(A Message from Niagara At Larger reporter and publisher Doug Draper- The following news commentary was originally posted on Niagara At L:arge this past February 13th, 2023. We have decided to post it again, this March 4th, 2023, as we have noticed that mainstream newspapers in Niagara are now publishing stories on the same report.
NAL considered this report, prepared by an appointed federal government panel, to be significant at the time since it should be of interest and concern to voters in the Niagara, Ontario region. Therefore, here we go with the posting, one more time,just in case you missed our news commentary on this the first time around. )
A Report, Released this February 10th by the Federally Appointed Electoral Boundaries Commission for the Province of Ontario, Has Mapped Out Some Major Changes to Riding Boundaries in Niagara Ontario
A News Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper
Re- Posted February 13h, 2023 on Niagara At Large
A final report on federal and provincial election boundary changes for Niagara and the rest of the province has now been released
If the late NDP MPPs Mel Swart and Peter Kormos, both long-time representatives for the Niagara Centre Riding (earlier known as the Welland-Thorold Riding), or the late Liberal MPP Vince Kerrio Sr., a long-time representative for the Riding of Niagara Falls, came back to life now, the changes just tabled in Canada’s House of Commons for their ridings would likely make their heads spin.
For starters, the name of the Niagara Centre Riding, currently held provincially by NDP MPP Jeff Burch and federally by Liberal MP Vance Badawey, will be changed to Niagara South and, according to new boundary changes, it will lose all of its constituents in the south end of St. Catharines, including Brock University, and will now take in virtually all of Fort Erie.
The Niagara Falls Riding, currently held provincially by NDP MPP Wayne Gates and federally by Conservative MP Tony Baldinelli, will be named the Niagara North Riding and will lose the aforementioned Fort Erie area to Niagara South while keeping all or most of the City of Niagara Falls and Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Those are among the major changes outline for Niagara according to a final report, tabled in the House of Commons this past Friday, February 10th, 2022 by a three-person panel appointed by the federal Speaker of the House to serve on an Electoral Boundaries Commission for the Province of Ontario.
The final report was tabled by the panel, made up of Ontario Court Justice Lynne Leitch and political science professors Karen Bird of McMaster University in Hamilton and Peter Loewen of the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy at the University of Toronto, after it spent more than a year of research and consulting with individuals and groups across the province.
A map of new federal and provincial riding election boundaries, including name changes for three ridings in the Niagara region.
The commission also held a series of public meetings across Ontario, including one at Brock University in Niagara last fall, where it invited anyone who wanted to in the region to comment on its proposals for electoral boundary changes and to make their own recommendations. Those who could not attend these meetings were invited to write the commission or offer comments online.
Another major change for Niagara included in the final report would take virtually all of the Town of Grimsby north of the Niagara Escarpment out of the current Niagara West Riding and include it in a new Riding to be called Hamilton-Stoney Creek-Grimsby Lakeshore.
One proposed change that at least some in Niagara strongly objected to and that was ultimately dropped by the commission was to take all of Thorold, the most urban part of the municipality north of Highway 20, and include it in the Niagara West Riding, as a way to kick up population numbers in the predominantly rural riding represented provincially by Conservative MPP Sam Oosterhoff and federally by Conservative MP Dean Allison.
Niagara’s four federal and provincial election ridings as we knowthem now.
At the public meeting with the commission late last year at Brock University, a number of speakers, including Niagara Centre MP Vance Badawey, argued that it makes no sense to take Thorold out of a riding that includes a Welland Canal corridor it has so much economically and historically in common with Welland and Port Colborne.
In its final report, the commission wrote; “It was stated that the importance of the Welland Canal to the community identity of Thorold, both historically since Confederation and currently, cannot be underestimated. The Commission concluded that the demonstrated north/south economic development resulting from the canal communities’ aligned representation should be preserved. Thus, these suggestions (shared by Badawey and other Niagara area citizens) were implemented.”
If and when the new riding boundaries are official, the least changes in Niagara will arguably occur in the St. Catharines Riding, currently represented provincially by NDP MPP Jennie Stevens and federally by Liberal MP Chris Bittle, where the ridingwill lose a sliver of west St. Catharines to the Niagara West Riding and will gain constituents from the current Niagara Centre Riding in south St. Catharines.
One of the major goals driving the review of the entire electoral boundaries landcape in Ontario was to make population numbers in the more than 120 ridings across the province more equal.
Niagara At Large will post more on this issue as information and statements from significant others in the community come in.
In the meantime, here are links to the commission’s report and to related material that you can click on below –
To read the commission’s entire report, click on – https://redecoupage-redistribution-2022.ca/com/on/rprt/on_rprt_e.pdf
To learn more about the commissioners, . click on – https://redecoupage-redistribution-2022.ca/com/on/mem/index_e.aspx
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