The potential of a new ward system for city elections was debated rigorously by Lethbridge City Council on Tuesday. Council voted 7-2 to rescind the process of a ward system and directed city staff to rescind the Ward Commission Bylaw. Jenn Schmidt-Rempel was one of the councillors who voted against the motion. She says she was not happy with the outcome but says she will move forward with the will of council.
“I was opposed to doing that because we put that question on the ballot. Previous council put that question on the ballot to allow our electors an opportunity to decide how they would elect their elected officials. For me, hearing that voice from our community was very important. And giving that opportunity to our community, forming a ward commission and giving them the ability to have a say in how our elected representatives are elected is very important to me.”
The previous process approved in June would have cost close to $300,000 to look at recommendations of implementing a ward system by the 2025 election in Lethbridge.
Over 55 per cent of Lethbridge residents voted in favour of implementing a ward system to elect councillors in our city during the 2021 municipal election. Council voted 7-2 to instead look into a process next year of dividing our city into four quadrants. Councillor John Middleton-Hope voted in favour and was asked if he would like to see other cities implement a similar idea.
“Candidly, this is made for Lethbridge. So that’s my first and only responsibility is to ensure that we get a model where we can elect representatives in a way that is responsive and reflective of the expectations of our citizens. If other cities want to adopt this or want to modify it, or want to consult with us on the model, by all means, we’re certainly open to doing that. That’s how, from a best practices perspective, we learn, and so do they.”
Middleton-Hope say this Made in Lethbridge model will identify areas of the city with specific needs that need to be addressed. He says this new model will also allow for more citizen engagement with city councillors.