Backgrounder: Ward Realignment

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By: Laura Steiner

Milton has a new ward system.  In 2016, Council voted to go from an eight ward system, down to a four ward system with a Derry Rd. boundary.  Wards 1, and 2 are now north of Derry, 3, and 4 south of Derry. The change was made in 2016 following a boundary review in order accommodate 2 more Regional Councillors.  Six options were placed before Milton Council at their June, 2016 meeting including options to grow to 12 councillors including four regional councillors.  Or to cut to the four wards, with each getting one local councillor sitting on the local council, and one Local & Regional Councillor.

In a recorded vote of 6-5 Council voted to cut down to four wards.  Each ward would get a local councillor representing them on local council, and one on regional council.   Voting in favour of it were Mike Boughton, Robert Duvall, Rick Malboeuf, Mike Cluett, Zeeshan Hamid, and Gord Krantz.  Voting against it were Councillors Cindy Lunau, John Pollard, Arnold Huffman, Rick Di Lorenzo, and Colin Best.

Experts were recommending council the grow to 12 councillors plus a mayor.  They said this would cause minimal disruption to the 8 ward structure, but they would include a slight increase to council costs.

Why the cuts to Milton Council?

There is an argument that it would save money; approximately $80,000/ year.  The boundaries have been simplified, ending at Derry Road.  Others say that it was essentially the best of options open to them, and they ran out of time to try and find a better way. The experts who wrote the report agree on the money saving argument on both the council salary, and campaign costs.  However they also say that it weakens representation because in increases ward size, and creates a need for increased council support.

This has been a controversial issue since it passed.  Common sense says an increasing population, deserves increasing representation.  Councillor Colin Best tried to reopen the issue a meeting July 25, 2016, but failed.   And so Milton is now at a four ward system. In at least one ward it’s an election issue.  John Pollard, and Zeeshan Hamid are facing off in the race for the newly created Regional seat in ward 4.  Pollard has made a promise to fight for fairer representation stating on his website: “I will advocate for a better council composition that improves local representation and puts you first.”

A few components of the report have borne out.   Ward 2 comes in at over 20,000 residents.  I’ve only seen two candidates, plus one representative.  Three more have dropped literature off at my house.  I can’t blame the candidates, this is a huge area stretching from Ontario St to the 407.

The prediction of extra council support has come true as well.  The idea of either a budget for technology; things like a dedicated cell phone for council-related issues. Or a dedicated staff resource as a contact person for residents’ concerns has been brought up earlier this year. The question is would this be happening if they’d gone with a different option to increase? And how much of the savings would be eaten up by adding either of those two options.

Voting day is October 22.  Ask your candidates.