Mu­nic­i­pal bound­aries will be re­vis­ited

Calgary Herald - - FRONT PAGE - MEGHAN POTKINS [email protected]

It’s been just over two years since Cal­gary’s mu­nic­i­pal ward bound­aries were re­drawn but those di­vi­sions are ex­pected to shift yet again as new de­vel­op­ment fu­els con­cerns over un­equal rep­re­sen­ta­tion be­tween the wards.

City clerk Laura Kennedy con­firmed Mon­day that cur­rent ward di­vi­sions will be re­vis­ited ahead of the next mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion in 2021 and that pro­posed ad­just­ments could come to coun­cil for ap­proval next fall. Kennedy said the changes could help re­bal­ance the district bound­aries based on pop­u­la­tion vari­ances.

Coun. Shane Keat­ing — whose Ward 12 is the largest and fastest grow­ing in the city — raised the is­sue in coun­cil cham­bers Mon­day and pointed out that his ward’s bound­aries en­com­pass up to 50 per cent more res­i­dents than the small­est ward in the city, Ward 3.

“What we have to do (is) ad­just the bound­aries in such a way that we’re not rep­re­sent­ing res­i­dents in a dis­pro­por­tion­ate way, which is tech­ni­cally what’s hap­pen­ing and will just con­tinue,” Keat­ing said. “There are (res­i­dents) who tech­ni­cally in some cases don’t have the same say as other res­i­dents within the city.”

The 2018 civic cen­sus shows the most pop­u­lous ward in the city has 105,365 res­i­dents, the least pop­u­lous ward has 69,877 res­i­dents.

There are also big dif­fer­ences in the num­ber of com­mu­ni­ties within each ward, which has an im­pact on coun­cil­lor work­loads; Coun. Jeromy Farkas, for in­stance, jug­gles meet­ings with more than 25 com­mu­nity as­so­ci­a­tions com­pared to other wards where there are fewer than five as­so­ci­a­tions.

The news comes af­ter coun­cil ap­proved a slate of new de­vel­op­ments ex­pected to fur­ther ex­ac­er­bate pop­u­la­tion dis­par­i­ties be­tween the wards, in­clud­ing two ma­jor de­vel­op­ments in south­east Cal­gary.

Mayor Na­heed Nen­shi said Mon­day it’s un­likely pop­u­la­tion growth in Ward 3 will be able to catch it up with more pop­u­lous wards with­out a shift in bound­aries.

Some of the bound­ary prob­lems, par­tic­u­larly in re­gards to Ward 3, Nen­shi said, should have been ap­par­ent the last time the city ex­plored changes the di­vi­sions.

“It’s clear that coun­cil made a small er­ror in set­ting up those bound­aries,” Nen­shi said of the 2016 re­design.

The 2016 re­design was ap­proved af­ter coun­cil de­cided to ig­nore the rec­om­men­da­tions of an in­de­pen­dent com­mis­sion tasked with ex­am­in­ing the bound­aries, opt­ing in­stead to re­fer the mat­ter to city ’s chief elec­toral of­fi­cer for tweak­ing.

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