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Council and Ward Structure Review

Essex flag flying on pole with tree branch behind

In 2017, the Town of Essex is undertaking a Council and Ward Structure Review that will consider the process by which the Deputy Mayor is elected, the composition of Town Council, and the number and size of wards.

Current Council and Ward Structure

Council is currently comprised of the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and five (5) councillors. The Mayor is the only position to be elected at large. The Deputy Mayor is elected from among council members at the inaugural meeting. Both the Mayor and Deputy Mayor represent the Town of Essex on Essex County Council.

The municipality is currently divided into four wards. Ward 1 (Essex Centre) and Ward 3 (former Colchester South) are each represented by two (2) councillors. Wards 2 (former Colchester North) and 4 (Harrow Centre) are each represented by one (1) councillor. The Ward Map shows the current ward boundaries.

Why Conduct a Council and Ward Structure Review?

The composition of Essex Town Council and the process by which the Deputy Mayor is elected were established through a Minister's Order that took effect at amalgamation on January 1, 1999.

Almost 20 years after amalgamation, Council is conducting this review to ensure that the ward and council structure continue to provide a system of effective and equitable representation for all residents.

The following reports specifically relate to Council and ward restructuring:

Phase 1 (March 2017)

Phase 2 (July 2017)

Final Report (September 2017)

Public Consultation

Watson and Associates Economists Ltd. have been retained to conduct the Council and Ward Structure Review based on the Terms of Reference approved by Council.

Public and stakeholder consultation is an important component of the review. A series of public open houses have been held to present draft options and gather public feedback.

Following the public consultation process, Watson and Associates will present their findings and a set of options for Council's consideration. Any changes to the ward or Council structure must be confirmed in a municipal by-law that is passed prior to December 31, 2017.

Guiding Principles

The review will have regard to the following guiding criteria, subject to the overriding principle of "effective representation" set out by the Supreme Court of Canada in Reference re Provincial Electoral Boundaries:

  • Representation by Population: wards should have relatively equal population totals. However, a degree of variation is acceptable given differences in geography and  population densities, as well as the town's characteristics;
  • Population and Electoral Trends: consider anticipated population increases/decreases so that ward sizes will be balanced for up to three terms of Council;
  • Means of Communication and Accessibility: group existing neighbourhoods into wards that reflect current transportation and communication patterns;
  • Geographic and Topographical Features: use geographical and topographical features to delineate ward boundaries while keeping wards compact and easy to understand; and
  • Community or Diversity of Interests: as far as possible, ward boundaries should be drawn around recognized settlement areas, traditional neighbourhoods and community groupings - not through them

Project Timeline

November 2016 to February 2017
Background research, stakeholder interviews, data analysis, formulation of draft options for presentation at public consultations

March to May 2017
Community consultation and public outreach, interim Report to Council with summary of public consultation results and recommendations for preferred options, formal public meeting

June to July 2017
Review additional feedback, prepare final recommendations

August to September 2017
Presentation of final report, Council decision and adoption of by-law

October to December 2017
Appeal period