A History of Election Reform in the Town of South Bruce Peninsula

In 1999 council had two public meetings regarding the Ward vs At Large election issue. Comments from Carl Noble and Mark Wunderlich indicated their support for a Ward election with revised Wards. The majority of public comments supported maintaining the current Ward sytem. In spite of public opinion, councillors Kevin Belbeck and Dick Waugh introduced a motion to elect 6 councillors and a Mayor 'At Large'. The motion was DEFEATED with Mayor Given and councillors Belbeck and Waugh being the only ones in favour of the motion. Ward boundaries were adjusted to more equitably reflect elector distribution.

In 2000 councillors Ernie Koshan and Yvonne Harron introduced a motion to have a referendum be placed on the ballot of the year 2000 election. This motion was DEFEATED with councillors Kevin Belbeck, Stan Hoath, Bob Thomas, Dick Waugh, and Mayor Al Given voting against the motion and denying electors the final say in any significant change in their democratic system.

In the fall of 2001 the issue of Ward vs At Large elections was again raised. A questionnaire was sent out with the 2002 property tax bills and 2/3 of the respondents favoured keeping the Ward system. A public meeting was held in May at which Vince Artuso, Richard Husak, and Bob Thomas spoke in favour of At Large elections. Again, 2/3 of attendees at the meeting were in favour of keeping the Ward system. The issue became a referendum item for the 2003 municipal election.

In early 2003 there was much discussion and a public meeting to determine the exact text of the referendum question. The election referendum question results indicated 54% of voters favoured keeping the current Ward system. Less than 50% of eligible voters actually voted, so the referendum was not binding.

In 2004, councillor Jay Kirkland raised the Ward vs At Large election issue again. In October, councillors Jay Kirkland and Mark Wunderlich introduce a motion to have elections At Large. The motion was DEFEATED with Jay Kirkland, Mark Wunderlich, and Mayor Carl Noble voting in favour of the motion. Council acknowledged the results of the referendum and will not be proceeding further to change from the current ward system to an "at large" system of representation.

Nothing much happened during 2005 and 2006. Gwen Gilbert was elected Mayor in 2006 and in November 2007 council appointed a Governance Review Committee to make recommendations to council on council composition and ward vs at large elections.

In 2008 the Governance Review Committee worked on and submitted their report to Council in September. Council reviewed the report and requested some revisions.

In 2009 the Governance Review Committee presented the final revised version their report to council with recommendations on how to proceed. Council accepted the Revised Report of the Governance Review Committee including the proposed timelines for completion of the requirement of the Municipal Act and refers the report to the Committee of the Whole. In June council decided to "Note and File" the Governance Review Committee Report. Councillors Dan Kerr and Mark Wunderlich introduce a motion to reconfigure the size of council and have elections at large. The motion is DEFEATED with councillors Stan Hoath, Dan Kerr and Mark Wunderlich voting in favour.

In 2011 councillor Jay Kirkland again raised the issue of elections at large. He would like to see the issue come forward now so that this issue would not be rushed coming up to the election.

In 2012, a public meeting was held in Wiarton to consider scrapping the current system of electing a mayor at large and two councillors from each of the four wards in the municipality for the 2014 election. Comment forms were received from 89 respondents (about 1% of the total electorate) with 21% favouring the current Ward system. A careful review of the comment forms reveals that most of those in favour of election reform are business owners who are also proponents for Sewers at Sauble. There were also several responses that offer options that were not available on the comment form.

The last referendum was close, but the majority vote was, as it has been in the past, to maintain the current system. If this council thinks the mood of the public has changed then they should have another referendum and let the people decide. Comment forms with minimal public participation are useless in determining how the majority of residents want their council composed.

One of the arguments for a smaller council is to 'save money'. At the September 4, 2012 council meeting, some councillors found the notion laughable and liked the idea of any savings being reallocated to a smaller council.

Councillors who decide to arbitrarily force an 'at large' system on a public that has consistantly rejected such a system may be committing Political Suicide.

Due to incompleteness, inaccuracies, one-sided opinions, and timing regarding our seasonal tax-payers, this Council, in order to represent equally and democratically EVERY CONSTITUENT of the Town of South Bruce Peninsula, should pass a motion that the Council will put a questionnaire regarding Ward versus At Large Elections and the number of Councillors on the ballot for the Municipal Election in 2014.


February 9, 1999 Dick Waugh speaks about need to adjust Ward boundaries
March 23, 1999 Discussion re: Clerks memo regarding Ward boundaries
June 8, 1999 Recommendation for public meeting regarding Ward vs At Large in the next municipal election.
June 22, 1999 Committee sets July 8th for Hepworth public meeting
July 13, 1999 Committee reviews Ward/At Large discussion paper
July 27, 1999 Ward/At Large - notes from July 8th and further discussion
July 27, 1999 Comments received from Mr. Szakall
August 10, 1999 Jim Barfoot Re: Ward vs At Large Election
August 10, 1999 Clerk reviews map showing poll information
August 10, 1999 Ward vs. At Large letters received
August 31, 1999 Comments received from Mr. and Mrs. Steacy
September 28, 1999 Committee sets October 7th for Wiarton public meeting
October 7, 1999 Public Meeting Notes re Ward vs At Large Elections
October 26, 1999 By-law recommended to resolve Ward vs At Large Elections
November 9, 1999 At Large motion defeated; Revised Ward Boundaries
November 23, 1999 Ward Boundry Bylaw

January 11, 2000 Motion to put referendum on ballot of 2000 election defeated

2001 2001 Municipal Act
September 24, 2001 Council Size Ward Boundary
October 29, 2001 Draft Survey Changing Ward System to Election At Large

February 15, 2002 Make Your Opinion Count
March 6, 2002 Sauble Chamber Favours Election Reform
March 15, 2002 Make Your Opinion Count Comments
May 25, 2002 Ward vs At Large Meeting Notes
May 29, 2002 Election Format Discussed
October 15, 2002 Survey Results and Ballot Resolution

January 27, 2003 Advertise for Council Remuneration Committee Members
March 17, 2003 Draft Advertisement for Council Remuneration Committee
April 14, 2003 Ballot Question
April 14, 2003 Question on the Ballot
April 22, 2003 Applicants for Council Remuneration Committee
April 22, 2003 Municipal Election Ballot Question
April 28, 2003 Public Meeting re Ballot Question
April 28, 2003 Resolution re Ballot Question
May 5, 2003 CAO memo re: Council Remuneration Committee
July 7, 2003 Council Remuneration Committee Info
July 21, 2003 Treasurer Submits Report on Council Remuneration
August 25, 2003 Council Remuneration Committee Final Report Presented
August 25, 2003 Motion to Receive Council Remuneration Committee Final Report
August 25, 2003 Council Remuneration Committee Final Report
September 8, 2003 Direction re: Remuneration Committee Report
September 15, 2003 Council Vote on Remuneration Committee Recommendations
September 29, 2003 Council requests By-Law re: Council Remuneration
October 8, 2003 Municipal Election 2003
October 6, 2003 Council Remuneration By-Law on Next Meeting Agenda
October 20, 2003 Status Review of Council Remuneration Recommendations
October 27, 2003 Passage of Council Remuneration ByLaw
November 12, 2003 Election Results
November 19, 2003 Voters Want to Keep Ward System

January 10, 2004 Clerk Johnston's Report
October 12, 2004 Council Minutes Election At Large

December 12, 2005 Ward Distribution, Number of Councillors, Council Make Up

August 18, 2006 Colour Ward Map
November 13, 2006 Election Results

November 12, 2007 Appoint Council Election Reform Committee

January 28, 2008 Governance Review Committee Terms of Reference
July 7, 2008 Governance Review Committee
July 14, 2008 Governance Review Committee
August 25, 2008 Dick Waugh on Voting System
September 22, 2008 Governance Review Committee Update Report
September 29, 2008 Governance Review Committee Report Review
November 24, 2008 Governance Review Committee

March 17, 2009 Governance Review Committee Update Report
March 24, 2009 Council Accepts Revised Report
March 24, 2009 GRC Recommendation Referred to COW
April 14, 2009 GRC Recommendation Referred to Next COW
April 28, 2009 GRC Recommendation Referred to Next COW
May 12, 2009 GRC Recommendation Referred to Next COW
June 23, 2009 Note and File Governance Review Committee report
June 23, 2009 Notice of Motion to Reconfigure Council
June 25, 2009 Governance Review Committee Thank You Letter

June 14, 2011 Council Composition Issue raised by Councillor Kirkland
July 19, 2011 Clerk's Governance Review Report

July 19, 2012 Public Meeting re Council Size
August 1, 2012 Mayor wants to see smaller council
August 28, 2012 Clerk's Report on Council Composition
Ward One Comment Forms
Ward Two Comment Forms
Ward Three Comment Forms
Ward Four Comment Forms