New places for familiar councillors? More than new names to city's overhauled electoral wards

Edmonton’s re-named and re-designed wards are set to be contested for the first time next month and could lead to some familiar faces representing different areas of the city.

Last September, councillors approved changes to the names and boundaries of the city’s 12 electoral wards.

The redrawn boundaries attempt to better balance the population of each ward and shed the traditional numbering system for Indigenous ward names.

Some wards are virtually unchanged by the updated boundaries, while others are broken up into entirely new divisions.

The map above displays an overlay of the current (numbered) wards and the new names and boundaries that will come into effect with the upcoming election.

Click the layers option box at the top left to compare boundaries over time, including as far back as 2007 when there were six wards with two councillors per ward.

Here’s more details on Edmonton’s newly designed and named electoral boundaries that take effect on election night.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR VOTERS?

Voters should check with the city website, or search the map above, to determine their ward.

Names may look unfamiliar, as the shifting boundaries mean most incumbent councillors will appear on ballots in parts of the city they haven’t sought election in before.

That means come election night you might have a different city councillor as your representative even if your prior councillor was also re-elected.

WHICH COUNCILLORS ARE MOST AFFECTED?

The changes mean most councillors are generally representing the same part of the city as they were before, but only generally.

There are two major exceptions.

East Edmonton’s Ward 7, represented by Coun. Tony Caterina, is divided almost in two, with Métis taking up its southern half and tastawiyiniwak covering its northern half.

Caterina is now seeking re-election outside of those areas in O-day’min: a downtown-area ward that covers large parts of the former Ward 6.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, northeast Edmonton’s Ward 4, represented by Coun. Aaron Paquette, converted virtually seamlessly into Dene.

HOW CLOSELY DO THE NEW BOUNDARIES MIRROR THE OLD ONES?

As alluded to above, it varies dramatically by ward.

Most of the new-named wards roughly align with the general geographic area of at least one of the current numbered wards.

The west Edmonton boundaries of Ward 1 and Ward 5 translate closely, but not perfectly, to the new wards of Nakota Isga and sipiwiyiniwak.

And, Ward 4 is renamed as Dene with no changes to the existing boundaries.

The biggest changes are in east and central Edmonton.

The new ward of O-day’min covers much of the downtown area of the old Ward 6 but now stretches north to the Yellowhead between 97 Street and 121 Street.

The area covered in Ward 7 will be split between Métis and tastawiyiniwak. Ward 8 is similarly broken up into parts of the new wards of Métis and papastew.

In north Edmonton, Ward 2 and Ward 3 roughly cover the same area as the new wards of Anirniq and tastawiyiniwak.

Most of the area divided diagonally between Ward 11 and Ward 12 in southeast Edmonton has been converted into the north-south running strip wards of Karhiio and Sspomitapi.

And, in southwest Edmonton, Ward 9 grows slightly smaller on its eastern border to become pihesiwin.

Ward 10’s northern boundary is shifted south from the Parkallen area to 34 Avenue and its western boundary moved west to take in the Heritage Valley area as the new ward of Ipiihkoohkanipiaohtsi.

WHY WERE THE BOUNDARIES REDRAWN?

The city’s ward boundary design policy states that “clear, distinct and easily identifiable ward boundaries are essential to the municipal election process.”

Wards are designed based on population, not the number of electors. The city’s policy defines optimum population as dividing Edmonton’s population by the number of wards. Boundaries should be designed within a range of +/- 25 per cent of that figure.

The returning officer develops proposals for ward boundary changes based on six other criteria:

  • Future population growth
  • Community league boundaries (can’t be split between wards)
  • Common community interests
  • Easily identifiable boundaries
  • Least number of changes
  • Block-shaped wards preferred