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Electoral Review

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In 2016, the Town of East Gwillimbury retained a consultant team to conduct an independent review of the Town’s electoral system. 

The Review was both timely and necessary for the Town as the present electoral system has been in place since 1971, and has not yet undergone a formal, independent review.

The consultants conducted a full review of East Gwillimbury’s current electoral system and the types of changes that could be made to it. Based on their recommendations staff have presented the following options for consideration by the public and Council:

  • Status quo - Keep the current system which has 4 Councillors elected to represent the Town as a whole
  • Introduce a ward system - wards are are identifiable geographic boundaries within the Town and are represented by a single elected member of Council from that area. The proposed ward boundaries map is on page 13 of the Consultants Preliminary Report.
  • Add 2 new Councillors - This option would keep the current at-large system but add 2 new Councillors for a total of 6 Councillors and 1 Mayor
  • Deputy Mayor - This option is in addition to the above mentioned options. It would include electing a Deputy Mayor at Large


What is a Ward System? 
A Ward System divides East Gwillimbury into a number of districts or “Wards” – each having approximately the same population, and represented in Council by one Councillor elected by the residents of that Ward.
The Ward boundaries, would take into consideration existing communities, natural features, and current and future populations. Each proposed Ward will have roughly the same amount of people in it and the Wards will maintain a similar ratio as the population grows over the next several years. 
If EG moves to a Ward System the number of Councillors and Ward Boundaries would have to be established by Council.

How does the current At-Large System work?
An At-Large System means that all Council seats are filled by Councillors who are voted in by voters throughout the town.  In the current system, every Council member is responsible to represent the needs and wishes of all residents in the Town, not just the people living in one area. We currently have a Mayor and four Councillors, all elected At-Large. 

Should 2 more Councillors be added to the current At-Large System? 
In order to keep pace with East Gwillimbury’s growth, it has been proposed that adding two additional Councillors to the current At-Large System would bring more perspective to Town issues and allow Council to better represent the Town. These Councillors would remain elected At-Large and would be responsible to represent the needs and wishes of the entire Town. 

What is the role of a Deputy Mayor? 
The Deputy Mayor is a title given to a member of Council who acts as Mayor when the current Mayor cannot. East Gwillimbury may choose to elect a Deputy Mayor whether the electoral system changes to a Ward system or remains an At-Large system.
Currently in East Gwillimbury, if the Mayor is unable to attend a Council meeting, the Deputy Mayor, also known as the “Acting-Chair”, chairs the meeting. This role is currently rotated every quarter amongst the current Councillors. If a Deputy Mayor were elected then that Councillor would hold this role for the four-year term. 
There is a possibility that in the future, York Regional Council might allow a second regional representative from East Gwillimbury. If and when this happens, the Deputy Mayor role would become the new Regional Councillor. 



Next Steps:

Council received the Electoral Review report at Committee of the Whole on June 6, 2017. In addition, the following resolution was forwarded to Council for consideration on the June 20, 2017 Council meeting:

Whereas the Town of East Gwillimbury has undertaken an extensive electoral review process, with numerous opportunities for public engagement and feedback, and

Whereas the Town’s consultants’ report recommended a ward-based electoral system with seven members of Council; and

Whereas the current five-member Council is the smallest permitted under The Municipal Act, and smaller than neighbouring York Region municipalities, even when adjusted for historic population levels; and

Whereas the Town currently has a single representative at Regional Council, but wishes a greater level of representation; and

Whereas public input was generally supportive of moving to a ward-based system, but feedback also noted support for the at-large system; and

Whereas the Town is entering a period of significant growth and change in population, applying pressure on all areas of the organization, including members of Council;

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED THAT the Council of the Town of East Gwillimbury wishes to adopt, in principle, a hybrid electoral system, which would elect one Mayor, four Ward Councillors and two at-large Councillors, creating a transition period for growth, and positioning the municipality to respond to any future changes at the Regional level; and

THAT Council direct staff to prepare a report with options for implementation in the 2018 election, to be presented at a future Committee of the Whole Meeting.

Staff are putting together a report to present to Council outlining the potential ward boundaries, costing, and other important details related to the above recommendation. Once the report is prepared the Town will provide notification via this page, social media and the Town Page in the East Gwillimbury Express.