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Council approves smaller council, ward change

Nine-Electoral-Ward-MapOfficial changes to the size of Prince Edward County’s council and electoral ward boundaries were approved Tuesday night at Shire Hall.

The plan, endorsed in November, reduces the size of council to 13 members plus a mayor and joins Bloomfield and Hallowell wards for the 2018 municipal election. One councillor position is removed from there, and another from Sophiasburgh.

The new plan replaces the current 15 councillors from 10 wards plus a mayor where Hallowell has two representatives; Bloomfield one and Sophiasburgh two.

Appeals to the Ontario Municipal Board are possible for 45 days following the bylaw change.

Council voted 10-6 in favour of the change. Those who previously favoured plans for a further reduced council size voted against, but Mayor Robert Quaiff also noted it was time to move on.

Councillors Kevin Gale, Barry Turpin, Jim Dunlop, Bill Roberts, Gord Fox joined Quaiff in a vote against the new plan.

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  1. Rob says:

    Dennis, Have you talked with Rick at the times? He might have a way to find out if the support is there for the OMB challenge. I think March 10 is the dead line, so that doesn’t leave much time. I think council really stepped in it this time & can’t see how they can defend there decision.

  2. Snowman says:

    My opinion of The County’s legal cost being awarded by the OMB, were meant to be a heads up to any one who was thinking of signing their name to the appeal documents. It could get very costly.
    Perhaps spending upwards of $200k on organizing for the next election to ensure a strong, no nonsense Mayor and forward thinking Council are elected is the way to go.
    It’s becoming very obvious through all of this that there are the same old “shout down” bullies on Council and a lack of leadership in conducting the meetings. Hence all the confusion around procedure and voting.

  3. Fred says:

    The criteria was public Sandar. Why would a proposal that didn’t meet Council criteria be on the table for a vote?

  4. Sandar says:

    Fred:
    That IS the question. Also: Who knew what and when did they know which plans did or didn’t meet the criteria. I expect many councilors trusted that all plans followed criteria, especially, after putting so much of their time and effort into trying to move the whole issue forward with diligence.

    If councilor O’brien hadn’t asked if certain 2 plans followed the criteria or not, little would be known by us all.

    That for me was a shock of shocks to bring the issue to that stage and have this fine kettle of fish served up. Something smells like fishy soup.

    I will ask my councilor.

    It will be regrettable if our money is spent yet again on this issue. . . perhaps they will have to recoup costs; now that might be a bigger issue than the appeal.

  5. Fred says:

    Why did Council not follow their own selection criteria?

  6. Dennis Fox says:

    I believe that Gary is correct in that the Municipality did consider asking for payment from the residents, but decided not to. But I also remember reading an article at the time (a long time ago) about how some councillors were quite aggressive about going after the residents for payment. But in the end, council decided not to. I believed at the time that it was due to Council being told to back off by the OMB But I could be wrong on that. However, the bottom line is that our council did consider such an action. Democracy should not be for only those who can afford it – I am happy that council in the end supported such a concept.

  7. Sandar says:

    “”” sincere and serious in launching the appeal “””

    Surely, there must be principles and intentions on grounds first to consider in asking for costs. One must have the ability to pay or it’s nonsense, most decisions are each pay their own legals, that’s not say an award never happens.

    Anyone can be sincere and serious in launching an OMB challenge but have wrong intentions and a sincere sour grapes purpose to do so.

    The OMB must first accept the appeal on sound legal grounds with evidence to move forward in an effort to avoid wasting valuable time. Or else every Tom, Floyd and Elfred from the county would be in line.

  8. Gary Mooney says:

    Council considered whether or not to ask the OMB for costs, but decided not to do so. In my view, it was because they recognized that the appellants were sincere and serious in launching the appeal.

  9. Susan says:

    Fact is Dennis, most whine, then fall in line with what Council hands them. A very few will stand up. You make a great point as to why the local Farmers Association decided to get involved at one minute to twelve. I would guess to support their brother, the creator of this sham of a plan.

  10. Emily says:

    The almighty $$ is even used to discourage residents from achieving democracy.

  11. Dennis Fox says:

    Just one word to the person known as “Snowman” – you are wrong. Council did try to charge the cost to the people appealing – the OMB thought otherwise. Your subtle threat and scare tactic has not gone unnoticed – I suspect that you used the name Snowman to cover your identity. You must be councillor who is used to “snowing” the public.

  12. Dennis Fox says:

    I am pleasantly surprised by the level of interest in this topic. A good debate is healthy and beneficial – too bad council never had one. What I am a little disappointed about is not seeing the residents of Bloomfield nor of Sophiasburgh expressing more displeasure about council’s decision. Seriously, I have talked to a great number of people since the November meeting and none have expressed any support for this 9 Ward Plan – instead they shake their heads, laugh about how useless our council is and that they can’t be bothered any more with them or about this issue. And council believes they are doing a good job. How out of touch!

  13. Snowman says:

    Dennis Fox is incorrect in his statement about costs in the 2009 OMB appeal
    The OMB asked County Council to provide a statement of cost, which was submitted. The amount quoted by Fox is correct.
    The Council voted not to pursue the appealants for costs even though the Board member was willing to award them.
    My advice is to be sure that if you are signing on the “OMB bandwagon” you have the financial whatever to pay the piper. The County’s Lawyers are not any cheaper than they were in 2009 This Council may not be as soft-hearted as that one was.

  14. Sandar says:

    “…when are they going to start the LIVE STREAMING? …”

    We / someone / all of us need to ask our councilor at what stage streaming is at and when it will happen. Hey, ask the newspaper to look into it. There’s a story!

    I heard last fall, early in 2016. Hmm, maybe they want to get all the disgruntleds knowledgeable in acceptable meeting etiquette ie: respecting the mayor and/or chairperson before they go A-live in streaming more bad behavior in front of the public.

    I’m looking forward to it.

  15. Emily says:

    Sandar; confused how you can state the survey was flawed. The majority did not select Status Quo or the 9 Ward Plan. Survey was fine and delivered the information it was supposed to do. You can’t call the survey flawed because Council discarded it.

  16. Chuck says:

    The criteria was posted publicly before or at least when the survey was available. The criteria was no secret. Why the criteria was discarded and not used in the process is a key question.

  17. lou says:

    id like to know that too…when are they going to start the LIVE STREAMING?

  18. Sandar says:

    “. . . The Mayor was cautioned by Administration that Council was going down a slippery slope . . .”

    The slippery slope was made when the admin. was suppose to do their job in relating each plan to the criteria set before it re: OMB qualifications, I suppose. I/We never heard about any criteria until the committee of the whole. When Diane O’brien asked admin if this and that plan they were voting on met the criteria. Admin answered only 2 plans on the survey met the criteria. So why did 4 plans get moved forward to the public and into the voting process? And placed on the survey? This befuddles the mind. At that point the survey was deeply and dreadfully flawed with a great margin of error amongst other things.

    The OMB rules are 51% of the “electorate”. It really begs the question about all this talk for years about reducing council size and changing boundaries without a true mandate from all the residents of PEC.

    ” . . . they lied to the public and voted to save their jobs instead! . . .”

    Sorry, this thinking is unrealistic. No council job is safe or secure going into the next election, no one can save their job. I’m sure the old boys club would like to. If anything council seats are very unstable … based on voters who are as fickle one day as the next as to who they will vote for or who they will vote off the Island for any silly reason. Some councilors get lucky or else have a large number of relatives, friends and political back scratchers to pad the way.

    It’s games of wait and see.

  19. Dennis Fox says:

    The comment made earlier about how the Administration was responsible for this chaos is absolutely wrong! The facts show that council ignored the advice of staff and proceeded to end-run the process and by doing so exposed this municipality to a possible OMB hearing. This is what the Mayor cautioned council about. To claim that the “swinging away” at councillors was unfair , shows a lack of understanding of what some councillors have done – at election time 9 out of 16 councillors promised to reduce council down to 9 + the mayor. (Times Survey) – they lied to the public and voted to save their jobs instead!

  20. Chuck says:

    The Mayor was cautioned by Administration that Council was going down a slippery slope. As much as he tried he could not break the “Status Quo 8”.

  21. Emily says:

    Good discussion Sandar, but quite frankly I do not believe the OMB would consider any of that as relevant.

  22. Sandar says:

    Thanks for the reply to who pays the cost of a failed challenge @ OMB. (Judicatory’s choice as to what blood can be gotten from a stone)

    Much of all the debacle must be aimed at the Administration once again. They oversee the legal, administrative issues and protect the mayor firstly from making mistakes that would result in a lawsuit filed against the Corporation of PEC. And second owing to the councilors protection in following the rules that govern that Corporation and of course their insurance liabilities. A big job.

    Swinging away at councilors who represent the people is a unfair approach at the very root of the scheme and does little for confidence in what they signed on to do, regardless.

    Lastly, to change boundaries and reduce council size the vote must be from 51% of the total electorate. (Electorate meaning the people of the whole county who pay taxes in PEC. “not” just those people who voted in any particular election, as many try to take as 51% that means everything). To get this many people (the electorate) to vote on any issue will hardly ever happen in our life span. Think about it.

    Many property owners care little of what happens politically in a place where they spend a few months of the year.

    Sorry, but it needs to be said again.

  23. Susan says:

    I think the County would have a very difficult time defending their decision at an OMB on this matter. Voter equity not being met, criteria tossed out and Council voting debacle stand out strongly.

  24. Gary says:

    Is council being streamed live tonight?

  25. Emily says:

    That would be a fair assessment if the old brooms had done their job. They just didn’t deal with it. This one dealt with it in an underhanded selfish manner by trying to appear progressive by backing away from status quo but choosing the least possible change. Choose something that will impact them the least! They disregarded the constituents survey choices. They disregarded their own selection criteria.

  26. Marnie says:

    Maybe we have ourselves to blame for not getting it right at the polls in the last election. There was a huge push for “new brooms”. Seems they are not sweeping clean after all.

  27. Emily says:

    Please show me an Ameliasburgh Councilor who has shown leadership on this issue. They were voting in block throughout, and at least one spoke at the public forums pumping the values of “status quo” when the purpose was for them to receive community input. They won the day however as their voter representation increased from 20% of Council to 23%.

  28. Dennis Fox says:

    In response to one of the comments – you are wrong about the person or group appealing to the OMB having to pay if they lose. It was tried back in 2009 when this issue was before the OMB, where the municipality asked to be reimbursed – the OMB rejected such a claim and as far as I know, no one has ever had to pay. The Municipality paid $125K for defend this appeal.
    Also, this same person made the comment about Councillor O’Brien showing good mayoral qualities – GOOD GRIEF! This same Councillor accused her colleagues of TRICKERY when this issue was discussed in November. Talk about misconduct – WOW!

  29. Sandar says:

    Good day, many comments of interest:

    The goal WAS to reduce the size of council and so be it (as I repeat the phrase of Councillor Gale as he stated his lame apology to the Mayor and Councillor Forester that night, when asked to apologize or the leave the room) a reduction by 2 councilors was the result of the vote. So many people with their interpretations of this idea of reduction by how many. No specifications of exactly what the reduced size was to be, a number significant or not.

    If I understand correctly: who ever fails the challenge before the OMB will pay the costs, if I’m wrong please say it to me.

    I was shocked on that voting night, when Diane O’Brien did her job calling “point of order” and stepped in and acted as Mayor when he DID NOT call “order” to gain control of the chamber and to enforce the procedural rules of order when a disgruntled Councillor Gale had verbally attacked Councillor Forester for his final comments on the matter. This is unacceptable.

    Councillor O’Brien proved to make a good mayor, beside the fact of being from the infamous Ameliasburgh Ward. Shame and embarrassment is worn by all who sat and did nothing, said nothing and knew better than to let this behavior go without “order”. That is the most pressing issue for all of the community, and the basis for much of the dysfunction. It begs the question of who is really in charge?

    This new promise of “code of conduct” I read, is not necessary and will further delay the control of the chamber by an intermediary interference, not to mention the cost. Does no body ever follow the rules laid out by the historians (Roberts Rules of Order) for meetings to avoid this kind of chaos?

    Mark:
    I do hope the “streaming” is hurried along so we all can see exactly what happens. I must give credit to the Mayor for bringing this and his conduct to the “press”. However, it is not necessary for another “code of conduct” to be put in place, a method is already in place for dealing with such bad conduct. The mayor and presiding chairperson must be strong enough and impartial enough to do his job.

    I apologize: “so be it”

  30. Emily says:

    The facts that would be difficult for the County to defend at an OMB;

    – voter equity not addressed in fact worsened with Ameliasburgh gaining more representation %
    – Council failed to follow it’s own criteria
    – Councilors speaking in favour of status Quo at public meetings
    – Council’s total disregard to the residents survey
    – A questionable voting process at Council that smelled of collusion
    – Mayors comments after the vote
    – Councilors letter to the editor
    – no significant change to Council size

  31. Chuck says:

    It should never have been in Council’s hands to begin with. It is a conflict. When Council put it out to the residents for a survey they completely ignored those results. At some of the information sessions held in various wards some Councilor’s expressed their personal choices for status quo prior to receiving any input. Their minds were made up.

  32. Jack Dall says:

    I once asked a former councillor and mayor at a public meeting . When voting ” Do you vote for what you feel the majority of the ward,s position is on a matter” or ” What your own opinion is” Without hesitation he answered the latter? This matter should be taken out of their hands.

  33. Dennis Fox says:

    To reply to Mark – I have been giving serious thought to appealing this to the OMB – a lot depends on how much support (people power) can the gathered within the next several weeks and finding out how much an appeal might cost. I hope to find out more next week. I hope this site remains active to get back to you.

  34. Mark says:

    Are you moving it forward Dennis?

  35. Dennis Fox says:

    I agree with those who have expressed a concern over council’s decision and hope that it goes before the OMB. However, that takes time, support and some money (hopefully not a lot) – how many residents are prepared to stand up and fight back at the OMB? Council is hoping not many and hoping that we will all just go away – let’s prove them wrong!

  36. Mark says:

    Councilor Roberts displayed courage and leadership in placing his concerns to the public in regard to this mockery of a decision. We need more like him instead of attempting to silence them and only one unified voice coming from Shire Hall. I really hope this issue goes to the OMB so voter equity can be addressed.

  37. Dennis Fox says:

    The Size of Council debate and the now Code of Conduct Debate are intertwined. Because one Councillor published a letter in our press about their concerns with Council’s decision, he has become the target for some members of council. BUT don’t be fooled, this Code of Conduct is planned to stifle Councillors from talking to the public – a gag device nothing more! Where were these “well behaved” Councillors when they decided to ignore public input or when some members of council accused them all of “TRICKERY?” Oh right, they are the same people! Frankly, what a small minded bunch – do anything to save their jobs!

  38. lou says:

    agree with alot has been said.

    yes whats happening with these talks about water. (nothing?)

    some councillors seem good. and some i dont know

    there is one , that stand up for shire hall no matter what happens and make the citizens look like they are making up stories.

  39. Emily says:

    Is that Morse code or over. 08?

  40. Rob says:

    The clock is running & we only have 45 days. Is there someone out there starting the appeal? I would be glad to make a donation to the cause. You just can’t ask the kids to guard the candy store.

  41. judy kennedy says:

    honestly don’t know why you people care so much-
    don’t bother responding-

  42. Susan says:

    Prime example of how dysfunctional this Council is and why real change is required. C’mon OMB Hearing!

    They have talked for a year about a committee to review water & wastewater costs and sustainability. So they make a 12 member committee flooded with Councilors and beauracrats. 5 Council, 4 high priced staff (that to date have no answers) and they leave 3 tiny spots for business and citizens. What a joke!!

  43. Dennis Fox says:

    I too had placed a lot of hope in this new council – like many I am disappointed. We need to remember that there were a number of Councillors who tried to do the right thing – so let’s hope they can still lead in the next round of this fight – this isn’t over yet. It is encouraging to read on this site that there are people wanting to form a Citizens Coalition – lets keep talking about this – who knows? Good things can still happen!

  44. Doris Lane says:

    The decision by council to go a 10 ward system is stupid
    The only solution was the one the mayor proposed.
    The citizens want a smaller council. We do not need all those people sitting around doing nothing.
    Who approved the new LCBO–an eyesore to Picton
    In fact I wish we could amalgamate with Hastings and do away with shire hall and the expense in maintaining all those employees.

  45. Mark says:

    When does live streaming of Council meetings become available?

  46. Chuck says:

    This Council should be held in contempt of how they have dealt with this process from public consultation, constituent survey and the manner the voting was conducted in Council. This will all be revealed at the OMB.

  47. Emily says:

    Is it my imagination or has Councilor Fox not voted for almost every option and then last night voted against? Picton Councilors let their electorate down discracefully from what they said at the door campaigning.

  48. Argyle says:

    I am starting to believe that this council is as equally inept at dealing with the issues at hand as was the previous council. Pathetic!

  49. Fred says:

    I hope Dennis Fox can garner support, perhaps a citizens coalition and get this farce of a decision in front of the OMB. Many residents who’s vote lacked equality just lost a whole lot more as Ameliasburgh gained more percentage of representation on Council.

  50. Gary says:

    A selfish, irresponsible decision. I truly hope this goes to the OMB for a forced real change and voting equity for each resident. Picton’s Epstein and Hull have lost my confidence and therefore my support.

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