Essa council rejects bid to drop deputy mayor or add seat for
A request from an Angus ratepayers group that seeks to eliminate the
deputy mayor's position and replace it with a second Ward councillor in
Angus, was dismissed last night by Essa councillors as both politically
motivated, and a "waste of taxpayers' money."
In a letter to council from the Angus Ratepayers Association, whose
membership it was noted, is fewer than 20 people and includes former
mayor David Guergis, the group asked for changes to the five council
composition in time "for the next
Municipal Election to ensure proper and fair representation."
The letter was included on the consent agenda to receive as
information, and was not pulled for debate.
A discussion ensued later during the meeting portion where council
takes questions including from media in attendance. This writer asked
whether it was an approrpirate time to investigate whether Angus, with
about 8,700 residents - approximately half the township's population -
should have a second councillor. Any changes to take place for the 2014
municipal elections would have to be complete and approved by Dec. 31,
"At this time not," said mayor Terry Dowdall. "But if we do I think
we'd probably keep the deputy
mayor's position, and perhaps adjust the wards. But at this time, we
representation. Two ... live there, have businesses in the
town, there's ample opportunity to deal with them. I have had
absolutely nobody come to me saying they can't get a hold of a
The last time Ward adjustments were made in Essa was in 1994. At the
time, municipal restructuring was taking place across Simcoe County.
Essa has three wards to cover Angus, Baxter, and Thornton areas. The
mayor and deputy mayor make it five.
Deputy mayor Sandie Macdonald, who owns and operates a health food
store and lives in Angus, also opposed any changes.
"Every ward really has
three representations because the mayor, myself and whatever ward
councillor, almost go to every single thing possible," said Ms.
MacDonald. "So I don't think
anyone is lacking in that sense of the thing and I think being as a
team we work well together."
Mayor Dowdall agreed, adding that "each ward, a lot of the times,
depending on the size, it's the same
issues it's the same amount of people that would have those same type
"What I would think would come at some point in time would
be more of a redistribution of the wards and where they would be," said
the mayor. "I
wouldn't increase the head count, I don't think that's the way to go.
You can do an adjustment if it becomes a numbers game."
Mr. Dowdall also cited financial implications of adding another
councillor at the table.
"Really for the ratepayers, it doesn't do them
a whole lot of good, $40,000 for us is a one per cent tax increase,
not the best use of our money," he said. "There's a lot better things
we can do."
Ward 1 councillor Keith White, who operates Angus Borden Music and
Entertainment, elected for the first time in 2010, said he agreed "as a
settlement area, Angus has
certainly different needs" but, "as the mayor
has mentioned, we're all accessible."
"I believe this council as a team,
five of us work together very well. We keep in mind everyone's ward, so
it's not one fighting for something more than the rest, it's all in
everyone's best interest," said Mr. White, suggesting as well that
there was more at work in the group's request than a desire to do
what's best for Angus.
"I think there's some underlying, to be honest, underlying motives
relative to establishing another councillor position," he said. "To be
membership of the Angus Ratepayers' Association is under 20 people, so
I don't really think that
that is really representative of the 8,700 that are in the ward. So
certainly any information from any organization is of use and of
interest, but I think it's a matter of that representation not really
being a cross section."
While winding down the discussion, mayor Dowdall said the debate was
pointless because "I don't think you get any different answers at the
taxpayers, it's a waste of money. That's why we don't have debt in our
municipality and that's why other ones do, and they have quite a few,"
he said. "Council should recognize when is the time, and right now it's
not the time. Maybe next term who ever is here can look at it."
"The bottom line is," said Ms. Macdonald, "if you don't have working
councillors you do have a
problem. When you do have working councillors and your mayor and
deputy mayor work with all members of council, that's the answer."