Last week a third public information session was held to provide insight into the Ward Boundary Review process status and collect community feedback on the issue.
The township is undertaking review of its ward boundaries to ensure fair and equitable representation of municipal residents on Council. Consultants with Watson and Associates Economists Ltd have been engaged to conduct an independent review and outlined four alternative boundary alternatives for consideration to balance ward populations in time for the 2022 Municipal Election.
Cavan Monaghan Council currently consists of a Mayor and Deputy Mayor position which are elected at-large, and three Councilors elected by each of three wards. The existing ward boundaries have been in place since 1998 when the Township of Cavan, the Village of Millbrook and North Monaghan were amalgamated into one township and the current system allowed each of the merged communities their own representative on Council. The presence of several distinct and historically important settlements remain, which supports the continuation of the current electoral ward structure. A boundary review was considered in 2015 and did not proceed, but since then significant and unevenly distributed population growth has made it clear the current boundaries do not serve the residents of the municipality.
The Municipal Act outlines four key objectives to consider in the design of municipal electoral systems. The central goal is to achieve representation by population, so that local councilors represent an equal number of constituents as closely as possible, with the population variance not exceeding 25%. Secondly, ward boundaries should be forward-looking, anticipating growth and population shifts to maintain the balance over a three-election cycle. Boundaries should also keep historical, social, economic and religious neighbourhoods and community groups together as much as possible. Finally, boundaries should be straightforward and easily recognizable, using visible geographic and permanent topography features such as roads, railways and utility corridors when possible.
There is considerable disparity in the population of each ward in the township. In 2021, the Cavan Ward accounted for 70% of the township’s population, with Millbrook holding 18% and North Monaghan 12%. Growth has been focused on the edge of the village but within the Cavan Ward boundaries, a trend that will continue, broadening the population discrepancies. By 2030, the consultant suggests that 74% of the municipality’s population will lie within the current boundaries of the Cavan ward.
The consultant outlined four preliminary boundary options in their report. The first option includes two wards in the north and one in the south, with Highway 115 acting as the north/south boundary and the two northern wards divided by Howden Quarter Line. Ward three includes everything south of Hwy 115 and Larmer Line and is centred on Millbrook.
In the second option, Ward 1 stretches across the north end from Morton Line. The proposed Ward 2 is a relatively lightly populated inverted “L-shape” running from Morton Line along the western boundary of the Township and contains communities clustered along the Highway 115 corridor. The proposed Ward 3 is anchored around Millbrook and includes the territory south of Larmer Line and east of a line just east of Valleyview Drive that aligns with Elgar Drive and its extension to the boundary with Port Hope.
Option three creates two wards in the north with the third ward boundary following Highway 115 along its northerly edge.
The fourth option, referred to as the “doughnut”, is similar in look to the current boundary layout with the Millbrook ward cut out of the centre– the hole in the doughnut, if you will. It is surrounded on all sides by Ward 2, with the Northern Ward 1 stretching across the entire north end of the municipality ending at Morton Line. See the photo below.
With one more public meeting scheduled for this Thursday, the consultant will soon complete the evaluation and make its final recommendations to Council in order to implement it prior to the 2022 Municipal Election. For more information, visit the township’s website at www.cavanmonaghan.net/wbr. KG