Cavan Monaghan eyes alternatives to federal electoral commission’s proposed riding boundary changes

ngidiKeeping Cavan Monaghan Township as a whole in federal and provincial electoral riding boundaries, rather than be divided into three, is a top priority of township council, council decided Monday.

Mayor Scott McFadden and chief administrative officer Yvette Hurley will take part in an Oct. 29 virtual hearing to let the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission of Ontario know this.

In August, the commission released proposed revisions to the riding boundaries for Ontario that would carve Peterborough County between four ridings (instead of three currently) and split Cavan Monaghan between three of them.

“The paramount thing is maintaining being whole and having one representative to carry forward the needs of our municipality,” said Deputy Mayor Matt Graham at a Monday township council meeting.

Currently, the township is wholly in the riding of Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock.

The independent federal commission revises boundaries every 10 years to adjust for population changes, and has proposed diving the township between Peterborough, Northumberland and the Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock ridings.

McFadden called the proposal a “disaster” and “the worst possible scenario for our township.”

At the council meeting, Hurley suggested three alternatives: keep the township all in the Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock riding, entirely become part of the Northumberland riding or entirely become part of the Peterborough riding.

Council passed a motion that McFadden and Hurley present the first two options at the commission’s hearing.

“I think all of them (options) are better serving at representation of our municipality and its residents than what’s being proposed now,” Graham said.

Under the structure proposed by the commission, North Monaghan would be in the Peterborough riding, Cavan would be in Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock riding and Millbrook South would be in the Northumberland riding.

Legislation mandates that each electoral district have, as closely as possible, 116,590 residents.

McFadden said if the commission is relying on mathematical information, then the third option — joining Northumberland makes sense.

Graham said the township has a history and “we are very happy with the representation we received. If it is just numbers that’s a bit unfortunate because there’s more to it than that.”

“There is some historical value and reverence and history of representation that, if we do move to a new municipality, is completely lost, which is a challenge to maintain the same level of representation which is important,” Graham said.

“The Township of Cavan Monaghan, with a 2021 census population of 10,016, is clearly a small rural municipality that can be kept whole,” states a report to council from Hurley.

Northumberland County and Alderville First Nation have both opposed the commission’s recommendations about their electoral districts, which would take Alderville First Nation out of the Northumberland riding and into the Peterborough riding so that all of its territory would be within one riding.

Following public hearings this fall, the commission plans to issue a final report by the end of the year and will then consider any objections, including those from MPs, in the new year, with the aim of completing the redistribution by September 2023.

Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.

Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner