Every few municipal elections, electoral boundaries are redrawn for fairness.
“There’s an idea that each ward boundary would have a similar population as well as, ideally, a similar number of eligible voters,” explained Aileen Giesbrecht, Edmonton’s returning officer.
This fall’s municipal election will see some big changes, in particular for central Edmonton, the south side and the east end.
As Giesbrecht laid out, there’s a number of reasons why boundaries shifted.
“The new annexed lands to the south as well as the demographic shifts within the City of Edmonton’s current boundaries, as well as the overall density changes, they recommended significant changes.”
As part of truth and reconciliation efforts, city council also opted to replace the traditional numbered wards with Indigenous names.
Downtown, to be renamed O’day-min, is the smallest ward geographically, based on its dense population.
A new ward will stretch across the river in east Edmonton, called Métis.
And with so much growth and residential construction on the south side, new wards Sspomitapi, Karhiio, Ipiihkoohkanipiaohtsi and pihesiwin have been elongated, splitting the south into five wards, including central papastew.
“The ward boundary recommendations that were given to council aren’t just for the 2021 election, but hopefully there’s a bit of resiliency and elasticity built into the populations of each of the wards, that these ward boundaries could possibly remain intact for three elections: 2021, 2025 and all the way out to 2029,” Giesbrecht said.
In addition, there will also be three ballots for electors to fill out this fall.
“You’re going to vote on your mayor, councillor as well as school board trustees, as well as nominations for senate, as well as two referendum questions put on the ballot by the province,” the returning officer said.
All of that change will be a lot for voters to digest.
Voters can enter their address online to find their ward here.
Giesbrecht noted the city intends to send out more detailed information about particular voting stations in September.
There will also be more opportunities for advance voting (Oct. 4-13) ahead of election day on Oct. 18.
To vote, you do not need to be registered but must be at least 18 years old, a Canadian citizen and a resident of Edmonton.