Nina Bifolchi

At Large System vs Ward System

A number of staff reports came forward to council during this current term indicating that the majority of those who provided input at a public meeting as well as an online survey, were in support of remaining with the current At Large system.

Staff supported remaining with the current At Large system. The majority of council however, chose to go against its residential constituents and staff which is why there is a question on this year’s election ballot that reads:

“At present we use the At-Large system to vote for Councillor Positions, should we use a Ward system instead?”

I do not support a Ward system for Wasaga Beach and I will be voting “no” to this question when I vote in October. When you have seven independent council members arriving to the council table looking at the big picture and best interest for the entire community, our current At Large system works best.

Currently we have a Mayor, Deputy Mayor and five council members. Under our present At Large system, any resident or business owner can call on any one of the seven members of council to discuss their concerns. In a Ward system that same resident or business owner would be directed to their particular Ward councillor…….What if they don’t respond to your call or your request to meet or don’t agree with your stand on something? Good luck getting some help with your concerns. You can call a councillor from another Ward but don’t be surprised if they tell you they can’t help you. My experience has been that most Ward councillors focus on the constituents in their ward only…….that’s who elects them.

When council members consider all citizens as their constituency (and bosses!) they will usually look to work in the best interests of the community as a whole as opposed to only the one section of the community that they would represent in a Ward system.

My experience has been that Wards divide council and the community. During this current term of council more than enough divide has been created throughout our community. It is now time to bring it back together not divide it further.

It is my opinion that Wards may work best in rural settings or communities with populations much larger than Wasaga Beach. Our current At Large system ensures that council members are accountable to all the residents not just those residing in their Ward.

When I mark my ballot it will be in favour of continuing with the current At Large system.

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