SOUTHWEST MIDDLESEX - Twp. council was of two minds when the subject of council composition was raised during their Wednesday, 24 February 2021 meeting.
A motion from Councillor Martin Vink would have directed staff to prepare a report comparing the size of the Southwest Middlesex council to surrounding municipalities. This motion was defeated in a tie vote 4-4; one of the quirks of having a council of eight.
“With one councillor per ward, there’s more accountability,” explained Councillor Vink. By reducing the size of council to five, he suggests that taxpayers could save some money.
Other councillors pointed out that money might be saved at the cost of representation. Southwest Middlesex, of course, spans a large geographic area with many small communities. Councillor Cowell voted against the motion after hearing from Ekfrid residents who were already concerned about representation.
“They felt like they weren’t getting the representation at the table that they deserved,” explained Cowell. Those residents were concerned that, if the number of councillors decreased, they might see even less representation. “They felt that this council is very Glencoe-centric,” added Cowell.
Councillor Vink has previously pitched an idea for a council of seven, with the Mayor canvassing the entire municipality, and the councillor receiving the most votes becoming deputy mayor. Currently, the Mayor and Deputy Mayor are separate ballots.
When all was said and done, the votes were Vink, Sholdice, Wilkins, McGill in favour, and Mayhew, Cowell, Bartlett, and Carruthers opposed.
The Southwest Middlesex council is made up of a Mayor, a Deputy Mayor, and six councillors representing three Wards, two from each ward. For comparison, North Middlesex council has seven, In other municipalities of similar size (councils in surrounding municipalities include the Village of Newbury (5 members) Strathroy-Caradoc (9 members), Adelaide Metcalfe (5 members), West Elgin (5 members), and Dutton Dunwich (5 members).
McKinley Leonard-Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Middlesex Banner