Cambridge can't leave the region or dissolve regional government: Seiling

Regional Chair Ken Seiling says there's no unilateral process that would allow Cambridge to dissolve regional government or leave the region, as proposed by Cambridge Coun. Nicholas Ermeta.

'There’s no mechanism for anybody unilaterally to do this on their own,' Seiling says

Regional Chair Ken Seiling says there's no process in place that would allow Cambridge to leave the region or put forward a motion to dissolve the regional government to create a local services board. (Peggy Lam/CBC)

A suggestion by Cambridge Coun. Nicholas Ermeta to turn the regional municipality into a local services board is not possible, says Regional Chair Ken Seiling.

When asked what parts of Ermeta's plan Cambridge could move forward with, Seiling responded, "None of it."

"The frameworks are established by legislation," he told CBC K-W. "Normally, if the province in the past ... were going to reexamine the structure, they would send a commissioner and a commissioner would make a decision."

He noted a commissioner made the decision to amalgamate Ottawa, Hamilton, Sudbury, and Chatham-Kent 15 years ago, but "there's no mechanism for anybody unilaterally to do this on their own."

If Cambridge said it wanted to leave the region, Seiling said it's "exactly the same story."

"They would have to go through a process, all the municipalities would be involved, the province would have to make a determination, they would probably send a commissioner in and I suspect I know what the answer would be," he said.

Regional municipality 'would no longer exist'

Ermeta said he would like to see the regional government dissolved in favour of a local services board — an administrative body to help co-ordinate services for Cambridge, Waterloo, Kitchener and the four townships.

It would have a limited mandate, he said, allowing each municipality to "control their own destiny."

"The Regional Municipality of Waterloo would no longer exist, and it would become the management unit of Waterloo," he said.

Ermeta said he has received support from residents in Cambridge and he would discuss it with the province after more consultation. The province has said it will review regional municipalities in the coming months.

Seiling noted there were regional reform discussions in the 1990s, but "nothing ever went very far."

"We were told to try and find a local solution," he said.

That's when the region took on transit and garbage collection.

"I think quite frankly that Cambridge would find that if the region was ever broken up, they would have to pay full cost of all of their services and I think they would find that very costly," Seiling said.