By: Laura Steiner
Some say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result. This debate over ward realignment meets that definition. Eight years ago, Milton was a smaller place. Half the subdivisions that exist now, didn’t then. You could get away with four wards. The population growth broke 100,000 by 2015. The previous ward realignment process grew the town to 8 wards It’s forecast to grow to 230,000 by 2031.
So why revert to it? Many reasons. Councillors who voted in favour of the realignment would use the money argument. Fewer councillors saves $80,000/year. It adds up to a savings of $400,000, over five years. It’s not permanent. In the next ward realignment if it goes bigger let’s say to 10 wards, it puts the $80,000 back in, and actually adds to the budget. The question should’ve been: is a temporary savings worth it?
It’s an easy way to decide how to allocate the new regional seats. Each ward gets a municipal councillor, and a Local & Regional Councillor who sits on Halton Region Council. Add the Mayor to the mix, and that’s five voices on Halton Regional Council. Milton sacrifices at the municipal level of government, but gets a voice at Halton Council. Or does it? Because if we’re honest, few people know or care that a) there’s a Region of Halton council, b) that there are people who sit on both councils, and c) who those people are. There is a serious amount of education to be done ahead of the 2018 election.
Let’s go back to the population. The new alignment of ward four dips south of Derry Rd as far as Britannia. That section, known as Boyne Survey is 2300 acres, and will house up to 50,000 people when completed. It’s under construction now, meaning ward 4 will quickly have more people than ward 2, and ward 1. As one councillor pointed out, it means that candidates would potentially be able to win while only campaigning in that specific area. All people are looking for is someone to answer their questions, and hear their concerns. It’s difficult to imagine an individual being able to do that for nearly 50,000 people.
The borders dividing the 4 wards are Derry Rd. and Ontario St. There’s sections of Ontario St. set to become part of intensification, a process where Milton grows up, not out. Even in the older parts of town there’s going to be growth. It’s an inescapable problem requiring long-term planning. That should extend to council. This decision is insanity.