Friday June 24, 2016
Should Hamilton’s ward boundaries be redrawn to reflect areas of growth, perhaps even adding a 16th ward?
The question is, should they remain or should they go?
Not just in Britain — although the Brexit debate has been kind of important, too.
Should Hamilton’s 15 ward boundaries remain the same or change?
That has been the topic at a series of public meetings on the issue — the most recent this week at Waterdown’s Legion Hall.
But the tepid turnout in Waterdown — only three people showed — and also last week at Tim Hortons Field, suggests residents may not be all that engaged.
In fairness, “Ward Boundary Review” is a subject hardly guaranteed to reel in even the most civic minded on a long, warm summer night.
And Mayor Fred Eisenberger predicted neither councillors nor constituents would have much enthusiasm to tackle the issue.
But last spring council voted to hire consultants to undertake a boundary review — at cost of $270,000 — to explore if changes would better reflect shifting population patterns.
For example, Ward 7 on the central Mountain has 62,000 residents while rural Ward 14 in Flamborough has about 17,000.
Among the alternatives suggested by the consultants: rearrange wards to follow federal riding boundaries; reshape wards to better reflect population; add a 16th ward.
One option (shown on the map) shows a proposed Ward 16 on the Mountain, and also redrawing Ward 15 so it would geographically be smaller than it is now — essentially Waterdown on its own, defined by Milburough Line to the east, Concession 7 to the north, Hwy 6. and Millgrove Sideroad to the west, to roughly the Niagara Escarpment along the southern border.
Ward 15 Coun. Judi Partridge, whose ward is about 70 per cent rural, says consultants are paying too little attention to criteria such as culture, heritage, and the natural environment, and focusing too heavily on population.
She added that the trio of residents who showed at the Waterdown meeting was pressed by consultants to pick a favourite option, but found the exercise too complex to choose.
Watson & Associates Economists Ltd. wrote in their report that electoral boundaries should be reviewed every 10-15 years, and Hamilton’s have been the same since amalgamation in 2001.(Source: Hamilton Spectator)