Red Deer city council will consider the wording of the plebiscite question to be added to the Oct. 21 civic ballot at its Monday meeting.
City administration has recommended:
Are you in favour of council passing a bylaw dividing the City of Red Deer into wards for municipal election purposes?
A ‘yes’ would mean a voter would support changing to a ward system while a ‘no’ would mean the voter supports the current at-large voting system.
The question was constructed with legal advice to ensure it is easily understood, not leading, does not favour a particular response and the outcome provides clear direction to council.
The debate follows council’s decision on March 18 to include the question. It was a surprising reversal of its Feb. 4 decision to reject a plebiscite.
Council directed administration to report back within six weeks outlining the costs and plans associated with the development of an education communication and awareness strategy. A motion to amend the Dialogue Charter, a city work plan that focuses on communication and engagement, to include discussion around exploring systems of representation, was also brought forward.
City administration is proposing a budget of $35,000, to include $30,000 for a communications strategy and $5,000 to add the question to the municipal ballot. There is no cost to amend the work plan.
Council voted 5-3 in support of adding a question regarding ward systems on the next civic ballot in March. Mayor Morris Flewwelling and Councillors Frank Wong, Dianne Wyntjes, Tara Veer and Chris Stephan were in favour. Councillors Paul Harris, Cindy Jefferies and Lynne Mulder were opposed. Coun. Buck Buchanan was absent.
Flewwelling, Wyntjes and Veer changed their original votes from Feb. 4 to support a plebiscite.