Essex town councillors (centre to right) Steve Bjorkman, Larry Snively and Sherry Bondy in special session on September 11, 2017. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.

Essex Holds Off On Ward Decision

Essex Town Council adjourned a special meeting Monday without deciding how to redraft the town’s ward boundaries.

Councillors agreed to hold off on making a decision on the wards until at least its next public council meeting, set for September 18.

The special meeting was held at the Essex Municipal Building and despite the small size, was almost packed with residents wanting to see how the ward issue would proceed. Several residents were permitted to stand and address council on the issue.

A report prepared for council contained two options for redrafting the wards. One option involved five wards, with two splitting up Essex Centre, one covering area north of the 4th Concession Rd. to the town’s northern boundary, one including Harrow south of the 4th Concession and the last encompassing the remainder of the town’s south end.

The other option involves four wards with Essex Centre covering one and the others roughly the same with slightly different boundaries.

The town has already decided to elect its deputy mayor via an at-large election, raising the need for a look at the wards. Previously, the deputy mayor was chosen from the ward councillors. This means voters in the next municipal election will elect five councillors and a deputy mayor.

Councillor Sherry Bondy said she was not thrilled with either option, along with the fact that the town is short a councillor with the resignation of Ward 2’s Bill Caixiero in July.

The report itself was a point of contention during the meeting. Councillor Steve Bjorkman defended the expense for putting together the report. Fellow councillor Randy Voakes, however, dismissed it as a waste of money.

Voakes soon excused himself, got up from the table and left the meeting, failing to respond to Mayor Ron McDermott’s inquiry as to if he was returning.

Councillors moved to postpone any decision on the wards until the next meeting after two hours of debate. Any changes must be in place by December 31.