Wedding in City of Kitchener
The City of Kitchener (formerly the City of Berlin from 1854 until 1916) lies in southwestern Ontario, Canada and has a population of 214,000. The metropolitan area, which includes the two neighbouring cities of Waterloo and Cambridge, has 508,000 people, making it the tenth largest CMA in Canada and now the fourth largest CMA in Ontario by population. It is the seat of the Waterloo Regional Municipality, and is adjacent to the smaller cities of Cambridge to the south, and Waterloo to the north. Kitchener and Waterloo are often referred to jointly as "the twin cities" or "K-W" (Kitchener-Waterloo), although they have separate municipal governments. Including Cambridge, the three cities are known as "the tri-cities".
Whereas Waterloo has benefited from the presence of two universities and a number of high tech companies, Kitchener has been a more blue-collar town. The auto-parts manufacturer Budd Canada continues to employ over 1500 workers. The Huron Business Park is also the site of a number of industries, from seat manufacturers to furniture components. A number of the old industrial companies of Kitchener have fallen on harder times: the Kaufmann shoe manufacturer has closed its factory, Schneider Foods (a meat producer) has been bought out and operations scaled back, and companies like Electrohome have ceased local production in favour of licensing or supply agreements with overseas makers. Still, occupations unique to manufacturing, processing and utilities cover as much as 15% of the local workforce.
The city now boasts a new city hall, and a new farmer's market opened in 2004. Other projects include an assortment of lofts, utilizing old factories. Various plans for 20 floor condo units have been put in place. And although Waterloo is home to many insurance companies, two universities, and high-tech industries, Kitchener is hoping to increase demand for office space by building office towers and inviting companies from around the golden triangle to move in.
The groundbreaking ceremony for the University of Waterloo school of pharmacy and downtown health sciences campus was officially held on March 15, 2006. The building will be located on King Street near Victoria Street, across the street from the former Kaufmann shoe factory (now being converted to lofts).
Kitchener is governed by a council of six councillors, representing wards (or districts), and a mayor. Kitchener residents also elect four councillors at large to sit with the mayor on the council of the Regional Municipality of Waterloo. The current mayor of Kitchener is Carl Zehr, who was re-elected handily to his fourth term in November 2006, after first being elected in 1997 and then re-elected in 2000 and 2003. Before that, he sat as a municipal councillor from 1985-1994.
The City Councillors, plus the Mayor, make up the entire City of Kitchener Council. Council is responsible for policy and decision making, monitoring the operation and performance of the city, analyzing and approving budgets and determining spending priorities. The residents of each ward vote for one person to be their City Councillor; their voice and representative on City Council.
The current Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Kitchener Centre is John Milloy and the Member of Parliament (MP, federal) is Karen Redman. Gerry Martinuik, Elizabeth Witmer, and Ted Arnott are also MPP's who have ridings that have parts of Kitchener in them.
In 2006, the Heritage Canada Foundation listed Kitchener's demolition of the historic Forsyth Factory as the worst heritage loss of the last year. This designation was partly because of the importance of the building, which was officially designated as a protected property in 1999, but also because of the city's refusal to take responsibility for maintaining the building.
In 2001 the city of Kitchener bought the Forsyth shirt Factory building for nearly $1 million. Since then Kitchener Council has done virtually no maintenance of any sort on the building, including repeatedly voting to not fix leaks in the roof. As a result of several years of water damage, a city inspection on January 9, 2006 determined that the building had developed structural problems and recommended demolition for public safety. On January 14, demolition started. Many residents questioned the report, since a similar report commissioned by the city just a few months prior indicated no structural problems and suggested that the best and least expensive option for redevelopment was to repair the extensive water damage and to convert the building to lower floor commercial, and upper floor residential uses, as was done successfully with the Kaufman factory. Exterior examination by citizens' groups indicated no dangerous structural problems, but the city refused to allow anyone access to the property to do a more detailed analysis. The safety of the building was a key consideration since public safety is one of the few reasons that a property with a provincial heritage designation can be demolished.