Day Three of the Ontario Municipal Board hearing into City Council’s new Ward Boundaries is underway.
Today, the City will continue to present its case to the Board. The day beings with Dr. Bill Freeman on the stand for the City to provide testimony on history and sociology of Hamilton.
Follow along with our liveblog below.
The Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) members deciding this case are Dr. Bruce Krushelnicki and Paula Boutis. Krushelnicki is the Executive Chairman of the Environmental and Land Tribunals of Ontario, and is therefore the highest ranking member of the OMB.
City of Hamilton Legal Counsel
City Council retained outside legal counsel for the hearing as the Council voted to not accept the recommendations of professional experts Watson & Associates, instead creating their own boundaries as a Council.
Two private citizens have appealed the Council’s new self-created ward boundaries. Mark Richardson and the City of Hamilton reached a settlement, Richardson is no longer an active appellant.
Robert Dobrucki is self-representing, a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, and a lawyer by trade, he is appealing as a private citizen. (Dobrucki was a guest on The Public Record Radio Show in October 2016 on the topic of ward boundaries)
Good morning everyone, Dr. Freeman is on the stand.
As you may recall from Friday, Dr. Bill Freeman was called by the City as an expert witness on the history and sociology of the City of Hamilton. When posed relatively simple questions on the history of Hamilton and amalgmation, Dr. Freeman was unable to provide the answers.
The OMB did not grant him expert status.
Dr. Freeman says Ward 12 works well, and should be maintained. Says he spoke with Ward 12 Councillor Lloyd Ferguson says the Ward works “very well for him”
Dr. Freeman now speaking about Dundas’ Ward 13, and the decision of Council to split Ainslie Wood to add North Ainslie Wood to Dundas Ward 13.
Says it was a “very good decision” to add it.
He says he spoke to Ward 13 Councillor Arlene Vanderbeek who is very happy to have North Ainslie Wood, she says they shop in Dundas and they often attend events in Dundas
Freeman says North Ainslie Wood and Dundas have the same character, students and university staff live in Ainslie Wood in similiar numbers to Dundas.
“Largely Suburban, small homes” is how he describes North Ainslie Wood.
When asked to locate Ainslie Wood on a city-wide map, Dr. Freeman struggled. He verbally stated that Ainslie Wood was “West of Emerson, South of Main Street”
OMB Chair says to Dr. Freeman that it is important for him to know the location of neighbourhoods as a person who states they have expertise.
City lawyer asks Dr. Freeman if City Council’s preferred boundaries are the best for protecting the effective representation of Hamilton’s unique communities.
Dr. Freeman: having spoke with City Councillors, I would certainly support this [the Council preferred wards]
Dr. Freeman’s arguments for Ward 14 focus on unique rural area, they have unique needs with rural waterwells and the greenbelt, regulations on population. Things that “people in Downtown Toronto and most areas of Hamilton don’t face” Dr. Freeman says
“They definitely need their own populations who can bring their concerns, that’s what democracy is all about”
Provincial water regulations are the strongest argument the City has for a unique need for representation.
City lawyer now asking Dr. Freeman to describe why Ward 14 should be be split and merged into Wards 12, 13, 15 — which was the preferred option of a few of the Watson & Associates maps. Also an option in the Dobrucki proposal.
They have different issues, now “Transit isn’t an issue there” says Dr. Freeman as a big difference.
“It’s almost what they don’t have to deal with” that makes them different.
Dr. Freeman now reinforcing the importance of history of communities, and that history making them a community of interest entitled to their representations.
Now discussing all the unique community groups in each area, they have their own service clubs.
“They are politically more conservative than urban areas”
Dr. Freeman says people in urban areas have different social and service clubs.
City is now entering into evidence a petition calling for the protection of Flamborough’s present two City Councillors. Approximately 1000 signatures.
“A big issue is how to protect the rural areas, how to give them an effective political voice, how to protect the community of interest” – Dr. Freeman
Now City is asking Dr. Freeman about the Wards proposed by Watson & Associates that Dobrucki wishes to see the OMB to adopt, and the Dobrucki map as well.
OMB Exec Chair is taking notes, but not looking up as often as he has in the first two days.
Dr. Freeman says he cannot support any of the alternative boundaries, because rural and suburban Hamilton will be “submerged” by the “urban areas”. Says they will lose their identities, the character of Dundas will be loss by sharing representative with rural Flamborough.
Dr. Freeman says he sees this as a “violation of the principles of democracy” by taking away a seat from West Hamilton (Wards 12,13,14,15)
Dr. Freeman continues to struggle on the stand, reflecting his lack of present knowledge of the City of Hamilton. This is not going well for the City.
Dr. Freeman repeatedly stating that extending Ward 13 into the rural area would harm both Dundas’ character and rural character of Flamborough. (But adding Ainslie Wood North is “very good” for Dundas)
Dr. Freeman, the present Wards 12 – 15 wards function very well as a political units.
City ends its questions to Dr. Freeman.
Dobrucki begins his cross of Dr. Freeman
Dobrucki opens with “Happy Birthday, I hear it was your birthday this weekend”
Dr. Freeman you stated the “Ward 12 Councillor had no difficulty representing both urban and rural? Is this correct?”
For ease of shortform
BF: Dr. Bill Freeman
RD: Robert Dobrucki
RD asks BF if Binbrook and Ward 11 have similar character to Waterdown and Ward 14.
City lawyer objects, stating Dr. Freeman is not familiar with Hamilton outside of Wards 12 to 15
OMB Exec Chair says the question is allowed.
RD’s questions are meant to show that City’s argument that Wards 12 to 15 must be kept in place because mixed rural/suburban wards do not work.
On RD’s question about mixed wards, citing Wards 11 and 15, Dr. Freeman responds “I don’t know”
RD: Would you agree that Wards 9 has a rural interest? Is there something significantly different between the rural interests of Western Hamilton and Eastern Hamilton?
BF: They have different crops, and one is the Niagara Escarpment fruit growing areas.
Freeman is struggling with the map, thinks Wards 9 & 10 have their fruit growing areas below the escarpment. (It’s actually Ward 11)
Dobrucki is now noting that many of the “unique” groups and service clubs Freeman cited in his testimony are city-wide, and have membership in both East and West Hamilton rural areas.
Dr. Freeman is getting testy on the stand, and arguing with Dobrucki. Dobrucki is wisely letting Dr. Freeman make arguments not directly responding to questions.
Freeman is volunteering a lot of information he doesn’t need to in response to questions.
After a long speech by Freeman, the answer to Dobrucki’s question of who he spoke to about the character of Wards 12 – 15
City lawyer Ferri is often grabbing his tie at the neck as he listens intently to intervene if he feels necessary.
Dobrucki: Do you agree where students go to school is how communities of interest are formed
Dr. Freeman: “Yeah, I mean, in the world we live in, rural children are bused”
Dobrucki: Where kids go to school can form a community of interest?
Dr. Freeman: a lengthy response … “my own view is rural/urban is a very important split”
Dobrucki: Kids who live in Rockton and Sheffield go to school in Dundas
Dobrucki: Do you know that Flamborough and Dundas share a school board trustee?
City: OBJECTION, Dobrucki is introducing evidence
Dobrucki: Do you know if Ward 14 has its own school board trustee?
Freeman: I don’t know
Dobrucki: Do you know if the Agricultural Society building is in Flamborough?
Freeman: I don’t
Dobrucki: would it surprise you if I said it was not?
Freeman: I would not be surprised.
15 minute break called.
And we’re back
Dobrucki resumes cross-examination with question on character of Dundas compared to Ainslie Wood.
Freeman says he lived on Emerson as a student at McMaster. Freeman says he’s not sure that it’s part of Ainslie Wood.
Dobrucki asks Freeman to describe the areas of Ainslie Wood added to Dundas, Freeman says he does not which parts of Ainslie Wood will be added to Ward 13 as per Council’s preferred boundaries.
Freeman, Ainslie Wood is mostly “modest” “single-family homes”.
Dobrucki is trying to establish the character of Ainslie Wood with Freeman.
Dobrucki: Would you agree that splitting students across wards could create difficulty
Freeman: Yes, students have different issues and lifestyles
Dobrucki: Would you agree that students are a community of interest?
Freeman: Yes, but it’s not that simple, they are fairly well integrated in the community. “It’s very difficult to get students interested in politics, particularly municipal politics”
Freeman: Students are not usually involved in their community. That’s not to say they shouldn’t have political rights.
Dobrucki is now challenging Freeman’s statements that Ainslie Wood and Dundas are vary similiar.
Kevin Werner of Hamilton Community News is now here. Follow him on Twitter https://www.twitter.com/WerkHCN
Dobrucki now cross-examining Freeman on statements about Dundas and rural Flamborough’s Anglo-Saxon demographics.
Dobrucki is now arguing that the Supreme Court’s community of interest is in part to ensure minorities can be respresented.
Dobrucki: Would you agree that having wards with low numbers of minorities overrepresented will decrease the opportunity for minorities to be represented.
Freeman: long statement, ends iwht “I wouldn’t describe myself as an expert on minorities”
Dobrucki is now citing other minority demographics not represented in Wards 13 & 14.
Freeman is being philosophical in his long responses. Hard to summarize that.
Freeman now says socio-economics are an important factor —
Dobrucki jumps on this opportunity “since you went there”
Dobrucki asks Freeman if he feels the three Mountain wards with a population of 155,000 are fairly represented with Wards 13 to 15 having three wards at 69,000 people. Is this far to the immigrants, working class, and less economically affluent?
Freeman: long answer, that could be a problem.
Dobrucki is now asking Freeman one by one if he thinks he individual rural hamlet is significantly different from each other. Freeman agrees.
Then Dobrucki: would you agree that Carlisle should have its own Councillor.
Freeman: “No, that be too much”
Back and forth
Freeman concedes that representation by population is very important. Then notes many in the rural areas would like to have their own representative.
Freeman “Canada is supposedly not a melting pot”
OMB Chair asks him to clarify what he means by that.
Freeman says it is a comparison to the United States.
Ferri is now objecting, Dr. Freeman is not an expert on population and city-wide. He was brought by the City to speak to the communities of interest of Ward 12 to 15
City objects to discussion of representation of visible minorities, as it was not an issue considered by the City of Hamilton in creating wards, and not on the issues list for the OMB hearing.
Dobrucki argues that the Carter decision includes representation of minorities, therefore the issue of minority representation is included in the issues and witness statements.
City lawyer argues that Carter decision separates communities of interests as distinct from minorities, and that issues of visible minorities has no place in this hearing.
OMB Exec Chair does not accept the City’s objection, and says minority representation is an issue the OMB is alive to.
Dobrucki is now done his questions. OMB Exec Chair will now ask questions.
OMB Exec Chair is asking questions about the importance of an agricultural community of interest.
OMB Exec Chair to Freeman: Are you saying the rural community of interest is more important than other areas of interest?
OMB Exec to Freeman: I think we’re going to hear in arguments that the result of the rural wards is that some votes are more valuable than others
That there needs to be a very good reason for that, would you agree?
Freeman: I would agree with that
OMB Exec Chair: To what degree should that weighing be?
Freeman: That’s a judgment call …. it is true we all need effective representation, but it is also true some feel that don’t have that such as minorities.
OMB Exec Chair: let’s follow that a bit, you state they are a community of interest as their are primarily farmers, what about those who are not farmers in rural areas?
Freeman: long discussion, not clear there was an answer.
OMB Exec Chair has Freeman look at the occupation of employment data for Ward 14.
Freeman notes that demographics show while more people are employed in farming than average, it is not the largest number
OMB Exec Chair “It’s no where near 50%”
Now a back-and-forth on if at the height of steelworking, were steelworkers a “community of interest” similar to the City’s argument for Ward 14.
Freeman “Should’ve we had a ward for steelworkers, no”
OMB Exec Chair: “It’s hard to have a ward for farmers, you could have one for rural people”
OMB Exec Chair now done questions.
Now City lawyer Ferri is closing with follow-up
Ferri: “Do you agree your expertise is limited to sociology and history”
Now a question to establish that Freeman’s comments outside of Ward 12 to 15 are layman and not expert.
The City is trying to limit the weight of their own witness.
Ferri’s attempt to limit Freeman’s testimony is not working, as Freeman speaks to the higher-income in Ward 14. OMB Exec Chair takes note, asks a follow-up question to Freeman to clarify why the area is above average income.
Ferri gets Freeman to clarify that he has not studied minority issues, and is not familiar with Hamilton’s minority communities.
Ferri asks Freemen if he still believes Council’s preferred boundaries are the best option to protect the Wards 12 to 15 communities of interest.
Next witness is up. Dr. Robert Williams, an expert in municipal ward boundaries who was involved with the Watson & Associates team.
He is the key City witness in this hearing.
The OMB says they’ll start this witness, establish him as an expert, and then look to break for lunch at 12:15pm.
Dr. Williams has been established as an expert on ward boundaries in nearly (if not all) every OMB Ward Boundaries case for the past 15 years.
The establishing of Dr. Williams as an expert will be a formality, I cannot see any possibility that he will not be granted expert status.
Dobrucki says he does not have any questions about Dr. Williams’ qualification as an expert on municipal ward boundaries.
OMB qualifies him as a expert.
Williams now explaining his involvement in the Hamilton ward boundary review process.
Now repeating the history of the Hamilton ward boundary review process as conducted by Watson & Associates.
Dr. Williams says the City Council’s new preferred boundaries meets all the criteria set by the Watsons & Associates criteria, and Dr. Williams says it does excellent balancing and protecting communities of interest.
He recommends the Board approve Council’s new wards.
and OMB recesses until 2pm for lunch.
We should be back in session shortly. Scheduled to return at 2pm.
We’re back in session. An administrative matter is presently being discussed – a participant who is willing to attend on Wednesday but can’t arrive right at 9:30am.
Dr. Robert Williams, an expert in municipal ward boundaries who was involved with the Watson & Associates team is on the stand.
Dr. Williams is explaining the extensive work of the public consultation process of the ward boundary review.
This portion of the City testimony will be focused on establishing the diligence of the process; and that it meant all the standards of good practices and past OMB direction.
Dr. Williams now discussing that the +/- 25% of average population size for each ward is the goal, but there are times that community of interests require falling outside of that criteria.
Dr. Williams now discussing the various factors that can cause a greater than 25% difference in wards; noting that municipal wards are created with assumptions about future population growth.
Dr. Williams explains the importance of creating wards with future growth projections in mind.
Now discussing the importance of physical features (ie escarpment, creeks, major highways) in setting ward boundaries in Hamilton.
What does community of interest mean?
– wards should be collections of similar communities of interest
– make wards reflect diversity of the community itself
– we use neighbourhood interchangeably with community, as they have similar buildings and socio-economic backgrounds in the urban areas
There are more than 15 communities in Hamilton, how do you but them together?
You put as many places together that have things in commons, then you figure out which areas do not fit in, then work to collect them with similar areas as much as possible.
“We seek to keep neighbourhoods together”
Ferri: How does one identify a community of interest?
– level of taxations
– levels of municipal service in an area
– do they have sidewalks or not?
– this doesn’t have to do with demographics “representation is geographical”
– outside the urban area, you don’t have the same density, you have to put together other information to determine community of interest
– the rural area is a community of interest, broadly speaking it is a collection of neighbourhoods and communities that relate to the city in the same way such as water wells, rural fire service, open burning, firearms, and more.
Dr. Williams now asked to confirm if the City’s criteria for the consultants was proper for the review of ward boundaries.
Is the criteria for community of interest, and rural representation in the City’s ward appropriate.
Dr. Willams explains at length, sum is yes.
Ferri asks Dr. Williams his thoughts on earlier point from Dobrucki about effective representation of single parent families.
Dr. Williams says they are not a geographically concentrated group, and not likely enough of a population to justify a ward.
OMB Exec Chair: a community of interest cannot be expressed geographically, that’s what you are saying.
Dr. Williams: yes
Chair: So the reason that our rural areas have academically speaking more representation is because their community of interest expresses itself geographically, if we are to agree.
Exec Chair uses a fictional group in the urban area that was an identifiable community of interest that is geographically concentrated, but is 26% smaller than the average, asks Dr. Williams if they would get their own Ward.
Dr. Williams, if everything fits together yes.
Exec Chair: suppose they were not defined by ethnicity, but instead by socio-economics?
Dr. Williams: If they are attached to a geographical area.
Exec Chair: so we can see that in the rural area
Dr. Williams: the rural is very different from its bordering regions.
Exec Chair noting that there are not a lot of farmers in Ward 14, most of the people are employed in other jobs, jobs which are very similar to the those in East Hamilton.
Exec Chair is now directly challenging the assumption that lower density means Ward 14 gets more representation on Council.
City lawyer intervenes to redirect OMB Exec Chairs’ questioning.
Exec Chair is not buying it, he’s asking what is different about the people of Ward 14 from Ward 1.
Dr. Williams: They don’t get the same service delivery as those in Ward 1
Exec Chair: They use the majority of the same services: police, fire, ambulance, schools, arenas, roads,
Dr. Williams: they interact with the City differently
Exec Chair: So why do they get a more powerful vote, “what makes rural special” “if you want a more powerful vote, move to the rural area … why?”
Dr. Williams – we didn’t invite over representation of rural areas.
Exec Chair – but you are making it a matter of policy, why?
Exec Chair wraps his line of questions “this was a very helpful line of conversation”
Member Paula Boutis: “What I draw from this is that people with property get more rights”
Dr. Williams: I disagree
Exec Chair: “that’s the consequence of this”
Williams: “It’s not a motivating factor”
Dr. Williams: the larger the land you control
— he’s cut off by Member Boutis —
Boutis: how do you factor in social factors when there is such a focus on property owners
Dr. Williams is trying to explain the need to not have too large of wards, hence the imbalance that occur.
Boutis responds to an attempt by Ferri to argue the minorities were not forgotten in review, notes that if minorities are spread geographically, they have less of an opportunity to be reflected on Council than the low density rural and suburban areas.
(Boutis did not directly cite the City’s earlier argument about the unique Anglo-Saxon character of Wards 13 & 14)
OMB Exec Chair reminds the room that it is their role to probe the witness and ask tough questions, it does not mean they have leaning one way or another.
Now confirming that the Municipal Act does not require set geographically boundaries – the City could go for city-wide voting, or even a non-geographical ward for a minority population.
Ferri takes a pause before moves onto effective representation as a topic.
Dr Williams explaining that a ward should not be divided between people with significantly different needs; a Councillor should not be divided as a matter of how the ward is constructed.
Dr. Williams, part of the rational for smaller population in Ward 14 is the difficulty the Councillor will face in visiting all their constituents.
Ferri to Dr. Williams: is there ever a perfect ward boundary?
Williams: No, cites a 1990s OMB decision on the philosophy of boundaries and how it is impossible to find agreement on ward boundaries.
Exec Chair to Dr. Williams
Council didn’t take your advice, “you put two recommendations to Council” they didn’t take them
Dr. Williams: basically, yes.
Exec Chair goes a little further along the path that the consultants put much work into their final report, the report which Council rejected and created their own wards afterwards.
Dr Williams says the consultants only recommend “Council makes the final decision”
A smile from the OMB Exec Chair, with a friendly gesture of his pencil, some chuckles in the room, as Exec Chair says lightly “in this case, no they don’t”.
Ferri now having Williams answer questions on their process, and how they provided the public feedback to Council
Dr. Williams: we gave Council a summary.
Further questions to establish the extend of the ward boundary review process.
We’ve had this a few times before, the City is trying to establish that the OMB should defer to Council’s judgment.
Continuing overview of the public process.
Dr. Williams is now discussing the specifics of feedback the ward boundary review process heard from the public.
“overwhelming response” calling for change.
OMB Exec Chair notes there were only two sessions in the City proper – Beasley and Sackville – which had low turnout. “I find this interesting”
Now discussing some of the finer points of public feedback. I don’t have the exhibit books, so I’m not able to state what they are referring to. (My request for digital copies was not responded to by the OMB)
OMB to take 15 minute break.
OMB is back in session. Dr. Williams remains on the stand, taking questions from the City.
Continuing to establish the public process, and that the public was giving ample opportunities to speak to Council.
Specifically, Dobrucki is making issue of Council deciding on their own ward boundaries without receiving the public submissions sent via the Ward Boundary Review consultants.
City lawyer argues if people wished to speak directly to Council, they had opportunity to delegate at GIC
Dobrucki will argue if Council did not take consultants recommendation, then they should’ve considered full public submissions to that process.
Closing question to Dr. Williams on the process of the Watson & Associates public consultation.
Do you have anything you wish to add to the board on process?
Now onto the City Council’s new preferred boundaries.
Dr. Williams now explaining changes in the City Council’s new preferred boundaries.
Ward 10 now runs to the Eastern Boundary of Hamilton.
Ward 9 is now all of Upper Stoney Creek and Downtown Stoney Creek.
Modification of Ward 11 is an improvement, Dr. Williams says, noting that previously, it had three distinct areas, now better focused around Binbrook and the surrounding rural areas.
Ward 15 focuses it on the Waterdown urban area, adds rural population to Ward 14.
Dr. Williams: Ward 13 adds a small territory of Ainslie Wood is attached to Dundas.
Now discussing an evidence issue.
Dr. Williams now discussing some of the feedback he received from the public during the process.
Ferri: Dr. Williams in your opinion, does the new Council preferred boundaries meet the criteria?
Dr. Williams, yes.
Dr. Williams now discussing that some wards will be over-populated in 2018, but will correct by 2026 due to expected population growth in the suburbans.
Dr. Williams now making the geographical argument for Waterdown and Dundas being their own wards.
Says Ward 14 is important for ensuring there is a rural only ward that has a Councillor who does not have to be conflicted between rural and urban issues.
OMB Exec Chair: Other than rural interest, what other interests are protected in this set-up? “You’ve convinced me that this protects the rural interest, take that out of the picture for the moment, convince me of what other interests are protected”?
Dr. Williams: the other wards are drawn from neighbourhoods of similar interest.
Dr. Williams points to Ward 6 and urban Upper Stoney Creek, says the area of Valley Park and Heritage Green “mostly greenfield” and that’s why they no longer recommend mixing those two areas in one ward.
(Which is wrong, Valley Park and Heritage Green are developed. Somebody gave Dr. Williams wrong information)
Dr. Williams is now making the argument against a radial ward structure (where all wards start downtown and spread out).
Dr. Williams says a Councillor in that setup will be conflicted between rural, urban, downtown, and suburban areas.
OMB Exec Chair chimes in: “You are really giving a lot of importance to the rural voice”
“In 2028, you’ll have a ward of 23,000 and other wards of well over 50,000 people”
Exec Chair says “new homes in Binbrook should come with a sign, in 2028, your vote will only be worth half of that in rural Flamborough”
Dr. Williams now arguing further on the importance of the City Council’s new preferred boundaries.
Says the new wards are very good for ensuring representation of settlement patterns.
(There will be an argument that the areas south of the Linc have different needs than the old areas of the older north Mountain)
Dr Williams says the City Council’s new preferred boundaries protect the City’s traditional neighbourhoods – noting that Stoney Creek and Winona which are traditionally connection are reconnected in new wards compared to present Wards 10 & 11 split.
OMB Testimony is done for the day.
Dobrucki is trying to introduce the City’s Ward Profiles for Wards 1 to 11, the City introduced the Profiles for Ward 12 to 15.
Ferri argues that Dobrucki failed to properly inform the City that he would be introducing this evidence.
Ferri is using “my friend” to refer to Dobrucki to emphasis that Dobrucki is a lawyer, while being a layperson here, he should be more carefully following the rules of order of the OMB.
Ferri says the continuous adding of information to the OMB during this hearing is harming the City’s ability to argue its case.
Dobrucki argues that he is submitting the City’s own Ward Profiles, that this is not evidence he produced himself.
Exec Chair: for argument, “Why has the City only produced to us documents only on four wards”?
He notes the OMB has to look at all City wards, and that the Ward profiles can inform the OMB, so why is the City only allowing the OMB to consider the profiles of four wards.
The City’s concern here is that demographics of the urban areas will be entered – we’re back at the City not wanting minority votes issue considered by the OMB.
No ruling on the documents today, OMB will consider overnight.
OMB Exec Chair cautioned both Counsel to be respectful to public participants – he will not tolerant any attempt to embarrass witnesses.
City wants to reserve the right to challenge Rachel Barrett, who is the only visible minority speaking as an individual, who will present her research on minority voter representation in Hamilton.
And we’re done for the day.