Ward system for City?

The issue of bringing in a ward system to Red Deer will again be discussed in the near future by City council. And there is no doubt that this debate will spill over onto the campaign trail this year as one of the hot topics.

A ward system would divide it up for electoral purposes. Councillors would represent a certain section of the City.

The idea of establishing a ward system in Red Deer has been talked about for many years, but as three City councillors are set to put forward a Notice of Motion on the matter, it looks like council will finally be forced to deal with the issue.

There are plenty of opinions on the concept of a ward system, many pointing out that Red Deer is just too small.

Others feel it’s high time this was implemented in our City to bolster representation because a neighbourhood would have one councillor representing their particular regional concerns.

On the other hand, City councillors’ minds could grow a bit narrow as they might tend to focus squarely on their one particular district and lose their overall vision for the community as a whole. However, there are also those who think just the opposite, saying it’s also been thought that those who favour ward systems suggest that wards ensure a greater balance of representation for all geographical areas of the City.

On council, opinions vary as well. Some say that without a ward system, council is thought to be more accountable to the entire electorate. Citizens can vote for all council positions and can pose questions of any councillor regardless of their geographical location.

Some Red Deerians may also feel more comfortable approaching a certain councillor over another as well.

Disadvantages include creating a council which may under-represent minorities or perhaps needs of different parts of the City. Examples include a ‘north versus south’ mentality or new developments versus established neighbourhoods etc.

It has also been suggested that an at-large system favours the election of candidates with greater financial resources.

But those who speak against it claim that a ward system cause councillors to be more concerned about their own ward where they must seek re-election especially during a municipal campaign. During an election, another drawback is that one might find two candidates from one ward competing against could both be better than a candidate in another ward.

Now that it will be formally be brought to the table, it will be interesting to hear the discussions surrounding the issue but to see what the outcome will be as well.