The ward boundaries in Chatham-Kent will be staying as-is after council shot down a chance to examine the current borders.
A motion by Wallaceburg Coun. Carmen McGregor did not receive enough votes from council on Monday. The motion called for staff to create a by-law to include some changes to the urban fringe boundaries outside of Wallaceburg and Chatham.
North Kent Coun. Joe Faas said he could support the concept in North Kent and Wallaceburg, but was concerned about council representation in Chatham.
“I am hoping that we don’t go to that next step,” he said. “I am kind of fearful that this is the step to push it to that next step. If that is the case, you are looking at the city of Chatham with eight representatives and the others with seven representatives. So the city will have one less than Chatham-Kent and that’s a little scary to me. That’s where I have a little bit of a problem with this. I want to make sure that when we are doing the process, all of those things are on the table so that we are not making a decision excluding the Chatham wards in the area.”
Chatham Coun. Derek Robertson, who was unsuccessful back in March in an attempt to have Chatham-Kent’s governance model examined, said council has gone over these issues a number of times.
“I understand what the councillor is doing,” he said. “Unfortunately we are still failing to address representation by population. We fail to address equal representation by ward. We are failing to address the size of council.”
South Kent Coun. Karen Herman said residents have come to her many times asking why they were not part of Chatham.
“We love our ward in South Kent, however, in fairness to them it’s important to find out if there is any advantage to change the ward boundaries,” she said. “I am very much in support of going forward. The public meeting process is a very important process. This will give them the opportunity to understand.”
Chatham Coun. Doug Sulman said council should use a community of interest approach.
“So there is people who live just on fringes, Charing Cross Road for example, Lynwood, Fairview Line up in 40. It’s all housing. All residential housing. They think they are in Chatham already. So for the most part when they have a problem they are going to call a councillor who is elected in the Chatham ward,” he said.
“All that I think we should be doing with this is when you have a community of interest where people go and shop in that community of interest, they go to a lawyer, the doctor, the dentist, the chiropractor, their health care professional, church, they do it in their community of interest. People in the fringe area of Wallaceburg, I’m sure their community of interest in Wallaceburg and for the people in the fringe area of Chatham, their community of interested in Chatham. We should be using the communities of interest and not these old civic boundaries.”
For more details on this story, check out this story: Wallaceburg’s ward boundaries not changing