Dysart makes mayoral move

By Chad Ingram

Published Oct. 24 2017

The Municipality of Dysart et al will become the third of Haliburton County’s four lower-tier municipalities to change the title of its head of council from reeve to mayor  and its deputy-reeve to deputy-mayor.

Councillors made that decision during an Oct. 23 meeting.

“So who wants to start that discussion?” asked Reeve Murray Fearrey. “It’s not going to change anything for taxpayers other than appearance I guess.”

Fearrey indicated he’d prefer to design a bylaw that would initiate the title change for the beginning of the next term of council. Municipal elections will take place next October.

However Deputy-reeve Andrea Roberts said she thought council should just move forward with the change.

Roberts said that unless they wanted new business cards printed there was really no financial implication for the municipality. “I think if we’re going to do it why not just do it now?” she said. “It is not like it is [as] some people think about ego. It’s about clarity.”

The term “reeve” dates back centuries and initially referred to the leaders of rural communities in England. It was traditionally used by small communities in Ontario with the title of mayor reserved for the leaders of city councils. In recent years a number of municipalities in the area that once used the term reeve have adopted the mayor title including Lake of Bays the Town of Bancroft and the Municipality of Hastings Highlands.

Algonquin Highlands council adopted the mayor and deputy-mayor monikers in July and Minden Hills council is scheduled to pass a bylaw making the name change this week. Members of councils talked about how when they are at conferences with other municipal leaders there is often confusion over what a reeve is and that some people seem to think it means mayor-in-training.

“Our population hasn’t changed but some municipalities have decided that they don’t like explaining what a reeve is which I don’t think is a big issue” Fearrey said. “It takes 30 seconds. I guess when they go to conference they feel some people feel they’re not at a level that other people are because they’re not mayors. I never had that issue . . . it doesn’t matter to me.”

“There’s no dollar attached to it there’s no big hat attached to it . . . so I’m OK with it either way” said Councillor Susan Norcross.

“In a way it’s too bad the way it’s happening . . . one municipality here and then two months later one municipality over here . . . “ Roberts said.

“I think if the other townships are doing it we’re obligated to do it there’s no question in my mind” said Councillor Dennis Casey.

The majority of council agreed to proceed with the change sooner rather than later and a bylaw will be drawn up to be passed at next month’s council meeting.

The council for the Municipality of Highlands East has decided to poll the public on what it would like to see regarding the title of head of council.

– Chad Ingram