Prince Edward County Municipal Services


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Size of Council Review

Over the past few years, Prince Edward County Councils have been investigating the issue of the size of the municipality’s Council and the boundaries of its electoral wards.  On this page you will find a history of that investigation, as well as materials relevant to each stage of the process. 

At its meeting held on November 10, 2015, Council adopted a proposal that would see the creation of nine electoral wards and the election of 13 councillors and a mayor at large. By-law 3719-2016 to Redivide County Electoral Ward Boundaries and By-law 3720-2016 to Change Composition of Council were both adopted on January 26, 2016. Notices were placed in the local papers and posted on the County’s website advising of the adoption of the by-laws and the appeal process to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) as it related to By-law 3719-2016.

An appeal was filed on March 4, 2016 with respect to By-law 3719-2016 being the By-law to Re-Divide The Corporation of the County of Prince Edward’s Electoral Ward Boundaries on the grounds that it is:

  • In contravention of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as expected in a free and democratic society; and
  • The process and the basis by which the Council of Prince Edward County made this decision was defective.

The hearing was held at Shire Hall from July 19-21, 2017. On November 30, 2017, the OMB dismissed the appeal of the electoral ward boundaries by-law.

The 2018 municipal election will be conducted using the new electoral ward boundaries. New Electoral Ward Boundaries – Prince Edward County

Size of Council Options

Following the series of Special Council Meetings in the first half of the year, Council brought forward four size of council proposals for public consultation between September 1 – October 5, 2015. During this period, nine public meetings were held to allow residents to participate in the decision on how to alter the composition of Council.  In addition to these public meetings, residents had the opportunity to participate in an online public survey to share their opinion on the proposals. Each of the four proposals, along with maps outlining population distribution and supporting documents, can be found below:

2 Electoral Wards - 10 Councilors and a Mayor at Large

3 Electoral Wards - 12 Councilors and a Mayor at Large

9 Electoral Wards - 13 Councilors and a Mayor at Large

10 Electoral Wards (Status Quo) - 15 Councilors and a Mayor at Large

Size of Council Review & Citizens' Assembly 2013

In 2013, Prince Edward County underwent a Size of Council Review and a Citizens’ Assembly in efforts to aswer the question – How many municipal councillors should represent the citizens of Prince Edward County? 

Selected at random using a civic lottery system, twenty-three residents of the County met on three Saturdays in July and August 2013. They heard from former County employees, local councillors, consulted friends and neighbours, deliberated together, and, finally, made a principles-based recommendation to Council.

The Size of Council Review was led by Dr. Jonathan Rose, an associate professor in the department of Political Studies at Queen’s University. Dr. Rose worked with two colleagues, Aaron Ettinger and Tim Abray-Nyman helped create the Citizens’ Assembly with the help of municipal staff, ran the Assembly’s meetings, and wrote the report based on the Assembly’s findings. If you are interested in learning more about the members of the review team, please download and read the Size of Council Review – Team Member Biographies

The Citizens’ Assembly’s final report, an executive summary of that report and the Mayor’s responding report can be downloaded below.

Composition of Council Ad Hoc Committee 2008 & Electoral Ballot Question 2010

Composition of Council Ad Hoc Committee

In 2008 Council established an Ad Hoc committee, the Composition of Council Committee (CCC) to review the composition of Council. The committee was initiated primarily to review the size of Council, although it became apparent early in the process that any change of size would very likely impact ward boundaries, so the terminology ‘composition of Council’ was used and the review process encompassed both size of Council and ward boundaries.

The Ad Hoc committee was composed of members of Council and the public. The Ad Hoc committee met six times in 2008 and investigated the following activities:

  • Reviewed Terms of Reference and recommended to Council that the Terms of Reference be changed to allow the Committee to make recommendations (This change was not approved by Council)
  • Reviewed amalgamation order and background information that related to the governance model and representation selected for the newly amalgamated municipality.
  • Reviewed pertinent legislation and other related information: Municipal Act Municipal World articles, newspaper stories, reports and information from other municipalities’ experiences in ward boundary review.
  • Explained meaning of ‘effective representation’ as articulated in the Carter decision and referenced in the Ottawa boundary review experiences.
  • Reviewed key dates and timelines Developed a work plan Surveyed 15 other municipalities for comparison purposed on the following criteria: population, Percentage of non-residents, size of council, number of Wards, number of Councillors per ward, Council Budget, Operating and Capital Budgets, description of geographic area, Council/Committee Structure, number of Advisory Committees, productivity, representation and customer service assessment of current model.
  • Carried out personal interviews with staff of 3 of the 15 municipalities most similar to PEC, being Brant, Norfolk and Kawartha Lakes to obtain additional data.
  • Established the following basic governance models to be evaluated: existing ward structure and Council size Council elected at large reduced Council size/reduced number of Wards.
  • Identified strengths and weaknesses of: existing ward structure and Council size Council elected at large reduced Council size/reduced number of Wards to determine which options to be included in the evaluation.
  • Established the following sizes of Council be evaluated for the ward and ‘at large’ system: 15 Councillors plus Mayor, 12 Councillors plus Mayor, 10 Councillors plus Mayor, and 8 Councillors plus Mayor.
  • Developed criteria based on the Terms of Reference and suggested weighting for evaluation of each model and model evaluation worksheet.
  • Developed potential boundaries for each ward model and estimated population for each.
  • Tested each model using the model evaluation worksheet.
  • Developed options for public consultation process.
  • The matter was debated at length through several meetings. Although some members of Council wished to proceed to a full public process to determine the best option, the majority were of the opinion that there was no strong public interest or support for change. To be able to gauge public opinion, Council decided to add a Question to the Ballot.

The CCC reported to Council on October 15, 2018 including a summary of its activities and findings – you can download and read the CCC’s report by clicking on the link below. The matter was debated at length through several meetings. Although some members of Council wished to proceed to a full public process to determine the best option, the majority were of the opinion that there was no strong public interest or support for change. To be able to gauge public opinion, Council decided to add a Question to the Ballot.

Petition and OMB Hearing

Following the Council decision to take no action on the findings of the CCC and place a question on the ballot, a petition was submitted to Council, requesting that Council reduce its size to 12 and reconfigure ward boundaries to 6. Council took no action on this petition, wishing to see the results of the ballot question. Subsequently, two individuals who had initiated the petition appealed the matter to the OMB. The OMB only had jurisdiction to consider the ward boundary matter, so the size of Council component was not considered as part of the appeal. The OMB dismissed the appeal and denied the application to reconfigure Prince Edward County into 6 wards as proposed by the appellants. The main basis for the decision was that Council had not abandoned the process, but took the step of adding a Question on the Ballot to determine the wishes of the public.

Question on the Ballot

The following question was placed on the ballot for the 2010 election:Are you in favour of Council commencing a public consultation process to review the size of Council for the County of Prince Edward?

The question was explained to the voters through a Q & A document which was made available to the public through the candidates, handed out at the Picton Fair, through the County website and by paid advertising. There was also a considerable amount of press coverage of the issue. For the results of the question to be legally binding, at least 50 per cent of the eligible electors must vote on the question and more than 50 per cent of the votes on the question must vote in favour of the result. As only 41.87 percent of the eligible electors voted on the question, the result is not binding. The results of the vote for the Question on the Ballot are as follows:


% of Eligible Voters

Eligible Electors


Ballots Cast



Ballots that voted on Council Size Question



Yes Votes



No Votes




Prince Edward County was amalgamated as a single tier government in 1998 with 10 wards. The ten wards correspond to and have the same boundaries as the previous ten townships, villages and town. Representation was identified by the province at that time as 1 Councillor per ward plus one extra Councillor per 2,500 people. This structure was altered somewhat through the negotiation process at the time. The result was a council of 15 with one mayor.