In 100+/- days we will vote for yesterday’s talk and ignore future’s needs.
4 years ago
10 minute read
At Large” versus “Ward” municipal governance.
In a 100 days or so, on October 16, 2017 there will be a municipal election and the citizens of Red Deer will vote for (1) mayor, (8) city councillors, (7) public school trustees, and (5) separate school trustees.
Red Deer uses the “At Large” system for voting so you have the option of voting for all positions mayor, councillors and school trustees either public or separate. 16 spots or 14 spots respectively.
The last election in 2013 we had 5 people running for mayor, 30 people running for council, 14 people running for public school board and 7 people run for the separate school board, 56 people in total.
How many people can remember all the candidates, anyone? Let us make it easier. How many people can remember , everyone who won, anybody?
The huge advantage of the current “At Large” system falls to and gives advantage to the incumbents (It looks like almost all the incumbents are running) and then to the more wealthier campaigns. The incumbents always have the advantage of name recognition and easier access to the media. Co-incidentally the incumbents had previously voted for and adopted a by-law limiting the number of signs candidates can post on one location.
It takes money to advertise to every household in the city, so naturally you will find that the wealthier candidates more often than not live in the wealthier neighbourhoods.
It is less expensive and easier for the city staff and management to deal with councillors, at large, in bulk than it would be to deal with the ward system and on individual basis. There is I have been told less infighting among councillors, perhaps because they have more in common, under the “at large” system than under the ward system. 7 of 8 current councillors live south of the river and east of Gaetz Avenue.
The advantage of the “Ward” system is that poorer neighbourhoods get equal representation. The citizens are closer to their elected officials and poorer candidates have smaller areas to cover. The city staff will have to refine their method of dealing with councillors in regards to neighbourhood issues.
There are pros and cons to both system, and we had a plebiscite on the issue during the 2013 municipal election. 71% voted to remain with the “At Large” system, feeling that Red Deer is still small enough to stay with this, the current system. The city council incumbents voted to budget $30,000 to inform the electorate of the issue, which was heavily in favor of the current system. They held an open house with a heavy leaning to the current system with just one local person, Larry Pimm, speaking, a popular former councillor, known for and speaking for the “At Large” system.
I believe that by looking at the city today, the current system has systematically and historically failed one third of our city.
One third of our city lives north of the river and they are currently represented by 1 person out of 9 at city hall. Out of 7 indoor ice rinks and 4 aquatic centres in Red Deer, they have 1 north of the river and the latest buildings are being built or planned south of the river. When it comes to school boards, the city has, is building and planning 6 high schools, all on the south side and 5 high schools are “unbelievably” along 30 Avenue.
On the north side of the river we have (1)the Dawe Centre, built in the 70s, and there are no plans to build a new recreation centre, including a swimming pool on the north side.
On the south side we have; (10), the Downtown Recreation Centre, Michener Aquatic Centre, Downtown Arena, Centrium complex, Collicutt Recreation Centre, Pidherney Curling Centre, Kinex Arena, Kinsmen Community Arenas, Red Deer Curling Centre, and the under-construction Gary W. Harris Centre. The city is also talking about replacing the downtown recreation centre with an expanded 50m pool.
Let us get back to voting. In 2013 we had 56 candidates for 21 spots and naturally most incumbents who ran, won. How can anyone know and understand the positions of 56 candidates. Many would like one or 2 newcomers, vote for them and fill the rest with known incumbents. They are sabotaging the chances of newcomers by voting and electing their own opposition.
I have been advocating for 4 wards within city limits. Each ward would have 25% of the population, give or take 5%. 100,000 residents would mean that each ward would have between 23,750 and 26,250 and the boundaries would change with the population growth.
Each ward would elect 2 councillors, perhaps the school boards would adopt the ward system, so the public school board could for example. have 2 trustees from each ward, and the mayor would be elected city wide.
Using the 2013 ballot, you would elect 1 mayor out of 5 candidates, you would elect 2 councillors out of 7 or 8 depending on the ward and the public school voters would elect 2 trustees out of 3 or 4 candidates, again, depending on the ward.
Perhaps under the ward system, with representation at the table, using my previous arguments, the residents living north of the river will actually get a new indoor ice rink, swimming pool and perhaps (dare I dream),their own high school. One can only dream.
The incumbents will say no to the ward system, stating the small size of Red Deer, omitting the fact that most incumbents are relying on their constituency of voters that are spread across the city and their constituency of voters may not be strong enough in only one ward.
Lately, there has been some voices out of city hall, demanding to be recognized as a big city and to be included in the “Big City Charter” and the extra money and power associated with it. Incidentally the cities covered by the big city charter currently use the “ward” system.
Should we hold another plebiscite, asking that our councillors represent their neighbours, should we ask that school board trustees represent the neighbourhood families, should we take the step to recognize that Red Deer is now a big city and not that small town anymore, and prepare for and govern like a big city. I am arguing that our city is big enough but it is actually shrinking, while the city is arguing it is still a small town while demanding recognition as a growing city.
2017 may see a few candidates run against the incumbent mayor but we may see in excess of 30 candidates run for city council and in excess of 20 candidates running for one of the 2 school boards’ trustee positions. Under the current system we will again see governing concentrating their attention in the same areas like downtown or the east hill. We will continue to ignore the needs of residents living in neighbourhoods like those north of the river.
“At Large” is an ideal that fails when reality is involved, the “Ward” system is a flawed ideal that may best represent our reality. What would do you think? It is your home.
Keep in mind that under the “AT Large” voting system the constituency comprising of on-average one-third of our residents, living north of the river decreased by 777, while the constituency comprising on-average two-thirds of our residents living south of the river only decreased by 198, last year.
Is this the proof that we may need the “Ward System”? Just asking for some serious discussion. Thank you.
It is the government’s responsibility to implement policies that protect the following:
1. Its citizens, their lives and their freedoms.
2. The economy in a manner that benefits that majority of its citizens, without mortgaging the wealth of future generations in favour of short-term gain or votes.
3. The environment in a manner that preserves the country for future generations without impeding, in any material way, the points listed above.
Canada is a global leader in clean technology and adheres to some of the highest environmental regulations in the world. We need to continue to build upon this expertise and deliver solutions to global problems.
Protecting the environment is a global issue. Banning tankers on the west coast of Canada or forcing domestic energy projects to comply with crippling regulatory requirements does nothing to change emissions in countries such as China or India. If we choose to ignore what happens beyond our borders we are doing a disservice to not only ourselves but to the world.
Moving forward, government must end ideological policies that alienate millions of Canadians, destroy tens of thousands of jobs and crush our economy. Canada can continue being a global leader of ethical, socially, and environmentally sourced energy. It is through our natural resources and the development of value-added products that Canadians can continue to enjoy a high standard of living. It is through cost-effective energy production that the world will continue to prosper.
Energy and environment have co-existed for years. It will continue to do so in the future. Instead of putting our energy industry on the sidelines, we must embrace all that it is capable of doing for us. Passive houses, small nuclear reactors, liquefied natural gas and other advanced technologies would not be possible without Canada’s energy industry and are immediate and proven environmental solutions.
ECCC proposes a plan rooted in crony capitalism, wealth distribution, higher energy prices and stifling regulation. The alternatives outlined in A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy 2.0 provide realistic free market options that will not only protect the environment, but create a prosperous future for all Canadians.
When considering which options are be best suited for Canadians going forward, consider the following. The Government of Canada has added significant power, spent hundreds of billions of dollars and regulated nearly everything over the past year and a half in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. Have you been impressed with the results? If not, why would you expect ECCC’s plans for the economy and environment post-pandemic, to be any different?
Stephen Koonin served as Undersecretary of Energy in former U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration. A PhD Physicist, he is a smart guy.
Referencing materials from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – an organization that is widely viewed by governments and media as the single most important source for information on climate change – Koonin demonstrates that the science of climate change is anything but settled, and that we are not in, nor should we anticipate, a crisis.
In fact, despite decades of apocalyptic warnings there is in fact remarkably little knowledge of what might happen. Over the last 5 decades of apocalyptic warning, life on earth has dramatically improved as our management of countless environmental challenges has improved.
What the evidence really shows is that as the global economy improves, our ability to deal with whatever mother nature throws at us improves. On that point, Koonin draws attention to what the IPCC experts say about the possible economic impacts of possible climate change-induced temperature changes.
Koonin notes that, according to the IPCC, a temperature increase of 3 degrees centigrade by 2100 – which some scientists say might happen – might create some negative environmental effects, which in turn would cause an estimated 3% hit to the economy in 2100.
But even as it makes these claims, the IPCC further predicts that the economy, in 2100, will be several times the size of the economy today (unless, of course, we interfere with it as the Net Zero by 2050 crowd wants us to do). In other words, a strategy of doing nothing may or may not mean a temperature increase, the effects of which if bad, are expected to represent a small economic hit to the economy, but that economy will be much, much larger.
In Koonin’s words, this “translates to a decrease in the annual growth rate by an average of 3 percent divided by 80, or about 0.04 percent per year. The IPCC scenarios…assume an average global annual growth rate of about 2 percent through 2100; the climate impact would then be a 0.04 percent decrease in that 2 percent growth rate, for a resulting growth rate of 1.96 percent. In other words, the U.N. report says that the economic impact of human-induced climate change is negligible, at most a bump in the road.”
So this doesn’t sound like a crisis to me. It sounds like a very modest reduction in extraordinary economic growth. So from extraordinary economic growth to slightly less extraordinary economic growth.
Why do I draw attention to this?
Because Canada is pursuing a Net Zero by 2050 target with a whole bunch of policies that will kill economic growth.
The IPCC predicts significant global economic growth without all the things Trudeau and other Net Zero by 2050 advocates are pursuing – massive carbon taxes, additional carbon taxes called clean fuel standards (CFS), building code changes that will make a new home unaffordable, huge subsidies for pet projects, etc. In other words, the IPCC predicts growth without crazy and wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars that will hurt citizens.
So why are we allowing Trudeau and co to pursue these things?
We don’t know the full costs of Net Zero by 2050, but every signal we have is that it is absurdly expensive. AND (thank you Stephen Koonin for making this explicitly clear) the International Panel on Climate Change says ignoring the Net Zero by 2050 target and doing nothing will mean a much bigger economy.
Prime Minister Trudeau and the activists won’t tell you that.
Nor will they acknowledge what the IPCC actually says.
Let’s all applaud Stephen Koonin for trying to do so.
Green activists are driving a radical agenda screaming at us that the science is settled. As courageous scientists like Stephen Koonin note, science is never settled and to say it is settled is irresponsible. The activists say we have to radically change our economy, but don’t tell us how much that will cost – but the IPCC tells us doing absolutely nothing would result in only slightly less economic growth than we would otherwise have.
Governments are spending massive sums of your money on Net Zero by 2050.
Corporate interests commit to this radical agenda and hide behind rhetoric of doing the right thing, while they also seek out government subsidies (which taxpayers will pay for) to meet their absurd Net Zero by 2050 commitments.
An 18 year veteran of the House of Commons, Dan is widely known in both official languages for his tireless work on energy pricing and saving Canadians money through accurate price forecasts. His Parliamentary initiatives, aimed at helping Canadians cope with affordable energy costs, led to providing Canadians heating fuel rebates on at least two occasions.
Widely sought for his extensive work and knowledge in energy pricing, Dan continues to provide valuable insights to North American media and policy makers. He brings three decades of experience and proven efforts on behalf of consumers in both the private and public spheres. Dan is committed to improving energy affordability for Canadians and promoting the benefits we all share in having a strong and robust energy sector.