Municipal boundaries will be revisited
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.