The City of Ottawa reviewed its ward boundaries in 2020. As a result of this review, revised ward boundaries were used to administer the 2022 Municipal Elections, held on October 24, 2022. The revised structure officially came into effect on November 15, 2022, at the beginning of the new term of Council.
Maps of the revised ward structure are available.
Ward boundaries are reviewed periodically to balance population numbers and achieve other components of “effective representation,” as established by the Supreme Court of Canada and the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT). The last major review was completed in 2005 and established the City's 23 wards.
Since the last major ward boundary review in 2005, Ottawa had seen considerable population growth, especially in suburban wards outside the Greenbelt. Some wards were growing twice as fast as others, creating population imbalances.
The Ottawa Ward Boundary Review 2020 was meant to establish boundaries that could be used in at least three municipal elections (2022, 2026 and 2030) and, perhaps, a fourth municipal election in 2034.
Summary of project steps
Based on direction from City Council, an independent, third-party consultant team conducted the Ottawa Ward Boundary Review 2020 to ensure it was objective and impartial. The team consulted extensively with the public, Members of Council and stakeholder groups, including school boards.
The project included two rounds of public consultation where residents and businesses shared their thoughts through surveys and discussions.
During Round 1 of public consultation, input was received about the changes individuals wanted to see to the current ward boundaries. Following this consultation, the Finance and Economic Development Committee and City Council received the Options Report from the consultant team, which included five options for realigning Ottawa’s wards, during their meetings on July 7, 2020, and July 15, 2020, respectively. During its meeting on July 15, 2020, Council requested the development of a sixth ward boundary option, based on certain criteria, which led to the Supplementary Report that provided a sixth option. The Options Report and the Supplementary Report, a document detailing minor adjustments to the Option 1 to 5 maps and the sixth ward boundary option are available on this website under Reports and documents.
During Round 2 of public consultation, feedback was collected on the six ward boundary options. Following this consultation, the consultant team developed its Recommended Ward Boundaries – Final Report. The Final Report was considered by the Finance and Economic Development Committee and Council during their meetings of December 1, 2020 and December 9, 2020, respectively. The Final Report continues to be available under Reports and documents.
At the meeting of December 9, 2020, Council approved a new ward boundary structure for the City of Ottawa. On January 27, 2021, Council enacted By-law No. 2021-3, titled, “A by-law of the City of Ottawa to establish ward boundaries and Council composition.”
Following Council’s approval of By-law No. 2021-3, there was a 45-day statutory period in which notices of appeal for the OLT could be filed with the City setting out the objections to the by-law and the reasons in support of the objections. The appeal period ended on March 15, 2021. The City received two notices of appeal during the appeal period that were forwarded to the OLT before March 30, 2021.
During its meeting on April 14, 2021, City Council approved a motion directing Legal Services to seek specific boundary modifications from the OLT related to By-law No. 2021-3 as a potential settlement to the two ward boundary appeals.
On July 12, 2021, the OLT considered the appeals. In a written decision released on September 2, 2021, the Tribunal made an Order (Case No. MM210013) modifying the By-law to include the specific ward boundary modifications approved by Council on April 14, 2021. The Tribunal further dismissed the balance of the appeals and did not order any other changes to the By-law.
A report on the implementation of the new ward boundary structure was considered by Council on October 13, 2021. The ward boundaries, names and numbers served as the basis for the administration of the 2022 Municipal Elections, which were held on October 24, 2022. The boundaries officially came into effect on November 15, 2022.
Maps of the 2022-2026 Term of Council ward boundaries
|Ward name (effective November 15, 2022)
|Former ward name
|Riverside South-Findlay Creek
|Not applicable – New ward
Reports and documents
Implementation Report (October 2021)
Recommended Ward Boundaries - Final Report (December 2020)
Maps of recommended ward boundaries [2 to 5 MB]:
Options and Supplementary Reports (July and August 2020)
- Options Report
- Map and Table Adjustments - Options 1 - 5 (Adjustments to Appendix A)
- Supplementary Report - Option 6 (August 2020)
Maps of the six options [2 to 5MB]:
Staff report (June 2019)
- Presentation – Round 1 Public Engagement (March and April 2020) [858 KB]
- Presentation – Round 2 Public Engagement (August and September 2020) [6 MB]
- Presentation - Finance and Economic Development Committee (December 2020) [2 MB]
Other supporting documents
Why did the City revisit 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 was meant to establish boundaries that could 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 had a considerable spike in population since the last ward boundary review – particularly in Barrhaven (Ward 3), where there was expanded development of residential communities. The population in other wards had also increased, notably in Gloucester-South Nepean (Ward 22) and Cumberland (Ward 19). Population projections indicate these areas would continue to grow.
A review of ward boundaries was 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 or in rapidly growing wards.
- 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 Hintonburg and commercial areas such as the ByWard Market 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 is 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 did the City review its ward structure?
In accordance with Council direction, an independent third-party consultant team was retained to lead the comprehensive ward boundary review to ensure that the process of determining ward boundaries was impartial and approached without preconceived ideas or predetermined outcomes.
In summary, during the 12-month process, the consultant team:
- 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 realigning 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 realign Ottawa's wards (Round 2)
- Prepared and presented their Recommended Ward Boundaries - Final Report 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, stakeholders and Members of Council would like to see changed in Ottawa’s current ward boundary alignment, while Round 2 collected feedback on the six options for realigning Ottawa's wards.
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 Zoom 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 a public survey (online and available in hardcopy), virtual interviews with all Members of Council, and an online public engagement component through Engage Ottawa.
Who led the review?
The consultant team consisted 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 and Patrick Barbieri, Hemson Consulting Ltd. (Responsible for population projections)
Members of the consultant team were familiar with Ottawa and have extensive experience in conducting ward boundary reviews.
Did this review affect the school board elections?
School board electoral areas (zones) are composed of one or more municipal wards. Therefore, changes to the ward boundaries may have had an impact on a school board’s electoral boundaries. Any new school board electoral boundaries would be established by the school boards
This interactive map of Ottawa offers a way to view the revised ward boundaries in relation to the former ward system.
Tips for using the interactive mapping feature:
- The revised boundaries are currently visible in the interactive map below. To view them in relation to the former ward structure, existing urban boundary or aerial imagery, click on the Layers drop down in the upper left-hand corner of the screen and select the layer of interest.
- To clear all selections, click on the Layers drop down and toggle the layer off and then back on.
- 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.