Transit, climate, housing and amalgamation are key municipal issues for these voters

Three voters joined The Morning Edition to discuss their thoughts on some top issues in this municipal election including transit, climate change, housing and amalgamation.

Sarah Kerr says with amalgamation, there's 'very much a disconnected experience' in region

Portraits of three people (man, woman, man) in a side-by-side collage.
Three people took part in CBC K-W's municipal election panel on Monday: Jawahar Rajan, Sarah Kerr and Mohammad Abu-Rshaid, left to right. (Submitted by Jawahar Rajan, Sarah Kerr and Mohammad Abu-Rshaid)

Jawahar Rajan says Waterloo region needs to expand its transit network to reach more areas and be more frequent.

Rajan, a voter in Waterloo, Ont., says that as the region grows, he thinks the transit system has not kept up.

"A lot of the people coming into this region are younger, a lot of international students, and we just need better transit to get people around," he said Monday during a voter panel on CBC Kitchener-Waterloo's The Morning Edition.

"The light rail … people who live kind of away from that, it's hard to get there unless we have better bus service. So with the growing population, I think we need to lay the groundwork now for better transit. It might mean just buses to … have less cars on the streets."

Mohammad Abu-Rshaid, a voter in Woolwich Township and a university student in Brantford, says it's impossible to take a bus from his home to school.

"Transit — inter-region and intra-region -— is simply not developed enough to be a convenient option for students. Transit should be affordable and accessible for everyone," he said.

CBC K-W is speaking to local voters to get their thoughts on top issues in Waterloo region ahead of the municipal election on Monday, Oct. 24.

Sarah Kerr of Waterloo says a top concern for her in this election is climate change, and that includes the region and city planning for more active transportation options for residents.

"We definitely are in a crisis. In my household we reduced from two cars to one and we made changes, more cycling for commuting, more use of transit. But it wasn't easy," she said.

"I'd really like to see more transit options, but also better road design to make it better for people to move around either walking or cycling. It feels like the road design is still very much geared toward cars being the priority, when in fact that's not aligned with climate change action."

Kerr said one simple thing the cities could do to encourage active transportation year round is ensuring the whole of the Iron Horse Trail is plowed at the same time, rather than the City of Waterloo plowing one section and the City of Kitchener doing another section.

LISTEN | Three voters talk need to address transit, climate change and housing:

Amalgamation and housing

That issue means Kerr is also thinking about whether the region and the lower-tier municipalities need to amalgamate.

"We had a slow streets initiative and we had two different signs for the slow streets, one in the City of Kitchener, one in the City of Waterloo and I was like, did we really have two different groups designing signs for the same thing?" she said.

"I feel like there is still very much a disconnected experience," she added. "I'd really like for us to look a little bit more carefully at some of the solutions that amalgamation could support."

Housing is an issue that was also on the minds of Abu-Rshaid and Rajan.

"With the bigger number of people coming in, we need to rethink how we are building new homes. We seem to be building a lot of big new homes in the western part of Waterloo … these are big, multi-storey single residential houses. But that's not going to solve the problem. We need to think of, I hate to say the word, but more high-density housing," Rajan said.

"Not huge towers, but we do need to think of at least smaller units going upwards so that they're more affordable for people and I think they're actually better for the environment to have smaller units rather than big single-family homes."

Abu-Rshaid said it concerns him both in his current situation as a student and when he thinks about when he might want to buy a home in a few years.

"As a current university student, it means that students like me can't find apartments, rentals, throughout their post secondary and when they do, they're expensive, they're in bad condition," he said.

"As a young professional who's going to be graduating very soon, it means I'm going to be priced out of the market. At the current pace of housing appreciation, I won't be able to live in the region that I've spent almost 11 years living in and that is really sad."

We want to hear from you

For this municipal election, we want to hear what's important to you in the time leading up to the Oct. 24 election.

Please fill out the form below to share your thoughts about your top issues.

If you're willing to be contacted by a reporter, or take part in a voter panel on CBC K-W's The Morning Edition, please leave your contact information as well.


Kate Bueckert


Kate has been covering issues in southern Ontario for more than 15 years. She currently works for CBC Kitchener-Waterloo. Email: