Waterloo Region Votes

Your Information Hub for the 2018 Municipal Election

Municipal Government Overview

What is the Region of Waterloo?

The Region of Waterloo is a two-tier government. The upper tier is the Region of Waterloo. The lower tier consists of seven area municipalities: three cities (Cambridge, Kitchener, and Waterloo) and four townships (North Dumfries, Wellesley, Wilmot, and Woolwich).

The elected body that governs the upper-tier Region of Waterloo is called Regional Council. Its membership consists of:

  • The Regional Chair
  • The mayors of the seven area municipalities
  • Extra Regional Councillors allocated to each city. Kitchener gets four regional councillors. Cambridge and Waterloo get two each.

Each of the seven area municipalities has a mayor and a ward council, consisting of ward councillors. The number of ward councillors varies from municipality to municipality.

Not including school boards, voters will be able to cast votes for the following positions municipally:

  • regional chair
  • the mayor of their area municipality
  • ward councillor(s)
  • (for residents of Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge) regional councillors

For a deeper exploration of this municipal structure, listen to this recording of the Communitech Summer School: Civics 101 panel discussion with outgoing chair Ken Seiling and political science professor Robert J. Williams.

Is the Regional Chair like the Premier or the Prime Minister of Waterloo Region?

Unlike provincial or federal politics, the Regional Chair does not set policy alone, and is not the leader of a party. Rather, the Regional Chair gets one vote on council votes, just as other members of council do.

What do the different levels of government do?

The regional and area municipal governments each have their own jurdisdictions, and understanding who does what can get complicated. For example, some roads (usually major and arterial roads) are designated as regional roads and are controlled by the Region, while other roads are controlled by the municipality. You can find a list of regional roads on the Region of Waterloo website.

Also on the Region of Waterloo website you can find a more detailed list of who does what.

Some of the more prominent roles the Region is responsible for include:

  • Police services
  • Ambulance services
  • Waste collection
  • Public health
  • Social Services
  • Housing
  • Child Care
  • Seniors’ Services
  • Transportation (Roads, Signals, Grand River Transit & LRT)
  • Libraries in the townships
  • Wastewater Treatment
  • Water Disribution

Some of the prominent roles played by the area municipalities include:

  • Fire services (in the cities)
  • Libraries in the cities
  • Most parks & recreation services
  • Parking
  • Building Inspections
  • Animal Control
  • Roads & Sidewalks
  • Wastewater Collection
  • Water Retail

That’s a long list of things that have a direct impact on your daily life.

Karen Redman’s campaign page has an informative list of responsibilities broken across the different levels of government, including provincial and federal levels. (Note that linking to this page does not imply endorsement of the candidate. It is just a nice list.)