On first blush one of the two proposals to change Hamilton’s Ward boundaries might seem like not a lot of change. One of two recommendation by Watson & Associates is to maintain 15 wards as at present, but a closer look at the recommendations suggests there could be some significant ramifications for constituents—and more pointedly incumbent councillors.
Perhaps the most drastic change involves what is now ward 14, the mainly rural west Flamborough area represented by Robert Pasuta. Currently it is the largest ward geographically with the smallest population of 17,000. Under the redistribution plan Pasta’s ward effectively disappears– divided between two expanded wards that Include Dundas and Ancaster.
Hamilton Mountain wards would see extensive changes in their configuration as the new wards will use the Linc as their boundary line and will undergo other changes as well. For instance Ward Six, the domain of council veteran Tom Jackson would be almost unrecognizable. It would lose more than half of its present configuration—forming a block bounded by Upper James, Upper Ottawa, the hydro lines south of Rymal and the Linc. There would be similar changes in Ward Seven represented by Donna Skelly who would see everything south of the Linc gone and what’s left of the ward shifted several clocks easterly.
A new Ward 14 carved out largely from the south end of Terry Whitehead’s Ward 8 would run south of the Linc from Upper James to the Meadowlands area of Ancaster. Brenda Johnson’s ward 11 would now be confined to Glanbrook from its present configuration which included Winona.
The proposed changes were not as drastic in the lower city. Ward three would pick up the Stinson neighbourhood from Ward 2. Ward 4 would gain the Rosedale neighbourhood from Ward 5, which would now extend into downtown Stoney Creek.
|2||Loses Stinson Neighbourhood|
|3||Gains Stinson Neighbourhood|
|5||Loses Rosedale, Gains old Stoney Creek|
|6||Essentially a new ward entirely south of the Linc between Upper James and Upper Ottawa|
|7||Essentially a new ward comprised of parts of the old wards 6 and 7|
|8||A new ward comprising the west Mountain and Ancaster Meadowlands|
|9||Loses Lower Stoney Creek. Upper Stoney Creek plus Hamilton east of Upper Ottawa|
|10||Extended easterly to Niagara border|
|11||Extended to include Hamilton Airport, loses everything North of Rymal Road|
|12||Still includes old Ancaster but rural portion is extended significantly to Brant line|
|13||still includes Dundas but rural portion is extended to Waterloo boundary|
|14||essentially a new urban ward running south of the Linc from Upper James into the Meadowlands area of Ancaster|
|15||Mainly as is, comprising Waterdown . Slight reduction in the Southeast between Millgrove Rd and Ofield Road|
At the municipal level, where incumbency confers a significant advantage in elections; some sitting councillors would be facing radically altered electorates as would be the case with the mountain councillors or in the case of Pasuta where his ward essentially disappears. Only Ward One in Hamilton’s west end remains unchanged by the proposal.
Councillors looking at the proposals last month acknowledged that the issue cannot be deferred any longer. The population of the wards varies from 60,000 in ward 7 to 17,000 in ward 14, and all that it would take is a 500 signature petition to the OMB to force council to re-draw boundaries. Council approved a motion to try to come up with a council-driven solution later this year.
Written by: John Best