Former mayor touts wards

Ward System for Municipal Representation

With 32 candidates vying for councillor positions in the upcoming 2022 municipal election, I again suggest our growing community should be discussing the best way for representation.

I am an advocate for a partial ward system, where there would be four councillors chosen from within four areas of the city (example: Glenmore, Mission, Rutland, and Downtown), and then four councillors and the mayor chosen at large.

All of council would continue to vote on all issues as, as in the current council format.

Our neighbour, Lake Country, implemented the ward system in 1995 and other communities have discussed this option. However, it would not be an easy change and would require public interest, a referendum and then a proposed timeline for implementation.

I hope we do not have to wait until the next municipal election in four years for a formal discourse. The dialogue and debate within the community should occur early in the next council’s mandate, to determine if a partial ward or full ward system is in the best interest of all the (residents).

I value the work (members of) the public do in identifying, from their perspective, who are the best candidates for their vote. However, I also understand how difficult and time-consuming it is for the public to evaluate 32 candidates in detail as to what they want to do for our city as we move forward.

Previous councillors have an advantage with name recognition, especially if they have been active and participated in community events. The countless election signs in our community are an indication of trying to get our attention and is a costly endeavour for all those who campaign.

If there were wards, the representatives would be knowledgeable about their areas and, in fact, much more accountable and more accessible to the (residents) they represent.

Newer candidates to municipal politics would also be able to campaign in a much smaller portion of the city. Hence, easier for (voters) to choose their ward representative.

Changing our municipal representation would not be an easy change or easy to implement, but I believe the outcome towards at least a partial ward system for our growing city would be advantageous.

It is at least worth the dialogue and debate and I am glad that there are new councillor candidates proposing we have this discussion.

Sharon Shepherd

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