Ward population map

(Sources: City Of Fredericton, Elections New Brunswick)

City councillors in Fredericton argue the electoral wards are out-dated and out-of-whack, but redrawing boundaries may not be a simple task.

The city of Fredericton has grown over the last few decades, both in population and development. But Deputy Mayor Stephen Chase said one thing hasn't changed in that time — the city’s electoral boundaries.

"The last time the ward boundaries were drawn was in the early 1980s so it’s roughly 30 years ago and the disparity in some cases is like 4 or 5 to 1," said Chase.

Outlying parts of the city have seen an influx of people over the years making some wards far more populated than others. One ward has more than 7,600 people, while another has just under 2,000.

"So the votes aren't equitable. People aren't getting an equality of voting," said Coun. Bruce Grandy.

Chase said it’s not the best way to represent voters.

"It's much easier if there's a reasonable distribution. Obviously, if you have far more constituents it’s harder to make the contact," he said.

All 12 councillors agree the lines need to be redrawn. Three scenarios presented in January by city staff were not well received.

"One scenario actually showed the wards being divided by the river with part of a ward on one side of the river and the other part on the other side of the river and I don't think that's a very good idea," said Coun. Marilyn Kerton.

Several councillors, including Kerton, say there are other decisions that should be made before council even starts looking at the ward boundaries.

"Do we need 12 wards? Do we need 12 councillors? When I look at Saint John and I look at Moncton and they have 10 councillors and their cities, their population’s 20,000 more than our population in Fredericton. It says to me that maybe we can get by with 10 councillors or eight councillors," said Kerton.

Fredericton has used a 12-ward system since it was amalgamated in 1973.

Some councillors hope to hire an independent consultant to come in and redraw the boundaries so they can be in place for the 2016 municipal elections. But there's no word on when that might happen or even what the process might be to make that happen.