After learning about the plans for Cavan-Monaghan by the new Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission in late August, Council considered how to address the proposal.
The initial proposal divides the 10,016 township residents in the 2021 Census across three electoral districts: Haliburton Kawartha Lakes Brock (HKLB); Peterborough South and Northumberland. In the initial proposal, almost half of the residents would reside in HKLB and Northumberland, with roughly ten percent swept into the Peterborough district.
Electoral boundaries are redrawn every ten years following each Census. Ridings are redesigned to redistribute population as equally as possible amongst the ridings, based on an electoral quota representing an average population per riding for each province. Riding boundaries are designed to keep populations within ten percent of this provincial average. In this instance, Ontario’s target is 116,590. The Commission is also obliged to consider communities of interest or community identities whole, historical representation and the geographic size of districts. In addition, Federal boundaries usually respect the boundaries of small, rural municipalities.
This is not the first time Cavan Monaghan was set to be divided in an initial boundary realignment proposal. Last time, the township was cut in two in the first draft, and Mayor McFadden submitted a request that the township be incorporated into the Peterborough riding. While this request was ignored, the final version of the new boundaries did keep the township whole within the HKLB riding.
Mayor McFadden and Cavan Monaghan Chief Administrator Yvette Hurley registered to make a delegation to express the concerns of the community in a virtual public meeting that took place last Saturday.
In their submission, they made it clear to Commission representatives that the community’s primary objective to keep the township whole within a single district. They argued that having a single representative focused on the needs of our community rather than spread across three districts was critical to a small community to ensure their interests were heard. Based on our history with HKLB, remaining in this district was identified as the preferred outcome. This option may not be considered feasible by the Commission based on the population. Keeping Cavan Monaghan within its boundaries would result in a population that exceeds the target by more than 8 %. In addition, this district includes another municipality in the north end which is split among two ridings, which will likely be making a similar pitch to the Commission. The mathematical situation is worse in the Peterborough riding. If Cavan Monaghan joined that riding, the population would exceed the target by more than 11%.
To enhance the likelihood of being heard, Council took the math issues into consideration, and presented incorporating the township into the Northumberland riding as their second choice. This would bring the revised district population to 2.65% above the target, which is a result that is much more likely to receive the Commission’s support.
During their presentation our delegation was not asked any questions nor did they receive any feedback regarding their submission. They were advised that new recommendations for electoral districts across Ontario would be issued in December. These recommendations are sent to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs where it receives further review and addresses any concerns.
Confirmation of the revised electoral map is scheduled to occur in September 2023, and if all goes to plan, it will apply to general elections called after April 1st, 2024. KG