Number of Councillors

March 9, 2010


I received a call recently from a constituent wondering why we have 12 Councillors when Kitchener and Cambridge only have six.  

First, Kitchener and Cambridge are part of a two tier municipal government system.   Residents are represented by Councillors on the lower tier government (e.g. City of Cambridge) and on the upper tier government (i.e. Waterloo Region).  We are a single tier municipal government in Guelph so our Councillors deal with all the matters that both lower tier and upper tier Councillors do in places like Cambridge and Kitchener.  So you can’t just look at the lower tier government to compare with Guelph.

Interestingly, both Cambridge and Kitchener are changing their composition in the 2010 election.  Cambridge will have 8 wards  instead of 6 (i.e. 9 members on Council including the Mayor) and Kitchener will have 10 wards  instead of 6 (i.e. 11 members on Council including the Mayor).

Here is the history of our electoral system:

Between 1856 and 1878, members of Guelph’s Town Council were elected by wards. There were 4 wards known as the East, North, West and South Wards. There were 3 councillors elected per ward. When Guelph was constituted a city in 1879, it was divided into 6 wards known as the St. Patrick, St. George, St. John, St. David, St. Andrew and St. James Wards. There were 3 councillors elected per ward until 1909. In 1909, a vote of the people determined that there would be 11 councillors elected at large. In 1919, the number of councillors was increased to 18. In 1929 the public voted in favour of a change in the method of election, and in 1930, the number of councillors was again reduced to 11 all to be elected at large. That system remained in place up to and including the 1988 election. In that election, Guelph voters were asked if they would like to see the method of election change from the at large system to a ward system and the response from the voting public was yes. Following a public consultation process, Guelph City Council adopted a system of 6 wards, with 2 councillors elected per ward. A referendum in 2006 confirmed the community’s support for the  current ward system.

About Karen Farbridge

An unwavering change maker seeking a just, democratic and sustainable world.

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