Edmonton city council to consider a dramatically redrawn ward map

There’s a pretty good chance after the next municipal election in October 2021, your Edmonton city councillor will be different, even if all 12 are returned to office.

That’s because an independent panel published an 80-page report on Thursday that proposes a redrawn boundary map for all 12 wards.

They are dramatically different. Forget the current numbers — 1 to 12. The new map has wards lettered A to L, and many don’t resemble anything that you are seeing today.

In many cases, the new wards try to cobble together older and newer neighbourhoods.

The goal is to have each ward be relatively the same in terms of population. However, the panel took into consideration population now and projected out to 2030, anticipating growth, especially in the southern part of the city.

“Specifically, the commission sought to balance neighbourhoods that were envisioned to have low or no anticipated growth with neighbourhoods that were envisioned to have higher anticipated growth,” the report said.

Watch below: (From Jan. 10, 2020) Edmonton has seen dramatic change since the last municipal election and that’s led to an imbalance in workload for some city councillors. Now, the city wants to hear from citizens: should we change the lines in the current ward system? Ward boundary commissioner Jared Wesley joins us.

The commission also took a leap of faith on population growth, anticipating future apartment development that will increase density. Current numbers show the largest variance away from the optimum 2019 population of 81,000 in each ward are in Ward E downtown, which is 13 per cent below that, but is expected to catch up by 2030 where it would only be seven per cent short of the new optimum population.

At the other end of the scale, Ward G in the southwest corner of Edmonton is 13 per cent over the preferred 2030 population and is expected to come in nearly on target, missing the 103,750 mark by 1.69 per cent.

Three central wards are proposed on both sides of the river instead of the current two: Ward 6 in downtown, which is represented by Coun. Scott McKeen, and Ward 8 south of the river, which is represented by Coun. Ben Henderson. Now you’ll see wards E, F and H. A large part of what is Ward 7 with Coun. Tony Caterina would now run further south, south of the river.

From there, the remaining wards also run in a more narrow hub and spoke approach, especially in south Edmonton where the commission gave future population growth room to move in. The current Ward 3, which is represented by Coun. Jon Dziadyk, would stretch further south to the Yellowhead, where it now stops at 153 and 144 avenues.

The panel also paid very close attention to the boundaries of existing community leagues.

“Since community leagues reflect the borders and concerns of neighbourhoods, ward boundaries are to be designed so no community league is split between two wards.” the report said.

In south Edmonton, the panel recommended doing away with L-shaped wards like you see in Ward 12 with Coun. Moe Banga, and Ward 11 with Coun. Mike Nickel. They too will be long and narrow as wards L and K, with wards J and I to the west split by Whitemud Creek Ravine.

The commission began its work in September 2019 and began its public consultation with community leagues, school boards and others through January 2020.

The report will be presented to city council on May 25. Then, in June, there will be a non-statutory public hearing before the wards are set for the election in October 2021.

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