This post is more than one year old and may no longer be relevant. Please view this content with its age in mind.
Lake of Bays Mayor Bob Young has joined forces with his counterpart in Georgian Bay to push for equal representation around the District of Muskoka council table. The mayors are also calling for a decrease in the size of government at the upper-tier municipality.
Currently, there are a total of 22 District of Muskoka councillors, plus the District chair. All of the towns, plus the Township of Muskoka Lakes have four representatives while the townships of Georgian Bay and Lake of Bays have three.
“So if there were to come some contentious issue, we will be out-voted by the towns even if all three townships stay together,” Young told his fellow Lake of Bays councillors at their township meeting of September 15.
Young explained that the number of representatives each municipality gets was written into the Muskoka Act, when the District Municipality of Muskoka was created, but the Act has since been repealed and while certain of its conditions were rolled into the Municipal Act,the number of representative each municipality gets was not.
“So there is now no constraint about who has how many representatives,” said Young, adding that he and Georgian Bay Mayor Larry Braid are looking into the process of what is required to “reddress this imbalance.”
He described the procedure as “brutal.” The two mayors must ask all of Muskoka’s six municipalities to host a public meeting and pass a resolution supporting their bid. A resolution at the District level must also be passed and only then can the request be forwarded to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
Young said that in discussions with other District councillors about attaining equal representation for his municipality and Georgian Bay, the size of District government came up.
“There are many of us who say, ‘well what’s magic about four representatives? Is that the right number? Should it be three? Could it even be two? Certainly at 22 people around that table, it is very hard to have decision making consensus… it’s a very large group.”
Young argued that there are other upper-tier municipalities that work with fewer representatives.
Young is expected to bring forward a resolution at the next District of Muskoka council meeting asking staff to look into the possibility of decreasing government as well as ensuring that all municipalities have equal representation.
The mayor was given the unanimous support of his council and said he has the support of the District CAO.
“He’s wanted to have the opportunity to go through this exercise as well,” said Young.