THREE RIVERS, P.E.I. — Following a few months of discernment, the municipality's council has taken a step away from the recommended electoral boundaries and toward an at-large structure - also known as an open ward map.
"I think an open ward is better than the map we have," Coun. Cody Jenkins said. "The (recommended) map is going to be more divisive down the road."
The request for decision was moved forward during a Three Rivers committees meeting in Georgetown on Jan. 25. Council will decide on the open ward system at a February meeting - if approved, it would reduce council from 10 to 8 councillors who would collectively look after all of Three Rivers rather than individual districts.
Two councillors advocated for accepting the electoral boundaries commission's map, which proposed an eight ward structure with one councillor per ward. Coun. Cameron MacLean said it'd balance Three Rivers' large geographical size by giving all its voters a more equal say.
"Yes, it gets a little messy," he said. "(But) it forces the councillors to represent more than just one area."
But concerns raised at past council meetings pertained to how the commission's map splits Montague across six wards, and it separates parts of some wards by rivers.
"I think most of us feel that the commission's map doesn't work," Coun. Gerard Holland said.
"I think most of us feel that the commission's map doesn't work."
- Coun. Gerard Holland
Jill Walsh, Three Rivers' chief administrative officer, told council it can't put the decision off for much longer.
The commission had filed its recommendation in September last year and needs to be in effect well before Three Rivers' 2022 election.
"We're getting some pressure from Elections P.E.I. to get our structure determined," she said.
Three Rivers' electoral boundaries commission was tasked by council to outline an eight-ward map, with each ward being of similar population size.
Working within these confines, the volunteer commission's reasoning for its recommended map was to have both rural and urban voters included in each ward.
Municipal governments must task a commission to recommend its ward structure unless the council opts for an at-large structure.
Daniel Brown is a local journalism initiative reporter, a position funded by the federal government.