This week, during its regular meeting, Council discussed the issue of Electoral Review – specifically, the issue of wards. The Governance Review Committee was struck at the beginning of this term to specifically to look at moving Aurora from electing Councillors via the “at-large” system to via a “ward” system.
The discussion of moving to a ward system has been ongoing for many years. Last term of Council, the governance committee made recommendations to reduce the number of Councillors from 8 to 6. The previous Council felt that the reduction in councillors was the first step towards changing to a ward system and adopted that change in time for the 2018 election. The move to the ward system was deferred until this term of council as there was insufficient time to review the needed additional information and further discussion. To make changes to the electoral system at the local level, those changes need to be approved by Council and in place at least one year before an election, and last term that just didn’t happen.
That’s why this term, the review of moving to a ward system was started right away! The governance committee was struck at the start of this term to ensure that enough time will be given to make the right decision for our community.
Thus, Council considered the recommendation from the Governance Review Committee and approved the following motion:
That Capital Project No. 13025 – Electoral System Review be approved; and
That a total budget of $60,000 be approved for Capital Project No. 13025 – Electoral System Review to be funded from the Studies and Other Capital Reserve Fund; and
That Council endorse, in principle, the electing of all Aurora councillors, other than the Mayor, by ward vote instead of general Town-wide vote.
This passed unanimously.
So what does this mean? While Council did approve – in principle – moving to wards, this is not yet a binding decision. It is a first step towards moving to a ward step. Approval was needed to give clear direction to the Governance Review Committee and the consultant that a move to a ward system is supported by Council. The point being, if Council is not in favour of moving to a wards system then why spend the money to go through the process of looking to change?
In terms of next steps, the Governance committee along with the consultant will begin work on what it will take to move to a ward system including examining all the different options for ward boundaries. Extensive public consultation will be undertaken and at the end of that public consultation, recommendations and options will be presented to Council for a final decision.
As I said in my inaugural speech, I believe the time is now to move to a ward system. And Council has taken a big first step towards getting things done.
Who is the consultant hired and does she/he have experience in creating a ward system for other towns, specifically in York Region.
I am positive that the idea of a ward system was voted on and turned down in a recent election when the reduction of seats from 8 to 6 was supported.I have not heard what new conditions led Council to reopen this question.