Ward boundary ideas still sought

Midtown meetings over, but email input still accepted

Throughout October, the independent urban planning committee hired last year by the City of Toronto to suggest new ward boundaries has been organizing public meetings to solicit residents’ opinions.

While the midtown portion of the meetings may be over, the committee is still looking for “refinements” to the five choices being considered, and residents are invited to submit additional comments by completing a survey on the project’s website, www.drawthelines.ca, says Gary Davidson, lead author of the committee’s Options Report.

“People at our public meetings have said, ‘I like this option, but I think you should move the boundary line a street or two,” he says. “That’s what we’re looking for at a public meeting, whether people suggest refinements.”

Each of the five options presented in the report, which can be read online, has a different foundation — but all would correct the growing population imbalance among the current wards, which were established in 2000.

In midtown alone, Ward 21 had a population of 48,640 according to the 2011 census, while Ward 27 had a population of 78,670.

“If you get a situation where I’m in a ward of 44,000 and you’re in a ward of 80,000, my ballot is technically worth twice yours, and it’s not just when I vote, it’s every time the councillor votes,” Davidson says.

Option 1 would redraw the current boundaries as little as possible but increase the number of wards to 47, while Option 2 would maintain the current number of wards but increase the average ward population to 70,000. Option 3 would increase the number of wards to 58, but lower the average ward population to 50,000.

“Some people think that the smaller the ward, the better the councillor can service it,” Davidson says.

Option 4 would reduce the number of wards to 38 while increasing the average ward population to 75,000. And Option 5 would reduce the number of wards to 41 while dividing them based on physical or natural boundaries.

Except for option 1, all would significantly change the boundaries in midtown.

But if any residents would like to suggest further changes, Davidson is happy to hear them.

“In some of the options it’s quite easy to accommodate refinements, if they’re small,” he says.

In addition to public meetings, the committee will be interviewing each of the councillors and reading every comment submitted online — about 500 so far, Davidson says — before reconvening to create its final recommendation, which will be delivered to city council next May.

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Posted: Oct 20 2015 9:00 am
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto