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Quaiff: Public is ‘exhausted’ over debates on council size

By Mark Hodgins [1]

BELLEVILLE – The long debate over reducing the size of Prince Edward County [2]‘s municipal council is getting to be a lot for residents, according to Mayor Robert Quaiff.

“The public opinion out there (on council size) is that they’re exhausted,” said Quaiff. “They’re tired of it, they’ve heard enough of it, enough taxpayer money has been spent on it.” Citizens are saying that council should “just make a decision one way or another and move on.”

There are currently 16 people on the council – 15 councillors and the mayor. Quaiff said he and other mayoral and councillor candidates heard a desire for a review of council’s size from people during last year’s municipal-election campaign. It has been an issue in the county for years, and was even brought to the Ontario Municipal Board [3] – which, if it comes to it, has the power to take the decision out of council’s hands.

After the municipal election, council set up a series of public meetings to gather input on the issue. At the conclusion of the public meetings, councillors held a vote Oct. 30 on whether to cut the size of council. To the astonishment of many, it failed to pass.

But council will take yet another look at reducing its size Tuesday night. The vote will be on whether to stick with the status quo, or to do more research into a proposal by county resident Gary Mooney to split the county into three electoral wards (down from the current 10), and bring the number of councillors down to 12 from 15.

Quaiff said he isn’t sure what will happen at the meeting.

“It’s hard to anticipate anything. There’s a lot of talk out on the street about what will transpire; there’s a lot of talk in Shire Hall about what will transpire. But I guess we’ll have that dialogue and debate tonight and see what happens.”

However, Quaiff said he is pretty positive that someone will put forward a motion to have further discussion about the three-ward plan.