On October 27, 1961, the Street Light Advisory Committee of Waterloo Region submitted a recommendation to the City of Kitchener to replace the ornamental streetlamps in the Westmount Area. The recommendation would replace the 49-year-old standard lights with new Mercury Vapour Luminaries for a total cost of $658,000. On January 30, 1962, the Council of the Corporation of the City of Kitchener unanimously passed the recommendation from the Street Light Advisory Committee to install these new streetlights.


                These changes were concerning to the residents of the neighbourhood and to the Region of Waterloo at large. Luckily, the residents had Mr. Peter Giffen leading a delegation fighting to protect the character of the beloved residential neighbourhood. By the late 1970s, Mr. Giffen was at war with the City of Kitchener.  Mr. Giffen appeared before the City Council representing the delegation, with a petition boasting 130 signatures in support of protection of the ornamental streetlamps. He argued “our concern is immediate” and the “council will thank [him]” for protecting the streetlamps.


Thanks to his perseverance, Mr. Giffen successfully convinced the City to postpone their decision and to provide the evidence that led to the decision to remove the ornamental streetlamps. However, this sadly did not end the war. Mr. Giffen continued to fight, requesting meetings with the Mayor to discuss alternatives. Ultimately these attempts were unsuccessful, and the ornamental streetlamps Mr. Giffen worked so hard to save were taken down.


                Mr. Giffen’s impact has not been forgotten. His arguments to save the streetlamps have been revived by residents of Ferndale Place, Waterloo, who are fighting to preserve “elegant white street lamps that had been salvaged from a historic Kitchener neighbourhood and installed when the Ferndale enclave was built 60 years ago.”[1] The City also resurrected their past arguments, claiming that the ornamental streetlamps need to be replaced with higher and brighter streetlights that properly illuminate the streets. Although the residents of Ferndale place were unsuccessful in their battle against the City, we are confident that the advocacy of Peter Giffen illuminated their path to justice and radiated as bright as the streetlamps he fought so hard to keep.


[1] Dispute in Waterloo over street lamps proves illuminating | TheRecord.com

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