Milton Redraws Ward Boundaries for 2018 Election
Oakville is not the only town in Halton Region to redraw their municipal ward boundaries in time for the 2018 election.
In a rare decision made by local politicians, Milton town council decided to reduce the current number of councillors from eleven to nine for the 2018 municipal election. The current composition of council is one mayor, two regional councillors elected to represent four wards each (specifically, one regional councillor for Wards 1/6/7/8 and another for Wards 2/3/4/5), and one local councillors representing each of the eight wards.
After reviewing some of the options, such as creating two primarily exurban/rural wards and two more urban ones, Milton councillors decided to go with a more simplified ward system where the town was split into four wards by using the intersection of Derry Road and Ontario Street as a dividing point.
This is a map of the revised wards for Milton.
Milton decided to go with something similar to the Oakville model, whereby a ward has one local and regional councillor. Each ward will now have one local representative at Milton town council, and the other will get to sit in both Milton council and Halton Region council, along with the mayor. This increases Milton's representation at the regional level from its current three members to five members.
The recent 2016 Census shows Milton's population had increased to more than 100,000 residents, so that means each of the new wards will have roughly 25,000 residents for each councillor. Considering there are two councillors for each ward, that sounds like a decent level of representation to allow residents’ concerns and inquiries to be heard at Town Hall. According to one member of Milton council who spoke with inHalton, it would definitely reduce the workload of a regional representative as the workload is now streamlined into coming from one ward instead of four.
This councillor also opined on how this situation came about and it reflects some interesting dynamics that occur around Halton Regional Council. Oakville Mayor Rob Burton, who also sits on regional council, said he would only agree to the Milton ward boundary changes if Oakville also got an additional regional representative. An amendment was introduced by Burton to ensure that no municipality loses representation, hence the additional ward in Oakville and the extra regional councillor that comes with it.
Three of the four Halton municipalities passed this recommendation to have this option of two for Milton and one for Oakville. Oakville did have an argument that due to their own growth they needed one more. All the municipalities ended up agreeing and, aside from Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring, the motion passed regional council. Based on current composition of Halton Regional council, they suggest that Oakville would only need to convince either Burlington or one of the smaller municipalities to side with them on key issues.
Now with Milton getting five members on council, the balance of power could potentially shift away from more populated Oakville and reflect the fact that Milton, Oakville and Burlington are growing on a more equal pace. But the councillor said this is an ongoing process as in the next couple of terms it will come up again as Halton’s municipalities continue to grow.
One final point of consideration is that some sitting members of Milton's council could potentially be running against each other in 2018 should they decide to seek another term. For example, Wards 4 and 5 will both now be in the newly revised Ward 2, and the current Wards 2, 3, and 8 will now all be in the revised Ward 1.
Normally during a municipal election, incumbents focus on running in their own ward and not criticizing a colleague that they didn't agree with during the prior term, because they're not running against them. But for next year's election cycle, the scenario of certain councillors having to seek another term by running against each other, defending their own records and perhaps having to critique their colleagues’ performance has the potential to create some interesting races in the Milton municipal election.
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