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New City of Regina ward boundaries in the hands of Sask. judge

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A Court of King’s Bench judge is now weighing whether or not the Saskatchewan Municipal Board (SMB) and the City of Regina followed the correct steps while implementing the city’s new ward boundaries.

The request was filed by advocacy groups Engaged Neighbours United for Fairness (ENUF) and Regina Advocacy Association Inc. (RAAI).

“They’re arguing the decision is unreasonable,” advocate lawyer Jaime Carlson told reporters Friday. “It failed to consider the aspects of feedback required under the legislation.”

Following the 2020 civic election, the City of Regina commissioned the SMB to review its ward boundaries.

That review found some wards exceeded the maximum population variance of 10 per cent.

To fix the problem, the SMB wrote new boundaries.

The biggest change splits the Cathedral and North Central Neighbourhoods, both previously in Ward 3, into two separate wards.

The advocacy groups believe the new boundaries create less representation in the city’s core neighbourhoods.

“A lot of citizens provided feedback to the [SMB] commission,” Carlson said. “But when the report came out, they didn’t see their issues reflected in it at all.”

Regina City Council heard a presentation from the SMB regarding the new boundaries at a meeting in April 2023.

At the time, the report was received through the clerk’s office, but councillors voted to deny filing into the meeting.

This meant that the topic was not debated and no delegates spoke on the issue.

Carlson argues that was not the proper process, as stated in the Cities Act.

“We’re asking the court to determine what filing with the city means,” she added. “The city says filing with council was a formality.

Government lawyers told the court Friday it’s because councillors may have believed they had no authority to reject the commission’s boundaries.

“I can disagree with the commission,” Justice Richard Elsen told the courtroom. “But that doesn’t necessarily mean the decision isn’t reasonable.”

“That, I have to consider,” he added.

Justice Elsen reserved his decision to a later date, hoping to have it, “as soon as possible.”

The new City of Regina ward boundaries are now in the hands of a Saskatchewan judge. (Source: City of Regina) It comes with Regina’s next civic election just months away.

If the judge sides with striking down the boundaries, city lawyers said there would not be enough time to construct a new map in time for November’s election.

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