Merger backed by both affected representatives
Public school supporters in Dundas and rural Flamborough will be marking their ballots for a shared trustee in this fall’s municipal election.
Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board trustees voted 9-1 on Monday to realign Dundas’s Ward 13 with Flamborough’s Ward 14, the lone change after three failed bids in the past year to address broader inequities in their overall ward representation.
The merger takes effect after the Oct. 25 election and means Flamborough’s Ward 15, which includes Waterdown, will be represented by a single trustee, no longer coupled with Ward 14.
Flamborough trustee Karen Turkstra successfully urged her colleagues to reconsider the realignment, one they spurned by a 7-4 vote in December after also rejecting wider changes.
There are presently 11 trustees to cover the city’s 15 wards, requiring some to represent multiple areas because the province doesn’t allow boards to increase the number of trustees.
Turkstra said the merger will fix the current “misconfiguration” between the three wards and has received “lots of positive feedback” in Ward 14 because elementary schools there feed into Parkside and Highland secondary schools.
It will give the new wards 13 and 14 area about 4,000 students, compared to about 3,500 in Ward 15, whose population “will continue to explode over the next 10 years,” with a projected 17,000 new homes, she said.
“I really can’t see anybody opposing this because of the feedback we’ve already got,” said Turkstra, who has indicated she won’t run for re-election this fall.
“It does balance out quite nicely the number of students that we’re serving in those wards,” she said. “Ward 15 will warrant a stand-alone trustee in the very near future, so I’m saying we should do it now.”
Dundas trustee Jessica Brennan, who has yet to announce whether she will run again, said she supports the change “wholeheartedly” even if it doesn’t address other inequities, like wards 11 and 12 being represented by a single trustee.
She said wards 13 and 14 are a natural fit, while Ward 15 logically should have its own trustee of the three.
“This micro-change makes a lot of sense,” she said. “It doesn’t solve the main issues that we wanted to solve but it does at least deal with the micro-change.”
Ward 7 trustee Lillian Orban reversed her previous opposition to the change but once again criticized the overall alignment as unfair to her area, which has nearly as many residents as the three wards combined.
“For one trustee to have 14 schools, and I know there are closures involved, but it has not been an easy task,” she said of her situation, adding she hopes city council will add another Mountain ward by the 2018 election.
Ward 4’s Ray Mulholland cast the lone vote against the change but he did not speak to the issue.
The move means two candidates who have registered in the three wards – Bob Maton in Dundas and Nick Lauwers in wards 14 and 15 – will have to re-register under the new alignment.