What is a ward?

    A ward is a geographical division of the municipality for administrative or political purposes.

    What is a Ward Boundary Review?

    A Ward Boundary Review (WBR) looks at how the municipality is divided for electoral purposes. The review will look at whether Clarington’s current ward system is effective and equitable in terms of representation. If not, it will suggest a change to the current ward boundaries. Clarington is part of a two-tier government system: the upper tier is the Region of Durham and the lower-tier is the Municipality. Currently, Clarington residents elect a seven-member Council, composed of a Mayor, four Ward Councillors and two Regional Councillors (each representing two wards at the Durham of Region Council). 

    Why is Clarington conducting a ward boundary review?

    The ward boundary structure in Clarington has not been reviewed since 1996. 

    Since then, Clarington’s population has grown by almost 50 per cent. In addition, growth has not been uniform, and over the next decade, it will be concentrated in three urban settlements. This all means that there is a significant variation in the population between wards. For more information, read Report CLD-036-16. The Municipality of Clarington wants to ensure that its ward system achieves equal representation for residents.

    How will a ward boundary change impact me as a voter?

    Clarington Council makes important decisions about the Municipality that impact your daily life. Councillors in Clarington are elected in separate wards. A successful ward system will ensure that all areas of the Municipality are represented fairly and accurately so that your voice and needs are reflected in Council decision making. The ward boundary review is being completed to ensure that the electoral system in Clarington functions in a way that is representative of the entire community.

    What will be considered in the Ward Boundary Review (WBR)?

    The objective of the WBR is to ensure that residents benefit from an effective and equitable system of representation. The review will incorporate some guiding principles to help objectively assess the current ward system, which includes:

    Representation by Population

    • The central goal is population parity: every local Councillor should generally represent an equal number of constituents, with some variation permitted for residential density across the municipality.
    • The range of population variance should not exceed 25% unless it can be justified to meet one of the other criteria.

    Population Trends

    • Ward boundaries should Consider and accommodate the Municipality’s projected growth and population shifts to maintain a general equilibrium in representation by population, over a three-election cycle (2022, 2026 and 2030).

    Community Access and Connections

    • Ward boundaries should, to the extent possible, reflect customary transportation and communication relationships among communities within the municipality.
    • Wards should be contiguous in shape and as compact as possible.

    Geographic and Topographical Features

    • Ward boundaries should be straightforward and easily recognizable and where possible should make use of permanent “natural” features and geographic features such as roads, railways, and utility corridors.

    Community or Diversity of Interests

    • Ward boundaries should recognize neighbourhoods and community groupings (social, historical, economic, religious and political diversities) while at the same time, not fragmenting such communities.

    Effective Representation

    • The previous five principles are subject to the overarching principle of “effective representation” as stated by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Carter case (that is, Reference re Provincial Electoral Boundaries (Sask.), [1991]).
    • To achieve effective representation, each resident should have comparable access to their elected representative and each local Councillor should speak in governmental deliberations on behalf of an equal number of residents.

    The Ward Boundary Review recognizes that the principles identified above contribute to effective access between elected officials and residents but that they may occasionally conflict with one another. Accordingly, it is expected that the overriding principle of effective representation will be used to arbitrate conflicts between principles. Any deviation from the specific principles must be justified by other principles in a manner that is more supportive of effective representation.

    How will the review be conducted?

    Discovery - May 2020

    First, the consultants will gather information on the present ward system from interviews with municipal staff and elected officials, and compile data on the present and projected population. 

    Engagement - July 2020/Fall 2020

    Public consultation is essential for the review process to be legitimate and effective by allowing the community to provide input on the current and proposed ward boundary structures: 

    • Public consultation sessions (i.e. open houses) will be held virtually to advise the public and gain their feedback.
    • Surveys will be available during the sessions, as well as on this website.

    Development - Summer/fall 2020

    The consultants will assess the present ward boundaries and develop alternative designs. An interim report will be presented to Council with the alternative designs. This will be followed by a second public engagement period.

    Approval/adoption - Winter 2020

    A final report will be submitted to Council, who will:

    • determine how members of council are elected (i.e. in wards or at-large); and 
    • divide, redivide or dissolve existing wards. 

    Reconsideration (if required)

    Municipal electors may also petition Council or appeal ward boundary decisions to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (formerly the Ontario Municipal Board.)

    Who should I contact for more information about the ward boundary review?

    Municipal Clerk’s Office
    40 Temperance Street
    Bowmanville, ON L1C 3A6
    wardboundaryreview@clarington.net