The plebiscite on the ward system if it passes substantively would mean the (possible) establishment of a ward system in four years where the estimated population of Red Deer will hover around 120,000 people.
There are a number of cities having similar plebiscites, though most of them are now using the at-large model, there is one city on the ward system having a plebiscite.
That in itself speaks volumes.
The vast majority of cities unhappy with and contemplating altering their method of representation are using the at-large model. There are two outcomes that will be inevitable in municipal politics, the party system where we run slates (Vancouver) or we have wards, (Calgary, Edmonton). We have a version of a slate being offered in this election, is this the start of the party system that dominates the provincial and federal elections?
The Municipal Government Act currently does not allow the party system, but as in all things politics that can change. So let us prepare for the inevitable and prepare for the ward system.
We currently elect eight councillors so for the sake of convenience let us start with four wards. Two councillors per ward and each ward would have 25% of the population give or take 10%. We would give the ward that is mature and experiencing little or no growth 27.5% of the population. The ward experiencing explosive growth would have 22.5% of the population. As the City grows, the high-growth wards would hit 27.5% in 10 years and the mature wards would hit 22.5% in 10 years and as the provincial and federal governments the boundaries are redrawn. This would happen in 14 years.
Some would argue that we are not ready for the ward system, but admit that it is inevitable, so why not prepare now, be proactive and not reactive. The cost would be minimal. The ever expanding lists of candidates (30 now) could be broken down into comfortable numbers of seven to eight candidates per ward. If you did not agree with your councillors you could approach the mayor. Your representatives could not escape being held accountable for things affecting your life in your home.
On Oct. 21, I will be voting ‘yes’ for the ward system.