McCharles wants a smaller council

Thera Wagner and Mayor John McCharles at the opening of The Rec Room in April. Pam Wright Photo

Petrolia’s mayor thinks there should be fewer people around the council table.
John McCharles gave council notice that he wanted to discuss reducing the size of Petrolia council from six councillors and one mayor to four councillors. That’s the minimum size allowed under Ontario’s Municipal Act.
The outgoing mayor reasons 45 per cent of Ontario’s municipalities have councils of five. And he says it would save about $35,000 a year.
If council agrees with the idea at the Sept. 24, the reduction would take affect in the 2022 election.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a while but basically my time is running short…looking at some of the councils that operate with five – it’s very efficient, it’s less costly and it seems to be operating well,” McCharles says. “The reason for the motion is to bring it up, if the other council wants to bring it up they certainly can. It puts it on the floor…it’s got to be brought up before election day.”
Clerk Mandi Pearson agreed saying “So to speak to 2022, anything needs to be in place prior to this election day.”
That assertion is questionable. Stephane Thiffeault, the solicitor/clerk for Lambton County, believes the legislation allows a council to discuss the size of council for the first three years of the term. However it does prohibit any changes in the election year.
That means the next municipal council could make a recommendation without the mayor’s current motion.

For reaction from some Petrolia councillors and the three Petrolia mayoralty candidates to the idea, pick up your copy of The Independent on newstands now.