Made up of a number of sub-neighbourhoods, downtown Kitchener broadly stretches east and west from the central King Street corridor. The homes in downtown Kitchener are among the oldest and most regal in the Region. Specifically, the sub-neighbourhoods of Civic Centre and Victoria Park are home to impressive two to three story houses that predate the Second World War. These homes occupy broad properties with mature trees and boast a vibrant, family-friendly atmosphere. Downtown Kitchener is also home to a rapidly expanding condominium community (such as the Kaufman Lofts, Arrow Lofts and the Easton Lofts) as many old industrial buildings are converted into modern lofts and condominiums.
The key natural feature and indisputable jewel of the area is Victoria Park. Opened in 1896, the park is home to a lake, iron bridge, two cannons, wild fowl, flower beds and hundreds of trees and shrubs, not to mention the historical clock tower which serves as the city’s official emblem. The park serves as the heart of Kitchener, hosting many of the city’s marquee events, including Christmas Fantasy, K-W Multicultural Festival, Kidspark, the Kitchener Blues Festival and The Word on the Street. In addition to these events, the park plays host to an endless amount of family gatherings, weddings and other outings, making the park a thriving and busy part of the neighbourhood.
Downtown Kitchener also offers endless options for both work and play. Downtown King Street hosts Kitchener’s densest selection of bars and restaurants, giving an option for all tastes. The City also recently renovated the streetscape of downtown King Street, allowing for wider sidewalks and increased lighting to create a more pedestrian-friendly atmosphere. King Street East, just east of Fredrick Street is also home to the Kitchener Market. At over 140 years old, Kitchener’s farmers’ market is one of the oldest continuously operating markets in Canada, and, due to a 2004 renovation, now enjoys an even more prominent place in the community. The market operates from Tuesday through Saturday and takes full advantage of the rich agricultural abundance of Waterloo Region and surrounding areas. In addition to the Market, downtown Kitchener is also home to the Centre in the Square, which hosts live performances ranging from musicians, comedians to dramatic acts. Downtown also has the main branch of the Kitchener Public Library, the Downtown Community Centre and the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery and the Silicon W Art Gallery.
Not only are the neighbourhood’s cultural links impressive, but so is the promise that the future holds for this area. Of particular note with regard to the future is the planned Waterloo Region Light Rail Transit (LRT), also known as “ION.” Solidifying the existing Charles Street bus terminal and the downtown railway station (serving Via and GO trains), the LRT will run 19 kilometres through Kitchener and Waterloo, linking downtown Kitchener with the University of Waterloo, Conestoga Mall and Fairview Park Mall via fast and frequent train service. Not only will the LRT move residents move efficiently, it will also provide many benefits to downtown Kitchener, raising the profile and property values in the area, and solidifying Kitchener and the Region as one of Ontario’s premier urban areas.