Thursday, May 26, 2011

Time for Victoria and Saanich to introduce wards for local elections.

The Local Government Act allows for a municipality to create wards or electoral districts for elections to councils.   I think the time has come for Saanich and Victoria to elect the councils by neighbourhood and not at large for the whole city.

At Large Voting is the least representative electoral system out there.   It creates many problems in the process of how people get elected and provides incumbents a huge advantage.   Ultimately as a city grows in size, slates or local political parties have to come into existence and when this occurs you start to get wild swings where from election to election there is a wholesale change on council even though the vote shift is small.

In Victoria we would then have 8 councilors elected from:

  1. James Bay
  2. Fairfield
  3. Gonzales-Rockland-South Jubilee
  4. Fernwood
  5. Oaklands-North Jubilee
  6. Hillside Quadra
  7. Downtown-Harris Green-North Park
  8. Vic West-Burnside

This list is just an example and should not be seen as something craved in stone.

Victoria could chose to have 10 councilors if it would like by passing a bylaw to that effect.   If there was a desire to have more than 10 or less than 6, then that could only be done through a change to the Letters of Patent for the City.

The relevant section of the Act:
Municipal elections at large unless on a neighbourhood constituency basis
36.1 (1) Unless a bylaw under subsection (2) applies, every council member must be elected from the municipality at large.

(2) A council may, by bylaw, provide that all or some of the councillors be elected on a neighbourhood constituency basis.
(3) A bylaw under subsection (2) must establish the areas that are to be neighbourhood constituencies and provide for an orderly transition to election on this basis.
(4) The authority under subsection (2) applies despite the letters patent of the municipality, but a bylaw under that subsection must be approved by the Lieutenant Governor in Council before it is adopted.
(5) If a neighbourhood constituency is established,
(a) the only persons who may vote as electors of the neighbourhood constituency are
(i) resident electors of the municipality who meet the qualifications of section 50 in relation to the area of the neighbourhood constituency, and
(ii) non-resident property electors of the municipality who meet the qualifications of section 51 in relation to the area of the neighbourhood constituency, and
(b) except as permitted at an additional general voting or a special voting opportunity, the electors of the neighbourhood constituency may only vote on general voting day at the voting places for that neighbourhood constituency.
(6) The notice of election under section 77 for an election on the basis of a neighbourhood constituency must include the following additional information:
(a) the boundaries of the neighbourhood constituency;
(b) the voting place on general voting day for the neighbourhood constituency;
(c) a description of the qualifications established by subsection (5) (a) that entitle an elector to vote for a council member to represent the neighbourhood constituency.
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