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Prompt from Clerk heads off council vote on ward revisions not made public

Posted September 12, 2017

New Tecumseth council was set to vote on an amended ward boundary map last night, provided by Ward 7 councillor Shira Harrison McIntyre, that was not made public, until Clerk Cindy Maher cautioned they wait until Sept. 25th meeting so it would be available prior to the vote.

Councillor Harrison McIntyre is opposed to the preferred option that divided wards to include urban and rural representation. In her case, she's opposed to Ward 7 splitting urban Tottenham section, calling it an incompatible mix of "communities of interest."

"I realize the public won't have the opportunity to make comment on this option, however, because the comments received at the public meeting have been integrated, mainly the concerns about rural representation, I believe the community has had their input," she said.

Ward 5 councillor Donna Jebb corrected her Ward 7 colleague who had suggested there were no changes made to wards north of Beeton.

"Yes it did," said Ms. Jebb, "because the map shows different configurations at the top of Ward 5. I understand her trying to align seven and eight, but we want to take at look at it before we agree."

Ward 6 councillor Richard Norcross called it, "my personal opinion, but I think we did a poor job on this. We should have taken a different route. However, sitting here right now debating maps some of us don't have or have seen, I don't think a rational decision is going to be made here."

Ward 8 councillor Chris Ross said he was content with the original preferred option that split the wards into urban and rural mixes.

"I don't know why it's coming out now, it should have come out with all the other maps," said councillor Ross.

Ms. Harrison McIntyre said her amended map was provided to councillors on Aug. 28th, "and integrated and emailed out to every council member this week. So if you don't understand what that option is, that is not because there hasn't been an effort to make it clear and transparent."

Mr. Ross then turned to Ms. Maher and asked if "it is advisable to be looking at options now that haven't been put before the public. All of our previous options were put to the public in public sessions, this one has not."

"The options were in fact made public, and public input was sought at a number of public meetings," replied Ms. Maher. "This option has not been viewed by the public. However there is not a requirement under the act in order to have a public meeting. Having said that, I would suggest that since everybody is not sure as to exactly what is being considered tonight, and I would consider this to be a very important decision, respectively I would suggest council may ask staff to bring back three options that are being referred to this evening to the next meeting of council Sept. 25th that way everybody can know, as well as the public, they in fact could provide comment too if they wish to do so, prior to that meeting."

Councillor Ross said he feared the same pattern developing.

"I thought that's what we discussed on Aug. 28th that we were going to make the decision tonight. Seems like it keeps jumping two weeks, two weeks, two weeks, two weeks. Is it going to happen again on Sept. 25th or are we actually going to make a decision?"

Any ward boundary change has to be approved as a bylaw by Dec. 31 to be implemented for the October 2018 municipal elections. The bylaw is appealable to the OMB.

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All stories, unless otherwise noted,
by Tony Veltri