Council wants public to have their say in upcoming riding boundary consultations

·2 min read

Chatham-Kent council wants the communities voice to be heard in the upcoming federal riding boundary consultations.

During the latest council meeting, councillors passed a motion asking Chatham-Kent to take part in the upcoming riding boundary consultations. Council called it an important issue and deemed it worthy of municipal engagement.

Council ultimately voted in favour of holding a forum to have Chatham-Kent residents provide their thoughts on proposed federal riding boundary changes.

Wallaceburg councillor Aaron Hall entered a successful motion asking staff to have representation at an upcoming virtual hearing and prepare a page on the Let’s Talk Chatham-Kent website for community feedback.

“I think it’s a worthwhile process to be engaged with,” Hall said. “We should be at the table for it and make sure our collective voices are heard.”

But Hall wasn’t the only councillor concerned with Chatham-Kent being split up.

Fellow Ward Five councillor Carmen McGregor said it will be difficult dealing with three different MPs on different projects and funding opportunities.

“I think it’s very important we have the opportunity to talk about this, especially when our riding is going to be further divided,” McGregor said.

The current proposal from the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission would see Chatham-Kent split into parts of three separate federal ridings. Currently, Chatham-Kent is part of two federal ridings—Chatham-Kent-Leamington, and Lambton-Kent-Middlesex.

Communities such as Bothwell, Ridgetown, Thamesville and Highgate would be part of the Elgin-Middlesex-Thames riding, which also features parts of the former Lambton-Kent-Middlesex and Elgin-Middlesex-London ridings.

However, despite a local councillor agreeing it’s a good idea to get the public opinion, he agrees with the proposal.

According to Ward 3 councillor Steve Pinsonneault, the proposal makes sense, given the physical size of Chatham-Kent.

“We as Chatham-Kent know that we have a large geographic area,” he said. “It’s a struggle with the councillors to represent your area properly.”

While nothing is official yet, residents still have a chance to provide input for consideration. Between Sept. 26 and Oct. 29, the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Ontario is holding 17 public hearings to allow for public input.

The earliest the new boundary map could be approved is in April of 2024, before coming into effect on the subsequent dissolution of Parliament.

Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News