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North Bay city councillor wants city to switch to a ward system

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Looking ahead to the 2026 municipal election, North Bay city councillor Jamie Lowery wants to change the way municipal politicians are elected.

Currently, the city elects councillor-at-large, with the 10 candidates who receive the most votes declared elected to council.

Lowery favours a ward system, where councillors would run to represent specific parts of the city.

"One of the biggest attractions for me is accountability," said Lowery.

"You're in your ward and people know who their councillor is."

He has a motion on the table for the next city council meeting to have city staff research the idea of establishing a ward system and then bring back a detailed report to council for further discussion.

"I want to know what's involved. Do we need provincial approval? What's the cost? What's the process to get there? Is it the most effective model?" said Lowery.

The motion would also look at ways of reducing the current number of councillors from 10 to six and a mayor by creating separate wards.

Lowery said he’d like to get a better idea of how difficult such a transition would be.

"Let's listen to what the process is,” he said.

“Let's take all the information in and make an educated decision on whether this is right for North Bay.”

Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie and Timmins all currently have ward systems. It has never been implemented in North Bay, not even when the former townships of West Ferris and Widdifield amalgamated in 1968.

But councillor Tanya Vrebosch said is not a fan of the ward system.

"We're too small. We'd be pitting West Ferris against the east end versus Widdifield," Vrebosch said.

She said it would take away a councillor's role of representing all taxpayers when it comes to voting on important decisions.

"If your ward councillor doesn't agree with you, you don't have all the councillors to go to advocate on your behalf," Vrebosch said.

"We should have equal representation across the city."

Council will vote on the motion Tuesday night. 

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