The size of Powassan town council will remain at five members and not increase to seven as Coun. Randy Hall wanted.
Several reasons were cited for maintaining the status quo, including identifying enough qualified candidates to seek public office in future elections and continuing to save money.
However, Hall believes the municipality is going to experience rapid growth in the next few years and said that warrants a larger council.
He cites the 50-unit seniors complex currently being built in Powassan and the 96-bed nursing home announced for Trout Creek as two examples that will automatically increase the population of the municipality, as well as the jobs the nursing home will bring.
Hall also said an area of Powassan has been identified for more residential growth, although he didn’t get into specifics.
Hall hopes all this growth will also attract more businesses.
Hall isn't worried about the volume of work the next two years will bring for council members but believes that work will increase in the next three to five years.
He says with council facing additional work, the next municipal election should be run with seven elected positions, which is what the municipality had before it amalgamated with Trout Creek.
Councillors Dave Britton and Debbie Piekarski were members of council when it had seven members and Piekarski said while there is nothing wrong with more opinions being heard at the council table, under the previous format, there were instances when it was difficult to attract council candidates.
“I don't know if many people are interested in doing what we do,” she said.
Piekarski said she could go either way, which is also how Britton felt but he added “in terms of cohesion, five works better.”
Coun. Marcus Wand repeated Piekarski's concern about attracting people to run for council if the municipality increased the number of elected officials by two.
Wand also raised the issue of the added expenses as a reason to maintain the status quo.
He said in the past, there were discussions to raise the council remuneration, which translates into higher expenses.
Wand said even if the council salary remained the same, costs would still go up if two more members were added.
“I don't think it would fly with the community,” he said.
“To me there's more of a negative impact of going to a seven-member council as opposed to staying at five.”
Mayor Peter McIsaac told his colleagues he favoured staying at five members.
McIsaac said there were times under the seven-member scenario that council had difficulties getting a quorum but that hasn't happened since moving to a five-member elected body.
McIsaac said the municipality reduced the number of councillors as a cost-saving device.
In the past, council had two councillors sit on committees, but when the size of council was reduced to five, the committee representation was cut to one.
“And the same amount of work is getting done,” he said.
“I don't see how (municipal) growth means more work for council,” McIsaac said.
“It means more work for staff but the council meetings will be the same.”
Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Bay Nugget