An Ontario Municipal Board hearing date has been set to hear a Prince Edward County man’s appeal of the municipality’s decision to reduce the ward boundaries.
On January 27, 2016, council enacted a bylaw that would see the horseshoe cut from 16 members to 14 and the reduction of 10 wards to nine, merging Bloomfield with Hallowell.
In March, 2016 Pierre Klein filed an appeal stating the municipality’s decision is in contravention of the Canadian Rights and Freedoms “as expected in a free and democratic society.” The appeal also states the process and basis in which County council made the decision was defective.
In October 2015, Klein addressed the County’s committee of the whole presenting his own plan for downsizing from 15 to 10 councillors plus a mayor and keeping the current 10 wards’ boundaries intact.
He told the committee how, in his opinion, the other plans violate the Supreme Court relating to the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission in how electoral boundaries are created in regards to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Klein was advised by the committee that ‘he was late to the party’ as the other plans had already gone out for public consultation and council was poised to make a decision.
This isn’t the first time this issue has been before the OMB.
In 2008, an OMB hearing forced the 2010 ballot question, “Are you in favour of council commencing a public consultation process to review the size of council?” Since less than 50% of eligible voters actually came out to the polls, the referendum result was not binding on council. However, the former term of council felt there was enough interest, as 80% of those who did vote said “yes,” sparking the Citizens’ Assembly in 2013. Council chose not to go with the 10 councillor recommendation as it would ultimately lead to ward changes. Mayor Robert Quaiff sparked the conversation up again at the beginning of his term stating residents clearly wanted change.
The hearing date is set for July 19 at Shire Hall.