Monday, December 3, 2012

Halton Region Redistributed - Again

The federal commission here in Ontario which is drawing up the new boundaries for the 2015 election (and beyond, I assume), have become the only ones so far to propose new changes to the map they originally proposed, which can be seen here in its full glory. This has come about through what I assume can only be consultation with the local electorate, and not the need to alleviate the boredom I assume some of these map drawers must feel at times (I know how it is, man).

Halton Region has been growing fairly rapidly recently, and the original redistribution, which you can see here, split the riding into five ridings - Burlington, Halton, Oakville, Wellington-Halton Hills, and Milton. The last one was the originally proposed addition to the original four, while W-HH, whose claim to fame is having a semi-sane Conservative in Michael Chong as their MP, only held the township of Halton Hills (read Georgetown), in addition to Wellington County (not part of Halton). So when I mention "Halton Region," I usually referred to the more southern four, inlcuding my current riding, Burlington - but as we'll see, this will need to change.

While the originally proposed redistribution boundaries didn't change too much, except for breaking apart the old Halton riding into Milton and northern Oakville sections (which was named as Halton riding, for some odd reason), it appears this didn't satisfy everyone. Thus, we get the new boundaries/mess proposal, which I present to you in graphical form:

Click and enlarge for better resolution
Halton Region is thus split into five ridings still, but instead of one part being attached to Wellington County, all five are now within Halton's borders. I'll go through these proposals quickly, to see whats up.

Halton Hills-Milton: This proposed riding (which isn't pictured fully above, but if you're really interested, there is a more lazily coloured version at the end of this post to see how it fits together) will be made up of the Township of Halton Hills (again, read Georgetown), and northern Milton. It will include most of the populated portions of Milton, between essentially Bronte St and James Snow Parkway, with the southern edge on Derry. I'd hesitantly call this "Old Milton," as the newest sections of the growing town are outside of the proposed borders. The riding will be heavily Conservative. It'll have a population of roughly 101,000.

Burlington North-Milton: If the proposals go forward, this will be my new riding, as the section of the old Burlington riding being cut up will be under the new borders. It takes up essentially southern Milton, south of Derry up to the Oakville municipal borders at Lower Base Line and so on, except for a small part of new developments in the urban part of Milton. It'll also take up the northern portion of the City of Burlington, the communities north of Upper Middle Rd between Brant and Appleby - Brant Hills, Headon Forest, and Millcroft. West of Brant , the border jumps up to Dundas, as it does east of Appleby. This riding will have only 90,000 people as-is - very small, but done because of the expected growth that will occur in Milton, and in Burlington's Alton Village, at Appleby and Dundas. By the time of the next redistribution, the population is expected to have grown by quite a bit. It'll be another fairly Conservative riding, though less so than its northern cousin, as most of the new homes are being bought by well-off immigrants and Toronto dwellers looking for a nice suburban community.

Oakville North-Burlington: A very simple concept of a riding: all of northern Oakville, north of Upper Middle Rd, plus a bit of northeastern Burlington. This is where all the growth is in the Town of Oakville and City of Burlington, where the communities of The Orchard, River Oaks, and etc. are, and newer north-of-Dundas communities are being built. The proposed riding only has 96,000 voters right now, but is expected to continue to grow rapidly. Again, fairly Conservative, but less so than the previous two, as it contains an actual non-Conservative poll! Many new immigrants and suburbia seekers coming to these communities, which means the riding will likely trend less Conservative over time - unless Jason Kenney has done a really superb job in making sure these communities stay Conservative.

Burlington and Oakville: The two "core" ridings take up the older portions of their respective cities, and are thus all urban in size. Burlington's population would drop down a bit from losing Brant Hills to about 108,000, while Oakville remains unchanged from the originally proposed boundaries, with I believe about 105,000 (don't quote me on that). These two ridings are marginally less Conservative, though both will still have over 50% support for the governing party based on the May 2011 results. Even so, these ridings would likely flip first in a wave election, though both are more Liberal leaning than NDP -  Burlington is maybe on the margins between the two Opposition parties, hard to say.

So while nothing will change politically too much, it seems the commission is taking into account the expected population explosion happening in Milton, Oakville, and parts of Burlington. I feel confident that this is the right move - even if it does put me in a different riding. Apparently though, my current MP Mike Wallace doesn't agree as much. His proposal to move the border for the riding of Burlington up to the 407, then alongside Dundas, encompassing the northeastern portion of urban Burlington, would put too much population in the riding, especially given the expected growth. Why he says such silly things, I don't know - but that is a Conservative MP for you.

Thus they've compacted the Region into five fully-fleshed-out ridings, meaning that technically the commission has added another riding to Ontario's 121 proposed ridings.

In case you were wondering how they made this up, they've apparently obliterated Kitchener-Conestoga and allowed the surrounding rural ridings to cannibalize it. Nice. I'll show you below:

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