Central Huron Council considers abolishing its ward system
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Central Huron Council is set to reconsider the municipality’s ward system with an option to abolish it ahead of the 2022 municipal election.
Council discussed raising the issue once again at its Monday night meeting after a report from Clerk Kerri Ann O’Rourke, taking council’s temperature on a number of issues that would have to be settled one year before the municipal election. She asked council if members would like to reconsider abolishing the ward system, the composition of council or adding a question to the ballot for ratepayers to have their say in the fall of 2022.
Mayor Jim Ginn began the conversation, saying he didn’t see any merit to including a question on the ballot in 2022 or relitigating the composition of council, but he did think potentially abolishing the ward system was worth another look.
He said he felt that, to a certain extent, the ward system had been made irrelevant in terms of the election when it was revealed that the Municipal Act allows for residents to run in any of their home municipality’s wards, not necessarily the one in which they live. For that reason, he said, it would be worth dropping the ward system.
Central Huron currently has two wards: the east ward, which is comprised of Clinton and Hullett, and the west ward, which is Goderich Township. The shift to a two-ward system was made in recent years, moving from three wards, one for each former community.
Several councillors spoke in favour of the move, with Councillor Michael Russo saying that when he votes at the council table, he does so with the entire municipality in mind. Ginn concurred, saying that is how he votes and with all councillors voting on all issues, regardless of their ward, voters should be given an opportunity to vote for all of their council seats in an election.
Councillor Marg Anderson asked if that would be the kind of question the municipality should ask on the ballot in 2022, with any change to take effect later. However, O’Rourke discouraged that, saying the municipality would need very high turnout and a clear resolution in order to make a decision that way, but it was up to council if that’s the direction members wanted to take.
Council asked O’Rourke to prepare a report with some options regarding the ward system for a future meeting with councillors saying they didn’t want to look into the composition of council or a question on the 2022 ballot any further.