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Changes are coming to the process used to elect Catholic School Board Trustees in Burlington.

The Halton Catholic District School Board decided this week, that for the 2022 election, Burlington’s three trustees will be elected by ward rather than the current at-large system.

The at-large system required the three trustees to be elected across all six wards in the City. The election by wards system will permit trustees to be elected by only two wards. This week’s decision partnered together wards one and two, three and six, and four and five.

The change is actually a return to the system that existed prior to the 2018 election.

Only one of Burlington’s current Catholic Trustees voted in favour of the change. Brenda Agnew said that neighbourhoods have different needs.

“I just believe that constituents can be better represented if trustees are able to focus on a specific ward, rather than at large…..I believe by going to the ward system, we are truly able to represent the constituent”.

Aldershot resident and Trustee Vice Iantomassi voted against the change back to the ward system.

“I think that going at-large would be more wholesome…..(in case) a constituent doesn’t like their trustee and has a better relationship with another”.

The third Burlington Trustee, Tim O’Brien, said he was struggling with the issue having seen the benefits of both options. In the end, he voted against the change to the ward system.

Similar changes were made in Oakville and Milton, despite staff recommendations to maintain the at-large systems. Halton Hills will continue to be represented by one trustee at-large.

All school boards in Ontario are required by the Province to decide on the number and distribution of their trustees by March 31 of each election year.

The Halton public school board also dealt with the issue this week. It decided to remain with the status quo. Burlington Trustees will continue to be elected by wards assuming reasonably equal population distribution. The Public Board elects four trustees–one from wards 1&2, and one from wards 3&6. Wards 4 and 5 each have a single trustee.

Wards one and two Trustee Leah Reynolds warned however that the situation must continue to be monitored closely because of the rapid growth and change in Burlington.

“There is a significant variance in voter parody between wards, particularly in Burlington and I’m worried that all the building that we’ve experienced so far, as well as what’s coming down the line, will continue to impact the disparity”.

Story by Rick Craven

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