City Council Preview – What’s on the Agenda for the June 21 Meeting?

Guelph City Council meets again to talk about themselves, and this time they will have to make a decision. Back in November, council deferred on a final decision about their future make-up so that the consultants could get more input from the community, but the time has come to redraw the map and decide how many people are going to be around the new horseshoe come 2022.

NOTE #1: Delegates will be able to appear at this meeting via telephone, but you do have to register with the clerks office before 10 am on June 18. You can also submit written delegations and correspondences for agenda items.

NOTE #2: The meeting will be closed to the public, though it will be live-streamed on the City of Guelph’s website here.

NOTE #3: Council has also reserved a meeting date of Wednesday June 23 in case they don’t reach a decision on this matter on Monday June 21.

City Council Composition and Ward Boundary Review Phase Two: Final Report -So it turns out that eight more months of work did not make the consultants hired by the City of Guelph to redraw the ward map reconsider their original option. Like they did last November, Watson & Associates is recommending that the city council become an eight ward body, plus the mayor, with one full-time councillor for each of the eight new wards.

Last fall, the first phase of the report suggested the new eight-councillor structure, but there was heavy public pressure to keep the two councillors per ward system of the current city council. Instead of endorsing the original recommendation, council narrowly passed an alternate recommendation to direct the consultants to do further community engagement about the number of councillors along with the next phase of the review, which was the development of the new ward maps.

Back in April, the consultants presented their final four options: a new five-ward system with two councillors each, two different six-ward systems also for two councillors each, and the eight-ward map meant for the new one-councillor per ward structure. Public input on the four new models revealed the eight-ward system to be the most popular choice with 35 per cent support, but at the same time it’s also the least popular choice with 37 per cent of people ranking it fourth out of four. While 45 per cent of respondents made the eight-ward system their first or second choice, 63 per cent of respondents liked one of the two six-ward options.

As the report says, there’s no “clear winner” and all things being equal, the overwhelming support for that second six-ward map, plus the 50 per cent popular support for the first, would mean keeping the system the way it is, but with new borders for the six wards. According to the report though, a new eight-ward council will provide greater access through smaller wards, and full-time councillor positions will attract a broader pool of candidates. The eight wards also creates more parity by population than any of the six ward options.

So, if approved, this is what the new political map of Guelph will look like:

The big change, you will note, is that Downtown Guelph is now almost a ward unto itself, separated from the rest of the current Ward 1 east of Stevenson Street. That part remains Ward 1, while the downtown area between Stevenson and Edinburgh, and between the rivers and London and Eramosa, will be the new Ward 3.

Ward 2 will now be shrunk to the areas east of the Speed River and north of Eramosa Road, while the new Ward 5 will be all areas in the west end past the Hanlon Expressway. Ward 4 will now cover all areas in the north end between the Hanlon and the Speed River except for a portion of the new Ward 3.

Ward 6 is moving north, and will now cover the university area between the Speed River and Stone Road, plus a potion of the Hanlon Creek area west of the Hanlon. The new Ward 7 will then cover Stone Road to Arkell Road, and Ward 8 will then cover all points south of Arkell.

The new ward map can be subject to appeal to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) in whatever form it ends up taking, so this may not be the end of the story.

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