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Volume 12 Week 5

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Orléans Ward
Bob Monette

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(Posted 8:30 a.m., May 23)
City council rejects motion to examine ward reductions

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

There won't be any changes to the city's electoral map before the next municipal election thanks to city council's decision to reject a motion put forward by Mayor Jim Watson that would have reduced their numbers by four to seven members.

Watson wanted staff to start examining the possibility of reducing the number of councillors before the next election in October 2014. In order to put his motion n the table he had to first get council to agree to wave their procedures, which they did by a vote of 18-6. But when it came time to vote on whether an actually review should took place, only eight councillors supported the Mayor.

Several arguments were presented against a review including that it would likely be divisive and that the current council had enough on its plate with the Light Rail project likely to take up the majority of their energies over the next two to three years.

Orléans Ward Coun. Bob Monette voted in favour of a review as did Cumberland Ward Coun. Stephen Blais who made it one of his campaign planks.

Monette supported the review, which would have cost an estimated $250,000, because of the opportunity it would have presented in providing residents with more information on the subject.

“I’m not going to vote against getting more information to the table,” said Monette.

The city currently has 23 wards with an average of 38,000 residents per ward. Orleans Ward has a higher than average population with almost 50,000 residents, Cumberland Ward has 41,000 residents and is growing every year as develop.m.ent moves further south, and Innes Ward has 38,000 residents.

By comparison, Edmonton, with only 12 wards, has an average of 67,500 residents per ward, while London, with 13 wards, has an average of 28,165 residents per ward.

The city is already planning to do a ward boundary review in 2015.

Watson's main purpose to conduct a boundary review sooner rather than later was to save money by reducing the number of councillors and corresponding office budgets. But others have argued that such a result may not be the case, especially if you increase the size of each ward by 50 to 60 per cent.

There is a tipping point at which the sheer number of residents in each ward would require additional resources in order to provide a level of representation constituents have come to expect.

(This story was made possible thanks to their generous support of our local business partners.)

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