of pedestrian traffic in Waterloo Region, and the street should be designed to reflect that. The draft concept seems dedicated to that idea. I would say that a pedestrian scramble should be considered for King and University, regardless of what traffic engineering numbers say. If you decide to prioritize pedestrian safety and efficiency first and foremost (with cycling a close second), the current way we seem to measure the need for crosswalk and cycling lane improvements will have to change accordingly.

Phil M 29 days ago

You guys can’t finish what you started in areas such as Regal Place paying outrageous tax amounts and don’t have pathways we can use. I would recommend finishing things like this before taking on new vanity projects. Thank you.

MattC 29 days ago

Removed by moderator.

MattC 29 days ago

Having just looked over the University Gateway Plan documents, I am excited about what University Avenue could become. I think the stretch between Weber and King Street needs the most work for pedestrian friendliness, followed by King St. to Phillip. My hope is that University Ave could be designed in such a way as to help tie in the post-secondary institutions and their students with the rest of the city. Is that expecting too much from street design?

MGRT 29 days ago

The avenue is a racetrack and very noisy. There needs to be more pedestrian garbage cans along this street. Way too noisy for outside cafes.

Noreen 30 days ago

I agree that University needs to become more "friendly" to pedestrians and welcoming HOWEVER, the reason its currently treated as a "highway" is its one of the few ways to get across the city. If University is changed, please ensure the other corridors (Columbia, Erb) are made able to handle the additional traffic with good alternate routes for the inevitable construction!

KL2N 30 days ago

University Ave should be more pedestrian and bike friendly, given the amount of student foot traffic and the large number of restaurants and student housing facilities. It is shameful that students have to run for their lives at busy crossings and that crosswalks are unrealistically far apart from one another. This could be a wonderful gateway to the universities in our city and should reflect the importance of these institutions in our community. Please slow this street, prioritizing vision zero planning and people rather than cars.

JLE 8 months ago

I was very surprised at how much of the survey was focused on the branding and marketing of this corridor instead of the actual design.The best marketing tool, like any good product, is excellent, well thought out design. Focus on making the street safe, enjoyable, and efficient for actual people (not vehicles) and it will develop its own vibe, energy, and personality that will market itself; everything else is just marketing buzz words that no one will use for more than a nano second (plain old "University Avenue” as a name is more than adequate).I would much rather the energy and money spent on paying an advertising firm for some branding exercise be better used to ensure an improved, human-centred, vision-zero design.University Avenue’s best feature is that it has a very wide right of way that can accommodate a variety of physically separated uses and is essentially a blank canvas that can be easily adapted to be a more human centred corridor.

Pheidippides 9 months ago

Didn't we already do this? I remember years ago going to a PIC, on this topic, why is it still in the air and why are we still focused on this BS theme stuff, when many times a year people are injured or even killed on this dangerous road that's a blight on our city. If you really want this to be a gateway to the city, make it safe for people first.

danbrotherston 9 months ago

Add more crossings (such as where the student was killed a few weeks ago, followed shortly by a private construction company closing the sidewalk without notice or a pedestrian detour route, basically forcing all pedestrians to repeat the same dangerous crossing). Get rid of "beg buttons" that force pedestrians to request the right to cross at intersections - especially King & Hazel where there is constant pedestrian activity but users must press the button in order to get a walk sign.

goggolor 9 months ago