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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.

Current Status

July 18, 2017 Update

On July 18, 2017 staff made a presentation to Council and the following resolution was passed:

WHEREAS Council has indicated an intention to undertake changes to its electoral system by adding two members of Council and introducing a form of a ward system;

BE IT RESOLVED THAT staff prepare a report to be presented at the August 15th meeting confirming three options, as follows:

a. the June 6th four Ward/Hybrid model using Version E ward structure as presented by staff on July 18th;

b. the December 20, 2016 three ward model using Ward Model 1b with two councillors elected in each ward for 2018 as presented by Dr. Cobban and Dr. Sancton; and

c. two additional Councillors elected at-large for 2018 election, proceeding with five wards in 2022 as presented by Dr. Cobban and Dr. Sancton; and

THAT staff prepare a plan to undertake the public outreach in early September 2017; and

THAT staff report back on their findings following the outreach at the Council meeting to held on September 19, 2017; and

THAT this recommendation be ratified at the Council meeting to be held on July 18, 2017.

Please note a separate resolution was also approved by Council on July 18th as follows:

BE IT RESOLVED THAT staff prepare a report outlining the procedure required for placing a question or questions on the 2018 ballot, some proposed wording for questions that might be posed to the electorate (including but not limited to the matter of electoral reform), and the cost implications thereof.

June 20 Update

Council received a Electoral Review report at Committee of the Whole on June 6, 2017. The resolutions with then ratified at Council on June 20, 2017:

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.


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.