While most people are focused on the fall municipal election, the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Ontario released a proposed electoral map Aug. 19 that County residents should take note of. While the maps won’t be finalized until September 2023, public consultation is beginning this month.
The changes are fairly significant for the Central East, of which we are a part. They reflect population changes in the 2021 Census.
The Canadian constitution requires federal electoral districts be reviewed after every 10-year Census to better reflect population changes. Ontario’s population has increased from about 12.9 million in 2011 to 14.2 million as of 2021.
The commission said its new maps also take into account communities of interest or identity, and historic and geographic factors.
In Central Eastern Ontario, home to the existing ridings of Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock, Peterborough-Kawartha, Northumberland-Peterborough South, Hastings-Lennox and Addington and Bay of Quinte, the population grew nine per cent (about 535,000 to 583,000). The biggest changes are for HastingsLennox and Addington, but also affect the others.
All the rest would be renamed, with the exception of Haliburton-Kawartha LakesBrock. The Municipality of Trent Lakes in Peterborough County, excluding the Curve Lake First Nation, would be moved into Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock. Further, the proposed new HKLB – with a population of 120,241 – would include Dysart et al, Algonquin Highlands, and Minden Hills but only the western portion of Highlands East.
It would also house the City of Kawartha Lakes, Brock and parts of Cavan Monaghan Township. The other portion of Highlands East would go into the proposed Hastings-Lennox and Addington-Tyendinaga riding, which, among others, would include Bancroft. For Haliburton County, this is where it gets tricky.
What would be the impact of splitting Highlands East over two federal ridings? How does this take into account communities of interest or identity, and historic and geographic factors? Highlands East wants none of that.
Neither does MP Jamie Schmale. Nor do we. It would undermine the integrity of Haliburton County having three and a half townships.
The next federal election won’t be held until, or before, Oct. 20, 2025.
However, as mentioned, the final electoral districts will be determined in September 2023.
The commission is holding in-person and virtual public hearings this fall to gather comments and feedback on the proposed boundaries and electoral district names.
The Central Ontario hearing will take place on Monday, Sept. 26 at 6:30 p.m.
There will also be an Ontario open virtual hearing on Oct. 29. If you want to speak during the Central Ontario one, you must complete a public hearing participation form by Sept. 25. A full list of the virtual and in-person public hearings, and the forms, are at redecoupageredistribution-2022.ca.
There is also information to make a written submission. We urge County residents to have a look at the current and proposed maps and plan to make a written submission or presentation if they have any issues with what is being planned. We suspect residents of Highlands East and others will be most interested in the process.