A ward is a geographical division of a city, town or township for administrative or political purposes.
A Ward Boundary Review (WBR) is a task conducted on behalf of a municipality to assess whether the present wards constitute an effective and equitable system of representation and, if not, to propose alternatives.
The Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury is governed by a nine-member Council, composed of a Mayor, a Deputy Mayor and seven local Councillors who each represent a ward. In addition, the Mayor and Deputy Mayor, who are both elected at-large, also represent the Town on the County of Simcoe council.
Click to see the current Town of BWG ward map.
What does Council Composition mean?
Under Ontario legislation, a municipal council must consist of no fewer than five members, one of whom is the Mayor who must be elected at-large. Councillors may be elected in wards, at-large or some combination of the two systems. There is no prescribed maximum size for a municipal Council and no direction about whether to elect Councillors in wards or at-large.
The Council Composition Review component of this study will assess whether the present number of councillors should be changed and, if so, what number would be appropriate for a municipality like Bradford West Gwillimbury. The review would also consider the implications of dissolving the ward system to elect local councillors.
Why is Bradford West Gwillimbury doing this review?
The ward boundaries in BWG have not been reviewed since 2009. Since then, The Town’s population has grown by more than 40% and is expected to continue growing.
In addition, growth has not been uniform and over the next decade will continue to be concentrated in specific areas. This means that there is a significant variation in population between wards. The Town aspires to a ward system that represents each of its residents equally.
Population by ward*:
*Source: Statistics Canada Census derived by Watson & Associates Economists Ltd. Note: numbers have been rounded.
What does a Council Composition and Ward Boundary Review mean for me?
BWG’s Council makes important decisions about the municipality that impact your daily life. The councillors in the Town are elected in separate wards. A successful system should ensure that the Town has the right number of councillors and that all areas of the Municipality are represented fairly and accurately so that your voice and needs are reflected in Council decision-making.
The review is being completed to ensure that the electoral system functions in a way that is representative of the entire community.
What will be considered in this review?
The objective is to ensure that residents benefit from an effective and equitable system of representation. This will be achieved by evaluating the suitability of the present council composition and the present and proposed wards using these guiding principles:
- Effective representation
- Representation by population (relative population parity)
- Communities of interest (recognize community groupings/avoid fragmenting communities of interest)
- Future population trends (consider population for three election cycles)
- Physical and natural boundaries (easily recognizable, make use of permanent natural features)
Who is conducting the Ward Boundary Review?
The municipality has retained Watson and Associates Economists Ltd. and Dr. Robert Williams to conduct a comprehensive and independent WBR through a process established by Council.
Together the consultant team has conducted more than 25 ward boundary reviews in Ontario. They will use their experience to assess the present electoral arrangements in BWG and provide recommendations and design alternatives consistent with the guiding principles.
How and when will the Ward Boundary Review be conducted?
First, the consultants will gather information on the present ward system from interviews with Town staff and elected officials, and compile data on the present and projected population.
The consultants will assess council composition and the present ward boundaries and develop alternative designs.
1st Round March 2021/ 2nd Round TBD|
Public consultation is essential for the review process to be legitimate and effective, by allowing the community to provide input on the current and proposed ward boundary structures. The first phase of public consultation will focus on the evaluation of both the existing council and wards and gathering information on which of the guiding principles should be prioritized. The second phase of public consultation will focus primarily on council composition recommendations and ward boundary reconfiguration options.
- Public consultation sessions (i.e. open houses) will be held virtually to advise the public and gain their feedback. These sessions will be advertised on this website, Town social media and local news sources.
- Surveys will be available during the open house sessions, as well as on this website
In light of the pandemic, public consultation will be implemented in accordance with the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury’s public engagement practices, in a format consistent with required physical distancing protocols. The sessions will be converted to live meetings if and when such events are permitted.
Before June 2021|
A final report will be submitted to Council, who will:
- determine the size of council,
- determine how members of council are elected (i.e. in wards or at-large); and
- divide, redivide or dissolve existing wards.
Before September 2021 (if required)|
Municipal electors may also petition Council or appeal ward boundary decisions to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (formerly the Ontario Municipal Board.)