Ward System or At Large?
I have heard some people saying they want a Ward system instead of our At Large system. I think residents feel that most of current council are well off and don’t represent the less affluent parts of town. There is also the idea that it would make it easier for poor people like me to run, we would only have to campaign in part of the city.
So is a Ward System the answer?
I looked online. The City of Vancouver has 10 At Large council members for a population of about 675,000. They started off as At Large then went to a Ward system, then went back to At Large.
I know we’re not Vancouver. I use this example because it shows switching systems didn’t necessarily work. Also, they have ten councillors for a population ten times our size, each one represents the same population as Medicine Hat. Their councillors are full time whereas ours are part time, so that would equate to 20 part timers who represent about 34k each. Ours represent 7.9k each.
I think the key problem is that residents feel they get no response from councillors. They feel if the councillor represented only their area that they would get results from their inquiries/concerns.
I’ve heard from some residents that council members are sometimes busy with their own businesses and don’t have the time/will to respond to residents. When I sent a message to ALL council members in Nov 2019, I only received 3 responses.
Ms Friesen and Mr Dumanowski sent personal messages.
The Mayor’s office said it would be passed on to him.
I got nothing from the rest, not even an acknowledgement of receipt.
I think we need to set standards. I would require councillors to:
- respond within a certain period of time to inquiries. If the request is out of their purview then they should pass it along to the right department right away and follow up to see it the resident got a response.
- have “office” hours, a minimum # of hours per week where they CAN be reached.
I would also want a way to penalize councillors who repeatedly ignore residents.