Thursday, January 27, 2011

Equal Representation ?

Rejigging Municipal Election Boundaries

Ward 23, Willowdale: 88,840 people  Under Represented?

Ward 18, Davenport: 45,940 people    Over Represented ?

Uneven Growth Leaves Some Wards Just Too Big
OpenFile article

"Some of Toronto’s electoral wards now contain so many more people than others that the city’s ward map could be redrawn by the Ontario Municipal Board if council does not make its own changes, a report from senior city staff warns."

City Staff Report warns that:

Some City ward boundaries exceed or are approaching the plus or minus 25 percent population variance benchmark for acceptable differences in electoral boundaries. This leaves the City vulnerable to an elector petition for a ward boundary review and a possible appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board. Should this occur the decision on ward boundaries would be in the hands of the Board, not Council."

  • It exposes the City to the risk that electors will submit a petition requesting Council to adjust the ward boundaries. Under the
  • City of Toronto Act, 2006, a petition must be signed by 500 electors. If Council fails to pass a bylaw within 90 days of receiving the petition, any of the electors who signed the petition may appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board. The Board may make an order to redivide the City’s wards. This would leave the decision in the hands of the Board, not Council.
Seems like pretty basic unfairness for a democratic system that should be challenged. A basic precept should be that wards have equal representation at Toronto City Council. (we're not talking office budgets here, just voting power).

Or will Mayor Ford use this opportunity to (foolishly) cut council size in half, as he said during his election campaign?

Interesting times...... So who will be the first 500 to sign a petition? And where?

* Update: A Jan 29 Toronto Star article "Current boundaries date from 2000 and are based on 1996 census data. No wonder they’re out of whack. Toronto’s adminsitrators should be directed to review ward boundaries and recommend change. Beyond that, we need to update boundaries regularly, perhaps after each 10-year census."