Aurora Council members past and present have long advocated for a second seat on Regional Council. In fact, many candidates for mayor ran on a platform of getting that extra seat at Regional Council. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much if any movement towards realizing that goal. Why would that matter? Well, it’s because while the majority of municipalities have at least 2 if not more representatives at Regional Council, the Town of Aurora, East Gwillimbury, King and Whitchurch-stouffville have just one rep, their current respective mayors. Just one lone voice to speak to regional matters that impact our residents. Will two reps ensure Aurora’s voice is heard? Maybe, maybe not. But it will at least be louder.
Given past campaign promises of “working hard” to get that additional seat on regional Council, I have to say I am disappointed with what amounts to the consolation prize our residents have been given instead. Rather than an additional seat, we are being given an “alternate” seat. That is, when our lone representative will be absent from the one meeting of Regional council held per month, someone else can come and sit in their place.
I can see how some might think an alternate could be useful. What if our Regional Rep is ill or otherwise need to be away when there is a vote on a matter that is crucial to Aurorans? A valid point for sure. But let’s look at the reality. Regional council meets once a month. Just once every 4 weeks. And the Regional Council does not meet at all in the summer. So we are talking about 9 or 10 meetings a year. Unless a member is sick or has an emergency of some sort, I can’t see how they would miss a meeting in any event – and certainly not if there was a matter on the agenda that was important to Aurora. Besides, it’s been common practice at the Region that if a member is the lone rep for their municipality and will be away when there is an issue that they would like to speak to and vote on, one of their colleagues would defer the matter until the next meeting…
So I am not sure what this gets Aurora. We don’t get any additional representation, we get substitute representation. An alternate when our current member can’t make the limited number of meetings they have a year. How many times has that even happened in this term? Last term? I doubt it’s been even once let alone sufficient times to warrant an alternate. So it begs the question, is it necessary at all? In my view, this is pretty disappointing. And it may have the effect of killing any talk of or consideration for a second seat in the immediate future. I understand that having an alternate may provide the benefit of convenience for the sitting member, it provides little if any real benefit to the residents they represent.