This week Aurora Council voted to implement the ward system for the next election by a vote of 4 – 3. The result was not surprising since 5 current members of Council, including myself, clearly stated in the 2018 election campaign they supported the Ward system.
Moving to a Ward system was a key issue in the 2018 election campaign. All Candidates were asked their position in multiple debates. It featured prominently in an article in the Auroran, where every candidate was asked their position on moving to a ward system. We stated our positions in campaign materials. Your election votes provided a clear mandate you wanted us to pursue a ward system.
As Aurora grew, the discussion of moving to a ward system has been ongoing for many years. It was a non binding ballot question in the 2014 election. Last term, Council tasked the Governance Review Committee with investigating the process of developing boundaries and governance changes related to the adoption of a ward system. The initial intent was to implement the ward system in time for the 2018 election.
However, at the Municipal level, a change to wards must be in place at least one year before an election to ensure sufficient time to complete the appropriate public consultation and legal requirements. As a result, the decision to move to the ward system was deferred until this term of council.
So why do I believe a ward system is needed?
I believe a ward system will lead to greater accountability of Councillors to their residents. Residents will get to know their local Councillor and in turn Councillors will be more accountable to the residents they serve.
As our community gets larger, it becomes harder for Councillors to understand the breadth of residents’ concerns. Community specific issues get lost as residents have no local voice on Council. Workloads are unbalanced as some Councillors are more accessible or take on more responsibility and at times there is “duplication of effort” as multiple Councillors address the same issue.
The ward system will also expand the opportunity for more people to run since candidates will no longer have to incur the expense of a town-wide campaign. This encourages a more diverse field of candidates from across all areas of our community.
As our community grows and demographics change we need to ensure we provide the best possible governance for all Aurorans. The change to wards is about better governance and better engagement with our community from Councillors. This will lead to a more informed and more engaged community which will make our Town even better.
Politicians are often accused of saying one thing to get elected, only to do something different once elected. But I believe we should be held accountable to our campaign promises — so I am pleased to be able to fulfil my commitment to implementing the ward system. #GettingThingsDone