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Let’s make sure council gets it right

On September 19, 2013, the Mayor presented a report to Committee of the Whole in which he proposed several Electoral Ward configurations.  Committee of the Whole endorsed his Configuration 5B, which must be ratified by Council: four rural Wards named Wards 1 through 4, and one urban Ward (Ward 5 Picton), with 2 Councillors each, for a total of 10 Councillors.  The 5 Electoral Wards would overlay the 10 Historic Wards, which would be retained.  See http://tinyurl.com/mwwd3zx .

This proposal is somewhat similar to the N.E.W. Plan proposal, developed by me: 3 Electoral Wards named North, East and West), with 3 or 4 Councillors each, for a total of 9 or 12 Councillors, which would overlay the 10 Historic Wards, also to be retained.  See http://tinyurl.com/pxgnv3e .

I see three major flaws in the Mayor’s Configuration 5B:

1.       The proposal carves up 5 of the Historic Wards into 2 to 5 pieces each, and then recombines them with the other 5 Historic Wards into 5 new Electoral Wards.  This fragmentation and reassembly of 19 pieces in total will result in poor linkage between Electoral Wards and Historic Wards.  For example, Hallowell Ward will be split up into five pieces, with each new Electoral Ward getting a piece.  The result will be that attention to, and memory of, the Historic Wards by both residents and Councillors will almost certainly dissipate within a few years.  The Historic Wards will be history.  We can’t let this happen.

2.       Proposal 5B uses the permanent resident population  – not the number of electors — to establish Electoral Ward boundaries.  Surely, representation by population should be based on electors, which includes part-time residents (who are also full-time taxpayers) and excludes children.  As part-timers are distributed unevenly throughout the County, fair and proper rep. by pop. will not be achieved.  To illustrate, for Ward 5 (Picton), adding electors who are part-timers to those who are permanent increases the number of electors by 10%.  Doing the same for Ward 4 (mostly North Marysburgh, South Marysburgh and Athol) increases the number of electors by 58%.  Picton is over-represented; Ward 4 is under-represented.  This is a distortion in rep. by pop. too great to ignore.

3.       The proposal establishes Ward 5 (Picton) as the sole urban Electoral Ward, as compared to three urban Wards now.  Doing so will perpetuate the notion that Picton is the centre of the County universe, and will likely result in Picton’s getting most new facilities and services, even more than now.  In fact, there are three locations that should be highlighted for urban growth and new facilities and services:  Picton, Wellington and Rossmore in the future.  As a case study, the LCBO, which uses market research in establishing growth plans, is expanding retail outlets in both Wellington and Rossmore, recognizing three population centres for the future.  All three urban centres should get equal treatment in the Electoral Ward structure.

The N.E.W. Plan has none of these flaws:

1.       It allocates each of the 10 Historic Wards in whole to one of three Electoral Wards, resulting in clear linkage between Electoral and Historic Wards.

2.       It establishes Electoral Ward boundaries based on number of electors, which gives proper rep. by pop. recognition to part-time residents.

3.       It gives equal recognition to an urban centre for each Electoral Ward – Rossmore (North); Picton (East); and Wellington (West).

Whatever decision Council makes, we’ll have to live with it for a long time.  Let’s make sure that Council gets it right.  If you have concerns or preferences, please let your Councillor and the Mayor know.

 Gary Mooney
Hillier Ward

Filed Under: Letters and OpinionNews from Everywhere Else

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  1. Doris Lane says:

    i think the mayors plan maes more sense than any of the others
    Picton is the County seat
    We should nevrr give rednersville the same value as Picton

  2. Gary Mooney says:

    At the Wellington town hall meeting, the major concern was how the boundaries for the 5 Electoral Wards have been drawn, and the fact that the Electoral Ward boundaries do not match up well with the existing Historic Ward boundaries.

    In fact, what I have found is that it was necessary to carve up the County’s Historic Wards into 24 pieces (not 19 as reported above) and then reassemble them into 5 Electoral Wards. This fragmentation of the Historic Wards to achieve rep. by pop. for 5 Wards is what is bothering people.

    The N.E.W. Plan allocates Historic Wards in whole to the Electoral Wards (2 to North, 4 to East and 4 to West) and achieves perfect rep. by pop.

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