Lack of representation on Calgary City Council and the New Wards
Yes, it is true – despite much protesting from Alderman Andre Chabot – the City of Calgary has decided to change it’s Ward maps for 2010. This was done, from what I understand, to create a more balanced work-load among alderman, as some Wards have grown larger than others in recent years.
Personally, I really liked Ald. Chabot’s suggestion that maybe it is time for the City to add two more alderman to the fold. The city has grown by leaps and bounds since the number of aldermen was expanded to 14 in 1976. (Here come the numbers!) In fact the population has more than doubled in that time! (470,043 people in 1976 to 988,193 in 2006.)
Council barely batted an eye at Chabot’s suggestion however. So I thought I’d do a little research to see what the top 25 most populous Canadian cities let pass for democratic representation. Here’s my chart in all of it’s Wikipedia researched glory:
|Municipality||Population 2006||# of Councillors (not incl Mayor)||# Citizens Represented|
So is City Council just rearranging the deck chairs on their democratically challenged Titanic?
A quick look at these number and the first thing that should jump out at you is: in the entire country, Calgarians are the most under-represented on their City Council. In fact, the second most under-represented citizenry are about 10,000 people shy of our mark. That’s 15% less representation we have than the second worst offending city in the country?! That number is surprisingly high.
Another way to look at this would be to say our aldermen are that much more overworked than their colleagues elsewhere in the country. Or our aldermen have that much less time to work on local issues.
No matter how you look at it the time has come to address the number of aldermen on council. With the population growing more that 100% since we added any additional representation of Calgarian’s to our own council. And isn’t easing the work-load what prompted Council to take a look at re-zoning the Wards in the first place?
I only hope we’re not too late, and that Council hasn’t closed the book on this topic yet. This situation must be looked at and taken into account.
(PS – The second thing that may jump out at you is that boy howdy! do Quebecers love them some big government! Almost every Quebec city is at the top of the list for number of councillors per capita. That might explain a lot about their closely guarded cultural identity. But that’s a topic for some grad student’s thesis.)