Wednesday 17 May 2000

Ner Israel Yeshiva College Act, 2000, Bill Pr20, Mr Young
Mr David Young, MPP
Mr Stephen Gross
Rabbi Moshe Friedman

Redeemer University College Act, 2000, Bill Pr 19, Mr Clark
Mr Brad Clark, MPP
Mr Albert Bakker
Dr Justin Cooper

Town of Greater Napanee Act, 2000, Bill Pr22, Mrs Dombrowsky
Mrs Leona Dombrowsky, MPP
Mr Shaune Lucas
Mr Timothy Wilkin
Mr Raymond Callery
Mr Andrew Gonsalves


Chair / Présidente
Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-East York ND)

Vice-Chair / Vice-Président

Mr Garfield Dunlop (Simcoe North / -Nord PC)

Mr Gilles Bisson (Timmins-James Bay / -Timmins-Baie James ND)
Mrs Claudette Boyer (Ottawa-Vanier L)
Mr Brian Coburn (Carleton-Gloucester PC)
Mr Garfield Dunlop (Simcoe North / -Nord PC)
Mr Raminder Gill (Bramalea-Gore-Malton-Springdale PC)
Mr Pat Hoy (Chatham-Kent Essex L)
Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-East York ND)
Mr Bill Murdoch (Bruce-Grey PC)

Substitutions / Membres remplaçants

Mr Brad Clark (Stoney Creek PC)

Clerk / Greffière

Ms Anne Stokes

Staff / Personnel

Ms Laura Hopkins, legislative counsel

The committee met at 1005 in committee room 1.


Consideration of Bill Pr20, An Act respecting Ner Israel Yeshiva College.

The Chair (Ms Frances Lankin): The standing committee on regulations and private bills is meeting today to consider a number of Pr bills. We also have consideration of a comprehensive response to the first report on regulations, which the committee will deal with after we've concluded deliberations on the Pr bills.

The first item before us is Bill Pr20, An Act respecting Ner Israel Yeshiva College. The sponsor is Mr Young, MPP. Mr Young, would you come forward, please, and introduce the applicants who are here with you who will be presenting today.

Mr David Young (Willowdale): Thank you very much for the opportunity of presenting this proposed legislation. I am pleased to have with us today Rabbi Friedman from the yeshiva college, and also Stephen Gross who is the solicitor representing that institution. I would suggest that Mr Gross make a brief presentation and then we will all be here to answer any questions, if necessary.

The Chair: Welcome, gentlemen. Go ahead.

Mr Stephen Gross: First of all, I'd just like to thank everyone for all their help in getting us here today.

At the outset, the reason we really need this bill, or this authority to grant degrees, is so that we can remain competitive. We have found that we're experiencing a brain drain. There are many schools in the States, religious academies that offer degrees. They offer joint degrees with well-known universities.

There is one in Providence, Rhode Island, that offers a joint degree with Brown University; there is Ner Israel Rabbinical College, which I believe has no relationship to this Ner Israel, that offers their own degrees as well as joint programs with Johns Hopkins, the University of Maryland UMBC and Loyola.

We really need to keep our students here, specifically in religious studies, so that they can be recognized with their degrees. Not everyone is going to be a rabbi, but still it's important that they be recognized for the type of study they're doing. They can then present their degrees to York University, the University of Toronto, and go further with that. This would really assist us in that regard.

The Chair: Rabbi Friedman, do you have any comments you wish to make?

Rabbi Moshe Friedman: I just want to add to Mr Gross's comments. We're not a new kid on the block. We've been established since 1959 and basically our studies to date, without the fact of giving out degrees, have been of high quality and have been recognized. We are a member of the program that's a distinguished group, an association of rabbinical colleges in the States. They included us because of our reputation, and of course we had to pass their tests. So we really have had the curriculum in place for 40 years.

It's not a difficult transition, but as Mr Gross mentioned, people like to have the degree. It helps them to continue their education. We have an agreement that's been in place already for about 13 years which we implemented with York University, that they recognize, even as we speak, our program and allow us five credits for our rabbinic program. We are now engaged in trying to meet with the different universities, wanting to be able to give a grant. But at the present moment, even if we are given this privilege, I doubt if any of our students would get into Harvard. So this is really what we're working on, to be recognized.

The program has been in effect for the past 40 years. We've graduated many great Talmudic scholars and many who went on in the community. If you look around you, you would see virtually in every profession graduates of Ner Israel, which has strengthened this community. It's an important program, as Mr Gross mentioned, because there is a brain drain. People go elsewhere.

If there are any questions, I will be happy to deal with them.

The Chair: Mr Young, did you have any further comments?

Mr Young: If I may just add two other points, and then of course we're available for any questions that may exist.

The first is that it is my understanding that there is already a similar institution within the city of Toronto with similar status to that which is being sought by this institution, so the precedent has been set. There is a yeshiva in the city. This institution would be just outside of the city.

The other point I wanted to make, and of course that's subject to clarification from Mr Coburn or others, is that my understanding is that the ministry-not Mr Coburn's ministry but the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities-has no difficulty with the proposal that is in front of you at this instant.

The Chair: Are there any interested parties who have attended today to make representation on this bill? None. May I ask Mr Coburn, the parliamentary assistant, are there any comments from the government?

Mr Brian Coburn (Carleton-Gloucester): We have no difficulties with this at all. There is an individual here from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities if there are any questions. It is supported by the ministry.

The Chair: I think that's helpful, then.

Questions from the committee either of the applicants or Mr Coburn or the staff who have come from the ministry? If you have specific comments we can ask that person to come forward.

Mr Raminder Gill (Bramalea-Gore-Malton-Springdale): Basically I am certainly in support of this. In light of what my colleague Mr Young said, I guess the brain drain is just across the road then. There is another college granting those degrees, so it's not really that people have to go to the States. I guess they could go to this other college.

Mr Young: I think they're at their capacity and so the overflow is in fact heading towards the United States. Rabbi, is there more to that?

Rabbi Friedman: Which college are you referring to? Are you talking to the one that's in Toronto or out of Toronto?

Mr Young: I think the question was, can the college that's currently situated in Toronto-

Rabbi Friedman: They're basically a post-graduate school. They don't give undergraduate degrees. We work together actually. I don't think they have given out any degrees yet. We have a larger school. We're better situated. We have a high school. We begin with high school and therefore our students are more comfortable with the continuity of staying in our school. There is no conflict. I don't know if to date they have given any degrees. They also received a degree I think-

Mr Young: They have the ability to.

Rabbi Friedman: Basically it's a smaller school and it's a post-graduate school, and I don't see any conflict with that.

The Chair: Any further questions from committee members? Any final comments you want to make?

Mr Young: No, thank you, Madam Chair. I don't think there's anything further we wish to add at this time.

The Chair: Are the members ready to vote then?

This is Bill Pr20, An act respecting Ner Israel Yeshiva College, sponsored by Mr Young, MPP. Is there anyone intending to put forward any amendments at this point in time? Fine.

Shall section 1 through section 11 carry? Carried.

Shall the preamble carry? Carried.

Shall the title carry? Carried.

Shall the bill carry? Carried.

Shall I report the bill to the House? Agreed.

Thank you very much. We appreciate you joining us here today.


Consideration of Bill Pr19, An Act respecting Redeemer Reformed Christian College.

The Chair: The next order of business is Bill Pr19, An Act respecting Redeemer Reformed Christian College, being sponsored by Brad Clark, MPP. Mr Clark, would you introduce the applicants who are here.

Mr Brad Clark (Stoney Creek): I'll actually ask them all to introduce themselves. It will be a little bit more efficient.

Mr Albert Bakker: Good morning. My name is Albert Bakker. I'm the solicitor. I have with me Dr Justin Cooper, the president; Mr Bill van Staal Duinen, vice-president of development; and Dr Elaine Botha, vice-president, academic.

The Chair: Mr Clark, have you have any opening comments or should we go directly to the applicants?

Mr Clark: Just go right to the applicants, Madam Chair.

Mr Bakker: I would like to have Dr Cooper do the presentation, as president of the college.

Dr Justin Cooper: Thank you very much for taking the time to review our private bill and also for giving us this opportunity to make some introductory remarks.

It was almost two years ago, on June 17, 1998, that we were also before this committee. At that time we came forward as an established institution offering academic programs of high academic quality. Based on that, the committee endorsed an amendment to our provincial charter enabling Redeemer College to grant bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees commensurate with our Christian liberal arts and science programs.

Now we're before you this morning to request that the process initiated two years ago be completed by enabling us to change our institutional name so that it is consistent with our identity as a degree-granting institution. Specifically, we're requesting to be known as Redeemer University College.

In Canada a university college denotes an undergraduate university. There are some 12 university colleges that are members of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, to which we also belong and have been a member since 1985.

We believe the name Redeemer University College describes us appropriately because we do not presently offer graduate programs as larger universities do.

Let me also say that we appreciate very much the co-operation we've received from officials of the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, one of whom is here today. We also appreciate the support of the minister herself, the Honourable Dianne Cunningham, and also the support of our sponsor, Mr Brad Clark.

At this time we would be happy to answer any questions the committee might have.

The Chair: Are there any interested parties who have come forward to make representation on this bill? Seeing none, committee members, are there any questions you would like to put to the applicants? Actually, before I do that, I should go to Mr Coburn. Are there comments from the government?

Mr Coburn: There are no objections. It is supported by the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities.

The Chair: Any questions?

Mr Clark: I just want to raise the point that all of the sitting MPPs in Hamilton-Wentworth support the bill, from all three parties.

The Chair: Yes, I've been lobbied by Mr Christopherson.

Mr Clark: I suspected as much.

The Chair: I kept telling him, "I don't have a vote unless it's tied, Dave," but he's tenacious.

Mrs Claudette Boyer (Ottawa-Vanier): Just to be clear, the name right now is Redeemer Reformed Christian College and you want to change it to Redeemer University College?

Dr Cooper: That is correct.

Mrs Boyer: OK, fine. I just wanted to be sure.

The Chair: If there are no further questions, are the members ready to vote on this bill? We're very productive today, aren't we? Moving along, is anyone intending to put forward any amendments?

Mr Clark: I have a motion. It's not an amendment, though. We can deal with it at the very end, dealing with the printing costs of the bill.

The Chair: OK, that will be at the end.

Shall sections 1 through 4 carry? Carried.

Shall the preamble carry? Carried.

Shall the title carry? Carried.

Shall the bill carry? Carried.

Shall I report the bill to the House? It shall be done.

Mr Clark: I move that the committee recommend to the House that the fees and the actual costs of the printing at all stages be remitted on Bill Pr19, An Act respecting Redeemer Reformed Christian College.

The Chair: There is a motion before us. Is there any debate on the motion? Any questions? All those in favour, please indicate. Those opposed? The motion is carried.

Thank you very much. We appreciate your taking the time to be here with us today. Best of luck on your continued journey.

Before we call the next matter forward, we've had an indication of one interested party who wished to participate who couldn't make it today and who will be participating over a phone link. We need about five minutes to test the link and the sound levels so that it works. So at this point in time, with the agreement of committee members, I'm going to recess for five minutes.

The committee recessed from 1021 to 1028.


Consideration of Bill Pr22, An Act respecting the Town of Greater Napanee.

The Chair: The next item of business before the committee is Bill 22, An Act respecting the Town of Greater Napanee. Mr Lucas, can I confirm that you can hear us?

Mr Shaune Lucas: Yes, I can. Thanks very much.

The Chair: Please, at this point in time, I'm going to have to ask that the noise levels be kept down so that I can hear the party on the phone. I know you responded, but Mr Lucas, again, could you indicate if you can hear me all right?

Mr Lucas: Yes, I can.

The Chair: Could I ask the technicians if there is a way to turn up the volume on Mr Lucas' voice? I'm having trouble hearing him.

The Chair: OK, that's good enough. I can hear you now.

Just to indicate again on the record that we are being joined by telephone link with an interested party, Shaune Lucas, and we will hear from him a bit later in the presentation.

Committee members, to confirm that you have had distributed to you some documentation which actually came around yesterday, I believe, from Ms Dombrowsky. Today, circulated are some further representations from the town of greater Napanee and a presentation by Andrew Gonsalves, an interested party, who will be speaking. Everyone has all of these materials? OK.

Bill Pr22, An Act respecting the Town of Greater Napanee, is being sponsored by Leona Dombrowsky, MPP. Ms Dombrowsky, could you introduce the applicants who have come with you today, and if you have any opening remarks, feel free as well.

Mrs Leona Dombrowsky (Hastings-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington): I would be very pleased to introduce the people from my riding who are with me this morning. I would also welcome Mr Lucas, who I believe is with us by telephone. Good morning, Mr Lucas.

Mr Lucas: Good morning.

Mrs Dombrowsky: I also have with me the president of the Rural Ratepayers' Association for the town of greater Napanee, Mr Andrew Gonsalves. To the right of Mr Gonsalves is Mr Timothy Wilkin, the solicitor for the town of greater Napanee, and beside him is Mr Raymond Callery, the clerk administrator for the town of greater Napanee.

It was in October 1999 that I was notified by the municipality of their will to change the part of the ministerial order with regard to the town of Greater Napanee that would direct that after the municipal election of the year 2000, three members of council would receive weighted votes, so that at the council table three members would have two votes and two members would have one vote. I indicated to the municipality that, as the local member, I believed I had a responsibility to bring forward the bill on their behalf as a private bill.

I also indicated to them that I had received letters and communication from constituents who were concerned about the change. I would refer members of the committee to the correspondence and the petitions that have been presented to the Legislative Assembly with regard to those concerns.

It is not my intention to take a lot of time this morning. You've had an opportunity to read the concerns of the constituents that would perhaps be contrary to some of the presentation that you will hear this morning on behalf of the town of Greater Napanee.

As the local representative, I have an obligation to the people whom I represent to ensure that the people who will be making the decision this morning have the benefit of understanding both sides of this issue. It perhaps is not as neat and tidy as the two previous presentations that you heard earlier today. It's not a simple issue, but unfortunately there has to be a simple answer.

I hope I might have some concluding remarks, Madam Chair. At this time I would yield the floor to the people from my riding.

The Chair: If we may begin with the applicants. Mr Wilkin, will you be presenting?

Mr Timothy Wilkin: Yes, Madam Chair, and thank you very much.

First let me thank the committee for taking the time to listen to the municipality's request with respect to this private bill. I'd also like to bring to the committee greetings from the council of the town of Greater Napanee and also their apologies that no members of council could be here today. Unfortunately, all of their individual personal work schedules would not allow them to be here, but they certainly are very familiar with the submissions that are being made this morning.

As the information indicates, this application for a private bill is being made by the council of the town of greater Napanee. The purpose of Bill Pr22, as Ms Dombrowsky has indicated, is to eliminate the weighted voting provisions that are contained in the order of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing that restructured this municipality and created it as of January 1, 1998. Under the terms of that order, it stipulates that if any wards have more than 2,500 electors, then beginning with the elections in 2000, the ward councillors from those wards would have two votes and wards with less than 2,500 would have one vote. As Ms Dombrowsky has pointed out, the demographics are such that that would mean that three out of the five councillors representing those wards would have two votes.

The result would be that you would have a council of seven, because there is also a mayor and a deputy reeve who is effectively a deputy mayor, where three out of those seven had a total of six votes. In other words, they would have six of the 10 votes on matters before council. The purpose of Bill Pr22 is to eliminate that weighted voting arrangement and essentially maintain what is now the status quo, which has been the situation since January 1, 1998, of one person and one vote.

I'd like to give the members of committee a brief overview of the town of Greater Napanee, in case you're not entirely familiar with what we're talking about. There is a package that I believe the clerk has distributed this morning. It consists of two maps and also a bit of a fact sheet, which I hope is of assistance to the committee.

Just very quickly, the town of Greater Napanee is located in eastern Ontario. It's about midway between the city of Belleville to the west and the city of Kingston to the east. It's about 55 kilometres long and about 30 kilometres wide and has a total area of about 206 square miles. The municipality was established on January 1, 1998, as I indicated, by a minister's restructuring order.

It was part of a larger restructuring of the entire county of Lennox and Addington that had previously consisted of 13 municipalities. It reduced them down to four municipalities. In terms of the town of Greater Napanee, it amalgamated five of the 13 to form the town of greater Napanee. The previous five had been the town of Napanee itself and also the townships of Richmond, Adolphustown, North Fredericksburgh and South Fredericksburgh. In the establishment of the municipality, it preserved the ward system based on the historic geographic boundaries of the previous municipalities.

The demographics of the municipality: There's a total population of just under 15,000 people. Of that, there are 13,645 electors; 55% of those electors live within 1.3% of the municipal area; 7,100 of those electors live within what's called the Napanee water and sewer area. The Napanee water and sewer area consists of the former town of Napanee plus portions of Richmond township and the township of North Fredericksburgh. I have shown on the fact sheet the distribution of total electors between the wards.

If you look at the map that is here, we've tried to illustrate the locations of the various former municipalities. I think the four townships are clear. There is then an enlargement area, and that enlargement area shows the geographic boundaries of the former town of Napanee. Then you can see the portions of North Fredericksburgh and Richmond townships that surround it. I can point out that on this enlarged area, in addition to the former town of Napanee, there are concentrations of electors in the southeast and southwest corners of this map adjacent to the town of Greater Napanee and also to the north in the town of Richmond. Not all of what might be called urban people live within the former town of Napanee; there are significant concentrations of them in the township of North Fredericksburgh and Richmond township as well.

The current council consists of seven members, as I indicated, with the mayor and the deputy reeve who are elected at large and five ward councillors. That situation has existed since January 1, 1998.

Let me turn now to the reasons that council is asking the Legislature to enact this private bill. The first is, there is a perception or a view in the municipality that the concept of weighted voting at a local municipality in Ontario is an aberration. Historically, there has never been weighted voting in Ontario for local municipalities, certainly not in recent memory. It is an arrangement that exists at the county level, but the Municipal Act contains no authority for there to be weighted voting at the local municipal level.

The concept of weighted voting at a local municipality was introduced through the regulations that gave the minister the powers to implement restructuring proposals. It allowed the minister to implement provisions for weighted voting. It's not clear why that power was given to the minister. Indeed, it may have been put in there simply to address the situation in Napanee. This municipality is not aware of any other local municipalities in Ontario that have weighted voting. You might also be interested to know that there is no authority in the Municipal Act even to this day for local municipalities to create a weighted voting arrangement or to dissolve a weighted voting arrangement. So Napanee finds itself in the position of having a minister's order that creates a weighted voting and it is the municipality's position, based on legal advice, that the only way to change that is through a private act, hence the application for Bill Pr22.


The second reason council is making this request is a perception at council that the weighted voting arrangement is an inherently unfair and inappropriate arrangement for this municipality for several reasons. First of all, it will create a council consisting of seven members but 10 votes. As elected representatives, I'm sure you appreciate that when you have an even number of votes, the probability for motions and bylaws being lost on the basis of tied votes, goes up. That is a first concern.

More importantly, the concept of weighted voting creates two classes of councillors. You have those with one vote and you have those with two votes. Rather than a traditional one-person, one-vote arrangement, you have councillors and, if I might, supercouncillors or special councillors. It's the view of this municipal council that that arrangement in a situation where they are trying to bring together five former municipalities, all with their own history and all with their own sense of community, and create a new community, to preserve an arrangement, that is, weighted voting, where you have different classes of councillors, is divisive and contrary to the attempt to create that sense of one municipality. In essence, it perpetuates an us-and-them sense or mentality in this new community.

It also is perceived to be an inequitable arrangement. Under the weighted voting, you would have three councillors, who are elected in wards where there are more than 2,500 electors, having two votes and you would have the mayor and the deputy reeve, who are elected by all 14,000 electors, having one vote. You have three people elected by three wards having six out of 10 votes and you have the chief executive officer of the municipality and the deputy only having one vote. The perception of inequality and inequity is considered, in part, to be one of the reasons to change this arrangement.

The third reason the council has made this request is that the current one-person, one-vote arrangement that has existed since amalgamation on January 1, 1998, has worked well. The best example, in council's view, of why it has worked well has been in how they have dealt with the very difficult issue of tax policy in this new municipality.

In the first year of their mandate they established a single-rate tax policy. Irrespective of the level of services that were being received across the municipality, all areas of the municipality received the same tax rate. That arrangement, upon reflection, was considered to be unfair, in part because portions of the municipality were not receiving the same level of service.

In the second year of their mandate they changed their tax policy and developed a discounted tax rate arrangement for all of the wards except the former town of Napanee. The pendulum had started at one end and now swung out in the other direction, and that arrangement was considered to be unfair to the residents of the former town of Napanee because they had a different tax rate.

Council reflected on that, and in the third year, this past year, they have again changed their tax policy. Rather than establishing policy on the basis of the wards, they have moved to a tax policy that establishes a rate for those properties that are serviced by water and sewer, and tax rates for those properties that are not serviced.

If you look at the map that I gave you, the effect is that the former town of Napanee and significant portions of the electorate in both the township of Richmond and the North Fredericksburgh ward are now being taxed at a rate that is consistent with the service levels. The portions of the remainder of the municipalities that are not being serviced are at a different rate. That, council believes, is the most equitable arrangement for this municipality and, more importantly, is an illustration of why the current arrangement of voting has worked well.

The suggestion that there will be gang-ups, rural against urban, one area of the municipality acting against the interests of another municipality, simply hasn't been borne out by experience in the last three years.

Council, in the course of their mandate, also looked at the other options. They considered the elimination of wards. They considered the redrawing of the wards to rebalance the number of electorates. They looked at allowing the weighted voting to go forward, and of course they've looked at the issue of the status quo. I can tell you they looked at this all in the context of public meetings and public consultation.

With respect to eliminating the wards or redrawing the wards to achieve a more equitable balance, there was a very real concern about whether council even had the authority to do that. Historically, councils have had the authority under the Municipal Act to change their wards or eliminate their wards, but there was real concern that, the wards having been established by minister's order, they didn't have the legal authority to change the minister's order based on the traditional powers in the Municipal Act, and they received legal advice to that effect. It would appear that legal advice was to some extent justified, because your Legislature, through Bill 25 that was proclaimed in late December 1999-this was the legislation that dealt principally with the restructuring in the Ottawa area-also included amendments to the Municipal Act that specifically made clear that, notwithstanding the provisions of a minister's restructuring order, municipalities still had the power to change their wards if they wanted to. So the legal uncertainty that was there didn't get clarified until almost Christmas 1999.

The question is then, why didn't council go forward with this established power and rejig the wards to make a more equitable distribution? They could have, but they couldn't have done it until early 2000 and the Municipal Act makes clear that if you rejig your wards in an election year, it doesn't take effect until the following election. If they had rejigged the wards in 2000, it wouldn't have been effective until 2003, so they continued on with the decision they had made in the fall of 1999 to ask for a change to the awaited voting arrangement.

They also considered allowing the weighted voting to go forward, as contained in the minister's order, and for many of the reasons that I've articulated, they did not favour that approach. They also felt the municipality had undergone a lot of change in the last three years, as I'm sure many of you understand municipalities have gone through, and they felt to now go forward with a further change would be disruptive and unnecessary. Basically in a benefits-and-risks or a benefits-and-complications equation, council decided preserving the status quo was the preferred option.

One other option undoubtedly they could have considered, I suppose, is creating two councillors in those wards that had larger populations, but clearly that's contrary to the policy of the government to reduce the number of politicians. Going up to nine councillors would have been a retrograde step.

You will read in the submissions that have been made to you, and I assume you will hear in the oral submissions made to you, certain reasons for opposing the bill, and I would like to address some of those.

The first is that you will hear that this weighted voting was the product of a negotiated arrangement. Let me say that is indeed correct. It came about as a process by which the politicians in the county of Lennox and Addington in 1997, under considerable pressure from the government to restructure and downsize themselves, went through a series of intensive meetings over a very short period of time where essentially they dealt with everything from soup to nuts in terms of the restructuring of their 13 municipalities down to four. One of the issues they dealt with was council representation in the town of Greater Napanee, and out of that process came the idea of weighted voting.

It is agreed that the weighted voting is the product of a negotiated arrangement, but the question is, was it a good arrangement and was it the best arrangement? It's the position of the current council of the town of Greater Napanee that it is neither. Having the benefit now of three years of reflection and three years of experience, they have concluded that to move forward with a concept that was hashed out in an intensive negotiation session back in 1997 is not in the best interests of the municipality, and it's for that reason they are asking that the private bill go forward.


You will also hear that this weighted voting arrangement protects against gang-ups of urban versus rural, rural against urban and so on. My submission to you is that has not been the experience over the past three years. I draw you back to how council dealt with probably the most difficult issue councils deal with, and that is the question of tax policy.

The situation might be different if we were talking about a majority of wards that were under 2,500; in other words, if you had five wards under 2,500 and two or three wards with more than 2,500. But the situation you have here is, you already have three out of the five wards with more than 2,500. The majority of the wards already with the larger population control the majority, and if you consider that the mayor and the deputy reeve are elected at large, then presumably the bulk of their constituency comes from the three wards that have the largest populations.

The suggestion that going to weighted voting is necessary to prevent gang-ups, I would submit to you, if anything, it will simply increase the strength of the majority of larger wards over the smaller wards.

Lastly, you will hear that the current arrangement where you have wards with considerable inequality in the number of constituents that they represent is contrary to the principle of representation by population. It's certainly acknowledged that there is an inequality in the number of votes, and I think you can understand how that came about. Indeed, it may be preferable in the fullness of time to either eliminate the wards or rejig the wards so there is an equal distribution of numbers, and I'd submit to you that, option still remains open to future councils.

But if the objective here is to try and redress this perception of imbalance on the representation by population argument, I would submit to you that moving to weighted voting moves you further away from that objective rather than closer to that objective. The reason for that is that if you go forward with weighted voting, you create a situation where you have given councillors special status. People being people and politics being politics, I would submit to you that once you have given representatives from a particular area of the municipality additional powers, it will take a very big-minded person to support a rejigging that will, in essence, bring them back where they have the same level of power as others.

My submission to you is that to go from a situation where three out of five already with the largest per cent of the population control the majority to a situation where those three out of five will now have six out of 10 will move you further away from the ultimate objective of equal representation by population rather than closing the gap.

In summary, it is the position of the council of the town of Greater Napanee that the concept of weighted voting, while it probably seemed like a good idea back in the heat of the moment of 1997, council, with its experience, has determined it is not in the best interests of the municipality. It is an aberration, and their concern is that it will not be conducive to the concept of establishing and creating one municipality where previously there were five. On behalf of the municipality, I would request that the committee support Bill Pr22 in its motion to or its route to the Legislature.

I might also point out that Mr Callery is here and can answer questions as well. Thank you for your consideration.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Wilkin. Mr Callery, did you have any remarks you wanted to make at this time?

Mr Raymond Callery: Not at this time, unless there's any questions.

The Chair: Thank you. We'll move to interested parties. Mr Gonsalves, you had a presentation you would like to make to the committee.

Mr Andrew Gonsalves: I trust you have a handout that I gave, which I'm going to read from and probably make some supplementary remarks as I go along, if that's appropriate.

The purpose of this presentation: The Rural Ratepayers Association of the Town of Greater Napanee-we call ourselves the RRA-is here today to support the application of the town of Greater Napanee to amend the minister's order that created the new town. The amendment is to repeal section 4.3(b)(ii), which provides for weighted voting on council after the 2000 municipal elections. This action effects a unanimous motion of the executive of the association.

About the RRA: It was formed in 1998 and is a grassroots organization open to all ratepayers of wards 1, 2, 3 and 4, which we call the rural wards. Its purpose is to further and protect the best interests of rural ratepayers of the town of Greater Napanee. We have a membership of 1,200.

Governance of the association: We have an executive of 12, comprising a president, a vice-president for membership, secretary-treasurer and eight executive members, preferably two from each of the four rural wards, and a past president.

Voting: Each member of the executive has one vote, with the exception of the past president position, which is non-voting.

Background: The RRA was formed when it became clear that the council of the new amalgamated town was going to set one tax rate for municipal services across Greater Napanee. This would have the effect of higher taxes in the rural areas. Taxpayers in urban Napanee would see their taxes reduced, even though the level of services they receive is much higher than the rural wards. We see this as grossly unfair.

One tax rate was set in 1998 and over $900,000 or 28.5% of the total tax levy of $3,152,000 of the municipal portion of property taxes was shifted from urban Napanee to the four rural wards. Services provided by Greater Napanee remained more or less the same as prior to amalgamation. Taxpayers in the former townships of Richmond, North Fredericksburgh, South Fredericksburgh and Adolphustown saw their taxes-the municipal portion-increased by 19.03%, 50.76%, 626.8% and 158.8% respectively. Taxpayers in the former town of Napanee received a hefty reduction of 44.93%.

Since its formation in 1998, the RRA has worked very hard to bring fairness to the rural taxpayers. In 1999, by a vote of four to three, some relief was achieved when a two-rate policy was adopted by council. This saw approximately $200,000 returned to rural taxpayers. In 2000, a three-rate policy was set on May 8 last. The effects of this new policy are currently being reviewed by the association.

The RRA has solicited the help of the Premier of Ontario, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing in its efforts to resolve these issues. As of today, we have outstanding correspondence with the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing on other issues affecting the minister's order vis-à-vis the proposal sent up from the county of Lennox and Addington.

Our submission: The RRA considers the weighted voting system, as set out in section 4.3(b)(ii) of the minister's order, dated January 7, 1997, as flawed and not in the best interests of the residents of Greater Napanee. We respectfully petition the Legislature to repeal section 4.3(b)(ii) for the following reasons:

(1) Councillors elected in wards with greater than 2,500 electors will have two votes on council after the November 2000 election. The mayor and deputy mayor, who run at large, are elected by over 13,200 electors and represent all taxpayers, will have only one vote. This is unfair and, as we see it, goes against the principle of representation by population anyway. We understand that this principle is being put forward to support weighted voting by those who wish to have this bill defeated. We find it difficult to support this principle when the number of electors in each of the five wards is so small. Who is to say whether 500, 2,500, 3,500 or any other number is fair in these circumstances?

(2) Greater Napanee council resolution 348/99 to have the weighted vote provision eliminated was carried by a clear majority-we understand five to two-of the duly elected council of Greater Napanee. This council represents all taxpayers and includes at least three representatives and two alternates who participated in the amalgamation process. So for the original negotiation that came up with the voting, we have about five people on the current council. Four of these individuals now understand that the weighted voting system, if not eliminated, will create two classes of representations at council after the next election. This could potentially mean the disadvantage of those taxpayers represented by councillors with only one vote. They voted to have weighted voting eliminated. We see this as clear second thoughts of these individuals on weighted voting.


(3) Further, as he tells it, it was the then reeve of the former Richmond township, who is now the deputy reeve of Greater Napanee, who was the most vocal during the amalgamation negotiations about having weighted voting. At that time he was trying to protect the assets of his municipality in those negotiations. However, now that we are all one municipality and most assets are protected under sections 8.3 and 8.4 of the minister's order, he sees no necessity for weighted voting. He voted, on Greater Napanee council resolution 348/99, to have section 4.3(b)(ii) repealed. We support his stand.

(4) Weighted voting, as currently allowed under the minister's order, means a cumulative total of 10 votes. This could potentially result in numerous tied and lost votes which would frustrate the operations of council. For example, if the four-to-three motion that carried the 1999 two-rate tax policy, which I alluded to earlier, was taken under this weighted vote system, it would have resulted in a five to five tie and failed. Taken to the next level, we feel it is reasonable to assume that any other tax policy option tabled at that time would have had the same result. Given those circumstances, final tax bills would have been delayed, resulting in cash flow problems which could have adversely affected the town's ability to provide services to its residents.

(5) There are a number of divisions between the five amalgamated municipalities that form the new town of Greater Napanee which we feel are as yet unresolved. One of the more serious ones is the taxing policy. The weighted voting provision under 4.3(b)(ii), if not repealed, will create some super councillors after the next election. We believe that this will only serve to exacerbate the current divisions within the community and add one more to the list.

(6) The new town of Greater Napanee is an amalgamation of five separate and unique former municipalities. Having some councillors with two votes, and others, including the mayor and deputy who are elected by all the people, with only one vote will potentially create feelings of superiority in some and inferiority in others. This situation will not support the kind of environment that fosters co-operation and teamwork which is sorely required to take the newly formed municipality forward in the new millennium.

(7) As we understand it, the Town of Greater Napanee is the only lower-tier municipality in Ontario with weighted voting. Structured as it currently is in the minister's order, three of the seven councillors will have six of the total of 10 votes. The other four will have four votes. This means that a minority of councillors prevails over the majority. A minority of councillors controls the council. We see this as undemocratic and not in the best interests of all the taxpayers of Greater Napanee.

Respectfully submitted.

I'm now open to any questions the committee may have.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Gonsalves. I'm going to move now to Mr Lucas and invite you to participate. Would you like to make a presentation?

Mr Lucas: Yes, I would, thanks very much, and if possible, I'd like to offer some rebuttal to the two previous presentations as well.

Hopefully the members of the committee received my letter of February 21, and if I may I will quickly re-present that.

"To whom to may concern,

"I am writing you in regards to Greater Napanee's municipal council's request to amend the Ministry of Municipal Affairs order dated January 1, 1997, under section 25.2 of the Municipal Act which implemented a restructuring order for the county of Lennox and Addington. Specifically an amendment which would repeal section 4.3(b)(ii) which states a weighted vote policy for wards within the municipality as of the year 2001 elected council.

"I am a past member of the Napanee town council, past director of the Napanee Chamber of Commerce, present chairperson of the Napanee Business Improvement Association, a business operator within ward 5 (old town of Napanee), residential property owner in ward 4. My family and I own property in the majority of wards within Greater Napanee within a majority of property tax categories.

"I am firmly opposed to this amendment request by the town of Greater Napanee for the following reasons," in no particular order:

"(1) One vote, one ward does not fairly represent the population or the taxation of some wards, ie South Fredericksburgh," with approximately 900 residents "versus Napanee ward" with approximately 5000 residents.

"(2) This amendment would change the `rules of the game' that the five wards agreed to in 1997 for two or three municipal terms. The present deal was agreed to in good faith by the elected officials of the day who some were incidentally elected for this current term of council as well.

"(3) The vote on the resolution for an amendment itself doesn't fairly represent the true population or taxation representation of the larger wards, especially Napanee and Richmond township.

"(4) We have already experienced resolutions voted on by the majority of a council that have placed tax burdens on some wards by others. Specifically the area rating of police services onto ward 5 (Napanee) by the so-called rural wards at a cost of approximately S340,000 to ward 5.

"(5) A main supporter of this amendment is the Greater Napanee Rural Ratepayers Association who only represent `paid-up' members in good standing of rural residential properties (outside ward 5 `old Napanee'). Their membership fluctuates year to year. As well, they do not represent any other tax categories within their ward or multi-ward, multi-tax category rural ratepayers who may not support their cause.".

"(6) Personally, after seeing the one vote, one ward policy in action for this term, it is probably the last option that I would consider for our future councils. If the present members of our council (who may not even be our elected officials in the future) do not like the weighted vote policy, perhaps we should consider a more appropriate representation policy, specifically no wards but" candidates elected at large.

"As a member of the Napanee town council from 1989-94, we had amalgamation discussions with Richmond township and North Fredericksburgh each and every year. This is not a new issue, but unbalanced representation (one vote, one ward) was never an option" that I was ever aware of or would have even considered at that time as well.

"If you accept this amendment, you will never have equitable representation based on population and/or taxation. As a matter of fact, the present wards are in conflict with each other now within our own municipality. The `rural wards' being presented to you are not true rural wards made up of agricultural and rural residential stakeholders. The majority of the `rural wards' have significant industrial tax category partners and two `rural wards,' Richmond and North Fredericksburgh, have large urban residential tax category partners and water and sewer services partners, which also includes South Fredericksburgh.

"I respectfully request your standing committee reject this amendment proposal and direct Greater Napanee to fulfill its next municipal election representation policy, weighted voting, or accept a proposal for an open election of" representative councillors at large and eliminate the wards completely.

I would be happy to speak with your committee members in person if required.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Lucas. There may be some questions for you as we proceed so I hope you'll stay on the line.

Mr Lucas: Yes.

The Chair: I'm going to move now to Mr Coburn, parliamentary assistant, to ask if the government has any comments on this bill.

Mr Coburn: After reviewing this, the government has no objection to the bill, and in fact our position has always been to provide democratic decision-making at the local level, and through recent amendments such as in Bill 25 and Bill 62, which is now being debated, the goal is to provide a wider range of decision-making capability at the local level.

I would like to point out that council had an opportunity, as pointed out by the legal counsel of Napanee, to look at the issue of ward boundaries and had an opportunity to do that by December 31, 1999. They chose not to and as a result the bill is coming forward. If there are recommendations or suggestions that the ministry would have, it would be based more on the principle of one representative, one vote. Possibly a look at redistribution of ward boundaries by the new council would be something they may want to visit if they're looking at making a decision in terms of fair representation.


The Chair: We'll move to questions. Actually, if I may begin, Mr Wilkin, you may have answered this but I was a bit perplexed-let me display my bias upfront. I carried forward a private member's bill in the Legislature to grant an additional councillor's position for the ward of East York in the new amalgamated city of Toronto, based on the principle of representation by population. I believe very strongly in that. I also am not a fan of weighted votes. I think it should be done by ward boundary representation or by the number of councillors within ward boundaries, whichever structure is appropriate for that municipality.

I was confused when you indicated that the council didn't pursue ward boundary changes because they felt there was a legal impediment to that in the ministerial order, yet what you're here today to seek on behalf of the council is an amendment to a ministerial order, and that could have been done with respect to ward boundaries. You made a reference a bit later that perhaps the reason for that was, with all of the turmoil through amalgamation, not wanting to have greater disruption. I wasn't sure if you were relating that to the argument not to pursue the ward boundaries. I was wondering if you could clarify that for me.

Mr Wilkin: There were two issues in there. The first was that even if council had wanted to pursue rejigging the wards in 1999, there was a real concern that they didn't have the authority to do it. The reason was that even though the Municipal Act gives councils generally the authority to either eliminate their wards or rejig their wards, because their ward structure had been established by a minister's order and certain language in the act that dealt with minister's orders, there was a real question that if you are established by a minister's order, does it effectively preclude you from changing anything in the minister's order.

The Chair: I understood that part, but if that had been the preferred option, the same request you're making here today to amend a ministerial order, you could have been coming forward to request that the ministerial order be amended with respect to ward boundaries. The question I'm asking is, why did the council decide to ask to have the weighted voting amended, as opposed to having the minister's order or direction with respect to ward boundaries amended?

Mr Wilkin: May I defer to Mr Callery?

The Chair: Absolutely.

Mr Callery: During the discussions a number of options were brought forward to council, including the elimination of ward boundaries completely. The host of options was all considered. Council's consideration at the time as to why they chose to go this route was that this route better represented a status quo situation as far as keeping as many things constant as we possibly could at that point in time.

What we've heard is that there have been a number of very controversial issues that have come up before this council, as could be expected with any newly amalgamated council. A lot of those issues dealt with things such as taxation. They've managed to work through those processes, and as we've heard from Mr Wilkin, there was a bit of a pendulum swing between the different years of this term of council, but they've managed to try and balance those issues.

They felt with the number of changes that people have seen-removal or change of where their municipal office used to be; the loss, somewhat, of what they felt was a municipal identity; the issues around: "Where are my services being provided from? What services am I getting as to what I used to get? Where does my tax bill go? How does this happen? How does that happen?"-there have been a number of upheavals in people's lives over the last three years.

Council felt that with this election we're already going through a change in the fact that we're going to an optical scan type of election. There were other election issues as well. Nothing here is happening in isolation, unfortunately. With all the changes that people have seen over the last three years, and are going to continue to see, council felt, "Let's try and keep something constant in this storm."

The constant they felt, and the best route we could follow through on, was to try and-the weighted voting system wasn't the right answer for this municipality is what council deemed. So the best thing to do was wait out the change. With the authorities that are coming down through the passing of Bill 25, if future councils want to try and look at how to solve the issue for the long term, they have the tools to do that now, but they felt the best thing to do at this point in time was to try and weather the storm and keep some continuity.

The Chair: Mr Lucas, do you have any comments on that?

Mr Lucas: Yes, I do. In general, with Mr Wilkin and Ray, everything that's stated is a matter of perception. All is not well. To suggest that future councils will make changes as required-the future is now. The representatives in 1997 concluded that the first two terms of council would follow this train of thought and this amalgamation with the whole purpose that in one, two or three councils we wouldn't be wards; we would be one municipality. Every person in the municipality is distinct, but this entrenches something that is fairly inconsistent with representation and it prolongs something that was decided in 1997 to happen for this term. So, nothing personal, but everything commented here is perception. It's not reflective of the council as a whole. There was not a unanimous vote for this. The delaying of something that's inevitable to make us one municipality as opposed to four or five is a point that should be made and carried through on that obligation.

Mr Clark: Mr Callery, is it the intention of the town council to look at redivision of ward boundaries, not in the election in November but before the next election in 2003?

Mr Callery: In this term of council, to be fair to the elected officials who are around the table, the conversations that took place around this issue were that when they looked at the options that were available to them, I think they felt that for this particular term, going into this next election, the status quo was the best opportunity.

Although there has been a large amount of discussion and certainly there's a large amount of discussion within the municipality as to whether it is better to redistribute the wards or remove the ward system completely and go to elections at large, that's certainly something that very well could become an election issue on which people may want to question the councillors as they run on their platforms, as they form those for the new election. But I don't think this council has tried to predetermine or tie the hands of the future elected councillors as they may come in after November. I think at this point they are willing to leave the decision as to how to best run the following election with the next council. They would assume that if it is a highly contested topic within the community itself, that will be brought forward either during people's platforms or during the conversations that come out over the next few years.

I really don't think that this council has tried to predetermine that decision. At this point in time they are just taking the direction that they have to deal with the matter at hand right now, which is how this is going to be handled.

Mr Clark: What type of public consultation was there with regard to the amendment you're presenting today?

Mr Callery: As far as the amendment goes, there was initial information that was gathered. Basically, as staff, we were approached to get legal interpretations on what was available, what were the options available before us, and that was brought before council. After council had an opportunity to take a look at what the legal options were, there were two following meetings. Those meetings are regular meetings that are held. We have a property committee, which is all of council, that meets the second Monday and then again the fourth Monday, and the council minutes come up.

So that was discussed at that point in time. There were two open meetings that the public were able to attend and give input on those. Then there was a follow-up that was held by the actual councillor for ward 5. After the decision was made, we then had another follow-up meeting to that, just to make sure the constituents in ward 5 understood that. There was some controversy that was discussed at that particular time. That's basically the process we went through. There were two open public meetings where it was discussed.

Mr Clark: These were council meetings?

Mr Callery: Council meetings where it was decided that this was the best direction for the municipality to go at this time. After that, there was some follow-up discussion just so that the ward 5 councillor could make sure that her constituents clearly understood the issues, how that was decided, and how that came out.


Mr Clark: So there wasn't a formalized consultation process to reach out to the public to get as much input as possible?

Mr Callery: Through those meetings, yes, there was.

Mr Clark: Through the council meetings?

Mr Callery: It came up at a property meeting and then it came up again at council meetings and through-

Mr Clark: But those are standard meetings?

Mr Callery: Those are the standard meetings.

Mr Clark: So there was not a special meeting called with advertising, inviting the constituents out to talk about this specific issue?

Mr Callery: Not a specific advertisement for this particular issue. It was held during the general meetings, although there was press coverage after the first meeting and before the second meeting was held to make the decision.

Mr Clark: Just two more questions, if I may. I agree with the Chair. Weighted votes are not my cup of tea and never have been, so I guess I agree in principle in terms of what you're doing. I have some concerns that there was not the consultation that I would have liked to have seen. I'm a firm believer in wide public consultation.

In listening to Mr Lucas-and I'm assuming that he's still with us?

Mr Lucas: Yes, I am.

Mr Clark: He made a statement which interested me. I'm going to read it: "If you accept this amendment, you will never have equitable representation based on population and/or taxation." Why is it, Mr Lucas, that you believe that?

Mr Lucas: I don't feel that a ward within a municipality that has approximately 55% of the population and/or 50% of the tax base should be on equal footing with a ward that only has 900. I want to give you an example. Nobody's talking about the concessions that the larger municipalities made to the smaller ones in the first term of this new municipality. When South Fredericksburgh and Adolphustown came in, they were given equal status to the larger wards, which was one vote, one ward, which I think is a concession that hasn't been talked about, hasn't been duly noted. I really think it's unfair that taxation policies and budgets could be implemented against wards that (a) didn't vote for it, and (b) have a larger representation than the other ones.

I feel really bad that there might be situations where a vote has cast an obligation on to one ward versus another against their will, but that works both ways. There are inequities, and if you look at the wards prior to the amalgamation, for example-and if I can be brief here-old Napanee had services provided to the surrounding wards that were never equitably costed out. For example, we have an arena in Napanee that is located in Richmond township. The old town of Napanee for years has paid a subsidy on the arena-and I'm a hockey guy-for the benefit of the other wards. I know for a fact that when I was on council the majority of kids who used that arena actually lived in North Fredericksburgh. Napanee picked up a tab of about a "$200,000 a year deficit" for a facility that wasn't even in their own municipality and was being used by other wards at their benefit.

The other one is-as Mr Coburn, the former mayor of a community will know-because of historical policy adopted by the province of Ontario, because the town of Napanee was a town and not a township, we've paid for policing for 125 or 150 years. If we were the township of Napanee, we would never have paid for policing at all. So, in fact, your taxpayers in Napanee ward have paid two taxes, a provincial tax for policing in general, and a civic tax for policing. This seems to be one issue that is really a sore point and that I feel has been unduly assessed against Napanee. How do you change the historical fact of paying for policing in a ward that in effect is 850 acres which, that for historical accounting purposes, has only been kept track of because it has to? There's no police records of the surrounding townships because there was never a need to keep a record of them. Now we've had to balance it out to say who pays what for policing? Well, for the first time, and I think it's long overdue, everyone who requires policing should pay for it.

There seems to be an inherent bias or problem with determining how much Napanee ward should pay for and the other municipalities not pay for. I'll tell you, any of those people in those rural wards who need the service will expect the service there, just like fire, ambulance or any other special services.

Another major component was, for example, building services. For years the township of North Fredericksburgh used the building department of Napanee on a per call basis while the municipality of Napanee paid for the overhead and everything else.

The last thing is-and I want to make this very clear-it's only because of historical boundaries that you have five wards now. One hundred and some years ago, Napanee was sectioned off of Richmond township and is, in fact, an 850-acre parcel that hasn't changed for over 100 years. While it is time to change it and it is time for fair and equitable taxation, I'm in a position, unfortunately, that it doesn't matter where I live or what I own, I pay taxes for the whole municipality. I want my properties fairly treated based on the services they provide and the tax that they pay. In 1999, when the two tax policies came in, you had buildings on opposites sides of the street, commercial properties, paying different taxes for policing services that, in fact, were not getting different services. So there are two sides to the coin.

I'm a supporter of the community as a whole, as are many rural ratepayers who haven't come forward to you today, and I just want to see the town remain on the course that they picked in 1997 for the eventual blending of one municipality. We've got a great municipality, we've got great people and we want to see us move ahead as a whole. It is perception, and those are my opinions.

Mr Clark: Thank you, Mr Lucas.

Mr Clark: Madam Chair, if I may, to Mr Coburn. In the Ontario Municipal Act, if I recall, there is a section or a clause that states: "150 electors may petition a municipality to redivide their ward boundaries. If the municipality does not respond within 30 days, then any one of those electors may go to the Ontario Municipal Board to request the redivision of ward boundaries." Does that still stand in the Ontario Municipal Act?

Mr Coburn: Yes.

Mr Clark: Yes, it does. So in this case, if Mr Lucas is concerned that the town council is not going to do, in his opinion, what is right and redivide ward boundaries, he can do a petition of 150 legitimate electors and force the issue? Yes?

Mr Coburn: It has to go to council, yes-

Mr Clark: It goes to council and they have 30 days to respond. Is that correct?

Mr Coburn: Then the council has 30 days to respond.

Mr Clark: If they don't respond within 30 days, any of the electors who signed the petition may petition the Ontario Municipal Board?

Mr Coburn: That's correct.

Mr Clark: Thank you, Madam Chair.

The Chair: Could I just ask for clarification on that? If they respond and the electors are unhappy with that response, do they have the right of appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board?

Mr Clark: I believe they do.

Mr Coburn: If they don't pass it in accordance with the petition, they have the right to appeal to the OMB.

The Chair: That's what I thought it was. Thank you very much.

Any further questions?

Mr Pat Hoy (Chatham-Kent Essex): You've answered other similar questions on why you didn't consider wards and, as well, public meetings. You did say the original plan for weighted votes was a negotiated settlement. I'm from Chatham-Kent and we had a commissioner restructure the area quite dramatically. It's my understanding that there was a chance, an opportunity to revisit that imposed restructuring at a later date. Did you have anything within the minister's order to revisit any aspect of what happened in your community? There wasn't that chance?

Mr Wilkin: Under what circumstances, sir? Do you mean in terms of the municipality?

Mr Hoy: Yes.

Mr Wilkin: There's nothing in the order that allows the municipality to seek amendment. In fact, I think this was one of the flaws with the original restructuring legislation. It didn't even address the issue of how you amend these orders. The order was challenged in court, actually, by one of the municipalities on the whole issue of being forced into restructuring but that challenge was-

Mr Hoy: For example, there was no opportunity to look at ward boundaries later, after a period of time, for instance, five years?

Mr Wilkin: There was nothing explicitly in the order that said you can revisit this issue of ward boundaries.

Mr Hoy: Thank you. I find it interesting that the original order said that there would be two votes instead of one except when voting on changes to ward boundaries. It's only one exception. The council, whoever they may be or wherever they're from, would vote in all other matters with weighted voting except for this one instance. Has it ever been explained to you why the minister felt that there should be this one exception and one only?


Mr Wilkin: I'm not sure it was a decision of the minister. I think it was probably a provision that was in the proposal that came forward as a result of the negotiated exercise, but the reason behind it, I certainly don't know. Do you know, Mr Callery?

Mr Callery: I should probably just go back a little bit for the committee. You have to understand that when this was a negotiated settlement, it was a negotiation that took place over a period of about 14 days, with 27 elected officials and about six staff members locked in a room until about 3 in the morning.

When this was done, going back through my notes, at one point in time the proposal that would have come forward from the county would have read slightly differently from what was actually passed by the minister and put into an order. I'm not sure exactly where the translation changed, and I was never able to really obtain that. But at one point in time it stated that in the first term everyone would have one vote, and then in the second term, which we are about to enter into, the weighted voting system would come into effect, based on what you've seen. Then in the third term, council would have an opportunity to review that. When the minister's order was passed, and subsequently when the proposal went in, the way it read was that the first and second parts of it were in there and the third part never was.

I guess what concerns council to some extent is that with no section in the Municipal Act dealing with this-and obviously the initial intent was never to allow lower-tier municipalities to have this authority-even if we wanted to change the boundaries in the future and we have that authority, we're still stuck with the fact that we can never get rid of a weighted voting system, because there is no authority for us to change that without going through this legislation and going through this process.

If we go through the process of changing the way our wards look, what we in essence could end up with when you design it and lay it out, is that it is potentially possible to have a five-ward system in our community, every one with more than 2,500 voters. But then what you end up creating is a ward system whereby five elected councillors have two votes each, and a mayor and deputy reeve elected at large have one vote each still, because we're still entrenched in the way that order reads.

Even if we're going to correct this in the future-we come before the standing committee and the Legislature now asking for this change or we come later, saying that we've adjusted our ward boundaries-we still require this change from the Legislature. We certainly require this bill to be seriously considered and passed so that we can move on.

Mr Hoy: In your earlier comments you mentioned that reducing the number of council members was a government ideal, and I would agree to that. It was a government ideal to reduce the number of councillors in your community and elsewhere, and the government took certain initiatives to see that it would happen.

I'm actually kind of surprised that the government isn't introducing this bill themselves rather than going through a private bill. They charge on with certain ideals they have on how municipalities should operate. It's encouraging that you have this opportunity to come in with a private bill, but at the same time I'm surprised the government hasn't recognized the situation that your council currently is undertaking and brought forward their own bill to rectify this, when it is stated that they have no objection to it. It's curious to me that they wouldn't do it themselves as a government.

The Chair: Mr Hoy, is that a question or a comment at this point? We will have an opportunity to debate as well.

Mr Hoy: I'm just glad that you have this venue and this opportunity to put forth what some of the people in your community, at least, believe. I have no further questions.

Mr Gill: I have a couple of comments and a question perhaps. It does seem unfair that somebody elected from ward 1 with 864 electors versus ward 5 with 4,800 electors has the same powers. But I know I've heard from members who are perhaps more experienced in that sense that two wards per se are not acceptable.

My concern is that council should have seriously looked at redrawing the boundaries. I think we all seem to be saying that. I don't think that option was exercised. The second option would be the election at large. It's not such a number of electors in total, overall 13,000. I'm sure the people in the community who are actually running for these seats are known to the total population, and therefore an option should be looked at whether they should be members running at large. That way there is equity between the mayor and the council members.

One of the options I'm looking at is a novel idea-I don't know if it's even legally possible; I don't know if the option is there-to let the council go back and look at redrawing the boundaries and delay section 4.3(b)(ii) to come into effect later on, perhaps three years from now, so that we still keep on the books that option of having two voting powers, but that gives you time and incentive to look at redrawing the boundaries and making it more equitable.

The Chair: Mr Gill, could I just understand what you're attempting to do. You're attempting to have the minister's order remain in effect for perhaps three years, at which point it would be revoked, as opposed to-

Mr Gill: I'm saying we revisit that in light of maybe their having by then looked at the boundaries and-

The Chair: So the effect of what you're suggesting would be simply to defeat the bill. I'm just looking at it legally. I wasn't sure if you were trying to move an amendment. What you're proposing is that perhaps this is an issue that should come back to this committee at such time as they've addressed the issue of ward boundaries? I think Mr Callery was saying that they would need this done anyway at some point in time.

Mr Gill: Yes, I agree with that.

The Chair: You're saying it's a question of timing?

Mr Gill: Correct.

The Chair: Did you want to respond to Mr Gill?

Mr Callery: There are a couple of concerns I have with the proposal. I just want to make sure I understand exactly what you're proposing. The proposal is to somehow delay the weighted voting coming in November but coming in three years from now, is that-

Mr Gill: That's what I'm looking at, if that's an option, the status quo for three years.

The Chair: People would continue to have one vote per ward for three years, so that the weighted voting option would not begin-

Mr Gill: It does not kick in for three years, to give them time to look at that option. I don't know if it's possible.

Mr Callery: If that actually occurred, and council having gone through another process to look at boundaries within itself, if they still decided to keep any form at all of elections by ward, and even if they did that to have better representation by population, to go down that road and address that we would still, under the wording-and let my solicitor correct me if I'm wrong here-end up three years from now having a situation where my mayor and my deputy reeve, if they keep those titles, elected at large, would still only be authorized to have one vote and the councillors from each of those wards, assuming they divided it up five ways and had 2,500 in each ward, would still have two votes. In essence we'd still be left with a problem, based on just the existing wording, that even exists in the order today.

Mr Gill: That's fine. My concern is that I don't think enough due diligence has been done in terms of looking at the election at large so that everybody is equal, or redrawing the boundaries. I didn't hear that due diligence was done.

Mr Wilkin: With respect, sir, I submit that they did look at it. The Chair raised the issue of, well, if they wanted to redistribute the boundaries, why didn't they do it through a private act? But I think you heard Mr Callery indicate that what they were really seeking was as little change as possible, because of all the other change that had gone on.


In looking at the options-and clearly that would've been one of the options to them-it would nevertheless have been disruptive or an upheaval. People would've been going into this election with now new boundaries and new wards and who represents who, whereas the objective was really to try and soften things down, slow things down, preserve the status quo. I don't think the issue of redrawing the boundaries is off the table. I think it's just being put off until the next council when, hopefully, after getting this first term as an amalgamated municipality behind them, the sailing will get a little easier and they can come back and redress that issue.

The Chair: Mrs Dombrowsky, did you want to respond to this question?

Mrs Dombrowsky: Are we going to be wrapping up soon, do you think? I can maybe-

The Chair: One would hope so, but people have indicated they want to speak.

Mrs Dombrowsky: I maybe will wait.

The Chair: OK. Mr Clark.

Mr Clark: A quick question for the parliamentary assistant. I'm slightly confused here. My colleague has done it to me yet again. Did the minister order a ministerial regulation which set in place the weighted voting? Was it a ministerial regulation?

Mr Coburn: A ministerial order.

Mr Clark: A ministerial order. In terms of the ward boundaries, the ward boundaries are set by ministerial regulation or order?

Mr Coburn: Order.

Mr Clark: So it's the same thing. The ward boundaries could've been done by the municipal council through the normal process under the Ontario Municipal Act. They could've re-divided had they desired to do so, yes?

Mr Coburn: That's correct, by December 31.

Mr Clark: However, this portion of it, they have to come with a private bill in terms of the weighted vote to repeal that particular clause.

The Chair: Actually, if I may tag on a question to that, Mr Coburn, because I understood the discussion we had a little differently, that both the boundaries and the weighted vote were part of the ministerial order. The council had the option of pursuing a change in boundaries or a change in weighted vote by coming forward with the private bill. They could have gone either option. Because of the argument we've heard about disruption and wanting to maintain the status quo, they've chosen to bring the request forward to do away with the weighted vote, as opposed to a request forward to change the ward boundaries.

Mr Clark: So in the process, this was their decision to go down this path to where they are. Then I would humbly suggest that I will be supporting the bill as it is being presented here.

The Chair: Could I indicate at this time, we're going to have a moment for some comments and debate. I'd like to wrap up the question part. Did you have any questions that you wanted to put, Mr Coburn?

Mr Coburn: No, I have no questions.

The Chair: Are there any further questions?

Mr Gonsalves: Madam Chair, is it possible for me to make any comments at this point?

The Chair: It is. What I'm going to do is ask each of the interested parties, then the applicant, then the bill sponsor to make some wrap-up comments. In light of the time, I'm going to ask you to keep them quite brief so that the committee has appropriate time to debate the bill itself if they so wish. If I may begin, Mr Lucas, to invite you to make some brief closing remarks.

Mr Lucas: Thanks very much. Very quickly, my only comments are, as a municipality, it's certainly not to our benefit to be bickering over something that is maybe more logistical than anything else. We have a great municipality. I think the amalgamation itself has done wonders for us. By the way, we were voted one of the 10 prettiest towns in Canada by Harrowsmith magazine. Council had a lot to do with that-just kidding.

I think this is a fundamentally serious enough issue to be addressed. I'd be happy with anything other than the status quo. Electing councillors at large might be a great compromise. As Ray Callery stated very clearly, it would be easy at this time to divide the municipality up, irrespective of the present wards, into five equal parts based on representation. If you look at your map of Napanee, you'll almost see that the centre of the matrix is highways 2 and 41. I'm sure there's a compromise that could be made. If it means reorganizing the wards themselves so they don't represent the current old municipalities, that might be a nice compromise, but the other one might be just councillors at large.

It is a matter of perception. The people involved have a lot of great points. I don't want to debate the plus or the minus of either one of them. It's a tough call, but I don't think the present status is acceptable, and delaying it for another three years will fester even more. I think it would be easier to find a resolution prior to this election if everyone sat down and worked it out. I'm in support of the municipality and its council and the things they're doing, but this is a very fundamental issue. I hope we resolve it.

Mr Gonsalves: I wanted to address a couple of points that Mr Lucas made because I feel obliged to. I feel it's really off topic, but having introduced it, I feel I'm obliged to respond.

One of the issues is the business of policing. All he had to say about Napanee-if it were not this, we'd not be paying for policing etc. One of the problems my association has had with the council of Greater Napanee is that, notwithstanding the fact that the province of Ontario gives a CRF grant for the rural wards for policing, all the wards that started paying for policing, come January 1, 1998-had never paid for it before-through municipal taxes, the province of Ontario introduced regulations to make sure that those wards would only be paying a maximum of $90 per household. That's one point.

The second point is that pre-amalgamation, the former town of Napanee was paying approximately $660,000 for their policing for 1997-and the prior eight to 10 years, I'm told, the same amount-under contract with the OPP. It has been clearly established, both from the government side and from my research, that in 1997 the real cost of that policing was $1.3 million. So they were in fact being subsidized by the Ontario government for the difference between that and what they were paying.

When they struck a one-rate, we were there on June 8, 1998, without any numbers because we were new to it, telling them that if they went the route they were going they were going to shift close to $1 million of taxes from the ward of Napanee to the four rural wards, which in fact did happen. But the point I want to make about that is that their policing costs in 1997 were about $660,000, when the real cost was $1.3 million. But because it was under contract, that's what they paid.

In 1998, by striking a one-rate, it went from $660,000 to $281,000. The rest was picked up by the four rural boards. The OPP carries statistics on responses and calls made on policing. In the ward of Adolphustown in which I live, the 900 people have 3% of all the calls and responses from the OPP. So I don't think it is fair to say, as Mr Lucas did, that Napanee is being done in with the cost of policing. In all my representations at council-and I have been at maybe all the council meetings so far; I think some people consider me an eighth councillor-I don't think that was a fair comment.

I also want to touch very briefly on the process of changing ward boundaries or whatever. I firmly believe that council was grappling with: How is that process going to unfold? What do we have to do and how long will it take to do that? I think that was a consideration, and they weren't sure about that. That's my sense of that one.

As I mentioned earlier, we also have some other issues. This whole question of a negotiated settlement at the amalgamation table, in principle, that's what it was. But previous speakers have alluded to the fact that it was done in a short space of time under a lot of pressure, so I don't think the best results came out of that. A lot of people are now having second thoughts about some of the things they agreed to at that table. It's not that we are saying it's not a negotiated resolution. We are saying it wasn't properly done and now they're having second thoughts about a number of things.

We stacked up the proposal that went from the county of Lennox and Addington against the ministerial order and there are a number of things in terms of area rating of services. Make no mistake about it, we firmly believe that the people at the table recognized that there should be area rating of services because Napanee was a town entrenched with all these services that we don't have. There are certain things that are in the proposal that are not in the minister's order. We can't find out why they're not there and who took them out and so and so forth. We are hoping to do that. We have those issues with the Minister of Municipal Affairs.


The Chair: I have to ask you to wrap up or it's possible the bill won't be dealt with today.

Mr Gonsalves: I don't want that at all. OK, maybe I'll just leave it at that.

Oh, one last point is the question of public meetings for the weighted voting. I think Mr Clark asked about that. There was one public meeting specifically called by the councillor from the ward of Napanee on this issue, which I attended. There was a petition there, and my understanding was that out of the 4,700 and whatever, they had 50 names on that sheet saying they don't want weighted voting changed.

So there was at least one public meeting. It was advertised in the papers and it was specifically for the constituency of ward 5, but the public was invited. I went and spoke at that meeting and other people spoke, but the bottom line is it is my understanding they had a petition signed by people and there were only 50 who said that weighted voting stays.

The Chair: I just want to let individuals know that it's about seven minutes to 12. The committee is due to rise at 12 o'clock. I can be a little flexible, but people do build their schedules, as I have in terms of my next meeting, based on that. So if we are unable through debate to get this completed today, we'll come back to the next meeting, but I'm sure people would like to see this resolved, if possible.

Mr Wilkin, do you have final remarks?

Mr Wilkin : Thirty seconds, Madam Chair, just to say that I think if there is a common thread in both the parties for and against this legislation, it is the need to continue to look at the issue of ward structure and ward distribution.

My submission to you, though: Passing this bill does not preclude that debate from being carried on. Indeed, I submit to you, maintaining the status quo provides a more conducive environment to having that debate, rather than having that debate in an environment where now some councillors have two votes and some don't.

There is discussion of perception. I'd simply submit to you, who best to assess the perception than the elected councillors of the municipality? It's their will, based on their perception of what's best for the municipality, that this legislation should be enacted. I would ask this committee to respect that request and support the legislation. Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Wilkin. Mr Callery, nothing? Mrs Dombrowsky.

Mrs Dombrowsky: Thank you very much, Madam Chair. As you can see, this is a most complex and controversial issue within the community of Napanee in my riding.

I indicated earlier that when the municipality approached my office to sponsor a private bill, I believed I had a responsibility as the local MPP to do that. I have certain opinions on a variety of the elements of the ministerial order and the private bill that has come forward. I, like you, would not be a proponent of weighted votes. However, having said that, I have had correspondence and conversation with constituents, both those who are in favour of the private bill and those who are opposed. I've indicated to those who are opposed that, as their local member, I would make those points and I will do those now very briefly.

The first one is with regard to the integrity of the initial agreement that was negotiated by all five municipalities. It has been presented to me and, if we want to respect the decisions of elected officials, they are all elected officials who participated in that original document. They would say that if there had been an understanding at the time of amalgamation that the rules were going to change, very possibly the community might look different than it does today.

There was also a question from a constituent with regard to the fact that this has not yet been implemented, so the problems that have been presented are purely hypothetical at this point in time. The question was, why is there a change when nothing has been implemented that can demonstrate that it does present inequity or unfairness or a bullying attitude, which I thought was a valid point of concern.

The other was with regard to the lack of consultation. It has been indicated that one councillor, who I believe voted against this at council level, took it upon herself, because the community had not had an opportunity to really in a more public way be made aware of what the bill was all about, and used her own resources to provide that meeting for the public.

Just with regard to rejigging the boundaries, I think the people at this table need to understand that in rural Ontario it's not as easy as just going to a map and carving up a community along population lines. They have community identities. Adolphustown has an identify. South Fredericksburgh has an identity. They've been municipalities and they were told: "You're no longer large enough to exist. You've got to amalgamate." The people now are left at least with their wards. They continue to be from the ward of Adolphustown. I would suggest to try to even out the wards, there is going to be a reaction within the community. When we talk very cavalierly at this table, "We'll just even it out," it's not, in reality, easily achieved.

I thank you so much. You've really given this a very thorough hearing, and on behalf of my constituents in the municipality I thank you so very much for that.

The Chair: Thank you, Mrs Dombrowsky. Let me just take a look at the committee members. Are people able to spend just a few minutes past 12 to get this resolved today? OK, thank you. We will continue.

Mr Clark, you had indicated that you wanted to put some comments on the record?

Mr Clark: I support the private bill that's before us. With reference to redivision of the ward boundaries, there is the authority and the opportunity for constituents to get involved in the redivision of the ward boundaries through the Ontario Municipal Act. I don't take redivision of ward boundaries cavalierly at all. There are numerous Supreme Court decisions that support representation by population and it's something that any municipality should look at. My own municipality will be looking at it in three years' time.

I think at this point in time there is ample evidence that we should be supporting the bill. They have an opportunity to deal with redivision of ward boundaries at a later date.

The Chair: Thank you. Is there further debate?

Mr Gill: No further comments.

Mrs Boyer: No, maybe just to say that I too share the fact that it is a complex thing because you've got the pros and cons. We've got people for it. We've got people who wrote letters and I think that public consultation should have been made because this is a very important issue. I would hope they would think about the boundary changes and maybe that way Mr Lucas could reconcile. That's all I have to say.

The Chair: Mr Coburn, did you have any final remarks?

Mr Coburn: Just a couple, Madam Chair. The ministry supports this bill based on a couple of things. One of the things we've been trying to do is put more authority and responsibility on the elected officials in the local situations. Yes, there was a ministerial order, but quite clearly there has been a lot of debate and a lot of discussion and it was laid out to us very clearly by the officials from Napanee.

The council has been taking this issue seriously, and they are elected to represent the views of their public and resolve some of these issues. To give you an example of how the ministry reacts so that we do have the tools in place to make local decisions, there was Bill 25. Unfortunately, that decision was made a little too late to be able to accommodate the council for the year 2000.

The comment was made by my colleague, "Why wouldn't the government initiate this change?" From the ministry's point of view, you cannot anticipate each and every situation and put them into a book. But you can put the tools there that facilitate individual municipalities and individuals to come forward in light of things that we may never have thought of, to be treated in a fair and democratic manner like this. For that reason, the ministry is fully supportive of this bill.

The Chair: Thank you. Seeing no further debate, are members ready to vote? May I ask if there is anyone who intends to move an amendment of any sort? We'll deal with all the sections together then.

Bill Pr22, An Act respecting the town of Greater Napanee, sponsored by Mrs Dombrowsky, MPP:

Shall sections 1 through 3 carry? That is carried.

Shall the preamble carry? That is carried.

Shall the title carry? That is carried.

Shall the bill carry? That is carried.

Shall I report the bill to the House? That shall be done.

Mr Lucas, thank you very much for joining us.

Mr Lucas: Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today with this nice technology. I'm sorry I couldn't be there, but this a great balance.

The Chair: I appreciate that.

Mr Gonsalves, we appreciate your attendance here today. Mr Wilkin, Mr Callery and Mrs Dombrowsky, thank you very much.

That will be reported out in a report to the House, probably this afternoon. We'll see if we can get it ready. It's most likely to be done this afternoon, and of course it's in the hands of the Legislative Assembly.

Committee members, the next item of business is consideration of a comprehensive response to the first report on regulations, 1999. I wonder if someone might humour me and place a motion to table that till our next regular meeting? Thank you, Mr Gill.

Is there any debate on that motion? All those in favour, please indicate. Those opposed?

That's carried.

Number 5 is any other business. Does anyone have the nerve to raise other business at this moment? I've got something to get to, you can tell.

Could I have a motion to adjourn? Mr Gill, so moved. All those in favour? Carried.

The committee is adjourned.

The committee adjourned at 1200.