If you were a ward boundary review petition, what would you look like?

Kevin O'Donnell
2015-07-08 10:35

It is rare that citizens are explicitely empowered to stick their fingers directly into government business. In the case of ward boundaries Ontario law lets electors put an idea on a council's agenda and appeal their decision to the Ontario Municipal Board. Unfortunately there is no "how-to" guide for how to do it.

Some readers (especially in Barrhaven!) may be interested in the ward boundary petition process should Council, at its upcoming meeting, choose to keep the current boundaries for the 2018 election. See "City to keep ward boundaries unchanged, despite big population differences", Reevely, Ottawa Citizen, for context.

Section 223 of the Ontairo Municipal Act stipulates conditions for presenting a petition to council and appealing a decision to the OMB, but is silent on details for constructing the petition itself.

Collecting 500 signatures is not that difficult, but is not one afternoon of work either. If someone wanted to start a petition it would be a good idea to ask the city what requirements exist for the petition to be valid, beyond what the act says. It would be unfortunate to have a petition set aside for not adhering to some obscure rule (particularly if that was an easy way to put a hot political potato back in the dirt).

Via Ottawa's media department I asked what the process would be for presenting a petition to council, if there is a prescribed format, and what information is needed for each person who signs on (ie: address? phone? etc). The response, attributable to Leslie Donnelly (Deputy City Clerk):

"This is a process under the Municipal Act, 2001. As such, it is the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing's process and questions should be addressed to them."

Over to you, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing media department. Here is the entire question/answer chain.

1) What is the process for presenting a Section 223 petition to council?
1a) is there a prescribed format that must be followed?
1b) can the petition be electronic, or must it be a hard-copy petition with real signatures?
1c) what information must be included about each elector? (name, address?, phone#?)

 
The legislation does not prescribe a format for the petition.
[regurgitation of Section 223 facts omitted]
 
2) The petition must be from electors whose name was on the voters list in 2014.
2a) does the elector still have to be at the same address to be considered a valid entry on the petition?
2b) the legislation states "a person whose name appears on the voters' list" but does not reference any address details. This may imply address details are not required on the petition itself. Can you confirm this?

 
The legislation does not address these details. They are at the discretion of council and/or the Ontario Municipal Board.
  
3) Can the Ministry supply an example petition, to lower the chances that electors' petitions are ruled out of order by a Council?
 
The ministry does not have a sample petition that it can provide.

If you want to start a petition you may need to include each person's address. Or not. You may be able to do the petition electronically. Or not. You can use whatever format of petition you like. Or not. Council will exercise its discretion on these questions.

In realpolitik, these questions are probably moot for a pen and paper petition. Seven hundred real signatures is going to be a hot-potato. Woe betide the politician that turns that hot-potato into a fiery ball of plasma by ruling it out of order on a ginned-up technicality.

Saving time and doing an electronic petition is likely more risky, but the Ministry says it might be allowed by a council and the OMB. Given you can now buy a house using an electronic signature, perhaps you can sign a ward boundary review the same way?

We'll never know until someone tries. Over to you, Barrhaven. Are you happy having 2-for-1 voting power compared to the smaller rural wards in 2018?

UPDATE 1: Alex Cullen comments that filing a petition to review ward boundaries is "very doable".

UPDATE 2: City Council has chosen the "no change" option. Unless a group of electors presents a petition Ottawa's 2018 election will be held using the same boundaries as 2014/2010.

comments powered by Disqus

More stories...

Ottawa Vanier by-election: live-stream November 10th, 7pm
2016-11-07 12:05:33
MFIPPA: Ottawa Police Service How-to Guide
2016-11-01 12:08:35
The market price of 60 specific park-and-ride spaces
2016-10-14 15:31:23
Part Lot Control: blocks and parcels and lots
2016-10-06 13:10:29
MFIPPA: A How-to Guide for the City of Ottawa
2016-07-15 09:05:51
Forcing the Police Board to deal with an issue
2016-05-31 11:16:34
Sparks Street Mall Authority governance review: bumpy
2016-04-18 09:49:47
Give me an ad Vasili
2016-04-01 09:00:42
Zoning inflation: the Shania Twain effect
2016-02-29 09:02:09
Information Tickle Trunk
2016-02-28 22:32:47
Public Bathroom Map for Ottawa: a howto
2016-02-19 13:17:28
Delegating to a City Committee
2016-02-03 14:09:09
Lebreton Redevelopment Story Collection
2016-01-26 09:20:44
A few of my favourite Joanne Chianello stories
2015-12-09 22:04:06
Online at last: Committee of Adjustment web presence coming in 2016
2015-11-19 10:53:01
Ottawa Centre #elxn42 Candidates Debate — Oct 1 — Livestream
2015-09-09 21:19:18
Traffic cameras and a MFIPPA request
2015-06-18 10:38:48
City Solicitor, DCR Phoenix and over-contributions
2015-04-18 19:39:03
2014 Winners Donation Index and Audit Application Instructions
2015-04-16 15:28:58
Corporate Directory Search Crowdsourcing
2015-04-13 10:55:49
First Analysis of the 2014 Election Donation Index
2015-04-11 06:14:44
Three Thousand Two Hundred and Nineteen - Digitizing 2014 Campaign Donations
2015-04-08 09:16:04
Goodwill motions: when motions are not real motions.
2015-03-26 12:25:23
A Debate Over Five Words: and the City of Ottawa
2015-03-26 08:32:25
Reporters' Privacy and the Daily Media Call Summary
2015-03-02 14:24:27
Browse and Search the 2015 Draft Budget
2015-02-05 23:46:52
Taxi Regulation Report: Uber Late with no ETA
2015-01-24 11:00:26
Assorted By-Laws
2015-01-22 10:02:56
Postmedia's conversation with the Mayor
2014-11-07 09:25:24
Detailed #OttVote Results: 2014
2014-11-01 14:36:22
Website Screengrabs - 2014 OttVote Edition
2014-10-26 23:55:30
Ottawa Citizen #OttVote Candidate Survey - Index
2014-10-25 14:47:10
Kitchissippi All Candidates Debate Livestream
2014-10-06 13:50:32
In Support of Ottawa123 and Ranked Ballots
2014-10-03 11:53:21
OttWatch's avatar is...
2014-09-30 10:50:19
OttVote Advocacy: Find Your Ward Widget
2014-08-04 21:03:58
The Fundamentals of Municipal Finance: Seminar
2014-07-14 10:45:35
Digitizing the 2014-Q1 MFIPPA disclosure list
2014-05-05 09:41:48
Committee of Adjustment: Agendas
2014-02-03 08:54:44
Ottawa Stop Sign Requests: mapped
2014-02-02 23:16:46
Campaign Transparency: 2003 and 2006 campaign returns
2014-02-01 23:57:45
How to comment on Committee of Adjustment applications
2014-01-28 11:49:47
Donations and Maps
2014-01-23 00:40:58
Committee of Adjustment: Panel Agendas
2014-01-20 09:22:17
Minority Report
2013-12-31 09:43:29
Inside the Lobbyist Registry
2013-11-14 09:18:57
Tiny Zoning Tour
2013-11-01 02:58:52
OttWatch Publishes Freedom of Information Requests
2013-10-29 20:38:47
Created by Kevin O'Donnell to make it easier to be part of the political conversation in Ottawa.
On Twitter? Follow @OttWatch and @ODonnell_K
Privacy Policy