Municipal Council votes to dissolve Hudson ward
Tim Brody - Editor
The Council of the Municipality of Sioux Lookout has passed By-Law 103-21, being a bylaw to dissolve Ward 1 (Hudson), the only remaining ward within the Municipality of Sioux Lookout, effective for the 2022 General Municipal Election.
Council made the decision at their Oct. 20 regular meeting.
The Municipality conducted a ward boundary review earlier this year with a three-question survey having been sent to every household in the Municipality. Most people would have received the survey in their mailbox on or before August 27.
People could complete the survey online, mail it back to the Municipality, or drop off their completed survey at the Municipal Office.
The deadline to provide input through the survey was September 7.
People were asked how many councillors, not including the mayor, should sit on council as well as how many wards should the Municipality of Sioux Lookout have for election purposes.
The 2021 Ward Boundary Review document explained, “The Council of The Corporation of the Municipality of Sioux Lookout has directed the Municipal Clerk to undertake a Ward Boundary Review ahead of the 2022 Municipal General Election. The purpose of this review is to obtain input on whether or not the citizens of the Municipality wish to retain the Hudson Ward (Ward 1).”
The document went on to inform, “Following Commissioner Grey’s Restructuring Order in 1999, the former Town of Sioux Lookout was expanded to include areas East (to Alcona), West (to, and slightly beyond, Hudson) and South (to approximately Ojibway Provincial Park). The enlarged Municipality was structured as follows:
• Two Ward Councillors (Sioux Lookout, which covered the former Drayton and Jordan settlement areas; and Hudson (which covered the former Hudson settlement area), with residents of each Ward being able to elect one councillor for their respective Ward,
• Four Councillors-At-Large – the rest of the geographic area of the Municipality; with the remaining of the residents electing six Councillors at Large and one Mayor. That meant each voter would cast one vote for a Ward Councillor, one Vote for Mayor, and five votes for Councillors-at-Large.
“Prior to the 2014 Municipal Election, Council decided to eliminate the Sioux Lookout Ward (Ward 2), and retain the Hudson Ward (Ward 1). This restructuring left one Ward Councillor (Hudson Ward/Ward 1), five Councillors-at-Large, and one mayor.
“It has been over 20 years since Annexation, and Council is once again reviewing its electoral boundaries.”
Brian P. MacKinnon, Manager of Corporate Services/Municipal Clerk, wrote in his report to council that, “It is a leading practice that periodically Councils should review ward boundaries where a ward system exists.”
The survey sent out to the public asked how many councillors, not including the mayor, should sit on council – 99 people, 61.11 percent of respondents indicated council should continue to be comprised of six councillors.
Asked how many wards the Municipality of Sioux Lookout should have for election purposes, 92 people, 56.79 percent of respondents said the Municipality should have no wards, that all councillors should be elected “at large” to represent all residents of the Municipality equally.
Fifty-eight people, 35.80 percent of respondents felt the Hudson Ward should be retained, while 12 people, 7.41 percent of respondents, felt some other option would be preferable.
MacKinnon added in his report to council, “It is also worthwhile noting that even Commissioner Grey (the author of the Restructuring Order which gave effect to the Annexation in 1998) stated in his final Report that he was, “unconvinced of the wisdom of a long-term ward system.” It has been almost 24 years since annexation.”
Councillor Joyce Timpson stated at the council meeting, “I do agree, I don’t see the value in there being a ward for Hudson. I do sympathize with the comments though that it is a fairly unique place and has some specific needs and I would like to see there be some sort of recognition, I guess it would be in our procedure bylaw about committees that there will be a Hudson Advisory Committee that will deal with Hudson issues.”
She suggested the possibility of creating a committee to represent rural areas of the Municipality.
She also stated, “I think that there is a lot of potential for future development in Hudson. It seems to be the only place where there’s land.”
Councillor Connor Howie shared, “I too appreciate the feedback that was from the public and also do echo Councillor Timpson’s comments. I think the input of those in the rural areas of Sioux Lookout is valuable, however I also do think we need to do away with the ward system.”
Councillor Don Fenelon, the current Ward 1 (Hudson) Councillor stated, “I don’t agree with it. I think it was put there by Commissioner Grey for the residents of Hudson at a time when we didn’t want anything to do with annexation and that was sort of a little carrot for people in Hudson to give up what they had previously to that. The ward was made for the residents of Hudson, not for the residents of Sioux Lookout.”
He asked if the survey was sent out to all residents of Sioux Lookout and Hudson; MacKinnon confirmed that the survey was made available to all residents of the municipality.
“It’s up to the residents of Hudson if they want the ward or not, according to what I think Commissioner Grey put down,” Fenelon added.
Councillor Joe Cassidy stated, “I do agree that I think it is time to move away from it. I don’t think I’ve heard in my duration on council I’ve heard anyone be dismissive or non-inclusive of acknowledging Hudson and them as a part of the Municipality of Sioux Lookout. Hudson is a part of Sioux Lookout, Sioux Lookout is a part of Hudson, the histories are intertwined, there’s so much connection between our two communities – we are one and I think this needs to be acknowledged, it needs to go forward now. It has been 24 years; I think there’s enough rationale for it. When you look at representation right now, there are, based on the amount of voters we have, I believe it’s one of the five councillors for 550 voters in Sioux Lookout and Hudson has one councillor that represents less than 200 people. I believe in representation across the board, I think this is something we should look at and move forward with.”
Mayor Doug Lawrance commented, “I think of the Municipality as a community and as a community of multiple communities. We could say the geographical area is Hudson, Alcona, South Shore, the former Drayton (settlement area) the urban core, and within that there’s even sub-communities. There’s also a community of gender, there’s a community of males, females, there’s a community that are LGBTQ, each is a community in a sense. Does each community get to have a representative, no, we get elected to represent the entire community and everybody in it, whether they’re a homeowner or a renter, whether they use the emergency shelter or live in the most expensive facility, or they just own land here. They’re all part of the community and we represent them all, each and every councillor. Councillor, to my mind, represents all the people, represents the community as a whole and we act in the best interests of the community as a whole. So, I’m in support of moving on to eliminate the Hudson ward.”
“I agree with what you’re saying, but there’s been no accomplishments by this council or previous councils, with the exception of one when we did the surveys and bought the land set aside for Hudson to have, there’s been nothing actually done in Hudson comparable to what’s happening in Sioux Lookout, and that’s a long time,” Fenelon argued. “We can go back to the 80s and we have had six lots sitting up here behind Bernier Crescent that has not been dealt with by any council to put them into operation. There’s not the same amount of spending, or whatever you want, given to Hudson.”
Lawrance responded, “I would have to, just from my own observation, there was a new water treatment plant constructed in Hudson at the cost of several million dollars, I know we paved a significant portion of road in Hudson last year and every year there’s roads paved, to say there’s nothing been accomplished I think is more than a stretch, I think it’s not good information, things have been accomplished, but if you say nothing has been accomplished and we’ve had a ward representative for all those years, then perhaps it’s not meaningful to have a ward representative, maybe it would be better to try the other way.”
The Municipality shared in an advertisement in this edition of The Sioux Lookout Bulletin that, “The Council of The Corporation of the Municipality of Sioux Lookout adopted By-law No. 103-21, Being a By-law to Dissolve Ward 1 (Hudson) and to Provide for an Electoral System Consisting of Six “At-Large” Councillors and One Mayor, at its Regular Meeting held on October 20, 2021.
“Pursuant to Section 222(3) of the Municipal Act, 2001, as amended, notice is hereby given that any person who objects to this decision of Council to dissolve Ward 1 may, within 45 days of this Notice, file a notice of appeal respecting Council’s decision to the Ontario Land Tribunal, setting out the objections to the By-law and the reasons in support of the objections.”
Full details for filing a notice of appeal can be found in the Municipal Messages advertisement.