Ward system works just fine
North Glengarry voters are served well by the ward system; they would be well advised to retain it in the October election.
Under the ward system, North Glengarrians can elect at least one councillor to address their community's specific needs. If you live in Maxville, for example, and you want council to do something about the sidewalks, your best course of action is to call the Maxville ward councillor - who may share similar concerns about the sidewalks - and he or she will advocate in front of council on your behalf.
Would that happen if all the councillors lived in Alexandria? Maybe so, but Maxville would lose out on the immediacy of having an elected official living among them. They'd lose out on having a politician who would be echoing their concerns, not merely parroting them. That's because ward councillors tend to be more sensitive to the small problems of their constituents.
More importantly, the ward system does a better job, in theory, of providing balanced representation. It does this by making it impossible for all councillors to come from one geographic area; instead, we can make it mandatory that everyone running for a ward position be a resident and/or a property owner of the wards they represent.
The biggest disadvantage to the ward system (and this was pointed out by Bob Graham at a special March 1 council meeting) is that it allows for councillors to weigh in on matters that don't directly affect their constituents. If you're a Maxville councillor, you'll be expected to vote on bylaws that affect only people in Alexandria or Lochiel. Politicians are fond of say- ing that they do their best to take everyone's feelings into consideration, but it is, perhaps, more pragmatic to say an at-large system would go further to rectify that.
Despite this black mark, the ward system is still the way to go. Others claim that the ward system results in more politicians getting elected through acclimation. This probably isn't true (in the 2014 municipal election, North Glengarry's mayor and deputymayor - both at-large positions - were acclaimed; the biggest contest was for the Alexandria ward, where Michel Depratto beat out three other candidates) but even if it were, the fault would not lie with the ward system, it would lie with voter apathy. At the March 1 meeting, some councillors decried that only 33 per cent of eligible voters cast their vote. Well, that's because 67 per cent of eligible voters are either too lazy or too apathetic to make the trek to the polling station (or, since electronic voting was allowed in 2014, their computer). If you want to see change, you need to get involved in the electoral process - either by voting or - even better - running for office.
If any change is needed in North Glengarry, it would be to allow for better representation by population.
Currently, the Lochiel, Kenyon, and Alexandria wards have 3,000 people whereas Maxville only has 800.
That gives Maxville an unfair advantage. Perhaps the wards themselves need to be tweaked more. Maybe Maxville's territory could be expanded to include Greenfield or Apple Hill or Dunvegan. Maybe we should completely redefine the wards, eliminate the councillor-at-large position, and create five wards.
But whether or not North Glengarry chooses to tweak the wards or stay the course, it's clear that the ward system is what's best for the township.