New provincial bill requires candidates for council to garner 25 signatures to run

Local councils pan proposal

EVANSVILLE—Two Western Manitoulin municipalities are in agreement (with another Ontario municipality) that requiring persons who want to run for council garnering 25 signatures from people who support their nomination will deter some potential candidates from running.

“I believe the requirement to get 25 signatures to run for municipal council will deter people from running for council,” stated Gore Bay councillor Jack Clark at a council meeting this past Monday. “I agree with their (Municipality of Charlton and Dack) resolution.”

“It’s going to make it even more difficult to find people to run for small rural municipal councils,” stated Ken Noland, reeve of Burpee-Mills, to the bill being implemented by the province of Ontario. “Candidates for council would have to provide 25 signatures from local residents supporting their nomination.” He said that at one time five signatures were required.

“Our municipality sent a motion in support of (Charlton and Dack) resolution,” said Reeve Noland. “This bill and the requirement to get 25 signatures could in effect kill small municipalities. For one thing, small communities have a small population, and potential candidates will in a lot of cases decide not to be bothered running around gathering 25 signatures.”

Reeve Noland explained that Burpee-Mills has a population of about 300 people. “Let’s say we have 200 people who are eligible to vote, and now candidates (for council) have to get 25 signatures or basically about 12 and a half percent of the voting population to sign our candidacy sheets. If we have to get 12.5 percent of our electorate to sign for us to run, then places like Toronto maybe should have to do the same, get 12.5 percent of their residents to sign candidate’s nomination papers as well.”

“And for a community like Cockburn Island where there is only one full-time resident, with the rest of their taxpayers living throughout Ontario or the US, how are they going to get 25 signatures?” asked Reeve Noland.

Gore Bay Mayor Ron Lane said Monday the (Ministry of Municipal Affairs) proposal, “is basically a throwback to what it used to be, but there has to be a concern that this will impact small municipalities as it could detract people running for council.”

Both Gore Bay and Burpee-Mills council passed motions in support of a resolution passed by Charlton and Dack council which states in part, “the Ministry of Municipal Affairs has implemented a new requirement that anyone wishing to run for office on a council must submit the signatures of 25 voters supporting the nomination; and whereas in many small municipalities it has become increasingly difficult to attract councillors and this requirement will discourage qualified and new candidates; and in rural communities accessibility is even more difficult and infringes Ontarians with Disabilities (AODA); be it resolved that the municipality of Charlton and Dack request the province to re-evaluate this requirement and allow it to be an optional local decision to avoid negative consequences to many municipalities.” The resolution has been circulated to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, the Critics for Municipal Affairs, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, the Federation of Northern Ontario municipalities, and all municipalities in the province of Ontario for consideration.

“We passed a motion other townships opposed,” said Reeve Noland. “For me to find 25 people in the township to sign, maybe how many days to that.”