With the municipal election coming on October 24, the campaign has made clear the need for North Bay to join other Ontario municipalities of its size and adopt a ward system.
In one sense, I am very pleased to see so many new faces running for council. But it’s becoming increasingly clear that our current at-large system is not serving the voters and citizens of North Bay as it should.
Picking 10 names off a ballot of 29 is not an enviable task for any voter. As someone who has been politically engaged my entire adult life (and even before), I am struggling to decode so many platforms.
In fact, I suspect that much of our city’s current political malaise can be traced to the way we currently elect our council.
Right now, citizens have no idea who to contact about the issues that intimately affect their neighbourhood. Sure, we can call city staff about a new crosswalk, garbage pickup, road maintenance, or litter or needles in the playground, but if we had councillors who were directly seized of the issues in their ward people we would have better accountability and better access to the decision-makers at City Hall.
I also suspect the discussions about the new community centre and waterfront development would be more focused if our councillors were more geographically grounded.
I know a least a couple of candidates have mentioned a ward system over the past few weeks. I hope to hear from more before the election. This should be an issue that the new council addresses sooner rather than later.