C-K to look at small ward shifts

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chatham-kent city hallweb

Chatham-Kent council will receive a report about possibly changing Wallaceburg’s boundaries.

They’ll also hear information about changing Chatham’s boundaries as well.

Council supported a notice of motion by Wallaceburg Coun. Carmen McGregor to look into expanding Wallaceburg’s boundaries to potentially include the urban fringe.

“I would like to look at it,” McGregor said. “Coun. (Jeff) Wesley and I spoke with a lot of people during the election that wanted this change. I don’t see this including areas with any rural attachment to it. Strictly looking at a report for the very urban fringe of Wallaceburg.”

South Kent Coun. Karen Herman entered a successful motion to include the urban fringe of Chatham in the report as well.

“It’s very important that all of us get the research and get the information,” Herman said.

Just two weeks ago, a notice-of-motion by Chatham Coun. Derek Robertson was shot down – where up to $20,000 would have be spent on a consultant to examine the size of council and to adjust the ward boundaries.

Robertson’s motion came the same night Andrew Sancton, a professor of political science at the University of Western Ontario, was the keynote speaker before council at “Ward Boundaries – Representation by Population,” the first TV show of the CK Community Development Forum. The event occurred before council April 20.

Council’s decision to vote down Robertson’s motion led to Lynn O’Brien, who ran unsuccessfully for a Chatham council seat last year, to launch a petition on the website change.org calling for a decrease in the number of wards to 10 from six for Chatham-Kent.

O’Brien said the petition is a sign of activism borne of frustration, but isn’t meant to be confrontational.

“I’m frustrated because council isn’t even interested in looking at the subject,” she said. “I don’t think council members understand how strongly members of the public feel about this so we’re going to give the public a chance to let them know.”

The former city of Chatham currently has 43% of the municipality’s population and 35% of the voting power on council.

“Representation by population is a foundation of all government – except we don’t believe it applies to Chatham-Kent,” she said.

If the petition garners 1% of Chatham-Kent’s population, (1,050 signatures) the matter can go back before council. If council still refuses to act, the matter can be turned over to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).

McGregor requested in her motion to have staff bring back a report by September.

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