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Tie vote could leave council size at status quo

PEC-council-2015---600

Front row: (left to right) Roy Pennell, Jim Dunlop, Dianne O’Brien, Mayor Robert Quaiff, Janice Maynard, Barry Turpin, Treat Hull Back row: Steven Graham, Bill Roberts, Steven Ferguson, David Harrison, Brad Nieman, Kevin Gale, Jamie Forrester, Lenny Epstein, Gordon Fox

 

OCT 29 – A tie vote leaves the size of council at staus quo unless there’s a change of votes at council’s regular meeting Nov. 10.

At Thursday night’s special council meeting, Mayor Robert Quaiff’s two-ward plan to downsize council to 10 plus a mayor received the least support from his council, but was the favoured concept in the public consultations and surveys.

Mayor Robert Quaiff

Mayor Robert Quaiff

In his bid to keep a campaign promise Quaiff initiated the review in April and provided reports including the history of the issue and excerpts from the Citizen’s Assembly Final Report.

The issue began in 2008 when a “Composition of Council Committee” was established and created a report containing various options for a council comprised of 10 councillors and a mayor. Following was a Petition of Electors requesting a bylaw to restructure to six wards and reduce council to two councillors per ward and a mayor.

Further, an OMB hearing led to a 2010 ballot question “Are you in favour of Council commencing a public consultation process to review the size of Council for the County of Prince Edward?”

The municipality issued a Request for Proposal for Consultant Services and the Citizens Assembly was established and recommended – in Sept. 2013 – that council be reduced to 10 councillors and a mayor.

In May 2015, by a vote of nine to seven, the size of council issue was to move forward.

Thursday’s tie vote, Quaiff said, was not unexpected but he is also looking forward to moving on. (Who voted what unavailable at time of publishing)

“I called this long ago,” said Quaiff. “The display this evening was one of continued passion about downsizing even though my plan received the least support from council but was the favoured of the surveys.

“It’s unfortunate but I’ll be relieved when we can move forward and concentrate on the bigger issues we are burdened with like infrastructure, health care, water and sewage rates, high speed internet, affordable housing etc.”

Survey says: Two and three ward options preferred to reduce council size

OCT. 28 – Results of the recent public consultation process indicate the two electoral ward boundary proposal (11 members) and the three electoral ward boundary proposal (13 members) are the top two preferred options to reduce the size of Prince Edward County’s 16-member council and establish new electoral ward boundaries.

Mayor Robert Quaiff called Thursday night’s Special Committee of the Whole Meeting to consider the 128-page report from the Corporate Services and Finance Commission following September’s consultation sessions and surveys on the ‘Size of Council and Electoral Ward Boundaries’.

Attendance at the public consultation sessions ranged from 15 to 40 people (not including council members, staff or facilitators).

Among comments was a request for distinction between ward boundaries and historic township boundaries. The clarification was: The creation of the new wards is for election purposes only and does not dissolve the historic township boundaries created by parliament. Think of the electoral ward boundaries as being laid over the existing township boundaries.

Surveys were available at the sessions, on the County website and at the libraries, municipal offices and fire hall. They requested a ranking of the four proposals in order of preference.

There were 649 surveys received.

2 Electoral Ward option received 302 or 46.5 per cent as the first choice (2.72
weighted average)

3 Electoral Ward Option received 310 votes or 47.8 per cent as the second choice (2.73 weighted average)

9 Electoral Ward Option received 341 votes or 52.5 per cent as the third choice (2.52 weighted average)

10 Electoral Ward option (Status Quo) received 370 votes or 57 per cent as the
fourth choice.

A recap of surveys not ranked in order of preference is also to be provided by the clerk’s office.

survey-says

Deputations Thursday are also scheduled to be heard from Gary Mooney related to his three ward proposal and from Pierre M. Klein to address council regarding a new 10 electoral ward boundary proposal. Klein’s proposal was received at the Oct. 15 meeting of council though noted it was well after the June 4 deadline.

Council will consider further investigation to determine if the two proposals meet the following criteria:

a) Odd number of council members;
b) Voter parity;
c) Equitable distribution of population;
d) Respect identifiable communities of interest;
e) Utilize natural physical boundaries;
f) Serve the larger public interest.

Results of the investigation would be brought forward to the council meeting.

Following the selection of a preferred proposal staff would bring forward bylaws which could come into effect at the 2018 municipal election.

Despite more than seven years invested, if a change is finally made, appeals to the Ontario Municipal Board may be made within 45 days after the bylaw is passed.

The following were the options:

– 2 electoral wards – 10 councillors and mayor

– 3 electoral wards – 12 councillors and mayor

– 9 electoral wards – 13 councillors and mayor

– 10 electoral wards (Status Quo) -15 councillors and mayor

TWO ELECTORAL WARDS:

Two-Electoral-Wards-Map

2-Wards-RobertQuaiffProsandCons_000

 

THREE ELECTORAL WARDS:

Three-Electoral-Ward-Map

Three-Wards-GaryMooneyProsandCons_000

NINE ELECTORAL WARDS:

Nine-Electoral-Ward-Map

Nine-Ward-JohnThompsonProsandCons_000

STATUS QUO:

Status Quo Ten-Ward-Map

StatusQuoProsandCons_000

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  1. Marnie says:

    Why is it that change is always perceived as the answer? Short months ago the new council was trumpeted as the solution to all of our woes. Out with those incompetents who had made such bad decisions. Now, here we are singing the same old refrain. Maybe if it has more or less worked for this long we should just leave it alone. All we need is another OMB hearing. What guarantee is there that a new system would solve all the problems? It could create issues of its own. What happened is bitterly disappointing but perhaps it’s time to move on. Too much time has been wasted on this and at this point, who cares?

  2. Emily says:

    It’s called apathy Judy. If nothing changes for years and the electorate lose faith in the decision making process many will come to the conclusion of why bother. However I think this time is different and an OMB appeal will provide the change. So be it, Councils have had more than long enough to implement voter parity.

  3. judy kennedy says:

    If only 649 surveys were submitted, how is that representation by population? Sure says something about the level of interest to me.

  4. Chuck says:

    It can be perceived that way Paul. What it does however is dilute the value of one electors vote in comparison to another.

  5. Paul Cole says:

    “Representation by population” Is this not the case now ?Athol ward 5 population 1533 one Councilor .. Ameliasburgh ward 4 population 5651 three Councilors .. Picton ward 1 population 3622 two Councilors. Is this not the way the ward system is supposed to work ?

  6. Susan says:

    I find it peculiar that the most desired option the 2 Ward Plan was eliminated and the least desired option of Status Quo remains. And the New Plan presenter which has 3 wards of east west & north is quoted in the Belleville Intelligencer as saying his plan will help identify services for the north. Shouldn’t a plan be providing insight and strategy for all areas of the County? Identifying a specific area that will benefit is not a good start.

  7. Chris Keen says:

    Representation by population, or proportional representation, is not an “empty issue” – it is a fundamental principle of democracy.

  8. Gary says:

    @ADJ – Yes the decisions being made affect all county residents however some constituents vote is stronger and has more influence. That is inequitable and unfair.

    “I can’t recall if two candidates from the same ward ever disagree on a vote”

    Hallowell Ward – Fox for Status Quo
    Neiman for Change

  9. ADJ says:

    Gary,,certainly SM residents care about their representation at Council and about decisions made…I’m only speaking for myself. Note our last councillor person told me that she represented SM but worked for all the Wards. This confused me a bit. If this is the case for all councillors then I should be able to vote for all councillors!! I want the best representation for all decisions at the County Council so I should be able to elect the best candidate from each Ward. There in lies the problem.Being the smallest Ward with one candidate we only get one vote on decisions made where as Ameliasburg and Soph each get more representation with two candidates. I can’t recall if two candidates from the same Ward ever disagree on a vote…I guess it could happen.Unless things change I really think it’s a bit of a uneven playing field however for now those are the cards we’re dealt. Again I have no objection to a smaller Council or the status quo..I do think that some councillors are more about themselves and less about their Ward role be it the monthly pay cheque or liking their picture in the paper and their name on the radio. Then there’s the group photo taken to hang in Shire Hall. Whatever turns you on !

  10. Emily says:

    Respect your right to disagree however to state it has no merit is just plain inaccurate. Persons who do not have equitable representation in Prince Edward County have a strong argument.

  11. judy kennedy says:

    I am still among those who are satisfied with things as they are..I really think it’s an empty issue with no real merit.

  12. Mark says:

    Mayor Quaiff kept his promise to bring the Council size issue forward. He has worked hard to resolve the matter and bring voter equity to all. He certainly cannot be held responsible for the actions of others.

  13. Gary says:

    ADJ; I here you. But are you saying South Marysburgh residents do not care that their vote does not carry the same weight or importance as others?

  14. Fred Flinstone says:

    WOW!! County Councilors speaking to their decisions and being accountable to the public! Wouldn’t that be refreshing change. The CJBQ talk show last Friday called for the 8 to step down. Still no comment from our Council that does not represent equally! I agree, why can they not come out publicly and speak to the people.

  15. ADJ says:

    Well Emily as a resident and tax payer of the smallest Ward (SM) in the County with the smallest voting electorate in my opinion and only my opinion our councillor opted to vote for the status quo because he “perhaps” felt pressured to do so. That is to say he weighed the yays and nays of the voters here and made his decision. I know for fact it isn’t for fortune or fame as he generously donated his first year salary increase to PECMH. I see it as his obligation to fulfil his term and then make a decision to run again or not. I was severely disappointed with our last two concillors from this Ward and so now I don’t get too excited about Council size as both of them had agendas of their own and didn’t seem interested in small time issues.

  16. Emily says:

    Why don’t the 8 Councilors who feel they have the right to deny the electorate voter parity come forward to the public and explain their reasoning for selecting the least desirable option? Why wouldn’t they?

  17. Chuck says:

    Well the trio from Ameliasburgh won’t change as they were close minded and for status Quo before it went to the public. They see their power and the advantage electors have in that present ward over others.

  18. Robert Quaiff says:

    I will admit this Mayor monitors the thread on County Live regularly , it’s where I can get the other perspectives . I campaigned on Building our Future Together , Transparency and an Open Door Policy . I have Coffee with Mayor at various locations every month , my cell number is 613-847-3787 , office number 613-476-2148 ext 230 , I attend 99.3 each month to provide updates locally , I will meet any time and any where to discuss all concerns in a confidential manner .
    Mayor Robert Quaiff

  19. Marnie says:

    Susan – I could make a list but it’s just too depressing. They are failing all the people who elected them in hopes of a change.

  20. Susan says:

    Hi Marnie. I was looking for an exhaustive list of items that have failed you. However having said that,this one is a “Zinger”.

    We have 8 Councilors through either selfishness or ignorance that are determined to deny constituents voter parity.

  21. ADJ says:

    @ Marnie….ZINGER!!!

  22. Marnie says:

    @Susan. You asked how council had failed me. Do you begin to get a glimmer regarding the answer to that question now?

  23. Susan says:

    Nov.10th Council meeting will be quite the meeting. The public will be present in droves and wondering why they were led down the garden path.

  24. Gary says:

    If they represent all of us as they do then voters should have parity in electing those reps. Presently some voters elect up to 3 while others only elect 1. There lies the issue. And there lies an OMB appeal.

  25. David says:

    I still don’t see the importance of this issue, and I studied political science. I thought that with the the new County structure, every councillor represents all of us. I have had contact with councillors outside of my ward/township over two issues, and they actually supported my view (and some others from various wards) at the table. In fact it turned out that the support that I received was not from any of my ward reps.. I don’t hesitate in contacting any councillor. They all represent each of us!

  26. Gary says:

    One of the problems with the committee of the whole format the County has adopted is that it has rotating chairs. For a meeting of such importance as last night it would have been preferable to have the Mayor chairing. The chair last night was impatient and not knowledgeable enough to handle the voting process.

    I remember when Council had 2 year terms. Now we are saddled with 3 more years of dysfunction. It is a real mess.

    This issue would have been better decided by the electorate who are most affected. Council members have a vested interest and are in conflict.

  27. Argyle says:

    Shire Hall at its finest, totally unaccountable and disfunctional. Progress is not part of their vocabulary…..

  28. Chuck says:

    I am not sure if how this was voted on last night was even legal.

  29. Mark says:

    I think minds were made up on this ages ago long before any community consultation process or resident survey were implemented. Kinda knew that when a Councilor was flogging the status Quo at a public information meeting. Why did they put the public through this once again just to simply ignore the input. Not just ignore it but leave us with the least desired choice. And why was debate cut off last night on such an important matter. The public deserves better.

  30. Garnet says:

    Why would debate be cut off by Councilor Forrester on such an important issue? I believe minds were made up on this matter from the get go and the public consultation process and citizen survey was nothing more than an exercise.

  31. Paul Cole says:

    Council needs to ohh what’s the phrase I’m looking for ohh ya Knit or get off the pot…

  32. Emily says:

    Not even getting into the costs Council will place on us taxpayers at the OMB, how in heel can the County even begin to defend it’s position? They have wandered out into the swamp and have no idea how to get out!

  33. Susan says:

    I think of the 8 Councilors that have failed their County last night, some are driven from selfishness and some from pure ignorance in understanding representation by population. They do require a lesson as Chris proposed. Imagine holding such an important position and not having the capability to comprehend that status quo leaves many citizens disadvantaged and denied fairness in the electoral process. These same persons are making million dollar decisions on behalf of all residents. Hmmm!

  34. Chris Keen says:

    Councillors in favour of the status quo included: Roy Pennell, Steven Graham, Gordon Fox, Jamie Forrester, Dianne O’Brien, Janice Maynard, Steven Ferguson and David Harrison. I suggested to Mayor Quaiff that he ask one of PECI’s history teachers to address Council on the fundamental importance of representation by population with the hope that one or more of the councillors noted above will see sense and vote in favour of change.

    If not, this issue will go to the OMB and we will have a solution forced on us, not of our making, which this group will surely deplore. We did not elect Council to dodge important issues but rather hit them head on and find a solution. It’s not too late to change.

  35. Elsie says:

    This whole thing is laughable at this point. They obviously don’t care what their constituents want. What a waste of time and money.

  36. Paul Cole says:

    I really don’t care how it ends up but it has been a huge waste of time and money…Send it to the OMB and get it solved once and for all obviously the Horse Shoe Club can’t figure it out, mediation is needed here this is ridiculous..

  37. Gary says:

    This is so challengeable. The Supreme Court of Canada has defined effective representation and set standards to ensure voters do not have their vote unfairly diluted to the point where equitable and effective representation cannot be achieved.

    Currently the wards of Athol, South Marysburgh, North Marysburgh, Hillier, Wellington and Bloomfield are suffering significantly from voter inparity. A voter in Ameleiasburgh has the benefit of his or her vote being 3 times stronger than these voters in the aforementioned wards.

    This is unfair and wrong. We now may lose autonomy over the structure and the decision decided for us and imposed from an outside body. Council have let the constituents down!

  38. wevil says:

    well we sure wasted a crap load of money again.is this the idea of being good representatives.not to me but who cares it is only our tax dollars going down the sewer. this money could have been put to use elsewhere

  39. Fred Flinstone says:

    Prince Edward’s Council is a laughing stock. I feel badly for the Mayor who has strived to bring common sense to the horseshoe.

  40. Emily says:

    If you cannot understand why this issue was raised in the first place then you are at a loss going in. Constituents do not have voter parity under status quo. I am very confident the OMB will determine that as well.

  41. David says:

    What a relief. I have never understood why this issue was raised in the first place. Having fewer representatives will save very little money. What is wrong with having a sizeable representation? Today’s issues are more complex and it is good to have more members to bring a variety of ideas and opinions to the table. There are other areas within the County operational budget where there is a major waste of funds, such as the considered purchase of a new aerial ladder truck. I give credit to those members of council who braved the vocal opinion of a few and stood their ground. Anyone that I speak with agrees…..leave things as they are!

  42. Chuck says:

    Council could not have provided the constituents a clearer example than last night of why the present status quo is ineffective. Half of them cannot get their heads around the fact that they are making decisions for the entire County as a whole as opposed to their own little former townships. Truly sad. The Mayor kept his election promise and although embarrassed by the actions last night he is not responsible for those that are close minded and have no respect for the process.

  43. Ken Globe says:

    According to Quinte News, the councillors who voted for Status Quo are Pennell, Graham, Fox, Forrester, O’Brien, Maynard, Ferguson, and Harrison.

  44. Susan says:

    Well I am willing to speculate that North Marysburgh, Athol and the 3 from Ameliasburgh were 5 of the 8.

  45. Dave says:

    Name the dunderheads who voted for the status quo

  46. Gary says:

    Yes Phil. It is selfish, small turf protectionism. The people have spoken clearly more than once, most recently choosing status Quo as the least desirable. Mayor Quaiff said that this result is embarrassing.

    Time to put this in the hands of the OMB.

  47. Phil St-Jean says:

    Story at the top says it all.
    Unfreaking believable.
    We the people have spoken on 3 occasions.
    Yet some council members again fail to listen and heed our wishes.
    They polled us and surveyed us and we told them what we want.
    Yet they fail to listen. Instead they vote to serve their own self interests ignoring our input and wishes AGAIN.
    Those who voted against making the changes that the public clearly want need to go, NOW.
    Absolutely the worst elected representatives we’ve seen since amalgamation.
    It’s going to be a LONG 3 years before we can give’em the boot.

  48. Gary says:

    Any report on what action if any Council took tonight?

  49. Chuck says:

    The 3 Electoral Ward proposal is lacking in my opinion. You see that little red electoral island on the map surrounded by Hallowell? That is Picton. It is thrown in with Athol, South Marysburgh and North Marysburgh, kinda like it had to go somewhere. Picton does not border any wards it is included with unlike the other two electoral wards geography. Picton’s natural growth partner and years of close relationship is Hallowell. Under this proposal with a majority rural population, Picton the County’s largest urban area with distinct issues ( such as water & wastewater) could be easily represented by all rural councillors.

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