The current council just isn’t large enough to represent all points of view in the municipality. It could be far too easy for, say, developers to elect a majority on council. At the municipal level, in the name of efficiency and saving time, there is the potential for a small group of “old boys” to meet in closed meetings and hash out all sorts of decisions and policies before discussing them in the open council meeting. With a small, compact council, there is no loyal opposition to question such tactics and to bring such practices to public light.
I am in favour of a larger city council: Kitchener should double its six wards to twelve and elect twelve councillors. City council will then better reflect the diversity that exists within the City of Kitchener. While current councillors are doing an admirable job, there are just not enough of them to do all the work in a city the size of Kitchener. This is especially true as we expect them to be only part-time.
True, the city hires staff to run and administer the city and provide services. But a civil service needs to be constantly watched to ensure that they are not introducing their own programs and building their own empires. We don’t want our senior public servants saying, “We are doing this for the community. And we would like them to be behind it.” If the community is not behind them, then they should not be doing it. The role of the civil service is to meet the needs of the community as directed by the people’s elected representatives. We, the people, are quite capable of defining what we need and want.
Municipal government is supposed to be about full, open public debate and full disclosure of all staff reports before decision making. Municipal council must be large enough to adequately staff the subcommittees that examine staff reports and recommendations. (The public don’t want some senior civil servant doing a “Conrad Black” with our city council.)
Municipal government affects us mostly directly. It should be at least as accountable and responsible as the provincial and federal governments, and above all it must be large enough to reflect most of our diverse views.