Make Waterdown part of Burlington, mayor tells province

Burlington's mayor is asking the province to make Waterdown part of Burlington.

Hamilton mayor says if province goes down this road, Hamilton will make a case to annex all of Burlington

Rick Goldring, shown in this 2014 file photo, has asked the province to make Waterdown part of Burlington. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Burlington's mayor Rick Goldring is asking the province to make Waterdown part of Burlington to help it solve its growth issues.

And an annoyed Fred Eisenberger, Hamilton's mayor, called the proposal "outrageous" and not "neighbourly," said he had a better solution: Hamilton should annex all of Burlington. 

Goldring visited Queen's Park today with other mayors to meet with the Minister of Municipal Affairs about the Places to Grow Act. He says while he was at it, he asked the government to consider adding Waterdown to the City of Burlington. 

Jane McKenna, Burlington PC MPP, supports the effort, Goldring said in a tweet.

Adding Waterdown to Burlington "will help alleviate growth pressures on downtown Burlington and provides fairness for Burlington taxpayers who, for years, have been directly impacted by growth in Waterdown that has created new demands on Burlington's infrastructure," Goldring said in a statement.

"Waterdown is isolated from Hamilton and has much more in common with Burlington and Halton Region.

"For years, growth in Waterdown has directly affected Burlington by placing additional demands on our infrastructure. Adding Waterdown to Burlington will help make local government work better for the people and will be a win-win for taxpayers."

Goldring told CBC News Tuesday the province seems receptive.

"We wouldn't have been at the Queen's Park media room today if we hadn't already had dialogue with the province, if they weren't open to discussion."

This isn't the first conversation about Waterdown being part of Hamilton, he said. In 2001, Burlington's mayor made a similar pitch to the province and many Waterdown residents liked the idea.

But Mayor Fred Eisenberger of Hamilton said Goldring's proposal was "hardly a neighbourly thing to do." 

"It's an outrageous statement. I'm very disappointed we weren't … given a heads up."

Hamilton has invested millions into Waterdown over the years, Eisenberger said. That sort of ask is "trying to solve Burlington's intensification issues on the backs of Hamilton taxpayers." He also suspects it's related to the Oct. 22 municipal election, since downtown Burlington intensification is a campaign issue there.

Eisenberger said he'd prefer the province not broach this issue at all. But if it does, Hamilton could make the case to annex all of Burlington.

"I don't want to go down that road," he said. "I don't think there's any need to go down that road. But if we do, I'm going to make the case for a much more efficient way to manage Hamilton, including Burlington."

"I welcome that conversation any time," says Judi Partridge, Waterdown councillor. She says the area relates more to Burlington than Hamilton anyway. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Within hours of Goldring's tweet, Hamilton councillor Chad Collins jumped on the issue at a city council planning meeting. He wants city staff to report back with how much space there is to grow in Waterdown, and how much Hamilton has spent to improve the town's infrastructure. 

Others weren't happy either. Terry Whitehead, Ward 8 councillor, called Goldring's effort is "a land grab." Sam Merulla, Ward 4 councillor, tweeted that Burlington could give back Aldershot, which was part of East Flamborough Township until Burlington annexed it in the 1960s.

Judi Partridge, Ward 15 councillor who represents Waterdown, wants the conversation to happen. Flamborough residents feel more a part of Burlington than Hamilton anyway, she said. Many haven't been happy as part of Hamilton. 

Last year, for example, the city realigned its ward boundaries to break up a rural Flamborough ward, dividing it between Dundas and Ancaster. "That does not sit well with people."

Donna Skelly, Flamborough-Glanbrook PC MPP, said this is the first she's even heard of the issue. "All I can say is I was surprised to read this."

She wouldn't give an opinion, except to say the province will listen to any municipal leader on "anything they want to talk about."

Goldring visited Queen's Park with Mayor Chris Friel of Brantford, Geoffrey Dawe of Aurora and Don Mitchell of Whitby.

The mayors urged the province to freeze density requirements on new developments as it reviews the Places to Grow act. 


Samantha Craggs is journalist based in Windsor, Ont. She is executive producer of CBC Windsor and previously worked as a reporter and producer in Hamilton, specializing in politics and city hall. Follow her on Twitter at @SamCraggsCBC, or email her at samantha.craggs@cbc.ca


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