There has been much discussion over the past months about the Rural Redesign petition – its aim, ultimate goal and also the methodology used for collecting signatures. In the interest of transparency and clarity, Rural Redesign has supplied us with the following information (directly below) on their process and methodology:
Rural Redesign Petition Methodology:
The age of majority is the age at which a person is considered by law to be an adult.
The age of majority in Ontario 18.
According to StatCan there are 4000 residents in Ward 2 (men, women, children)
Approximately 80% are age 18 or over (3200 people).
Ontario guidelines for petitions state persons do NOT have to be age of majority (18), to sign a petition, and we followed those guidelines.
However, no signatures were collected from residents under the age of 18 by petition volunteers UNLESS the parent or guardian confirmed the person signing fully understood what they were signing. According to petition volunteers, there were very few persons under age 18 who signed the petition.
Statistics identifying persons signing the petition who were under the age of 18 were not recorded.
All signatures were screened for duplicates, and those situations where obviously one family member had signed for everyone in the household.
Duplicate signatures were deleted, and those where one person signed for other residents were deleted.
Where possible, the family was contacted and a petition volunteer attended their residence to gather signatures from each individual family member.
After all of the duplicates, unreadable names, and 3 we had 2603 signatures representing slightly more than 81% of the “adult” population of Ward 2.
Our petition volunteers worked extremely hard going door to door, day after day, in inclement weather to gather signatures for the benefit of all of us.
Each and every volunteer monitored the signing process to be sure we were following the Provincial guidelines.
Many additional hours were spent verifying all signatures were valid and not duplicates.
The petition made two requests:
WE respectfully request all administration and control of the former Hope Township (Ward 2) be severed from the Municipality of Port Hope and aligned with a like-minded rural community in order to best serve our residents and preserve our chosen rural lifestyle;
WE request this issue be added as a referendum item on the 2014 municipal ballot.
In the first WE request the intent seems pretty clear; people who signed the petition want to leave Port Hope.
In the second WE request we’re asking for a referendum on the issue.
Regardless of how strongly 81% of the “adult” population feels, we still have to adhere to the requirements of the Municipal Act, specifically Sections 171-179 (Municipal Restructuring).
Sections 171-179 include public meetings and consultation as part of the process.
Any action on our petition must be initiated by the Municipality. This includes a request for a referendum, which must come from the Municipality before being granted by the Province.
A petition is only the initial step in a long series of waypoints leading to Provincial approval of a restructuring proposal.
Whether by referendum, surveys, public meetings, letters, or whatever, every person in Hope Township will have an opportunity to provide input before any decision is made by MMAH.
It would be extremely myopic for anyone to believe signing a petition asking that Hope Township be removed from Port Hope was the end all be all, as if it was a done deal with no sober second thought that some people like to take advantage of the next morning.
The petition was a very important (and very successful) first step confirming we have support from residents to move forward, but it was only a first step. We have a lot of work to do from that point forward, and that’s exactly what we’re doing every day.