Chatham-Kent to review the size of Council and its ward boundaries

The Municipality of Chatham-Kent is taking steps to review the size of Council, along with its ward boundaries.

After a lengthy debate at the Monday, February 26, 2024 meeting, an amended motion by North Kent Councillor Rhonda Jubenville was approved.

Rhonda Jubenville

Subsequently, Council has directed staff to invite a third-party consultant to conduct a review of the existing size of Council membership to decrease the size of Council and provide various options.

The second part of Jubenville’s motion, which was an amendment suggested by Chatham Councillor Brock McGregor, states the review should include consideration of respecting communities of interest, options to ensure both rural and urban voices are represented and included in each ward, along with other potential options taking into account community consultation and best practices.

“Neighbouring Municipalities, such as Windsor and London, have larger populations with less members of Council,” Jubenville said in her original notice of motion.

“There is a large urban/rural divide amongst Chatham-Kent and its elected Council representatives.”

South Kent Councillor Trevor Thompson, who apposed Jubenville’s motion, said Chatham-Kent’s area shouldn’t be compared to many other communities, noting that the ward of South Kent on its own is the geographical size of Toronto.

Councillor Thompson added that prior to amalgamation there were 45 local politicians, compared to the current number of 17 Councillors.

“Maybe we’ve made the cuts,” he said at the meeting.

Council directed staff to fund the review from strategic reserves.

Michael Duben, Chatham-Kent’s CAO, said typically these type of reviews take approximately 18 months to complete, barring any appeals.

He added the process would have to “move pretty quickly” in order for any potential changes to be in effect for the 2026 election.

Duben told Council on Monday that a tender package would be created right away and the final approval will be back before Council in the coming weeks and months.

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