Municipal district boundaries to shift; could be fewer councillors
The February meeting of the committee of the whole for the Annapolis County Council was informed that the electoral boundaries for municipal districts must change before the next municipal elections in 2016.
Councillors were told that every six years, councils are required to review the boundaries of municipal districts to ensure that the population of each is within 10 per cent of the average in all districts in that municipality. Any variances greater than 10 per cent must be adjusted regardless of the number of councillors in the municipality.
Based on the 2013 list of eligible voters, each district in Annapolis County is required to be within 10 per cent of the average of 1,269 eligible voters. Currently, Districts 5 and 8 are below the 10 per cent variance threshold. Districts 1, 4 and 9 exceed the standard. While the remaining six districts are in compliance, changes to the others are likely to impact upon all of the municipal electoral regions.
District 5, represented by Councillor Gregory Heming, stretches from Parkers Cove to Victoria Beach to Granville Beach. Warden Reg Ritchie represents the large District 8 that includes Bear River, Kejimkujik, and Greywood. Both are below the accepted standard variance.
Geographically tiny, District 1, represented by Deputy Warden Marilyn Wilkins, encompasses Malvern Square and Wilmot. Served by Councillor Frank Chipman, District 9 includes the various communities surrounding Nictaux. In the western end of the county, District 4 stretches from Granville Ferry to Belleisle, Round Hill, and Lake La Rose and is served by Councillor Paul McDonald. All of these districts exceed the variance standard.
Councillors were told that the required review process is carefully regulated. Each municipality is required to develop at least two options. These are subject to public review. All of the collected information must be presented to the Utilities Review Board (URB) which makes the final determination.
With respect to the number of municipal districts, councillors were told that while the status quo of 11 districts could be reviewed, the regulations require that other options be considered. In an in-house workshop planned for early next month, councillors will consider the possibility of reducing their number to nine or seven. Staff was asked to prepare preliminary background information on these options.
In addition to the 10 per cent variance rule, municipalities must consider changing demographics, community of interests and geographic size. This is all subject to a mandated public review process. All of this material must be presented to the URB for review by the end of 2014.