No decision yet on ward boundaries

Filed under: Headline,IN THE NEWS |

Ward_Mapby Fred Groves

The decision on ward boundary adjustments in Essex will wait at least another week.

On Monday evening, members of Council met for two-and-a-half hours, and despite an influx of input from constituents and the public, it still could not come up with a direction.

This Monday night, during its regular session, Council will continue to allow the ratepayers to comment on various options.

What has been determined is that the 2018 municipal election will have the Deputy Mayor position elected at large.

Still a question mark, however, is how many members will be on Council.

Project consultant Dr. Robert Williams’s two recommendations called for Ward 3 (Colchester) to go down from one to two representatives; for either a four-ward or five-ward system. Either or, the lines on the map would have been changed.

“All we are offering is recommendations. You can reject it and start all over if that is your decision,” Dr. Williams told Council at its regular Council meeting the previous Tuesday night.

That is exactly what the current Council is leaning towards, rejecting the proposals.

On Monday night, Ward 3 Councillor Larry Snively suggested the municipality not realign the boundaries, remain with four wards, elect the Deputy Mayor at large, and therefore expand the number of Council members from the current seven to eight.

“There is no way I am going to support losing a rep in any ward,” Snively said.

Current Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche suggested Council wait until the upcoming Ward 3 by-election is over to have another voice at the table. He also wanted more public consultation.

Agreeing with Snivley, Meloche said, “We’ve come a long way. I don’t want us to go backwards. That’s why I say Deputy Mayor at large and six Councillors.”

Monday’s meeting, held in the large meeting room at the Essex Municipal Building, had over a dozen members of the public attend, including a couple of candidates in the upcoming by-election.

There were some fireworks as Ward 1 Councillor Randy Voakes said that the work volume of the Deputy Mayor position is minimal.
Voakes verbally jostled with Mayor Ron McDermott and left the meeting before its conclusion.

The time lines for Council to make their decision is important. Dr. Williams said if the current Council does not make a decision by January 1, 2018, it will have to be postponed until the next term of Council can make a decision.