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Citizens have spoken – they want five wards for Oshawa

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

The turnout was average, according to the city’s consultants, but the message was clear: a five-ward system is what Oshawa wants.

It has been that way from the beginning, as The Oshawa Express reported last month during the first open house that the majority of attendees stated the five-ward model made the most sense.

Now, in a presentation to council, Dr. Robert Williams along with consultants from Watson and Associations, say the message remains the same.

“It’s pretty definitive,” Williams told councillors. “That’s the general direction of the community.”

In all, consultants presented a series of different systems for the city, including systems with as many as 10 wards or as little as three.

In terms of the five-ward system, consultants presented five different options for what the eventual dividing lines may look like. Three of those options resemble Oshawa’s previous seven-ward system. It is a pair of these options, 5A and 5E, that were the most popular with those who participated in the public process. These options see large wards in both the north and south ends of the city sandwiching smaller wards that bisect the middle portion. Other options see the city divided into five wards stacked horizontally or five vertical strip wards.

The results, based off the 24 attendees and the open house and 37 survey submissions, came as no surprise to Councillor John Aker.

“Most of us believe it’s going to be a five-ward system” he said. “You should focus on the five and five.”

With a five-ward system and Oshawa’s five regional councillors (following the next municipal election), and five city councillors, it would make an easy fit for having one regional councillor and one city councillor for each ward.

“I think your presentation today is absolutely clear,” Aker told consultants, adding he hopes when the report comes forward for final council approval, there will be a few options to choose from.

“If you recommend just one, you may as well make the decision,” he said.

Councillor Dan Carter noted that with a 10-ward option, it “brings up some interesting points,” and could allow for councillors to represent a more diverse range of people with regional councillors representing two wards each.

A 10-ward system would require the city to increase its number to 15, with 10 city councillors and five regional.

The final report with a recommendation will come to council for a final approval during a special meeting on June 15.