My Thoughts on the Council Composition and Ward Boundary Review

Thank you to all residents for reaching out to me over the past few weeks with your thoughts on this file. It has been great corresponding with you and hearing your feedback. And after responding to dozens of email about my position, I thought it best to provide my thoughts in advance of this evenings council meeting so residents knew where I stood. So here goes. Short and sweet.

As illustrated in the Watson and Associates Report, there are in fact only three, single tier municipalities in all of Ontario that currently employ “Full Time” councillors.  Toronto, Ottawa and Hamilton. Of importance to note, all of these cities have considerably larger populations than Guelph.

There is (of course) no “rule” for determining when and how large a city must be before moving to full time councillors, but the consultants report does serve as a benchmark. Similarly, and by comparison in the same table, it is clear that Guelph city councillors (two per ward) are appropriately paid for their time ($41,528/year). 

Secondly, as per the consultants report.  Guelph City councillors (based on personal interviews), spend on average about 20 hours per week on council business.  This equates to 80 hours per month or approximately 840hrs/year when you consider council breaks (council breaks for two weeks at Christmas and four weeks each summer).  This equates to approximately $48/hr for part time work.  No system is ever perfect, but if you support a two councillor per ward model in Guelph, it is clear that the current system is well designed and the compensation is comparatively, very competitive.  

Thirdly, for councillors to whom the following statement feels true (see below), I would reiterate the importance of time management when performing this duty in the community.  On a personal note, I commute to work each day, coach youth sports and have a young family. I have worked full time for the past 6 years while also serving on city council. At times has it been stressful to manage? Of course (just see budget time each year)! At the end of the day however, being effective at something comes down to effective time management. To serve as a councillor and still maintain full time employment is absolutely possible with effective time management………….just ask me 😉

Finally and most importantly, the position of an elected councillor is first and foremost a public service.  It should never be seen as a job.  If a primary motivator in running for council is to be ”paid appropriately for your time”, you are missing the call to public service.  I have read no better quote articulating this message then an email I received earlier last week. Thank you to the resident for passing this along. I hope this message helps ground our conversations this evening.