Construction season feels like it will never end in Waterloo Region.

Utility updates, LRT construction and general maintenance equals road closures, detours and headaches for drivers and business owners.

While the goal of our region’s long-term construction plan is to make the cities more accessible to our growing population, there are some potentially devastating short-term effects.

This past July, I walked up Charles Street, from the Tannery to Café Pyrus, where I met a colleague for coffee. It was a beautiful summer day, but I passed few pedestrians on my trek through some construction and a detour down Halls Lane. When I made it to Pyrus, there was only one other person in the shop – the friend I was meeting.

The café’s owner, Tyson Reiser, has seen sales decrease by 30 per cent since construction began.

“I went into this thinking that the impact would be minimal, and [that] as an affected business owner, I would have support of the Region of Waterloo, the City of Kitchener and Grandlinq to mitigate the effects of construction,” Reiser said.

For Reiser, the construction process has been a headache. Delays, inaccurate information and traffic barriers have left him feeling like the impact on his business was not taken into consideration at all.

The Downtown Kitchener Business Improvement Association (BIA) knows Reiser isn’t alone in his struggles. It wants to get people back downtown and into businesses as construction eases up (a bit).

For the month of November, the BIA is running Chits for Charles Street, a campaign to get downtown workers, residents and visitors into businesses and spending money.

Until Monday, Nov. 30, the BIA is offering $10 gift certificates, while quantities last, that are good at over 30 stores and restaurants along Charles Street, including Full Circle Foods, The Sports Link and Café Pyrus. Participating businesses along the Charles Street corridor from Cedar Street to Victoria Street are listed online.

You can pick up a chit at the BIA office (29 King St. E.) from Monday to Thursday between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

For Reiser, he hopes to see new faces throughout the month, and not just from loyal customers who have trudged through the construction.

“It’s early in the program, but what I have seen so far are regulars who are getting their lunches subsidized by the BIA,” he said. “The offices that received the chits for employees are already here. I would have liked to see this to bring new people into the core from surrounding neighbourhoods.”

Stefanie Golling, Manager of Events at the BIA, agrees.

“This program isn’t limited to just downtown people,” she said. “We welcome everyone to come down, pick up a chit and explore the Charles Street corridor.”

It’s important to remember that yes, construction can be a pain, but we need to keep supporting all entrepreneurs in the downtown core to ensure that a vibrant downtown emerges as the dust clears.

“We still have two years go until we see the returns that the LRT is expected to bring,” Reiser said. “I don’t want to see us lose the gains we have made.”


The Sleep Tight Waterloo Region Campaign is launching this year’s pyjama drive on Thursday, Nov. 12 at 11:30 a.m. at Kitchener City Hall (200 King St. W.). Sleep Tight will be collecting new pyjamas to be given to people in need in our community until Jan. 2, 2016. Last year, pyjamas for more than 500 people were donated. If you’re interested, you can drop off pyjamas at any Waterloo Region Police Service station. Head down to City Hall on Thursday to learn more about the program… Apollo Cinema is airing the second episode of local TV show Kitchener Sync on Friday, Nov. 13. Head down to Apollo (141 Ontario St. N.) to watch the episode. The night will begin with a stand-up comedy routine by cast member Ashley Sirianni, and end with a live music set by The Short Films. The evening starts at 9 p.m. and is a pay-what-you-can event… Get a sneak peek at a brand new space during this month’s HackerNest Kitchener-Waterloo tech social. Join the HackerNest team at Distillery Labs, formerly the Brick Brewery, at 181 King St. S. in Waterloo. The agenda-free evening begins at 8 p.m. and encourages networking and socializing in different tech spaces around the region. A $10 donation is encouraged, and registration is required.