City of Ottawa Ward Boundary Review
July 10 Update - New Ward Boundary Options released
An initial report on how to adjust the City’s ward boundaries has outlined five options for consideration. These options, which could impact the number of City Councillors, will be discussed in a second round of consultations this fall. The report follows a round of public meetings, an online survey and interviews with Councillors this past spring about how to adjust the ward boundaries to ensure effective representation of residents. The last review was held in 2005.
The five options include two options to increase the number of wards, one option to reduce the number of wards, and two status quo options with different redistribution of urban wards.
The review took into account the following criteria:
Natural physical boundaries (ie Rideau River)
Geographic communities of interest (ie Glebe or Barrhaven)
Capacity to represent (relates to Councillor workload, issues and travel distances)
Geographic size and shape of a ward (rural wards are larger in size with fewer residents)
Population growth (where will future growth be)
While these criteria were all considered, some of them are weighted higher than others. For example voter parity has a greater weight than ward history.
The current 23 ward system includes a rural area (4 wards), a suburban area (7 wards outside the Greenbelt) and an urban area (12 wards inside the Greenbelt). Cumberland Ward, included in rural wards, contains rural and suburban components as a result of residential development.
During the spring consultations, numerous survey responses, online submissions and input from Members of Council urged that rural and suburban wards not be combined. This comment came from all wards, but especially from rural and suburban wards and focused on the major difference in the interests and activities of the rural and suburban communities. Comments also noted that combining suburban and rural populations leads to the loss of the voice of rural communities as the suburban population tends to dominate the ward. The current situation in Cumberland (Ward 19) is often cited as an example.
There was also a diversity of opinion on the number of wards, which has resulted in the five options, but the majority felt a ward population of between 44,000 and 50,000 residents would be appropriate. Currently the ward population averages 43,000 residents but varies from 26,000 in a rural ward to 62,000 in a suburban ward.
What are the five options?
Option 1 would increase the number of wards to 25 and includes 13 urban wards, 9 suburban wards and three rural wards. The three rural wards would be West Carleton, Rideau Goulbourn and Osgoode. In general, Rideau Goulbourn Ward remains the same but portions of Barrhaven and Stittsville that are currently within this ward’s boundary would be removed. However, Osgoode Ward would be expanded to include eastern communities such as Vars, Sarsfield and Navan. These adjustments to the rural wards apply under all options except Option 5.
Option 2 would increase the number to 24 and includes 12 urban wards, 9 suburban wards and three rural wards.
Options 3 and 4 maintain the current 23 wards (which includes 3 rural wards) but one ward would be redistributed in the urban area inside the Greenbelt. To achieve this, one option starts drawing boundaries from the western end of the urban area and the other from the eastern end. While this difference may not seem important, the starting point determines the locale of the ward that is redistributed.
Option 5 proposes 9 urban wards, 6 suburban wards and 2 rural wards. This proposal would see ward sizes of 67,000 people by 2026. It would also see major changes to the wards with the two rural wards divided by Highway 416. In effect West Carleton and Rideau Goulbourn west of the 416 would become one ward. Manotick would be located in the eastern ward which would include Osgoode, Metcalfe and Greely as well as Vars and Navan.
The details on the results of the first round of consultations and the five options are available at Engage Ottawa
Round two of the consultations will include an online survey, public meetings in September (either face to face or virtual) and more interviews with Councillors. Everyone who participates will be asked to rank the five options (using the criteria used to develop the options) and suggest changes to the proposed options. A final report will be presented to Council in December of this year.
From the City of Ottawa website:
"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.
Based on direction from City Council, an independent, third-party consultant team is conducting the Ward Boundary Review 2020 to ensure it is objective and impartial. The team will consult the public, Members of Council and stakeholder groups, including school boards.
Round 1 of public consultation is now closed."
More information is available online at
MVCA is concerned that the review will result in a reduction of the number of rural wards, which currently sit at 4 wards. We have submitted comments to the consultants managing the consultation emphasizing the importance of having a strong rural voice at the Council table and the need to maintain four rural wards in the City. You can read our submission HERE