KITCHENER -- The City of Guelph is facing a major question about the composition of its city council.

At a special council meeting Thursday evening, councillors were presented with a staff recommendation for a significant change in the number of wards and the number councillors.

The current system in Guelph has six wards with two elected councillors per ward, for a total of twelve part-time councillors.

After a third-party review, staff is recommending an eight-ward system with one councillor per ward. The report also recommends the councillor position be elevated from part-time to full-time employment.

The report says the move would cost taxpayers approximately $300,000 in additional salary and support staff.

The city would also have to undergo a ward boundary review process to redraw the ward map.

In a close vote of seven to six, council decided to first conduct more public feedback before making a decision.

“There was a lot of hesitation from the public, those that delegated, those that were engaged in the process and there was a lot of trepidation in council as well some trepidation,” said Mayor Cam Guthrie.

“Councillor O’Rourke moved a motion to have the employment status, the number of councillors and the number of wards be reviewed and engaged further over the next few months.”

The public engagement will ask residents if they prefer eight, 10 or 12 councillor,s as well as input on changes to ward boundaries.

The mayor expects a decision to made in May or June of 2021.