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County’s ward boundaries decision at OMB July 19

An Ontario Municipal Board hearing is set to get under way July 19 at Shire Hall as a County man appeals the municipality’s 2016 decision to redefine ward boundaries.

In January last year, council decided to combine Bloomfield with Hallowell ward and lose one of two representatives in Sophiasburgh which cuts the members around the horseshoe to 14, from 16 and reduce wards to nine, from 10.

Council had considered four options before choosing the option put forth by former Sophiasburgh councillor John Thompson. In the other plans, Mayor Robert Quaiff proposed splitting the municipality in half with 10 councillors and a mayor; County resident Gary Mooney proposed three wards, 12 councillors and a mayor and the final option was status quo.

Pierre Klein, of Cherry Valley, filed an appeal of the decision in March 2016 on the grounds the municipal bylaw was in contravention of the Canadian Charter Rights and Freedoms, and that “the process and the basis by which the council made this decision was defective.”

The appeal is over the ward boundary decision only, as the number of councillors is not appealable, but Klein hopes, that in the end if the OMB orders a change, there could be a change in the number of councillors as well.

Klein has started a Go Fund Me page to pay for the remaining $6,000 of an estimated $10,000 for legal expenses and testimonies.

In October 2015 Klein had addressed council proposing a 10 ward system with 10 councillors, plus a mayor, which he said met requirements for representation by population, parity, community interests, natural boundaries and historical context “better than any of the four plans that went through the public consultation process.” However, council had already finished another lengthy public consultation period and told Klein he was “late to the party”.

The matter of redistribution of council size and ward boundaries has been ongoing in the County since 2008.

BACKGROUND:

– In 2008, a Composition of Council Committee was established and provided a report to council with various options on electoral boundaries and council representation. The report contained various electoral boundary options for a council comprised of 10 councillors and a mayor. Those included a 2 Electoral Ward System, 5 Electoral Ward System, and an Election at Large option with no electoral boundaries. The report of the Composition of Council Committee was received and no further action was taken on the matter.

– Following the above-noted decision by council, a Petition of Electors was presented by Lyle McBurney, Chair of Electors of Prince Edward County for Restructuring Wards and Council. The petition requested council enact a bylaw to restructure the present 10 Wards into 6 Wards, and reduce size of council from 15 plus a Mayor to 2 Councillors per Ward and a Mayor at large.

– Further to that petition, there was an OMB Hearing that led to the following question being included on the Ballot for the 2010 municipal election:
“Are you in favour of Council commencing a public consultation process to review the size of Council for the County of Prince Edward?”

– In 2013, although the results of the question on the Ballot did not mandate the municipality to take any further action, the municipality issued a Request for Proposal for Consultant Services to Review Size of Council. A Citizens’ Assembly was established and provided a report to Council with a recommendation that Council be reduced from the current 15 Councillors plus a Mayor, to ten (10) Councillors and a Mayor, to represent the County of Prince Edward.
The report of the Citizens’ Assembly was presented at a Special Committee of the Whole meeting held on September 19, 2013. The Committee of the Whole report from this meeting was considered at a Special Council meeting held on October 9, 2013 and,
although the Committee of the Whole report included motions related to the Size of Council and Electoral Ward Boundaries, they were not adopted by Council at that meeting.

Filed Under: Local News

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  1. Ian says:

    In my view, amalgamation has been a disaster.

    If the county petitioned the provincial government, it’s possible that we could return to the governance by township model that worked so well in the past.

    I know that the last time my road was paved, it was done by my township.




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  2. Mark says:

    This should be a very interesting hearing. Here’s hoping the County residents finally take precedent.




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  3. Susan says:

    I can’t believe the taxpayer is on the hook for $125,000 + for this Council that made a mockery of the process. Since we are on the hook I can only hope the OMB dictates real change that provides equal representation for everyone.




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  4. Dennis Fox says:

    I was informed today by a member of our council that I was wrong about the public being allowed to participate in the OMB Hearings.

    If you are challenged on this point, here is a link proving that you have every right to be there and to participate. BUT read the link – there is a simple process that needs to be followed for you to comment.

    http://elto.gov.on.ca/tribunals/omb/a-case-before-the-board/can-participate-hearing/participant/




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  5. Dennis Fox says:

    Taxpayers have the opportunity to attend the OMB hearings (July 19-21st) to ask that their comments be taken into account.

    This is your chance to tell the OMB and your Council what kind of governance you want. After many years of delays and avoidance, it is time for this issue to finally end.

    This is democracy in action, try to take part if you can.




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  6. Gary says:

    This is huge for Prince Edward County. This OMB will define equal representation moving forward.




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  7. Dennis Fox says:

    Emily – you are very correct in what you say. The hearings start on the 19th at 9:30 at Shire Hall – if residents could hand deliver letters to the Board expressing similar thoughts as yours – then that might help get the results most want -who knows?




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  8. Emily says:

    Since the taxpayer is putting up $125,000 for this OMB, I certainly hope we all are rewarded with equal voter representation as an outcome. Council have demonstrated they are incapable of dealing with this issue. Time for a solution to be dictated.




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  9. Fred says:

    Will be interesting to see how the County is able defend ignoring their own criteria in their 11th hour deal to keep everyone at the horse shoe content. The residents right to equal representation took a back seat to political power and will.




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  10. Dennis Fox says:

    This OMB hearing is about far more than ward boundaries – at the root of the problem is a group of politicians (a series of councils) who ignored their own referendum and the will of the people, ignored the directions from a previous OMB and most recently violated their staff recommendations and their own council procedures to eventually pass a solution that makes no sense – all to save their own jobs. A shrinking community of less than 25,000 do not need 16 councillors – totally ridiculous and expensive. This hearing is also about protecting the citizens right to a fair democracy

    Listed below is a site to financially assist Pierre Klein with his legal costs.

    https://www.gofundme.com/defending-pec-democracy




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