Letter to the Editor: Mayor Perpetuates Imbalance in Representation

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During the last four years our town council had a great opportunity to improve democracy in Oakville.

In his 2010 inaugural speech, the mayor noted the longstanding and gross imbalance in representation on our local council. Some wards have far more voters and total population than do other wards. The discrepancies look most stark with Ward 4 (Glen Abbey, West Oak Trails) having about 30% of the population (2011 census) and more voters than has Wards 1 and 2 combined.

“We will address this,” said the mayor. So council embarked on an extensive review of the ward boundaries with the guidance of a very well qualified consultant. A year and a half later the incumbent members of council voted unanimously to keep the existing ward boundaries and perpetuate the inequities. The fact that they decided to do nothing speaks of something deeply troubling to me. Did they think that the voters of Ward 4 count less than do voters in other parts of town?

It was a sad day for local democracy. Election time is a good time to review whether your councillors are representing your best interests and acting in the interest of a healthy democracy.

Brian Hopkins

The following links are from the Oakville Beaver which are the source for the letter.

May 2012
http://www.insidehalton.com/news-story/2900159-town-of-oakville-going-to-seven-ward-system-but-not-til-2018/

April 2012
http://www.insidehalton.com/news-story/2899584-oakville-ward-boundary-meeting-may-7/

Feb. 2012
http://www.insidehalton.com/news-story/2897125-ward-boundaries-back-to-the-drawing-board/

Feb. 2012
http://www.insidehalton.com/news-story/2897030-town-eyes-ward-boundaries/

Dec. 2011
http://www.insidehalton.com/news-story/2894807-date-set-for-council-debate-of-ward-boundaries/

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Readers Comments (8)

  1. “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants” (Louis Brandeis) and the weather forecast for October 27th is sunny and warm.

     Reply
  2. copeland says:

    I remember reading about this issue years ago before the last election!

    Another example of the empty promises, and lack of democratic understanding, from Burton and this incumbent council.

     Reply
  3. J. Khan says:

    …this is a massive issue. I’m glad Brian is trying to bring it to everyone’s attention again.

     Reply
  4. Paul Visser says:

    Brian…thank you for raising this issue.
    Redeployment of council members is very likely the answer to inequities. It is curious to me that Burlington appears to be reasonably effective and satisfied with 6 members (all are town and regional) of council plus the Mayor. We have almost double that number. Both Burlington and Oakville have similar populations. So are we more effective with more council members. Not sure!! This is difficult to measure because of the history. Surely we don’t need more councillors….but a revisit of the inequities should be on the agenda soon.

    Paul Visser

     Reply
    • F. Travis says:

      That’s a good thought, Paul.

      As long as the representation is more equally distributed, then a new councillor may not be necessary.

      These are the sort of discussions council should be having during their 4-year term.

       Reply
  5. Faisal Saab says:

    Thank you for bringing this up. I have the issue as a major campaign platform pillar. Current council completely ignored the imbalance! Fair representation must be a priority.

     Reply
  6. F. Travis says:

    Why hasn’t Mayor Burton, Mr. Elgar or Mr. Lapworth done anything about this yet?

    Maybe the answer isn’t adding a new ward, but re-drawing the existing six to provide a more equal distribution.

    Come on, Gentlemen – – this is major issue. Earn our dollars, don’t just expect a pay cheque! Act on what you said you would act on.

     Reply
  7. Sarah Marchand says:

    Well-written and well-researched.

    This should have been brought up at one of the mayoral debates.

     Reply



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