Commission proposes major changes for federal electoral map in Southwestern Ontario

Current federal riding boundaries in black, proposed in purple. (Photo courtesy of the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission)

A three-member panel is redrawing federal electoral districts across Ontario, and in Southwestern Ontario, it could mean some significant changes.

The Federal Electoral Boundary Commission is independent and non-partisan. Every ten years, it is Constitutionally required to review the electoral map.

The commission considers a list of factors, including population changes, the distribution of Indigenous and Francophone residents, geography and the ratio of urban and rural communities to ensure those demographics maintain their representation in the House of Commons.

It’s holding public hearings this fall, but the soonest the changes can take effect is 2024.

Ontario will gain one more federal riding, going from 121 to 122 Members of Parliament.

The quota for each electoral district is 116,590 residents, and according to Statistics Canada, Ontario’s population rose from 12.8-million in 2011 to 14.2-million last year.

Chatham-Kent-Leamington will become Chatham-Kent-Leamington-Kingsville. The boundaries of the new riding extend to include Kingsville and Pelee Island in the south.

Current federal riding boundaries in black, proposed in purple. (Photo courtesy of the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission)

Current federal riding boundaries in black, proposed in purple. (Photo courtesy of the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission)

The northern boundary will be Kent Bridge Road, while the westerly border moves out to Essex County Road 31. Ridgetown will become part of an expanded Elgin-Middlesex-Thames riding.

Current federal riding boundaries in black, proposed in purple. (Photo courtesy of the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission)

Current federal riding boundaries in black, proposed in purple. (Photo courtesy of the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission)

West of Chatham, Dresden and Wallaceburg would join a new riding called Sarnia-Lambton-Bkejwanong that will also encompass the City of Sarnia and Lambton County. Currently, they’re in the Lambton-Kent-Middlesex. The southerly boundary of the new district extends just north of Stoney Point in the Municipality of Lakeshore in Essex County.

The lines are being drawn in the riding of Essex too. Maidstone and Oldcastle would join that riding as its northern boundary stretches to Hwy. 401.

Some Windsor residents will also vote in the riding of Essex in the next federal vote as the new boundary grows to include The Spring Garden Natural Area, Ojibway Provincial Nature Reserve and Black Oak Park in the City of Windsor.

Windsor West’s geographic borders will shrink slightly. The Ojibway Parkway and Huron Church Road mark the line to the west, Provincial Road and Walker Road to the east, and Hwy. 401 marks the boundary to the south.

Windsor-Tecumseh maintains its easterly boundary but would push further west into Windsor. Neighbourhoods like Devonshire would join Windsor-Tecumseh.

London and its surrounding area will see some of the most significant changes with three new ridings, London South-St. Thomas, London Northeast, and London-Centre.

Current federal riding boundaries in black, proposed in purple. (Photo courtesy of the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission)

Current federal riding boundaries in black, proposed in purple. (Photo courtesy of the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission)

London South-St. Thomas would include all of St. Thomas and Belmont. The southern boundary would be Elgin County Road 45 extending to the southern branch of the Thames River and Commissioners Road East in the City of London.

London Northeast encompasses the current riding of London-Fanshawe along with a portion of London-North Centre. The rest of London-North-Centre would become part of London-Centre, stretching from Adelaide Street North to the east to Wonderland Road to the west.

The riding of London West would adjust its boundaries to include Lambeth.

Woodstock would be at the centre of the new riding of Oxford Brant, while Brantford would be in its new electoral district simply called Brantford.

Public hearings will be held in-person and virtually from Monday, September 26 to Sunday, October 29, across Ontario. Those who wish to participate need to fill out an online form by September 25. Participants will be emailed a link to the virtual meeting.

Residents in Southwestern Ontario and Southernmost Ontario can join the hearing online on Tuesday, September 27, starting at 6:30 p.m.

The final public hearing is also virtual. It starts at noon on Sunday, October 29.

The only in-person hearing in the region is in London on Monday, October 24 at the Ivey Spencer Leadership Centre at 551 Windemere Road. That meeting also gets underway at 6:30 p.m.