Manitoulin Planning Board passes draft weighted voting proposal, but comments around the board table leave Northeast Town council fuming

MANITOULIN—At its last meeting, the Manitoulin Planning Board (MPB) carried a motion passing a draft proposal for weighted voting put forward by the Northeast Town. The Northeast Town council was pleased with its proposed weighted voting model moving forward, but was disappointed with “inappropriate” remarks made by MPB members at its last meeting regarding the Northeast Town.

“It was an interesting evening,” commented MPB Northeast Town representative Bruce Woods of the last MPB meeting.

“There were comments in the beginning that we were a bunch of idiots and cry babies, but most of the board was respectful and we were able to come up with a draft proposal,” added Councillor Woods, referring to MPB appointee Doug Head, member for the unincorporated municipalities, and his comment during the MPB meeting that, “the whole thing is stupid (weighted voting system). It is like the Northeast Town is saying if we don’t do what they want they will act like a bunch of babies taking their bat and ball and going home. This is b.s…why would they have more votes when everyone else has one vote.”

“I’m not comfortable with these comments being made about us,” said Councillor Marcel Gauthier.

“We have been trying to be respectful throughout this whole process so comments like this are surprising,” added Northeast Town Mayor Al MacNevin.

“My personal thoughts are that comments like this are to all of the Northeast Town, council and residents because that is who I represent.”

Council discussed the issue further and requested that Mayor MacNevin write a letter to the board telling it of how “disappointed” they were that comments such as Mr. Head’s were allowed to occur at the MPB table and requesting that in future MPB members be respectful of one another.

Currently, the MPB is comprised of 11 representatives, one from each of Manitoulin’s municipalities, and during board voting procedures, each representative on the board carries one vote. If the change was to occur, the number of representatives would remain the same, but any board member could request a per capita vote, with the individual votes weighted by the percent of the requisition model (the amount of money each municipality is required to fund the MPB) of each municipality.

Northeast Town originally proposed the weighted voting model as a way to stay with the MPB, a compromise to leaving the MPB and establishing its own planning authority, while also addressing the Northeast Town’s desire for better representation on the board.

Although there were mixed emotions concerning the weighted voting model proposal, after a great deal of discussion the MPB was able to establish and carry a motion regarding the proposal.

Brent St. Denis put forward a motion which was seconded by Lee Hayden that the following be distributed to member municipalities as the draft proposal for weighted voting at the Manitoulin Planning Board: 1-the existing voting process stays in effect unless a member specifically requests a weighted vote before a vote; 2-without unanimous consent for a weighted vote, a requested weighted vote is automatically deferred to be placed on the agenda for the next regular meeting; 3-only the affected municipality/municipalities can call for a weighted vote on a land use application within its municipal boundaries; 4-the model for weighted voting is based on the percent of requisition models; and 5-a weighted vote is adopted if the total vote exceeds 50 percent and has the support of a minimum of three municipalities.”

It was agreed this draft proposal will be sent to all planning board member municipalities for their input and brought back to the MPB.

During the Northeast Town council’s discussion of the motion, council felt that the wording should be changed in the second point, changing ‘unanimous consent’ to ‘majority consent’ for when a weighted vote should be deferred.

The Northeast Town council directed Councillor Woods to bring this suggested change back to the MPB at its next meeting at the end of July.