Merge Kitchener and Waterloo, 292 people tell the province in survey
I didn’t grow up here, but I grew up close enough to here that I always had at least a passing familiarity with how things were here thanks to all the local news and visiting. And one of the things I could never get my head around was why Kitchener and Waterloo weren’t one city. They were laid out as if they were one big thing and everyone called it KW as if it was, but yet, here you all were, pretending that somehow they were substantially different and could never, ever merge.
The nine years I’ve lived here proper have done nothing to solve this mystery. In fact, the more I learn about how connected and collaborative the two really are, it’s only deepened the confusion.
And then there’s Carin, who knew virtually nothing of KW until she started working in it.
There’s a story she likes to tell about when we first moved to town.
One day, she was out running some errands. She had Blindsquare open on her phone to help her not get lost in this foreign land. At one point during her walk, it announced something and said, “Kitchener.” Seconds later it pointed out another location, but this time, ended by announcing “Waterloo.” She was convinced that either the GPS on her phone was acting up or that the maps her app was relying on were broken. When I explained to her that no, everything was working as intended, she couldn’t believe it. Were her left and right foot truly governed momentarily by two city councils and paying for a separate set of services? Yes, yes they were. She, like any sensible person, soon thereafter came to the conclusion that this was weird and kind of dumb. “You’re right,” I told her. “But don’t try telling this to any locals. I may not see you again until they fish you out of the Grand.”
Amalgamation has always been a tough subject here, but I’ve never been given a reason for fighting it that goes much beyond “waaaa waaaaa tradition, heritage waaaaa waaaaa.” Now and then somebody will briefly float something about how it won’t save that much or will otherwise be more trouble than it’s worth, but it’s rarely well defined and we inevitably end up back at we just can’t.
Sure, there’s something to be said for hometown pride. I don’t understand it myself because I’ve bounced around too much to truly be proud of a single place and I have no idea who would try to claim me if I ever do something worthwhile, but there’s being proud and there’s being stubborn. And this Kitchener vs. Waterloo thing is one of the best living examples of costly stubbornness I’ve ever seen. Acting like the two shouldn’t merge at this point is a bit like using two pots to make one soup.