Council Votes To Eliminate Wards But To Keep Council Size

Council Size Reduction Report

Update Sept 17th 2020:

I see this as a compromise. The elimination of the ward system will allow what few voters who exercise their democratic right (some 5,000 out of our 17,000 residents) to vote, to choose any candidates they wish, not constrained to who happens to be running in their ward. This was a common refrain I heard when canvassing, let people pick who they feel is best for the job from the entire pool of candidates.

As for council size, yes there would be some meager savings in reducing by two, but the loss of that diversity, opinions and voices for the 17,000 residents does not seem to be worth the $50,000. However, this could be revisited by the new council two years from now and is always an option. That is why I see this as a compromise and why I ended up supporting this. Let’s see how it goes. You can have your say at the public consultation that follows and precedes the final vote by council. Please participate. This is not yet a done deal.

Here is some media coverage of the meeting:

Thank you to all who participated in my community engagement survey. The debate and vote happens tonight. I campaigned on revisiting Council composition and to explore the elimination of the ward system. As you will read in the comments submitted by those who participated, there are pros and cons to both reducing council size and the elimination of ward system.

In my mind, the reason to go to the public for input, especially for such fundamental change issues as this one, is a duty. I have done so and have considered the responses. As one of your elected representatives, my role is to be your voice and to bring your thoughts, concerns and wishes to Council. I will use these survey results and feedback in my decision tonight.

Here are the results of the survey that I will rely upon:

Back on June 17th 2020, the report referenced below, came to Council for consideration. I successfully argued that it be deferred until September for public consultations as these proposed changes impact the very core of democracy and elected representation for Midland residents and ratepayers.

I have since learned that deferral only induced delay and that no public consultations begin until after Council votes on their choice of options. The public meetings to get public input after a decision has largely been made seems backwards to me and I have said so many times. As there has been no willingness to change this process, I will have to cast a vote that best aligns with all the input I have received on the matter leading up to next Wednesday’s meeting. Hundreds of you have responded to my survey and shared your thoughts with me. I provided the results to Council at the June 17th meeting and will do so again at next Wednesday’s meeting.

If you have not had a chance to take the survey, please do so ASAP!

If I had my choice, I would put the choices on the ballot in 2022 and let those that choose to exercise their right to vote in Municipal elections (+/- 5000 out of 17,000) make this decision and we would have truly put the future state of local democracy into the hands of the voters. That would mean leaving the current system in place for one more term and then making whatever changes the community chooses at the election in 2022 come into effect in 2026. There is no staggering amount of money being saved by adopting the recommended changes and there is no rush to make these ward and council size changes – if change is truly what people want.

Below is the original post I made on the topic back in June. To see the recommendation and the other options that Council could choose to consider (including leaving things as they are), please review this report.

The following report came to Council on June 17th 2020 and I was successful in having it deferred to the fall pending public consultation in advance of our voting on the recommendations, or any modifications we agree on.

Here is the link to the PDF report (it will open in a new browser tab/window) :

If you have an opinion about the size of council, the ward sizes or the elimination of the ward system altogether, please take the time to read this report carefully and then let your opinion be known in my survey.

While I am pushing for more traditional public consultations (meetings, web meetings, town-sponsored survey etc) there is the possibility none of that will happen in advance of our next meeting where we will be asked to vote on the report’s recommendations and then (and only then) seek public input. I have already gone on the public record that this seems “bass ackwards” and I want to see public input BEFORE we debate and vote major issues before Council.

That being said, I may not be successful in convincing my peers to try this new approach. Traditionally, we vote on change and then go to the public for input and then decide if we want to finalize the previous decision or change it based on public input. I see this as being a non-linear approach to decision making although perhaps I am just an outlier and everyone is happy with this workflow.

Please take the time to read the report, consider the details in it (they were well thought out by staff) and then consider the impact on the Town, your representative voice in Council and the manner in which you get to choose who to vote for in a Ward-based or non-ward system.

I had previously published this survey in the 3 days lead-time prior to the June meeting and collected over 200 responses, so I am re-publishing it so that I can capture input from far more residents and ratepayers with far more lead-time ahead of the September meeting.

Once you have read the report, please take this short survey:

Feel free to comment below but please… take the survey.