By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
The future of Oshawa’s ward system is down to two options for Oshawa councillors, both of them consisting of five wards.
The final report of consultants Watson and Associates along with Dr. Robert Williams was made public recently with the final recommendations included marking the culmination of a year-long consultation process.
The two options for council to choose from will not come as a surprise to those following the process since the five-ward models have been the most popular with members of the public since the start of the public consultation process. Consultants also presented options for 10-ward models and a mixed-ward model, both of which were deemed too costly or too confusing.
The five-ward systems remaining are quite similar in design and operation. Both would involve five city councillors and five regional councillors, one of each elected in each ward. This fits well with the city losing two seats at the region and having those two roles simply switch to city councillor positions.
In terms of layout, the two models are quite similar with only slight modifications to some ward lines and both resemble Oshawa’s previous seven-ward model just with larger wards.
Both proposed options include a large ward in both the north and south ends of the city, and a configuration of three wards driving the downtown and north parts of the city.
A few main differences in the two systems can be see with Option 1 mainly being divided down the middle by Ritson Road, with Option 2 using Ritson and Wilson Road as the main vertical dividing lines.
The largest shift in ward configuration exists in what is being labelled as Ward 5 in the city’s south end. Where Option 1 has the ward’s upper boundary running along the 401 for the eastern portion, the western upper border jumps up to Bond Street and Ritson Road. This is compared to Option 2 where the upper boundary of Ward 5 is a fairly straight line following Gibb and Olive Streets.
“Both options presented effectively address the expectations for a successful ward system,” the final report states, adding that the options provide wards that are “reasonably balanced in population now and over the next three elections, while accommodating a significant geographic community of interest (rural Oshawa) and the diverse urban neighbourhoods across the city.”
The final report goes before councillors in a special meeting tomorrow (June 15) at 6:30 p.m. In the council chambers where a final decision is expected to be made. The new ward system, if approved would be in place for Oshawa’s 2018 election.