Last Sunday, over 1,000 residents of Waterloo attended the Mayor and Council’s Annual New Year’s Levee at RIM Park.
The mayor and the city council looked back over a year of accomplishments.
In her remarks, mayor Brenda Halloran cited the continuation of a “lean and mean” budget, which unlike many municipalities across the country has left Waterloo in budgetary surplus.
In support of the mayor’s remarks, city councilor Jan d’Ailly said, “We have a good budget this year. It’s the third year of a third-year budget. We have weathered the economic recession fairly well, so that bodes well for the city of Waterloo.”
Saturday’s family event included musical performances by the KW Community Orchestra, WCI Student Ensemble and several ethic community groups, as well as family skating, face painting and colouring for young children. “To me this is about family, this is a community function” said Halloran.
With the 2010 municipal elections on the horizon, candidates and potential candidates used the time at the levee to position themselves for their respective election campaigns.
Both d’Ailly and Halloran submitted their nomination forms to run when the nomination period opened on Jan. 4.
“For me, a lot of my campaign will focus on youth and senior issues. We have a real crisis with affordable care facilities…. I want to focus on how to use technology to better improve the quality of life for the people of Waterloo, and how to evolve into an environmentally sustainable city,” said Halloran.
Several keys issues are certain to dominate the campaign coverage, including the issue of the amalgamation of Kitchener and Waterloo, which has been ongoing for decades.
“Certain business groups are taking a look at a merger between ourselves and Kitchener, so that’s an issue we’ll have to grapple with … and I’m not quite sure what the answers are at the present time,” said d’Ailly.
Recently, business lobby groups have proposed a referendum on the question in the upcoming election. Halloran has stated she is in favour of the referendum.
Both Halloran and d’Ailly emphasized the importance of student integration into the community and Northdale in particular for the upcoming campaign.
“Given that 25 per cent of our population is made up of students, we need to have a proper home for them … so that everyone feels comfortable when they are in Waterloo,” said d’Ailly. “It’s not just Northdale. Northdale is sort of the microcosm of a much broader issue.”
The main goal of Halloran’s campaign is to reach out and engage young people.
“The goal of my campaign is that we will have the highest voter turnout in Ontario. So I want to try to attain 51 per cent voter turnout by engaging young people,” she said. “I will be campaigning avidly and with great enthusiasm to reach out to students.”