Ward system moves forward following appeal’s rejection

·3 min read

A final hurdle in Aurora adopting a ward system in time for next year’s municipal election was cleared last week with a resident-led appeal being rejected by Ontario’s Local Planning Appeals Tribunal (LPAT).

LPAT dismissed the appeal on Thursday, May 13, and, in doing so, reaffirmed the six-ward model approved by Council last summer.

Council adopted the six-ward model on a vote of 4 – 3 last June, with Councillors Wendy Gaertner, John Gallo and Rachel Gilliland voting against it. Lawmakers who voted in favour of the six-ward model said following this path would lead to more effective representation around the table, while opponents said they did not yet feel the public had expressed a buy-in to ditch the current model.

In the 2018 Municipal Election, the Town voted “at large”, meaning the entire community voted on a Mayor and six Council members to represent the interests of the Town as a whole. In the new system, eligible voters will vote for a mayor to represent the entire community while voting for just one Council member to represent their specific neighbourhood.

Ward 1 will be bordered by Bathurst Street in the west, Newmarket in the north, the GO Train line in the east, and by both Orchard Heights Boulevard and Wellington Street in the south.

Ward 2 will be bordered by Orchard Heights in the north, Yonge Street in the east, Kennedy Street West in the south, and Bathurst in the north.

Ward 3 will use Kennedy Street West as its northern boundary, Yonge as its eastern edge, the train tracks in the south, and Bathurst to the west.

The rail line will serve as the western boundary for Ward 4, the largest ward by area, with Bloomington Road as its southern limit, Highway 404 as the eastern boundary, and Wellington Street East in the north.

Ward 5 will use Wellington as its southern edge, coming up Mavrinac Boulevard in the east, over to St. John’s Sideroad in the north and the GO tracks in the west.

The sixth and final ward will be bordered by Wellington and the 404 on the south and east, the Newmarket boundary to the north, and Mavrinac and Bayview Avenue on the west.

“The Town undertook an Electoral System Review beginning in 2019 to determine appropriate ward boundaries,” said the Town in a statement last week. “For the 2022 Municipal Election, the Town will be divided into six wards. The LPAT decision noted that, ‘the Tribunal finds that the process was fair, reasonable and transparent, and included a consideration of all options, including retention of the current at-large system. The Tribunal further finds that the Town study included public consultation and that input received both for and against the change to a ward-based system was considered.’”

Among the residents who expressed disagreement with adopting a ward model, however, was the fact that in the public consultation process, foregoing wards and retaining status quo was not included in survey options.

For more, visit aurora.ca/wards.

Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran