Prince Edward County has changed its course and voted to downsize council, a decision the mayor says will be challenged before the Ontario Municipal Board.
A week ago, the committee of the whole carried a motion that would keep the status quo – 10 wards and a 16 member horseshoe.
After a lengthy debate and series of recorded votes Tuesday night, council approved reducing to nine wards with a 14- member council – a plan that received minimal support during recent public consultations.
(9 Councillors for the plan: Jamie Forrester, Steve Graham, David Harrison, Treat Hull, Janice Maynard, Brad Nieman, Dianne O’Brien; Roy Pennell and Lenny Epstein. 7 Councillors against: Gordon Fox, Kevin Gale, Bill Roberts, Barry Turpin, Jim Dunlop, Steven Ferguson and Robert Quaiff)
During the meeting, Mayor Quaiff asked council to finish the job they had started by sending the two favoured plans (two wards – 11 member council and three wards – 13 member council) back for a staff report to see if they meet the necessary criteria.
Quaiff says he is 100% certain the County will now go through a lengthy and costly process of trying to challenge a plan that doesn’t meet the criteria set out by staff reports and plans.
John Thompson developed the approved plan and says it will meet the majority of the main criteria if taken to the OMB as odd numbers aren’t necessary and it covers representation by population too.
Concerns were also voiced by Bloomfield councillor Barry Turpin as the plan will merge the Village with Hallowell.
Councillor Kevin Gale expressed similar worry saying the plan will weaken Sophiasburgh as it reduces representation in the ward from two councillors to one.
The official by-law will come back before council in the new year.