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Amalgamation
#1
As a real life urbanist... I am certain that the amalgamation of Kitchener and Waterloo will happen at some point in the future. The question is when? Soon? Thoughts? How's support on this issue around here?
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#2
During the 2010 municipal election, the question was on the ballot for citizens as to whether or not they would be open to a dialogue about amalgamation between Kitchener and Waterloo.

Kitchener voted 2/3 in favour of having the discussions whereas Waterloo voted 2/3 against having the discussions.
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#3
That ball is entirely in Waterloo's court. Very few people in Kitchener would have problems with it, to the point that I think the amalgamated city could be named "Waterloo". I suspect, however, that those supporting the idea for cost-savings reasons would end up disappointed. To me it makes more sense as a "branding" initiative.
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#4
It won't happen any time soon because Waterloo rejected the notion in a referendum just four years ago. Waterloo formally rejects merger talks with Kitchener.

IMO the referendum was poorly posed. It asked for a mandate to discuss amalgamation. The two cities should have first held informal discussions/studies to assess the potential benefits then, assuming the results were promising enough, held a referendum using those results to make the case for amalgamation. Instead people voted with their hearts, not their minds, and it was no surprised that Waterloo said no. 

In any case most services are already amalgamated via the region, e.g. police (but not fire), transit, main roads, etc. so the benefits of further amalgamation are relatively small compared to what they might have been in pre-region days.

And as it happens this just-published study on the subject concludes that Amalgamation [of GTA] a flop, Fraser Institute study suggests. [Cue the usual criticisms of Fraser as conservative...]
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#5
Amalgamation of Kitchener with Waterloo would make it very difficult to maintain a two-tier municipality here, as the lower tier would be dominated by one city. I think the Regional Municipality of Waterloo is a shockingly competent and forward-thinking government as compared with almost all peers in Ontario, and I don't think it would be able to maintain its big picture thinking without being an upper-level municipality.

Secondly, in my opinion there are a lot of benefits to a friendly competition between Kitchener and Waterloo on things like food trucks, streetscape design, etc. You get more innovation potential and more risk-taking than you would if they were combined into one bigger government with one council.
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#6
Can we all say 'parochialism.'  It doesn't serve anyone in the long run except parochial politicians.  And there are a lot of them....
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#7
(07-07-2015, 01:35 PM)jgsz Wrote: Can we all say 'parochialism.'  It doesn't serve anyone in the long run except parochial politicians.  And there are a lot of them....

Not sure which side you're advocating here.

I actually think a little competition between Kitchener and Waterloo is a good thing and that economies of scale seem to rarely materialize.
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#8
If you want amalgamation, start merging more services. Merging the three fire departments is long overdue. Libraries are another good candidate, though I understand the computer databases are different, so considerable work would be necessary.

That said, even cities as large as London (not Ontario) have two-tiered governments, so there's no reason the status quo can't remain. Merge what works and leave what doesn't alone until merging does work.
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#9
(07-07-2015, 06:18 PM)DHLawrence Wrote: Libraries are another good candidate, though I understand the computer databases are different, so considerable work would be necessary.
Really? Because the websites for each catalogue are nearly identical. I was quite certain they used the same backbone.
My Twitter: @KevinLMaps
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#10
(07-07-2015, 07:05 PM)KevinL Wrote:
(07-07-2015, 06:18 PM)DHLawrence Wrote: Libraries are another good candidate, though I understand the computer databases are different, so considerable work would be necessary.
Really? Because the websites for each catalogue are nearly identical. I was quite certain they used the same backbone.

Kitchener and Waterloo do indeed share the system that runs their catalogue. Whenever you login to WPL (or receive notices), it is coming from a KPL address.
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#11
There's a super hush-hush secret I've heard that you can return books to either library, and it's basically fine. Just takes an extra day to get checked in.
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#12
I was thinking of Cambridge and the Region of Waterloo libraries in the townships; if memory serves those use identical systems, which are not compatible with KPL/WPL. Couldn't remember if WPL was the same or not.
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#13
Still boggles my mind that Waterloo residents pay a bigger burden for regional taxes (53%) versus Kitchener (49%), which (some of the revenue) helps pay for two hospitals that aren't even in their city.

I'm a Kitchener dweller and even I think that bites for them!
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#14
Housing prices are more inflated in Waterloo, hence the larger tax bill for them.   MPAC sets the valuation, and it is market based.    It's just the way the way it is.   IMHO, housing prices in Waterloo are overstated by at least $50K (using London as my comparator).

Amalgamation won't happen any time soon. The Firefighter wage differential alone is enough to deter that.
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#15
(08-13-2015, 12:29 AM)CTGal1011 Wrote: Still boggles my mind that Waterloo residents pay a bigger burden for regional taxes (53%) versus Kitchener (49%), which (some of the revenue) helps pay for two hospitals that aren't even in their city.

One of them is essentially on the border line. In any case those who work in them live throughout the region.

A similar argument could be said for universities. Waterloo has two, while Kitchener and Cambridge have none apart from a few small satellite campuses. Also for research institutes like PI and CIGI. Granted that hospitals and universities are funded on different models and don't provide equivalent services (e.g. hospitals are essential, universities less so.) But arguably the universities attract high-income, skilled workers, generate a larger property tax base and create demand for higher-end city amenities. 

You could also argue that more of Waterloo will be served by LRT than Kitchener. (Cue Cambridge mayor Craig for the usual violin cadenza...)

And then there are the folks who live in the townships who, no matter how much or little they pay into the region, get second class services like ambulances that take twice as long to get them to hospital.

P.S. There's also an inequality between the property taxes assessed on houses and apartments with the latter paying disproportionally more.
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