In January 2017, the City of Orillia retained Watson & Associates Economists Ltd., in association with Dr. Robert J. Williams, to undertake a comprehensive review of the City's ward boundaries prior to the 2018 Municipal Election.
What is a Ward Boundary Review?
A Ward Boundary Review is a task conducted on behalf of a municipality to assess whether the present wards constitute an effective and equitable system of representation and, if not, to propose alternatives.
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Ward Boundary Review Progress Chart
|Stage in Process
Conduct research on present electoral system in Orillia. Collect data on present and future population
|February - March 2017
|Conduct interviews with elected officials and senior City staff
|Conduct public open house to consider alternative ward configurations and seek public feedback
|Prepare report to Council with alternative ward configurations and recommendation
|Council approval of final report and adoption of by-law
|Possible OMB appeal process (includes time for appeals, notifications and hearings by the Board)
Current Ward Structure in Orillia
Since the 2000 Municipal Election, a nine-member Council, composed of a Mayor and eight Councillors elected in four wards, has governed Orillia. View City of Orilia Ward Map.
Why is Orillia conducting a Ward Boundary Review?
Ward boundaries in Orillia have not been reviewed since they were first introduced in 1990. At that time, the wards were reasonably balanced but in 2017 this is no longer the case.
||2017 Ward Population
A review of the electoral arrangements in Ontario municipalities is discretionary; the obligation to undertake a review of municipal electoral districts is entirely absent from legislation.
- the overall population of the City of Orillia has grown since the existing wards were created in 2000; and
- population growth has not been uniform across Orillia. As a result, there is a significant variation in the population between the smallest of the existing wards and the largest. The City of Orillia should aspire to a ward system that provides fair representation to all of its residents.
The Municipal Act, 2001 stipulates that municipal elections be conducted under provisions in place on January 1 of an election year. Since 2018 is the next municipal election year in Ontario, any changes to the City's ward boundaries must ideally have been agreed upon by mid-year 2017 to allow time for an Ontario Municipal Board hearing, should any decision to revise the ward boundaries be appealed.
Who is conducting the Orillia Ward Boundary Review?
Given the political importance of the ward boundaries, a review that would be considered acceptable by the community and by the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) should not be conducted for the municipality by someone who is a member of Council or a municipal employee.
The City has retained Watson and Associates and Dr. Robert Williams to conduct a comprehensive and independent Ward Boundary Review through a process set out in a report to Council (Ward Boundary Review - Guiding Principles) that included a "Backgrounder" setting out the objectives, schedule and guiding principles for the study (Report CD-17-05, February 27, 2017). Together, the consultant team has conducted over twenty ward boundary reviews in Ontario and will utilize their experiences gained through those reviews to assess the present electoral arrangements in Orillia and to design alternatives consistent with the guiding principles for the Review.
How will the Orillia Ward Boundary Review be conducted?
The consultant team will direct the Ward Boundary Review process for the City and has gathered background information on the present ward system from interviews with City staff and elected officials and has compiled data on the present and projected population of the City. Based on that research, the consultants will assess the present ward boundaries and develop alternative designs consistent with the guiding principles for the review (see below).
Public consultation is essential for the review process to be legitimate and effective and will be undertaken through a number of mediums and forums.
The primary goal is to ensure that members of the public are provided with opportunities
- to comment on the current ward boundary structure,
- to offer suggestions or new alternatives, and
- to consider and provide comments on the options presented.
Therefore, as part of the Orillia Ward Boundary Review, a public consultation session will be held at the Orillia City Centre on Tuesday, May 23, 2017 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Tudhope-McIntyre Boardroom where preliminary alternatives will be presented.
A survey that seeks information and opinion from citizens on the present and future ward boundaries for the City will be available at the public consultation session and on this website the day following it. Completed surveys may be submitted at the public consultation session or returned to the Clerk's Office at the City Centre during business hours. Surveys may also be mailed to:
Office of the Clerk
City of Orillia
50 Andrew St. S., Suite 300
Orillia, ON L3V 7T5
A Final Report will be submitted to Council for action since the Municipal Act, 2001 assigns the statutory authority to the municipal Council:
- to determine the method by which members of Council are elected (that is, in wards or at-large); and
- to divide, redivide or dissolve existing wards.
What will be considered in the Ward Boundary Review?
The objective of the Ward Boundary Review is to evaluate the suitability of the present wards in terms of the Guiding Principles and to develop alternative designs that are consistent with the following principles.
a) Representation by Population
- To the extent possible, every Ward Councillor will generally represent the same number of constituents with some variation acceptable to take into account residential density and the patterns of settlement in the City.
- The acceptable range of population variance will not exceed 25% unless it can be justified as a way to meet one of the other criteria.
b) Population and Electoral Trends
- Wards will be designed so as to maintain equitable representation by population over a three-election cycle (2018, 2022 and 2026).
- Population projections will be based on adopted municipal-wide residential growth forecasts and other planning data compiled in 2017.
c) Representation of Communities of Interest
- Wards will be composed of plausible groupings of communities and established neighbourhoods.
- Each ward will elect the same number of Ward Councillors.
d) Geographical and Topographical Features
- Wards will be delineated using recognizable geographic and topographic features such as transportation infrastructure (major roads, railway lines, utility corridors, etc.) or natural features (lakes, rivers, topographical land formations).
- Ward boundaries will, to the extent possible, reflect customary patterns of communication among communities and neighbourhoods within the City.
- Wards will be contiguous in shape and as compact as possible.
e) Effective Representation
- The previous four principles are all subject to the overarching principle of "effective representation" as enunciated by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Carter case.
- To achieve effective representation, each resident will have comparable access to their elected representative and each Ward Councillor should speak in governmental deliberations on behalf of the same number of residents.
- In determining what constitutes "effective representation" in Orillia, it may be necessary to apply some principles less stringently in order to better satisfy what may be viewed as other, more desirable, principles.