What comes next for Kitchener’s old Cold War bunker?

With work finished to make it safe as a potential public space, the Region of Waterloo says it’ll soon be asking for the public to weigh in on what’s next

It’s one of those things you don’t really think about what you’ll do with it, if the bombs don’t fall.

The Region of Waterloo is signaling public consultations may not be far off as to what to do with an old Cold War bomb shelter in Kitchener, now it’s been made safe as a potential public space.

“We’ve done a lot of work to mitigate a lot of the substances that were in there,” said Helen Chimirri-Russell, Director of Cultural Services with the Region of Waterloo. “In 1966 we were building stuff to different standards so a lot of lead, a lot of asbestos, a lot of mold has been removed so it’s safe to go in and a lot of stabilization work has been done as well.”

With that work done, the question becomes what to do with it now its original intended use isn’t likely high on most of our lists of concern.

“There’s other opportunities for us to use the space,” said Chimirri-Russell. “It’s now got a very large area that can be used in many flexible ways and I think those are the kinds of things we really want to explore.”

While large and open, the space itself is not huge at around 5,700 square feet, or about the size of two full-sized tennis courts side-by-side. That said, Chimirri-Russell did also note a number of ways in which it does have good things going for it.

“It lives underground which is not a usual for buildings to be, it’s right by the river which is incredibly advantageous, it’s in the middle of a park which is beautiful; so what are we looking at that our community wants to do?”

She said the next step would be thinking of how to engage the community, including potential opportunities for the public to get inside and “allow their imagination to get a little wild as well to see what can we do with what is… unusual. “

No firm timeline has been set for when that may happen, though she said the hope is sometime this year.

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