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Councillors' ForumFormer Mississippi Mills Councillor Ed Wilson provides his views on the size of council issue

Former Mississippi Mills Councillor Ed Wilson provides his views on the size of council issue

Mayor John Levi & Councillors of the Town of Mississippi Mills

In my opinion the size of council should remain as it presently exists (status quo) for the following reasons.

  1.  The onus is always on the person proposing a change to prove that the change/result with be an improvement on what presently exists. If the change/result has not been clearly demonstrated to be an improvement then it is better to stay with what presently exists.  This applies to any motion considered by council or committee.  In my opinion, it has ‘not’ been clearly shown that decreasing the size of council will make things better, and, in my opinion, will make things worse – as I will point out in the following.
  2.  There has been no asking/demanding from the public that the size of Council should be reduced.  The very low attendance at the public meetings shows that the residents did not turn out to support the proposal of reducing the size of Council.
  3.  Representation would be lost with fewer councillors.  The present ward system has worked well.  The relative number of residents in the respective wards has not changed enough to warrant any changes in the number of councillors from each ward.
  4.  Councillors presently represent the council on a number of committees – Library Board, Highland Games committee, North Lanark Historical Society – to mention only a few.  It is very important to have councillors on these committees so that councillors can keep in contact and be aware of what is happening in the community.  With fewer councillors there would be a move to reduce the number of committees/community groups that would have a council representative.  In my opinion, that would  be a great loss.
  5.  Residents want to see councillors being a part of the community and that involves attending community events.  In my opinion, it is a part of the job of being a councillor to attend as many events as possible.  With fewer councillors there would be less attendance at events and less visibility in the community.
  6.  The Mayor is automatically on County Council and the second person to represent Mississippi Mills on the County Council is selected by the elected councillors and the mayor of Mississippi Mills.   By being elected by the Council it puts an obligation on the elected person to keep Council fully informed of County affairs, to request input from the Council regarding County affairs and to be accountable to the Council of  the Town of Mississippi Mills.  This practice should not change.
  7.  Many of us have taken part in a workshop exercise where each individual fills out answers to a problem and then groups are formed and the same exercise is completed by the group.  The group consensus decision is invariably better than any of the individual decisions.   There are always things contributed by a member of the group that other individuals did not think of.  To reduce the size of council means there would be fewer contributors to the discussion and poor decisions may be made.
  8.  Some seem to think that by reducing the number of Council members there would be fewer meetings, and also shorter meetings.  If something is important then it is worth taking the time to thoroughly discuss it.  There are ways of making meetings more productive.  One way would be to revert back to a sub-committee system – as is used by most municipalities.   With the Committee of the Whole system, the councillors are jack-of-all trades and master of none.  With sub-committees councillors would sit on fewer committees and would become more knowledgeable in that area.  Any councillor who was not on a particular sub-committee could still attend any time he/she wishes.  The chair of the sub-committee should meet regularly with the senior staff member who reports to that committee and he/she will become much more knowledgeable of that particular aspect of the operation.
  9.  Some suggest that a smaller council would reduce cost.  I reject this completely.  A smaller number of councillors will result in higher compensation per councillor.  There will be no saving!   Democracy does cost –   Churchill’s famous dictum said – “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”
  10.  Councillors are representatives of the residents of the community.  With fewer councillors residents would have fewer people to bring concerns to, to make their opinions known to and to just talk to.

In my opinion there should be no changes made.

Respectfully submitted,

Edward Wilson

Former Councillor

Town of Almonte & the Town of Mississippi Mills




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