Manitoulin Planning Board in favour of per capita vote

Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to review proposal

MANITOULIN—The Manitoulin Planning Board (MPB) is considering a change to a per capita voting system, proposed by the Northeast Town, and has forwarded the proposal to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s (MMAH) legal department for review prior to making a motion in favour of the change.

As The Expositor reported last week, Northeast Town Mayor Al MacNevin met with the executive board members of the MPB to propose a change to a requested per capita voting model in order to ensure the municipality is properly represented on the board.

Currently, the MPB is comprised of 11 representatives, one from each of Manitoulin’s municipalities, and during board voting procedures, each representative on the board carries one vote. If the change was to occur, the number of representatives would remain the same, but any board member could request a per capita vote, with the individual votes weighted by the population of the municipal representatives.

“We are proposing a new model that reflects the realities of both our population and our financial contribution to the planning board,” outlines the Northeast Town’s report to the MPB. “All votes would be conducted in the normal manner (for example one vote per member) unless any member requests a per capita vote. Having a preprinted sheet with the population beside the community name would allow for a quick tally to determine the results when requested. The procedure would be similar to the recorded vote methodology that municipalities currently use.”

The executive, in support of the concept, then took the proposal to the full board last Tuesday, receiving a great deal of support for the change.

“I think it would be a great first step,” said Ken Noland, chair of the planning board, during the MPB meeting. “Instead of throwing mud in the papers, it would be good to be able to sit down and talk things out at the board table.”

“It is a constructive idea,” added Billings Mayor Austin Hunt.

Mr. Noland explained, “The Northeast Town feels that they pay one-third of the share of the costs of the planning board and should have one-third representation.”

The board was told that the proposed reconfigured voting structure would come into play when the board is looking at policy and most zoning applications. “I see no problem with the proposal,” said Tehkummah Reeve Gary Brown.

“The Northeast Town proposal has gone to the legal office of the MMAH,” continued Mr. Brown. “In the meantime, we can all take this back to our municipalities to see what they are thinking on this proposal.”

Mr. Brown said that before the planning board gives its formal agreement to the proposal, it might like to see the response from the MMAH first.

“Everyone can take the proposal to their own councils while we wait for the response (from the ministry),” clarified Mr. Noland.

At a special meeting of council last week, the Northeast Town discussed the MPB response to the proposal, reiterating the reason behind it—the Northeast Town’s agreement to work with the planning board, with assistance from the MMAH, in reaching a compromise to stay with the MPB, while also addressing the Northeast Town’s desire for better representation.

“I have already spoken with the MMAH and they haven’t expressed any concern with the proposed new model,” Northeast Town CAO Dave Williamson explained to council, adding that the MMAH was confirming whether or not the minister’s approval was needed for the change.

“I was surprised, but really happy with the board’s support of the proposal,” said Mayor Al MacNevin. “Now all the representatives are just taking the concept back to their councils and then the board will decide from there.”