Following public consultations a new division, Division 7, has been added to the RM.
New Division Seven and Division Three as of July 2020
In 2016, the RM of Edenwold’s divisional electoral boundaries were altered to address population change within the central portion of the RM. This change altered the boundaries for Divisions 1 and 5, and remapped Division 3 to represent all of Emerald Park. In 2018, additional public consultation led to further changes in divisional boundaries. More information on those alterations can be found here.
In the summer of 2020, RM council again asked the public to consider three proposed boundary alteration options. Two copies of the Proposed Electoral Boundary Alterations form were sent to each household and business in the RM. Digital copies of the form were also posted on the website. There were several options given for the return of the forms and four open house events were also organised to give residents the chance to ask questions and drop off forms. 79 forms were returned to the RM, and over 20 residents attended the open houses. Of forms received, 78% came from residents of Emerald Park, the other 22% self-identifying as residents of areas outside Emerald Park. Overall, there was strong support for an additional division by residents of Emerald Park with 84% of respondents saying they are in support.
Questions Raised During the 2020 Consultation Process:
Q: Why is the RM doing this now?
A: Some residents have asked that divisional boundaries be reviewed to create more balance based on population. There has also been misinformation disseminated about how council representation works within our diverse municipality. Every councillor is informed of the operations of the entire municipality and makes decisions based on what they believe best serves residents. This creates an environment for careful consideration of a wide variety of matters with little personal bias influencing voting and decision-making.
Q: Why is the RM only adding one new councillor and not two?
A: The RM council has been following a gradual approach to adding councillors and changing divisional boundaries (see Background information above). For 2020, and in time for fall elections, the municipality is considering the addition of one council seat. This gives potential candidates time to decide if they will put their name forward and familiarize themselves with municipal government practices. Pending the outcome of the ongoing municipal district discussions with the Village of Edenwold, 2022 may see other changes to the makeup of council. Municipal districts also open up options for electoral ward systems.
Q: What factors does council consider when making decisions about divisional boundaries?
A: Council considers many factors in the interest of creating balance at the council table and ensuring representation of citizens and businesses from all different sectors and all across the municipality. These factors include, but are not limited to, population, land area, employment areas and sectors, potential growth and future development, natural or other physical barriers and citizen input. This year, council has received input from residents through a number of channels including:
- Consultation form responses
- Other written comments and suggestions
- Verbal comments made during the open houses and to municipal staff
- Resident feedback presented verbally to council via the public consultation forum or through personal outreach
Proposed Electoral Boundary Alterations - FAQ
Q: Would the proposed addition of another councillor for Emerald Park mean that there is an even number of members on council? If so, what would happen in the event of a tie when voting?
A: The proposal would result in the RM’s council being formed of 8 members including the reeve and 7 divisional councillors as compared to today’s council, which includes the reeve and 6 divisional councillors. Sections 97 through 102 of The Municipalities Act prescribe voting procedures during council meetings. A tie vote results in a bylaw or resolution not being passed.
Q: Would the ratepayer be paying for an additional councillor and what impact would that have financially for the municipality?
A: Councillors are paid $300 per day per council meeting and 55 cents/km for transportation to and from meetings. These numbers have remained unchanged since 2014. Councillors participate in other municipal activities besides council meetings, such as committee meetings and project-based meetings and they are paid at a rate of $42.85 per hour (based on the remuneration of $300 per 7-hour day for a regular council meeting). In 2019, the average councillor indemnity was $17,375.00 including all regular meetings and project-related work.
The RM’s 2020 operating budget for General Government Services is $1,303,700.00. Council indemnities fall within this category. Overall, the addition of a new councillor represents a 1.35% increase to this budget and an impact of just over 0.1% of the overall operations expenses for the municipality of $13 Million. There is not expected to be any impact to tax rates to add another electoral division.