June 19th, 2024

Motion put forward to rescind ward system plan

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on December 1, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Lethbridge city council on Dec. 13 could revisit its decision to proceed with an analysis of a ward system for elections.

A motion co-sponsored by councillor John Middleton-Hope and deputy mayor Ryan Parker to rescind a previous council decision on June 7 will require a two-thirds majority vote.

On June 7, council approved a one-time budget up to $297,000 to proceed with an electoral ward system conceptual plan.

The motion by Middleton-Hope and Parker states that the goal of the process has been to develop “a model deemed to be more effective and efficient than the current at-large process and to improve council’s representation in smaller geographic areas of the city” and that alternatives may not produce “enhanced representation, greater voter turnout or a more effective and efficient process.”

Their motion states the current process will cost a substantial amount of money and isn’t likely to have sufficient council support, which will cause more confusion and expend “valuable resources in an attempt to implement a largely unwanted model.”

The motion states that “the sponsors have developed a made-in-Lethbridge model that responds favourably to establishing geographic areas for representation while retaining some of the at-large components of the election process.”

The June motion passed by a 6-3 vote after a Governance Standing Policy committee meeting couldn’t reach consensus.

In the 2021 municipal election, a question was put on ballots asking “do you support using a ward system to elect city councillors (other than the mayor) starting with the 2025 municipal election?

Of the 28,348 who voted – which was about 35 per cent of eligible voters – 55.69 per cent voted “yes” while 44.31 per cent voted “no” to the non-binding question.

Hilford told the SPC at its April meeting councillors wouldn’t have to live in the ward they run for election in. Ward systems are presently used in Calgary and Edmonton in the province and no rules exist about the minimum population to have one.

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