Thursday, October 8, 2009

Position of Local Councillor should be wiped out!

The following story has been reprinted from Oshawa This Week

Oct 08, 2009 - 04:30 AM

By David Conway
Former Oshawa Regional Councillor

As an Oshawa taxpayer and presumably a municipal voter, you may recall the referendum in the 2006 municipal election regarding the choice to continue with the ward system or change to the general vote system in electing our councillors. It was worded in such a way that if you wanted to retain the ward system you had to vote "no" to the question.

It was clever on the part of councillors who wanted the general vote system and it worked, mainly because most voters do not like to take a negative approach to the polls and therefore are inclined to vote "yes" even though they may not realize it may be detrimental to their best interests.

Now voters will be going to the polls in 2010 to elect seven regional councillors and three local councillors on a city-wide "general" vote.

This brings me to my topic question -- if local councillors were elected to serve two wards each in addition to the individual wards served by regional councillors, and those wards are no longer significant, then why do we still need local councillors?

With a city-wide vote in place all seven regional councillors will be elected to serve the entire city. What, then, is the purpose in electing three additional councillors to do the same thing?

I remember when Bill Longworth worked so hard to bring the ward system to Oshawa that there was considerable opposition but eventually it was approved. With Regional council in existence at the time it was apparent that a regional councillor's work would have to be considered a full-time position.

This precluded anyone with a full-time job in their own careers from offering their services as councillors. For this reason, and I am sure I am correct in this, five positions were made available for "local councillors" who did not sit on regional council and could therefore serve on a "part-time" basis as most meetings were held in the evening hours.

That has now changed to the extent that local councillors are now basically "full-time" councillors and some meetings are now being held during daytime working hours. The intent to have local councillors serving on a "part-time" basis has been abandoned. The significant increase in pay to local councillors substantiates that statement as well as their claim that it was twice as much work to look after two wards so the pay increase was merited.

It would seem to me that there is now no basis for electing seven regional councillors and three local councillors in a "general" vote system when all that is needed is seven regional councillors who collectively will be looking after the needs of all citizens of Oshawa.

This result would not only mean a more streamlined and efficient City council but would save the taxpayers approximately $200,000 per year.

Since it is less than three months before potential candidates begin registering for the 2010 election, it is rather important that City council give some consideration to this issue at an early date.
David Conway is a former Oshawa councillor.

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