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Speak up to preserve County’s wards

Both last term and this term, council has been evenly split on downsizing vs maintaining the status quo.  Now, a Citizens’ Assembly commissioned by Council is recommending a reduction to 10 councillors from 15.  If approved by council, this will require the elimination of the County’s 10 historic / electoral wards.  Instead, the County will likely have five new “no-name” wards having two councillors each, with boundaries drawn to achieve good representation by population.  This change may be approved as early as the Council meeting on Sept. 24 and, once passed, may be difficult or impossible to reverse.

Such a change will erase 200 years of County history, which was protected in the 1998 amalgamation by converting one town, two villages and seven townships into ten municipal Wards.  While the names Picton, Wellington and Bloomfield will live on as urban centres, the names and areas associated with the seven townships will be relegated to the history books.

Such a change will reduce attention paid to the now-nameless rural areas and increase focus on the named urban areas.  This will likely mean less attention to maintaining rural facilities and services, and more centralization.  Questions will be asked: “Why maintain a town hall in Sophiasburgh now that there is no Sophiasburgh?”  “Why continue with the Hillier recreation committee when Hillier ward no longer exists”.  “Why have a newspaper in South Marysburgh if there is no South Marysburgh?”  “Why have a museum in Ameliasburgh when few people know that there was an Ameliasburgh?”

One reason why the County exhibits such a strong sense of community is that, being an island, it is a clearly-defined and self-contained area.  At the next level of community, we have 10 clearly-defined areas – the 10 historic wards a –  with boundaries strengthened by two centuries of history.  The seven rural / township wards are communities and attract attention because they have names  – not arbitrary names, but historic names – and defined areas.

We need County residents (especially those in the rural areas) and County organizations to speak up to ensure the preservation of the County’s 10 historic wards.  This doesn’t mean opposing downsizing, if this is Council’s decision; rather, it requires finding a way to reduce the number of councillors while retaining the 10 historic wards.

This objective can be achieved by creating 3 electoral wards that overlay the 10 historic wards, with the latter being preserved unchanged – the same names, boundaries, town halls, rec committees and road signage.  A plan for doing so, called the N.E.W. Plan, is described at http://tinyurl.com/mw8sp2j  .  While the plan doesn’t work for 10 Councillors, it is perfectly suited to 9 or 12 councillors – reasonably close to the recommendation of the Citizen’s Assembly.  Please review the plan and lend your support to preserving the County’s long history and rich heritage.

Note:  No criticism of the Citizens’ Assembly is implied by the above comments.  Its mandate was to make a recommendation on the appropriate number of councillors, and its members were instructed to ignore the existing historic ward structure in doing so.

Gary Mooney
Hillier Ward

Filed Under: Letters and OpinionNews from Everywhere Else

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  1. Brian says:

    Ken, That is down right hilarious…. Thanks for the morning chuckle and ya your probably right

  2. Ken Globe says:

    He’s at work, he’s in the secret Roman bath and spa that is behind the wet bar. Just watch out for the guard dragon.

  3. Brian says:

    He doesn’t seem to be at work very often???

  4. Marie says:

    It’s a pretty small town, but I couldn’t pick our CAO out of a crowd…just sayin’

  5. Brian says:

    Mark, What does it matter? and yes Doris you are so right….

  6. Doris Lane says:

    It’s all a part of the council’s inability to do anything but waste the tax payer money.

  7. Mark says:

    What does the CAO’s office have to do with electoral wards?

  8. Brian says:

    Steve Campbell,
    I presume you read these blogs???? What I was wondering was how do the taxpayers find out how much monies has been spent on the CAO’s re-doing of his office since he arrived? As I was told it has been re-modeled a couple of times?? As well (not sure if this is accurate) that he not only has a piano in his office but a wet bar as well??? Do we as taxpayers have the right to this information. Usually when there is chatter on the street it seems to hold some truth. Just curious what else were paying for and never knew.

  9. Doris Lane says:

    This CAO does the most ridiculous things I have ever heard of. I see he is getting an executive assistant too –really –what would he need one for.
    Hopefully the new council will clean up the mess this council has made. We have no money but we spend like mad anyway.
    Have to pay my taxes Monday might as well put the money in those waste of money green boxes
    As far as the wards are concerned, the councillors do not live in the ward they represent and most could not care much what happens anywhere.
    Oh well doesanyone care?

  10. Donna says:

    It’s time to move on. The history of PEC will always be there for those that are interested. We need an efficiently functioning municipal government.

  11. Brian says:

    My, how could I have missed the cartoon in the Wellington times this week page eight???? Title, The County Council Two-Step (hilarious indeed)!!! You must check it out if you were like me and passed over it. Thanks to my neighbour bringing it to my attention. I was also informed that the CAO is once again paying for another course for the employees on how to communicate with the public/customer service, HUH????? If this is indeed accurate then I am demanding that HE pay for this huge expense! As far as I and many others are concerned its not the little men/women that need this course but rather the ones sitting behind the desks. A FEW thousand dollars were spent a couple of months ago for the same employees to listen to a speaker on team work/bldg.(Joe Sherman) apparently a friend of the CAO???? HUH!!!! Mr.Mayor as an elected official YOU must stop this ridiculous spending….

  12. Brian says:

    Richard, True…..

  13. Richard Parks says:

    Municipal(now Ward) boundries drawn up 225 yrs ago have little to do with today’s realities.

  14. Mark says:

    Exactly. As example,having 3 councillors one each from Athol, North Marysburgh and South Marysburgh in the NEW Plan, how does that preserve the Picton Ward? It doesn’t. One vote for every elector to choose the top 10 County wide is much more democratic in that the electorate truly has a voice in who is making the decisions.

  15. Jack D says:

    I do not agree with the notion that the communities or wards will disappear off the map. They are all vibrant and strong. The people who live in them make them that way, not lines drawn on a map. If an issue arises that will have an influence on certain geographical area then the community will voice their opinion. Eleven people elected by the county as a whole will listen to them and do the right thing. The notion that because someone lives in that ward makes them more competent to make fair and just decisions is not rational. We need the eleven best people,(as chosen by the entire population) that are deemed to have the best experience in a variety of different fields to represent us. Today,s multi million dollar budgets require that. We as a whole community require that.

  16. Brian says:

    I don’t see any of this being implemented for sometime??? However I think the consensus is to let this group do what they were chosen to do. This issue has been on-going for sometime now, however I don’t believe anything will change until the people speak in the next election where a cleaning of Shire Hall is sure to happen starting at the extreme top.

  17. Gary Mooney says:

    I’m told that Council will deal with the number of Councillors issue first and only after the number is decided will they consider how to implement any changes.

    If Council decides to accept the CA’s recommendation of 10 Councillors, the County’s 10 Historic Wards will be erased off the map, to be replaced by something artificial — e.g. 5 new Wards with boundaries drawn to achieve rep. by pop.

    It’ll be interesting to see which Councillors vote for 10 Councillors, which will mean that their own Ward, in existence for at least 100 years and maybe more than 200 years, will disappear.

  18. Gary Mooney says:

    Matt, there is zero chance that Council would go allow 1 Councillor for each of the existing wards. That would mean 1 Councillor for about 600 electors in Bloomfield, and 1 Councillor for 6,000 electors in Ameliasburgh — a 10 to 1 ratio.

    This would make the already out-of-balance rep. by pop. situation much worse.

  19. Matt Helm says:

    Gary,

    If the County historically has 10 jurisdictions and the Assembly recommended ten councillors, wouldn’t the simple answer be to just give one councillor to each historic division?

    Sure, it won’t divide the population evenly. But if you took the mean per ward which would probably clock in at ~2200 residents, only a few wards would be drastically above or below the mean. Ameliaburgh and Picton would be underrepresented relative to the mean. The south shore wards would be overrepresented relative to the mean.

    Still, it’s a reasonable solution

  20. Brian says:

    MI, I agree with your comment on the Councillors Not living in the ward in which they represent. Not only that I believe that if this is the case then I should be able to vote for everyone who runs. I STRONGLY believe that if a fee was paid for the service to try to determine this then they should be the ones who take this back to council. If there are glitches then work from that. The taxpayers are sick to death for paying for something only for it to never be incorporated. Yes, there may be some issues but I say lets let them and council figure it out that’s what they were hired to do…

  21. MI says:

    Perhaps if some of the Councillors actually lived in the wards they represent, they might be more sensitive to the importance of the existing ward structure. How did this happen to begin with? If we have the opportunity to vote on the ward structure, let’s also vote to have our councillor also live in the ward that employs them.

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