Let the turf protecting begin.
A report released this morning outlines a series of potential options for changing the makeup of the city’s present 23 wards – both in terms of the number of wards and the existing boundaries.
If you’re attached to your neighbourhood, to your community, this might seem like dull reading material – but it’s an incredibly important issue for the healthy growth of this city.
The report reveals that public consultations revealed only one real truth. Finding a peaceful solution to some of the inequitable distribution of population and geography will be near impossible and will never please everyone. Some believe there are too many wards and therefore too many city councillors; others think there aren’t enough politicians to represent the city’s population; some think the urban core is unrepresented, while others think the suburbs need more representation, and still others yet question having three rural councillors for its smaller population base, though much bigger geographically.
After the report and its various options are received by council, a second round of consultations – which includes seeking input from the public, stakeholders and members of council. A planned council debate is expected in December.
There are five options outlined in the report. Of those, two options recommend maintaining the 23 wards, with tweaks, a third option suggests drastically reducing the number of wards from 23 to 17. I don’t have a crystal ball, but I’ll put my money on the table right now that cutting six wards is never going to happen. There is of course an inherent conflict of interest here. How many politicians are going to vote to axe their own jobs? Of the final two options, one recommends going to 24 wards, the final option suggests adding two overall councillors to 25.
In Option One, the number of wards would be increased from 23 to 25. Under that scenario, there would be an additional urban ward to increase voter parity, two more in the suburbs – one in Ottawa East and another in Ottawa South – and one less in the rural areas.
Option Two goes from 23 to 24 wards by increasing the number of suburban wards by two and redefining the rural wards much like option one. This option, according to the report, requires the least amount of boundary adjustments.
Option Three maintains the same number of wards, but according to the Options Report, requires the most change to the boundaries. Like options one and two, it suggests adding two suburban wards to increase voter parity. Again, it recommends reducing by one ward in the rural sector and also by one ward in the urban core.
Option Four also recommends maintaining the number of wards at 23. It adds one ward to the suburbs, one less in the urban core, but requires major rejigging of the existing boundaries.
Option Five will appeal to the hard core residents who believe the fewer politicians, the better – recommending the 23 wards be cut to 17 – a pretty drastic measure. This option suggests taking away a rural ward and major redistribution of the several other wards.