Lethbridge residents will provide direction in October if its municipal government will potentially move to a ward system starting in 2025.
Lethbridge City Council on Tuesday voted 8-1 to place a question on the October 18, 2021, General Municipal Election Ballot that reads: "Do you support using a ward system to elect City Councillors (other than the Mayor) starting with the 2025 municipal election?"
"Council defeated earlier efforts to have a Citizen Assembly to explore a ward system," says Councillor Jeff Coffman, who introduced the motion. "Voters, not elected representatives, should determine their electoral system, so putting this question on the ballot gives voters power to tell City Council what they expect for the 2025 election."
Lethbridge City Council is currently elected at large, meaning that eight councillors and one mayor serve the entire City and all of its residents – and during the municipal election, residents vote for eight councillors and one mayor and have representation from them all.
A ward is a local authority area, or electoral district, within a municipality.
"I would expect the next Council to honour the results of the question and - if supported - immediately begin preparing for the new structure in 2025," says Coffman.
An election ballot question would be non-binding and the next Council can potentially further debate direction moving forward based on question results.