Kitchener-Waterloo

Local leaders: Amalgamation not welcome in Waterloo region

In an interview on CBC K-W's The Morning Edition, Cambridge Mayor Kathryn McGarry says when people heard there was going to be a review of regional municipalities, many were afraid that meant amalgamation.

'I would say that most people are not in favour' of amalgamation, McGarry says

Cambridge Mayor Kathryn McGarry says she's made it clear to the province she doesn't want to see the lower-tier municipalities in the Region of Waterloo amalgamate. (Brian St. Denis/CBC)

Cambridge Mayor Kathryn McGarry says when people heard the province was completing a review of regional municipalities, many people were afraid it would amalgamation.

"I would say that most people are not in favour," McGarry said in an interview Wednesday on CBC Kitchener-Waterloo's The Morning Edition.

"You know if you look at the seven municipalities among the regional partners here, Cambridge is really the only one that has had experience in amalgamating cities — in 1973 Galt, Preston and Hespeler made up Cambridge," McGarry said.

"We are working well together and collaborating on shared priorities. And we know how we can streamline and improve services, reduce duplication and better align regional and lower tier responsibilities to provide better and more efficient service payers."

McGarry and other political leaders from the region met with two special advisers to the province who are conducting the review.

Listen to the whole interview:

United message

On Feb. 7, McGarry and other political leaders from the region met with the two special advisers to the province who are conducting the review: Michael Fenn and former Region of Waterloo chair Ken Seiling.

A general statement was sent out by all the leaders saying the meetings had taken place.

"The mayors and regional chair thanked the advisers for the opportunity to express their local perspectives and ideas," the statement said.

It then noted the local leaders discussed how communities in the region "are working well under the current two-tier system of governance" and emphasized all are open to exploring ways to better serve residents.

They also stressed to the advisers any potential changes imposed by the provincial government "must ensure that the region's urban and rural communities are well represented; recognize their unique identities and history; and that the responsibility and accountability for service delivery is clear and measurably benefits residents."

Township 'is not interested in amalgamation'

McGarry said she was clear with the special advisers she does not want amalgamation. Wilmot mayor Les Armstrong issued a statement Wednesday saying he, too, was clear with the advisers on that issue.

"The township is not interested in amalgamation," Armstrong said he told the advisers.

He said the region and township have built a "cohesive, vibrant and welcoming countryside community; an exceptional place to live, work and play."

He added it is "essential" any changes that come out of the regional review "be designed and driven at the local municipal level."

The City of Waterloo says Mayor Dave Jaworsky's points to the advisers included telling them the "two-tier governance system is efficiently aligned and works well for this community" and it has allowed the city to "deliver nimble, responsive and flexible governance."

In a statement last Friday, Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic said he believes "our region's model of governance is amongst the best of examples of two-tier government in Ontario."

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