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Council size consultant to be chosen Thursday

Council will meet at Shire Hall next Thursday following Committee of the Whole to select a consultant to review the size of council.

The consultant is to advise council on the best method, timing and approach to conduct a public consultation process to review the size of council and carry out the review process.

Requirements, as outlined on the county website, indicate the review is intended to identify the appropriate size of council to ensure that both the municipal corporation can be governed effectively and also that the community can be well represented in the decision making process.

“Although a ward boundary review is not identified as part of this review process, council would accept advice on how best ward boundary changes should be addressed, either as part of this review or as a stand-alone component.”

The County, in an invitational request for proposal, requested  consultants to submit a detailed proposal for this project, identifying their experience in undertaking similar reviews.

Prince Edward County was amalgamated as a single tier government in 1998 with 10 wards which corresponded to and have the same boundaries as the previous 10 townships, villages and town.

The amalgamation proposal approved by the Minister of Municipal Affairs, was to retain the historical municipal boundaries as the new ward boundaries.  Representation was set by the province at that time as one councillor per ward plus one extra councillor per 2,500 people.  The result was a council of 15 with one mayor.

The following chart shows the current distribution of councillors per ward.  Electors can vote for the number of councillors allotted to their ward, and the mayor.

council-size

In 2008 council established a committee to look at different governance structures including a reduction in the size of council.
Although some members of council wished to proceed to a full public process to determine the best option, the majority were of the opinion that there was no strong public interest or support for either changing the size of council or the ward boundaries.
To gauge public opinion on the matter council decided to add the following question to the ballot of the 2010 municipal election:

Are you in favour of Council commencing a public consultation process to review the size of Council for the County of Prince Edward?

The matter of ward boundary changes became contentious, both on council and in the public and was the subject of a ward boundary petition and appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board in 2009.  The board dismissed the appeal based on the fact that council had added the question to the ballot.  For the results of the question to be legally binding, at least 50 per cent of the eligible electors must have voted on the question and more than 50 per cent of the votes on the question must have voted in favour of the result.

As 41.87 per cent of the eligible electors voted on the question, the result was not binding.
The results of the vote for the Question on the Ballot were as follows:
Eligible Electors 22,403Ballots Cast 10,614 (47.37  per cent of eligible voters)
Ballots Voted on the Question 9,381 (41.87  of eligible voters)
Yes Votes 7578
No Votes 1803

Signed and sealed Invitational Request for Proposal Package were to bebe submitted by March 25, 2013.

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  1. m york says:

    Mark, You are right on the mark. I believe that if they get rid of some of these councillors and a new vote takes place then maybe the taxpayers will be represented fairly? Right now all we have is a bunch of council members who have formed little clicks. Clicks that seem to bend over with pressure from others. Maybe the new council WILL represent us and take back the jobs they were voted in to do and stop allowing one person from having all the say. GO NEW COUNCIL !!!!!

  2. Mark says:

    It seems the ones that are most resistant and fearful of reducing Council size is Council itself. This is conflict of interest at it’s supreme. Some councillors support the rationale of change but many are protecting home turf and their own political interests. Some will hide behind the fact that there wasn’t a 50% turnout at the polls so it just doesn’t require being addressed. How narrow minded! I am not confident that a remedy will come from this exercise when the ones most impacted are the ones making the decision. Remember the code of conduct motion that they could not agree on? However they were able to agree on providing themselves a pay hike.

  3. Gary Mooney says:

    Monica, I agree with your first point as to why a full at-large system is a terrible idea, in addition to my point about the very high cost of an election campaign.

    Regarding your second point, you give no consideration to sprit of the law vs the letter of the law. You’re relying solely on the fact that 50% of the electors need to vote, when in fact this rarely happens in civic elections, Which then effectively renders ANY referendum useless. The fact is that, of those who voted, 80% wanted a review of the size of Council. It is unconscionable to ignore such a large majority of voters.

    If Council proceeds with any review and makes a decision, it is likely that there will be an OMB appeal. Although the appellants may not have a lawyer, Council will spend $100k (about $90K more than necessary) to defend its position. A good reason why the OMB should be abolished.

  4. Mark says:

    Forget the question, I understand the formula now. So Bloomfield has one councillor for 2.13% of the population as compared to Hiller who has one councillor for 8.86 % of the population.

    If Hillier grows by 69 persons and Wellington grows by 463 which isn’t inconceivable we can add 2 more councillors to the horseshoe and have 18 bodies sitting there.

    There just has to be a better way than having this number of politicians for such a small County. Abolish the wards and go with 4 districts of comparable population, 2 councillors per district. This provides local representation with a reasonable population of 6,862 per two councillors.

    There is my consult work and forget the fee! And take the savings from current council expenditures and put it on the $30,000,000 s..t plant debt!

  5. Doris Lane says:

    Elimate Bloomfield and put South Marysburgh and Athol together and then Have one councillor for each of the remaining wards. .The referendum vote lost by such a small amount that one would wonder why that should be an issue.
    It looks as if the County will never be a good place to live. Too expensive in every way. ANd with the lose of our hospital no one will want to come here

  6. Mark says:

    The biggest issue is that we moved to a one tier government but as a soother we maintained 10 wards to simulate historical township boundaries. Now we have a severely flawed system of over representation as in the case of Bloomfield with one councillor representing 584 voters.

    Could someone please explain purely for clarity how Amelisburgh has 3 councillors based upon the formula of 1 councillor and one extra per 2500 people with an eligble voter number of 6,327.

  7. Monica Alyea says:

    So say we have a Council of 8 voted at-large recommended by an unnecessary consultant (I am so with Wolf on this!) Eight (8) of the candidates running in an at-large municipal election could live in Ameliasburgh. With the largest population,those voters could conceivably put in those 8 to represent the whole County. They could be great folks but do/can they really have eyes and ears on the situations elsewhere in the County. Our really rural areas could be at risk for under representation.

    The referendum in the last election did NOT achieve the required legislated results to have this action happening during this Council’s term. Why hold a democratic referendum with its associated costs and then ignore the results? I cannot help but think of other countries of the world where elections are merely a pretence of democracy – it’s about the “right tribe” having the power however it needs to get it.

    With a decade experience on PEC Council since amalgamation, I think the size and representation with the current structure serves us well given our geography, history and rural/urban mix. We don’t have to be compared to anyone else. The question is ” Does this model serve County citizens well?”

    Secondly,the loss of so many community input advisory committees is another erosion of democracy. In my experience, I know that those were a lot of the work of Councillors. So without that work, does a Councillor need a stipend of $18,000 with a third of that legislated tax-exempt.

    As former Mayor Jim Taylor has noted ” No one ever said democracy was efficient.” But would you want another form of government? I sense we are starting to get that federally and provincially. The municipal level of government can be democracy at its best. It requires our protection, not further erosion at this time. We used to have 50 plus Councillors before amalgamation that were paid a whole lot less, were highly committed to their community for the most part and were highly aware that every tax dollar had to be achieving citizen benefit. History is a good thing to re-visit.

  8. Jerome says:

    How’s about 1 “ward vote” and 1 pick of the litter vote,
    per person. Advertising restricted to home ward. There’s always that “other” councillor you wish you could vote for ! A few all candidates meetings and no signage !
    Let’s be first municipality to go green !

  9. Loretta Salet says:

    What were the 2008 committee recommendations? Is there some report collecting dust on a shelf somewhere in Shire Hall that might offer a solution without having to hire some costly consultants that we cannot afford?

  10. sab says:

    @Mark: I think your idea is right on……It is up do the voters to study and investigate those running for office…..It is also up to the voters to police those elected to make sure they are making the right choices for ALL taxpayers……As a taxpayer we also must admit that the councillors are not likely to please all people all the time.

  11. Mark says:

    Some good points on why an at large system may propose problems. How about Option 2? It seems better than one councillor representing a meager 600 persons.

  12. Gary Mooney says:

    There’s a fatal flaw in an “at-large” system, whereby each Councillor represents the whole County, rather than a particular ward.

    To illustrate, Barry Turpin is the Councillor for Bloomfield (600 electors). In an at large system, he would have to campaign to about 40 times the number of electors, at 40 times the cost. This is the most extreme example, but still..

    Think of the number of signs required by each candidate to cover the whole County? Think of the sign pollution — 30 signs at each intersection in the County. Think about the amount of time required by each candidate to knock on all of the doors.

    And why would anyone of modest means take on such a financial challenge / risk for the annual stipend of $18K?

    The result would be that only those who have major sources of campaign financing (e.g. donations from fat cat developers?) would be able to run for Council. And what would be their “return on investment” once elected?

    For this one reason alone, an at large system would be a disaster for the County.

  13. Mark says:

    Getting rid of the ward structure would eliminate councillors just protecting their own turf. The townships are gone so let’s move on and have true voter representation for a one tier County government.

    2 options;

    1. Elect a slate of 8 councillors and one mayor county wide. Each voter gets to vote for their top 8 choices. They determine the overall council makeup rather than just one or two. Theory being the top 8 representatives would win.

    Or if that is too great a change for the beauracrats.

    2. 4 Districts. North, Central, South West, South East configuring close to equal population bases. Elect 2 councillors from each district and one mayor county wide.

  14. Wolf Braun says:

    The definition of a consultant: “Someone who borrows your watch to tell you the time.”

    Anytime an organization hires an outside consultant, someone on the inside should be replaced. We already pay bureaucrats to do work.

  15. m york says:

    I don’t know why they need to hire anyone when the people have already spoken on this dead issue. Just another reason for the taxpayers to be pi**ed right off. Were broke but Council still pays this expense in the hopes that it will serve them. Its just like the hiring of an Ottawa company to come down here to sweep the streets of Prince Edward County. If we have so much money to waste they maybe they could use all these SO CALLED SAVINGS THE CAO SAVED US and lower our taxes/water bills????

  16. Doris Lane says:

    One person per ward–why hire another consultant.
    To all you people who think council should not answer to people–what a stupid idea
    We had a councillor in Picton a few years ago-Lavergne
    Bailey–he did not live here but he was always here watching and when someone called him he went to see what he could do.
    Just noticed they are going to spend a lot of money on Lane creek in Wellington–what a waste of money.
    My last post I hope

  17. Marie Dawson says:

    There should be just one person per ward.

  18. Rightie says:

    This is tricky to be raising this more than half way through Council term. Regardless of the outcome this Council follows, it will be motivated by winning the next election and not common sense. Seems like 15 people is a lot of politicians for such a small place.

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