Council Chambers

- by Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

The deadline for filing nomination papers to run for Owen Sound council is two weeks today. You need $100 (or $200 if you want to run for mayor), and the signatures of 25 qualified voters on your nomination papers, then make an appointment to meet the City Clerk during business hours at city hall before 2:00 Friday, August 19.

As of today, there are six people running for seven positions as councillors – three current councillors and three running for the first time; four women and two men. Two-term councillor Scott Greig is campaigning for deputy mayor. The current holder of that position has not declared their intentions.

Councillor Richard Thomas is vying with current Mayor Ian Boddy for the seat at the head of the table.

Based on the current candidates registered, regardless of who wins, two current councillors will be vacating their councillor seats for the centre chairs or comfy couches at home.

We at the Owen Sound Hub would like to see a council that more reflects our community.

In 2014 there were 24 candidates, 8 of whom were women. One candidate was under 30 – most were over 50, and there were no candidates of colour.

In 2018, there were 19 candidates, 7 of whom were women, possibly two under 30 and one self-identified as queer. Still no candidates of colour.

In an interview the day after the 2014 election, I asked one of two successful women candidates, both over 60, if she were concerned about the lack of gender equity or representation on council. “No,” she replied. “I'm not concerned. I wear pants.”

We don't think clothing is the issue – not pants, "ugly" shirts, bow ties nor hockey jerseys.

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario says “We all win when there are more diverse voices at council. When we have a diversity of genders and identities, ethnicities, sexual orientations, ages, races and abilities at municipal council, we can create more inclusive and sustainable communities.”

This is no comment on any incumbent or candidate, and it is certainly not a call for quotas – it is an aspiration for our community. No “diversity, equity and inclusion” policy can match ACTUAL diversity, equity and inclusion at the decision-making table.

To that end, AMO has provided a great collection of resources to support and encourage participation in municipal elections. They have included the work done by ElectHERNow in Grey-Bruce, and while they seek to increase diversity, the resources are open to all candidates, without exception.

All candidates should familiarize themselves with the responsibilities of a lower-tier municipality, but we can take some leadership from our neighbouring municipalities in Grey, Bruce, Simcoe and Huron Counties. Other municipalities have Housing Plans (Kincardine), Climate Action Teams with community membership (Grey Highlands, Georgian Bluffs, West Grey), Youth Councils (Centre Wellington) and Well-Being Advisory Committees (Meaford).

The future does not have to look like the past.







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