Monday, June 24, 2024

Councillor Offers Thoughts on Ward Systems


I would like to respond to editor Stephen Vance’s piece on municipal elections in the October 21st edition, specifically the relative merits of a ward system for the Municipality of Meaford.

I too was disappointed that the staff report re: planning for the 2022 and future elections generated no debate. Councillor Bell went on record that he would like to see online voting re-included in future, as younger voters are both comfortable and adept with technology. I simply stated that I am against a ward system and also the idea of rebating political donations. (For the record, I have not and don’t intend to take any donations to run for office in the municipality.)

Because of the geographic size and rural-urban make up of the Municipality of Meaford I have given some thought to the merits or otherwise of going to a ward system. One logical approach would be to have three wards that aligned with our historical roots… Meaford, St. Vincent, and Sydenham. But whatever a boundary review recommended and however valuable the ward system may be elsewhere, I believe it would be a backward step locally. The world is shrinking at an alarming pace. At every level of government we need to look at the big picture. The three largest problems facing all three levels of government are jobs, housing, and the environment. What more could a councillor elected to represent St. Vincent do to address these concerns than one elected at large to represent the Municipality of Meaford?

Amalgamation ultimately led to a more viable municipality with an urban base, strong agriculture and tourism sectors and the stimulus of the Canadian Forces Training Centre. We benefit from partnerships like Grey Bruce Health Services and the Inter-township Fire Department. Going forward we will grow and prosper by embracing the opportunities presented to a larger, diversified community.

Rural Meaford is very well represented by Councillors Bartley, Bell, Greenfield, and Vickers (a majority of council) all living in the former Sydenham and St. Vincent Townships. I would be the first to say that urban Meaford voters have no stronger advocates. As a first time councillor and long time resident of the town, I have been doing my best to get informed of and to advocate for rural concerns. All to say that I see little advantage to a ward system for the Municipality of Meaford.

Councillor Ross Kentner, Meaford

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