Ward Boundary Review 2016

Ward Boundary Review Notice of Passing of By-law Establishing Revised Wards In West Lincoln

Ward Boundary Review By-law 2016-123 To establish revised wards in the Township of West Lincoln

Ward Boundary Public Consultation Sessions:

Please consider attending one of the sessions that begin at 6:00 pm until 8:00 pm.

  • Wednesday, June 1st, 2016 – Caistor Community Centre, 9184 Regional Road 65 (Silver Street), Caistor Centre, ON L0R 1E0
  • Tuesday, June 7th, 2016 – Wellandport Community Centre, 5024 Regional Road 63 (Canborough Road), Wellandport, ON L0R 2J0
  • Wednesday, June 15th, 2016 – Township of West Lincoln Admin. Office, Council Chambers, 318 Canborough Street, Smithville, ON L0R 2A0

The three public engagement sessions are planned to include an Open House format with a brief presentation at the outset followed by an opportunity for comment on preliminary conceptual maps that will be available for viewing.


On January 18, 2016, Township Council received the Clerk’s Report RFD-C-02-2016 – Ward Boundary Review containing a recommendation to retain an independent consultant to conduct a Ward Boundary Review under approved Terms of Reference attached to that Report. 


Electors in the Township of West Lincoln elect a Mayor, and six Councillors. The Mayor is elected at-large (in what is termed “a general vote”) across the entire Township. The six Councillors are elected in three electoral districts called wards with each ward electing two Councillors. The seven officials constitute the Township Council that is responsible for all powers and duties assigned to the Township under provincial legislation. A three-ward configuration has been used since the Township was established as part of the Region of Niagara in 1970; the wards follow the boundaries of the pre-amalgamation municipalities (the former Townships of South Grimsby, Caistor, and Gainsborough).

Township Ward Map

By the time of the 2014 municipal election, there was a significant disparity in the distribution of eligible electors in West Lincoln:


Total   Eligible Electors














Information provided by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation in January 2016 shows approximately 1075 additional voters, although the distribution remained essentially the same.

What is a Ward Boundary Review?

In Ontario, the Municipal Act, 2001 assigns the authority to the municipal council

  • to determine the composition of council (that is, the size of the council);
  • to determine the method by which members of council are elected (that is, in wards or at-large); and
  • to divide, redivide or dissolve existing wards.

Any by-law passed by a Council that changes ward boundaries can be appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). A Ward Boundary Review (WBR) is a task conducted on behalf of the municipality to assess whether the present wards constitute an effective and equitable system of representation and, if not, to propose alternatives.  Given the political importance of the ward boundaries, a review that would be considered acceptable by the community and by the OMB should be conducted for the municipality by someone who is not a member of Council nor a municipal employee.

Why is West Lincoln conducting a WBR in 2016?

The electoral boundaries used in federal and provincial elections in Canada are reviewed on a pre-determined cycle; for example, seats in the House of Commons are subject to redistribution after each Census (that is, every ten years) to take account of population changes. A review of the electoral arrangements in Ontario municipalities is discretionary; the obligation to undertake a review of municipal electoral districts is entirely absent from legislation.

The Township of West Lincoln’s ward boundaries were established at the time of amalgamation in 1970 – that is, over 45 years ago.  The Township has not considered a review of its ward system and composition of Council since 1997 – nearly 20 years ago.  At that time, a proposal was put forward to create 4 wards and reduce the size of the Council to 5 (including the Mayor); however, the motion was lost and no further action was taken.

Given that the population of the Township continues to increase and that the growth has tended to cluster in certain parts of the Township, there is an imbalance in the population of the three wards as noted above. With the recent confirmation by the OMB of the urban boundary at Smithville, most residential development in the Township will occur in the present Ward Three – which is already the largest ward in terms of population.  It is therefore appropriate that the issue of representation be revisited now.

The Municipal Act stipulates that municipal elections be conducted under provisions in place on January 1 of an election year. Since 2018 is the next municipal election year in Ontario, any changes to the Township’s ward boundaries must have been agreed upon by mid-year 2017 at the latest to allow time for an Ontario Municipal Board hearing, should any decision to revise the ward boundaries be appealed.

The Review Process

A consultant will direct the ward boundary review process for the Township and as a start will gather background information on West Lincoln’s present ward system and projected population growth from municipal records and from interviews with Township staff and elected officials. Based on that research, the consultant will assess the present ward boundaries and develop a discussion paper that includes alternative designs consistent with the guiding principles for the review. The discussion paper will serve as the basis for public consultations.

While the only statutory notice requirement of a ward boundary review is to give notice to the community that an implementing by-law has been adopted, public consultation is essential for the review process to be legitimate and effective and will be undertaken through a number of mediums and forums.

The primary goal is to ensure that members of the public are provided with opportunities to offer suggestions or new alternatives and to consider and provide comments on the options presented. The current members of Council should not be seen as having complete control over the development of alternative systems.

Therefore, as part of West Lincoln’s Ward Boundary Review, three public consultation sessions will be held, at the following locations:

  1. Wednesday, June 1st, 2016 – Caistor Community Centre, 9184 Regional Road 65 (Silver Street), Caistor Centre, ON L0R 1E0
  2. Tuesday, June 7th, 2016 – Wellandport Community Centre, 5024 Regional Road 63 (Canborough Road), Wellandport, ON L0R 2J0
  3. Wednesday, June 15th, 2016 – Township of West Lincoln Admin. Office, Council Chambers, 318 Canborough Street, Smithville, ON L0R 2A0

A survey that seeks information and opinion from citizens on the present and future ward boundaries for the Township will be available on this website.  Completed surveys may be returned at the public consultation sessions or at the Township Offices during business hours. Surveys could also be mailed to the Office of the Clerk, 318 Canborough Street, P.O. Box 400, Smithville, ON L0R 2A0. You may also contact the consultant to convey your perspectives on the ward boundary review at Dr. Robert Williams

See Township’s Web Site updated information on the public consultations and other materials about alternative ward designs. 

Guiding Principles

The West Lincoln Ward Boundary Review should be conducted in consideration of the following principles in order to provide an effective and equitable system of representation:

  • representation by population,
  • protection of communities of interest and neighbourhoods;
  • use of natural physical features or natural barriers as boundaries where possible;
  • variations in population density;
  • future population growth projections;
  • development of a ward structure that will accommodate growth and population shifts for at least three (3) Municipal Elections (2018, 2022, 2026).

Who is Responsible for Conducting a Ward Boundary Review in West Lincoln?

The Township has retained Dr. Robert J. Williams to conduct the 2016 Ward Boundary review in West Lincoln. Dr. Williams is an independent consultant who had been a faculty member in the Department of Political Science, University of Waterloo until his early retirement at the end of 2006.  He has extensive research and teaching experience in the fields of municipal government and Ontario politics, and has participated in ward boundary reviews in about twenty Ontario municipalities, his most recent in the City of Hamilton and the Town of Milton where he partnered with Watson and Associates.

Biography – Dr Robert Williams – Township Consultant for Ward Boundary Review

The consultant will have the assistance of a Township working group comprised of the Clerk, Deputy Clerk and elections staff along with representation from the Planning Department. He will prepare and conduct interviews with Members of Council and staff as part of his research and will prepare a discussion paper that will evaluate the status quo and consider options for ward boundaries including an increase or decrease in the size of Council.

Dr. Williams will conduct three public consultation meetings to receive community input on alternative designs addressed in the discussion paper and will present a final report to Township Council with recommendations based on the guiding principles set by Council, relevant research, and public discussion and input.

 Proposed Timetable

Stage in Process


Conduct research on present electoral system in West Lincoln Collect data on present and future population

March 2016

Conduct interviews with elected officials and senior Township staff

April 2016

Prepare discussion paper and circulate to Council for information

May – June 2016

Conduct public meetings

June 2016

Prepare report to Council with alternative ward configurations and recommendation

August – September 2016

Council approval of final report and adoption of by-law

October 2016

Possible OMB appeal process (includes time for appeals, notifications, and hearings by the Board)

November 2016 – April 2017



Ward Boundary Final Report

Advertisement for Ward Boundary Review Open House Meetings

Township of West Lincoln – 2016 Ward Boundary Review – Discussion Paper

FEEDBACK FORM for input regarding 2016 Ward Boundary Review