Cumberland’s Franco-Ontarians worried merger with Osgoode ward would hurt their culture and language

By Jasmine Bhimani

Franco-Ontarians in Cumberland fear a municipal proposal to merge their ward with next-door Osgoode will dilute the French heritage of their community.

Cumberland has the highest Franco-Ontarian population of Ottawa’s 23 wards. Thirty-six per cent of residents say French is their mother tongue, compared to 15 per cent for Ottawa in general, and just 11 per cent in Osgoode.

The City of Ottawa is examining six ward boundary review proposals. Each recommends a different ward configuration, but all options would merge Cumberland with Osgoode, creating a large rural ward in Ottawa’s east end. The ward boundary exercise will cost taxpayers $300,000 to $400,000, according to Osgoode Coun. George Darouze.

The changes are intended to ensure what is known as “effective representation” across the city’s 23 wards. Effective representation “means that one person’s vote should be of similar weight to another person’s vote. When applied to wards, the term suggests that wards should be of similar population size,” the city says on its website.

But the changes will a big impact on the Franco-Ontarian community in Cumberland ward, says Lucie Régimbald, vice-president of the Carlsbad Springs Community Association

“If we were to be [merged] with Ward 20, Osgoode, [it] is predominantly Anglophone,” Régimbald said. “That would be an issue for all the Francophones in [Cumberland] because their issues would not be addressed.”

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