Kitchener-Waterloo

Waterloo councillors can now expense home security systems amid heated political landscape

The City of Waterloo, Ont., passed a motion Monday that would provide future council members with up to $100 per month for home security systems. Some councillors say it's needed amid a more hostile political climate.

There’s a sense by some councillors that ‘something has changed’

During Monday's council meeting, Waterloo city council passed a motion that would provide councillors in the Ontario city with up to $100 per month for home security systems. (YouTube)

The City of Waterloo passed a motion Monday that would provide future council members with funding for security systems, a move some say is needed amid a more hostile political climate. 

Members of council for the Ontario city could receive up to $100 per month toward home security systems. 

Councillors passing the motion unanimously. One suggested treatment toward politicians has become more concerning in recent years. 

"It was around 2010, 2014 that everything changed," said Ward 4 Coun. Diane Freeman at Monday's meeting. 

"The emails that were sent to me just included so much foul language, abusive comments, harassment, comments that related to ownership over me as a person, as opposed to asking me to consider this in my decision-making."

Freeman said she has lost sleep over some emails and in one incident, she was concerned for her family's safety.

Coun. Diane Freeman says she started noticing changes in the political climate as far back as 2010. (Joe Pavia/CBC)

'Something has changed' 

Ward 7 Coun. Tenille Bonoguore noted "something has changed in the tenor of discourse." 

She couldn't point to the exact time things changed, when asked by CBC News, but said she felt it heated up online during the pandemic. 

However, Bonoguore said she has also had an incident that made her worried for her family's safety during her term, which predates the pandemic. 

"I was very conflicted when this whole idea came up and I think it's part of that dissonance between what we want the world to be and what the world is like for some people at the moment, and in my preferred world, we wouldn't need this," Bonoguore told CBC News. 

Coun. Tenille Bonoguore also notices changes in the political climate. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC)

"You wouldn't have the potential for threats or anything like that just for stepping up to help your community, and I didn't really want it to be a thing. I didn't want it to be raised by the city clerk as something that might be needed in the future. I didn't want any of this to be happening."

Bonoguore is not seeking re-election in the October municipal vote, but said this issue didn't influence her decision and she hopes that this won't turn people away from running for public office. 

"I just want people to kind of remember that people are good, the community is still strong, and this policy, it's really a protection against the outliers." 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

James Chaarani is a reporter for CBC Kitchener-Waterloo and London. You can reach him at james.chaarani@cbc.ca.

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