The City of Toronto has initiated a Ward Boundary Review (WBR) to reconsider the size and the shape of the city's 44 Wards. A website called Draw The Lines has been created to give you everything you need to know about what the review means, how it is being done, and much more including dates for public meetings.
A team of consultants from the Canadian Urban Institute, Beate Bowron Etcetera Inc., The Davidson Group Inc., and Thomas Ostler were hired this past March by Toronto City Council to look into the WBR. This past June, Council approved of the consultants' work plan, civic engagements, and public consultation strategies.
Why does Toronto need a WBR? Some of Toronto's ward populations are now thirty to forty-five per cent higher than the average due to factors like new development. The goal is to return to equal representation, so that all residents votes have equal weight and equal access to their Councillor.
It needs to happen sooner rather than later as the size of the City's wards have already been brought into question by the Ontario Municipal Board. Had Toronto not reviewed the size and shape of its wards, the Ontario Municipal Board would have imposed a new ward structure without the public's involvement, and without the approval of Toronto's City Council. The size, shape and number of the current wards were established when the City of Toronto merged with Scarborough, Etobicoke, York, East York, and North York in 1997.
The WBR will consider not only each ward's population, but current and future population trends, the history of the wards, communities and neighbourhoods of interest, and its physical and natural features. There's a lot to look at, but over the course of 2 years the WBR should have enough information in order to draw out new lines, if needed. The board submits their findings in spring of 2016 to the committee.
Other Ontario cities like Oakville, Brampton, Markham and Ottawa have already had their review. Let's see what Toronto's review brings to the city's boundary lines. Having 44 wards may not be enough afterall.
How can you participate?
There are two rounds of public and consultation engagements. The current round, finishing up in January 2015, is focusing on gathering information on the wards' current boundaries. Click here for a the current dates, including those on as soon as this evening. The next round, to be held in March and April of 2015, will focus on getting feedback on boundary options. You can also follow Draw The Lines on twitter for updates on the WBR at @drawthelinesTO. As well there are online surveys that you can fill out if you can't make a meeting.
If you want to leave a comment about the Ward Boundary Review, you can sound off in the space provided on this page below.