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

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Yesterday, Council’s Finance and Economic Development Committee voted to accept a consultant-recommended ward boundary change and against a motion that I and Councillor Kavanagh asked be put on the table (we don’t sit on the committee) to keep McKellar Park in Kitchissippi ward starting with the 2022 election.

I understand and respect the decision and won’t be pursuing it any further. The committee’s vote was unanimous, and it’s clear that Council’s vote would be the same.

Since it looks highly likely that McKellar Park will become part of Bay ward, I wanted to take a moment to again explore why the change is being proposed, and what the likely outcomes are for affected residents.

As I wrote in August (here), the change is part of a broader review of Ottawa’s ward boundaries. These exercises are undertaken every three or four elections to ensure that there is rough voter parity between wards as those get out of whack depending on where growth is occurring in the city.

One of the options for managing the high growth in our ward presented for consultation in the fall was to add McKellar Park to Bay ward. If no change is made to our boundaries, the population over the next four elections is expected to become unmanageable. Here are the projections with no change:
















Ottawa Average






While I challenged the consultants on their numbers, I accept that Kitchissippi continues to grow extremely quickly through infill and towers and there is no sign of that letting up in the near- to mid-term. Growth is absolutely coming to Bay, but it will be slower according to the consultants. Councillor Kavanagh remains concerned about the extent and rate of growth in these Bay ward calculations. The time frame for these projections is a relatively short one, and the consultants have worked closely with the team at the City responsible for our work on the new Official Plan.

The issue of growth is at the heart of the “effective representation” goal for ward boundary reviews. Kitchissippi is busy and residents expect their councillor to be engaged with a very high number of files. Our issues in an intensifying, fast-changing ward are frequently very complex. The high number of urban ward planning, transportation, commercial and construction issues are compounded by the growing impacts of the housing and opioid crises in large parts of our ward.

It is becoming increasingly difficult even today to provide a high level of customer service to residents during weeks that simply don’t have enough hours. Kitchissippi has to become smaller in the near- to mid-term. Population parity is not an abstract concept – residents deserve to have representatives who have the time to be persistent and thoughtful in advocating on their behalf.

Ward boundary reviews, though, are never entirely about the numbers. It’s important that we look at what the impacts of a ward boundary change might be on McKellar residents.

First and foremost, residents have raised the schools issue. Parents have a strong attachment to Broadview and are worried that a change in municipal boundaries might affect particularly the school catchment area. While I noted in August that this isn’t the case, I’ve had subsequent discussions with the school Board to confirm my understanding.

Yesterday, the OCDSB released a statement confirming that school catchment boundaries are not affected by ward boundaries. You can read that here. Kitchissippi residents know that catchment areas that cross ward boundaries are not uncommon: Devonshire’s catchment, for example, extends to Bronson across the Trillium line tracks. Broadview itself extends to Woodroffe. Residents of McKellar might have a different trustee, but their school attendance won’t be affected by the ward boundary decision. This was re-iterated again yesterday by those current city councillors who are former school trustees.

Councillors on FEDCO were clearly reticent to accept the other reasons that residents have raised for not effecting the proposed change. Residents may identify with Westboro, but their relationships with it are not ones that are mediated by the councillor or even the city. Residents will still shop in Westboro, use McKellar Park and enjoy swimming, fitness classes and summer camps at Dovercourt. They’ll continue to enjoy Westboro Beach and the Winter Trail. They’ll continue to shop at the Farmer’s Market, just as they enjoy using the Carlingwood branch of the library in Bay ward today.

I’d like to further note that controversial developments on ward boundaries don’t privilege one group of residents over another. I was very active on the Kristy’s application, Councillor Brockington has been very active on the Westgate development, and Councillor McKenney has been very active on the Gladstone/Loretta file. The impacts of development across the City are felt in neighbourhoods across the city. Where communities take an interest in a development on the other side of the line, their councillors get involved. Every councillor gets the same vote on applications.

Finally, one of the fundamental concerns raised was that some McKellar residents are concerned that their representative in future will have “suburban” values versus their “urban” ones, and that McKellar simply has nothing in common with communities like Glabar Park and Carlingwood. I simply can’t accept this.

Good urban design, sustainable transportation including great public transit and active transportation routes, the preservation of greenspace and achieving equity in our city are not “urban” values and they are shared further and further afield from downtown Ottawa. Sherbourne is not a dividing line today and it won’t be in future between “urban” and “suburban”. Just as Kitchissippi is today a diverse ward that spans the R4 neighbourhoods of Hintonburg and Mechanicsville to the post-war suburban R1 McKellar, virtually no wards are comprised of a monolithic built form and perspectives on city-building. Every councillor in Ottawa faces the challenge of representing a rich spectrum of views, which is as it should be.

Prior to yesterday’s vote, I had indicated to the media that I was uncertain whether I could support McKellar residents in their efforts to remain a part of Kitchissippi. No boundary review is perfect and I have yet to formulate the compelling reason why we should not accept the consultants' recommendations. Yesterday’s motion was brought at my and Councillor Kavanagh’s request. I felt it was important that Committee members be afforded the opportunity to consider the issue about which they’d received several dozen notes from residents. Committee members arrived at a reasonable conclusion and voted their conscience, and I accept that.

I'll just conclude by saying that regardless of how boundaries are re-drawn as part of this exercise, I will be the representative for McKellar Park until a new councillor is sworn in in December 2022. I'm looking forward to serving you with the same vigour and thoughtfulness with which I serve all residents in beautiful Kitchissippi ward.

Posted December 2, 2020