In 2006, residents of South Dundas began to elect their muncipal council through the “at-large” system. This was a move to unify the community, eliminating the former municipal boundaries pre-amalgamation. I would offer that this experiment has failed at its goals and it is time to revert back to the ward system.
Many communities have gone the route of electing their council “at-large”,Ã‚Â Brockville, Cornwall and Prescott for example. In each of those cases however, the community was not a forced marriage. Those communities existed and the councils functioned to the benefit of that whole community. There was/is a sense of community there.
In the case of South Dundas however, there has not been a long enough history of the municipality as one entity. Old rivalries among some residents still exists and old biases are hard to erase. 17 years is a short time to stitch together a new community.
Ask someone from the rural area of South Dundas, and you’ll hear that Morrisburg gets everything. Ask someone in Morrisburg, and they’ll say that nothing will get done in Morrisburg because 3/5ths of council the current council lives in Iroquois. Municipal council has to represent everyone, but when large areas of the population believe that council does not represent them, how does that build a unified community?
Can you name the last person from Morrisburg for example, who has served on municipal council. Since adopting the “at-large” voting model, not one person in the historic boundary of Morrisburg has been elected.
No one would seriously suggest that Ontarians should vote for all 107 members of provincial parliament on the “at-large” model. This model works for communities that already were communities before, but not here.
So lets call it quits on the “at-large” model and go back to the ward system. This way all four constituent communities of South Dundas can still govern together, but the residents feel that their interests are truly represented.
Originally published inÃ‚Â the March 18th edition of The Morrisburg Leader