Friday, February 12, 2010

Amalgamation of Kitchener and Waterloo

My letter to the editor in the Record today:

Waterloo has a distinct culture

Re: Waterloo voters ignored — Feb. 9

Why would Waterloo reject further talks on amalgamation while Kitchener supports them? That’s easy. Waterloo is half the size of Kitchener, so in a merged city Kitchener councillors could win every vote. Waterloo would be throwing away control of our city.

The argument that Kitchener and Waterloo look the same is moot. Waterloo and Kitchener have a lot of overlaps, but they also have distinct cultures. I want to retain the culture and identity of Waterloo.

Also, the name “Kitchener-Waterloo” is too long. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life typing an 18-character name into online forms and on the front of envelopes.

The amalgamation idea has been rejected for years. I don’t want to waste another penny or minute on it. Past attempts were all about expanding urban sprawl even further into our farmland. This attempt is probably more of the same.

Apparently, there are business people in our community who have a vested interest in amalgamation, and they will continue to agitate for it forever. That doesn’t mean that we need to go along with it.

Ruth Haworth


Anonymous said...

"Also, the name “Kitchener-Waterloo” is too long."

That's why I use "K-W"....

To be honest I couldn't care less what they do with amalgamation. What I do know is that public transit in K-W (see it is not that difficult)is a disgrace.That is a more urgent matter.

Anonymous said...

As someone who lives in Waterloo for Grad School, I will continue to say that Waterloo is one of the best cities I lived in Canada (I have lived in 10 cities in Canada alone). I live and hangout in uptown Waterloo, my school UW is just down the road.

Please don't let people destroy the city. Waterloo is a great place and Kitchener is not a very student friendly person friendly city and I don't want to see Waterloo to get mixed with such an ugly place like Kitchener.

Bert said...

Well said.

James Bow said...

Speaking as a Kitchener resident, I agree that Waterloo has to be kept separate. But then, I'm a firm believer of two-tier regional government.

In my opinion, the regional structure of Waterloo is as close to perfect as it's possible to get, although I caution that this doesn't mean it's going to stay that way forever. We can and should revisit the arrangement periodically to see what improvements can be made, but the basic idea of having a regional government to handle regional issues and a grouping of lower-tier governments to handle community issues is, in my opinion, sound.

People are commuting from Cambridge to Waterloo and vice versa, so a Cambridge resident has a right to have a say in the placement of transit resources in Waterloo, and vice versa. Also, we all need to be aware that if investment from outside the region decides to come to the region, it doesn't matter if that investment lands in Waterloo, Kitchener, Cambridge or the townships, we ALL benefit, so there is a benefit in the lower-tier communities pooling their economic development efforts at the regional level.

At the same time, residents in Elmira are unlikely to care about speed bumps in Ayr, and it's unfair to burden them with such an issue. There is a definite benefit to keeping the lower-tier councils small enough to most feasibly reflect the communities they represent. As you say, an amalgamated K-W might see Kitchener issues swamp those of Waterloo, and a amalgamated K-W would certainly further the alienation of Cambridge, by making it clear who the dominant player in the region is. At present, Waterloo acts as a good counterbalance to Kitchener on council, and I think that helps keep Cambridge issues on the table.

The only change I would make to the regional arrangement is that I would restore the link between the upper and lower-tier councils. All regional councillors would sit on their respective lower-tier regions, to emphasize the point that the region is composed of its various communities, and not an entity apart from it. It is a boxing ring in which the various boxers meet and punch. It should not itself a boxer.

EStar said...

I agree, lets keep Waterloo as Waterloo. Everyone knows Waterloo is different than Kitchener, and that its a little nicer. Why change that?

KW said...

Kitchener isn't less nice than Waterloo, it's just a different culture and was built on different industry, and isn't student run. Being student focused, you can't say that Waterloo doesn't have it's messy areas.
I'm happy the way it is. We merge things like public transit etc under one name, but keep the counsel separate.
Also, those complaining about the public transit, stop. It's pretty straight forward and even all the students who don't speak english can figure it out. If you have been in the city more than 2 years, you would see how far it has come. Try getting around in London on a bus..

Anonymous said...

Transit is REGIONAL, which means it has nothing to do with this. It would at least make SOME sense to amalgamate the REGION-it is, after all, the ONLY 'two tiered' government structure in the province.

But even with this amalgamation there will STILL be 'two tiers' that businesses will have to deal with, and I thought the main complaint for business was always "there's too many LEVELS of government". There will STILL be the same city and regional governments.

Why when a group wanted to lower the speed limit next to a school did it take three years of convincing councillors who don't even live in the riding that it was the right thing to do? In other words, this won't fix any problems, it will only make them worse. Now we'd have to convince a LOT more councillors, most of whom probably never set foot near where the problem is. Toronto found this out, and has been implementing 'local' councils to handle things it deems too mundane.

By the way, the last time I checked, ALL these three things cost MORE in Kitchener-look it up.

Property taxes

In fact, for those who don't know, the PEOPLE of Waterloo now own the local power utility. Forget a cash grab-this is a POWER grab (literally).