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Markham OKs 1 extra York Region council seat for Vaughan
Nov. 10, 2016
By Amanda Persico

Markham councillors voted unanimously to allow one more regional councillor for Vaughan.

The city also called for no other changes to be made to the regional table.

Recently, regional council asked municipalities to comment on the number of regional councillors and how to increase its size.

Currently, there are 20 members of regional council plus the chairperson. Markham represents about 30 per cent of the region’s population but holds about 25 per cent of the regional vote, with five members.

Based on population models, Vaughan is also under-represented, with about 27 per cent of the population, but only 20 per cent of the regional vote.

“There is no direct formula,” said Deputy Mayor and Regional Councillor Jack Heath during a special general committee meeting to discuss the issue.

The region put several options on the table, each changing the ratio between population and representation.

The options discussed include:

As it stands, each of the nine mayors in York Region has a seat at the regional table, regardless of the population of their municipality.

Markham council was staunchly against adding regional councillors in municipalities that are currently only represented by their mayors.

Some councillors also argued the region should return to more of an administrative role and leave the decision making up to the municipalities, especially since the southern municipalities - Vaughan, Richmond Hill and Markham - will see the majority of future growth.

“The south is gonna grow way faster than the north,” said Regional Councillor Jim Jones, who also presented a motion to Markham council to amalgamate Markham, Richmond Hill, Vaughan and parts of Witchurch-Stouffville into one large city.

“We’ll have the tail wagging the dog if we add more seats (to the north),” he added.

Mayor Frank Scarpitti pushed for this issue to be debated at the municipal level to gauge local support.

Any changes made to the makeup of regional council would require approval from a triple majority - regional councillors, municipalities and municipal councils.

“Let’s gauge early on if there is great support for this,” Scarpitti said. “If not, let’s not waste time. There’s no need to debate this for the next two years if it’s not going to pass the triple majority threshold.”