Belleville is taking a cautious approach to any future changes to the way municipal elections are run in the city.
The province has given the go ahead to allow communities to change the way local elections are run, but council has decided to stay with the current “first past the post” system for at least the next election and not consider “ranked balloting.”
Councillor Paul Carr noted that “if the province thought it was such a good thing they could try it themselves.”
Carr says the city should wait and see what other communities are doing.
Staff had concerns that the changing systems would cost at least $100,000 more and that there won’t be enough time to consult with the public to create a widespread understanding of how “ranked ballot” voting works, and why it might be better than “first past the post.”
There are also concerns about whether the city’s current election technology could handle a new system.
In his report to city council City Clerk Matt MacDonald said it would be a challenge to meet the requirements by next May 1, for public meetings.
MacDonald says it would be a “significant change” and “may be confusing for those experienced as well as new voters.”
Council will wait until after the 2018 local elections to learn how the “ranked ballot” system worked in the communities that do make the switch.
Grant committee approvals
Belleville will allow 50 free monthly passes in a couple of charitable cases.
This decision followed a lengthy debate at last night’s city council meeting after considering the grant committee’s recommendation that the passes not be allowed.
The Salvation Army requested 50 passes for its Christmas Kettle volunteers and Queen’s Medical Centre wanted 50 passes for its patients on Ontario works.
Councillor Egerton Boyce argued it would be a benefit to the city, and other councillors pointed out the buses are not full so they would not be taking paying seats.
Council approved a long list of grants including setup fees requested by the Kiwanis Club of Belleville.
During a debate on whether or not to give the Club $395 for a ramp fee, Councillor Jack Miller pointed out Kiwanis had given the city the Bayshore Trail and the skateboard park, among other things.
The George Street boat ramp fee was granted.