Federal electoral districts redistribution 2022

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Paul Jenkins

RE: Submission to the Electoral Boundaries Commission for Ontario

Wednesday, October 26th, 2022

Honourable Justice Leitch, Dr. Loewen, & Dr. Bird -

My name is Paul Jenkins.

I am the CEO of the St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce.

I am also the former Executive Director of the St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital Foundation.

The majority of this document was presented as part of the virtual hearings on September 27th from my home office in Central Elgin.

This written submission is being sent electronically from St. Thomas.

My current organization represents more than 500 member businesses and non-profits in the City of St. Thomas, the Municipality of Central Elgin, and the Township of Southwold.

In addition, we have member organizations in the Municipality of Dutton-Dunwich, the Municipality of West Elgin, the town of Aylmer, and the Township of Malahide.

In short, our members represent a wide swath of both St. Thomas and Elgin County, the heart and soul of our current riding.

I am writing to share a unified voice from our community... we passionately object to the proposed realignment of the Elgin- Middlesex-London- riding.

The Federal Boundaries Commission of Ontario's current proposal will impact an historically cohesive community and ignore more than two centuries of cooperation and integration.

In addition to the robust business community I represent, our opinions are unanimously shared by our current MP and MPP, the entirety of our municipal representatives, as well as the vast majority of the good folks who call our community home.

Unfortunately, the proposed changes - to separate St. Thomas and Elgin County - will be devastating to our community and minimize rather than amplify our democratic voice.

In fact, the consensus of our community is that we would rather be underrepresented numerically than be divided physically.

Interestingly, maintaining the Elgin-Middlesex-London at its current geography would result in a riding size of roughly 127,000 individuals, well within the 10 percent variance from 1 16,590 the commission has been tasked to strive for.

I implore the Commission to note that the entangled past of St. Thomas and Elgin County is not just historic, it is alive.

It is the integration of our respective communities in the most important and intimate aspects of our lives.

A simple list of names provides you with perhaps the best examples:

  • St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital, home of the best ER in the province
  • Elgin-St. Thomas Community Foundation, our primary philanthropic community investment vehicle
  • Elgin Business Resource Centre, based in St. Thomas
  • Elgin Health Team, one of the smallest and most dynamic established
  • Elgin/St. Thomas Small Business Enterprise Centre
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of St. Thomas-Elgin
  • Elgin-St. Thomas Home Builders' Association

To name just a few.

Our community is not just a place on the map, it is a living and breathing reality.

Moreover, while St. Thomas and Elgin County benefit from our proximity to London, being such great neighbours with a community five times our size also brings challenges.

Too often, our voice, one of rural and small town living, is lost when we are bunched with a much larger community.

The vast majority of schools in St. Thomas and Elgin County, for example, are not in the Thames Valley, despite belonging to the Thames Valley District School Board.

In addition, the good folks of London, deserve representation that more accurately reflects their unique urban challenges and aspirations.

As our MP continues to argue, the economic development, healthcare, social services, and non-for-profit sectors that work together in our community, will be jeopardized if the proposed boundary adjustments are enacted.

In short, we are an historic and living community speaking with a united voice that deserves and demands better of our democratic institutions, which includes, at the very least, keeping St. Thomas and Elgin County together in any new rising.

Paul Jenkins

CEO, St Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce

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