Day five of the Ontario Municipal Board hearing into Council’s new ward boundaries. Today, we’ll have start with participant statements in the morning. This afternoon, Dr. Robert Williams, an expert in municipal ward boundaries who was involved with the Watson & Associates team, is on the stand for the City being cross-examined.
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)
Order has been called. The hearing is back in session.
OMB Exec Chair is outlining procedures.
The first participant to speak today is Roman Sarachman of the Committee to Free Flamborough.
May 20 2015 petition regarding changes to ward boundaries, we requested that boundaries be left alone and remain such to ensure Flamborough has proper representation and to ensure the agricultural voice.
Sarachman says “those of us outside the city” make a tax contribution is “equal to or greater than the city”
“We deserve proper representation” to “prevent control by the city councillors”
“the rural ward keeps the farmers together and gives them a voice”
Sarachman says Flamborough deserves representation beyond its community size due to its rural nature.
Sarachman says the appellant has not explained how changing wards will help the “city/rural divide”
Sarachman questions the motives of the appellant, “I hope their only motive is rep by pop”
Sarachman repeats that the amalgamated towns were guaranteed the current City/Country balance on Council.
He says any change that results in representation by population will result in the City being able to overrule the County.
Ward 15 City Councillor Judi Partridge.
Sarachman repeats that he and his group is opposed to any changes. Says the “amalgamation issues needs time to cool, it’s been 20 years and it’s still has hot as ever”
OMB Exec Chair is asking Sarachman about the non-farming areas of Wards 9 to 15, and if Sarachman considers those areas around, example Mud Street in Upper Stoney Creek Ward 9, rural.
Sarachman responds that they were amalgamated and he considers them to be rural.
OMB Exec Chair asks him if he considers Ancaster, Binbrook, Dundas, Stoney Creek, Waterdown to be rural? Sarachman responds yes to each one.
OMB Exec Chair, “I wouldn’t consider the village of Stoney Creek to be rural”
Don McLean, who many of you know from Citizens at City Hall (CATCH), is the next participant.
Opens: “I’ve been a resident of Stoney Creek for 18 years”
McLean “In a well functioning democracy, politicians do not draw their own boundaries”
McLean says the OMB should not give Council deference on the creation of the ward boundaries – Councillors have a personal interest in the matter, whereas the appellant has no financial gain at stake in the decision.
McLean says the City’s settlement agreement is a “back of the envelop” agreement and the public had no input or opportunity to comment. Therefore, the OMB should not give an deference to the Council.
McLean it is “grossly unfair” that six wards will have twice the population of the smallest wards in 2026.
McLean providing an overview of Council’s unwillingness to make tough decisions that involve themselves, noting that he seeing them as acting in their own self-interest regularly.
McLean now noting that the Watson & Associates survey found the public is seeking better balance wards, and change to the status quo.
McLean is now arguing for a 16 ward system. The OMB is not allowed to change the number of Councillors, the OMB must either approve Council’s boundaries or impose another 15 ward system.
McLean says he understands that with the decrease in local representation that resulted from amalgamation, he understands concerns in Flamborough about losing a rep.
Now speaking to transit area rating, and the “bizarre” tax unfairness where he pays 1/3rd of the transit tax as his neighbours who live just across the former municipal boundary in Hamilton, but gets the same bus service.
McLean says the if the OMB approves the Council’s ward, it will have a corrosive effect on civic discourse by continuing the divisiveness of amalgamation, and treating old City residents as second class citizens.
City lawyer Ferri is asking McLean to clarify his statement that Council did not make the settlement public. McLean also stated the staff report was not made public on the settlement.
Ferri is establishing the City did release the settlement on September 29th.
Dobrucki asks McLean if he is able to tell, from the City’s settlement map, where the new boundary between Ward 1 and 13 is.
Chukky Ibe, president of the McMaster Students Union, is now the participant.
He says the new division of the McMaster undergraduate population will harm the community’s ability to have an effective voice in municipal government.
Chukky Ibe, President of the McMaster Students Union
We are “often scapegoated for political gain”.
“We are geographically bound to Ward 1” “separated from Dundas by a highway and a valley”
“We are one voice, we should be in one ward”
“We lose our critical mass, and our voice.”
Chukky Ibe, President of the McMaster Students Union
– students will be a minority in Ward 13, unable to have enough of a voice to be effective.
– splitting students will increase “negligence by Council” towards students, and enable further “scapegoating of students” and “fearmongering for political gain” against students.
Marlene Castura, participant:
“I too live in Ward 1, Ainslie Wood North” “I was likely a neighbour of the previous speaker [MSU President Chukky Ibe]”
She moved out of Dundas because the bus service was poor, we have children and we needed this service.
She speaks to the strong links between her neighbourhood and the rest of Ainslie Wood, linkages that she says will not exist with Dundas due to the geographical, demographic, and cultural differences between the two communities.
And we’re on break.
And we’re back.
CLARIFICATION: The current participant is a resident of Carlisle, and says she strongly supports the current structure of the wards, and opposing the changes, but says the rural ward must be protected.
She opened with opposition to the City preferred settlement wards, stated it would worsen the disparity between wards. Then later stated she wants to maintain the present wards.
OMB Exec Chair asks her what municipal services she is missing:
‘You don’t have sewer, or transit’
‘If you call 9-1-1, they respond’
OMB Member asks her to clarify what she supports, which of the options do you support.
Participant: “I’m fine with the City preferred”
‘As long as the suburbs have equal vote to the City’
Rachel Barnett, who the City is objecting to speaking, is the present participant. She is presenting her Ph.D research, an academic paper: https://cpsa-acsp.ca/documents/conference/2017/Barnett-Bird.pdf
“My primary reason for speaking is that I’m a visible minority” and I want to ensure a system without inequalities.
“I’m here as a student with some knowledge in this area, I do not claim to be an expert” (this is a key line that blocks a City objection)
My research looked at how etho-cultural communities and minorities are represented in municipalities, and how it relates to ward structures across Canada.
She speaks to how they measure voting weight and representation.
She says what is missing when we discuss rural needs for representation, we do not look at how it impacts visible minority representation because visible minorities live in urban areas.
Barnett is asking how do we weight between protecting the voice of the rural minority with protecting the voice of visible minorities.
Barnett states that the average non-visible minority voter’s vote is worth 10 percent more than the vote of a visible minority voters.
Barnett says they did a content analysis of ward boundary reviews across Ontario, looking at 22 of them.
Barnett: The results showed that geography, community history, and community of interest are given weight in reviews, whereas only 1.4% of content showed attention to minority issues.
In Hamilton, it was 0.8%.
Barnett says this raises serious constitutional questions about voter rights and visible minorities.
City’s lawyer raises “only to thank her for your presentation and evidence this morning”
OMB Exec Chair asks Barnett if she has a copy of the breakdown of racial voter disparities by ward. She does, and provides a copy.
Now asking questions about how she calculated in her research.
OMB Chair thanks Barnett for her presentation, asks her about her studies, and wishes her luck.
Now North End resident Rob Fiedler is presenting as a participant.
He recently completed and was awarded his Ph.D in Geography looking at the history of Toronto’s ward boundaries.
Fiedler is presenting the history of the 1969 OMB ruling on the Toronto “strip wards”, this ruling was cited by the City yesterday as an argument for the City’s position.
Fiedler is explaining how the Toronto strip wards were designed to disenfranchise voters of lower socio-economic classes.
He says that one of the reasons this ruling is important is because the OMB blocked it because it protected some (richer) areas at the expense of others.
Fiedler says the City’s wards are designed with power dynamics as the priority, cites statements by Mayor Bratina on the matter where Bratina said changes to add a ward would harm the suburban power.
He says looking the current wards in place is to favour some communities of interest at the expense of other areas which are then underrepresented.
Fiedler calls on the OMB to use it powers to implement a solution for Wards that respects the criteria sent in the review, and not the Council preferred boundaries.
Fiedler is now showing various maps and documents to show that communities are able to work after ward boundaries. Notes that secondary plans and zoning cross ward boundaries.
Fiedler says now is the time to reconsider the disparities of representation created by amalgamation, asks the Board to fix what he sees as a problem.
Both parties have no questions for Fiedler.
No questions from the panel.
Now up is Maureen Wilson to give her participant statement.
Wilson: “I’m a proud mother of three children, ages 15, 13, and 11, all born and being raised in Hamilton. It is with their interests in mind that I felt compelled to submit this participant statement”
Wilson: My statement “will not have as its focus nor will it seek to advocate for any single ward boundary option. Instead, my concern as a resident of Hamilton are the issues of process and principle”
Wilson says the City Council compromised the Ward Boundary Process, undermining its legitimacy, that the boundaries have remained “mostly intact to the benefit of the incumbents”
Wilson says the method of handling this matter by Council “is a dangerous development for today and even more so for tomorrow. It is dangerous because people begin to doubt the integrity of public consultation and public action. It is dangerous because it adds to the growing cynicism of our democratic institutions. As a consequence, these actions devalue and diminish our democractic institutions and norms, helping to herald a new normal for my children – that these institutions are not legitimate and not of value and therefore, not worthy of our attention, our participation and our protection”
“the City is arguing that citizens of greater affluence, living outside of an urban setting, should have disproportionately greater representation than those of lesser means, living within more populated urban surroundings. It is my opinion that this is fundamentally wrong. It is not only wrong, it is offensive”
The final participant today will be Peter Hutton:
Says the Wards should be realigned to the provincial and federal ridings with three wards in each.
Hutton suggests that Dundas be merged with West Hamilton (west of the 403)
That a larger rural ward exist to compass all rural areas, and such to avoid an ex-urban commuter to Toronto from becoming the Councillor as he sees as likely.
He says there are a lot of connections between Ainslie Wood and Dundas, and thinks that it is a natural fit, and the OMB should not divide Ainslie Wood, but should merge it with Dundas.
Hutton notes that his area of Dundas gets the same bus service as his neighbours in Hamilton, but pays a third.
Says the current ward system allows for the divisions that exist between old city and old county.
The participants are now done. We are on lunch recess until 2pm.
And we’re back
With participant statements now complete, the OMB returns to testimony of Dr. Robert Williams, an expert in municipal ward boundaries who was involved with the Watson & Associates team.
He is being cross examined by Rob Dobrucki
Dobrucki is questioning Dr. Williams if he would rate the three alternative boundaries that Dobrucki is proposing. No.
Dobrucki rephrases the question, answer remains no.
Dobrucki now challenging Dr. Williams description and ranking for creating community of interests.
Dobrucki is now asking Dr. Williams if any of the proposed alternative ward boundaries would split any of the settlement areas within the current Wards 14 and 15. Dr. Williams “No, settlement areas are not divided”
Dobrucki asks Dr. Williams if the City preferred settlement boundaries split Ainslie West? Dr. Williams “Based upon what the witnesses say”
Dobrucki, do you know if it is split. Williams responds that he has no other information that it is being split.
A line of questioning about communities of interest in Wards 14 and 15, gives Dr. William the opportunity to remind the Board that he believes Ward 14 and 15 should not be split or combined with Dundas.
Dobrucki goes back to the Ainslie Wood question, Dr. William’s answer this time is that Ainslie Wood is an irregular unit, and he doesn’t know if it is a community split.
There’s a series of quick questions on population projections.
Dobrucki’s questions are establishing the similiarities between Waterdown & Binbrook.
Then a question on the population differences – Waterdown will be significantly smaller by population with its own seat, Binbrook with higher population will share its ward with the surrounding rural area.
Question to Dr. Williams,
Williams: you work with what you have, Waterdown is isolated from the rest of the City, whereas Binbrook is part of a larger area of growth.
Dobrucki’s line of questioning is building on a statement by Dr. Williams that he would not create ward boundaries as they exist presently in Hamilton. A long back and forth between the two – Dr. Williams says the protection of the existing communities of interest is important. Dobrucki is challenging the arrangement, and its origins in 2000.
Dr Williams says it hasn’t been that long since amalgamation and it is important to keep the 8-7 balance based upon feedback from Flamborough and Council.
Dobrucki challenging Dr. Williams statement that it was not possible to create a ward to ensure effective representation of those with low-income.
Dobrucki shows socio-economic data, shows how that could be a ward, asks Dr. Williams if it is possible to create such a ward. “I suppose it is possible” is the answer.
Dobrucki says there are three wards with well above average income, Wards 12, 14, 15 which will be all over-represented. The areas with below average income are underrepresented.
Is this protecting minorities as suggested by the Carter decision.
Is the effect of the City’s preferred boundaries that the wealthy can more representation”
“I suppose that could be an effect …” then Dr. Williams argues that was not why they were drawn, and argues against the questions.
Dobrucki is opening more questions with “as an expert in front of the Board”, which I believe it to emphasis the argumentative nature of the responses.
Dobrucki asks about splitting of communities, again back to Ainslie Wood. To Dr. Williams a question on why splitting Ainslie Wood is something he can support but he is against splitting Ward 14. Dr. Williams says there is more splitting in the Dobrucki’s options (which include some consultant maps), whereas the City is only splitting Ainslie Wood.
Dobrucki asks why Dr. Williams supports moving parts of Ainslie Wood into Dundas, but not parts of Greensville.
Dr Williams says Greensville is very different than Dundas, whereas Ainslie Wood is not much different.
Dr Williams notes Greensville is Flamborough, only connected by one road, on the escarpment, and further distance from Dundas.
Dr. Williams notes that the City preferred options protect the communities of Dundas and Waterdown as their own community as individual wards. Dobrucki’s options do not make them their own wards.
Dr. Williams is now challenged by the OMB Exec Chair on why the traditional boundary of Flamborough needs to be respected, but why does the traditional boundary of Ainslie Wood not get accorded the same respect.
The Exec Chair wonders why there isn’t consistency in the answers, and notes to the expert witness Dr. Williams that he is paying attention to the answers. “you should know what I’m thinking”, says OMB Exec Chair.
Dobrucki starts a line of questions about London Ontario ward boundaries, seeking the witness to provide an answer which is a legal interpretation. Ferri objections, the OMB Exec Chair agrees with the objection. The question is not allowed.
Dobrucki ends his cross-examination. Ferri is now up for the City’s redirect.
Ferri starts redirect by asking Dr. Williams to speak to what is the criteria that he is testing the City’s boundaries against.
Ferri now a series of redirect questions on Ward 8, citing the numerous delegations from Ward 8 last night.
Ferri says that Dobrucki is arguing that Ainslie Wood is a community based upon delegations, Ferri asks Dr. Williams if Ward 8 is a community (not the neighbourhoods themselves, but the Ward as a whole) citing the presentation by Ward 8 Councillor Terry Whitehead’s executive assistant Colleen Wicken that the area around Mohawk College is similar to Ainslie Wood due to the student population, rentals, and proximity to the College.
Dr. Williams says he mostly agrees because the neighbourhoods says they work very well together as well.
Ferri is arguing for the City that Ward 8 should not be changed, and this is a reason to approve the preferred boundaries.
This arises from a Dobrucki questions if any of the Ward 8 neighbourhoods were being split, answer was no. Ferri is trying to establish that Ward 8 neighbourhoods are a community, not individual parts.
OMB Exec Chair asks that the only concern for Ward 8 is if there is the creation of a new South Mountain Ward.
Ferri to Dr. Williams, there’s this idea that if Wards 14 & 15 are retained in this review, that will never change. Ferri says isn’t it true that the City could change them in two years if they wanted to? This isn’t permanent.
Dr. Williams: This is true.
Ferri to Dr. Williams: citizens could initiate a petition if they are want to see this changed in the future, correct.
Dr. Williams: Yes, the Municipal Act gives them this right.
In response to Ferri’s questions, Dr. Williams is giving short answers, not arguing.
Ferri is done his redirect.
OMB Board has no questions.
A procedural question on order and how Dobrucki will testify, and in what order, as Scanlan remains in waiting for his cross-examine.
Now another argument about GIS data, mapping, and what is new exhibits, and what comes from the City team.
Now a 15-minute break.
The OMB rules that Dobrucki maps on the overhead projectors are new exhibit, is visual evidence, and the procedural order required prior disclosure.
In short, Ferri’s objection is upheld.
Dobrucki is now on the stand to give his evidence.
Dobrucki is sworn in on the Bible, and his testimony begins
BA (Hons, Waterloo, 1985)
MBA (York, 2003)
LLB (York, 2003)
Dobrucki: “I believe there should be the highest priority on relative equality” in creation of ward boundaries.
Ferri objects to Dobrucki speaking to case law, Dobrucki is a member of the Law Society.
OMB Exec Chair says this is a unique instance of Dobrucki being both a witness and advocate. Notes that he allowed City witnesses to reference Carter decision and other decisions, and the OMB did not tell them they could not speak.
OMB Exec Chair goes into deep detail on OMB case law allowing witnesses to cite law, and that in fact, it is expected that Planners know planning law as a planner not as a lawyer who.
Ferri states he objects to a lawyer giving legal opinion in the box.
OMB Exec Chair says Dobrucki opens himself to cross-examination.
Dobrucki allowed to continue and to cite legal cases but not as a lawyer, only as a “witness would”
Dobrucki now explains his views on how wards should be balanced, and on his delegation to Council in October 2016.
He is explaining why he believes the City’s Ward Boundary Review should’ve included the release of GIS data for the public to be able to give informed feedback.
(It doesn’t say open data at any time in his materials or statements, I’m stating this is similar to saying it should be open data as that is a concept many readers will be familiar with)
Ferri, and both OMB members, taking extensive notes. Ferri appears the kind of lawyer who really enjoys oral cross-examination; in that he is leaning in, and is facial expression shows an anticipation of action — different than when he was watching for objection earlier.
Dobrucki is now discussing how he used data, how he calculated population projections using Watson & Associates data.
Dobrucki is correcting his word choice quite often in his testimony.
Dobrucki is now agreeing issues of how the City calculates student adjustment numbers.
Interestingly, he’s noting that the City’s data shows no adjustment for students in areas of Downtown Dundas — which the City is also claiming has many students and is de facto the same as Ainslie Wood North.
FYI: decrease in frequency of updates is that Dobrucki is making very technical statements that would be confusing for you if I tried to run a live paragraph-by-paragraph blog now.
I’ll keep giving you key points, themes, and arguments.
There was an error in the data, City agrees to this specific error happening. Dobrucki is now done for the day.
The OMB is now discussing timings for the rest of the week. They are hoping to have final arguments on Friday, there is the possibility that final arguments will be written and not oral.
And we’re done for the day.