By Bird Bouchard
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Ridgetown Independent
A three-member panel is redrawing federal electoral districts across Ontario, which could lead to Chatham-Kent having a very different look during the next federal election.
Chatham-Kent will be split into three federal riding districts if a plan to redraw the boundaries in Ontario goes ahead as proposed. The current proposal would also see the riding of Lambton-Kent-Middlesex split up and absorbed into neighbouring ridings.
“The Ontario Commission aims to draw boundaries so that the population numbers in the province’s districts are as similar as reasonably possible,” a statement from the Commission said.
The Commission said they would be considering historical patterns, geographic size and communities of interest or identity.
Under the proposal, the Chatham-Kent–Leamington riding would be extended further west to Essex County Road 32 in Lakeshore and incorporate the Town of Kingsville south of County Road 18.
The riding would also extend north of the Thames River in Chatham-Kent to Pain Court Line between Jacob Road and Bear Line Road, and to St. Andrews Line between Bear Line Road and Kent Bridge Road. If approved, the name of the riding would change to Chatham-Kent-Leamington-Kingsville.
However, to the east, Ridgetown and the areas of Morpeth, Highgate, and Clachan would no longer be part of the riding. Communities such as Bothwell, Ridgetown, Thamesville and Highgate would be part of the Elgin-Middlesex-Thames riding, which also features parts of the former Lambton-Kent-Middlesex and Elgin-Middlesex-London ridings.
“By law, after every 10-year census, Canada’s federal electoral boundaries are revised to reflect shifts and growth in the population. Based on the representation formula found in the Constitution, the number of federal electoral districts in Ontario will increase from 121 to 122,” reads a post made on redistribution2022.ca
The most significant change to the area’s ridings would be the end of Lambton-Kent-Middlesex and the expansion of neighbouring districts.
The Sarnia-Lambton riding would expand to include Walpole Island, Wallaceburg, Dresden, and Rutherford. The proposed name for the new riding is Sarnia-Lambton-Bkejwanong
While nothing is official yet, residents will have a chance to put any comments forward for consideration.
The Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission said its proposal reflects the increase in Ontario’s population between 2011 to 2021, as captured in the 2021 Census. The Commission also considers communities of interest or identity and historical and geographic factors.
The federal proposal for Ontario includes increasing the number of ridings in the province by one to 122. The target population for each riding is 116,590. The Commission allowed deviation from this quota by more or less than 10 percent.
Under the proposal, Chatham-Kent-Leamington-Kingsville would have 128,045 people, Sarnia-Lambton-Bkejwanong would have 127,200 people, and Elgin-Middlesex-Thames would have 117,082.
The changes to the ridings will be up for consideration at 17 public hearings that will take place between Sept. 26 and Oct. 29.
The earliest the new boundary map could be approved is in April of 2024, before coming into effect on the subsequent dissolution of Parliament.
More information can be found at redistribution2022.ca.