Friday, February 10, 2012

Census results released, and my riding boundary proposal for Ottawa

The population and dwelling counts from the 2011 census were released Wednesday, and immediately speculation begun as to what boundary changes will be occurring, as Elections Canada prepares for another decennial redistricting.

We knew before the census results were even released what provinces would be gaining districts. A new bill passed by parliament back in December determined what provinces would be gaining ridings based on population estimates at the time. This is in contrast to actually using census results, which is the norm. The census results will be used to divide up each province, however.

Here's a handy chart that shows the population of the provinces, how many ridings each one will have, and what the average riding size will be.

Population (2011 Census)
Newfoundland and Labrador
Prince Edward Island
Nova Scotia
New Brunswick
British Columbia
Northwest Territories

And so, I got to crunching the numbers and looking at the maps as soon as I could. I hope to do maps from across the country over the next few months, as to how I would draw the map.

My first map will be Ottawa, my hometown. Ottawa saw a fairly large growth between the censuses. Its population of 883,391 means the city will be getting 8.3 ridings. This is up from the 7 ridings the city presently has.

The first task is to look at where the city's most populous ridings are. The two most overpopulated ridings are Carleton—Mississippi Mills and Nepean—Carleton. A new riding will have to be created in the city to encompass parts of both these ridings.

My proposal for 8+ Ottawa ridings.

Here are the new ridings I propose for the city:

Kanata—Carleton: This riding will consist of the bulk of the former riding of Carleton—Mississippi Mills. The present riding consists of the growing suburb of Kanata in Ottawa's west end and a large swath of rural area that extends into the neighbouring municipality of Missippi Mills. Carleton—Mississippi Mills has nearly 150,000 people, so some chopping off has to happen. First to go is Missippi Mills, which isn't even in Ottawa, and is a good place to start. That takes off 12,000 people. Then, I chopped off the former township of Goulbourn, which is home to another fast growing suburb, Stittsville. This brings us down to a population of 101,000, which, while under the provincial average, is okay in my opinion, because it will continue to grow in population over the next decade. I have named it Kanata—Carleton, because most of the population lives in Kanata, and the rest live in the former municipality of West Carleton.

Nepean: This riding is a much smaller version of the existing Nepean—Carleton riding. Nepean—Carleton is another fast growing riding in Ottawa. It is home to many fast growing suburban areas such as Barrhaven and Riverside South. At 159,000 people, it's Ottawa's largest riding. To bring it down to size, I had to reduce the riding to its base in south Nepean, losing all of the rural parts located in the former townships of Rideau and Osgoode as well as rural and suburban parts of south Gloucester. Finally, I added the Crystal Bay area from neighbouring Ottawa—West Nepean. This gives us a nice population of 107,000 people. The riding will be named Nepean, as it covers most of the former city of Nepean.

Ottawa—West Nepean: Encompassing the rest of Nepean plus the west end of Ottawa, is the riding of Ottawa—West Nepean. This is an inner-suburban riding with small growth. With a population of 111,000, not much change is needed. I propose lopping off Crystal Bay to make the riding more compact. This gives the riding a population of 108,000.

Ottawa Centre: Located in central Ottawa, is the riding of Ottawa Centre. It has a population of 114,000. I initially wanted to lop of Carleton Heights, in the riding's south, because it is isolated from the rest of the riding. However, that would have set off a domino effect that made things tricky for me. So, I kept the riding as is, even though it's a tad too big for my liking.

Ottawa—Vanier: This riding consists of the east end of the city, and has a large francophone population. At 104,000, the riding was a bit undersized, but still a good number. I would have left it alone, but I had to make some changes to its eastern boundary. The present riding splits the neighbourhood of Beacon Hill in two, so to even things out, I united the neighbourhood together. This makes a lot of sense if you look at a map, because the present boundary is not natural at all. My proposal would put all of Ottawa's east end into one compact riding. Adding Beacon Hill South gives the riding a population of 111,000.

Rideau—Carleton: This is the brand new riding I propose for the city. It was created from what we left over in the city. It includes the former townships of Goulbourn, Rideau, and Osgoode as well as south Gloucester, Blossom Park and Blackburn Hamlet. This riding includes some fast growing exurban communities such as Riverside South and Stittsville. Its population would be 117,000. This is the lowest I could get the population of the riding without making some major changes. I have named the riding Rideau—Carleton, after the Rideau River which flows through it, and for the former Carleton County. Carleton is still used by some to refer to the rural parts of the city.

Orleans: This riding is just a smaller version of the present Ottawa—Orleans riding. Ottawa—Orleans mostly consists of the eastern suburb of Orleans, plus Blackburn Hamlet and Beacon Hill South. The riding has a population of 119,000, so it needs to be trimmed. I lopped off both Blackburn Hamlet and Beacon Hill South, but that made the population too small. So, I added the Cardinal Creek community from the neighbouring Glengarry—Prescott—Russell riding. This makes a lot of sense, because Cardinal Creek is part of Orleans for all intents and purposes. It's too suburban for the mostly rural Glengarry—Prescott—Russell riding. These changes bring the population of the riding down to 108,000. I renamed the riding to just “Orleans”, because it will consist solely of the community of Orleans, and keeping Ottawa in the name is redundant.

Ottawa South: This riding consists of the southern end of the city. It is quite over populated at 122,000, so changes need to be made. My proposal is to lop off the southern end of the riding- the neighbourhood of Blossom Park, and everything south of Hunt Club Rd. This brings the riding down to a size of 104,000.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell: This riding is mostly outside city limits, except for rural parts of the former Township of Cumberland. I would keep it this way, as keeping rural Cumberland with its rural neighbours together makes sense. Cumberland used to be part of Russell County a long time ago, anyways. The riding has a population of 112,000. It doesn't hurt to take some of that away, especially if you believe rural ridings should have less people. The only change I have proposed it taking away the Cardinal Creek neighbourhood of Orleans, and giving it to Orleans, which, as I mentioned makes a lot of sense. This brings the population down to 107,000.

Well, that's all for Ottawa. If you have any better ideas, please let me know! I would be happy to see your proposals. I will also be happy to post other people's proposals here as well. The more discussion, the better.


  1. Shucks, you should propose Ottawa South gain sovereignty and be divided into oblastships. That way we could share Ottawa South as a socialist-libertarian state where everyone is happy!

    Also, I'd have all other electoral districts in Ottawa (aside Ottawa South) merge into a single electoral district, that way they get less representation. Problem solved!

  2. All hail the Most Serene Republic of Ottawa South!

    Too bad I emigrated to the People's Republic of Ottawa Centre :D

  3. Well then, I declare myself the sole ruler of Ottawa South, an entirely libertarian state, where the only thing that is illegal is limiting our freedom :D

  4. I agree i think Ottawa Centre is too big, so why would moving Carleton Heights into Ottawa South cause you issues? Also, just wondering about Nepean, is there any connection between the city of Nepean and Crystal Bay area? But i think they turned out great so far

  5. Carleton Heights has no connection to Ottawa South. The river makes a natural boundary for the riding, so why jump across? It makes more sense to put Carleton Heights into Ottawa West-Nepean, if it were to leave Ottawa Centre. As for Crystal Bay, its connection to Nepean is the fact that it was part of the former city of Nepean. But, I suppose it's closer to Ottawa West-Nepean, and that's why it's there now. But, Nepean isn't a bad fit for the riding either.

  6. Great work Earl, impressive work. What do you plan to propose boundaries for next? Peel Region, perhaps?

  7. Winnipeg, as per someone's request. Then I'll do Toronto, and then I'll do Peel :)

  8. A very interesting analysis. I'm looking at this as well. I would so love to have Riverside Park lopped off from the rest of Ottawa South, maybe in a kind of Ottawa Rideau...

  9. Nice to see you again, Dean. Missed your lovely maps at the US Election Atlas.

    Moving RP out of Ottawa South would make the riding too small, and frankly, Walkley makes a nice straight boundary, so, why change it? I think much of RP has more in common with Ottawa South than the new suburban riding proposal.

  10. I suggest you remove North Glengarry from Prescott-Russell, so as to reunite the United Counties of Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry which have 111,164 people, less than 5 percent above quotient. The riding could be renamed Prescott--Russell--Cumberland. With a population of 101,961, you might leave it otherwise alone.