By Letter to the Editor on December 6, 2019.
In the course of its Nov. 18 meeting, Lethbridge City Council was unable to agree on a course of action that would address the long-standing problem of under-representation of north Lethbridge.
Approximately 50 years ago, The Herald published an article noting that the Holy Spirit Catholic School Board was the only elected board that did not under-represent north Lethbridge. At that time, citizens also voted for members on the Municipal Hospital Board. But the salient point is that the under-representation of north Lethbridge is as apparent today as it was 50 years ago. In fact, we have on occasion had city councils without any north Lethbridge representation whatsoever.
On Nov. 18 city council voted against allocating $80,000 for a consultant to draw a new electoral map. I can understand the reluctance of city council to sign a cheque for $80,000 during a time when budgets are under stress, but I think I can help. At no cost to the City, I will attempt to develop a proposal which council could present to the public for consideration in the course of the next municipal election. But first, some facts: Lethbridge consists of three similarly-sized communities. The largest of the three, with approximately 41,000 citizens, is west Lethbridge. It presently has three counsellors and is also home to the mayor.
I would propose allocating three counsellors to west Lethbridge. The mayor would be determined by popular vote, as has always been the case.
With approximately 31,000 residents and four counsellors, south Lethbridge is the second-largest community, though it is only about 3,000 citizens larger than north Lethbridge. I would propose allocating two counsellors to south Lethbridge, as well as part of a third, as I will explain.
With a little more than 28,000 citizens, north Lethbridge is the smallest of the three districts. It presently has one member of council. I would propose that two counsellors be allocated to north Lethbridge and that another, the eighth, be shared with south Lethbridge.
Rather than developing a unique electoral map for the eighth member of council, I am recommending a simpler and less expensive solution. I am proposing that the eighth councillor be chosen on the basis of vote totals from the pool of candidates residing in north and south Lethbridge.
I am forwarding a copy of this letter to mayor and council. If it helps them to make a difficult decision, it will have served its purpose.
Robert D. Tarleck