Students should vote “no” to referendum discussion

When voters go to the polls on Oct. 25 they will be asked to decide whether the City of Waterloo should explore the possibility of having a referendum on amalgamation with the City of Kitchener. Yes, you heard this right, we will be having a referendum to determine whether we should explore having yet another referendum on an issue that has been beaten to death for the better part of a decade.

Firstly, the merits of amalgamation are dubious at best. When Mike Harris forced amalgamation on several cities in Ontario, most notably creating the mega city of Toronto, it was expected that the elimination of duplicated services would reduce costs and the size of government. In actual fact the increasingly unmanageable nature of the city increased the costs and size of government exponentially.

Secondly, having separate cities increases competition in government at the local level. Kitchener and Waterloo compete for business investment and the resulting competition creates a positive environment for economic growth. Amalgamation would eliminate this, and with all likelihood Waterloo will be shackled with poor policies imposed by Kitchener, much like Toronto’s core is seen to stifle Etobicoke.

Setting aside the merits of amalgamation, it is not helpful to continue to waste the council’s time by rehashing this issue over and over again. Every minute spent discussing amalgamation is one less minute spent dealing with issues important to students, in particular student integration and development in Northdale.

Council should have the courage to allow a referendum on amalgamation and not waste time over the next four years with this cop-out. Until they gain this courage they need to move on. Students need to vote “no” on Oct. 25.