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Niagara-on-the-Lake
Monday, December 5, 2022
Letter: Learned a lot from expert’s viewpoint on ward system
Letter. Supplied

Dear editor:

Many thanks to The Lake Report for finding someone as qualified as Ron Fritz, (“Instituting ward system can be a costly, complicated process,” Election 2022 Special Edition, Oct. 13), to offer a response to my Sept. 3 letter.

My letter suggested a discussion about a ward system in Niagara-on-the-Lake would be useful, particularly for NOTL residents who feel underrepresented in the current municipal governance system here and a little underserved in terms of discretional quality of life infrastructure in these communities.

I learned a lot from his article.

It didn’t take long after we moved from Old Town to St. Davids to learn about the perception of inequities in the “at large” system for electing councillors.

As a council candidate in 2010, I called then-Liberal MPP Kim Craitor and asked about the feasibility of introducing a ward system.

He said if the town wards, it could have them. I suspect I didn’t ask the right questions, because the complexities described by Mr. Fritz certainly didn’t emerge.

I recognize from Mr. Fritz’s article that the selection of the number of councillor seats can be critical in the determination of sensible ward areas.

Our current system, eight councillors for a current population of about 18,000 people, results in one councillor for every 2,250 people.

My thinking was not limited to the number of councillors or the number of wards remaining at eight. Some other number, perhaps lower than eight, might reduce or eliminate the number of split wards described by Mr. Fritz.

The letter I wrote dealt only with a ward system because I was responding to a letter that had ward system as the only topic. It would be useful, in my opinion, to see if any other solution exists that might diversify and improve representation.

One of the current candidates for lord mayor suggested designating councillors to “represent” certain areas of the town.

As a past ratepayers association board member, we looked at asking a councillor to champion our issues at town council, essentially the same suggestion as the candidate’s with the choice of councillor being made in a different place.

We abandoned the idea because councillor accountability still rested with all the voters in town. I’ve also taken an interest in the concept of party politics I’m reading about now in last weekend’s election of city council in Vancouver, a concept not currently available to us in Ontario.

We have talked about strategic voting since the 2006 election. I talked about it while doing door-to-door campaigning in 2010 and it also was in my campaign literature in 2014.

One of the delights of door-to-door campaigning was discovering some of the charming determining factors people use to select certain candidates to receive their votes.

Personally, I voted for four councillor candidates in 2014 and only three in 2018. It’s harder than you think to organize an entire community to avail themselves of the strategic voting alternative.

The only disappointment I had with Mr. Fritz’s article is his suggestion to wait 20 or 30 years to revisit the issue. That timing will perpetuate the current dissatisfiers for about a generation and make me between 100 and 110 years old.

I’m not sure how interested I’ll be at the point.

Kenn Moody

St. Davids