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Ottawa Ward Boundary Review 2020

Project Status: 
Underway

Project updates

Banner image for Ward Boundary Review 2020 Project

Round 2 of public consultation now closed!

Round 2 public consultation was held from August 19, 2020, to September 25, 2020, and has come to a close. Thank you to everyone who provided feedback on the six options for re-aligning Ottawa’s wards, whether it was by completing the survey, attending a public or stakeholder consultation meeting, or sending written comments by email or through the Guest Book.

The Options Report describing Options 1-5 and the Supplementary Report describing Option 6 are still available.

Analysis by the consultant team of the feedback received during Round 2 is underway and will inform the recommendations in the Final Report for a new ward structure for Ottawa. The Final Report is to be considered by the Finance and Economic Development Committee and City Council in December 2020.

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Project overview

The City of Ottawa is reviewing its ward boundaries. The last major review was completed in 2005 and established the City’s 23 wards.

Ward boundaries must be reviewed periodically to balance population numbers and achieve other components of “effective representation,” as established by the Supreme Court of Canada and Ontario’s Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (formerly the Ontario Municipal Board). 

Since the last major ward boundary review 15 years ago, Ottawa has seen considerable population growth, especially in suburban wards outside the Greenbelt. Some wards are growing twice as fast as others, creating population imbalances. Barrhaven (Ward 3)’s population is now 43 per cent above the average ward population of 44,000, Gloucester-South Nepean (Ward 22)’s population is 23 per cent above average and Cumberland (Ward 19)’s population is 17 per cent above average.

The Ottawa Ward Boundary Review 2020 is meant to establish boundaries that can be used in at least three municipal elections (2022, 2026 and 2030) and, perhaps, a fourth municipal election in 2034.

Based on direction from City Council, an independent, third-party consultant team is conducting the Ottawa Ward Boundary Review 2020 to ensure it is objective and impartial. The team has consulted extensively with the public, Members of Council and stakeholder groups, including school boards.

The project includes two rounds of public consultation. Residents and businesses shared their thoughts through surveys and discussions. 

Round 1 (Wednesday, March 4, 2020 to Friday, April 3, 2020): We learned about the changes you’d like to see to the current ward boundaries.

Following the Round 1 consultation, the Finance and Economic Development Committee (FEDC) and City Council received the Options Report from the consultant team during their meetings on July 7, 2020, and July 15, 2020, respectively. The Options Report sets out five options for re-aligning Ottawa’s wards. During its meeting on July 15, 2020, Council requested the development of a sixth ward boundary option, based on certain criteria. The Supplementary Report on Option 6 is available, in addition to minor adjustments to the Options 1 to 5 maps, PDF versions of the maps for Options 1 to 6 and an interactive geoOttawa mapping feature, which allows the ward boundaries in all options to be overlayed onto the current ward boundaries. 

Round 2 (Wednesday, August 19, 2020 to Friday, September 25, 2020): We collected your feedback on the six ward boundary options.

Following the Round 2 consultation on the six options, a Final Report with recommendations is expected to be brought forward by the consultant team and considered by FEDC and Council in December 2020.

Key dates

Key dates and public engagement opportunities
Date Project Life Cycle and Engagement Opportunities

January 2020

Ottawa’s ward boundary review began.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020 to Friday, April 3, 2020

Round 1 consultation collected opinions about Ottawa’s current ward boundaries. This included consultation with Members of Council, stakeholders, public meetings, and a survey and online discussion on Engage.Ottawa.ca.

Due to the necessary cancellation of some of the in-person public meetings because of the COVID-19 pandemic, residents and stakeholders were strongly encouraged to complete the online survey, submit input through the Guest Book, or provide written input. 

July 2020

On July 7, 2020, and July 15, 2020, respectively, the City’s Finance and Economic Development Committee and Council received the consultant team’s Ottawa Ward Boundary Review 2020 - Options Report. The Options Report incorporates input received during Round 1 of the consultation from members of the public, Members of Council and key stakeholders, and research and analysis by the consultant team. The Options Report includes five options for new ward boundaries. At the July 15 meeting, Council requested the development of a sixth ward boundary option, based on certain criteria. The Supplementary Report on Option 6 was available prior to the start of the Round 2 public consultation. Minor adjustments to the original five option maps and an interactive geoOttawa mapping feature were also available prior to the start of Round 2.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020 to Friday, September 25, 2020

Round 2 consultation collected feedback on six options to re-align Ottawa’s wards. This included virtual public meetings, virtual consultations with stakeholders and Members of Council, and a public survey on Engage.ottawa.ca. The public could also request hard copies of the survey.

December 2020

The Finance and Economic Development Committee and City Council are expected to consider recommendations on how to realign Ottawa’s wards.

FAQ

Why are we revisiting Ottawa’s ward structure?

In June 2019, City Council directed City staff to retain an independent consultant to conduct a comprehensive review of the City of Ottawa’s ward boundaries. The review is meant to establish boundaries that can be used in at least three municipal elections (2022, 2026 and 2030) and, perhaps, a fourth municipal election in 2034. The last major review of Ottawa’s ward boundaries occurred in 2004-2005.

The City of Ottawa has seen a considerable spike in population since the last ward boundary review – particularly in Barrhaven (Ward 3), where there has been expanded development of residential communities. The population in other wards has also increased, notably in Gloucester-South Nepean (Ward 22) and Cumberland (Ward 19). Population projections indicate these areas will continue to grow.

A review of ward boundaries is intended to achieve “effective representation” as established by the Supreme Court of Canada. Effective representation is the “goal” of all ward boundary reviews.

What is Effective Representation?

Generally speaking, “effective representation” means that one person’s vote should be of similar weight to another person’s vote. When applied to wards, the term suggests that wards should be of similar population size. In practice, achieving effective representation for ward boundary reviews involves balancing several components:

  • Voter Parity: Ward populations should be similar but not identical and should be in the range of +/-10 per cent to +/-15 per cent of the average ward population. Larger percentage variations are possible, but only in exceptional circumstances such as in Ottawa’s functioning rural community.
  • Natural/Physical Boundaries: Ward boundaries have to be recognizable. Natural boundaries such as rivers and the Greenbelt, and physical boundaries such as highways, railways and arterial roads make good boundaries.
  • Geographic Communities of Interest: Ottawa’s neighbourhoods such as the Glebe or Westboro Village and commercial areas such as the ByWard Market or the Carp Business Improvement Area are considered to be “communities of interest.” When re-aligning ward boundaries, geographically contiguous communities of interest should not be divided, unless they are so large that they must be split to achieve voter parity.
  • Minority Interests: Minority interests should be considered if they are geographically based.
  • Ward History: Ward design should, where possible, consider the history of the ward. However, ward history by itself cannot override other major criteria such as voter parity, strong natural/physical boundaries and communities of interest.
  • Capacity to Represent: Capacity to represent is often equated with Councillors’ workload. It includes matters such as ward size, types and complexity of issues, ongoing growth and development, etc. and has to be taken into consideration when designing wards.
  • Geographic Size and Shape of a Ward: All wards cannot be the same geographic size. Some areas of the city are more densely populated than others and some wards have more open space. Ottawa is especially unique with respect to this component of effective representation because of its large rural area.
  • Population Growth: The results of the Ottawa Ward Boundary Review 2020 are meant to last for at least three municipal elections (2022, 2026 and 2030) and, perhaps, a fourth municipal election in 2034. The target election for an evaluation of effective representation will be 2026. This allows for Ottawa’s expected growth to be factored into ward boundary calculations.
  • Balancing the Components of Effective Representation: While all components of effective representation must be taken into consideration, they are not all equal. Voter parity, respecting communities of interest, and well-defined, coherent ward boundaries are the most important components.

How is the City reviewing its ward structure?

In accordance with Council direction, an independent third-party consultant team has been retained to lead the comprehensive ward boundary review in order to ensure that the process of determining ward boundaries is impartial and approached without preconceived ideas or predetermined outcomes.

The consultant team has:

  • Completed background research
  • Developed population projections
  • Led the public consultation process to collect opinions about Ottawa's current ward boundaries (Round 1)
  • Developed five options for re-aligning Ottawa’s wards
  • Prepared and presented an Information Report to the Finance and Economic Development Committee and City Council setting out options for re-aligning Ottawa’s wards
  • Developed a sixth option at City Council's request, based on certain criteria
  • Led the public consultation process to collect feedback on the six options to re-align Ottawa's wards (Round 2)

The consultant team will:

  • Prepare and present a Final Report and recommendations to the Finance and Economic Development Committee and City Council

What did the consultation process look like?

Consultation was conducted in two rounds. Round 1 collected input on what the public and stakeholders would like to see changed in Ottawa’s current ward boundary alignment, while Round 2 collected feedback on the six options for ward re-alignments.

Some of the public meetings and sessions with stakeholders for Round 1 were cancelled as part of the City’s response to COVID-19. Due to the necessary cancellation of the in-person public meetings, residents and stakeholders were strongly encouraged to complete the online survey, submit input through the Guest Book, or provide written input.

Because of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, six public consultation sessions during Round 2 were held via Zoom. Three of the sessions invited comments from participants from all over the city, while another three sessions focused more on each of Ottawa’s geographic communities – urban, suburban and rural. Three additional sessions were held for stakeholders (e.g. Business Improvement Areas, school boards, city-wide associations, community groups, etc.). Sessions occurred on varying days of the week – including Saturday – and times ranged from mid-morning to late afternoon to the evening hours. Round 2 also included interviews with all Members of Council.

The public consultation also included an online public engagement component through Engage.Ottawa.ca.

Who is leading the review?

The consultant team consists of:

  • Beate Bowron, Beate Bowron Etcetera (Project Manager and responsible for the public consultation process)
  • Dr. Gary Davidson, The Davidson Group (Responsible for ward boundary re- alignment options and final recommendations)
  • Russell Mathew, Hemson Consulting Ltd. (Responsible for population projections)

Members of the consultant team are familiar with Ottawa and have extensive experience in conducting ward boundary reviews.

When would any new ward boundaries come into effect?

City Council will make the final decision on whether to approve any recommendations regarding ward boundaries. Any changes that are adopted would be implemented for the 2022 Municipal Elections.

Is this going to affect the school board elections?

School board electoral areas (zones) are composed of one or more municipal wards. Therefore, changes to the ward boundaries could affect the school boards’ electoral boundaries. Any new boundaries would be established by the school boards.

How can I get involved in the Ottawa Ward Boundary Review 2020?

Round 1 and Round 2 of the public process are complete. However, it is not too late to sign up for project updates.

Where can I find a map of the current Ottawa wards and their populations?

Ward Look-up Tool

Current Ward Maps and Population

Ward maps and population

Ward Number Ward Name Ward Councillor Population 2019 year end
1 Orléans Matthew Luloff 48,304
2 Innes Laura Dudas 42,796
3 Barrhaven Jan Harder 62,848
4 Kanata North Jenna Sudds 38,497
5 West Carleton-March Eli El-Chantiry 26,003
6 Stittsville Glen Gower 41,350
7 Bay Theresa Kavanagh 45,696
8 College Rick Chiarelli 51,914
9 Knoxdale-Merivale Keith Egli 39,676
10 Gloucester-Southgate Diane Deans 47,505
11 Beacon Hill-Cyrville Tim Tierney 33,982
12 Rideau-Vanier Mathieu Fleury 50,075
13 Rideau-Rockcliffe Rawlson King 40,285
14 Somerset Catherine McKenney 42,277
15 Kitchissippi Jeff Leiper 45,631
16 River Riley Brockington 48,612
17 Capital Shawn Menard 38,690
18 Alta Vista Jean Cloutier 44,648
19 Cumberland Vacant 51,743
20 Osgoode George Darouze 28,557
21 Rideau-Goulbourn Scott Moffatt 31,548
22 Gloucester-South Nepean Carol Anne Meehan 55,656
23 Kanata South Allan Hubley 49,915

Interactive map

This is a bilingual interactive map of Ottawa that offers a way to overlay each of the six ward boundary options, developed by the consultant team, on the current ward system to view how the various options might affect you and your City. PDF maps of the six options are also available.

Tips for using the mapping feature:

  • Option 1 is currently visible in the interactive map below. To view Options 2 to 6, click on the Layers drop down in the upper left-hand corner of the screen and select the option(s) of interest.
  • To clear a selection, click on the Layers drop down and unselect the option(s) you no longer wish to see.
  • Reference layers are available, including the existing ward boundaries, the Urban Area Boundary and aerial imagery, which can be turned on or off as required by selecting or unselecting the option.
  • Users can view and zoom to an area of interest by clicking on an area of the map. The ward number and Zoom to function will appear in a pop-up.
  • Clicking on the +/- symbols or using the scroll button on your mouse also allows users to zoom in and out.
  • To pan, click on the map and hold while moving the mouse in the desired direction.
  • This application works best in the Google Chrome web browser.

Contact information

If you have questions, the three consultant team members can be reached at wardboundary@ottawa.ca.

The consultant team consists of:

  • Beate Bowron, Beate Bowron Etcetera (Project Manager and responsible for the public consultation process)
  • Dr. Gary Davidson, The Davidson Group (Responsible for ward boundary re- alignment options and final recommendations)
  • Russell Mathew, Hemson Consulting Ltd. (Responsible for population projections)