About Berry Vrbanovic
Berry Vrbanovic is the City of Kitchener's 68th Mayor since its founding as the Village of Berlin in 1854. Known for his caring and personable style, Berry was elected as the City of Kitchener's Mayor in 2014, after successfully serving as the Ward 2 councillor for six consecutive terms. Prior to being elected, Berry served in a variety of staff roles at the City of Kitchener, beginning part-time in the City Clerk’s Department and moving to full-time in the City’s Computer Systems area until his election in 1994.
Since being Mayor, Berry has led a Council and staff team which have moved forward with a number of significant community priorities including the City's award-winning and first-ever Neighbourhood strategy, its Make It Kitchener Economic Development 1.0 & 2.0 strategies, Kitchener's Digital Strategy, support for the Paris agreement and the city's role in attaining an 80% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050, and also the advancing of construction of recreational amenities in new neighbourhoods including the Huron Community Centre and RBJ Schlegel Park, Phase 1 and the approval of Phase 2 with its new aquatic centre and indoor sports fields.
Previously in his time as a Councillor, Berry was also not afraid to tackle significant issues ranging from youth issues in Chicopee, where he co-founded the Chicopee Outreach Program (COPS), a unique mentoring program linking at-risk youth with police, fire and community mentors, to being an strong voice on the City's leadership role on environmental initiatives. He was a vocal advocate of the need for a long-term vision for Kitchener and a corporate plan for the City of Kitchener's staff. Berry has also always supported investigating means where the City can bring the highest calibre of overall service delivery to our citizens at the lowest possible costs. His tireless work for his constituents over the years resulted in the new Fire Hall at Ottawa and River, the new Grand River-Stanley Park Community library, the Stanley Park Community Centre, and the splash pad at the Centreville-Chicopee Community Centre.
In addition to serving the residents of Kitchener, Berry has been an outspoken advocate of municipal issues at the provincial, national and international levels. He currently is a member of the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) Presidency, where he was recently elected Co-President (2022-2026) after serving as Treasurer since 2015. Since 2000, he has has also served in various capacities with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), including as its President in 2011-12, and a member of FCM's Green Municipal Fund Council from 2015-2022.
FCM is the national voice for local governments and has successfully advocated in recent years for the municipal GST rebate, permanent gas tax, the national housing strategy and overall investments in infrastructure.
Berry also represents the city in several mayoral advocacy groups, AMO's OBCM Ontario Big City Mayors (Ontario Mayors of cities over 100,000) and brings the Waterloo region voice to FCM's Big City Mayors' Caucus nationally (Canadian cities over 250,000).
At the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), during his time as Chair of the FCM Standing Committee on Community Safety and Crime Prevention, Berry tackled such issues as marijuana home grows, crystal meth labs, prostitution and RCMP police contracts. Berry has also served in a variety of roles on the Standing Committee on International Relations, including Chair, and together with his colleagues, had oversight for FCM's International development work in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and South America, including several post-tsunami projects in Sri Lanka and Indonesia and post-earthquake projects in Haiti.
At UCLG, the global association of cities and their national associations, Berry has worked with Mayors from around the world to ensure that the voice and role of local governments is brought to the table on global issues and that Canadian cities like Kitchener and Waterloo region are at the forefront of debates such as the COP21 Paris Climate Change agreement, and the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). He has been actively engaged with UCLG bringing the voice of Canada and cities in general to the United Nations annually, on the role of the implementation of the SDG's by cities since 2015.
Berry’s community involvement has not been limited to municipal matters. He has fought for effective health care in the past as a member of both the St. Mary’s Hospital and Grand River Hospital Boards and he understands the concerns of young people pursuing post-secondary education having served on the Board of Governors of both Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo. He has been an outspoken advocate for arts and culture throughout the community with his involvement with and support of projects such as JM Drama’s Registry Theatre project, the Conrad Centre and The Museum in Downtown Kitchener, and festivals like KW Oktoberfest, Canada’s Original Kristkindl Market, Kultrun and Kitchener's Bluesfest. And, Berry has also been a supporter of new passive and active recreational facilities, including the development of riverfront parks along the Grand River, so we can further enhance the quality of life within our community.
Born in Zagreb, Croatia, his family immigrated here in 1969. As a result, he understands the challenges resulting from being one of Canada’s main intake centres for new Canadians and the issues faced by these thousands of new Canadians making Kitchener their new home.
Raised in Kitchener, Berry attended Smithson and St. Daniel’s elementary schools, St. Jerome’s High School and Wilfrid Laurier University where he completed a BA in Political Science and a Diploma in Business Administration.
Residing in the Stanley Park part of the city, Berry has also previously owned his own small businesses in the past - first a promotional marketing business and more recently, a small consulting business.
As Mayor, Berry is a tireless champion of all things Kitchener and Waterloo region, and you will regularly see him at one of the hundreds of community events throughout Kitchener and Waterloo region. Make sure you say hello, next time you see him around the community!