Ward Boundary Review

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The Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville is currently undertaking an Ward Boundary Review (W.B.R.). The Ward Boundary Review will be assessing whether the present wards within Whitchurch-Stouffville constitute an effective and equitable system of representation and, if not, to propose alternatives. Whitchurch-Stouffville’s current system of representation consists of a seven-member Council, composed of a Mayor and six elected Councillors (each representing one ward.)

In 2009, the Town mandated that electoral ward boundaries be reviewed after every three municipal elections. Since 2009, there have been three elections - 2010, 2014 and 2018. The Review is in accordance with the Town’s Administrative Policy No. 61 – Electoral Ward Boundary Review Policy.

The Town has retained Watson & Associates Economists Ltd., in association with Dr. Robert J. Williams, to conduct the Review.




Study Objectives

The project has a number of key objectives. The Review will:

  • Develop a clear understanding of the present ward structure. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the present system and explore alternative options;
  • Develop and conduct an appropriate consultation process in accordance with the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville’s public engagement practices in the light of the present public health emergency;
  • Prepare population projections to 2030 for the development and evaluate alternative electoral structures for the 2022, 2026 and 2030 municipal elections; and
  • Write and deliver a report that will set out alternative ward boundaries to ensure effective and equitable electoral arrangements for the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville.


Guiding Principles

There are no standard practices, terms of reference, criteria, or guiding principles either in provincial legislation or regulation, that can be used to evaluate the municipality’s electoral system. Instead, municipalities look to relevant Ontario Municipal Board (now the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal) decisions, case law such as Reference re Provincial Electoral Boundaries (Sask.), [1991] (“the Carter decision”) and best practices followed in other municipalities to establish appropriate guiding principles. The following guiding principles have been developed from such sources and will apply to the W.B.R. in Whitchurch-Stouffville.

The primary objective of the W.B.R. is to evaluate the suitability of the present wards in terms of the guiding principles set out in section 3.3 of the Electoral Ward Boundary Review Policy and to develop alternative designs that are consistent with these principles.

The policy directs that, subject to the overriding principle of ‘effective representation,’ as set out in the 1991 Supreme Court of Canada ‘Carter decision,’ the following criteria will be referred to for guidance in the conduct of the review:

Communities of Interest

  • Consideration of communities of interest and neighbourhoods including the unique rural/‌urban nature of the municipality. It is desirable to avoid fragmenting the traditional neighbourhoods and communities of interest within the Town. The rural interests represent one of the communities of interest within the Town and must be given proper consideration.

Future Population Trends

  • Consideration of present and future population trends. A balance should be struck between present and anticipated population trends.

Physical and Natural Boundaries

  • Consideration of physical features as natural boundaries. The ward boundaries should be coherent and contiguous in shape. The natural features used for boundary delineation should be straightforward and easily recognizable.

Representation by Population

  • Consideration of representation by population. To the extent possible, given the geography and varying population densities, consideration should be given to representation by population.

Effective Representation

  • The goal of “effective representation” is considered an integral part of the evaluation of electoral systems in Canada dating from the Carter decision in 1991. In the Court’s decision, relative parity of voting power (“representation by population”) was deemed to be a prime, but not an exclusive, condition of effective representation. Deviations can be justified where the consideration of other factors, such as geography, community history, community interests, and minority representation, would result in a body that was more representative of Canada’s diversity. According to the Court, considering all these factors constitutes the “overriding” principle of effective representation.


Ward boundary Review banner


The Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville is currently undertaking an Ward Boundary Review (W.B.R.). The Ward Boundary Review will be assessing whether the present wards within Whitchurch-Stouffville constitute an effective and equitable system of representation and, if not, to propose alternatives. Whitchurch-Stouffville’s current system of representation consists of a seven-member Council, composed of a Mayor and six elected Councillors (each representing one ward.)

In 2009, the Town mandated that electoral ward boundaries be reviewed after every three municipal elections. Since 2009, there have been three elections - 2010, 2014 and 2018. The Review is in accordance with the Town’s Administrative Policy No. 61 – Electoral Ward Boundary Review Policy.

The Town has retained Watson & Associates Economists Ltd., in association with Dr. Robert J. Williams, to conduct the Review.




Study Objectives

The project has a number of key objectives. The Review will:

  • Develop a clear understanding of the present ward structure. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the present system and explore alternative options;
  • Develop and conduct an appropriate consultation process in accordance with the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville’s public engagement practices in the light of the present public health emergency;
  • Prepare population projections to 2030 for the development and evaluate alternative electoral structures for the 2022, 2026 and 2030 municipal elections; and
  • Write and deliver a report that will set out alternative ward boundaries to ensure effective and equitable electoral arrangements for the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville.


Guiding Principles

There are no standard practices, terms of reference, criteria, or guiding principles either in provincial legislation or regulation, that can be used to evaluate the municipality’s electoral system. Instead, municipalities look to relevant Ontario Municipal Board (now the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal) decisions, case law such as Reference re Provincial Electoral Boundaries (Sask.), [1991] (“the Carter decision”) and best practices followed in other municipalities to establish appropriate guiding principles. The following guiding principles have been developed from such sources and will apply to the W.B.R. in Whitchurch-Stouffville.

The primary objective of the W.B.R. is to evaluate the suitability of the present wards in terms of the guiding principles set out in section 3.3 of the Electoral Ward Boundary Review Policy and to develop alternative designs that are consistent with these principles.

The policy directs that, subject to the overriding principle of ‘effective representation,’ as set out in the 1991 Supreme Court of Canada ‘Carter decision,’ the following criteria will be referred to for guidance in the conduct of the review:

Communities of Interest

  • Consideration of communities of interest and neighbourhoods including the unique rural/‌urban nature of the municipality. It is desirable to avoid fragmenting the traditional neighbourhoods and communities of interest within the Town. The rural interests represent one of the communities of interest within the Town and must be given proper consideration.

Future Population Trends

  • Consideration of present and future population trends. A balance should be struck between present and anticipated population trends.

Physical and Natural Boundaries

  • Consideration of physical features as natural boundaries. The ward boundaries should be coherent and contiguous in shape. The natural features used for boundary delineation should be straightforward and easily recognizable.

Representation by Population

  • Consideration of representation by population. To the extent possible, given the geography and varying population densities, consideration should be given to representation by population.

Effective Representation

  • The goal of “effective representation” is considered an integral part of the evaluation of electoral systems in Canada dating from the Carter decision in 1991. In the Court’s decision, relative parity of voting power (“representation by population”) was deemed to be a prime, but not an exclusive, condition of effective representation. Deviations can be justified where the consideration of other factors, such as geography, community history, community interests, and minority representation, would result in a body that was more representative of Canada’s diversity. According to the Court, considering all these factors constitutes the “overriding” principle of effective representation.


  • The Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville is currently undertaking an Ward Boundary Review and we would like your help.  The Ward Boundary Review will be assessing whether the present wards within Whitchurch-Stouffville constitute an effective and equitable system of representation and, if not, to propose alternatives. Please fill out the following survey and let us know what you think of our current system.

    Take Survey
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