Atthough we won this battle just two years ago, we can't rest. If we don't speak up, the amalgamation lobby will win this time. It's an election year and the amalgamation lobby is putting a great deal of pressure on local politicians - writing, phoning; there was even a recent letter to the editor of The Record urging voters to vote out every Waterloo City Councillor opposed to amalgamation.
Waterloo city councillors voted against the referendum, but Mayor Halloran has put the question back on the agenda for the February 22 council meeting.
If you care about the identities of Kitchener and Waterloo, please write your local council and tell them. Here is what I sent today:
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Subject: No Amalgamation Referendum
To Mayor Halloran and Waterloo City Councillors,
I oppose a referendum on whether Kitchener and Waterloo should discuss merger talks.
We elected you as our representatives, and I look to you to decide how to proceed. This entire issue of a referendum on whether to discuss amalgamation is a political ploy to move amalgamation forward. You do not need our endorsement to have discussions.
However, if you have discussions, then I think you should follow the suggestion (as I understand it) of Councillor d’Ailly and discuss the issues rather than jumping to one solution. Figure out where our system of city and regional government can be improved, and look to ways to improve it.
We defeated amalgamation as recently as two years ago. Polls at that time showed that residents were strongly against amalgamation. The recent poll showing support for investigating amalgamation is a classic way to slant a poll (I know; I was previously a market research analyst). Phrasing the question “Would you support members of council engaging in a dialogue about...” is going to garner positive responses, no matter what the question. The more important poll was held in 2008, when 68% of local residents said “no” to amalgamation.
The same people who are putting pressure on you today to go down the amalgamation road were doing the same thing two years ago, and they lost. I do not know why they are so gung-ho on amalgamation, but I suspect that there are vested interests here. Just because they keep lobbying for amalgamation doesn’t mean we have to waste time and money every couple of years having this big debate.
I urge you to drop the idea of a referendum in next autumn’s election.
Amalgamation is not in the best interests of the City of Waterloo.
Update: Here's Jan d'Ailly's latest blog post on the topic.