It’s official, an additional member will be added to Niagara regional council to represent West Lincoln.
Residents of the township will be able to vote to elect a new regional councillor during the municipal elections in October 2018.
The elected candidate will join the mayor at regional council meetings to represent the township’s population of 14,500, which the Niagara Region expects to double by 2041.
West Lincoln Mayor Doug Joyner told regional council in December that the population figure of 14,500 is wrong.
“That’s a census that was taken in 2015 to come out in 2016. We’re well over 15,000, closer to 15,500.”
He said on top of that, he expects another 3,600 to 4,000 people in the number of potential “roofs” to be built.
“If you add that to 15,500, that’s close to 20,000 people,” said Joyner.
“We can’t catch everything as the only representative,” he said.
“It’s about proper representation … this is not mayor Joyner asking for this, this is the people of West Lincoln, the residents.”
Regional Coun. Bruce Timms also spoke in support of the additional seat, saying the township is the “best opportunity for Niagara for serious growth.”
“It has the highest potential, being on the edge of Stoney Creek, Hamilton and Grimsby … it is located on what used to be a provincial highway, Hwy. 20 is now Regional Rd. 20, so an excellent transportation corridor out of that area … it has no greenbelt limitations and it has no escarpment limitations … so it clearly has the best potential for growth,” said Timms
He said, looking at the current population numbers vs. seats on council from other municipalities, the extra seat would be a “very warranted change.”
Pelham Mayor David Augustyn said council would be better off to look at other solutions, to reform and better balance accountability and strategic planning.
“I don’t think this move now moves ahead in that direction,” he said.
Regional Chair Alan Caslin said that there is a modernization bill that requires all municipalities to re-evaluate their governance structure in 2018 anyways, independent of adding a seat to council.
Regional Council gave its approval for the extra at a December council meeting, after which West Lincoln sought approval from other Niagara municipalities, meeting the triple majority requirement.