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La Pêche drops ward in electoral changeup

May 13th,2024 | Municipal News

These two maps show how the electoral districts will change when La Pêche reduces from seven wards to six, with the most significant impact to be felt by residents in Edelweiss, Farrellton and Lac-des-Loups. Photo: courtesy La Pêche

Hundreds of voters in La Pêche will lose their municipal councillor – or be shuffled into a new ward during the next municipal election, as the municipality gets set to shrink its electoral districts from seven to six. 

The major shift in La Pêche politics will see the municipality elect one fewer councillor to its chambers and change every electoral district, at least slightly, by the time the next municipal election rolls around. This means that residents in Edelweiss, Farrellton and Lac-des-Loups will experience the most significant changes in their representation.

According to Elections Quebec, of the 207 municipalities in Quebec with a population of 20,000 or fewer, only one is divided into seven electoral districts: La Pêche. Mayor Guillaume Lamoureux said that the change would not only provide a better balance in voter populations throughout the municipality but would also save the municipality $27,000 per year with one fewer councillor’s salary on the books.

“It’s a question of efficiency,” Lamoureux told the Low Down. Two hundred municipalities below 20,000 residents function that way – you’re able to do the same thing at a lower cost. There’s also something to be said about having an even number of councillors when there’s an [split] vote; the mayor has a tiebreaker.”

Municipalities are supposed to review their electoral boundaries every four years. Lamoureux said it was evident in 2020 that La Pêche’s boundaries would have to change, as the municipality has grown by more than 800 registered voters since 2016. Because of this influx of voters, the representation among La Pêche’s seven wards became skewed, with Ward 7 (Edelweiss) having too many voters, while Ward 1 (East Aldfield) and Ward 2 (Lac-des-Loups) didn’t have enough. The new changes will see much more balance throughout the wards regarding voter population, with the new Ward 3 (Masham) hosting the most voters at 1,305, compared with the lowest in Ward 6 (Wakefield-Edelweiss) at 1,013 voters. 

“Overall, the number of electors per district is increasing because we’re going from seven [wards] to six,” added Lamoureux. “The changes are more important in places in the municipality where you have a lower population density. The reason we do this in the first place is because the balance of electors is no longer respected.”

With the proposed changes, Lamoureux said he hopes that balance will be restored.  

The most significant changes will be felt in Ward 6 (Wakefield-Edelweiss), where voter numbers dropped by 14.5 per cent, and in the former Ward 7 (Edelweiss), where voters have been moved to either Ward 6 or Ward 5 (Lascelles-Farrellton). Ward 2 (Lac-des-Loups) is also being chopped up. 

La Pêche held public consultations in early April, and residents have until May 13 to sign a register opposing the proposed electoral changes. To sign the register, visit the municipal office. 

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