City of Ottawa Ward Boundary Review
Update: November 2020
"The consultant team has completed its analysis of comments received during Round 2 of public consultation. The public feedback has informed the development of the Recommended Ward Boundaries for the City of Ottawa. The consultant team’s Final Report is now available and will be considered by the Finance and Economic Development Committee (FEDC) and City Council on December 1, 2020, and December 9, 2020, respectively."
Update: September 24, 2020
MVCA survey closes today
The City's survey closes tomorrow
Update: September 22, 2020
Message from the President of MVCA, Grace Thrasher
Ward Boundary Review: Why It Matters!
"I think many of us are struggling to understand why we should become engaged in the Ward Boundary Review particularly during a pandemic.
For rural residents, it is all about ensuring that we have an effective voice at City Hall and that our unique issues are addressed. Ottawa has the largest land area of any City in Canada and that is due to the rural areas surrounding the urban/suburban core. When the province amalgamated several rural townships into the City of Ottawa, it made a commitment to ensure that rural issues would be addressed and rural residents would get the services they needed.
We have heard many times about the negative impacts of decisions made downtown – implementation of truck routes through villages, increased regulations governing community events such as bake sales and roadside food stands, reduced policing support and the constant competition for funding with larger neighbourhoods.
We are fortunate that the City does have a Rural Affairs office and that it has ensured the inclusion of a Rural Economic Development Strategy into its future Official Plan. We also benefit from Council’s Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee where all City-wide policies are reviewed through a rural lens. Currently that committee is made up of all rural Councillors and the Councillors for Stittsville and Gloucester South Nepean.
What do we lose if the number of rural wards drop from 4 to 3? We get a smaller percentage of Councillors who understand the rural issues like Councillors Moffatt, Darouze and El Chantiry (The fourth “rural” ward does not currently have a Councillor). In an era of potential cost-cutting, given the financial strain of the pandemic, who is to say that the City will maintain a committee made up of three rural councillors? We also run the risk of having our specific rural zoning requirements converted into city-wide standard zoning requirements - which would allow changes to our Village design that could drastically change development in the Village Core.
With larger rural wards, Rural Councillors will have greater distances to travel to meet with their ward residents as well as travel to attend meetings downtown. For example, all of the options proposed under the Ward Boundary Review would increase the size of Osgoode ward by almost double so that it would stretch from Cumberland to Manotick.
Rural villages within the City limits are already penalized in not being able to access provincial funds for capital or community projects. The Manotick Task Force on Revitalization has come up against that reality in trying to move forward with ways to revitalize the Village core.
In 2005, the Ward Boundary Review eliminated one rural ward by making Stittsville (a village that grew into a highly populated area) a suburban ward and shifting the remaining rural area to Rideau Goulbourn. The same thing is happening this time in the east end. Cumberland ward is no longer considered rural because so much of it has become suburban due to sprawling development. Only about 15% of residents in that ward are rural so the recommendation is to make Cumberland a suburban ward and shift the rural residents to Osgoode Ward. Sound familiar?
There are some individuals who would like to see the elimination of rural wards. A move in that direction would lead the MVCA to promote a de-amalgamation scenario where the rural areas form a single entity and remove themselves from the City of Ottawa.
If you are interested in protecting the rural way of life, it is important to have your say in the ward boundary review. You have until September 25th to provide input to the consultants who are conducting the review. There is an online survey tool which will provide the opportunity to emphasize the need to protect four rural wards. All the information you need can be found at https://engage.ottawa.ca/ward-boundary-review-2020/
You can also complete the Osgoode Ward Business Association survey on the expansion of Osgoode Ward to include the rural portion of Cumberland ward. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/OWBR.
If we don’t seize the moment now, we will continue to see erosion of the rural perspective at City Hall. Our rural Councillors deserve our support.
Update: August 19, 2020 - City requests input on six boundary ward options
The City is seeking public feedback on six options for re-aligning Ottawa’s wards through an online survey at ottawa.ca/wardboundary from August 19 to September 25 and through virtual public consultation sessions scheduled from September 10 to September 23.
August, 2020 - Sixth boundary ward option added
A sixth option has been added for the community to comment on. Here is the full list.
All of the options decrease representation for rural communities.
Option 1 increases the number of wards to 25, with 13 urban wards, nine suburban wards and three rural wards.
Option 2 increases the number of wards to 24, with 12 urban wards, nine suburban wards and three rural wards.
Option 3 maintains the current number of wards, 23, and includes 11 urban wards, nine suburban wards and three rural wards.
Option 4 also maintains the number of wards at 23. It also includes 11 urban wards, nine suburban wards and three rural wards. The boundaries for each ward are different than those in option three.
Option 5 reduces the number of wards to 17, with nine urban wards, six suburban wards and two rural wards.
Option 6 increases the number of wards to 24, with 12 urban wards, nine suburban wards and three rural wards. It minimizes ward boundary changes.
July 10, 2020 - 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