The Ontario Municipal Board has overturned Council’s gerrymandered ward boundaries, imposing the Watson and Associations final report Option 2 which creates a new Mountain ward and eliminates the present Ward 14; splitting the existing rural ward between Dundas and Ancaster’s existing Wards 12 and 13.
The new ward map (above) creates a fourth ward on Hamilton Mountain, with four strips wards with the western and eastern edges bleeding over the former municipal boundary.
Dr. Bruce Krushelnick, Executive Chair of the Environment and Land Tribunals Ontario, wrote that Hamilton City Council failed to properly consider enough interests across the City of Hamilton when considering new ward boundaries.
The Council was too focused upon maintaining the present arrangement of Ward 14 as a uniquely rural Flamborough Ward in order to protect their own interest.
“Having reviewed the entire body of evidence, the conclusion of the Board is that the ward boundary review came to be dominated by a concerted mandate to preserve, first, the agreement set at amalgamation that maintains a split of urban versus suburban/rural interests, and second, the rural minority interest reflected in maintaining Ward 14 (Flamborough) as an exclusively rural ward”, wrote Dr. Krushelnicki.
Ainslie Wood Split Fatal to Council
The OMB’s review of Hamilton’s ward boundaries is one of reasonableness, not correctness.
It was Council’s decision to divide Ainslie Wood and split the McMaster student community that was the most fatal flaw of Council’s gerrymander boundaries. At the last minute, just weeks prior to the hearing, Council suddenly changed their gerrymander wards behind closed doors to split Ainslie Wood to try to protect their wards from being overturned on populations imbalances.
“The Board regards this re-configuration of Wards 1 and 13 as an unreasonable error
which divides a community of interest without apparent justification, in contravention of one of the important principles. As a result, this revision will not find its way into the final configuration settled upon by the Board”.
As The Public Record wrote in early October, the OMB has previously considered students to be a protected community of interest and would be required to intervene, unraveling Council’s wards.
Here’s the full ruling in PDF format.