With the COVID-19 pandemic still having a dramatic effect on people’s lives, it’s little wonder that a list of recommendations suggesting a dramatic reconfiguration of the ward boundaries in Orléans and Cumberland was made public on June 24 to a chorus of crickets.
Among other things, the recommendations would see Cumberland Ward separated along rural and suburban lines. The suburban portion of the ward would form part of a new Orléans South Ward and the rural portion of the ward would be merged with Osgoode Ward to form a much larger Cumberland-Osgoode Ward.
The bit about realigning the boundaries in Orléans to take into account the massive growth south of Innes in recent years makes a lot of sense, but the idea to throw the rural portion of Cumberland in with Osgoode Ward does not.
The only thing Cumberland Village or Navan has in common with Osgoode or Metcalfe is the fact that all four are located in the country. It pretty stops and ends there. The largely French communities of Sarsfield and Vars have even less in common with the aforementioned.
The recommendations are even more dramatic for residents living along Navan Road, which would divided in half. Residents living west of Mer Bleue Road would be thrown in with the new Orléans South Ward and those living east of Mer Bleue would become part of the new Cumberland-Osgoode Ward. That’s pretty hard to imagine.
It’s clear that the authors of Ward Boundary Review 2020 made their recommendations based solely on the population figures and future projections rather than history.
Cumberland has always been a mix of rural and suburban ever since Queenswood Heights was created in the late 60s and Chatelaine Villlage after that.
Instead of merging Cumberland and Osgoode, the rural part of Cumberland should be added to the suggested new Orléans North Ward and the boundary between Orléans South and North should be moved from Innes Road, which is the boundary that is being suggested, and moved to along Des Epinettes and Gardenway, which is the current dividing line between Orléans Ward and Cumberland Ward. This would keep the numbers just about even between the three east end wards and still allow the rural residents in Cumberland to remain part of the east end.
Opposition against the recommendation to merge Cumberland and Osgoode will likely gain steam as more of the rural residents find out about it. In the meantime, they have other things to occupy their thoughts and keep them up at night.