Council ponders role of warden, considers change
By Chad Ingram
Published Jan. 31, 2017
County councillors briefly discussed making changes to the role of county warden during a Jan. 25 meeting and will have a more in-depth conversation on the subject in March.
As she chaired her final meeting as warden for 2016 in November, Algonquin Highlands Reeve Carol Moffatt tabled a report suggesting that during the final two years of the current term, council at least have a conversation about potential changes to the framework of council itself, in particular the role of warden.
County council consists of the reeve and deputy-reeve of each of the four lower-tier townships of Haliburton County. Council decides who will be warden – the head of county council – from among its own membership each year and traditionally, there has been some rotation between the four lower-tier townships.
Since the job of county warden is, more and more, to liaise with other levels of government, Moffatt asked colleagues to consider a number of suggested changes to the position.
One was the addition of a ninth position on county council, that being a warden, who is elected by the public and who serves for a full, four-year term and whose concentration is on representing the county outside the community and dealing with other levels of government.
Another suggestion was lengthening the warden’s term to two years to achieve more consistency in dealing with projects and external representation, and giving council the ability to extend that two-year term.
“To me, this is the beginning of a discussion of what’s legally required,” said Minden Hills Reeve and 2017 County Warden Brent Devolin during last week’s meeting, agreeing with Moffatt that the role of warden is increasingly about being an advocate for the community outside the community, “The time, the research, the information and the travel that’s required to have an oar in the water.”
“I don’t think we need to have anymore that the warden can distribute lapel pins at his or her discretion,” Moffatt said of the changing role. “It’s about the bigger picture. I don’t see this as being a conversation concluded today at all.”
Devolin wondered if it made more sense for a small sub-committee of council, perhaps three councillors, to draw up a report on options, that report to then be discussed by county council at large.
“I believe that we all need to talk about it,” said Algonquin Highlands Deputy-reeve Liz Danielsen.
Moffatt said that with all due respect, councillors who hadn’t sat in the warden’s chair didn’t have a full understanding of what the job entails.
“It’s still a democracy,” said Dysart et al Reeve Murray Fearrey. “In 2018, you could have seven new people here.”
The idea of having a deputy-warden to take of some of the more local duties of the warden was also mentioned. Council will revisit the subject at its March meeting.