Skip to content

Council votes down study on ward system

'I think it is a lost opportunity. You had your steak on your plate and you chose to go vegan' North Bay City Councillor Marcus Tignanelli

The majority of North Bay City Council expressed zero interest in looking into the creation of a ward system for the city at Tuesday night's meeting.

City councillors voted 6-4 against a motion requesting the city clerk prepare a report for information purposes, regarding the implementation of a ward system for North Bay.

“I’m disappointed in the lack of open-mindedness and the unwillingness to learn,” said City Councillor Marcus Tignanelli who put the motion forward.

“In the last election, a lot of people ran saying ‘I’m going to be open. I’m going to be transparent and we’re going to make educated decisions.' Well here is a perfect opportunity. You had your steak on your plate and you chose to go vegan.”

See: How do you feel about a ward system for North Bay?

And: Is North Bay ready for a ward system?

In voting against the motion, Councillor Dave Mendicino said he never believed a ward system would be appropriate for North Bay based on its size.

“I don’t want to see the city chopped up into five or six different small wards. I think in my experience being on council, the current system works very, very well. We vote at large whenever there is an issue in the city. It doesn’t matter where it is, we get the information and we vote on that issue. And I think that works extremely well, and I really didn’t want to see that tampered with,” said Mendicino.  

“The time and commitment that would go into preparing the information that would be required, if the majority of council isn’t in favour of a ward system, then I don’t believe we should be looking into it.”

Johanne Brousseau, Scott Robertson, and Chris Mayne were the only other city councillors to support Tignanelli’s motion.

Councillor Mayne said while he has a number of concerns, he was open to finding out more about the ward system.

“Historically I have had my concerns about the viability of a ward system in North Bay,” said Mayne.

“But more than anything else, I’m open to the idea. Let us have a look at it. How would it be laid out? Would it just be two councillors assigned a specific neighbourhood? Let’s say you have three good candidates in West Ferris and two poor candidates in the other part of the city, are you really electing the best representatives to council? So, things like that would have to be looked at, but I am open to the proposal.”

Councillor Bill Vrebosch voted against the motion telling council he was elected to serve the entire community.

“When I go around the streets I don’t ever want to have to say to a person ‘Could you go and talk to your ward representative first,?’” said Vrebosch.

“The ward system to me in a small area doesn’t work. So, when I researched it, you end up with a bunch of reconsideration motions and the playing of one area against the other. And some councillors don’t realize when we ask for a report for council by staff, it takes hours and hours of time which is costly. And I don’t think we need it at this time so I voted against it.”

Councillor Tanya Vrebosch also voted against the motion based on the size of the municipality.  

“I think if we amalgamated with multiple communities in our outlying area that it would make more sense. But right now, you have really good representation from across the city,” said Vrebosch.

“It also means I am not just sticking to what is in my neighbourhood. I’m looking after the city as a whole, so I think it gives better representation. We have asked staff to do a lot of different reports and to me, it is not a priority right now.”    

Tignanelli says it will be up to the next council to decide if the concept is worth pursuing.   

“I wouldn’t bring it up again. Like I said a hundred times before, I don’t care whether we go toward a ward system or stay at large. I just wanted to make an informed decision. Lots of people asked for a ward system, lots of people asked for at large, and I said I am not an expert in municipal elections but there are experts out there, and we owe it to the public to have gotten their opinion. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen tonight.”