Ward system should be preserved for best representation

 In Opinion

As readers may have seen in the full-page ads in The Echo, Clearview Township is seeking residents’ input into the size and basis of electing council. The choices are a council of seven or nine (including the mayor and deputy mayor, who sit on county council) and a ward system, at-large elections, or a hybrid. CARA’s position is that the ward system should be preserved to allow for Creemore’s voice as well as other areas within Clearview to be heard at council and that the number of wards be reduced to five, for the reasons that follow.
We encourage you to vote for your own preference by completing the paper survey in The Echo or by accessing the survey online via clearview.ca.
In 2013, Watson and Associates Economists Ltd., in association with Dr. Robert J. Williams (the “consultants”), were retained by the Township of Clearview to conduct an electoral review. The consultants compared the system of councillors being elected by separate wards to the system of every councillor being elected “at large” to represent all residents in Clearview. Following a thorough review and public participation, the consultants concluded that:
1. The overriding principle for testing the appropriate electoral system is “effective representation”, and that “effective representation often cannot be achieved without taking into account countervailing factors” such as “geography, community history, community interests and minority representation”;
2. The at-large alternative does not enhance communication and accessibility;
3. The at-large alternative does not address the diversity of interests within Clearview; and
4. It is not obvious that an at-large arrangement is capable of bringing a coherent voice (or voices) to the deliberations or effectiveness to the process of representation. It may lead to confusion and turmoil rather than good government.
The consultants’ recommendation was: “An at-large electoral system falls short of the expectations set out in the guiding principles for this review. As such, wards should not be dissolved in Clearview.”
CARA supports the continuation of the ward system for the reasons articulated by the consultants. The ward system is best for allowing Creemore’s sometimes unique concerns and positions to be effectively represented.
On the issue of the size of council, it is hard to justify continuing with a nine-person council to govern approximately 15,000 residents in Clearview.
CARA supports the five-ward option (seven-member council): Five councillors, plus a deputy mayor and mayor elected “at-large”.
Whatever your views on the best electoral system for Clearview, we urge you to participate in the township’s survey before Feb. 28. The survey will only take a few minutes. Let your voices be heard!

CARA Corner is authored by Greg Young and Val Dyer, and submitted on behalf of the Creemore Area Residents’ Association. Visit, creemoreresidents.ca.

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