Northeast Town, Planning Board discuss per capita voting option

MANITOULIN—Representatives from the Northeast Town met with Manitoulin Planning Board (MPB) executives on Monday to discuss the Northeast Town’s desire for better representation on the board, with the outcome being a possible change to a per capita voting system on the board.

“We (Northeast Town CAO Dave Williamson and planning board representative Bruce Woods) met with the executive board of the MPB today and presented a proposal to change voting on the board to per capita when requested by a board member,” Northeast Town Mayor Al MacNevin told The Expositor on Monday. “Our (Northeast Town) council wants better representation on the planning board and originally had discussed approaching the planning board about a change to the representation distribution on the board, but we felt this could be problematic with some of the smaller municipalities.”

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Currently, the MPB is comprised of 11 representatives, one from each of Manitoulin’s municipalities.

The Northeast Town has been in discussions with Ministry of Municipal Housing and Affairs (MMHA) representatives and even Minister Linda Jeffrey herself (who just announced her resignation last weekend) about wanting to leave the MPB and establish its own planning authority due to various issues between the municipality and the planning board.

Last month, the Northeast Town agreed to work with the planning board, with assistance from the MMAH, in reaching a compromise to stay with the board, while also addressing the Northeast Town’s desire for better representation.

A suggestion by the MMAH was a restructuring of the planning board based on population which would see the Northeast Town have more representation on the board.

“If the board was to be restructured based on population, the Northeast Town would have three representatives, as would Central Manitoulin, but some of the smaller municipalities would have to share a seat,” explained Mayor MacNevin. “This might leave some municipalities feeling like they don’t have a say at all, so we proposed a change to a per capita vote. If this change was implemented, any board member could request a per capital vote on any issue, letting our vote, or other large municipalities, have more weight in the issues that affect us.”

“The executive board seemed really supportive of this idea,” continued Mayor MacNevin, “and will be bringing our proposal to the board at its next MPB meeting tomorrow night (Tuesday, March 25). The meeting went a lot better then I anticipated and I was happy with how positive it was.”

Mayor MacNevin explained that if the MPB supports the proposal at its Tuesday night meeting, then the board and council can propose the change together to the MMAH.

robin@manitoulin.ca