Ward system up for North Glengarry vote

(Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

ALEXANDRIA – After 20 years, voters in North Glengarry will decide this fall whether to scrap the ward system.

Right now, the township has a mayor, deputy mayor and a councillor at large, which are selected by all eligible voters.

Then, voters in Alexandria, Kenyon, Lochiel and Maxville pick their representative.

Council decided during a special meeting last week to put the electoral system on the election ballot in the form of a referendum.

The question on Oct. 22 will ask whether the township should change to elect all five councillors at large.

Proponents believe it will lead to fewer cases of acclamation, such as happened with four members of council in 2014. Those against the change believe it will create an imbalance of power between smaller areas like Kenyon and larger centers like Alexandria.

If a majority of voters elect to scrap the ward system, it wouldn’t take place until the 2022 municipal election.

In order for the result to be binding, at least half of all eligible voters in North Glengarry need to vote – something that may be a challenge in and of itself with traditionally low voter turnout for elections. Voter turnout in North Glengarry in 2014 was 37 per cent.