Coun­cils re­ject war­den pro­posal

The Enterprise-Bulletin (Collingwood) - - SPORTS -

OWEN SOUND — While not of­fi­cial yet, a pro­posal to al­low elec­tors to choose Grey County’s war­den in a county- wide vote start­ing next year is dead in the water.

Six mu­nic­i­pal coun­cils in­clud­ing Owen Sound, Meaford and the Blue Moun­tains have al­ready voted against the change, which re­quires triple- ma­jor­ity ap­proval to be im­ple­mented.

Two coun­cils are to vote on the pro­posal this week.

“Ob­vi­ously with that many lower- tiers not sup­port­ing it, it’s ob­vi­ously not go­ing to make the cut,” War­den Al Bar­foot said last week in an in­ter­view.

Triple- ma­jor­ity ap­proval means that most lower- tier mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties — in Grey County’s case that means five of the nine mu­nic­i­pal coun­cils — must sup­port the change.

In ad­di­tion, the sup­port­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties must rep­re­sent a ma­jor­ity of Grey County vot- ers. The third re­quire­ment is for a ma­jor­ity of Grey County coun­cil­lors to vote in favour of the change.

Grey County’s sys­tem cur­rently has county coun­cil­lors vot­ing each De­cem­ber for who will serve as war­den for the fol­low­ing year.

This sum­mer, coun­cil sup­ported a mo­tion by Blue Moun­tains Mayor John McKean to con­sider mov­ing to a di­rect elec­tion of the war­den start­ing with the 2018 mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion. The change would also mean that the war­den’s term would in­crease from one to four years and the size of county coun­cil — which is made up of lower- tier may­ors and deputy may­ors – would in­crease from 18 to 19 mem­bers.

McKean, at the time, said he felt it should be vot­ers and not lo­cal politi­cians that choose the war­den.

In his orig­i­nal no­tice of mo­tion, he also said elect­ing a war­den at large would en­able the head of coun­cil “to fo­cus on the county’s needs and those of the broader elec­torate” and added that the work­load of be­ing a mem­ber of both a lo­cal coun­cil and county coun­cil “may limit the in­di­vid­u­als will­ing to stand for elec­tion of war­den.”

The Mu­nic­i­pal Act re­quires any changes to the elec­tion process be com­plete by Dec. 31 of the prior year, mean­ing coun­cil had about five months to se­cure triple- ma­jor­ity sup­port, pro­vide public no­tice, hold a public meet­ing and pass the of­fi­cial by­law in or­der for the change to take ef­fect for 2018.

County coun­cil di­rected staff on Sept. 14 to seek re­sponses from the lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties on whether or not they sup­port the vot­ing change for war­den. The county asked that all re­sponses be in by Oct. 16 so a staff re­port could be pre­sented to county coun­cil on Oct. 26.

Grey County deputy clerk Heather Mor­ri­son said the county had al­ready re­ceived re­sponses as of Tues­day from Ge­or­gian Bluffs, South­gate and West Grey. All three mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties voted against the change for 2018.

Grey High­lands Mayor Paul McQueen said his coun­cil unan­i­mously sup­ported the di­rect elec­tion of war­den mo­tion Mon­day night.

“I think they’re open to pro­gres­sive and new ways of look­ing at ways we’re gov­erned,” he said.

Hanover is to con­sider the change at its Oct. 2 meet­ing, while Chatsworth is to vote on the pro­posal Oct. 4.

Bar­foot, McKean and Meaford Mayor Barb Clum­pus, when con­tacted by The Sun Times Tues­day, each said that their coun­cils felt they needed more time to weigh the pros and cons, con­sult with their ratepay­ers and con­sider all of the im­pli­ca­tions of the change be­fore ap­prov­ing it.

Clum­pus said her coun­cil thinks the change should be dis­cussed fur­ther dur­ing the next term of county coun­cil.

“There was just too short a time frame to get all of the pieces in place – the com­mu­nity en­gage­ment, un­der­stand­ing the im­pli­ca­tions. This is a huge is­sue and not one that is un­der­stood at the lower- tier level. To make an in­formed de­ci­sion on whether this is the right way to go would re­quire a lot more thought and time to con­sider this,” she said.

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