Who Killed the Merger?

January 30, 2010 at 1:03 pm 1 comment

Waterloo did… and the amalgamation debate is dead once again.

In a 5-3 vote on Monday, Waterloo city council rejected a request from a group headed by local high-tech leaders to put the question of merging Kitchener and Waterloo on the ballot in the next municipal election.

The group wanted the city to ask the provincial minister of municipal affairs and housing to put a question on the ballot that read, “Would you support members of council engaging in a dialogue about the merits of merging the cities of Kitchener and Waterloo? Yes or No.”
Kitchener council had already supported the motion.

But Waterloo didn’t follow suit, following a series of delegations asking the city to drop the issue.

Source: CambridgeTimes.ca

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Entry filed under: Kitchener, Waterloo, Waterloo Region. Tags: , , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. James Bow  |  January 30, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    While there is nothing wrong about talking about amalgamation, I believe there was some concern that, as in the case of the 1980 Quebec referendum, officials were going to interpret a ‘yes’ vote to ‘talk’ as a ‘yes’ vote to do.

    I certainly believe that we should periodically review the arrangement of Waterloo Region, and assess what services would be better handled at the regional level and what services should be handled at the local level. However, I think the arrangement we have works well enough that we don’t need to amalgamate, either in whole or in part.

    The regional government is big enough; it encompasses the area that can reasonably be called “the region” and can effectively address the issues of the region. However, the local councils are also important. Economic development and public transit are good examples of regional issues. There’s a lot of inter-city commuting, so the people in Cambridge have a right to a say in how buses are managed in Waterloo. On the other hand, the people in Elmira don’t care about the issues of speedbumps in Ayr, and it would be unfair to burden the citizens of Elmira with this issue, and vice versa. This is why we need two-tier government: it’s the best arrangement that allows a region to look after its needs while at the same time providing government that is closer to the communities it represents.

    Although you could make a case that Kitchener and Waterloo are one city (the border between the two of them is extremely vague), I think the current arrangement makes more sense. A Kitchener-Waterloo would dominate the regional level of government and further alienate Cambridge. Unless we’re going to tie in Guelph as a counterbalance to a K-W, Waterloo acts as a counterbalance to Kitchener, ensuring that no one city dominates the debate and allowing Cambridge to remain as an active participant in the regional government. We need to preserve that.

    The only change I would make would be to restore the link between the regional and local councils. Regional councillors should also sit on the local-tier councils, so that the regional body is seen as an extension of the local bodies, rather than a separate government in its own right. It needs to exist as a boxing ring in which the lower-tier participants can duke out the issues. It should not itself be a boxer.

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