About the Aurora Electoral System Review

In Ontario, as municipalities grow, they have generally gone to a ward system. At its current size, Aurora is one of the largest municipalities in Ontario that still elects its councillors in this way and the only one in York Region. The Town of Aurora has experienced significant growth in the past 20 years and continues to grow. The current Town Council consists of the Mayor and six councillors who are all elected “at-large”. 

In Aurora’s “at-large” municipal electoral system, the six councillors with the most votes among the field of candidates are elected, and each of them represents the whole Town, rather than a specific geographic area.

Aurora Town Council has passed a motion directing staff to investigate a ward system for Aurora.  An independent team of consultants is carrying out the Aurora ESR.

Municipal "wards" are specific geographic areas with logical and recognizable boundaries, similar to federal and provincial "ridings", but smaller. Eligible voters in these areas elect a councillor, who represents their ward at Town Council in addition to dealing with matters that affect the whole Town.  

Any new ward system for the Town has to achieve an equitable system of representation, that is all wards have to have a similar number of voters (not the same number), although special circumstances allow greater variations. 

The Aurora ESR is aiming to develop options for a ward system that achieves effective representation for the municipal elections in 2022, 2026, 2030, and possibly 2034.

How You Can Participate

The Aurora ESR is conducting two rounds of public engagement. The first round will be to gather input on developing options for a new ward system. You can do this in a number of ways:

    • Take the Online Survey (open until October 28)

    • Attend a Public Meeting:

      • October 23, Aurora Cultural Centre, Brevik Room, 22 Church Street, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

      • October 28, Aurora Town Hall, Holland Room, 100 John West Way, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

    • Join the online discussion

  • Round Two of Public Engagement will be to collect feedback on ward options. This will take place in November/December 2019. More details to follow.

A Final Report with a recommendation for a new ward system for Aurora (anticipated in June 2020)

The term effective representation is foundational in designing ward systems for municipalities. The courts and the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) (the former Ontario Municipal Board) consider effective representation and its components when judging the merits of a ward system. The LPAT can reject a ward system that does not meet the test of effective representation.

Effective representation has 6 components, which are used as criteria to develop the options for a new ward system. They are:

  • Voter Parity – the populations of each ward should be similar (a range of plus or minus 15% is considered ideal).

  • Natural / Physical Boundaries – where appropriate, ward boundaries should recognize physical barriers such as expressways, railways and arterial roads and natural features such as river valleys. 

  • Geographic Communities of Interest - ward boundaries should not divide historic communities, such as Aurora Highlands or St. Andrews on the Hill as well as new communities like Aurora Northeast and Bayview Northeast. 

  • Capacity to Represent - the population size of a ward should take into consideration a councillor's potential workload, the types and breadth of concerns, ongoing growth and development, complexity of issues, etc.

  • Geographic Size & Shape of the Ward – ward sizes should reflect that some areas of the town are more densely populated, and some wards may have extensive employment areas and/or more open space. 

  • Population Growth - a new ward system should work for the next three elections in 2022, 2026 and 2030 (and possibly 2034), and take into consideration where population growth will occur.

The Town of Aurora oversees the Aurora Electoral System Review. The study is being done by an independent team of consultants. The consultant team is a partnership among Beate Bowron Etcetera, The Davidson Group and Hemson Consulting. 

Staff reports for the Electoral System Review: 

Report No CS19-018 - Electoral System Review and Council Resolution


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