Hamilton council to ask province to review amalgamation results

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

In a surprise decision, city councillors want the provincial government to review the results of amalgamations that occurred five years ago in Ontario - including in Hamilton.

In response to a resolution passed by Kitchener City Council last month, Hamilton politicians want the Municipal Affairs Minister John Gerretsen to establish an independent "review of the results of amalgamation in Ontario."

The review would examine the principles of "affordability, accountability and political accessibility" to determine the benefits and negative aspects of amalgamation. The resolution has also been sent to members of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.

Kitchener councillors voted this fall to revisit the amalgamation of that area's seven municipalities into one city.

The issue had been discussed in the 1990s, but nothing came of the debate. The Kitchener resolution, though, provided an opportunity for Flamborough councillor Margaret McCarthy to reiterate her opposition to the amalgamation of Flamborough into Hamilton.

"I don't think (amalgamation) works," said McCarthy, who introduced the resolution at last week's council meeting. Hamilton councillor Brian McHattie seconded McCarthy's motion.

"I think de-amalgamation will eventually happen in Hamilton," said McCarthy, noting that municipalities amalgamated in Europe and the United States are now either de-amalgamating, or are in the process of breaking up because municipal leaders have determined a "one-size-fits-all" governance structure doesn't work.

"(The current structure) is not responsive to residents' needs; it is not agile to be effective; and it can't react to the people."

Dennis Noonan, spokesperson for the Committee to Free Flamborough, was surprised that Hamilton councillors approved the resolution. Hamilton politicians have in the past rejected motions introduced by suburban councillors asking the province to de-amalgamate the city. "This puts the Liberals in a bind," he said.

Noonan said he had no indication councillors would be reviewing last week's resolution.

The CFF and the Glanbrook Freedom Train have been working with provincial officials since 2001 to de-amalgamate from Hamilton.

Don Barlow, chair of the Glanbrook Freedom Train, was less enthusiastic about the resolution. He pointed out Kitchener is involved in its own amalgamation debate and the resolution passed says nothing about de-amalgamating communities. Residents and politicians, said McCarthy, characterize Hamilton's amalgamated city, nearly five years after the merging of six municipalities into one, as a "centralized maze" that "confuses the average person."

Flamborough and Glanbrook residents remain furious that amalgamation was implemented to bail out a financially failing former city of Hamilton, she said, adding that suburban residents continue to deplore their lack of city services, while paying ever-higher taxes for programs they never receive.

Over the last five years, taxes have skyrocketed in Flamborough, Glanbrook and Ancaster while in some parts of the old city of Hamilton, taxes have slightly decreased.

One nagging problem that irritates the former Flamborough town councillor is the way money is spent in the city. During her Flamborough political years, councillors debated whether or not to pay a $100 bill. But in Hamilton piles of money, she says, are too easily approved without the proper review. One example is the $100 million it would have cost the city to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games, a bid she opposed.

McCarthy isn't hopeful the provincial government will commission the review, even though it should be the Liberals' duty to find out the true benefits or detriments of amalgamation. "Will the Liberals do it? That is the real question," she said. "Let's have the critical analysis to see if amalgamation is actually working."

Hamilton council to ask province to review amalgamation results

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

In a surprise decision, city councillors want the provincial government to review the results of amalgamations that occurred five years ago in Ontario - including in Hamilton.

In response to a resolution passed by Kitchener City Council last month, Hamilton politicians want the Municipal Affairs Minister John Gerretsen to establish an independent "review of the results of amalgamation in Ontario."

The review would examine the principles of "affordability, accountability and political accessibility" to determine the benefits and negative aspects of amalgamation. The resolution has also been sent to members of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.

Kitchener councillors voted this fall to revisit the amalgamation of that area's seven municipalities into one city.

The issue had been discussed in the 1990s, but nothing came of the debate. The Kitchener resolution, though, provided an opportunity for Flamborough councillor Margaret McCarthy to reiterate her opposition to the amalgamation of Flamborough into Hamilton.

"I don't think (amalgamation) works," said McCarthy, who introduced the resolution at last week's council meeting. Hamilton councillor Brian McHattie seconded McCarthy's motion.

"I think de-amalgamation will eventually happen in Hamilton," said McCarthy, noting that municipalities amalgamated in Europe and the United States are now either de-amalgamating, or are in the process of breaking up because municipal leaders have determined a "one-size-fits-all" governance structure doesn't work.

"(The current structure) is not responsive to residents' needs; it is not agile to be effective; and it can't react to the people."

Dennis Noonan, spokesperson for the Committee to Free Flamborough, was surprised that Hamilton councillors approved the resolution. Hamilton politicians have in the past rejected motions introduced by suburban councillors asking the province to de-amalgamate the city. "This puts the Liberals in a bind," he said.

Noonan said he had no indication councillors would be reviewing last week's resolution.

The CFF and the Glanbrook Freedom Train have been working with provincial officials since 2001 to de-amalgamate from Hamilton.

Don Barlow, chair of the Glanbrook Freedom Train, was less enthusiastic about the resolution. He pointed out Kitchener is involved in its own amalgamation debate and the resolution passed says nothing about de-amalgamating communities. Residents and politicians, said McCarthy, characterize Hamilton's amalgamated city, nearly five years after the merging of six municipalities into one, as a "centralized maze" that "confuses the average person."

Flamborough and Glanbrook residents remain furious that amalgamation was implemented to bail out a financially failing former city of Hamilton, she said, adding that suburban residents continue to deplore their lack of city services, while paying ever-higher taxes for programs they never receive.

Over the last five years, taxes have skyrocketed in Flamborough, Glanbrook and Ancaster while in some parts of the old city of Hamilton, taxes have slightly decreased.

One nagging problem that irritates the former Flamborough town councillor is the way money is spent in the city. During her Flamborough political years, councillors debated whether or not to pay a $100 bill. But in Hamilton piles of money, she says, are too easily approved without the proper review. One example is the $100 million it would have cost the city to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games, a bid she opposed.

McCarthy isn't hopeful the provincial government will commission the review, even though it should be the Liberals' duty to find out the true benefits or detriments of amalgamation. "Will the Liberals do it? That is the real question," she said. "Let's have the critical analysis to see if amalgamation is actually working."

Hamilton council to ask province to review amalgamation results

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

In a surprise decision, city councillors want the provincial government to review the results of amalgamations that occurred five years ago in Ontario - including in Hamilton.

In response to a resolution passed by Kitchener City Council last month, Hamilton politicians want the Municipal Affairs Minister John Gerretsen to establish an independent "review of the results of amalgamation in Ontario."

The review would examine the principles of "affordability, accountability and political accessibility" to determine the benefits and negative aspects of amalgamation. The resolution has also been sent to members of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.

Kitchener councillors voted this fall to revisit the amalgamation of that area's seven municipalities into one city.

The issue had been discussed in the 1990s, but nothing came of the debate. The Kitchener resolution, though, provided an opportunity for Flamborough councillor Margaret McCarthy to reiterate her opposition to the amalgamation of Flamborough into Hamilton.

"I don't think (amalgamation) works," said McCarthy, who introduced the resolution at last week's council meeting. Hamilton councillor Brian McHattie seconded McCarthy's motion.

"I think de-amalgamation will eventually happen in Hamilton," said McCarthy, noting that municipalities amalgamated in Europe and the United States are now either de-amalgamating, or are in the process of breaking up because municipal leaders have determined a "one-size-fits-all" governance structure doesn't work.

"(The current structure) is not responsive to residents' needs; it is not agile to be effective; and it can't react to the people."

Dennis Noonan, spokesperson for the Committee to Free Flamborough, was surprised that Hamilton councillors approved the resolution. Hamilton politicians have in the past rejected motions introduced by suburban councillors asking the province to de-amalgamate the city. "This puts the Liberals in a bind," he said.

Noonan said he had no indication councillors would be reviewing last week's resolution.

The CFF and the Glanbrook Freedom Train have been working with provincial officials since 2001 to de-amalgamate from Hamilton.

Don Barlow, chair of the Glanbrook Freedom Train, was less enthusiastic about the resolution. He pointed out Kitchener is involved in its own amalgamation debate and the resolution passed says nothing about de-amalgamating communities. Residents and politicians, said McCarthy, characterize Hamilton's amalgamated city, nearly five years after the merging of six municipalities into one, as a "centralized maze" that "confuses the average person."

Flamborough and Glanbrook residents remain furious that amalgamation was implemented to bail out a financially failing former city of Hamilton, she said, adding that suburban residents continue to deplore their lack of city services, while paying ever-higher taxes for programs they never receive.

Over the last five years, taxes have skyrocketed in Flamborough, Glanbrook and Ancaster while in some parts of the old city of Hamilton, taxes have slightly decreased.

One nagging problem that irritates the former Flamborough town councillor is the way money is spent in the city. During her Flamborough political years, councillors debated whether or not to pay a $100 bill. But in Hamilton piles of money, she says, are too easily approved without the proper review. One example is the $100 million it would have cost the city to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games, a bid she opposed.

McCarthy isn't hopeful the provincial government will commission the review, even though it should be the Liberals' duty to find out the true benefits or detriments of amalgamation. "Will the Liberals do it? That is the real question," she said. "Let's have the critical analysis to see if amalgamation is actually working."