Update: on 15 June, City Council decided to not proceed with further consideration of the two proposed changes (one affecting Ward 7, Ward 5 and Ward 3 and one affecting Ward 4 and Ward 2).
Once each term, the City Clerk reviews the ward boundaries to see if any changes are necessary. This review is undertaken within the council policy on ward boundaries.
After undertaking the review this term, the City Clerk recommended making no changes (read the full staff report).
At the corporate services committee, three councillors supported ignoring the City Clerk's recommendation and going ahead with changes to the ward boundaries now so they would be in place for the 2022 municipal election. One of the changes these councillors want to see made would affect residents in Ward 4.
The change advocated by Councillor Lewis (Ward 2) would involve expanding the boundary of Ward 2 to shift ~650 residents from Ward 4 to Ward 2.
The 2020 population estimate for Ward 2 is 26,612; it's 31,606 for Ward 4. The optimal population size for a ward, in 2020, is 30,513. That means that Ward 2 is -12.8% under the optimal size and Ward 4 is 3.6% over the optimal size.
The way the boundaries are now, in terms of voter parity, voters in a ward that's under the optimal size (e.g. voters in Ward 2) have relatively more power than the voters in a ward that's over the optimal size (e.g. voters in Ward 4).
The range of variance that is generally considered acceptable is +/- 25%, so if a ward is 25% under or over the optimal size, the City Clerk would likely recommend boundary adjustments. Since none of the wards are under or over 25% right now, the City Clerk has recommended no changes at this time.
Given that 1) this is a census year; 2) there will be federal redistricting undertaken following the census; and 3) we are still dealing with a pandemic, I argued (unsuccessfully) that this proposed change is not a priority right now and can wait to be considered in the next council term, when a comprehensive review can be conducted with the benefit of the 2021 Census (not extrapolations from the 2016 Census).
What do you think? Please fill out this two-question survey to let me know!