Council denies amalgamation proposal

At the Jan. 25 Waterloo City Council meeting, a decision was reached by council to disregard the posed referendum question about the amalgamation of Waterloo and Kitchener.

There has been much debate among those on the council, as well as the citizens of both Waterloo and Kitchener, since the initial referendum question was proposed at Jan. 11’s council meeting. The question was worded, “Would you support members of Council engaging in a dialogue about the merits of merging the Cities of Kitchener and Waterloo? Yes or No.”

Delegates speaking to council on behalf of the issue consisted of many local residents, such as Rosemary Smith. “Throughout the last two weeks and throughout many years, this has been a conversation that has been on-going and often below the radar screen. If they enter this question, I feel they must enter it in earnest with the best needs of our community and our constituency at heart,” said Smith.

President of the Waterloo Professional Fire Fighters Association John Dietrich told council that the question “is not simple.”

“It is a very important decision. [When it comes to Kitchener] this is not a merger, this is a takeover. Let’s keep [Waterloo] small, we have something special here.”

Stan Rektor, a citizen of Waterloo, spoke about Waterloo’s leadership in the technology sector as an important consideration.

“We are on the map. I don’t think personally that toying with the larger entity … is going to do much to bolster what Waterloo is all about,” said Rektor.

Waterloo resident Kevin Thomason echoed Rektor’s ideals of the city’s independence, stating, “With significant cultural community differences, throughout 150 years, our local communities have evolved with different priorities, different practices, different industries and different conditions.”

After three hours of emotional deliberation from gallery members and those of the council, only mayor Brenda Halloran and councilors Mark Whaley and Ian McLean were in favour, while the other five councilors opposed the motion, thus denying the referendum question for the municipal election this October.