Waterloo approves upgrades for University Avenue

A major artery in Waterloo is getting an upgrade.

The City of Waterloo approved the University Avenue Gateway Strategy on Monday, which includes plans to transform the street from Highway 85 to Westmount Road.

The city said University Avenue is the only street in Canada with three post-secondary institutions. It acts as a primary entrance for many students and visitors, so officials said it's important for it to make an impression.

Improvements include separated bike lanes, wider sidewalks, more trees and green space.

Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky said it's important for the city to have a unified vision.

"We cannot let University Avenue develop piecemeal or, at the end, we will have nothing special," he said. "What I love about this program, it gives the guiding light of what will be special at the end if we follow this document."

The city has set aside $3 million to complete the vision over the next 10 years.

The city also approved a plan for its largest piece of undeveloped property.

The 112 acres of property behind the Waterloo Costco will be called the West-Side Employment Lands. City officials said it will become a unique area for offices, labs, manufacturing and research. The plan includes park space, walking trails and sustainable design.

Councillors also discussed Waterloo's leaf collection program. That program allows residents to rake leaves onto the street. They're then collected by the city.

The program has been around for 50 years.

The motion presented Monday said the leaf piles can cause mobility issues if they're raked before or after the scheduled pick-up date.

There's no word on when that review will come back to council.