By Stephen Dafoe
Sturgeon County – County Councillor Joe Milligan brought forward a motion Mar. 13 to look into removing the position of mayor in subsequent councils. Milligan’s motion sought to direct County Administration to “identify the actions, timing and costs associated with Sturgeon County reverting to a governance system involving seven electoral divisions and seven councillors who choose a Reeve from within their ranks, in compliance with legislation and for the purposes of the October 2013 municipal election.”
County Council voted 5-2 to table the motion for at least 30 days, Councillors Joe Milligan and Ken McGillis voting in opposition.
The County shifted from a Reeve system to a mayor and council some years back. In presenting his motion Milligan said any decision to revert to the former system, should Council decide to go that route, would need to be done 180 days ahead of the next municipal election. Given that election is not until the fall of 2013, Council decided it had some time and voted to table the motion for at least 30 days.
Councillor Don McGeachy was opposed to the idea, stating the reeve system had served Sturgeon County well in the past but today’s situation was different. “I have trouble supporting this when I look around the region and look at the CRB [Captial Region Board] table,” the councillor said. “The trend is towards an elected official that represents the whole municipality.”
McGeachy also expressed his view that reverting to seven boundaries would add confusion as there were still County residents unsure of what division they lived in.
Mayor Rigney said he felt there was no rush to enter into a discussion on the matter as the next election was 18 months away. He cautioned it could be controversial with residents. “We went to this system [mayor and council] by a plebiscite,” the mayor said. “It was passed by the majority of residents.”
Councillor Joe Milligan, who presented the motion, said he brought the motion forward because a number of his constituents felt the County was better represented under the reeve system. He pointed out his motion was to investigate the costs and ramifications of the matter not to make a change to the current system.
“It isn’t a motion to change anything,” he said. “It’s a motion to see where we are at.”
The matter will be brought back to Council Chambers Apr. 10. The public is asked to offer their thoughts on the concept. They can do so by contacting members of Council directly via email or phone. Councillor contact information is located on Sturgeon County’s website at www.sturgeoncounty.ca (click on Government, then Mayor & Council).