LINDSAY – The Ontario Municipal Board has dismissed a Sebright man’s appeal of the City of Kawartha Lakes’ decision to reduce the number of wards in the municipality from 16 to eight.
OMB member David Lanthier heard the appeal in August and This Week was provided with a copy of the decision on Wednesday (Oct. 11).
On May 12 Charles Scheffel appealed council’s decision of last March to reduce the number of wards, changing the boundaries. Council also decided to reduce the number of councillors to eight (plus the mayor) in next year’s election, an action the is not appealable to the OMB.
Witnesses for the City were (now retired) clerk Judy Currins, who spearheaded the task force’s work, and Dr. Robert Williams, PhD, a University of Waterloo professor whose areas of expertise include municipal government. He was a consultant for the City during the ward boundary review.
Stephen D’Agostino was counsel for the City and Scheffel represented himself.
In 2015 a task force was created that included Currins, who was also the elections officer. Throughout 2015 and 2016, the process moved forward, with surveys and public consultations.
At the hearing, Scheffel did not want to see ward boundaries (or the number of councilors) change at all and outlined his appeal by saying he objected to the variance percentage for populations that the task force used to determine the geographical boundaries, especially in sparsely populated areas of the City’s northern regions. He was concerned there would not be effective representation under the new system and that the revised ward boundaries “will isolate rural areas of the municipality; and will not represent the geographic regions of the wards.”
Scheffel said he did not feel new ward boundaries provided balanced representation of both residents and voters, adding the variance percentage used “skewed” the actual numbers in Ward 1.
He said the “over-riding principle of this was effective representation”, and challenged the accuracy of the data in a ward with such a “sparse population.”
Read the full article by Mary Riley as it appeared on My Kawartha: ‘OMB dismisses appeal of Kawartha Lakes ward boundary revision to eight wards’
For more information, please contact municipal lawyer Stephen D’Agostino at 416-868-3126.