Federal electoral districts redistribution 2022

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Tracey Arts

October 17, 2022

Ontario Commission

Re: Redistribution Federal Electoral Districts 2022

Thank you for this opportunity to comment on the proposed Redistribution of Federal Electoral Districts. It is important to look at the electoral boundaries to make sure they are meeting the needs of the people. Those needs, and the equitable distribution of riding populations, are being met under the current boundaries.

I live in and farm in Oxford County, I also farm in Middlesex County. Agricultural areas are geographically large with a population base spread among family farms and small urban centres. It is to be expected that populations in rural ridings will vary considerably more than large, densely populated, urban ridings. This is where our food comes from. This should be kept in mind when looking at the federal electoral districts now and in the future. In designing our electoral map, we need to consider the bigger picture.

The ideal riding is 116, 590 people. Oxford County, according to the 2016 census is 121, 781 people, and Elgin Middlesex London is 115,052 people (2016 census). If the redistribution of electoral boundaries were to go through it would weaken the rural voice. When I refer to the rural voice, I am not just referring to farmers but the people who reside in the townships in our towns and villages are also rural residents. I am concerned that when a rural issue arises our voice will not be heard as it has been taken away or will be seen as not important. A proposal was put forth by the Thames Valley School board trustees to eliminate one of the rural trustee seats and add that seat to the city of London. This proposal did not pass; however, they did discontinue the rural board task force. It is issues like these that have me concerned that similar things will happen here under the proposed electoral boundary adjustments. We have 52 shared services. We have farmland development happening at an exponential rate which needs to be done with proper care and protection in order to maintain our sustainable food system. Considerations such as these will be lost when the rural voice is diminished and only the urban voice matters.

Ontario Agricultural contributes more than $47 billion to Ontario's economy, employing over 750,000 people, and generating 17.5% of renewable energy such as solar, bioenergy and wind power. Bringing Rural communities into the fold of big cities could potentially hinder these innovative ideas as well as impact the economic power of Ontario's agricultural sector. The lack of understanding of what today's agriculture is, along with red tape, and nimbyism will further reduce the voice of rural Ontario. I ask that you reconsider the current proposal and either retain the current electoral boundaries or change the boundaries to reflect the rural nature of the ridings so as to not lose the needed voice of rural Ontario.

Thank you

Tracey Arts

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