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Belleville, Ont., council votes for change in city ward map

Click to play video: 'Belleville could add new wards, after the city’s mayor proposes a change' Belleville could add new wards, after the city’s mayor proposes a change
WATCH: The mayor of Belleville proposes a new ward map as the city grows in size, and in population. He says this will allow a stronger connection between residents and city councillors – May 10, 2021

The city of Belleville has approved a change in its ward map in time for the next municipal election. This will be the first major revamp to city wards since amalgamation in 1998.

At Monday’s council meeting, Belleville Mayor Mitch Panciuk brought forward a notice of motion to council proposing the city be split into four wards rather than two.

Read more: Vacant seat on Belleville, Ont., city council to likely be filled Monday

This motion was carried at Monday night’s meeting. A bylaw will be presented to council later this month for its first reading, and will be brought back in August for a vote.

In an interview Monday before the vote, the mayor told Global News he believes that moving from two wards to four would allow for better representation of both the urban and rural areas of the city.

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“It’s going to be easier for residents to know who their councillors are, but also they can pick two rather than picking six from a large group. And they can also hold people more accountable,” said mayor Panciuk.

The proposed new ward system will divide the city into smaller sections, and the mayor says these three new districts will be grouped together based on common issues. As it stands now, the city’s Thurlow ward currently has two councillors, and Belleville ward has six. In the new four-ward system, the number of councillors will remain the same, but councillors will represent different areas.

Read more: Belleville councillor resigns to run for federal Conservatives

The mayor explains the reason for the change.

“As we move from a small/medium sized city to a bigger one, other communities that are that size do have ward systems. They do have a separation where people can vote directly for a councillor. They don’t have these at-large positions,” said Mayor Panciuk.

Panciuk’s motion only starts the process to change the ward system, but as with any electoral reform, it will not go ahead without public consultation.

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