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Citizens muster ‘County Fine as it is’ petition

countymap 10Citizens saying “The County is Fine as it is”  have mustered a petition by the same name in support of keeping 10 names for electoral areas and boundaries with the current governing system of 15 councillors.

At the Sept. 19 meeting of council (Committee of the Whole) the report of the Citizens’ Assembly was on the agenda along with a second detailed report containing a plan for moving forward on a reduction of council to 10 from 15 and re-drawing the boundaries within the County to be called W1,W2,W3,W4,W5.

The committee of the whole passed three motions to be considered for adoption at a special council meeting at Shire Hall, Wednesday, Oct. 9 at 7 p.m. The motions propose that council size be reduced to 10 councillors plus a mayor; that the five new wards with two councillors per ward be established for electoral purposes only  and that the 10 pre-amalgamation wards be retained for all other purposes, and be recognized with signage.

“When this plan was presented at Ameliasburgh Hall later that night to Hillier and Ameliasburgh constituents, there was anger and frustration,” said former Reeve Bill Bonter. “We didn’t know that was going to be on the agenda or we would have been there.

“This feels like democracy is being ripped away from us. At amalgamation, we worked very hard as ten councils to honour the geography and history of this place in the reorganization. It was emotional. It was agonizing. It was negotiation. But we had to do what was best for the survival of the County. Nothing is so broken in the County right now that we have to proceed with this,” Bonter said.

Discussions about a petition and an Ontario Municipal Board challenge began with the note that the last OMB challenge on the matter cost County taxpayers well over $125,000. The group decided to proceed with a petition first.

“The County is Fine as It Is” Petition will be showing up on the streets, at your family gatherings, at  the Ameliasburgh Fair and any other place supporters can gather names.

“When people voted for a review of the size of council in the last election, I seriously doubt many folks had any idea of the potential destruction of our local community identities that would be part of the outcome,” said Monica Alyea, former councillor. “This second report at the meeting very clearly indicated a plan was under development somewhere other than at the council table. That’s not the way democracy is supposed to work.”

The petition states:
The County is Fine as It Is!
On September 19, 2013, a majority of the PEC Municipal Council decided to put forward a proposal to the public that would reduce Council size from 15 to 10 Councillors. To achieve this, all the Ward boundaries will have to be changed to create 5 wards instead of 10. These wards will be called W1, W2, W3, W4, W5. No historic names will be used. (Proposed boundary map attached)

With amalgamation in 1998, the County went from 54 Councillors to 15. They believed this number provided representation by population and respected our County’s historical roots. To name our wards, they chose to keep the historical names of our communities – our townships and villages – because they were “places” to citizens where they lived and volunteered.

If you want to keep Ameliasburgh, Athol, Bloomfield, Hallowell, Hillier, North Marysburgh, Picton, Sophiasburgh, South Marysburgh and Wellington with the same individual names for your electoral area with the same boundaries and adhere to representation by population as legally required, the governing system must have 15 Councillors. This number was determined by the Province at the time of amalgamation.

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  1. judy kennedy says:

    Someone has misread my message. I did not endorse the amalgamation with Hastings–just the opposite. And yes, I know for a fact just how useless some of the public school trustees were. One in particular, slept through every meeting and announced the money was “the easiest five thousand I’ve ever made.” Another was just out and out nasty to everyone. Good riddance.

  2. Just to clarify the 54 councillor thing – each township and town elected its own council which looked after internal township stuff – roads, snowplowing etc. One person from each council would also be sent as a representative to County Council, with one of them selected to be Warden. It worked just fine and didn’t cost much. With amalgamation this was reduced to a 15 member County Council, plus a mayor, plus an enormous paid bureauocracy to administer all the stuff that the township councils used to do for practically nothing. Amalgamation of the townships has resulted in spiralling costs and loss of local voice. Amalgamation of the school board has resulted in the closure of local schools. Amalgamation of hospitals has resulted in gutting of services at our local hospital. What makes anyone think the result of further reduction in the number of councillors will have a different result? And if council isn’t working, we already have a mechanism for addressing the problem – it’s called an election.

  3. Marnie says:

    The amalgamation of the Prince Edward County board of education with the Hastings board was not a plus. Assuming that some of the trustees were “useless” as you claim. Judy. at least we knew their names. Today I doubt that many people could name our representatives to the current board. Amalgamation in this instance absorbed a strong local voice and gave us a weak acho in its place.

  4. Paul says:

    Representation by Population is a founding constitutional principle. Why should that change and constitutionally speaking will these ward changes stand up to that founding principle if challenged.

  5. Mark says:

    Anyone who thinks that we presently have true representation by population is mistaken. A voter that can vote for 3 councillors as opposed to a voter who can only vote for one is wrong. All councillors influence all of the electorate and all wards. Time for voters to be treated equal.

  6. judy kennedy says:

    Don’t be so shocked. At one time there were 14 trustees for the Prince Edward School Board. 8 public schools and 1 high school. Some truly useless trustees, at that.
    This didn’t change until amalgamation with Hastings. It’s probably one of the few good things that came out of that particular situation.

  7. CHRIS says:

    54????????? Really???

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