Modified Ward System

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ScottRoss
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Modified Ward System

Post by ScottRoss »

I support a modified ward system and will work to have it approved by the citizens of Kelowna on the 2014 ballot.

With the size of our city, the diversity of our regions, and the obligations for civic engagement, we need a more representative, a more accountable, and a more active municipal government, one elected through a modified ward system.

Currently our Mayor and city council are elected at large, this means that every person in Kelowna votes for all nine officials and in turn those elected must each represent 120,000 people. A modified ward system would change that. It would require four councillors to be accountable to four smaller separate regions or wards in our city. These wards would allow for greater accountability during elections, better representation of our regions at city hall, and a more engaging council. To offer continued balance of city interests as a whole the other four councillors and Mayor would continue to be elected at-large. A similar modified ward system exists in Lake Country.

Though a modified ward system could be adopted by bylaw and with the provincial government’s consent, I will work as a councillor to have the decision put to a vote on the 2014 ballot and actively inform the people of Kelowna about the importance of electoral reform.

Benefits of a modified ward system:
-Increased accountability
-Votes carry more weight in ward elections
-Ward elections have more appropriate ballot lengths, better debates, and allow for greater knowledge of the candidates
-Less influence from political parties or slates
-Independents and the less wealthy have more opportunity to competitively run in wards
-Every area of the city will receive equal representation
-Ward councillors will be better informed about the area they represent and more likely to be proactive in dealing with problems in their region

The size of our city, the differences between our regions, and a democratic deficit pose many problems for our present at-large system. Mayor and city council are obligated to intimately know the issues from Southwest Mission to McKinley and they are supposed to meet with 120,000 citizens over an area of 212 square kilometres. And though our municipal government is supposed to do all these things, the reality is, it is too large of a responsibility for every elected official.

City Council is often considered as part-time employment, yet under our current at-large system, individual councillors are obligated to represent nearly the same amount of people as our full-time MP and even more citizens than the full-time MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country.

Presently there is no councillor from Rutland and, through no fault of their own, council has indirectly ignored the region containing 25% of our city’s population. Councillors Graeme James and Kevin Craig have stated in regards to public art Rutland has been neglected. Rutland business people and community leaders have repeatedly spoken out at the disproportionately low allocation of community grants for the area. Of all the regions Rutland has the highest population and in turn should be given comparable attention from the city, a modified ward system would ensure it and other regions receive adequate representation on council.

Kelowna is one of the fastest growing cities in Canada, by 2030 we are estimated to have over 160,000 people. Today and for tomorrow our city needs to act to ensure we have an accountable, representative, and engaged municipal government for our regions and for our citizens. I support a modified ward system and will work to have it approved by the citizens of Kelowna on the 2014 ballot.
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grammafreddy
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Re: Modified Ward System

Post by grammafreddy »

Can you please tell me what is the difference between a ward system and a modified ward system?

Thanks.

Do you live in Rutland?
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grammafreddy
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Re: Modified Ward System

Post by grammafreddy »

This thread may be of interest to you, Mr Ross ... viewtopic.php?f=23&t=29178
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Dayleen
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Re: Modified Ward System

Post by Dayleen »

As a business owner in the Rutland area and a prospective city councillor...more clarification as to your ward system is appreciated....and yes, do you live here?
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Re: Modified Ward System

Post by Ub2 »

Scott . . . I'm also interested how long you've lived full-time in Kelowna.
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ScottRoss
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Re: Modified Ward System

Post by ScottRoss »

GrammaFreddy, a ward system would be where all councillors are elected by their own respective regions or wards. In Kelowna's case this would mean separating the city into 8 equal areas and each area would elect one councillor to represent it.

A modified ward system is slightly different, the city is separated into four larger regions and four councillors are elected from each of those regions. The remaining four councillors remain elected at-large. This modified system gives benefits similar to a full ward system but includes balance that is institutionally provided from the wider perspective of at-large councillors.

Lake Country has a modified ward system, in that not all councillors are elected at-large and not all of them are elected by wards.

As for that thread you linked to, I have read the first page and I see I touched on points that existed long before I wrote the above post. Tomorrow I will finish reading the rest of the thread, thank you for the reference, I thoroughly enjoy thorough discussion.

I do indeed live in Rutland and am proud of it.

Dayleen, I hope I answered your questions in response to GrammaFreddy. Please let me know if I left anything unclear.

Unbiased, other than some months in 2008 of which I lived in Lake Country, I have lived in Kelowna since I was 12. Before that I lived in Surrey, my birthplace.
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ScottRoss
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Re: Modified Ward System

Post by ScottRoss »

On AM 1150 yesterday I called in and asked Mayor Sharon Sheperd why hasn't anything been done to implement a modified ward system, as she advocated for it in 2008. The Mayor's answer was that council was not supportive. Ron Seymour from the Daily Courier added that not one councillor is in favour of any kind of ward system.

A modified ward system would mean incumbents are more likely to be unseated, regions previously ignored would have voices and councillors would be more accountable. Though those may be the reasons for our current council not to support such a reform, those are my exact reasons in support of it.

I believe strongly in a modified ward system.
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Re: Modified Ward System

Post by Ub2 »

I too agree with a modified-ward or ward system. Maybe you'll have to look to other cities who have it and find out what mechanism they used to institute it.
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ScottRoss
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Re: Modified Ward System

Post by ScottRoss »

Unbiased, there's only one municipality in BC that has a modified ward system and that's our neighbour Lake Country. It works well for them, they've voted to retain it and the friends and family I have there like it. Though in BC a ward system is rare, across Canada it is quite common. In the US a ward system is very popular, common in cities with 80,000 and up.

To adopt a modified ward system there would have to be support on council to pass a resolution to hold a referendum on it. Mayor Sheperd said she'd support holding such a referendum during the 2014 municipal election, but again this requires support from councillors.

As a candidate for council I believe Kelowna needs leaders to act toward a more representational form of city government. From doorknocking I know a majority of people want a modified ward system or a full fledged ward system, I will act to ensure they get it; be it by discussion, by compromising with councillors on other issues or by public appeals such as petitions or town halls.
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Re: Modified Ward System

Post by Graphite »

I am very excited about a ward system, I hope to see it become a reality
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ScottRoss
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Re: Modified Ward System

Post by ScottRoss »

It was an idea I heard first from Mayor Shepherd and since have done lengthy research on it. I have been advocating for such a system for some time and because so many other candidates are being open to the idea, I think there's a good chance, if there is change, that the method of representation will be implemented.

On AM1150 the Mayor explained that no one on the current council wants a ward system, modified or not.
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Re: Modified Ward System

Post by Gramps60 »

I think if you check she was referring to other councillors
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ScottRoss
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Re: Modified Ward System

Post by ScottRoss »

I apologize for the miscommunication, Mayor Shepherd is for a modified ward system, as I noted it was an idea I first heard from her. All current councillors oppose any form of a ward system.
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Re: Modified Ward System

Post by EdCase »

I'm still not sure that Kelowna on its own is large enough for a ward system. What I would like to see is one much larger municipality from Lake Country to Peachland. This would be far more cost effective and a ward system would ensure that individual localities needs are represented. Having all these small municipalities makes as much sense as having the north shore of Vancouver split into West Vancouver, District of North Vancouver and City of North Vancouver.

Everybody talks about smaller government but no one has the guts to take bold measures.
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Re: Modified Ward System

Post by GenesisGT »

ScottRoss wrote:I apologize for the miscommunication, Mayor Shepherd is for a modified ward system, as I noted it was an idea I first heard from her. All current councillors oppose any form of a ward system.


The idea of having a referendum in 2014 means a ward system would not be implemented until 2017 election. If Sharon supports a ward system so much why are we not voting on it during this election. Why if there is support can a referendum not be held prior to the next election, there is nothing stopping it. Waiting six years sounds like a typical excuse for not nothing something or how council works today. Study and delay.

It is obvious that the current council does not support it, they know that they might end up running against each other, I believe it is the citizens that should make the decision.

The modified ward system was first raised six years ago by Kim Ouellette, who now supports a full ward system.
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