Surrey city Councillor Doug Elford wants the city to consider moving to a ward system for electing council representatives.
Council is expected to deal with his notice of motion on Sept. 15, and it is worthy of serious consideration as this city is practically tailor-made for such an electoral system, given its distinct communities such as Cloverdale, South Surrey, Newton, Guildford, Whalley and Fleetwood, not to mention Fraser Heights, Port Kells, Tynehead and Bridgeview.
A ward system divvies up the city into neighbourhoods with a council member representing one of these electoral regions, much like an MLA or MP represents their particular riding.
Such a system was used in these parts from before 1879 until 1957, when the provincial government ended it in favour of today’s “at-large” system, in which voters elect a mayor, councillors and school trustees city-wide. Mayors are still typically voted in city-wide under a ward system.
Elford argues Surrey is ripe for a ward system. It’s hard not to agree, as it would afford each community a voice at a time when some are feeling left out.
Elford maintains a ward system is superior because it allows neighbourhoods “a better chance” to get a representative on council and “kind of takes the big money out of politics, in a sense.”
Certain neighbourhoods have called for transparency, he noted, “and this is an ideal way to address that.”
It will be interesting to see what council will do with this motion next month.
The next civic elections in B.C. are set for Oct. 15, 2022.