What is a Ward Boundary Review?
The Town of Milton is divided into 8 separate wards each represented by a municipal councillor. Two councillors representing four wards each sit on the Halton Region Council, plus the Mayor for a total of three regional councillors. Every five years the municipal ward boundaries are reviewed. Changes are made as necessary based on population, and other factors.
How did we get here?
The Town of Milton has been fighting for more representation on Regional Council because of population growth for a long time. This has been a two-step process. Step one happened earlier this year when the Region of Halton approved a recommendation to give the Town two additional Regional Councillors. At their June, 2016 meeting Milton Council voted to cut the size from 11 to 9 while adding the regional councillors. So now the question becomes: How are the wards going to be carved up to give the best representation? Where do the new Regional seats fit in? There are four different possibilities detailed in maps, and a presentation. Click here to read both documents. It should be noted that the vote was 6-5 in favour of trimming council. If one councillor switches their vote, then it could be re-opened.
The case in favour of fewer councillors is…
Smaller government is generally a good thing. As several councillors have pointed out: the world doesn’t need more politicians. Ward 8 Councillor Zeeshan Hamid argues that fewer councillors means more budget for communications and education for current councillors. When councillors are added budgets increase with staff, and salary, and they’re left with little to spend on education. Hamid has been the most vocal of the councillors who voted in favour of this decision. The town would save $80,000 on two fewer councillors.
The case against fewer councillors is…
This might be one case where it’s not. Milton is about to hit the fast-forward button on growth. The population growth will hit 230,000 by 2031, 400,000. Don’t these potential residents’ deserve representation? Your municipal councillor is often the first point of contact on many issues. Can we afford fewer of those? It could narrow the pool of candidates as well. The expense of running a campaign might put people right off running. There is a chance that some future council would say “hey, we do more work than we used to. How about a raise?” And the $80,000 savings everyone is so proud of will go up in smoke.
What can I do as a voter?
Read the documents linked above. Ask questions, and make your opinion known to your councillor. They’re listed here in order of ward. You can find an interactive map at that link as well to figure out who your councillor is.