Re: Ward boundary review meeting in Stittsville - November 30, 2004

 

Schedule of City-held meetings


Reported in ...
 

The Stittsville News

 



December 7, 2004

Ward boundary review consultants hold meeting in Goulbourn

The two consultants doing the ward boundary review for the city of Ottawa came to Goulbourn last week where they heard not only about preserving rural wards but also a number of comments about the failings of the current governance structure in the city.

Consultant Beate Bowron pointed out that addressing any changes in the current governance structure, such as adding borough councils, is outside the terms of reference of this ward boundary review. The review report may mention what was heard in this regard but no recommendations will be made about the governance structure.

 
 
Richard Bendall of Munster said that there is a real flaw in the ward boundary review in that it is not dealing with the need for more rural autonomy. He said that the physical boundaries of wards can be changed and the problem of changes to the governance structure will still remain.

Mr. Bendall said that the former two-tier regional government system in the area worked. “It was good”, he said, commenting that the only reason that ward boundaries of the new city are being examined is because the previous regional government model which worked was dismantled by the province.

 
 

Rather, the ward boundary review is centred on trying to solve the problem of the city having three fast growing suburban wards which can no longer be effectively represented by a single councillor anymore, due to their growing population.           

This current ward boundary review differs from the one which was undertaken in the last term of council which resulted in proposed ward boundary changes that would have seen some rural areas joined with suburban growth areas.

The Ontario Municipal Board rejected these changes on the basis that while representation by population was achieved, effective representation was lost. Effective representation is an underlying principle that means that each citizen should be able to have a voice in local government and the ability to bring concerns to a representative who understands their interests.

 
 
Harvey Snyder, president of the Richmond Village Association, told the consultants that while the Goulbourn ward is designated rural, it is dominated by the urban population in Stittsville, making it hard to have rural issues addressed.

 
 

The current ward boundary review is not bound on keeping the same number of wards, a restriction which had been placed on those doing the previous review. This means that the consultants could recommend the creation of new wards.

However, the consultants are going to have regard not only for the principle of effective representation but also the principles of protection of communities of interest and neighbourhoods, consideration of present and future population trends, consideration of physical features as natural boundaries and consideration of representation by population.

The consultants are to make recommendations that will stabilize the ward situation in the city for the next ten years and something that can be put in place in time for the 2006 municipal election.

The ward boundary review meeting, which was held at the former Goulbourn municipal building at Stanley’s Corners on Tuesday, November 30, and which attracted about 25 people, was one of six meetings being held by the consultants in various parts of the city of Ottawa as part of an initial thrust to collection of information and input about the city’s municipal wards.

The consultants will then be issuing an options report about possible new ward boundaries which will then result in a second series of public meetings around the city in February.

This will all lead to recommendations to city council in the spring, with council hopefully making a decision by the end of June so that the new ward boundaries can come into effect for the 2006 municipal election.

 
 
Former Goulbourn township councillor Gilmour Brown of RR1, Richmond commented that the new city is providing an inferior level of service to what was provided under the former regional government system in the area.

 
 

Dr. Gary Davidson, one of the consultants, noted that three wards in the city, namely Kanata, Bell-South Nepean and Gloucester-Southgate, are all near or over 60,000 in population and all are slated to grow to over 100,000 in population in the next ten years. He said that when a ward gets too large in population, it is difficult for one councillor to properly represent the residents and that is the issue facing these three existing wards.

He said that the city of Ottawa has three major areas, namely the inner urban, the suburban and the rural. He said that it is not the intention of the consultants to make recommendations that would upset any of these three major communities of interest.

He said that for this review of the ward boundaries, it is being accepted that the rural wards will have less population than the urban wards. In the last ward boundary review, there was an effort to try to have all the wards have the same population.

He said that the number of people in a ward is one concept of big which applies to suburban wards in particular. But he noted that councillors in rural areas have the problem of “big meaning space”.

 Dr. Davidson said that the types of issues which the various councillors face are different but that they all have issues.

The downtown wards have more social-type issues whereas the suburban growth wards see issues related to site plans and new subdivisions. In the rural wards, councillors face issues such as growth in villages, drainage issues and agricultural operations. But rural councillors also have the issue of space and the fact that it takes a long time to get around the ward.

 
 
Richard Fraser of RR3, Stittsville, suggested that a solution to the ward boundary problems might be to make the inner city wards slightly larger and re-allocate representation to the suburban growth areas, thus keeping the same number of councillors as at present.

 
 

But Dr. Davidson also made it clear that rural areas entail more than just farmers. He noted that rural areas involve estate lot developments and villages and mineral extraction operations, adding that there is quite a mix of uses and issues in the rural areas of the city.

The notion that rural areas are solely farm areas is wrong, he said, while adding that farming is no doubt a very important part of the rural landscape.

Harvey Snyder, president of the Richmond Village Association, told the consultants that while the Goulbourn ward is designated rural, it is dominated by the urban population in Stittsville, making it hard to have rural issues addressed.

He said that so-called rural wards should have a majority of rural residents.

Richard Bendall of Munster said that there is a real flaw in the ward boundary review in that it is not dealing with the need for more rural autonomy. He said that the physical boundaries of wards can be changed and the problem of changes to the governance structure will still remain.

Saying that rural residents are feeling like second class citizens, he cited the example of an apparent double standard by the city when the Munster pipeline through an area served by wells is permitted while a leachate pipeline through an urban area which does not depend on wells is not allowed.

Mr. Bendall said that the former two-tier regional government system in the area worked. “It was good”, he said, commenting that the only reason that ward boundaries of the new city are being examined is because the previous regional government model which worked was dismantled by the province.

Former Goulbourn township councillor Gilmour Brown of RR1, Richmond commented that the new city is providing an inferior level of service to what was provided under the former regional government system in the area.

He said that the current city government is not a satisfactory type of government, adding that the former regional government with local councils was “more down to earth”.

Richard Fraser of RR3, Stittsville, suggested that a solution to the ward boundary problems might be to make the inner city wards slightly larger and re-allocate representation to the suburban growth areas, thus keeping the same number of councillors as at present.

Dr. Davidson replied that the inner city wards are currently fairly large at present.

The Stittsville News


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Reported in ...
 

The Stittsville News

 

 


December 7, 2004

Bob McKinley sees Goulbourn ward as one of toughest problems in current review

The Goulbourn ward presents one of the toughest problems in the current ward boundary review now underway in the city of Ottawa, in the view of Stittsville native Bob McKinley, the lawyer who successfully defended the interests of the rural areas of the city before the Ontario Municipal Board the last time that the city tried to revise its ward boundaries.

The OMB struck down the city’s bylaw reorganizing its ward boundaries for the 2003 municipal election on the basis that the new ward structure, which adhered to a representation by population formula, failed to provide “effective representation” to rural areas.

The new ward boundary review now underway has “effective representation” as its main principle. Effective representation, in its simplified form means that citizens have the right to be represented on council by someone who understands their issues.

Speaking at the November 30th public meeting at the former Goulbourn municipal building at Stanley’s Corners dealing with the current ward boundary review, Mr. McKinley said that the Goulbourn ward situation includes Richmond residents who feel that they are not represented in the current ward structure dominated by Stittsville while it also includes Stittsville residents who feel that they will lose the identity of their community if they are joined with the adjacent urban area of Kanata.

 
 
He said that “one of the dilemmas I see here” is that the Stittsville area does not fit with the rural areas but that throwing it into the blender with Kanata would eliminate its separate identity.

 
 

He said that if a community like Stittsville is submerged in another community like Kanata which then dominates their identity, in his view this denies them effective representation.

He said that “one of the dilemmas I see here” is that the Stittsville area does not fit with the rural areas but that throwing it into the blender with Kanata would eliminate its separate identity.

Mr. McKinley also commented on the possibility of adding the rural area of Goulbourn with the current Rideau ward. He said that this would increase the population of the current small Rideau ward but then the question would be whether the large area could be properly represented by one person.

“I am now convinced that it couldn’t happen”, he said with regard to one person representing such a large geographic area. Mr. McKinley said that the first principle of effective representation is if the person can do the job in a reasonably accessible way.

He also noted that while Stittsville is the fourth urban area outside the greenbelt (Kanata, Nepean South and Cumberland are the others), it does not fit into the mould of the other three in that its population projection is much less.

“I am really torn about this one”, Mr. McKinley said in regard to the Goulbourn ward situation.

 
 
He suggested that perhaps Stittsville could be a ward by itself if some of the future growth areas which currently are undeveloped are included in such a Stittsville ward.

 
 

He said that he supports the Richmond Village Association position that advocates that the rural area of the ward may not be adequately represented in the current ward configuration. But he said that he is also sympathetic to the Stittsville community, where he grew up, which views itself as a separate community.

Peter McNichol of Kanata, a representative of the Kanata community Associations group, speaking at the meeting, said that the community associations he represents do not want Stittsville to be dominated by Kanata in any new ward. He said that the Kanata associations certainly want Stittsville to retain its identity.

He said that Kanata and Stittsville residents have to work together to come up with a dividing line between Stittsville and Kanata, to which both communities agree.

He suggested that perhaps Stittsville could be a ward by itself if some of the future growth areas which currently are undeveloped are included in such a Stittsville ward.

The Stittsville News


 

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