Monday, May 16, 2005

Council Size

Things are tough when a blogger links to his own archives.
In the midst of these posts is a Sept 2002 op-ed proposing 4 wards for the suburbs, 2 for mid-town, and one for the rural south. Scroll to: Better Model For City Government.
Inclusion of the far southern lands draining into a Lake Erie watershed was an accident of annexation. Since they could not be urbanized, the Annexation Act stipulated a distinct rural ward.
In spoke wards, councillors have to pretend they are qualified to represent all of the above distinct communities. They struggle with their given cross-section ...and the central and rural areas are marginalized.
With re-population of core underway (in spite of fights over demolition of every low-density eye-sore that has out-lived its usefulness), burgeoning central inhabitants deserve meaningful representation. Without a ward shake-up, the bulk of voters will live in the subdivisions and those they re-elect will continue to cater to suburbia.
Were candidates drawn form broad "Community of Interest" wards, they would have an excellent grasp of local concerns ...and constituents (and the city) would be better served. Using the proposed structure with 1 councillor per ward we get 11 elected civic servants --including controllers but excluding the Mayor.
Servants who won't put aside self-interest (job protection & name recognition) to advance the public good are requested to make the case for London having over 50% more elected reps than well-managed Mississauga. A comment of 25 to 30 words on this post should suffice. If they have no comment ...or their case is not not convincing, they risk being rejected by their masters at the polls. Incumbents are always an important election issue. Let the spin begin.
Given historical turn-out, voters themselves are perhaps the most pressing issue; that calls for a separate post.

PS posted May 26~~In reacting to a 14-ward proposal by the Urban League, Prof Sancton commented that London is too small for communities of interest. Such conundrum is avoided by the Sept 2002 proposal for 7 wards based more on communities of common economic interests than on feuding neighbourhoods.

~PS posted on eve of 2006 municipal election ~~~ Voters coping with 14 wards rather than 7, might want to review the 1991 Supreme Court decision in the Saskatchewan Povinicail ridings case. Professor Sancton was prescient in observing that groups will inevitably argue "effective representation" means boundaries must be drawn to take account of their particular concerns. As applied to London, an OMB Chair (not a boundary commission) determined "the right to effective representation" meant a doubling of wards.

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