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More clarity for ward reviewers

Regional composition conclusion provides clearer path forward for ward review

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

It’s official – the triple majority has been reached and the changes to the Region of Durham’s council composition will see the City of Oshawa with two fewer seats at the table after the next municipal election.

However, that conclusion means the path forward to reinstalling Oshawa’s ward system is much clearer.

“It clarifies that we know it’s going to be five and our task is to figure out what those five will look like,” said consultant Dr. Robert Williams, who is undertaking the review along with Watson and Associates.

With the loss of two regional councillors, Oshawa will be down to five councillors plus the mayor, meaning that some change will also need to occur inside the city’s chambers as well. Williams says that will be up to council whether they transform those previous regional seats to city council seats or go with a different option all together.

“Our task becomes how to make those fit together,” Williams says. “Part of our consultation, so far, has been to raise that question and we would certainly be including that in the consultations we’re going to be holding in December.”

The regional composition changes were finalized after the regional council voted in favour of the switch in September, which moved the two Oshawa seats to Whitby and Ajax. Since that time, the remaining Durham municipalities, save for Oshawa, approved the change.

All in all, the conclusion does not change the process too much for the ward review, Williams says, noting they had been working on the assumption the bylaw would pass.

Williams says that, through discussions with staff and council, the consultants are gathering basic ideas on what council and the city want to see as far as representation, as well as other factors influencing the future ward system.

“Partly to help understand the nature of the way representation works in Oshawa, how councillors see their role, (and) what the communities of interest are within Oshawa,” Williams says. “These are just sort of preliminary insights into the community that will help us come up with some preliminary ideas about how this might work and that’s ongoing.”

The next stage of the process will see public consultations set up for next month – however, no dates have been finalized at this time.