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Councillors approve Ward changes that weren't presented to public

Posted October 3, 2017

Ward 8 councillor Chris Ross had the last (and only) word last night on ward boundary changes that will take effect for the October 2018 municipal elections in New Tecumseth, barring any appeals to the OMB. But they weren't enough as the 11th hour type amendment presented by Ward 7 councillor Shira Harrison McIntyre was approved 6-3 in a recorded vote. (Mayor Rick Milne, Ward 6, Richard Norcross, and Ross were opposed).

Mr. Ross objected to Ms. Harrison McIntyre's "Option 7" which replaced the preferred option councillors had approved in June, the recommendation that was also presented to the public.

Originally referred to as "Option 1", the preferred recommendation had split the wards so each had a mix of urban and rural representation. It had cleared all council votes until last month when Ms. Harrison McIntyre began objecting to the mix, calling them incompatible "communities of interest."

The biggest change Option 7 provides is urban Tottenham remains a one councillor ward.

"We've been at this ward boundary review project for quite a while now, I believe it's coming up on a year, so the subject didn't sneak up on us at all," said Mr. Ross. "We had working sessions first, then we had public sessions to give our option, which was Option 1, which happened at the end of June."

"Two months later councillor Harrison McIntyre came up with another option, which in my view is a little too late to the party, two months after we've had our public sessions. This option should have been presented with all the public options."

The Ward 8 councillor suggested Option 7 was not a "transparent process."

"And I for one am uneasy even considering councillor Harrison McIntyre's option because it hasn't been presented to and it hasn't been considered by the public at all. In year 2031, Councillor Harrison's option has 1,079 person difference between Ward 7 and Ward 8 in Tottenham. Staff's option 6 has a 26 person difference. Her option remains unbalanced on the issue of representation by population and I'm in favour of the previous option 1 prepared by staff, which is now option 6, so let's all follow along, it's now option 6. Option 6 balances out the populations of Wards 7 and 8, but more importantly gives the community of Tottenham, two representatives on council which given the tremendous growth Tottenham has experienced over the last two and a half years, I believe it's a more equitable solution for this community, and it also gives both councillors in the south, 7 and 8, a mix of rural and urban, and it seems quite fair to me."

No other councillor commented prior to the recorded vote. The ward changes are appealable to the OMB but any changes have to be approved by Dec. 31, 2017 to be in effect for October 2018 elections.

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All stories, unless otherwise noted,
by Tony Veltri