The election is now upon us, and with the exception of Ward 7, there is a contest in every ward. This is good; it indicates healthy public interest in city leadership, and should mean a higher voter turnout. Three years ago, half of council was acclaimed, which I think limits discussion and awareness of the issues facing the city, and may lead to complacency at council, which is never a good thing.
You may not be aware that some ward boundaries have changed, after the report of the Municipal Wards Commission in November 2011. Ward boundaries are reviewed every ten years, to ensure that the population in each ward is approximately equal. It's a tough balancing act, I'm sure, since the commission also has to try to project ward populations for the next ten years, identifying areas where greater growth is more likely.
They used a city population of 38, 926, based on Ministry of Health population statistics, with an average population per ward of 4,865. The actual population of each ward ranges from 4,540, in Ward 6, to 5,013 in Ward 2. The population in Ward 3 is on the higher end - 4,988.
Five of eight wards have had their boundaries changed, so if you live on the edge of wards 2, 3, 5, 6 or 7, you might want to check the new ward map on the city election page. Ward 3 boundaries have changed the most, taking area from Wards 2 and 7; Ward 6 has taken a small piece out of Ward 5.
Specifically, Ward 3 now extends to the east side of 1st Avenue East, from the south side of 9th Street East to the north side of 19th Street East as far east as 6th Avenue East. That's an additional two blocks east and 1 block south. The remainder of the ward, going down 3rd Avenue East to the River, then going east to 11th Avenue East up to 7th Street East, then west to 10th Avenue East, then south to 15th Street, remains the same. I noticed that Ward 3 is the only ward that is completely internal to the city - all other wards reach city boundaries at some point.
It's probably easiest to say that if you lived in Ward 3 before, you still live in Ward 3. If you lived on the east side of Ward 2, or the northernmost part of Ward 7, your ward may have changed, and you should look closely at the ward map to make sure that you're headed to the right polling station.
Another change in this election is the requirement to bring identification with you when you go to vote. Either bring one piece of photo ID that includes your address, such as a driver's licence, or two pieces of ID with your name, at least one of which also must have your address, such as a utility bill. If you have nothing like this, you can go to a poll with someone who has such valid ID, and they can vouch for you. I can see this happening, for example, if you have an eighteen year old living in your house who doesn't drive (I used to have one of those) - you could then vouch for them.
As always, you must be a resident in a ward in order to vote in that ward, and eighteen years or older. Voting for mayor and school boards is, of course, city wide.
I thought long and hard about putting my name forward for another term on council, but after much discussion with family and friends, decided that I can still provide a strong voice for Ward 3, continuing to try to make the ward and the city a better place to live. I have proven that I'm not afraid to ask hard questions, and I will continue to encourage council to practise greater fiscal responsibility, openness, and accountability. I hope that I will continue to receive strong support from Ward 3 residents - the greatest blessing of these last twelve years on council is the many new friends that I've met, and continue to meet, across the ward.
And I'm looking forward to knocking on some new doors, and meeting and hearing from new ward residents.
"The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." - Plato