Midland dissolves ward boundaries, adopting 'free-for-all' election voting

·2 min read

Council took the lack of public participation as consent in deciding to move to an at-large voting system for the next election.

During the 15-minutes council sat around waiting and encouraging electronic public participation, only one resident called in to voice her opinion about the issue presented at the brief public meeting Wednesday evening.

"I just wanted to let everybody know that this is a great thing to have the wards eliminated because it puts everybody on the same playing field," said Yvonne Tietz. "It doesn't just limit you to your specific candidates you're looking for. So I think it's a great idea to limit the wards. It's a free-for-all and you can vote for anybody you choose."

Two other residents had written with their comments on the matter prior to the meeting.

"The ward system may provide representation by population but that is not the only issue," wrote Susan Turnbull. "The consideration that is missed altogether in the current arrangement is equity for eligible voters. Under the current system, in Ward 3 a voter has only one councillor. In ward 1 and 2, a voter has three. This is not voter equity.

"Equity is not achieved by simply providing representation by population," continues the letter. "If a ward 3 voter has a matter they want council to consider, they have only one councillor to approach, but in ward 1 or 2, they have three --- this provides three times the access and three times the chance to be supported and increases the likelihood of having the matter ultimately supported at the council table."

Turnbull concludes the letter by giving her blessing to council to move ahead with the at-large system.

"Council, please continue your move to fair and equitable treatment of all voters in the Town of Midland by eliminating the ward system for the next municipal election."

Other than Turnbull, another Midland resident, Bob Jeffery, had also written in before the meeting to express his views against the at-large system.

His letter states that he believes the ward system allows for true local representation and makes it harder for outside influences or influential people to control the council body.

In the letter, Jeffery cites the example of the 'old' ward 1.

"The old ward one, beachfront owners, mostly from out of town, controls who is elected to the council, thus ensuring their collective will is met," he writes. "A no-ward system could mean a full council of these people, but for sure always a majority around the table."

The bylaw was passed the same night during the formal council session.

Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com