Federal electoral districts redistribution 2022

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Louise Clark
Lori Littleton

I am writing to voice my opposition to the redistribution of the Kanata Carleton riding.

I live in Dunrobin, one of the villages in West Carleton. With the current redistribution of the riding Dunrobin, along with sister towns Constance Bay, Kinburn, Fitzroy Harbour, and portions of Carp have been removed from the Kanata Carleton riding and added to the new Algonquin Renfrew, Pembroke riding. I think this is a mistake as West Carleton is deeply interconnected with Kanata, and the city of Ottawa.

Formerly independent, West Carleton was amalgamated into the city of Ottawa in 1998. This was a reflection of the changing demographics of the area. Kanata was growing, particularly the thriving tech industry in North Kanata. Many of the people who worked in that sector moved out to West Carleton villages like Carp, Dunrobin and Constance Bay. Housing developments, like those in the Torwood area off 5th Line, or along Armitage, which is between Dunrobin and Constance Bay on the Ottawa River, were built on what was formerly farmland. And these are only a couple of examples - there are many more throughout West Carleton. This expansion has created what I suppose could be called the rural suburbs of Ottawa/Kanata.

The only town in the area that provides sewer and water to its residents is Carp. In the rest of the area homes need to provide their own water and septic. To ensure enough space to put in a septic system that won’t damage the environment and to conserve the water table, a decision was made that building lots must be two or more acres in size.

There’s also an issue that much of West Carleton’s land mass is marsh or a thin layer of top soil over bedrock, making it unsuitable for building. That means a house might be surrounded by many acres and look, on a map, like a farm. The result? Housing developments that are spread out and appear to be small estates - McMansions as they are snarkily called. The reality is these developments are suburbs. The people housed in them are Ottawa-centric. Many work in Kanata, often in the high tech industry; or Ottawa, for the government or for large employers like Algonquin College.

For the most part these are white collar workers with commensurate salaries. As of October 21, 2022 listing at Realtor.ca located at 114 Casey Creek Lane in the heart of Dunrobin (near the corner of Dunrobin Road and Thomas A. Dolan Parkway) is selling  for $1,199,000. The Realtor web page includes area statistics to give buyers an idea whether the house is in an area which reflects their situation and interests. The Dunrobin neighbourhood  includes the following information:

  • The majority are employed in occupations designated as management, business/finance, sciences, education/government, arts/culture/sport.
  • The average income is over $91,000 and 3.6% are between $150,000 and $199,000.
  • Half the population holds a post-secondary degree or diploma (53.2%). As 66% of the population is between the ages of 20 and 64, while 20.5% is 19 or under, the percentage is greater than 53% and indicates the population is highly educated, which fits with the white collar occupations and income.

(Information found at: https://www.realtor.ca/real-estate/24926832/114-casey-creek-lane-ottawa-dunrobin#view=stats)

A quick look at housing prices in the West Carleton area will prove that the $1,000,000+ price tag is not unusual.

I looked up some stats from the 2016 census regarding the West Carleton to see if the Realtor.ca website information was correct.

  • Educationally 815 people in Ottawa Ward 5 (West Carleton) identified having trade certification, while 14,250 identified having a university degree. Of that number 3,860 had masters degrees and 760 had earned a PhD, while 275 were medical doctors.
  • The average salary was $132,379.00, with a median of $114,378.

I’m sure there are many people in the current Renfrew Nipissing Pembroke riding who have the same kind of education and salary that those in West Carleton have, so it could be said that adding West Carleton to the new riding of Algonquin Renfrew Pembroke would provide another enclave with similar interests to the towns of Pembroke and Renfrew. The difference - and I think this is a hugely important difference - is that the highly educated white collar workers in the new Algonquin Renfrew Pembroke riding work and live in that riding. They pay their municipal taxes to Renfrew or Pembroke. Their municipal, provincial and federal representatives can work together to ensure that issues and opportunities within the riding are dealt with for the benefit of the people of that riding.

The people of West Carleton work in Kanata or Ottawa. We buy our groceries, shop for goods, eat at local restaurants, go to the movies there. Many of us are patients at the West Carleton Family Health Centre (which is in the part of Carp included in the new Kanata only riding). We go to the Queensway Carleton Hospital in Nepean when we need emergency care - not to a hospital in Arnprior, Renfrew or Pembroke. We pay our city taxes to Ottawa. Our municipal representative is part of Ottawa City Council. If moved into the new Algonquin Renfrew Pembroke riding we would be represented at the municipal level at the city of Ottawa, but our provincial and federal representation would be in a riding with no connection to Ottawa. It is not inconceivable that the interests of Renfrew, Pembroke and the rural areas that surround those towns would predominate, leaving the people of West Carleton orphaned.

The Ottawa-Carleton School District high school for West Carleton is West Carleton Secondary. The catchment area includes areas like Morgan’s Grant in Kanata, as well as other parts of western Kanata. The Catholic board does not have a high school in West Carleton. Those who wish to attend a Catholic high school are bussed to All Saints, which is located on Kanata Avenue in the heart of North Kanata, not far from Centrum (where we all shop). My son had friends who lived in Morgan’s Grant; my daughter’s best friend, who lives a down the block from us, attended All Saints. Like the rest of our lives out here in West Carleton, the school system is fully integrated into Kanata.

The community itself is embedded in the Kanata/Ottawa region. Over the last five years West Carleton has suffered three natural disasters. Two were flooding in the Armitage / Constance Bay area, one was the 2018 tornado that destroyed parts of Dunrobin. During those natural disasters all three levels of government pulled together to help the local residents cope. In the flooding incidents both our MPP and MP physically involved themselves in the work to fill and distribute sandbags to help save homes. In all of them the three levels worked together after the event to provide assistance.

I have to ask, would an MP or MPP from the distant Algonquin Renfrew Pembroke riding take the time - or indeed, have the time - to spend filling sandbags to save Constance Bay? Especially since the new riding has a very long shoreline. In the 2019 floods, there was severe flooding in Petawawa, Pembroke, and the Township of Whitewater Region that was worse that what occurred in Constance Bay. The Algonquin Renfrew Pembroke representatives would want to go where they are most needed and where they could make a difference. As such they are much more likely to focus on the northern part of the riding where they can work with the local municipal government. In Constance Bay I do not doubt that our city councillor would do his best to help, but again, we’d be orphaned at the federal and provincial levels. People in a crisis need leadership. While I’m sure the MP and MPP of the new riding would help after the fact, having your MP or MPP working beside you as you try desperately to avoid disaster gives you heart - and hope. Knowing that person is also from your community makes their input all the more powerful.

Which brings me to the Carp Fair. This is an annual event held the third weekend in September. It’s a typical Ontario harvest fair. There are tractor pulls, 4 H animal husbandry judging, and a horse show for budding show jumpers. There are also booths available to anyone who wants to connect with the community. It’s an event that people all over the Kanata/West Carleton region attend. In the past the local MP and MPP have had booths so they can meet the people they serve secure in the knowledge that most of the people who pass by and pause to speak to them are their constituents.

After redistribution the fair grounds in Carp would be in the Kanata riding. Would it be worth an MP or MPP from the new Algonquin Renfrew Pembroke riding to set up a booth and spend four days at the fair to meet the few hundred people who might belong to their riding? It is possible, but I think unlikely. Similarly, would the Kanata MP/ MPP bother? Without a clear indication that participation would allow the elected officials to connect with a sizeable portion of their community, the cost in dollars and time would be deemed better spent elsewhere.

I have other examples, but I’ll leave it here, because I realize this is a really long letter and I’m sure you have lots of people writing to you to say their piece about the redistribution. I hope, though, that what I’ve written has given you a better understanding of what living in the Kanata Carleton riding means. We may be rural or rural suburban, but we are very much a part of Kanata. I ask you to reconsider the reallocation that divides West Carleton in two and puts half of it into a riding with which the residents have no connection.

Thank you for taking the time to review my arguments.

Louise Clark

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