Why not wards?

Nick Seebruch
Why not wards?
A ballot box

A year ago, Council considered holding a referendum on its size and also on introducing a ward system to Cornwall. I think this was a missed opportunity.

As a voter, not only do I want a say in who represents me in government, but I also believe I should have a say in what that government looks like.

I think a ward system would lead to better representation and reduced cost for the City of Cornwall.

First of all, as it stands now, we have 10 “Councillors at Large” who are running for re-election. This means they are competing for the same votes from the same voters. This means that our councillors need to appeal to the most vocal and largest voting blocks in our community.

I would rather see a ward system where each neighbourhood has a representative on council advocating for the issues in their area. This way, we don’t have candidates only talking in broad strokes about the same issues, but instead we could have candidates who get down to the finer details.

Right now, councillors are responsible for issues across the city, but I believe that we would have a more accountable and responsive government if each councillor had a dedicated part of the city they were responsible for. Rather than having a broad focus pulled across the whole city, councillors can more narrowly focus on issues in their ward. For example, if the residents at Heritage Place don’t want to lose their parking, then they know that they likely have at least one advocate on council in the form of their ward’s representative.

Additionally, for a council with members who often invoke protecting the public purse during budget season, switching to a ward system would save the City money.

Cornwall is not a ten-ward city, more like eight or six. If Cornwall institutes a ward system with eight wards, this would roughly equal out to 6,000 constituents per-ward, depending on how you draw the ward boundaries.

All of this is not to say that there are not drawbacks to a ward system. The most notable drawback that I can think of would be situations where councillors favour their ward over the greater good of the whole city. In those situations however, I believe that if the councillor in question does not have the moral fortitude to do what is right, that they will have a decision forced on them by the rest of council.

Big cities like Ottawa and Toronto have wards, but so do smaller cities like Belleville and Peterborough. I believe it is time that Cornwall have a more responsive, representative and cheaper council.

What do you think readers? Are you in favour of a ward system? Email your opinion as a Letter to the Editor at nicholas.seebruch@tc.tc

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