Office of Councillor Jeff Leiper, Kitchissippi Ward, Ottawa | (613) 580-2485  |
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Kitchissippi and the ward boundary review

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I’ve been fielding lots of questions about the ward boundary review and apologize for not having written up a summary sooner. It’s important, and I hope I can answer some of the common questions below.

Ottawa, as you know, is governed by a city council made up of 23 councillors who represent wards, and a mayor who chairs that Council with a city-wide mandate. Those wards are geographic: only residents of that specific area can vote for the ward councillor.

Ward boundaries change from time to time. Some parts of the city grow faster than others and, depending how many residents Council aims for in each ward, there may even be the requirement to add more wards. Of course, if Council determines that wards can have more people than they do now then the number of wards can be reduced. Parts of one ward might be added to another in order to make the target numbers work.

Since the last major boundary review, there has been massive growth in the suburbs. In the south end, particularly, the number of residents per ward has become clearly disproportional. As time goes on, that will be further exacerbated by the building of new sub-divisions.

The final decision will try to balance in an effort to achieve the legal standard of “effective representation”:

  • Geographic communities of interest
  • Natural/physical Boundaries
  • Voter parity
  • Minority interests
  • Ward history
  • Capacity to represent
  • Geographic size and shape of the ward
  • Population growth

It’s a tall order. No one of these criteria is necessarily more important than the others, and none will likely be perfectly adhered to in the final outcome.

Naturally, I’ve been looking most closely at the implications for Kitchissippi ward. I know that the materials online are a challenge to follow, and my hope is that by outlining at least the following residents will be able to understand at a high level what the implications most locally would be.

As I’ve written in my newsletter, I have three key priorities. First and foremost, I want coherent communities to stay together. Several of the scenarios for Kitchissippi would split Hintonburg in two, or split Mechanicsville from Hintonburg, which I don’t believe would be healthy. I feel strongly that the same person should represent both of those communities in their entirety. A sixth option would see McKellar Park have a different councillor from Westboro. I also want to ensure that the “downtown” voice isn’t diminished. Something I’m feeling very keenly right now is the need to ensure that the ward doesn’t grow so big as to become unwieldy for the next councillor.

I’ve been asked and can make it clear that this won’t affect who your MP or MPP is – the federal and provincial ridings are unaffected by this. And, school boundaries are determined by the Boards independent of wards. Our kids will still go to and have access to the same schools. A large portion of Devonshire’s population is from Somerset ward despite its location in Kitchissippi, for example. However, some Boards map their Trustees’ responsibilities to City wards. Justine Bell, for example, is the Trustee at the OCDSB for Kitchissippi and Somerset wards. Jeremy Wittet is the OCSB Trustee for Bay and Kitchissippi wards. If a Board doesn’t change the geographic boundaries for its trustees, you might end up with a new trustee.

I can’t recreate the full complexity of the report here, but if you do read this and want to know more, all of the information is here, including population projections that are one of the fundamental drivers for the exercise. In most of the options below, there’s an implication of reducing the number of rural wards to three. That’s a function of the rapid growth in the suburban part of Cumberland. The options would split Cumberland’s rural residents into a larger Osgoode ward.

So what do the six options look like for Kitchissippi?

Option 1

Option 1 would remove Hintonburg and Mechanicsville from Kitchissippi (they would go to Somerset) but would add Glabar Park in a new 25-ward configuration. The new boundary would be Parkdale Avenue, with a small jog over to Holland Avenue then up to the Queensway. Not that I have a tin-foil hat on, but that jog puts my house in Somerset. Hm.

In this option, Ottawa would have 13 urban wards, 9 suburban wards, and 3 rural wards, which would be the addition of two suburban wards, and one core urban ward, and removing one rural ward.

While the local councillor isn’t “in charge of” the community centre and library, it’s worthwhile noting that Rosemount, the HCC and Tom Brown would now be in a different ward. Normally the local councillor is the first point of contact for issues related to those facilities. It’s worth further noting that this option would split the Wellington West BIA between two wards.

Option 2

Option 2 would remove half of Hintonburg split roughly at Fairmont from Kitchissippi while leaving Mechanicsville in the ward, and would add Glabar Park and Carlingwood neighbourhoods to Kitchissippi in a 24-ward configuration.

In this option, the city would have 12 urban wards, 9 suburban wards and 3 rural wards, which would be the addition of 2 suburban wards and the removal of one rural ward.

Tom Brown would now be in a different ward, and this option would have the same effect of splitting the WWBIA.

Option 3

A 23-ward Option 3 would remove Civic Hospital from Kitchissippi and add it to Somerset. A sliver of River ward between Merivale and Maitland would be added to Kitchissippi and half of Hintonburg (the south side split at Fairmont) would be added to Somerset.

Option 3 retains the current number of wards in the city by adding two wards to the suburbs, removing one rural ward, and removing one ward from inside the Greenbelt. It significantly adjusts ward boundaries in the urban area.

Option 4

Option 4 also preserves 23 wards, with half of Hintonburg from roughly Fairmont split and added to Somerset, and adding Glabar Park, Carlingwood, and the same sliver of River ward as in option 4 added as well.

It would have 11 urban wards, nine suburban wards and three rural wards. Like option three, it removes one urban ward, one rural ward, and adds two suburban wards. And, it would also split the WWBIA and put Tom Brown in a different ward.

Option 5

Option 5 is a nuclear option, dropping the number of wards in the city to just 17. Kitchissippi would essentially become the “inner” west end ward including all of Hintonburg, Mechanicsville, Civic Hospital, Wellington Village, Champlain Park, Hampton-Iona, Westboro, Westboro Beach, McKellar Park as well as Little Italy, Dalhousie and Chinatown. McKellar Heights would no longer be a part of the ward.

This new configuration would have nine urban wards, six suburban wards and two rural wards. Carlingwood library would actually fall under the purview of the Kitchissippi councillor in this scenario, and it would add several schools as well.

I can say today that I would oppose this option. Kitchissippi with its multiple LRT stations and overwhelming volume of development applications is already a barely sustainable workload. With a new Official Plan likely to drive significant zoning changes in the next term of Council, I cannot imagine how the next councillor will be able to be effective.

Option 6

Option 6 adds two more suburban wards while removing one rural ward in a 24-ward configuration. Kitchissippi would include Hintonburg, Mechanicsville, Civic Hospital, Wellington Village, Champlain Park, Hampton-Iona, Westboro and Westboro Beach, but McKellar Park (west of Broadview and including the towers near Golden) and McKellar Heights would be hived off to Bay.

As with other options, this one removes one rural ward and adds two suburban wards. In this scenario, Broadview, Notre Dame and Nepean would (just barely) be in a different ward. And, Dovercourt would need to interact with a different councillor for its management of the field house at McKellar Park.

Each option has its drawbacks. The competing interests are many. The City is now hosting consultations here, and I hope folks will participate. I’ve been speaking with our community associations but would absolutely welcome your direct feedback.

Posted August 25, 2020