Growing Edmonton population triggers calls for ward changes
Population increase spurs calls to add two more councillors
As Edmonton’s population balloons, some city councillors are worried they won’t be able to keep up with the demands posed by their growing number of constituents.
The existing ward boundaries were designed to remain in place until 2017, but Edmonton’s two southernmost wards have already grown to include more voters than anticipated.
Meanwhile, Wards 7, 10, and 11 each have fewer than the ideal number of voters.
“It could be 2021 before we make an adjustment, and that could be too long with the growth that we’re seeing right now,” Mayor Don Iveson said after Tuesday’s executive committee meeting.
Administration told councillors they do not recommend a formal review of the ward boundaries right now, especially since the city is currently working to annex more land from Leduc County, but suggested minor adjustments could be made.
Iveson suggested referring the debate to council, where all city councillors could participate in the discussion.
The last time the city looked at ward boundaries was after the 2007 municipal election.
More councillors may be needed
Coun. Ben Henderson suggested now may be the time to discuss the possibility of adding two more elected officials to keep up with the needs of constituents.
Iveson said he doesn’t agree with the idea, but noted it will be up to council to make that decision.
“It’s half a million dollars to add two more councillors – I’m not sure we would get half a million dollars more productivity out of our Councillors,” he said.
City Hall would also need to be renovated to make room for any additional councillors’ offices, which would drive up costs further, he added.
Instead, Iveson said he would like to see that money spent on extra staff to help current councillors keep up with the increasing number of people in their wards.
The issue will go before council next week.