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Bratina continues pushing for amalgamation investigation

 By Kevin Werner, News Staff

 Never say never to Flamborough de-amalgamating from the city of Hamilton, says Mayor Bob Bratina.

Bratina, who recently announced he isn’t seeking re-election this fall, says look at the annexation of Crimea byRussia, or separatists making noises again about getting Quebec out of Canada, andScotlandis holding a referendum this September to become an independent country. So it’s not inconceivable that some day Flamborough may not be part of Hamilton in the future, he says.

“To say no way ever again will Flamborough ever be disconnected from the city I’m not prepared to say that,” Bratina told about 30 residents during a Flamborough Chamber of Commerce round table event March 18 at the North Wentworth Arena.

While he isn’t encouraging de-amalgamation, all Bratina wants is the province to review amalgamation to see if it has helped or hurt the six municipalities that merged in 2001.

“I’m prepared to say I’m working hard to see Flamborough and Waterdown gets treated fairly and we will see where we will go from there,” he said.

Bratina pointed out one oddity that Flamborough residents can relate to.Carlisle’s water supply is not fluoridated. But should Carlisle residents be charged for paying for fluoridated water that supply in the rest of Hamilton?

“I was never in favour of (amalgamation),” he told the gathering in a wide-ranging talk that revealed a more personal perspective from Bratina than usual. “I’m proud to be a mayor of a city that is working well. Still there may be some inequities that need to be addressed.”

During his State of the City address in downtown Hamilton in January, he was criticized for bringing up the idea of amalgamation after years of relatively peaceful co-existence between the suburban and urban politicians. He hosted a university professor who has studied the impact of amalgamated municipalities in Ontario the same day after delivering his State of the City address. He felt the severe complaints were unjustified since he believes it’s time the impact of amalgamation on Hamilton should be investigated.

He praised Flamborough resident and chair of the de-amalgamation group Committee to Free Flamborough Roman Sarachman for appearing before council during every budget session to demand the city provide improved services at better prices. He has criticized the city for adding to the city’s bureaucracy, while also racking up loads of debt.

“Roman does a good job,” said Bratina.

Bratina did propose during his 2010 mayoral campaign to get the province to review amalgamation, a promise that was well received in the Flamborough area. But Bratina said nothing really happened because he kept searching for the proper research. He eventually found it in the paper overseen by Western University professor Tim Cobban. He looked at 445 amalgamated municipalities and found that amalgamated municipalities had about twice the number of employees as non-amalgamated cities.

“Some places benefited from amalgamation,” said Bratina, “some didn’t.”

Bratina had asked McMaster University political science professor Mark Sproule-Jones, former Mayor Bob Wade, and McMaster University professor Marvin Ryder for assistance in examining amalgamation, but they all bowed out.

“There are at least three or four amalgamated communities who are continuing to battle against amalgamation,” said Bratina.

Provincial officials have already stated to Hamilton Community News the Liberals are not in favour of reviewing in the future Ontario’s amalgamated communities.

But that has stopped Bratina from urging residents who still want de-amalgamation, to ask the provincial government, and its MPPs for answers. He said a provincial election is nearing, so it would be an opportune time for constituents to put the question to candidates and MPPs if de-amalgamation should happen.

“Simply ask them what is your position on amalgamation?” said Bratina. “Would you be in favour of a review? You don’t have to say we want to tear this place apart. Let’s just get to the facts and find out a whether your money is being well spent. Let’s get the province to look into it.”

 

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